“MALAYSIA’S GOVERNANCE WORSENED IN LAST FIVE YEARS” – WORLD BANK
THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
Malaysia saw its performance drop in four categories — voice and accountability (level of democracy), political stability, regulatory quality and control of corruption.By Lee Wei Lian
KUALA LUMPUR, June 30 — A study by the World Bank suggests that Malaysia’s governance has deteriorated since 2003. The country fared worse in four out of six good governance categories in the World Bank study and improved in only two as of 2008.
The nation also lags well behind the scores of high income countries such as Australia, Japan and Switzerland. It scored better than Indonesia but remained far behind Singapore. Indonesia, however, saw its governance scores improve across the board since 2003.
Malaysia saw its performance drop in four categories — voice and accountability (level of democracy), political stability, regulatory quality and control of corruption.
In terms of its relative position to other countries, Malaysia also fell further behind countries in the same categories. It recorded an improvement in performance and relative position in only two categories — government effectiveness and rule of law.
The World Bank study uses a percentile method to show the relative ranking of a country. For example, a country with a ranking of 60 means that its score is higher than 60 per cent of countries in the study.
Malaysia has a rank of 32 (2003 ranking — 38) for voice and accountability, 50 (57) for political stability, 84 (80) for government effectiveness, 60 (70) regulatory quality, 65 (63) for rule of law and 63 (65) for control of corruption.
It is an indication of the divergent paths that Malaysia and Singapore took upon their split in 1965 that Singapore is the highest ranking country in three categories and near the top in all except for voice and accountability, where it ranked in the bottom third with Malaysia.
While Indonesia ranked in the bottom half for all categories, it nevertheless saw both its relative position and raw scores rise in the past five years. Significantly, Indonesia appears to be doing better than both Malaysia and Singapore when it comes to the practice of democracy.
While the study does not make a link between a country’s income and good governance, broadly speaking, countries that enjoy high incomes such as Australia, Canada, Sweden and Switzerland tend to score and rank near the top in all categories, while the poorest countries are likelier to cluster near the bottom.
Malaysia’s numbers suggest that the government’s emphasis on service delivery over the past five years is gaining traction but it is losing the fight against corruption despite numerous promises to eradicate the scourge.
Voice and accountability, defined as the extent to which a country’s citizens are able to participate in selecting their government, as well as freedom of expression, freedom of association, and a free media also deteriorated during this period.
In the category of political stability and absence of violence/terrorism, which measures the perceptions of the likelihood that the government will be destabilised or overthrown by unconstitutional or violent means, including domestic violence and terrorism, Malaysia peaked in 2005, the year after the ruling Barisan Nasional government won its biggest ever mandate.
It went downhill from there and reached its lowest point in the last five years in 2008, which saw protestors and police clash on the streets and was also the year that the opposition made record gains at the ballot box.
The World Bank study, called the Worldwide Governance Indicators project, reports aggregate and individual governance indicators for 212 countries and territories over the period from 1996 to 2008.