The US government has invited Taiwan and 110 other countries, including many in the EU, to take part in an online Summit for Democracy on Thursday and Friday.
A US Department of State spokesperson in October said that Taiwan could make meaningful commitments to the aims of the summit — defending against authoritarianism, fighting corruption and promoting human rights.
The spokesperson cited the high ranking awarded Taiwan by Transparency International, and praised the country for its use of emerging technologies to make governments more transparent and responsive to the public mood.
Taiwan has for more than a decade ranked about 30th out of the 180 countries and regions listed in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI), and for the past two years it has advanced to 28th place. It has also achieved passing scores throughout this period.
Among the East Asian countries that have not been invited to the Summit for Democracy, such as China, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia, all except for Singapore scored below 40 out of 100 in the CPI and ranked lower than 80th place.
Transparency International’s CPI is based on data collected from 13 highly respected international organizations such as the UK’s Economist Intelligence Unit and Switzerland’s Institute for Management Development. The information is processed through a secondary data analysis, followed by systematic and scientific scoring and ranking.
After more than 20 years, the CPI enjoys considerable international credibility and is highly regarded by national governments. It is for good reason that the State Department used this index as a reference for selecting which countries to invite to the summit.
In 2010, Taiwan established the Agency Against Corruption, which combined the pre-existing government ethics and investigative systems to establish a sound and comprehensive system for anti-corruption education, prevention and investigation.
Although Taiwan is not a UN member state, it has instituted the Act to Implement the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (聯合國反貪腐公約施行法), and it adheres to the provisions of the convention. Taiwan has gained international recognition for its concerted efforts in this regard.
The chairperson of Transparency International has been invited to give a presentation at the summit on Thursday. There is to be a forum to discuss how corruption hurts democracy, which is expected to issue a joint declaration against corruption.
It is good to see how seriously democratic countries are taking the issue of corruption, and Taipei is no doubt happy to share with other countries its experience in using new technologies to make governments more transparent.
However, the nation must not be complacent about its achievements with regard to clean government, but rather strive to do even better.
For example, two years ago the Ministry of Justice invited international experts to review Taiwan’s achievements in implementing the UN Convention Against Corruption. The experts recommended that Taiwan should institute a “whistle-blower protection act” and strengthen anti-corruption awareness and regulations in the private sector, but no progress has been made on these proposals.
Hopefully, the Legislative Yuan and government ethics agencies can act a bit faster to further enhance Taiwan’s achievements in democracy and clean government.
Hsu Jen-hui is chair of Transparency International Chinese Taipei.
Translated by Julian Clegg
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