One in four people around the world paid a bribe in dealing with public services and institutions in the past 12 months, according to the annual global corruption survey by Transparency International (TI).
In the world’s largest assessment of public opinion on the subject, the 2013 Global Corruption Barometer found that political parties are considered the most corrupt institutions, followed by the police, the judiciary, parliament and public officials. Religious institutions are seen as the least corrupt.
However, Taiwanese respondents felt the nation’s most corrupt institutions are the Legislative Yuan and political parties, followed by the media, the Berlin-based TI’s local branch said.
Transparency International Chinese Taipei said TI commissioned the Gallup Poll to interview 114,000 people in 107 nations between September last year and March on their perceptions of institutions in their countries and how their governments were battling corruption.
Respondents were asked to rate their parliaments, political parties, courts, police, media and private sector on a scale of one to five, where one means “corruption is not a problem at all” and five means “corruption is a very serious problem.
Taiwanese gave the legislature and political parties a rating of 4.1 — the worst of all the surveyed institutions. The media was rated 3.8, indicating that it was seen as the second-most corrupt institution, followed by public servants and police (3.7) and the military (3.6).
Kevin Yeh (葉一璋), executive director of TI Chinese Taipei, said the Taiwanese respondents probably gave the media such a low rating because of the recent high-profile merger controversy, since they might be worried that the media could become a “colluding party” to political corruption, while its watchdog function could weaken.
TI said its annual survey shows a crisis of trust in politics and real concern about the capacity of institutions responsible for bringing criminals to justice.
“It is the actors that are supposed to be running countries and upholding the rule of law that are seen as the most corrupt, judged to be abusing their positions of power and acting in their own interests rather than for citizens they are there to represent and serve,” the report said.
Politicians could lead by example by publishing asset declarations for themselves and their immediate family, the organization said. Political parties and individual candidates should disclose where they get their money from to make clear who funds them and reveal potential conflicts of interest.
The average score across the countries surveyed was 4.1. Concern was highest in Liberia and Mongolia, which both scored 4.8. More optimistic were people in Denmark, Finland, Rwanda, Sudan and Switzerland, all of which recorded scores below three.
Of the 107 countries surveyed, only 11, including Taiwan, Azerbaijan, Rwanda and South Sudan, thought corruption had decreased. More than half of respondents in Taiwan thought corruption had decreased.
The survey reported that 27 percent of respondents had paid a bribe with police the most often bribed institution.
In Taiwan, 35 percent of respondents reported paying a bribe to the judiciary
However, nearly nine out of 10 people surveyed said they would act against corruption, while two-thirds of those asked to pay a bribe refused. Most said they would be willing to report corruption.
Compared with the 2010-2011 survey, belief in citizens’ power to address corruption has dropped from 72 percent to 67 percent across the 91 countries covered by both surveys.
In Taiwan, only 13 percent of respondents thought ordinary people could make a difference in fighting corruption.
“Governments need to make sure that there are strong, independent and well-resourced institutions to prevent and redress corruption,” said Huguette Labelle, chair of Transparency International. “Too many people are harmed when these core institutions and basic services are undermined by the scourge of corruption.”