Confidence in the Judiciary
Share this on

Confidence in the Judiciary

As more power has been shifted to the judiciary (judiocracy or judicial coup),* there is little discussion about the confidence of those in society have in the judicary or about corruption in the judicial system. I have previously blogged about corruption in the judiciary, but then recently discovered a new survey in Asia about corruption in the judicial system. This is the PERC survey:

Hong Kong and Singapore have the best judicial systems in Asia, according to a survey of expatriate business executives.

The survey by the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (Perc) put Hong Kong’s judicial system at the top of the vote with a score of 1.45 on a scale that has zero representing the best performance and 10, the worst.

Singapore was in second place with a grade of 1.92, followed by Japan (3.5), South Korea (4.62), Taiwan (4.93) and the Philippines (6.1).

Singapore was also ranked second in the 2007 survey, scoring 1.88, slightly behind Hong Kong’s 1.78.

Singapore has been rated first or second by Perc since 1996.

Perc said Indonesia and Vietnam fared the worst in this year’s survey.

It said the judiciary ‘is one of Indonesia’s weakest and most controversial institutions, and many consider the poor enforcement of laws to be the country’s No. 1 problem’.

Some court rulings in Indonesia have been ‘so controversial that they have seriously hurt confidence of foreign companies,’ said Perc, without giving specific examples.

In the survey, Malaysia was in seventh place with a grade of 6.47, followed by India (6.5), Thailand (7) and China (7.25). Indonesia got the worst score of 8.26 after Vietnam’s 8.1.

The Hong Kong-based consultancy said 1,537 corporate executives working in Asia were asked to rate the judicial systems in the countries where they reside, using such variables as the protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) and corruption.

Transparency, enforcement of laws, freedom from political interference and the experience and educational standards of lawyers and judges were also considered.

‘Year after year, our perception surveys show a close correlation between how expatriates rate judicial systems and how they rate the openness of a particular economy,’ Perc said.

‘Better judicial systems are associated with better IPR protection, lower corruption and wealthier economies.’

The less favourable perception of China and Vietnam’s judicial systems is rooted in political interference, Perc said, adding that the Communist Party ‘is above the law in both countries’.

Despite India and the Philippines being democracies, expatriates did not look favourably on their judicial systems because of corruption.

Malaysia’s judicial system has suffered ‘serious reputation damage due to political interference’, while expatriates in Thailand ‘have serious doubts’ that moves to expand the judiciary’s powers will be good for the country, it said.

Perc noted that the survey involved expatriate business executives, not political activists, so factors such as contracts and IPR protection were given more weight.

‘This bias is possibly most obvious in Singapore,’ it said, noting that the city-state’s top rating in the survey is not shared by political activists, who have criticised the ruling People’s Action Party for using the judiciary to silence critics.

BP: I agree that the PERC survey is not perfect and have blogged previously – it is more a reflection of how expatriates view the country. However, at a time when we are discussing the judicial system in Thailand, wouldn’t it be nice to read about the survey even with the caveats? Can anyone find any mention in the Bangkok Post or The Nation? A google news search doesn’t bring up anything – the survey does turn up in Indonesian and Singaporean papers.

*The judiciary being the branch of government one cannot criticise as one can be charged with contempt (also see these posts about contempt of court here and here). However, this hasn’t stopped the judiciary from making public comments criticising politicians and the political system.