Overview of Anti-Corruption Strategies in Asia-Pacific
Saturday, 07 September 2019
The criminalization of politics, i.e., the use of criminals and musclemen in politics, and the prevalence of confrontational politics has made political corruption to be the mother of all corruption in South Asia (TI, 2004a). Post-independent India has coincided with a decline in the standards of conduct in the political leadership, which led to a general acceptance of corruption in public life (Jain & Bawa, 2003). As India steps into high economic growth, there is lately an awakening against corruption. The Economist reported that business firms in India have thrived in spite of the weak state; they need to make sure they do not thrive because of it (The Economist, 2011). In August 2011, mass public demonstrations, led by social activist, Anna Hazare, were organized in India, demanding the introduction of an effective anti-corruption bill (Lokpal bill), which the Indian parliament approved on 18 December 2013_30 years after it was first introduced.
Corruption is prevalent in the Pacific, especially in smaller island countries. A study on national integrity systems in 12 island countries reported that there is vagueness and disagreement in understanding what constitutes ‘corruption’ in the region (TI, 2004b). This is particularly true with reference to the culture of gift giving and patronage systems. Interestingly, the report speaks of smaller countries posing special corruption risks. The risks come from traditional cultural or familial factors affecting the willingness to act against corruption. In recent years, several Pacific island countries have ratified UNCAC, indicating recognition of the problem and their commitment to tackle corruption.
Donor agencies have also put pressure on governments to address corruption, especially in post-conflict environments. Afghanistan and Cambodia are two examples of countries where pressure from donors has encouraged the drafting of national anti-corruption strategies. For example the High Office of Oversight and Anti-corruption in Afghanistan was set up in 2008 to implement the national anti-corruption strategy in the follow-up of the London and Kabul international conferences on Afghanistan. The same can be said about Nepal’s anti-corruption drive in 2002–2004. The intensification of the Maoist conflict in 2001 exerted extreme financial pressure on the government. This called for budgetary support from donor institutions, that_in turn_ demanded measures to mitigate fiduciary risks. This led to the birth of a new anti-corruption law in 2002, which subsequently paved the way to an intensive anti-corruption drive in 2002–2004 and the drafting of the first anti-corruption action plan in 2003. Similarly, in Bangladesh, the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank are exerting pressure on the country to draft an anti-corruption strategy.

B.Contents of anti-corruption strategies–design stage
There are wide varieties of anti-corruption strategies in the Asia-Pacific region, depending on the objectives pursued, the stakeholders involved, and the level of details in specifying reform areas. Ideally an anti-corruption strategy should have a clear, common vision on how to address corruption. Its action plan should set out a detailed description of concrete actions, deadlines, actors involved, budget allocations, and monitoring indicators.

This section looks into some similarities found in country-specific anti-corruption strategies and then reviews their differences. Information related to anti-corruption strategies in 14 Asia-Pacific countries is given in Annex D while some more detailed features of national anti-corruption strategies in 10 other countries are given in Annex E.

1.Similarities in anti-corruption strategies
Situation analysis. All anti-corruption strategies contain some analysis of the corruption situation like major forms of corruption, including their possible impacts on the economy and society (i.e. some estimation of losses due to corruption), as well as analysis of the causes of corruption.
Structure: Most anti-corruption strategies outline vision, mission, objectives, and priority areas for combating corruption (see Annex E). Almost all national anti-corruption strategies contain a statement defining a vision of what the strategy aims to achieve.
Components. Normally, the strategies and action plans are broken down into activities/interventions, responsible agencies, time framework, and sometimes budget allocations (as in Pakistan and Nepal). Some strategies also have output indicators to measure the progress in strategy implementation (e.g., Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Malaysia).
Timeline. Time horizons often are broken down into long-term, medium-term and short-term, as in Pakistan and PNG. Anti-corruption strategies in Malaysia, Mongolia, Vietnam, and Indonesia are implemented in phases.
Connection with national development plan/strategy. In some cases, the anti-corruption strategy is subsumed within a broader national development plan as in Malaysia (Government Transformation Programme under Vision 2020), Maldives (The Strategic Action Plan: National Framework for Development 2009–2013), and in PNG (Vision 2050).
Strategic focus areas. Strategic entry points include corruption prevention, law enforcement, public education and awareness-raising and wide collaboration with private sector, civil society, media and the international community (see Annex E).
Process description. Some anti-corruption strategies elaborate the process for developing the strategy. Usually, anti-corruption strategies were prepared through collaboration, discussion with various stakeholders, or even public participation. This is further discussed in Section II of this paper.