Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Devil Is In The Details

Denmark, New Zealand and Singapore were ranked top of Transparency International's 2010 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), all 3 tied with a score of 9.3. Since corruption rears its ugly head in myriad forms, blatant or subtle, it's no wonder this number has been referred to as the "murk meter" in the 5 Nov issue of The Economist. Perceptions, after all, can be so subjective.

One criticism levied is that the Berlin based TI singles out poorer countries since the organisation mirrors the ethos of wealthier nations. And there is their methodology of 13 surveys of experts and business people, which varies from country to country, and over time, making year to year comparisons misleading.

TI claims that a combination of sources measuring the same phenomenon is more reliable than each source taken separately. Their evaluation of the extent of corruption in countries/territories is done by two groups: country experts and business leaders. PERC (Political and Economic Risk Consultancy) is in the business group. It was PERC who once reported that Singaporean wages are higher than that of America and Australia, which then Deputy Prime Minister Tony Tan Tony Tan cited to justify the 1 Oct 2003 CPF cut. A cruel cut from which Singaporeans have never recovered. PERC's CEO Broadfoot defended the validity of his company's findings thus: "More often than not, business decisions are made based more on perception than facts." So much for objective professional research.

The other source aggregated for the CPI indicator is provided by country/risk/expert analysts. One of them, Freedom House - Nations in Transit 2010 (FH2010), uses scores derived from pretty tough questions like these:
1. Has the government implements executive anti-corruption initiatives?
2. Is the country's economy free of excessive state involvement?
3. Is the government free from excessive bureaucratic regulations, registration requirements, and other controls that increase opportunities for corruption?
4. Are there significant limitations on the participation of government officials in economic life?
5. Are there adequate laws requiring financial disclosure and disallowing conflict of interest?
6. Does the government advertise jobs and contracts?
7. Does the state enforce an executive legislative or administrative process - particularly one that is free of prejudice against one's political opponents - to prevent , investigate, and prosecute the corruption of government officials and civil servants?
8. Do whistle-blowers, anticorruption activists, investigators, and journalists enjoy legal protections that make them feel secure about reporting cases of bribery and corruption?
9. Are allegations of corruption given wide and extensive airing in the media?
10. Does the public display a high intolerance for offical corruption?

Since we do have members of parliament who collect company directorships like Imelda acquires footwear, or office holders who have benefitted from substantial discounts from property magnates, a perfect score of 10 looks hardly achievable. Question 5 looks particularly dicey.


  1. If North Korean President Kim Jong Ii pays his Ministers and MPs obscene salaries so that they will in return give their undivided support for his son to be appointed the next President, is that considered as corruption ?

  2. How can Singapore be independent when Singaporeans have to depend on foreign data, information and opinion to rate themselves.
    And many Singaporeans talk about other nations' politics and polities such as Malaysia, Indonesia, N Korea, Nyanmar, Iraq and African Countries as though they originated from there or had domiciled there for decades.
    How and when are Singaporeans going to be independent of their leaders and do away with their nannying?

  3. The problem is singaporean leaders need their people monies more then the people of singapore themselves...

    That is why we can see from afar all these nannying, social engineering policies to the cost of many past and current generations of singaporeans, the eugenics engineering, the make them un-thinking under-educated workers educational policies and what have you all other else policies...of which many does not make any long term viable sense for the people of only make immediate viable sense for the few who sets the wheels and direction of these policies to their own personal advantages and agendas...

    singaporean leaders are really an un-productive lot...ask yourself many of the current bunch of singaporean "leaders" are truely wise, are real thinking intellectual [not the 'shallow' ones of which there are many in their ranks], truely passionate [in serving the people not their own pockets or personal agendas] and real visionaries [the foresight to see ahead & the ability to think of the whole then the individual parts]...nonce at all...

    It is a sad state of affairs and will remain un-change for the forseeable future for singapore...because it is these 'lesser' men & women who controlled the power to change and at the same time who fear that same change and also the fear of real competition for themselves in their "comfortable" positions/structure to the expense/cost of the singaporean people...

    This pitiful to see...i do pity the people of singapore...but not their leaders who should no better...but too many has no sense of basic decency and conscience to see the whole.

    Too bad.

    A footnote in history...perhaps a lesson to learn from others who create these failures of policies and a country...

    So something useful to contribute in the end for history/economical/political students.