Index: Singapore the least corrupt country in APAC where many fail to fight corruption

While Singapore and Hong Kong are among cleaner economies in Asia Pacific, the region on average is failing when it comes to its effort in ending corruption, according to Transparency International's recently released Corruption Perceptions Index 2017.

The index, said the organization, ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and business people. The organization counts Australia and New Zealand as Asia Pacific countries while New Zealand scores 89, topping the index as the least corrupt country in the world.

The majority of countries worldwide are making little or no progress in ending corruption while Asia Pacific has an average score of 44 on a scale of 0 to 100 where 100 means very clean and 0 reflects a deep-rooted, systemic corruption problem, Transparency International observed.

In addition, more than two-thirds of countries worldwide score below 50, with an average score of 43.

“While no country in the Asia Pacific region scores a perfect 100, not even Singapore (ranked 6 worldwide with a score of 84) or Hong Kong (ranked 13 worldwide with a score of 77), our analysis reveals little progress across the region. In the last six years, only a few countries experienced small, incremental changes indicating signs of improvement. Our further analysis shows journalists and activists in corrupt countries risking their lives every day in an effort to speak out.” Transparency International said in a statement.

Slight improvement in Indonesia and the worst regional offenders

While slight improvement was evident in Indonesia which climbed up the index from 32 to 37 in the last five years, South Korea remains fairly stable in its scores over the last six years, experiencing high-profile corruption scandals that led to massive public protests and the swift impeachment and prosecution of the president, the organization pointed out.

“This slight improvement in Indonesia could stem from the work of Indonesia’s leading anti-corruption agency in taking action against corrupt individuals, despite strong opposition from the government and parliament,” said Transparency International.

Countries including China (ranked 77 with a score of 41), India (ranked 81 with a score of 40), and Philippines (ranked 111 with a score of 34) are among the worst in the region, according to the index.