THE results are in – Singapore is still the least corrupt country in Asia, while North Korea remains the most corrupt, according to anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for 2015.
As its name implies, the CPI measures the perception of corruption in a country, rather than actual corruption – the latter being impossible to quantify. The annual ranking has been used as a yardstick to grade a country’s efforts (or lack thereof) in fighting corruption.
Ranked globally at no. 8, Singapore is Asia’s most graft-free country, despite slipping one place from no. 7 which it held in the previous report. The hermit kingdom of North Korea is unsurprisingly Asia’s most corrupt nation at 167th place – a distinction it held last year as well.
Malaysia slipped to 54th place from 50th previously, while Indonesia lurched upwards to 88th from 107th. Thailand improved its standing to 76th (which it shares with India) from 85th. The Philippines, however, fell 10 places to 95th.
In describing the Asia Pacific region and its lackluster performance in this year’s index, Transparency International said that “there’s little sign of action” from governments in combating corruption.
The report singled out a corruption scandal linked to Malaysia’s prime minister to illustrate that point:
“Despite boastful efforts on petty corruption, Malaysia’s 1MDB scandal brought the crux of the challenge into sharp focus: is political leadership genuinely committed to fighting corruption throughout society? The Malaysian prime minister’s inability to answer questions on the US$700 million that made its way into his personal bank account is only the tip of the iceberg.”
Taking a harshly critical tone, Transparency International urged governments in the region to “revisit the genuineness of their efforts and propel the region beyond stagnation. They must fulfil promises, and ensure efforts aren’t undermined in practice.”
It added that the anti-corruption commissions set up in the region have been subject to political interference and deprived of necessary resources.
Cambodia, Burma (Myanmar) and Laos continued to languish in the lower reaches of the ranking at 150th, 147th and 139th respectively, pointing to little or no change in the Greater Mekong region.
China was ranked 84th in 2015, compared to 100th in 2014.