Cambodia was the most corrupt country in Southeast Asia in 2015, the latest iteration of an influential annual study has found.
According to corruption watchdog Transparency International’s 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) released last week, Cambodia recorded the worst possible score among Southeast Asian countries, with a dismal 21 out of a possible 100 points. The index, which measures the perceived levels of public sector corruption, placed Cambodia at 150th worldwide in the study of 168 countries, tied with African nations Zimbabwe and Burundi.
While Cambodia’s score was the same as that recorded in 2014, the country’s ranking as the region’s most corrupt was the product of improvements in Myanmar, which saw a one-point bump to an overall score of 22.
In response to the report, Anti-Corruption Unit chairman Om Yentieng told The Cambodia Daily that Cambodia did not accept Transparency International’s assessment and questioned its data and the methodology of the CPI, the most widely used indicator of corruption worldwide.
“The CPI scoring of T.I., not only does Cambodia not accept it, but it is also criticized by experts and many people who study anti-corruption issues around the world,” he said.
“The data and methodologies of collecting information are not good enough. It depends on the opinion of a group of people who can bring about biased and unfair results.”
According to Transparency International, the CPI, a composite index which relies on a combination of surveys and assessments of corruption from a variety of reputable institutions, is based on perceptions because absolute levels of corruption are difficult to measure — corruption by nature comprises illegal activities, which are deliberately hidden.
“Capturing perceptions of corruption of those in a position to offer assessments of public sector corruption is the most reliable method of comparing relative corruption levels across countries,” the group says in its explanation of the index.
Within Southeast Asia, Singapore was again recorded as the least corrupt country in the region as well as the eighth least corrupt in the world in 2015, with a score of 85. Singapore was followed by Malaysia (50), Thailand (38), Indonesia (36), the Philippines (35), Vietnam (31), Timor-Leste (28), Laos (25), and then Myanmar and Cambodia. Brunei was not included in the index.