The Hong Kong consultancy that produced a report that prompted President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to order a three-month judicial and governmental review of corruption earlier this week said yesterday the scores should not be interpreted as meaning Taiwan is more corrupt than China.
Bob Broadfoot, managing director of Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC), also said the corruption index cited by Ma included perceptions both of the nation’s leadership and the opposition leadership.
“The score where Taiwan scores worse than China is on perceptions [of foreign executives] regarding the national leadership,” Broadfoot wrote yesterday in an e-mail to the Taipei Times. “The interpretation, therefore, should not be that corruption is worse in one place than the other, but that executives in Taiwan have a less favorable view of the island’s national-level political leaders (including opposition heads) when it comes to corruption than executives working in the Mainland view China’s national-level leaders.”
Broadfoot also said the index did not include corruption in the police, judiciary, financial sector or civil service, in which perceptions in Taiwan were better than in China.
On Wednesday, Ma surprised reporters by presiding over a press conference at which he expressed strong “distress” and said the nation’s achievements in democracy and its core values had been “tarnished.”
“Taiwan’s degree of corruption was unexpectedly worse than that of mainland China,” Ma said.
Ma said most of the corruption had occurred under the former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration and vowed to address the problem.
He ordered the government and judiciary to launch a probe into “major” corruption cases and produce a report within three months detailing the cases and proposing measures to fight corruption.
A day later, the legislature’s Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee tasked Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) with creating an anti-graft commission, with Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅) saying the president had declared war on corruption. Chiu called on the state public prosecutor-general to step down to allow for faster proceedings against former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).
Minister of Justice Wang Ching-feng (王清峰) said she was as distressed as the president about corruption in the former administration and that her ministry was hard at work on the special probe ordered by Ma.
The Political and Economic Risk Consultancy’s annual report surveyed more than 1,700 foreign business executives in 16 countries.
In the category of perceptions of corruption among the nation’s leadership, Taiwan scored 6.47 on a scale of zero to 10, while China scored 6.16.
On why perceptions of central leadership corruption could be more favorable in China, Broadfoot said: “The problem of corruption [in China] is perceived to be more serious at the local and provincial level. National level leaders are considered ‘cleaner.’ In Taiwan this is not the case.”
He speculated that frequent allegations of corruption in Taiwan by politicians could be reflected in the survey results.
“It could well be that rival politicians in Taiwan are so busy calling each other corrupt that they are responsible for creating the impression that our survey reflects,” Broadfoot said.
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