The real problem is the corruption in the Umno leadership, which must bear the full responsibility for Malaysia's worst ranking in the past 17 years of Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) and losing out to more and more countries not only in the region, the Asia-Pacific but even to Islamic countries in the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) in the fight against corruption.
When the TI CPI was first introduced in 1995, Malaysia was ranked No 23. I can still remember the condemnation by the then-prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad who accused it as part of the Western ‘white men’ conspiracy to demonise Asian countries as the global anti-corruption NGO was headquartered in Berlin.
What is most ironic is that in the months before he stepped down as prime minister in October 2003, he was singing a different tune, according legitimacy by giving his blessings to the annual TI CPI when he urged the country to aim to be among the top countries among the least corrupt nations in the annual TI CPI.
When Mahathir stepped down as prime minister, Malaysia's ranking in 2003 had dropped from 23rd in 1995 to 37th position!
In the five-year premiership of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Malaysia's TI CPI plunged another ten places from 37th to 47th ranking in 2008 despite Abdullah's five-year National Integrity Plan to achieve at least 30th ranking in 2008.
But the sharpest drop in TI CPI ranking took place in the three years under the sixth prime minister, Najib Razak falling another 13 places to 60th ranking with the lowest TI CPI score of 4.3 in the TI CPI 2011.
With this backdrop of worsening corruption in Malaysia in the past two decades, with Malaysia under Najib even more corrupt than under the two previous Prime Ministers Mahathir and Abdullah, how can Umno leaders trivialise the grave problem of corruption of Malaysia under Umno?
Unless Umno leaders can present an iron-clad case that it is not Umno but the other BN parties like MCA, Gerakan, MIC, the Sabah and Sarawak BN parties which must bear the greatest responsibility for the critical corruption problem in Malaysia?
Instead of the denial syndrome trivialising the grave problem of corruption in Malaysia, Umno leaders should accept full responsibility by demonstrating the political will and commitment to fight grand corruption involving top political and government leaders, starting with a full public inquiry into the RM40 million Sabah ‘political donation’ scandal involving Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman and Sabah timber trader Michael Chia.