What does the TI survey on Corruption tell us about Singapore?

30 Jun

66% of Singaporean respondents in a Transparency International poll indicated that the business and private sector is the most affected by corruption. In comparison, only 10% and 8% respectively felt that political parties and the media are less corrupted while the parliament and judiciary is perceived to be the least corrupted sectors.

When asked how corrupted the business sector is, the average score is 2.7 (with 1 – not at all corrupted to 5 – most corrupted).  6% of the respondents replied that they and their household have paid a bribe in the last year (the fourth lowest in the Asia Pacific region with Brunei, Japan and and South Korea having lesser respondents having paid bribes).

On the effectiveness of the government in eliminating corruption, a resounding 96% felt that the PAP has done a good job. This is the highest approval rating amongst all the respondents from different countries.

What can we infer from these statistics?

Firstly, these results imply that the majority of Singaporeans believe the current PAP government has done well in stopping corruption.

Interestingly, within the region, Singaporeans share the same sentiments with respondents from another non-democratic state, Brunei when it comes to the extent of corruption within political parties – 2.1 on an average score. Inversely, political parties are generally perceived as more affected by corruption in democracies. Within the Asia Pacific region, India, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea and Thailand, which are considered democracies, have the highest disapproval rating with political parties in this aspect. India, Malaysia, South Korea and Thailand also come out tops with political parties as compared to other sectors as the most affected sector by corruption.

On the other hand, the poll results may reveal a crack or failure in the PAP government’s economic policies which is to exhort the virtue of creating a pro- big business or pro- foreign investment climate. This can be seen from the average score of 2.7 on the business sector of the extent of its being affected by corruption and a significant 66% of those who felt that it is the most affected by corruption.

Yet, since the questions asked did not differentiate between the different types of business sectors, which can be roughly categorised into small, medium or transnational corporations, it may be too hasty to come to the above conclusion. Perhaps another independent and well-conducted survey that delves into different business sectors may reveal more.

Lastly, with 96% of respondents believing that the current government is doing a good job in combating corruption, it indicates that the majority of Singaporeans feel that corruption is not a significant problem in the country. This is despite the fact that at least 6% of those polled having paid a bribe. It would be interesting to discover which sector the bribes are mostly being paid to.

While these statistics imply that Singaporeans generally perceive the government of doing a good job in combating corruption, it does not necessarily mean that they agree with the exorbitant salaries of the high level ministers and bureaucrats. The PAP government has often argued senior government officials should be well-paid to reflect their competency and to a lesser extent, in reducing corruption. This is however, at best, a tenuous argument – that preventing corruption is a major factor in assessing the competency of the government or that well-paid government authorities are less susceptible to the temptation of corruption.


Source of charts (below) drawn from Transparency International 2009 Global Corruption Barometer:





One Response to “What does the TI survey on Corruption tell us about Singapore?”

  1. Singapore Democrats July 6, 2009 at 2:36 pm #

    Thank you for the insightful blogpost. The Singapore Democrats have featured your post in our blogs of the week section – http://yoursdp.org/index.php/news/blogs-of-the-week

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