Government questions corruption poll results

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Jul 12, 2013 - Page 1

The findings of Transparency International’s (TI) 2013 Global Corruption Barometer, which included Taiwan among the most corrupt nations in the world, were called into question yesterday by the government as Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) demanded that the Ministry of Justice’s Agency Against Corruption contact the organization to request its methodology and rectify its survey results.

Executive Yuan spokesperson Cheng Li-wun (鄭麗文) said the survey did not accurately reflect the situation in Taiwan and the allegedly inaccurate results could be attributed to the Hong Kong-registered company in Shanghai, China, that conducted the survey.

The Berlin-based NGO commissioned WisdomAsia Marketing & Research Consulting of Gallup International to conduct the annual survey, Cheng said, adding that the government has queried the information with Transparency International Chinese Taipei, TI’s chapter in Taiwan.

“The survey has a large margin of error [for several reasons]. People who were polled might have had difficulty understanding the questions posed by callers from Shanghai because of their accents. Some might have thought that they had received a call from a scammer pretending to be conducting the survey,” Cheng said at a press conference following a weekly Cabinet meeting, at which the survey was discussed.

Taiwan was one of the 107 countries surveyed for the report on the public’s experiences with bribery and views on corruption in government institutions in their countries. This survey was conducted between September last year and March, with 1,000 Taiwanese polled. The report was released on Tuesday.

Table 1 of Appendix C of the report indicated that the bribery rate in Taiwan stands at 36 percent, meaning that 36 percent of respondents said they had paid a bribe to gain services in one of eight public sectors — police, judiciary, registry, land, medical, education, tax and utilities — over the past 12 months.

Based on the survey, local media reported yesterday that Taiwan was ranked 18th on the list of countries with the highest bribery rates.

The Chinese-language Apple Daily said the report showed that Taiwan has the third-highest rate of bribery among 14 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, after 57 percent in Cambodia and 39 percent in Bangladesh.

The daily did not to mention India, which has a bribery rate of 54 percent, the table showed.

“We disagree with media reports saying Taiwan is the third-most corrupt country in the Asia-Pacific region,” Minister of Justice Tseng Yung-fu (曾勇夫) said at the press conference.

The ministry has checked with TI’s office in Taipei, which said “the survey did not give country ranking on level of bribery prevalence,” Tseng said.

The ministry added in a separate press statement that local media reports on the survey did not accurately interpret the report because Taiwan’s bribery rating was linked to the survey’s seventh question.

The survey posed 12 questions, three of which had two sub-questions. The first part of the seventh question asked respondents if they or anyone in their household had come in contact with one of the eight public sectors in the past 12 months. Participants who responded positively to the first part of the question were then asked that in their contact or contacts, have they or anyone in their households paid a bribe in any form during the period.

Results of the survey in Taiwan showed that 16 percent of respondents contacted education sector, 35 percent judiciary sector, 21 percent medical sector, 16 percent police sector, 15 percent registry sector, 17 percent utilities sector, 15 percent tax sector, and 11 percent land sector, or an average of 18.25 percent.

On the second part, 36 percent of respondents gave a positive answer.

The Judicial Yuan said the 2013 Global Corruption Barometer miscalculated the bribery rate in Taiwan.

The result of the seventh question showed that, among the 18.25 percent of respondents answering “yes” to the first part of the question, 35 percent have paid a bribe, which made the bribery rate 6.3 percent, the Judicial Yuan said.

However, it was unclear whether Table 1 of the report was drawn according to survey results of the second part of the seventh question.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Anna Kao (高安) said the nation’s representative office in Germany will contact the TI’s head office to express the nation’s concerns over the report.

Kao said the representative office will try to understand how the organization selected samples, to communicate and clarify doubts, and to reject the results.

The Ministry of Justice said the quoted bribery rate of 36 percent did not make any sense because it meant that 7 million Taiwanese aged above 18 had paid a bribe, adding that the figure was a lot higher than a survey commissioned by the Agency Against Corruption last year, which showed that 0.8 percent of respondents had paid a bribe and 2.5 percent said they had only heard of things like that happening.