Transparency International today called on Southeast Asian governments to establish an ASEAN Integrity Community to protect against serious corruption risks.
Home to some of the richest, fastest-growing economies, as well as some of the planet’s poorest people, corruption continues to plague most ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries. The average score for the ASEAN countries covered in Transparency International’s 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index is 38 out of 100 (where 100 is very clean and 0 highly corrupt).
“The ASEAN Economic Community promises many benefits, but with greater economic integration comes new and larger corruption challenges for the region,” said Natalia Soebagjo, international board member of Transparency International and chair of Transparency International Indonesia. “If left unchecked, corruption not only risks jeopardising ASEAN’s collective goals, but becoming potentially an even greater problem for each member state and their people than it is today.”
Almost 50 per cent of people in six ASEAN countries believe corruption has increased, while only a third say their government’s efforts to fight corruption have been effective, according to the 2013 Global Corruption Barometer, a public opinion survey by Transparency International.
“ASEAN governments need to show leadership through swift action on the establishment of an inclusive multi-stakeholder regional body to tackle corruption,” said Srirak Plipat, director of the Asia Pacific department at Transparency International. “Unless collective action is taken, the massive infrastructure development and increased trade central to achieving the region’s economic potential will be left vulnerable to corruption.”
All ASEAN countries have signed up to the UN Convention against Corruption, committing to implement its wide-ranging measures. However, in many countries public institutions lack transparency and accountability, key anti-corruption laws are absent and civil society engagement is restricted. Only Indonesia and Thailand have passed a freedom of information law, while many anti-corruption authorities in the region fall short of their full potential, often suffering from a lack of operational independence and limited capacities.
To support the development of a targeted ASEAN anti-corruption action plan, Transparency International brought together representatives from government, business and civil society in the region. Hosted by the Myanmar Anti-Corruption Commission, in partnership with UNODC and with support from the Myanmar Development Resource Institute, the event participants developed a set of priority recommendations: recognising the need for an ASEAN Integrity Community, effective anti-corruption legislation, strong and independent anti-corruption authorities, enhanced intergovernmental anti-corruption cooperation, meaningful engagement with civil society and the creation of a level playing field for business. Together with key regional stakeholders, Transparency International will develop these recommendations to advance the anti-corruption agenda in ASEAN.
Transparency International is the civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption
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