This year, New Zealand was ranked 87 out of 100 on top of the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) and became the leading country in the region and second in the world in the fight against corruption. Singapore and Australia with a score of 85 and 77 closely follow the score of New Zealand.
North Korea obtained a score of 14 at the bottom of the index due to the country-wide and continuing the fight corruption in the country. On the other hand, Afghanistan got a score of 16 and Cambodia with 20, following North Korea among the poorest performers.
The Asia-Pacific region has made few advances in the fight against corruption with an average score of only 44 for three succeeding years. Asia Pacific is similar to America when it comes to development shortages (both having a score of 44), unlike the scores of Western Europe and the EU (66).
What is the Asia Pacific doing and why is there minimal progress to fight corruption? One explanation is that the institutions of government and political rights are increasingly weakened.
The Fight Against Corruption
In the world, most leading scorers, like New Zealand and Australia, have strong democratic systems that contribute to their high ratings. Nevertheless, there are countries in the region, such as Singapore and Hong Kong, which, while mostly non-democratic, still effectively control corruption.
Why do the CPI rank good performances for certain poor autocracies and democracies without the same regulation in all democracies? In Hong Kong and Singapore’s case, they both have solid anti-corruption institutions. This helps to combat corruption in certain areas but does not guarantee the sustainable infrastructure to combat corruption found in many democracies in general.
Nonetheless, the weakening of democratic structures in the country, including in Cambodia and Thailand, has stifled efforts to combat corruption.
With the exclusion of some of Asia Pacific’s top scorers, the majority of countries are unable to fight corruption and do much more effort. Governments that have lower ratings will need to step up their efforts in order to deal with their fraud problems.
Most countries have implemented reforms already which are aimed at the right course, such as the strengthening of entry to information laws as well as more efficient anti-corruption agencies. For most nations, there is a clear gap across the region: a strong and comprehensive policy focusing on the whole anti-corruption process, which includes punishments and legal facilities, proper regulations, and preventative measures
The low-performing CPI countries share numerous autocratic agreements that prevent their long-term anti-corruption progress. These include weak regulations, legislation, democratic institutions, and enforcement system. While several authoritarian countries may show progress in fighting corruption, it is unsustainable as any progress depends in comparison with the democratic system that is led by people to the attitudes of those people in power.
Democracies, including judicial independence, have the required checks and balances to make any anti-corruption policy work and be sustainable. The countries cannot expect to deal effectively with bribery without the proper practices and guidance from democratic institutions.