Expats in Southeast Asia still struggling with corruption

Published:  15 Mar at 6 PM
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Expats living and working across Southeast Asia may or may not be fully aware of the ‘in your’ face’ corruption seen to be an inalienable part of life in the region, but those who are affected by it won’t be thrilled by the results of an authoritative new study.

The latest annual survey by Transparency International has named Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia as amongst the world’s 30 most corrupt countries, with only Singapore rated within the list of the ten least corrupt SE Asian states. In addition, according to the watchdog’s Corruption Perception Index, last year’s results showed the Philippines and Malaysia becoming even more corrupt than in previous surveys.

The index tracks the perception of corruption in the public sector of 168 world nations, with each given a score based on expert opinions. The lower the level of corruption, the higher the score, with the recent results giving Denmark the top score of 91 whilst Somalia and North Korea were found at the bottom of the list due to their scores of eight. During a Bloomberg interview, the watchdog’s regional director Srirak Plipat said corruption in Southeast Asia dominates everything from media coverage to civil society forums, but no action is ever taken.

Southeast Asia’s top-scoring nation in the latest survey is Singapore, with a rating of 85, up one point from last year’s report, whilst Malaysia fell by two points to a score of 50 and 54th place globally. Thailand, at present under a military government apparently determined to reduce corruption, took 76th place with a score of 38, unchanged from last year’s study. Indonesia took 88th place after scoring 36, and the Philippines fell three points to 35, giving it a global ranking of 95.

At the ‘must try harder’ end of the list were Laos with its unchanged score of 25 and 139th global position, Myanmar’s very slightly improved rating of 22 with its 147th place listing and Cambodia, unchanged at 21 and with the dismal listing of 150th globally. Vietnam fared slightly more positively at 112th place with a score of 31, but the majority of Southeast Asian countries clearly have a long way to go before corruption is even partially eliminated.

Source: Bloomberg
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