KUALA LUMPUR (March 7): Malaysia rose five notches among 126 countries in the 2019 Rule of Law Index worldwide, a survey by World Justice Project (WJP) revealed today.
The index by WJP is an evaluation of the rule of law adherence worldwide based on 120,000 households and 3,800 expert surveys.
Eight factors are taken into consideration in the evaluation of the countries' rankings, namely constraints on government powers, absence of corruption, open government, fundamental rights, order and security, regulatory enforcement, civil justice, and criminal enforcement, civil and criminal justice.
According to the WJP, Malaysia's improved position to 51 from 56 was calculated by comparing the positions of the 113 countries measured in the 2017-2018 edition of the index with the rankings of the same 113 countries in 2019, exclusive of 13 new countries indexed in 2019.
The release by WJP cited that significant trends in Malaysia's ranking are due to improvement in constraints on government powers.
It cited that Malaysia's score places it at seven out of 15 countries in the East Asia and Pacific region, and 13 out of 38 among upper middle income countries.
Malaysia is placed in the East Asia and Pacific region in the survey with Australia, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Mongolia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Meanwhile among the middle income countries, Malaysia is listed with Albania, Algeria, Belarus, Belize, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Iran, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, FYR Macedonia, Mauritius, Mexico, Namibia, Peru, Romania, Russia, Serbia, South Africa, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Thailand, Turkey and Venezuela.
Malaysia is ranked 65 out of 126 countries under WJP's calculation for the factor on the constraints on government, while on corruption it is placed 43rd, and 103th on open government.
On fundamental rights, the country is ranked 90 out of 126 the countries surveyed, 43rd in order and security, and 54th in regulatory enforcement.
For civil and criminal justice, Malaysia is ranked 42 and 41 respectively among the 126 countries.
The top three overall performers in the WJP Rule of Law Index 2019 are first-placed Denmark, followed by Norway at second and Finland third.
Regionally, the East Asia and Pacific's top performer in the WJP Index are New Zealand (8th out of 126 countries globally), followed by Australia and Singapore.
The three countries with the lowest scores in the region are the Philippines, Myanmar and Cambodia.
The bottom three globally are the Democratic Republic of the Congo ranked 124, Cambodia at 125 and Venezuela at 126.
The study also reports that globally, more countries showed a decline than improvement in overall rule of law performance for a second year in a row, and this is continuing a negative slide towards weaker rule of law around the world.
WJP warned that this is a sign suggesting rising authoritarianism, the factor score for "Constraints on Government Powers" declined in more countries than any other factors worldwide over the last year.
"A total of 61 countries declined, 23 stayed the same, 29 improved. This slide in rule of law in general and checks on government powers in particular is deeply concerning," commented WJP executive director Elizabeth Andersen.
WJP is an independent, multidisciplinary organisation working to advance the rule of law worldwide where it feels effective rule of law reduces corruption, combats poverty and disease, and protects people from injustices large and small.