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Annual anti-corruption ranking lists Singapore No.1 in Asia, 4th worldwide

2020-02-21 16:13 Friday

Among an annual worldwide ranking of countries deemed to have the lowest levels of corruption, Singapore has taken 4th place in the public sector, on par with Switzerland and Sweden, for the second year in a row.

Graft watchdog Transparency International's "2019 Corruption Perceptions Index" named the three countries as having an overall score of 85 out of 100, with higher numbers receiving a denomination as 'very clean'.


Singapore is the only country in Asia to make the top 10. The consistent front runners for years have been Denmark and New Zealand. They tied for the number one spot with 87 points on the chart, released last month.

The analysis issued by Transparency International, which is based in Berlin, noted that a large number of countries showed zero significant improvement in tackling graft, despite anti-corruption movements gaining ground around the world.

One in three of the 180 countries scored under 50, with 43 being the average score, the same as in 2018.

Over the past eight years, only 22 countries have significantly increased their scores. These include Guyana, Greece and Estonia. During the same period, the scores of more than 20 countries declined considerably.

Begun in 1995, the Corruption Perceptions Index, rates 180 countries and regions by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, according to business people and experts. It collects data from 13 surveys and professional assessments to calculate a score for each country.

Singapore-based Denis Tang, Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) director, said in a statement: "While Singapore has done relatively well in the fight against corruption, as attested to by several international surveys, we mustn't allow this to lull us into a sense of complacency.

"In fact, we have to work even harder to ensure that incorruptibility remains part of the DNA of every Singaporean."

The Bureau pointed to Singapore's high standing in other Asia Pacific anti-corruption indicators such as the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy's "2019 Report on Corruption in Asia", which has reported Singapore as being the least corrupt country in the region consistently for the past 25 years.

Lawyer Wilson Ang said of the index: "Even though we have slipped a place from 3rd to 4th, it is not a significant decline.

Ang, who is a specialist in Asia regulatory compliance and investigations practice at global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright, noted: "What's more important is that Singapore should continue to keep pace with global developments and update its laws to address the corruption risks in doing business."

He commented that some local countries which ranked poorly on the index, such as India, Malaysia and Thailand, have recently revised their laws on corporate liability and updated anti-corruption compliance regulations to bring them closer in line with mature jurisdictions such as the States and the UK. This is expected to make it easier to identify corruption at a corporate level, not just among individuals.

He remarked: "I think Singapore ought to review our laws and implement a more consistent and workable test for corporate criminal liability. It should also give credit and a legal defense to companies which have, in good faith, implemented anti-corruption compliance programs." 

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