December 9 was International Anti-Corruption Day.
In Southeast Asia the release last week of Transparency International’s 2011 Corruption Perception Index offered no surprises.
Singapore, as usual, is perceived to be ‘very clean’ while most of the other nations in Southeast Asia
are close to the bottom of the list that are considered highly corrupt.
So what’s the view from these countries themselves?
In Thailand this week saw the launch of a United Nations-backed campaign called ‘Corruption – I won’t accept it’ , targeted at students. But as the Bangkok Post points out, this is already the third campaign to be launched against corruption in the last six months. Unless accompanied by concrete measures, these efforts may not produce anything in a country that regards corruption as acceptable as long as it gets the work done. “Such pervasive nonchalance needs to be addressed if the country is ever to stand a chance of defeating this scourge,” the newspaper says.
In Cambodia, there are doubts that the campaign of the country’s Anti-Corruption Unit has been effective because its very structure shields corruption at the highest levels, reports the Phnom Penh Post. There have been some high profile arrests but, as one activist pointed out, not very many.
And in Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country, a young teacher has challenged his fifth grade pupils to stop cheating. As Patrya Pratama writes in the Jakarta Post:
“Each of us can and must be our own ambassador for anticorruption, because it’s our own integrity and future that are at stake. I for one don’t want to have to tell my children that the country we are living in will become more and more corrupt as they grow up. The question now is simple: Are you braver than a fifth grader?