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Corruption remains a major problem in Asia, damaging trust in government, survey finds

Nearly one in five respondents paid a bribe while accessing essential services such as health care

A report released today by Transparency International reveals that citizens across 17 countries in Asia report stagnant or rising levels of corruption, undermining equitable access to public services and trust in government.

Read the report

The report, Global Corruption Barometer – Asia, finds that three-quarters of respondents believe that government corruption is a big problem in their country, with nearly one in five people (19 per cent) paying a bribe when accessing public services in the previous year. This is equivalent to about 836 million people.

Personal connections

In addition to bribery, the use of personal connections to access public services is also prevalent across Asia. The results found that more than one in five people (22 per cent) who accessed public services used their personal connections to receive the assistance they needed.

When asked why, 24 per cent of people who paid bribes said they were asked to do so, while 30 per cent of people who used personal connections said they would not have received the service otherwise. This suggests that people are paying bribes to speed up essential services, highlighting red tape and inefficient bureaucracy, while pushing those without the means at their disposal to the back of the queue

Age is another important factor. Young people aged 18 to 34 are more likely to pay a bribe or use personal connections than any other age group.

Elections, democracy under threat

The survey found corruption around elections is also prevalent. Nearly one in seven people were offered bribes in exchange for votes at a national, regional or local election in the past five years.

“Protecting the integrity of elections is critical to ensuring that corruption doesn’t undermine democracy,” said Delia Ferreira Rubio, Chair of Transparency International. “Throughout the region, election commissions and anti-corruption agencies need to work in lockstep to counter vote-buying, which weakens trust in government.”

Anti-corruption agencies, citizens offer hope

Across Asia, more than three out of four people (76 per cent) are familiar with the anti-corruption agency in their country, of which, 63 per cent think that the agency is doing a good job.

In addition, people across the region are hopeful about the future of anti-corruption. More than three in five (62 per cent) think that ordinary people can make a difference in the fight against corruption.

For more information and a full list of recommendations, visit:

Country data

Notes to editors

The findings of Global Corruption Barometer – Asia will be discussed in several sessions at the 19th International Anti-Corruption Conference, held online from 30 November to 5 December and hosted by the Republic of Korea. Register here.

About Transparency International

Through chapters in more than 100 countries and an international secretariat in Berlin, Transparency International has been leading the fight against corruption for the last 27 years.

About the Global Corruption Barometer

The GCB is one of the largest, most detailed surveys of citizens’ views on corruption and experiences of bribery in 17 countries across the region. The GCB surveyed nearly 20,000 people in Asia from March 2019 – September 2020. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, most interviews for this survey were conducted via telephone using random digital dialling (RDD) with quota control as a sampling approach. For more details on the methodology, a full list of countries surveyed and information on the survey approach, please see here.

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