Indonesia’s ranking in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI-2019) has climbed from 89 to 85 compared to the previous year - Photo CoE

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – Indonesia’ ranking in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI-2019) climbed from 89 to 85 compared to the previous year but behind Malaysia, said Transparency International on Thursday (01/23). Southeast Asia’s biggest economy’s score also increased to 40 out of 100, raises two-point from 38 in 2018.

“With a score of 40, Indonesia improves by two points on the CPI,” the agency said, noting the independence and effectiveness of Indonesia’s anti-corruption commission is currently being thwarted by the government.

In September, Indonesia’s parliament approved changes to a law overseeing the Corruption Eradication Commission (CEC), one of the country’s most respected agencies, setting off protests, led by students and activists. Under the new law, the agency will be overseen by an Oversight Council, handpicked by President Joko Widodo, and investigators will lose their right to wiretap suspects without a warrant.

With corruption issues in the limelight, Indonesia risks scaring off investors and slowing economic progress. Paradoxically, this contradicts the government’s aspirations and President Widodo’s own agenda, which prioritizes foreign investment and a booming economy, Transparency International said in a report, adding a promising emerging economy is coupled with the repression of civil society and weak oversight institutions.

There are four sources of data that contributed to the increase in Indonesia’s CPI in 2019. Starting from the Political Risk Service, the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook, the Political and Economy Risk Consultancy, and the World Justice Project – Rule of Law Index.

Then, Global Insight Country Risk Ratings, Bertelsmann Foundation Transformation Index, Economist Intelligence Unit Country Ratings, Varieties of Democracy, and the World Economic Forum EOS, according to Transparency International Indonesia Research Department Manager Wawan Suyatmiko.

The latest CPI report has revealed that a majority of countries are showing little to no improvement in tackling corruption. The 2019 CPI draws on 13 surveys and expert assessments to measure public sector corruption in 180 countries and territories, giving each a score from zero (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).

“Our analysis also shows corruption is more pervasive in countries where big money can flow freely into electoral campaigns and where governments listen only to the voices of wealthy or well-connected individuals,” said Transparency International.

In the Asia Pacific region, the average score is 45, after many consecutive years of an average score of 44, which “illustrates general stagnation” across the region. China has improved its position from 87 to 80 with a score of 41 out of 100, a two-point jump.

“Despite the presence of high performers like New Zealand (87), Singapore (85), Australia (77), Hong Kong (76) and Japan (73), the Asia Pacific region hasn’t witnessed substantial progress in anti-corruption efforts or results. In addition, low performers like Afghanistan (16), North Korea (17) and Cambodia (20) continue to highlight serious challenges in the region,” the report said.

According to Transparency International, while often seen as an engine of the global economy, in terms of political integrity and governance, the region performs only marginally better than the global average.

“Many countries see economic openness as a way forward, however, governments across the region, from China to Cambodia to Vietnam, continue to restrict participation in public affairs, silence dissenting voices and keep decision-making out of public scrutiny,” it said.

Given these issues, it comes as no surprise that vibrant economic powers like China (41), Indonesia (40), Vietnam (37), the Philippines (34) and others continue to struggle to tackle corruption, according to the report.

The top-ranked countries are New Zealand and Denmark, with scores of 87 each, followed by Finland (86), Singapore (85), Sweden (85) and Switzerland (85). The countries ranked at the bottom of the list are Somalia, South Sudan and Syria with scores of 9, 12 and 13. These countries are closely followed by Yemen (15), Venezuela (16), Sudan (16), Equatorial Guinea (16) and Afghanistan (16).

In the last eight years, only 22 countries significantly improved their CPI scores, including Greece, Guyana, and Estonia. In the same period, among the 21 countries that saw a significant fall in their scores are Canada, Australia, and Nicaragua. In the remaining 137 countries, the levels of corruption show little to no change, the report said.

Written by Lexy Nantu, Email: lexy@theinsiderstories.com