Internal audit is supposed to help members of organizations to improve their entity’s effectiveness and efficiency. But the findings from in-depth interviews conducted with internal auditors from 35 State and Local Governmental Bodies (SLoGBs) located in Peninsular Malaysia in the third quarter of 2003 show that the audit function faces numerous challenges. This is in addition to the fact that a mere 35 out of the then 202 SLoGBs had an internal audit capacity.
The politics of accountability theory, power distance, and a Malaysian social context that is replete with cases that display a lack of transparency and public accountability from its major actors, help to explain these facts and predict a bleak future for internal audit.
However, a rosy future may yet be achieved through the involvement of key parties and if specific measures are put in place. This is the crucial role that the federal government in particular should play so that the audit function may fulfill its potential as a tool that improves Malaysia’s economic standing at this time when globalization, accountability and transparency are considered essential issues in just about any worthwhile economic, social or political activity.