Why has it been so hard to eradicate corruption in Asia?

Essay by AsiapacificUniversity, Bachelor'sA, May 2008

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Corruption is a global problem that poses a threat to economic growth, democracy and the political stability of both wealthy and poor countries alike (Gomez, 2002). Furthermore, Farazmand (1999: 518) argues that "corruption challenges the very foundations of societal health and destroys citizens' trust in leadership and system". Consequently many countries have attempted to curb internal corruption that affects all levels of government and society. However, Asian countries have been particular unsuccessful at eradicating corruption. In this essay I will analyse the reasons why Asia has been so unsuccessful at eradicating corruption, namely: a lack of motivation for reform, a cultural acceptance of corruption, and the Asian anomaly that corruption does not necessarily hinder economic growth. I will also argue that the combination of these factors makes corruption a way of life in Asia, rather than a fact of life in countries like Australia, and therefore is very difficult to eradicate (Caiden, 1981: 58-62).

The fact that corruption is a way of life in many Asian countries is one of the main reasons why its eradication has proven to be so difficult (Quah, 1999 and 2005). Corruption runs so deep and is so intertwined with life at virtually all levels of the country that any anti-corruption measures are almost impossible to initiate, let alone implement (Chang, 2004). China is the best example here with its heavily publicized anti-corruption efforts having very little effect (Duperouzel, 2006). In fact, the leaders of government charged with enforcing anti-corruption measures are often so intimately involved with the targets of their investigations that it makes any legitimate reform both unlikely and unwanted (Rohde, 2004).

Therein lies another problem facing Asia's attempts to eradicate corruption; namely there is often no motivation to implement changes. In countries such as Indonesia and Thailand where corruption is a serious...