Wed, Oct 08, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Experts see progress on corruption

TRANSPARENCY Academics and lawyers believe a study ranking countries on corruption shows Taiwan's decision to crack down has paid off

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan slipped in a study ranking countries on corruption, but academics and lawyers insisted yesterday that progress was being made.

According to a study released by Transparency International Taiwan (TI-Taiwan) at a press conference yesterday, Taiwan ranked 30th on a list of 133 countries. The country achieved a score of 5.7 on the 10-point "Corruption Perception Index." The 5.7 was a slight improvement over last year's 5.6, but the nation fell from last year's 29th spot. A higher score on the index indicates less corruption.

"Thanks to Minister of Justice Chen Ding-nan's (陳定南) hard work on an anti-corruption crackdown over the past three years, statistics show that local corruption cases are decreasing," Hsieh Li-kong (謝立功), an associate professor at Central Police University, said at the press conference.

The study is the result of surveys conducted by 13 non-governmental organizations and the work of more than 20,000 participants from over 200 countries.

According to the index, Finland was the least corrupt nation with a score of 9.7. Iceland ranked second with a score of 9.6. Denmark and New Zealand shared third place with a score of 9.5.

Closer to home, Singapore came in fifth place with a score of 9.4 -- the highest rank among Asian countries -- while Hong Kong, the second highest score in Asia, was listed 14th worldwide with a score of eight.

China placed 66th with a score of 3.4.

Canada and the UK tied for 11th with a score of 8.7. The US, with a score of 7.5, placed 18th.

Bangladesh ranked last with a score of 1.3.

"The index reflects ... participants' impression of corruption toward these 133 countries," said Jay Shih (施能傑), a member of TI-Taiwan and a professor at National Cheng-chi University.

Hsieh said that clean elections are key to driving away corruption and that Chen has made remarkable progress.

"It is a problem of the public's attitude," Hsieh said. "In the past, candidates believed that they had to buy votes to win elections. After they won their campaigns, they began to accept bribes in order to `balance' their bank accounts. It is a vicious cycle."

According to Hsieh, establishing connections with foreign law enforcement agencies should be a priority as it would help Taiwan handle an increasing number of international corruption cases.

Su Yiu-chen (蘇友辰), defense counsel in the Hsichih trio murder case, said that the government is making progress despite slipping in the ranking.

"It only showed that many other countries are also making progress," Su said. "We still have lots of room to improve."

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