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China: Corruption not Necessarily ‘Getting Worse’
Source: macaudailytimes.com.mo
Source Date: Thursday, October 28, 2010
Focus: ICT for MDGs, Institution and HR Management
Country: China
Created: Nov 01, 2010

Macau’s ranking on the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index has continued to drop since 2006, but a local scholar and lawmaker both agree that corruption in the territory has not necessarily worsened.
Eilo Yu Wing Yat, a public administration professor from the University of Macau, told the Macau Daily Times yesterday that he believed Macau’s ranking has been lowered because local enterprises’ understanding of the situation has changed.
The 2010 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) ranked Macau 46th among 178 countries in the world, and 10th among 33 countries and regions of Asia Pacific. The ranking has dropped 17 places since 2006, the first year it appeared in the report.
The non-governmental organisation also gave an average score to Macau – 5.0 on a scale from 0 (highly corrupt) to 10 (very clean), down by 0.3 points compared to 2009.
“In 2006 there were a lot of business opportunities in Macau and therefore enterprises had higher confidence in everything and also higher evaluation on the Government’s transparency and openness,” Yu said.
The scholar said that it is not necessarily that corruption in Macau has become more prominent, but rather that businesspeople have understood more about the Government’s transparency level and hence become more aware of the problem.
“Superficially, I don’t see that the corruption situation has got more serious,” he said, although he agreed that the index can somehow reflect “part of the reality”.
Nevertheless, Yu stressed that with or without this report the Government still has the responsibility to improve the situation in the SAR.
“The creation of a ‘sunshine government’ didn’t bring a big improvement, and the spokesperson system is regarded by the media as ineffective,” he said.
The scholar referred to the recent permanent cemetery scandal, where the administration seems to have lost the related internal documents which he said was an example “completely opposite to the ‘sunshine government’ principle”.
“If the Government can’t handle documents properly, how can the public trust the ‘sunshine government’? In this stage [the Government] can’t even do just the basic things well,” Yu told MDT.
In defense of the Government, Chief Executive-appointed lawmaker Tong Io Cheng says that except the Ao Man Long graft scandal, there has been no other case that has affected Macau’s image in recent years.
Tong declined to comment further on the index as he said he hadn’t studied the report yet.
In response to the bribery accusations made by different grassroots associations, the lawmaker stressed that he doesn’t want to comment on “conjectures or subjective judgements without any evidence”.

He also said that the creation of a “sunshine government” has to be done step-by-step, adding that various public departments are already working based on this principle.
According to lawyer João Miguel Barros, it is hard to make comments on the report since it does not say clearly what the factors were behind Macau’s ranking.
However, he does not regard the results as a surprise, adding that Macau still has “a long way to go” in terms of reducing bureaucracy.
“There is the confidence that [the Government] has already done enough to reduce bureaucracy, but in practice people still run into problems. There is a need to prevent corruption and create a set of best practices in the administration,” he said.
“Prevention work does not belong only to the Commission against Corruption (CCAC), but we need to simplify administrative procedures. No wonder they [Transparency International] have come to this conclusion.”
Barros has been one of the most vocal critics of CCAC’s work. The lawyer has sent a number of letters to the Government, the Legislative Assembly and international bodies complaining about the graft buster.


‘Low credibility’

Pro-democracy lawmaker Au Kam San told MDT that he did not think the index is reliable enough, as he believed that most of the international rankings are based on information provided by governments from different countries and regions.
He complained that no improvement has been seen since the Ao Man Long case was exposed a few years ago.
Without an effective Land Law, urban planning legislation and a public revenue monitoring system, Au said the “loophole” will continue to exist and the problem can never be solved.
“The key is to prevent corruption so that officials do not dare to and also are unable to be corrupt.”
Transparency International defines corruption as the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. This definition encompasses corrupt practices in both the public and private sectors.
In its latest report, Transparency International acknowledges “corruption remains an obstacle to achieving much needed progress”, especially with governments committing huge sums to tackle the world’s most pressing problems, from the instability of financial markets to climate change and poverty.
The 2010 CPI shows that nearly three quarters of the 178 countries in the index score below five, which “indicate a serious corruption problem”.
“Transparency International advocates stricter implementation of the UN Convention against Corruption, the only global initiative that provides a framework for putting an end to corruption,” it stressed in the report.
The message is clear: “Across the globe, transparency and accountability are critical to restoring trust and turning back the tide of corruption. Without them, global policy solutions to many global crises are at risk.”


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