UCLA International Institute
Asia Pacific Center

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Perceptions of Corruption in Asia -- results from Transparency International's 2003 Index

Singapore is thought to have the "cleanest" public sector among Asian nations. Bangladesh is perceived to have the most corrupt public sector.

According to surveys examined by Transparency International, Singapore is preceived to have least corrupt public sector among Asian nations. Singapore ranked number 5 worldwide. Hong Kong and Japan joined Singapore as the only Asian states ranking among the top 25 nations. Asia's largest nations, China, India, and Indonesia, all scored in the bottom half of the 133 ranked nations.

For over a decade, Transparency International, a non-profit organization based in Germany, has sought to promote economic development by shining an unfavorable light on practices that discourage investment and economic growth.

Transparency International's "Corruption Perception Index" lists 133 nations, from those perceived to have the least public sector corruption to those perceived to have the worst public sector corruption. Transparency International's definition of public sector corruption: "the abuse of public office for private gain." Transparency International produces this list by drawing on results from 17 polls carried out by 13 different institutions.

Some Asian nations are not included in the list below because Transparency International lacked more than two sets of data on perceptions of public sector corruption in those countries. These include: Afghanistan, Bhutan, Brunei, East Timor, Laos, Macau, Mongolia, Nepal, and North Korea.

Asian nations included in the 2003 Transparency International
Corruption Perception Index

Rank Nation Score
(higher means perceived to be less corrupt)
No. of surveys used
5 Singapore 9.4
14 (tie) Hong Kong 8.0
21 (tie) Japan 7.0
30 (tie) Taiwan 5.7
37 (tie) Malaysia 5.2
50 (tie) South Korea 4.3
66 (tie) China 3.4
66 (tie) Sri Lanka 3.4
70 (tie) Thailand 3.3
83 (tie) India 2.8
92 (tie) Pakistan 2.5
92 (tie) Philippines 2.5
100 (tie) Vietnam 2.4
118 (tie) Papua New Guinea 2.1
122 (tie) Indonesia 1.9
129 (tie) Myanmar 1.6
133 Bangladesh 1.3

Worldwide, the countries perceived to have the least corrupt public sectors were:

Rank Country Score (higher is better)
1 Finland 9.7
2 Iceland 9.6
3 Denmark 9.5
New Zealand 9.5
5 Singapore 9.4
6 Sweden 9.3
7 Netherlands 8.9
8 Australia 8.8
Norway 8.8
Switzerland 8.8
11 Canada 8.7
Luxembourg 8.7
United Kingdom 8.7
18 Ireland 7.5
United States 7.5

Worldwide, the countries perceived to have the most corrupt public sectors were:

Rank Nation Score
(higher means perceived to be less corrupt)
133 Bangladesh 1.3
132 Nigeria 1.4
131 Haiti 1.5
129 Myanmar 1.6
Paraguay 1.6
124 Angola 1.8
Azerbaijian 1.8
Cameroon 1.8
Georgia 1.8
Tajikistan 1.8

Transparency International drew upon surveys conducted by the following: Global Competitiveness Report (World Economic Forum), World Competitiveness Yearbook (Institute for Management Development), Survey of Middle Eastern Businesspeople (Information International), World Business Environment Survey (World Bank), Country Risk Service and Country Forecast (Economist Intelligence Unit), Nations in Transit (Freedom House), Risk Ratings (World Markets Research Centre), State Capacity Survey (Columbia University), Asian Intelligence Issue (Political and Economic Risk Consultancy), Opacity Index (Price WaterhouseCoopers), Survey (unnamed multilateral development bank), Corruption Survey (Gallop International on behalf of Transparency International), and Business Environment and Enterprise Performance Survey (World Bank and the EBRD).

This information and much more is available in the AsiaStats portion of the Asia Institute website.