Bribery, corruption on rise among Malaysian businesses: Survey

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Malaysian corporate executives said bribery and corruption were worsening in the graft-plagued country, according to a survey, despite government pledges to tackle the crime.

Eighty per cent of respondents said they felt bribery and corruption had increased between 2010 and 2012, according to the government-backed survey conducted by professional services firm KPMG and released on Monday.

The perception that bribery and corruption were a "major problem for businesses in Malaysia" was shared by 90 per cent of those surveyed, the survey said.

"A whopping 71 per cent of respondents also believed that bribery and corruption is an inevitable cost of doing business, whilst 64 per cent believed that business can't be done in Malaysia without paying bribes," it added.

KPMG said it received responses from 10 per cent of companies on the Malaysian stock exchange, which has about 900 listed firms.

Corruption - ranging from small bribes solicited by police to refrain from issuing traffic tickets to multi-million dollar contracts awarded without a transparent tender process - is routine in Southeast Asia's third-largest economy.

Prime Minister Najib Razak, whose 57-year-old ruling coalition was re-elected last May with a reduced parliamentary margin due in part to voter weariness with corruption, has repeatedly vowed to crack down on graft since he took office in 2009.

But critics say little has changed, and successful prosecutions of high-profile figures are rare.

Mr Abu Kassim Mohamed, head of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), wrote in a foreword to the survey that "admittedly, there is still much to be done to increase confidence" in the government's anti-graft fight.

The MACC is frequently attacked by the opposition for dragging its feet on cases involving ruling-coalition figures while aggressively pursuing cases linked to government critics.

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