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TI report investigates strength of institutions of oversight and accountability in East and Southeast Asia

Transparency International (TI) today released a report investigating the health of those institutions on the front line of the fight against corruption in East and Southeast Asia.

The Regional Overview Report on National Integrity Systems in East and Southeast Asia identified regional trends and best practice based on nine National Integrity System (NIS) Studies undertaken in the region in 2006, in Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

“This report is essential for public institutions and civil society in establishing regional benchmarks in the fight for better governance,” said Transparency International Regional Director for Asia – Pacific, Pascal Fabie. “Despite differences in national context and levels of governance, the regional report found definite trends.”

The report identified two prevailing modes of corruption control in the region, either through a single centralised anti-corruption agency or through multiple agencies, often with strongly overlapping mandates.

It concluded that the experience of Singapore and Hong Kong proved the effectiveness of a single independent agency dedicated to the task of corruption control, and that reliance on multiple anti-corruption agencies led to lack of coordination, competition for resources and dilution of anti-corruption efforts.

The report noted, however, that the existence of a single anti-corruption agency does not automatically guarantee success in combating corruption. Three conditions improve its effectiveness:

  • political will
  • an incorruptible anti-corruption agency
  • vigorous investigation of corruption at all levels, in both the public and private sector

The report found that the National Integrity Systems in East and Southeast Asian countries still have profound weaknesses. Even Hong Kong and Singapore, recognised as the strongest in the region, still have significant room for improvement, for example in involving civil society in government decision-making processes.

“We must remain optimistic, as even simple reforms can move a country in the right direction,” concluded Jon Quah, anti-corruption expert and author of the regional overview report. “A Chinese proverb wisely notes that ‘a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.’ The critical first step is that political leaders must manifest their sincere commitment to curbing corruption.”

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Transparency International is the global civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption.

Note to editors:

About Transparency International’s National Integrity System (NIS) studies:

The National Integrity System model was developed by Transparency International as a way of understanding the institutional forces at play in the fight against corruption. When it functions properly, a National Integrity System inhibits corruption, abuse of power, malfeasance, and misappropriation in all its forms, by carefully balancing responsibilities, oversight and pathways for intervention among formal and informal institutions (such as audit bodies, the executive office, independent media and civil society).By diagnosing the strengths and weaknesses of a particular integrity system, an evaluation based on the NIS can help inform anti-corruption advocacy and reform efforts. Developed by TI, NIS studies analyse the key institutions, laws and practices that contribute to integrity, transparency and accountability in a society. The quality and credibility of the study’s methodology have been assured internationally, with over 55 studies published as of August 2006. The research goes through a rigorous process of review by external experts and focus groups before it is released.


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