Anti-corruption commissions: lessons from the Asia-Pacific region for a proposed Australian federal anti-corruption watchdog

Marie dela Rama

Overview

This research presents an overview of six anti-corruption commissions that are present in the Asia-Pacific region in order to compare the experience of regulatory efforts to address corruption and its effects. The cases are used to discuss Australia’s attempts to create a similar body.

In 2019, Australia was yet to establish a national anti-corruption commission despite strong public support for its establishment. Thus, it is useful to assess the same process in countries that have already gone through this institutional development and determine their successes and challenges in doing so. This paper also looks at political culture, political integrity and a national integrity ecosystem.

The establishment of national anti-corruption bodies in China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea and Thailand were discussed in this paper.

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Key Findings

Primary data was collated from the anti-corruption websites of each anti-corruption commission and comparisons were made with respect to its remit and private sector oversight.

    How to apply research

    In order to obtain legitimacy for anti-corruption committees, civil society must be involved.
    In addition to existing information platforms, use social media actively! Social media is where the audience is. Social media helps to involve civil society and uncover corrupt tendencies among publicly elected and appointed officials. Social media accounts have been created by anti-corruption institutions and anti-corruption public officials to encourage anti-corrupt practices.
    Ensure a strong independent judiciary to deal with corruption cases. One way to help this task is to establish a multilateral anti-corruption committee for the region to help ensure a fair prosecution in cases of grand corruption, such as an International Anti-Corruption Court.
    Embed a culture of integrity at the political level for all publicly-elected and publicly-appointed officials.
    Ensure that private corporations are held accountable, especially multinational corporations that have enormous financial power. Multinationals should adhere to best practice standards and avoid engaging in corrupt practices that undermine or may cause offence to civil society in their host countries.

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      About this research

      This Journal Article was part of a collaborative effort

      Michael Lester

      This research was independently conducted and did not receive funding from outside of the university.

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      About this research

      This research was independently conducted and did not receive funding from outside of the university.

      This paper was co-authored

      Michael Lester

      Recommended for

      What findings means

      Obtaining legitimacy for national anti-corruption commissions takes time, but evidence from the Asia-Pacific region shows that it is possible.

      In order to succeed, it is important to build anti-corruption institutions that are backed by the force of the countries’ respective political cultures and legal systems. While there are international agreements, frameworks, principles, and regional working groups in place (such as the UN Convention Against Corruption 2003, OECD Anti-Bribery Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions 2009, G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group, South East Asia Parties Against Corruption [SEA-PAC] and the APEC Anti-Corruption Transparency Working Group 2011) to deal with corrupt behaviour and promote anti-corrupt practices, the local cultural and institutional context of a country is paramount.

      Anti-corrupt practices must adapt and address the local issues and political culture efficiently and effectively in order to prevent further political behaviour that is corrosive of public trust. In order to succeed, it is important to build anti-corruption institutions that are backed by the force of the countries’ respective political cultures and legal systems.

      Methodology

      This study applied a desk survey methodology with surface level case studies of each country. This gave an overview of how and what it takes to work to establish public anti-corruption institutions in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region. Most of the evidence was assembled from the anti-corruption commission websites of the respective governments of the countries studied.

      However, its important to remember that the geographical scope of this research was limited to the Asia-Pacific. In addition, this research remains a surface-level overview of the region’s anti-corruption work. More in-depth research such as conducting qualitative interviews with stakeholders in each country would provide deeper insights.

      Glossary

      Anti-corruption commission
      A publicly funded and publicly established institution to deal with anti-corruption and integrity cases for the public sector

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      Want to read the full paper? It is available open access

      dela Rama, M. & Lester, M. (2019). Anti-corruption commissions: Lessons for the Asia-Pacific region from a proposed Australian federal anti-corruption watchdog. Asia Pacific Business Review, 25(4), 571–599.