Transparency International Sees More Corruption in Asia

Every year, Transparency International, a non-governmental, politically non-partisan organisation with more than 100 national chapters around the world. Beside its action with partners in government, business and civil society to put effective measures in place to tackle corruption, Transparency International publishes every year a report over its Corruption Perception Index. The 2016 edition shows that corruption hits all continents, all countries. While Denmark is the least corrupted country in the world with a score of 90, the most corrupted one among the 176 listed countries was Somalia.

Meanwhile in the Asia Pacific region, T.I. sees that the fight against corruption has been side-lined last year with degradation in transparency being seen in many countries.

The NGO explains that the majority of Asia Pacific countries sit in the bottom half of its Index in 2016. 19 out of 30 countries in the region scored 40 or less out of 100.

Poor performance can be attributed to unaccountable governments, lack of oversight, insecurity and shrinking space for civil society, pushing anti-corruption action to the margins in those countries. High-profile corruption scandals, in addition to everyday corruption issues, continue to undermine public trust in government, the benefits of democracy and the rule of law“, tells the report.

ASEAN countries generally are not faring well, when coming to corruption. While Singapore is among the top 10 most transparent and cleanest countries, in contrary Cambodia is among the top 20 least transparent.The country ranked 156 in the 176 countries list.

Myanmar, Laos and Timor Leste continued to improve their scores in 2016 after 2015. In Myanmar, the beginning of the National League for Democracy’s (NLD) government in March 2016, headed by Aung San Suu Kyi, brought much hope for change with the return to civilian rule, although violences in Rakhine State and against Muslim minorities tarnished the record of the country.

Among countries which fares worst is notably Thailand. The Kingdom dropped by 35 points, behind now ranked behind Indonesia… The NGO attributes the worsening image of the country in its fight against corruption to the absence of check and balance for the current military government.

Thailand’s new constitution, while it places significant focus on addressing corruption, entrenches military power and unaccountable government, undermining eventual return to democratic civilian rule. Free debate on the constitution was impossible with campaigning in opposition banned and people detained“, write the authors of the report.

Transparency International expects also to see a worsening of the Philippines corruption index over the months to come, under the rule of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte. “Yet, the impact of death squads, attacks on media and violent intimidation to the detriment of democracy and democratic institutions is yet to be seen in 2017“, stresses the report.

For tourists to ASEAN, corruption has little impact on tourists’ visit to the region BUT it does have one. Over the week-end for example, the Bangkok Post mentioned about a Scandinavian tour operator complaining over immigration officers asking for THB200 (US$5) to its clients at Phuket airport to “speed up” immigration procedures: “Additional fees” are regularly requested from travellers crossing land borders in Cambodia and Laos while scams are sometimes tolerated by authorities in many ASEAN countries. Practices which are not unique to the region but would contribute to damage the reputation of hospitality of ASEAN members…