The Role of Corruption Reform in Robust Governance

Area of Scanning: Governance System

Author: Andrew MacDonald

What is Changing?

Corruption is a barrier to efficient policy development, regulatory initiatives and enforcement; all critical tools for a government to drive change that benefits society. Corruption is a complex problem that has a long history in Asia, but currently two big things are going on in the fight against corruption. First, government-led initiatives are combatting corruption in China and elsewhere across Asia. These include China’s president Xi Jinping's campaign targeting both high- and low-level officials (“tigers” and "flies") in an effort to preserve government image and power, and anti-corruption agencies in several countries that target both public and private sector corruption.  Similar advances are evident in Indonesia, leading Southeast Asia with bold advances in controlling corruption and establishing rule of law; other countries in the region are showing varying levels of progress. Second, the use of social media by the general public is bringing attention to corrupt practices in profound ways. If anti-corruption measures proved effective at either the public or private sector levels, what effect would this have on Asian economies?


Uncontrolled corruption in a society could reach a tipping point in public acceptance, fuelling a groundswell of public opposition. Furthermore, other countries may change their behaviour regarding trade and foreign aid due to their perception of Asian corruption, hampering growth and social objectives and driving a return to repression.


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