Datuk Seri Akhbar Satar
THE 2019 Kuala Lumpur Summit (KL Summit), to be held from Dec 18 to 21 at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, has received an encouraging response, with 52 countries confirming their attendance, and more than 400 participants, including more than 250 from abroad.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan are expected to join Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad at the summit, which he will chair.
Unfortunately, fighting corruption is not listed on the agenda of the summit.
It should, in fact, take the necessary steps to address flaws in the global financial system that allow the corrupt to siphon off funds from the public purse and hide the proceeds of their crimes.
Last January, Transparency International Malaysia, the global anti-corruption coalition, released its 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) that drew on 13 surveys and expert assessments measuring the perceived level of corruption of public sectors in 180 countries and territories in the world.
A country’s rank indicates its position relative to other countries in the index .
The smaller the number of the rank, the less corrupt a country is perceived to be.
Based on CPI 2018, Jordan ranked 58th with a score of 49 compared with 59th with a score of 48 in CPI 2017.
Saudi Arabia ranked 49th with a score of 58, one score above its CPI 2017 ranking.
Oman ranked 53rd with a score of 52, compared with the CPI 2017 ranking of 68th with a score of 44.
Indonesia was in 89th position with a score of 38 compared with 96th with a score of 37 in CPI 2017.
The other Muslim countries’ rankings and 2018 CPI scores were: Turkey, 78th with a score of 41; Bahrain, 99th with a score of 36; Egypt, 105th with a score of 35; Kosovo, 93rd and with a score of 37; Pakistan, 117th with a score of 33; Yemen, 176th with a score of 14; Iraq, 168th with a score of 18; Sudan, 172nd with a score of 16 ; Afghanistan, 172nd with a score of 16; Syria, 178th with a score of 13, and Somalia, 180th with a score of 10.
Worldwide, Denmark stands tallest with 88 points, with New Zealand in second place with 87 points.
Finland, Singapore, Sweden and Switzerland shared the third spot with 85 points.
Among the criteria used to determine the rankings are a robust rule of law, independent oversight institutions and a broad societal consensus against the misuse of public office and resources for private interests.
The 19th-century Egyptian scholar and jurist, Muhammad Abduh, once said: “I went to the West and saw Islam, but no Muslims; I came back to the East and saw Muslims, but not Islam.”
Currently, corruption remains the main problem in many Muslim-majority governments.
Most of the core values of Western countries, such as transparency, integrity, accountability, freedom, human rights and justice, are universal values which do not conflict with Islam or any other religion and are even important constituents of Islamic teachings.
A country’s score indicates the perceived level of public sector corruption on a scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).
Thus, the countries with higher scores will rank much higher in position (as being less corrupt) compared with countries with lower scores.
It is interesting to note the trend in fighting corruption within Muslim and Muslim-majority countries.
The 2018 CPI results showed that no Muslim country ranked in the top 20 out of the 180 countries surveyed.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) took the 23rd place with a score of 70, topping all other Muslim countries.
Brunei ranked 31st with a score of 63, the second cleanest Muslim country followed by Qatar, which ranked 33rd with a score 62.
Malaysia is the seventh least corrupt country among Muslim nations but has moved up to the 61st spot — one notch higher than the previous year though it still retains a score of 47 points.
A study of 208 countries and territories by Professor Hussain Askari of George Washington University entitled, “How Islamic are the Islamic Countries”, showed that most countries which applied Islamic principles in their daily lives were not the ones that were traditionally Muslim.
The top countries in economic achievement and social values were New Zealand, Ireland, Denmark and Luxembourg. Malaysia was in 33rd place, Saudi Arabia 91st and Somalia 199th, at the bottom of the list.
Hussain said we listened to religious lessons and sermons more than people of other faiths, but we were still not the best of nations.
In the last 60 years, we have listened to 3,000 Friday sermons. We must practise what we preach or hear being preached.
Since the UAE, Brunei and Qatar are seen to be the cleanest and most trustworthy of all Muslim countries, they should share their best practices to improve the CPI score and reduce corruption in other Muslim countries. Even the G20 included anti-corruption as an issue on the agenda of their summit.
It is strongly urged that Malaysia, being the chair of 2019 KL Summit, put the anti-corruption agenda at the forefront of its initiatives and play a leading role in fighting corruption in Muslim countries.
The writer holds a professorial chair at HELP University’s Institute of Crime and Criminology, and was a former president of Transparency International Malaysia
Published in: The New Straits Times, Thursday 12 December 2019
Polygraph tests determine whether or not a person is lying. The tests can also be used to clear the name of a person wrongly accused.
A polygraph is an instrument that simultaneously measures changes in a person’s physiological reactions, such as his blood pressure, heartbeat, respiration and electric resistance (galvanic skin response) when he is asked questions. The tests aim to show whether or not he is telling the truth.
According to the American Polygraph Association (APA), over 250 studies have been conducted on the accuracy of polygraph testing over the past 25 years. Recent research also revealed that the accuracy of the new computerised polygraph system is close to 98 per cent when examined by qualified examiners (especially APA members) who use validated techniques. In other words, it is very accurate. It clearly shows that it is not just a simple test but a serious test that can be applied to the private and public sectors.
A polygraph test is usually done in three phases. In the first phase, an examinee is informed of his rights, and he signs a consent form if he agrees to it. The examiner then discusses with the examinee specific issues which are the subject matter of the questions that will be asked during the test. Once both parties agree, the questions are formulated. The examiner will also assess the subject’s emotional and physiological suitability for the test.
In the second phase, the polygraph instrument is connected to the computer, while several wires are connected to various parts of the subject’s body, including fingers, chest and arm. The examiner administers at least three separate tests, each lasting less than five minutes where a subject’s physiological data or responses are recorded onto the polygraph charts as the subject answers a set of questions reviewed earlier during the pre-test. Based on psycho-physiological principle, when the examinee hears a question which he or she intends to answer untruthfully, the brain interprets and triggers automatic and uncontrollable physiological changes reflected by the polygraph.
In the final phase, the examiner will conduct a diagnostic analysis, evaluate all charts collected during the tests and from this evaluation the examiner will determine whether the examinee is telling the truth. The examiner can also find the results inconclusive.
It is impossible to cheat in polygraph tests conducted by certified examiners. Even so, the instrument is not truly a lie detector. The polygraph instrument produces only graphs. The polygraph examiners are the lie detectors and they determine whether the person is deceptive or truthful.
Since it was invented in 1921 by John Larson, the polygraph technique has proven to be one of the most powerful, robust and useful scientific tools in criminal investigations, pre-employment screening, counter-intelligence, counter-espionage, counter-terrorism, combating fraud and corruption.
Polygraph is widely used in more than 80 countries, such as the United States, Israel and even Singapore as it is regarded as the best choice, rated highest in terms of widespread use by government as well as the private sector to detect lies and for security reasons. There are many qualified polygraph examiners in Singapore.
Polygraph use has also proven successful in eliminating suspects, proving innocence, testing informers, complainants, witnesses, suspects, narrowing the focus of enquiry, gathering information and evidence.
All agencies like the CIA, FBI, National Security Agency, US Secret Service and the US Department of Defence and the majority of US police departments use polygraph tests in investigations and screening or for preclearance of their staff and contractors.
There is no precedence or court ruling on the admissibility of polygraph evidence in most of these countries, including Malaysia and Singapore. In Japan, India and Indonesia, polygraph evidence is admissible in court. In the US, most states permit polygraph test results to be used as evidence. In New Mexico, polygraph evidence is admitted in the same way as other scientific evidence.
In Malaysia, polygraph has been used by law enforcement agencies with success to determine who was involved in the Lahad Datu incursion, Islamic State and many other serious crimes.
The tests are also used by insurance companies to detect customers who are involved in falsifying insurance claims, especially for luxury vehicles (sold the cars but reported stolen), for internal inquiry or recruiting staff. In the insurance claim cases, the results of polygraph test are admissible in the civil court in Kuala Lumpur. The technology has prevented millions of ringgit in fraudulent motor insurance claims. According to General Insurance Association of Malaysia, in 2015 the industry paid out RM5.3 billion in motor insurance claims.
One local polygraph examiner has handled no fewer than 5,000 tests both locally and abroad, including for a pharmaceutical company that was losing RM3 million a month. A sustained random polygraph test on employees saw such losses reduced to less than RM100,000 a month.
Recently, there have been suggestions that the test be administered on civil servants as a deterrent to corruption. This followed a spate of arrests of senior government officers by the MACC. The MACC, police, Royal Customs Department, armed forces, Universiti Teknologi Mara and Universiti Sains Malaysia have enough examiners and instruments to assist the government to conduct polygraph tests. They can be used to screen current employees, especially in security-sensitive occupations or posts.
But to ensure and maintain integrity, the tests have to be conducted as spot checks on employees. It is a preventive measure as employees will think twice before committing an offence, knowing that they can, at any time, be made to sit for the test.
If you ask how reliable and trustworthy a polygraph is — the answer: it is better than nothing.
The writer is President of the Malaysia Association of Certified Fraud Examiners
Published in: The New Straits Times, 10 May 2019