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Philippines, Thailand among most corrupt Asian economies: survey PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Agence France-Presse . Singapore

The Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and China are among the most corrupt Asian economies, according to results of a regional poll of expatriate businessmen released on Monday.

Singapore and Hong Kong retained their rankings as the cleanest economies, the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy said.

The annual survey covers only 13 economies in Asia and excludes other countries notorious for corruption, such as Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Some 1,400 expatriates were polled in January and February this year, PERC said. Corruption remains a problem in the region despite huge economic progress made over the years, with governments generally lacking the political will to tackle the problem, the Hong Kong-based PERC said. ‘The Philippines is a sad case when it comes to corruption,’ the consultancy said in a summary report made available to the news agency.

The Philippine situation is ‘probably no worse than in places like Indonesia and Thailand’ but corruption has become politicised and is openly discussed in the media, unlike in authoritarian countries like China and Vietnam, it said. The Philippines scored 9.0 out of a possible 10 points under a grading system used by PERC under which zero is the best score and 10 the worst.

As in the 2007 survey, Thailand remained the second most corrupt economy after the Philippines with a score of 8.0 after the military, which seized power in a coup in 2006, was seen to have failed to tackle the problem. ‘The kingdom’s economy has been marking time for two years while it sorts out political problems in which allegations of corruption figure prominently,’ said PERC.

Indonesia, which ranked behind Thailand with a score of 7.98, has made improvements under the president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, but the perception of the civil service as one prone to graft remains strong, said PERC. ‘International ratings agencies might have improved Indonesia’s foreign and domestic currency debt ratings recently, citing the government’s efforts to tackle corruption... however, the problem is still very serious,’ said PERC.

Corruption is also perceived to have worsened in Malaysia, which scored 6.37 in the survey, worse than last year’s grade of 6.25, but the country retained its number six ranking in the poll. Malaysian prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s failure to carry out his promise to fight graft was one of the key reasons his ruling coalition suffered its worst ever results during last Saturday’s elections, PERC said.

‘A promise to fight corruption was the main campaign theme that won (Abdullah) a big increase in voter support in the last national elections (in 2004),’ the consultancy said.

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