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Five success stories in combating corruption: lessons for policy makers

Jon S.T. Quah (Anti-Corruption Consultant, Singapore)

Asian Education and Development Studies

ISSN: 2046-3162

Article publication date: 10 July 2017




The purpose of this paper is to explain why Botswana, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, New Zealand, Rwanda and Singapore have succeeded in combating corruption and identify the lessons for policy makers in other countries.


The five countries are compared to identify the reasons for their success in combating corruption and the lessons that can be learnt by policy makers elsewhere.


Political will of the five governments is critical because combating corruption effectively requires them to provide the anti-corruption agencies (ACAs) with the necessary powers, budget, personnel and independence to enforce the anti-corruption laws impartially. New Zealand has succeeded in curbing corruption without an ACA because it relies on other institutions to maintain its good governance. Singapore’s rejection of the ineffective British colonial government’s method of using the police to curb corruption and its reliance on a single ACA was emulated by Hong Kong, Botswana and Rwanda. However, having a single ACA does not guarantee success unless it has the powers, budget, personnel and independence to perform its functions impartially as a watchdog instead of an attack dog against the government’s political opponents. As combating corruption remains a work in progress in the five countries, their policy makers must sustain their effective ACAs to meet the rising threat of private sector corruption.


The paper will be useful to scholars and policy makers concerned with improving the effectiveness of anti-corruption measures in those countries where corruption is rampant.



The author would like to thank Professors Robert Gregory and David S. Jones for their useful comments on an earlier version of this paper.


Quah, J.S.T. (2017), "Five success stories in combating corruption: lessons for policy makers", Asian Education and Development Studies, Vol. 6 No. 3, pp. 275-289.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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