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Corruption in South East Asia

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The fight against corruption has become institutionalized over the past decade, a sign that this problem has emerged as a critical issue in today's economies. Since 1995, Transparency International publishes an annual index of perceived corruption (CPI). While the results must be taken with caution, they suggest a correlation between the level of development of countries and their degree of corruption. Before continuing our discussion, we should define what we will later call, Southeast Asia. This term refers to the areas that extend from Myanmar in the northwest to Papua New Guinea in the South East.

It is particularly interesting to study the phenomenon of corruption in this area for several reasons. The first factor is that South East Asia had poor public figures. This is because, since the majority of its representatives are in the tail rankings on criterion. The second one is that this is an area, where there are still some surprising disparities like those between Singapore and Cambodia. The final factor is that the race for the development. It is interesting to see how the South East Asians fight this factor which is still very firmly rooted in local mores. The objective of this study is twofold: to understand the different components of the phenomenon of the corruption in this area and to put into perspective the complexity of this space, in order to understand diversity better. This is to understand the implications of this failure of power on three main levels: social, economic and political.

Many practices can be identified and generalized to all countries in the region. Let's start with the obvious corruption: political corruption, for example, to fund some campaigns or unlawfully to defraud elections. This was the case with the elections of June 2005 in the Philippines. According to published allegations, President Arroyo and her family have manipulated the election results and have resorted to harassment and even kidnapping of certain personalities. This kind of corruption may also pertain to embezzlement. The former Philippine President Joseph Estrada (1998-2001) was accused of embezzling some 80 million euros.

Other forms of corruption are less dramatic, but are nonetheless important. Note for example the illegal rebates in certain government contracts, or percentages pocketed by public officials on government contracts (transferred to bank accounts abroad). Other types of corruption have a strong presence in everyday life. This is the case of blackmail by the police, who often use threats to obtain payment), or the payment of a sum of money to speed up procedures for the issuance of certain paper, or weekly payments of money to his superior by the official.

Obviously, this list is not exhaustive. Note that we must distinguish between small and big scale corruption. The first is practiced by petty officials, who not only get paid for committing illegal actions, but also pay to exercise their statutory functions. Grand corruption, it is the prerogative of officials who, in search of big personal benefits, divert the collective interests for their own good.

Tags: corruption, extortion, red tapism, bribery

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