There are two possibilities that could explain the results. First, the China-based agency was unfamiliar with Taiwan, so the survey findings were seriously flawed, and there was no effort to deal with potential problems at the time. The second possibility is more serious — in TI’s decision to use an online survey.
Respondents to online surveys tend to be from a certain group of Internet users, with their own specific traits which introduce systemic survey bias. While true that these surveys help keep costs to a minimum, they are not used in very stringent studies. TICT should now conduct a more stringent survey of its own so that findings closer to the true situation can be obtained.
That said, even if Taiwan’s performance turns out to be better than the findings published with this report, the government departments concerned should still resolve to clear up the corruption that is found in the customs, the judiciary and the tax authorities and in the construction sector, and to reflect upon why there has been no discernible fall in corruption since the establishment of the Agency Against Corruption under the Ministry of Justice.
It is worth noting that even countries less developed than Taiwan, such as Uruguay and Chile, are ranked under 20 and that even Africa’s Botswana is above Taiwan. So we cannot say that combating corruption is an impossible task.
Tu Jenn-hwa is director of the Commerce Development Research Institute’s business development and policy research department.
Translated by Paul Cooper