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Southeast Asia is notoriously prone to corruption. Few doubt that corruption exists, but the secretive and corrosive nature of the activity means that it can be difficult to gauge.

One clever approach has been adopted by Transparency International, whose efforts measuring perceptions of corruption (as opposed to the corruption itself) have become something of the gold standard for comparative measures of corruption internationally.

The table that follows is based on expert opinion, and reflects measures of the perceived levels of public sector corruption in Southeast Asia (in descending order from least corrupt to most corrupt), with China and Taiwan retained for comparison.


Source: http://files.transparency.org/content/download/1956/12836/file/2015_CPI_data.xlsx

A final point I would like to make is that the featured image may be misleading. Yes, it reflects a common understanding of corruption, but to quote Transparency International, it reflects a “reality in environments where citizens are trapped in poverty and corrupt officials can be paid off.

It’s just one example of the devastation fuelled by corruption. Others include human trafficking, child mortality, poor education standards, environmental destruction and terrorism.

Put simply – public sector corruption is about so much more than missing money. It’s about people’s lives”.

In this context, the above table/ranking can also be seen as a proxy for the quality of life for the poor of Southeast Asia.

Note: This data is now approaching a year old. I will update readers on the latest statistics, anticipated to be released in a couple of months time.