Corruption

IndiaMobilePhone 

Can Technology Transform Governance in India?

March 30, 2016

Blog

A group of engineering students trudge up the stairs of an engineering college in the heart of Bangalore’s swanky Electronics City. Flip-flops beat against tiled floors, fingers run through bed-head hair. These bright minds are partly behind India’s unprecedented growth over the last two decades: the young tech-elite who power Indian technology’s heavy hitters like Infosys (whose sprawling campus is across the street), and run global giants like Google and Microsoft. As they fire up their laptops and plug in their headphones, these 50-odd data scientists, software engineers, and computer scientists are turning their attention toward something normally considered beyond their realm.

CatholicChurchPhilippines 

The Politics of Religion in the Philippines

February 24, 2016

Blog

Thirty years ago, on Feb. 22, 1986, then Jaime Cardinal Sin made an urgent call on church-owned Radio Veritas for Filipinos to take to the streets and support the revolt against President Ferdinand E. Marcos. For most Filipinos, Jaime Cardinal Sin’s message was what started the People Power Revolution, with hundreds of thousands of supporters…

Indonesialocalelections 

Indonesia’s Local Elections: High Drama and Humdrum

December 9, 2015

Blog

Just under 100 million Indonesians were eligible to vote in Wednesday’s local elections for nine governors, 224 district heads, and 36 mayors as well as their deputies. Overall, this represents elections for about half of the country’s districts and municipalities and a quarter of the provinces.

Kabul 

Afghanistan’s Youth: A Bargain That Must Succeed

November 18, 2015

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A massive government campaign is underway in Afghanistan right now to prevent brain drain, employing social media tactics and glossy advertising to discourage the country’s ambitious young people from fleeing in droves to Europe and elsewhere.

PhilippineElectionBayan 

Election Fever Hits the Philippines

October 21, 2015

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From October 12-16, thousands trooped to national and local Commission on Elections (COMELEC) offices across the Philippines to file certificates of candidacy for the May 2016 elections. The wannabes came in all shapes and sizes, some in attire portraying revolutionaries…

4 

Mongolia: Tracking Public Concern about Corruption

July 8, 2015

Blog

Mongolia’s public commitment to fight corruption has been strong, from the adoption of the Anti-Corruption Law of 2006 and the creation of the Independent Authority Against Corruption (IAAC) in 2007, to the Law on Information Transparency and the Right to Information of 2011 and the…

 

Booth Capture – Observing Municipal Elections in Bangladesh

May 6, 2015

Blog

On April 28, Bangladesh held municipal elections for mayors and ward councilors in Dhaka North, Dhaka South, and Chittagong. The city corporation elections, as they are called, were important for many reasons, and as The Asia Foundation’s director for elections, I had come to Chittagong to observe the process. They were the first municipal elections held in Dhaka City since 2002…

DeforestationIndonesia 

Indonesia’s Forests Disappearing at Record Rates

February 25, 2015

Blog

In early November, less than one month after Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s inauguration, Siti Nurbaya Bakar, the newly installed Environment and Forestry minister, announced that the government would extend an existing moratorium on the issuance of new permits for logging in primary forests in an effort to halt deforestation. While environmentalists and concerned citizens alike certainly welcomed this news, the road ahead to improving forest and land governance in Indonesia is steep.

DelhiElections 

Delhi Elections: Women’s Security, Air Pollution, Corruption Top Concerns

February 4, 2015

Blog

On February 7, Delhi residents head to the polls for a second time in less than two years to select 70 new members to the Delhi Legislative Assembly. The election is critical because the capital has been without a functioning government since February 2014…

PakistanCRG 

Locally Led and Politically Smart Routes to Accountable Governance in Pakistan

January 14, 2015

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Commentators on citizen-led accountability programs in persistently underdeveloped and conflict-prone states frequently advocate approaches that “work with the grain” of local social norms and institutions. At the same time, it is argued that local ownership…

2014BESTOF 

Editor’s Picks: 2014 Must Reads

December 23, 2014

Blog

Season’s Greetings! On behalf of In Asia’s editorial board and bloggers, we thank you for your engagement and continued readership throughout the year. We’ll be taking a short break, but will return on January 7. In the meantime, catch up on our must-read pieces and highlights on the most pressing events and issues in Asia throughout 2014.

CambodiaElectionPosters 

Cambodian Views on Democracy and Electoral Reform

December 10, 2014

Blog

The Asia Foundation’s third national survey on democratic development in Cambodia released today suggests some sobering trends in public opinion, despite significant economic growth and poverty reduction over the last decade…

Biggest-Problems_infographic 

Does the Ghani Administration Mean a Greater Role for Women in the Afghan Economy?

November 19, 2014

Blog

At his inauguration on September 29, President Ashraf Ghani thanked his wife, Rula, for her support during the campaign, and to the surprise of many in Afghanistan, promised Afghans that she would continue her work advocating on behalf of the nation’s 750,000 internally displaced people. Having previously served as the country’s finance minister in 2002-2004…

JakartaJokowi 

Jokowi Backs Business Licensing Reform

November 5, 2014

Blog

Indonesia’s new President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo sent a clear message last week that he intends to create a business-friendly bureaucracy by eliminating costly red tape for entrepreneurs and investors.He announced his intention during a surprise inspection of the One-Stop Shop Investment Service (PTSP) of the Investment Coordinating Board…

TimorLesteParliament 

Firing of Foreign Judges in Timor-Leste Threatens Justice System

October 29, 2014

Blog

In a dramatic challenge to the principles of democracy, on Friday night, the parliament of Timor-Leste decided in a closed session to fire all foreign judges and advisers in its justice system. The National Parliament passed Resolution No. 11/2014, calling on the government to audit the justice sector…

Jokowi 

Indonesians Have High Hopes for Their Next President

October 22, 2014

Blog

In Indonesia, people are celebrating. Joko Widodo’s supporters joined a parade on Monday to welcome him and Jusuf “JK” Kalla on the day they were sworn into office as Indonesia’s new president and vice-president. After a grueling process, Jokowi, as the new president is popularly known, and JK won against former general Prabowo Subianto and Hatta Rajasa…

RobertBlake 

Q&A with U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Robert Blake

October 22, 2014

Blog

The Asia Foundation hosted four U.S. ambassadors to Asia at its headquarters in San Francisco on October 9 for “ASEAN Matters,” a panel discussion on why Asia is crucial to the United States’ economic growth. In Asia editor Alma Freeman sat down with U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Robert Blake…

The Asia Foundation, Cambodia, August 2010 

Poll Shows Fighting Corruption Drives Support for Education Reform in Cambodia

October 15, 2014

Blog

Earlier this week, Cambodia’s Ministry of Education Youth and Sports (MoEYS) held a second high school exam to provide a second chance for the over 70 percent of 93,000 high school students who failed to pass the first annual national high school exam, held in early August. The passing rate in the first exam…

AbandonedCoalMine 

Indonesia Now World’s Largest Exporter of Coal for Power Stations, But There Are Costs

October 8, 2014

Blog

Flying over Indonesia’s East Kalimantan, the closer we get to the provincial capital of Samarinda, the more bare patches emerge in the island’s lush forest cover. Exposed brown areas dotted with lurid green tailing ponds are telltale signs of the open pit coal mining voraciously consuming Kalimantan’s remaining forests.

MongoliaMayorSigning 

Mongolia’s Capital Leads Charge to Improve Transparency and Fight Corruption

October 8, 2014

Blog

Ahead of a major forum on transparency and corruption in Mongolia’s capital of Ulaanbaatar this week, Capital City Governor and Mayor Bat-Uul Erdene set the tone for the discussions: “In Mongolia, corruption is so common that it has become a kind of social norm.” …

IndonesiaElections 

In Indonesia, Decentralization and Direct Elections Two Sides of the Same Coin

October 1, 2014

Blog

Last week, Indonesians woke up to the news that in the dead of night the parliament voted for a bill that would end direct elections for over 500 local-level political offices (mayors, district and sub-district governors), and replace them with an indirect selection process in regional parliaments. Since then, the country has been engaged by the decision, and civil society groups have readied themselves…

IndonesiaElections 

Proposed Bill to Eliminate Indonesia’s Direct Elections Puts Price on Democracy

September 24, 2014

Blog

In what is yet another significant twist in this fascinating election year in Indonesia, the country’s national legislature (DPR) will vote today on a hastily cobbled bill that aims to eliminate over 500 direct local elections. Following heralded national elections in April and July and a decade of direct local elections, this bill has surfaced like a sudden malady afflicting Indonesia’s electoral democracy. Here is a brief diagnosis of this disorder as well as a prognosis for recovery.

IndonesiaElections 

After a Lively Election, What’s Next for Indonesia’s Mobilized Civil Society?

August 13, 2014

Blog

Just weeks after election results declared former Jakarta governor Joko Widodo (“Jokowi”) as Indonesia’s presidential front-runner, the president-elect’s team of volunteers announced that he would be crowdsourcing his cabinet. Through an online survey, anyone can choose…

Jokowi 

Indonesia’s Reformasi, Bearing Fruit 16 Years Later

August 6, 2014

Blog

In this year’s hotly contested presidential elections, Indonesia’s democracy went through what probably has been its hardest test yet. Two hours before the General Elections Commission (KPU) announced the final results on July 22, when Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s victory…

Blog-Banner_60-60v2 

A Conversation with Mongolia’s Environment Minister Oyun Sanjasuren

July 23, 2014

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As The Asia Foundation recently marked its 20th anniversary in Mongolia, Country Representative Meloney Lindberg sat down with Oyun Sanjasuren, Minister of Environment and Green Development and former Asia Foundation grantee…

JokowiBanners 

Eight Takeaways from Indonesia’s Presidential Election

July 9, 2014

Blog

Indonesians went to the polls on Wednesday to elect a new president and vice president. This election represents the first transition from one democratically elected president to another in Indonesia’s history. The scale and consequences of the election are enormous, but the contest is simple…

IndonesiaVoteCount 

Indonesian Election: Picking up the Pieces From a Toxic Campaign

July 9, 2014

Blog

After being inundated by months of campaigning, it now looks like it will be some time before Indonesian electors can come up for air and focus on repairing some of the damage of a divisive election season. Indonesia has witnessed the tightest and most polarized presidential election in the democratic era…

MongoliaSTOPPGraph 

Business Conditions Dull, but Corruption Dips in Mongolia

July 9, 2014

Blog

The Asia Foundation and the Sant Maral Foundation on July 7 released the latest Study on Private Perceptions on Corruption (STOPP), revealing a troubling decline in satisfaction with the business environment and how some debilitating conditions for business…

MongoliaSPEAKgraph 

In Mongolia, Perception of Corruption as Most Critical Problem Drops

June 18, 2014

Blog

Last week, The Asia Foundation, the Sant Maral Foundation, and Mercy Corps Mongolia released the fourth semi-annual corruption survey, revealing citizens’ perception of corruption in one of the fastest growing economies in the world. As in the three earlier surveys…

KimMcQuayMar2014119 

Thailand Representative Kim McQuay on Military Takeover and What’s Next

May 28, 2014

Blog

One week after the Thai military seized control of the country for the second time in eight years, The Asia Foundation’s country representative in Thailand, Kim McQuay, responds to questions from his office in Bangkok on the military intervention, the reaction from the Thai people, and what’s at stake for the country’s immediate future…

Blog-Banner_60-60v2 

A Conversation with Veteran Filipino Investigative Journalist Sheila Coronel

May 28, 2014

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Anna Bantug-Herrera, The Asia Foundation’s associate director in Washington, D.C., recently spoke with former Foundation grantee, Sheila Coronel, veteran investigative journalist, new Dean of Academic Affairs of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism…

IndiaElections 

Decoding India’s Historic Election Results

May 21, 2014

Blog

Nearly two months, 930,000 poll booths, 1.7 million voting machines, and over 500 million voters later, India’s marathon election concluded last Friday. Across the country, people were glued to their TVs as the results began to come in. By the evening, the outcome was clear – the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP), in opposition for the last 10 years, had won a landslide victory. Capturing a staggering 284 out of 543 parliamentary seats, this is the first time in India’s independent history that a non-Congress party has won a clear majority in the lower house of parliament. On May 26, chief minister of the Indian state of Gujarat and BJP leader, Narendra Modi, will be sworn in as India’s 14th prime minister.

Thailandprotests1 

No Sign of Compromise in Thailand’s Deepening Political Crisis

May 14, 2014

Blog

A turbulent last 10 days in Thailand’s protracted political crisis has left its embattled political leaders no closer to a compromise solution. Emboldened by the Constitutional Court’s decision last week to remove former Pheu Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra…

AfghanElections 

What to Look for Ahead of Election Runoff in Afghanistan

April 30, 2014

Blog

Over the weekend, a clearer picture of the results of Afghanistan’s April 5 presidential election emerged, with preliminary results showing Former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah as the front-runner. With 45 percent of the vote, this will not be enough to avoid a runoff…

AfghanWomeElections 

Impartiality Critical to Ensuring Afghanistan’s Election Credibility

April 16, 2014

Blog

Election day in Afghanistan exceeded even the most optimistic expectations, with long queues of men and women turning out to vote for a new president in what many are declaring a sign of increased political maturity and belief in democratic systems among Afghans today. Estimates show a turnout of over 50 percent – 37 percent of whom were women – all the more significant in an environment where fear of violence was on high in the lead-up to the election and threatened to impact voter turnout. Instead, Afghans defied threats and attacks by insurgent groups and came out in large numbers to cast their vote. On Sunday, Afghans heard the first official report of partial results, with two candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, appearing to take the lead with a run-off likely.

IndonesiaElections 

Jokowi’s Party Takes Lead in Indonesia’s Elections, But Steep Road Ahead

April 9, 2014

Blog

Out of Indonesia’s 186 million eligible voters, an estimated 139 million cast their ballots on Wednesday to elect 235,637 legislative candidates in competition for nearly 19,699 positions across the country. It will take up to a month for official results to be released, but early “quick counts” released by CSIS and Cyrus Network barely four hours after polling stations closed suggest a relatively high voter turnout of 75 percent. As has been the case since 1999 when Indonesians turned out for the first post-Suharto democratic election, Indonesians have once again shown their eagerness and determination to take part in deciding the course of their country, the third-largest democracy in the world.

NepalImpunityReport 

New Report Examines Impunity and Political Accountability in Nepal

March 12, 2014

Blog

Public disenchantment with Nepal’s political parties has been on the rise since the end of the decade-long conflict in 2006. Discussions about impunity have increased correspondingly, mirroring the growing frustration with the political process. A newspaper uncovers an instance of high-level corruption…

 

Improving Myanmar’s Business Environment for Sustainable Economic Growth

February 26, 2014

Blog

In a meeting with the business community over the weekend, Myanmar President U Thein Sein declared that “economic development for the country is possible only when the private enterprises that constitute 90 percent of the country’s economy develop,” and that “the government and the private sector must work hand in hand.”

IndianTrucks 

Real-World Problems of South Asian Integration

February 26, 2014

Blog

Regional integration in South Asia has remained weak on all fronts. Even in the face of pressing needs, regional cooperation on water and energy, for instance, barely gets the kind of attention that it deserves. On trade, the story is even worse. Intra-regional trade in Asia (as a geographic block) constitutes around 56 percent of the total trade…

AAPPartyPoster 

Delhi’s Aam Aadmi Party Eyes India’s General Elections

February 19, 2014

Blog

After only 49 days in government, Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi’s chief minister, dramatically resigned last week. His announcement came after the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was unable to introduce the anti-corruption Jan Lokpal Bill in the Delhi Assembly. The bill was blocked by members of the Congress and Bharatiya Janta Party…

A construction site in Kathmandu. Nepal's capital has  experienc 

The Critical Issues Affecting Asia

January 22, 2014

Blog

More than half of the planet lives in Asia. Six of the 10 largest nations in the world are in the Asia Pacific, and the region is playing an increasingly important role in the global economy, international security, and the world’s collective efforts to advance human development. The dynamism of Asian economies contributed greatly to the global economic recovery, simultaneously lifting more than half a billion people out of poverty. Glittering cities and bustling ports bear testament to the so-called “Asian miracle” that has become the dominant narrative in economic and political analysis of recent years.

IndiaCorruptionProtest 

Corruption in India and the Rise of the Aam Aadmi Party

January 22, 2014

Blog

Delhi’s new chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, has publicly declared a war against corruption in India’s government. Within weeks of assuming office, the leader of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), or the Common Man’s Party, set up an anti-corruption helpline…

Asia-Foundation-60th-anniversary-series 

Indonesia’s Election Activists Fight to End Money Politics

January 22, 2014

Blog

By the end of President Yudhoyono’s term, for the first time, Indonesians will have witnessed their first 10-year stretch of both democracy and stability. While there is no shortage of criticism of what democracy has yet to achieve, the last 10 years have proven a commitment to what the overwhelming majority of citizens…

Nepal3 

Civic Complacency in Political Accountability Holds Nepal Back

January 22, 2014

Blog

The November 2013 Constituent Assembly (CA) elections in Nepal revealed very strong anti-incumbency sentiments among the voting public. So too did the 2008 CA elections, when Nepali voters turned to the newly above-ground Maoists (CPN-M), rejecting the more “seasoned” parties…

Asia-Foundation-60th-anniversary-series 

Corruption in the Philippines: Survey of Business Execs Reveals ‘Mixed’ Findings

January 22, 2014

Blog

On January 15, the results of the latest “SWS Survey of Enterprises on Corruption” were released during an afternoon session of the Good Governance Summit 2014. The previous survey in 2012 showed an impressive record low of 43 percent of business executives who considered corruption to be widespread.

Pakistan1 

Photo Blog: Critical Issue -Transparency & Accountability

January 22, 2014

Blog

Corruption is deeply entrenched in many Asian countries and continues to erode public trust in democratic processes and in public institutions. Accountable governance institutions are essential to sustainable growth in Asia…

BangkokShutdown1 

Credible Reform, Not Shutdown, Needed to End Thailand’s Political Standoff

January 15, 2014

Blog

For more than two months, tens of thousands of anti-government protesters have gathered at Democracy Monument and other major intersections throughout Bangkok. Initially, the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), led by former long-time Democrat politician, Suthep Thaugsuban…

KimMcQuay2010pic1v2-sized 

The Bangkok Shutdown and Thailand’s Battle for Democracy

January 15, 2014

Blog

As anti-government protests shut down Thailand’s capital this week, In Asia editor Alma Freeman spoke with The Asia Foundation’s country representative in Thailand and Bangkok resident, Kim McQuay, about the situation on the ground.

BunkhousesHaiyan 

Two Months After Yolanda: Lessons from the Bunkhouse Controversy

January 15, 2014

Blog

The recent controversy about temporary shelters – or bunkhouses – for victims in Yolanda-hit areas offers some lessons not only in emergency response but also in reconstruction efforts. These are not new lessons…

CambodiaprotestsPP 

Are There Lessons for Cambodia from Philippines’ People Power Movement?

January 8, 2014

Blog

While the rest of the world launched fireworks to usher in the New Year, in Cambodia, an estimated 50,000 protesters marched in the streets of Phnom Penh on December 29, chanting “Hun Sen, get out.” The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP)…

SWSSurvey2 

Philippines 2014: The Best of Times or the Worst of Times?

January 8, 2014

Blog

January, named after the two-faced Roman god Janus, is a time that invites us to look back and look ahead. Here in the Philippines, excitable headlines make it hard to discern if 2013 was the worst of times, or the best of times – but either way, Filipinos seem to be looking forward to 2014 with optimism.

ThailandProtests 

Thailand Political Standoff: The Latest Flash of Deep-Seated Tensions

December 11, 2013

Blog

This week, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, sister of controversial former leader Thaksin Shinawatra, dissolved parliament in response to an escalating anti-government protest movement. Led by former Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, the movement has mobilized tens of thousands of whistle-blowing demonstrators under the banner of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC). PDRC has declared its intention to unseat the Pheu Thai government, remove the Shinawatra family from politics, and press for the appointment of an imprecisely defined “People’s Council” that would seemingly be composed of neutral, respected leaders who would replace elected government for an undefined period of time.

UBMongolia 

Though Improving, Mongolia Still Reeling Under Corruption

December 11, 2013

Blog

On Dec. 4, 2013, The Asia Foundation and the Sant Maral Foundation released the third installment of its bi-annual “Survey on Perceptions and Knowledge of Corruption,” revealing that efforts to curb corruption in what is considered, as some sources put it, one of the world’s most corrupt countries could in fact be working.

MongolianMan 

Asia Foundation Releases New Survey on Corruption in Mongolia

December 4, 2013

Blog

This week in Ulaanbaatar, a new survey on corruption in Mongolia came out. The Asia Foundation survey featured face-to-face interviews in 1,360 households in 7 districts. Respondents said corruption continues to be one of the most pressing problems in Mongolia, but those surveyed said they are optimistic about the progress in fighting corruption, a… Read more

IndonesiaElections 

What Women’s Growing Political Representation Means in Indonesia

October 23, 2013

Blog

When Indonesians head to the polls six months from now, they will have a record number of women candidates to choose from. Hard-won reforms by activists pushing for increased requirements for women’s representation have resulted in a new high for women candidates…

UBMayorcrop 

A Conversation with Capital City Governor and Ulaanbaatar Mayor Bat-Uul Erdene

October 23, 2013

Blog

On Friday, the Ulaanbaatar city municipality will celebrate Ulaanbaatar City Day to highlight the various works being undertaken to improve the capital of Mongolia, home to more than 50 percent of the population.

JakartaElections 

Will Indonesia’s Online Youth Shape 2014 Elections?

October 16, 2013

Blog

Election season is underway in Indonesia with parliamentary elections scheduled for April, followed by the presidential election in July. While many are concerned that ongoing corruption could mar election outcomes, Indonesians continue to demand accountability and transparency from their elected officials…

IndonesiaConstitutionalCourt 

Beleaguered by Graft, Indonesians Shocked by High Court Corruption

October 9, 2013

Blog

Indonesia finds itself in a crisis of confidence this week after its Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) arrested the chief justice of the Constitutional Court for allegedly accepting a bribe to fix the verdict of a local election dispute.

CambodiaStreetCampaign 

Avoiding the ‘Legitimacy’ Cliff in Post-Election Cambodia

October 2, 2013

Blog

Cambodia is at a historical impasse. The July National Assembly elections resulted in a surprisingly strong showing from Cambodia’s emergent second political party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP).

AfghanWomen 

Hope for Afghanistan’s Women Entrepreneurs?

August 7, 2013

Blog

As the 2014 deadline for withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan nears, concern is increasing that the fragile, hard-fought gains made by Afghan women will be rolled back. The World Bank has said the decline in foreign spending that comes with the shift will have a “profound and lasting impact” on Afghanistan’s economy. These realities will present even greater challenges for Afghanistan’s small group of women entrepreneurs and business leaders. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are a key economic driver of Afghanistan’s development. They constitute approximately 75 percent of the labor force and generate over 50 percent of GDP.

CambodiaElections11 

Cambodia’s 2013 Elections: A Measure of Political Inclusion?

July 24, 2013

Blog

Cambodians will go to the polls on July 28 for the fifth National Assembly election since the U.N. organized the historic 1993 elections. Victory for the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) is expected by many to be a foregone conclusion – a continuation of Hun Sen’s 28-year reign as prime minister, one of the longest serving leaders in Asia.

IndiaStreetScenebike 

Combating Pervasive Corruption Must Take a Multipronged Approach

July 24, 2013

Blog

This month, Transparency International released its latest Global Corruption Barometer. Surveying over 114,000 respondents across more than 100 countries, Transparency International reports that more than half of those surveyed believe that corruption has worsened in their country in the last two years…

TICorruptionBarometer 

Transparency International’s 2013 Global Corruption Barometer

July 24, 2013

Blog

Transparency International’s 2013 Global Corruption Barometer, the biggest survey tracking public opinion on corruption, revealed that over half of the 114,000 people surveyed in 107 countries believe the level of corruption has increased over the past two years. In India, for example, as many as 86% of people believe political parties are corrupt…. Read more

SingaporePort 

Paths to Economic Success in Singapore and Indonesia

July 10, 2013

Blog

Singapore and Indonesia are close neighbors with very different paths of development. Set up by the British as a trading post in 1819, the city-state of Singapore became after independence in 1965 one of the 20th century’s great economic successes. Indonesia gained its independence from the Dutch in 1949.

Mongoliaelections 

In Mongolia, an Incumbent Vies with First Woman Candidate and a Former Wrestler for Presidency

June 26, 2013

Blog

Mongolians headed to the polls on June 26 to cast their ballots in the country’s sixth presidential election. With the election results being announced the day after, anticipation is high…

 

Confidence in Mindanao Peace Process Fragile

June 19, 2013

Blog

While the peace process in Mindanao has made tremendous progress over the past year, including the signing of a Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, there is still a long way to go. The current stage can be described as a “fragile transition,” where there is significant progress in the negotiation of a final settlement to the conflict…

NanditaBaruah1 

Nandita Baruah Examines Realities & New Approaches to Combating Human Trafficking

June 5, 2013

Blog

Ahead of The Asia Foundation’s third annual Lotus Leadership Awards luncheon on June 6 in New York, which highlights work to end human trafficking in Asia, In Asia editor Alma Freeman caught up with counter-trafficking expert Nandita Baruah from her office in Nepal.

Aquino2010Campaign 

Is Aquino Moving the Philippines Closer to Good Governance?

May 29, 2013

Blog

Philippine President Benigno Aquino secured big wins in the May midterm elections, which were seen as vital to his ambitious reform agenda. Aquino now marks the midpoint of his single six-year term as president, and while it might be clear that politics has yet to change in the last three years…

PhilippinesElectionsJinkeePacquiao 

Families, Not Political Parties Still Reign in the Philippines

May 22, 2013

Blog

There has been some controversy about the quality of the May 2013 general elections in the Philippines, during which some 18,000 local and national positions were elected. But the fairest verdict of this exercise in electronic voting would seem to be that, like in May 2010, elections changed…

PakistanelectionPolls 

Pakistan’s Elections Give Grounds for Hope

May 15, 2013

Blog

These were the elections which many did not expect to see in Pakistan. Despite persistent and widespread rumors right up until the actual day of elections that they would be cancelled or postponed, Pakistan’s General Elections took place as scheduled on May 11. Around 50 million citizens took part in this historical event…

MalaysiaElections20132 

A New Beginning for Malaysian Politics?

May 8, 2013

Blog

On May 6, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak took the oath of office as Malaysia’s 7th prime minister before King Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah at the National Palace. Prime Minister Najib’s coalition, Barisan Nasional, returned to power when it won 133 of the 222 parliamentary seats to form the Federal Government.

MG-Infographic-final 

Despite Odds, Mongolians Hopeful for a Less Corrupt Society

April 3, 2013

Blog

Recent reforms in legislation and institutions have helped demonstrate Mongolia’s strong commitment to combating corruption, and the effects are noticeable in some areas: in Transparency International’s 2012 Corruption Perceptions Index, Mongolia’s ranking improved from 120 to 94, up 26 places from 2011.

 

Debate over Corruption Heats Up

February 13, 2013

Blog

Over the last few weeks, in our blog, our studies, in well-respected surveys, at think tanks and other organizations, and the media, the topic of corruption and transparency seems to be everywhere you look. However, there seems no clear consensus on the extent of the problem…

THSouth&PondokChandler 

International Perspectives: Asia’s Development Challenges

February 13, 2013

Blog

This week, the International Policy, Development and Practice Speaker Series [at UC Berkeley] welcomed David D. Arnold, the President of The Asia Foundation. Seen through the lens of his work at The Asia Foundation, Mr. Arnold delivered a talk on “Asia’s Development Challenges.”

Mongolia_infographic_final 

Mongolia: Asia’s Economic Standout Feels Weight of Corruption

February 6, 2013

Blog

Mongolia’s economy is booming, with growth trajectories showing it will be one of the world’s fastest growing economies again this year. It is consistently advancing in global rankings on governance and investment climate.

Digital Media trip to cover the environment (ESEC) project 

New Report Surveys Perceptions of Corruption in Mongolia

February 6, 2013

Blog

Mongolia was again ranked the world’s fastest growing economy this year, but local businesses still struggle under rampant corruption, according to a just-released Asia Foundation report. Until now, there has been no data about the pervasiveness of corrupt practices affecting business-government relations in Mongolia. Foundation experts blog this w… Read more

ID-Ted Alcorn 

Indonesia Makes Strides in Budget Transparency Despite Political Patronage

January 30, 2013

Blog

Two new publications showing very different profiles of the quality of governance in Indonesia landed on my desk this week, prompting debate and consternation. The just-launched International Budget Partnership’s “2012 Open Budget Survey” painted an encouraging picture…

May 10, 2010, National General Elections in the Philippines and first automated elections in the Philippines 

New Covenant to Curb Media Corruption in Philippines Ahead of Midterm Elections

January 30, 2013

Blog

Ahead of May 2013 midterm elections in the Philippines, media organizations and political parties signed last week the “Covenant Against Media Corruption 2013,” an agreement that marks a significant step toward curbing rampant corruption in the media.

OpenbudgetSurvey 

Open Budget Survey Ranks Afghanistan as Second Greatest Improver

January 23, 2013

Blog

The just-released Open Budget Survey 2012 ranks Afghanistan as the second greatest improver out of 100 countries in budget transparency. South Korea leads among Asian countries as having the most transparent budget, followed by India, Indonesia, and Afghanistan. The Survey also reveals that the national budgets of 77 of the 100 countries assessed f… Read more

 

Can Reforms Rid Southern Philippines of Election-Related Violence for Good?

January 16, 2013

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Four months from now, the Philippines will once again be in the spotlight as citizens exercise their right to suffrage in congressional and local elections. It is because of this right that people and the institutions of the government must ensure that an enabling environment is provided for an effective electoral process.

 

Amid Staunch Opposition, ‘Sin Taxes’ Move Forward in Philippines

December 19, 2012

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After months of hot debate and decades in the making, President Benigno Aquino Jr. is signing into law major changes to the tax structure on alcohol and tobacco products. This so-called “sin tax” is expected to raise P30 billion ($750 million) to provide health care services…

TextinginIndia 

Facebook Arrests Ignite Fury over Internet Regulation in India

December 5, 2012

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India’s online community has been buzzing since the arrest of two young women by the Mumbai police last month for posting comments on Facebook criticizing the city’s shutdown following the death of veteran Shiv Sena leader, Bal Thackeray. The arrests of Shaheen Dhada and Renu Srinivasan sparked public outrage across the country, and drew criticism from civil society, media, and the government. Telecom Minister Kabil Sibal described the arrests as “unfortunate,” and renowned Indian personalities, such as author Shobha De, anti-corruption activist Arvind Kejriwal, and others, expressed their dismay on Twitter.

RoohafzaLudin 

Governance Expert Roohafza Ludin Examines Afghan Poll Findings

November 28, 2012

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Immediately following the recent release of the much-anticipated 2012 Survey of the Afghan People, In Asia editor Alma Freeman spoke with Asia Foundation governance and education specialist in Kabul, Roohafza Ludin, for her reaction to the survey findings.

 

Corruption in the Philippines: Public Sector Improves But Private Sector Lags

September 26, 2012

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On September 18, the preliminary results of the “2012 SWS Survey of Enterprises on Corruption” were released to the public. Of the 20 government institutions rated for sincerity in fighting corruption, 17 have improved. The results have confirmed “radical progress” in corruption reforms…

Game 

Jakarta Governor’s Race Goes Online, With Mixed Results for Indonesia’s Democracy

September 19, 2012

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The residents of Jakarta, Indonesia’s chaotic, smog-choked capital, head to the polls on Thursday, September 20 to elect a new governor, rounding off what has been a surprisingly engaging, and at times messy, new chapter in the country’s maturing democracy. This is not the first time that Jakartans have voted in free elections, but it is the first time that social media has played a prominent role in the campaign. Indonesia has more than 43 million Facebook users, and Jakarta was recently named the most active Twitter city in the world.

The Asia Foundation Philippines 

Philippine Economy: Ready for Lift-Off?

September 12, 2012

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In the World Economic Forum’s new Global Competitiveness Report just released last week, the Philippines continued its recent trend of rising in the rankings, moving up 10 spots from last year’s position and 20 from two years ago to 65.

WomensLeadershipForum 

Number of Seats Held by Women in Mongolia’s Parliament Triples

August 22, 2012

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While the arrest of Mongolia’s former president Nambar Enkhbayar on corruption charges has been dominating headlines, another quieter, but very significant event took place earlier this summer on June 28, when nine women won seats in the country’s parliamentary elections.

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The Growing Challenge of Corruption in Afghanistan: Reflections on a Survey of the Afghan People

August 1, 2012

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Last month, Afghan president Hamid Karzai announced a series of reforms aimed at addressing the nation’s corruption concerns. In this new paper, one of a series of analytical occasional papers on The Asia Foundation’s “Survey of the Afghan People,” Yama Torabi, founder and director of Integrity Watch Afghanistan, examines Afghan opinions about corr… Read more

JakartaElections 

Jakarta Elections Test Indonesia’s Democratic Maturity

July 25, 2012

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As 4.4 million Jakartans went to the polls to vote for the governor of Indonesia’s capital city on July 11, I needed only to step out my front door to experience the pervasive influence money has on politics here. The first campaigner I spoke to on election day told me about the envelopes of cash he had distributed to voters the night before. His concern was not of corrupting the process, but rather that another campaign was paying three times as much. Gubernatorial elections in Indonesia’s vast capital are a big deal, involving 7 million registered voters and 15,000 voting booths across the city.

JakartaPollingOfficials 

Is the Party Over for Indonesia’s Political Parties?

July 25, 2012

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The Jakarta gubernatorial election on July 11 was arguably Indonesia’s single most important ballot before the 2014 presidential polls. With high stakes for the parties jockeying for a win, the race saw political heavyweights vying for the attention of the city’s 7 million voters.

 

A Check on Indonesia’s Graft-Ridden Procurement Games

June 27, 2012

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Tracing the complicated web of procurement scandals in the Indonesian media over the past few months, it has been hard to remain upbeat about the country’s fight against corruption. But among the gloomy headlines, The Asia Foundation was glad to find a glimmer of hope in Makassar, South Sulawesi.

The Asia Foundation Philippines 

Philippine Judiciary: The Dawning of a New Era?

June 6, 2012

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The Philippine Judiciary is on edge. Five months of rigorous scrutiny by the public and media as a result of the trial of impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona created a high degree of expectation that major reforms are forthcoming.

 

Back to the Philippines, But First: Renato Corona, Lady Gaga, and that Debate over the Sea

May 23, 2012

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At the end of a sabbatical team-teaching one course and blogging weekly, I am eager to get back to my work on the ground in the Philippines. At the end of this “Representative Professor” series, it’s interesting to look back at both what I’ve written and some of what has transpired in the past four months.

The Asia Foundation Philippines 

Fighting Corruption in the Philippines: Models for Long-Term Success

May 16, 2012

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The issue of corruption in the Philippines has once again hit international newspapers with reports that the chief justice of the Supreme Court, Renato Corona (currently undergoing an impeachment trial before the Philippine Senate), had dozens of dollar accounts…

KualaLumpur 

New Index to Help Steer Malaysia’s Local Business Growth

May 9, 2012

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Real GDP growth in Malaysia has slowed considerably over the past decade and domestic investment, measured as a percentage of GDP, has also decreased. These trends raise doubts about whether Malaysia can attain its goal of reaching developed nation status by the year 2020…

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Will Malaysia Protests Bring Election Reform?

May 2, 2012

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On April 28, Bersih 3.0 – a movement in Malaysia that is supported by 64 NGOs as well as the opposition party components – organized what turned out to be the largest street demonstration in Malaysia in a decade. Bersih in Malay means clean, and tens of thousands of Malaysians thronged the streets…

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From Malaysia: An Eyewitness Account of Bersih Protests

May 2, 2012

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The roads leading to the Kuala Lumpur’s Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square) were jammed with people instead of cars on Saturday, April 28. Easily tens of thousands, though later estimates put the total figure somewhere between 200 to 300,000…

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Challenges in Improving Governance of Indonesia’s Dwindling Forests

April 18, 2012

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In February, Indonesia’s Constitutional Court struck down a controversial clause of the Forestry Law which had enabled the national government to declare the boundaries of the state forest zone without a proper mapping process. The Ministry of Forestry controls a state forest zone of 133 million hectares…

TimorElections 

Elections to Test Timor-Leste’s Stability

March 14, 2012

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With presidential elections set for March 17, followed by parliamentary elections in June, Timor-Leste is now in full political campaign mode. Some prominent figures in the country will compete for the post in Saturday’s presidential election, including incumbent president Jose Ramos Horta; the just-resigned commander of the armed forces, Taur Matan Ruak; Vice Prime Minister Jose Luis Guterres; the sitting president of the National Parliament, Fernando Lasama; and Lu Olo, the president of the main opposition party FRETLIN.

 

Political Families in the Philippines: Where Are They Now?

March 14, 2012

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Given that I’ve written that kinship is the idiom of social organization in the Philippines, it’s probably not surprising that when asked for one book to read about the Philippines I often recommend An Anarchy of Families: State and Society in the Philippines, edited by Alfred W. McCoy.

Children Playing in Front of Mural Promoting Tour-de-Timor Cycle Race 

Oil in Timor-Leste – A Kick-Start or a Kick-Back?

February 22, 2012

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There is so much said about the adverse effects of extractive industries on social, economic, and political development in fragile states. However, in Timor-Leste, the truly ominous signs of the “oil curse” have not befallen the country. As Bob Brown, the leader of Australian Greens Party, famously stated in 2003, “It’s the one resource that can give East Timor the kick-start it needs.”

Field Training - Nancy Kelly, Kristin Colombano, May 2010 

Mongolia Marks Passage of Landmark Anti-Trafficking and Corruption Legislation

February 15, 2012

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As Mongolians prepare for next week’s Mongolian Lunar New Year festivities, government and non-governmental organizations are celebrating the passage of two long-awaited pieces of legislation that the Parliament of Mongolia passed in January. The passage of a standalone Law on Combating Trafficking in Persons marks a milestone in Mongolia’s anti-trafficking efforts, and signifies the culmination of more than three years of intense advocacy.

Yatra 

Powering India’s Next Generation of Social Entrepreneurs

February 15, 2012

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Nearing its 65th year of independence, India, the largest democracy and second-most populous country in the world, is undergoing another transformation: a second freedom struggle. Birthed from decades of frustration over rampant corruption, a large-scale movement led by activist Anna Hazare has energized the country’s youth…

 

Let’s Talk Rights – Thailand talk show earns award

February 15, 2012

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The Thai National Human Rights Commission awarded The Asia Foundation for its landmark public affairs television talk show, Let’s Talk Rights. The highly acclaimed show which began airing in 2009 brings together often strongly opposed policymakers, politicians, top government officials, academics, activists, and marginalized individuals to particip… Read more

 

Anti-Corruption Leads 2012 Agenda in the Philippines

January 4, 2012

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One of the virtues of a regular exercise at peering into a new year is that you can check your own predictions from the past year. My predictions that I made here for the Philippines in 2011 were correct in three of four instances: Peace talks did begin (those with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front had more progress than those with the National Democratic Front)…

MobilePhilippines 

Social Media in the Philippines is Widespread, but what is its Impact?

October 12, 2011

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The Philippines long had a terrible reputation for telecommunications, with Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew famously saying that in 1992, 99 percent of the population in the Philippines was waiting for a phone and 1 percent was waiting for a dial tone. However, beginning with the administration of Fidel Ramos (1992-1998) and followed by President Estrada (1998-2001), the telecoms industry was liberalized, and phone ownership skyrocketed.

India 

Right to Information in India: An Effective Tool to Tackle Corruption

September 28, 2011

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September 28 is celebrated internationally as

 

Q&A with Founder of ‘I Paid a Bribe,’ India’s Anti-Corruption Online Movement

September 21, 2011

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India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, with an average GDP growth of about 9 percent over the past several years. Yet corruption remains a pressing problem in the nation of 1.2 billion. The Asia Foundation’s Katherine Loh spoke with T.R. Raghunandan…

India 2009 - Karl Grobl 

From Fractions to Millions: People Fighting Corruption Using Mobile Phones

September 21, 2011

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During the 1980s, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS), an NGO working in rural Rajasthan in India, began to campaign for access to government records related to wage employment programs for the rural poor. In the course of its work, MKSS discovered that accessing official records and information was critical to exposing corrupt practices…

India Economic Summit 2009 

India Celebrates Independence Day, but Corruption, Economic Challenges Take Center Stage

August 10, 2011

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When Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh ascends the ramparts of Old Delhi’s Red Fort on Monday to address the nation on the 64th anniversary of its independence, it will be as a political leader whose government, party, and personal reputation are seriously bruised.

YingluckShinawatra 

What Happens When Thaksin Returns to Thailand?

August 10, 2011

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Last week, Thailand made history when its parliament elected its first-ever woman Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, one month after her Pheu Thai party swept the July 3 elections. However, Prime Minister Yingluck’s ability to rise to the top of Thailand’s political echelon is not because of her political acumen.

 

Philippine Senator Resigns Seat in Election Controversy with Deep Roots

August 10, 2011

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On August 3, in a nationally televised speech, Senator Juan Miguel “Migs” Zubiri resigned his seat in the upper house of the Philippine Congress. While he stated emphatically that he did not cheat, or ask anybody else to cheat, when he ran in the 2007 election, Zubiri said that rising speculation and publicity about fraud…

Indonesiaprison 

Reform at the Doorstep of Prisons in Indonesia

August 10, 2011

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Prison is where some of Indonesia’s worst problems are brought together in the same place, at the same time. These include chronic corruption, an imminent threat of gang violence, over-crowding, poor quality water and sanitation, and an absence of basic health and education services. With police and prosecutors under pressure to meet annual arrest and prosecution targets, Indonesia’s prison system is now clogged with many inmates…

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Sarawakians Go to the Polls; Will Outcome Tip Malaysia’s General Elections?

April 13, 2011

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On April 16, citizens of Malaysia’s largest state, Sarawak, will go to the polls for the state’s 10th elections, where 213 candidates are vying for 71 seats. Since the first state election after independence in 1969, the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) has won every state election in Sarawak. Will this one be any different?

 

India’s Anti-Corruption Movement Finds a New Leader

April 13, 2011

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With corruption scandals clouding India’s government and dominating headlines over the last year, 71-year-old Gandhian and well-known activist Anna Hazare’s five-day fast-unto-death last week was destined to happen. Hazare’s fast articulated the building angst in India against serial corruption scams in government and public life.

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National Pride at All-Time High as India Nabs Cricket World Cup Championship

April 6, 2011

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Last Saturday, Mumbai played host to the biggest party on the planet as a record-breaking 67.6 million people tuned in to watch India’s victory over Sri Lanka in the ICC World Cup Championship. For the last six weeks, the country has been gripped by cricket fever with the home team battling it out for a place in the world tournament. Following tough encounters with rivals Australia and Pakistan in the quarter and semi-finals, India – for only the 3rd time in its cricket history – made it to the final round of the mega event.

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Struggling with the Resource Curse

April 6, 2011

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The “resource curse” in development is well known. Countries endowed with valuable natural resources –most notably oil, natural gas, minerals, and diamonds – often also suffer from poor governance, high poverty, and conflict. And, as recent events in the Middle East have reminded us, such countries are frequently authoritarian and highly repressive.

 

In the Philippines: Setbacks in the Battle against Corruption

December 10, 2008

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In the past few years, high-profile public sector corruption cases have played out in the Philippine media, and some international observers have rated the Philippines as the most corrupt country in Asia. Unfortunately, a recently conducted survey clearly shows that business managers in the Philippines believe that corruption increased in 2008. Ove… Read more

 

In Mongolia: Elections, Mining & National Security

June 25, 2008

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Late in 2007, at a meeting of senior government officials and development partners, Member of Parliament S. Oyun commented, that “how Mongolia develops its mining sector is a matter of national security.” In other words, the choice of which foreign partner will help develop Mongolia’s vast minerals resources is a material concern for Mongolia’s gov… Read more

 

In Mongolia: Corruption and the Canada Parallel

June 11, 2008

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In 2007, both Mongolia and Canada improved their corruption-fighting performance by the same nominal amount, two tenths of a point, according to the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index. And this is almost where the parallel ends: Canada ranks number 9, and Mongolia ranks number 99. According to numerous polls, Mongolians believe… Read more

 

In the Philippines: Just Another Week of Anti-Corruption

March 19, 2008

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Last Monday, March 10, the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC) in Hong Kong stated in its annual survey of corruption that, “for the second consecutive year, the Philippines has the dubious distinction of being the worst rated country.” (For an analysis of last year’s rating, click here.) On the very next day, word was received that in W… Read more

 

The Philippines: The Most Corrupt Country in Asia?

March 28, 2007

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This piece originally ran on March 28th. Due to overwhelming popularity, we are re-issuing it with a correction (Note paragraph 8: 700 interviews were conducted as opposed to 1,200). On March 14, 2007 the Philippines topped the charts.  Unfortunately, this was not a contest that the nation had aspired to win.  The Philippines came out on top (or de… Read more