Most of the continent’s countries are in a critical situation. Corruption is up in Cambodia and Thailand but slightly better in Afghanistan. North Korea and Syria remain at the bottom of the ranking. The jury is still out over China whose vaunted fight against graft has ben ineffective.
Bangkok (AsiaNews) – Most countries in the Asia-Pacific region remain in the bottom half of Transparency International’s 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI).
In spite of some tentative efforts, most of the region’s nations are economically, politically, and financially suffer from crime.
Transparency, an anti-corruption watchdog, ranks nations using a score from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very transparent) to measure perceived levels of corruption on the basis of local analysts and business people.
According to the latter, poor rankings for Asian nations stems from the irresponsibility of local governments, lack of independent oversight, insecurity, and weak civil society.
All this frustrates the fight against corruption, often seen as "marginal" to government action.
In addition to cases of ordinary corruption, media coverage of high level corruption also tends to undermine trust in governments and institutions, as well as public confidence in the benefits of democracy, and the rule of law.
Some Asian countries have seen some improvement. Afghanistan has moved up four points in its score (15 out of 100). Whilst it remains one of the ten very corrupt countries on the CPI, its score is nearly the double from 2013 (8 out of 100).
Timor-Leste, Laos and Myanmar continued to improve, especially the latter since the National League for Democracy’s (NLD) government, headed by Aung San Suu Kyi, came to power.
The latter took a number of measures to fight corruption, but any progress has been overshadowed by the violence against the Rohingya in Rakhine State. This highlights a lack of oversight of the military, who remain the real powerbroker in the country.
Conversely, things got worse in the Southeast Asian nations of Cambodia and Thailand.
For the second year in a row, Cambodia is the most corrupt South East Asian country on the list, with a score of 21 as space for civil society continues to be extremely restricted.
Thailand dropped to 35 points, from 76th to 101st position, reinforcing the link between perceived corruption and political turmoil.
Government repression, lack of independent oversight, and the deterioration of rights eroded public confidence in the country.
The country’s new constitution, whilst it focuses on addressing corruption, entrenches military power and unaccountable government.
Although China improved its score by 3 points, it still ranks 79th out of 176 nations (up from 83rd in 2015), this despite the government’s much vaunted fight against ‘tigers and flies’, which has failed to dispel doubts about the transparency and independence of its institutions.
The situation in India also remains critical. The impact of corruption on poverty, illiteracy and police brutality has had a great impact on the population.
Some of the cases are in the “too soon to tell” category. The latter includes the Philippines where it is still unclear what President Rodrigo Duterte wants to do.
In Malaysia, Prime Minister Najib Razak has long been embroiled in a corruption scandal.
South Korea too was rocked by corruption scandals in 2016 with President Park Guen-hye impeached by Parliament for corruption.
Denmark, New Zealand, Finland and Sweden lead the ranking of the least corrupt countries; Somalia, South Sudan, North Korea, and Syria are at the bottom.