Political Reform: Avoid Electing Politicians Involved in Corruption and Abuse of Power

By:

John Ku, Len Hew

Affiliations:

-

Policy Code:

3d Anti corruption

Problem Statement:

Lack of transparent media and access to information allows for the election of politicians involved in corruption.
Transparency International cites limited access to information on matters of public interest, stalled progress in institutional reforms, and a lack of political will to fight institutional corruption as causes leading to Malaysia’s declining ranking in terms of corruption [Malaysia ranked 57th in 2021, falling 6 places from the previous year]. TI’s report also noted that the public was not updated on high profile cases such as the Wang Kelian human trafficking ring, the Sabah Watergate scandal, and the purchase of the littoral combat ship.

Value(s) and Belief(s):

The media (including social media) has an important role in the fight against corruption as it can demand accountability and transparency from the public and private sectors. The media, and in particular investigative journalism, provides information, especially on public sector corruption, where often governmental activity is opaque by design or by default. An independent media is also key in promoting broader freedoms of opinion and expression that can build a resilient electorate and may often act as the catalyst for criminal or other investigation that follows.

Proposal of Solution:

A free and independent media empowers the public as agents to keep the powerful in check. Independent journalists also complement the work of anti-corruption agencies (such as the SPRM) in monitoring corruption and bad financial practices. Historically in Malaysia, the issuance of licences and permits for print and broadcast media has been in the hands of the government - as such, there are no guarantees for editorial independence or safety of media workers in Malaysia. Nevertheless, there is much that media can do to ensure more critical, quality, and meaningful reporting.
• The Sedition Act and Official Secrets Act should be repealed because of the restrictions they impose on journalists and the public - the Sedition Act prevents open and transparent discussions of issues, while the OSA subjects journalists and sources who expose wrongdoings to heavy penalties1.
• Review of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 to remove problematic provisions on content regulation, and further define rules on ownership and licensing for media companies. Such revision is needed to prevent large media players or those with direct political links from dominating the market and to encourage independent content producers1.

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