Guest editorial

Jon S. T. Quah (Anti-Corruption Consultant, Singapore)
Chilik Yu (Shih Hsin University, Taipei, Taiwan)

Asian Education and Development Studies

ISSN: 2046-3162

Article publication date: 5 January 2015


Quah, J.S.T. and Yu, C. (2015), "Guest editorial", Asian Education and Development Studies, Vol. 4 No. 1.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Guest editorial

Article Type: Guest editorial From: Asian Education and Development Studies, Volume 4, Issue 1

The Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) was established in Singapore in October 1952 by the British colonial Government to replace its ineffective predecessor, the Anti-Corruption Branch of the Singapore Police Force (Quah, 2007, p. 16). As the world’s oldest anti-corruption agency (ACA), the CPIB’s success in curbing corruption together with the effectiveness of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) of Hong Kong, have promoted the belief that ACAs are effective in combating corruption (UNDP, 2011, p. 8) and led to the proliferation of many ACAs in Asian countries, which have relied on three major patterns of corruption control, as shown in Table I.

Table I shows that Pattern 3 is the most popular as 18 Asian countries have relied on a single ACA to implement their anti-corruption laws. However, among these countries, only Singapore and Hong Kong SAR have been effective in curbing corruption, judging from their performance on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) from 1995 to 2013, the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy’s (PERC’s) annual surveys on corruption from 1995 to 2014, and the World Bank’s Control of Corruption governance indicator from 1996 to 2013. Indeed, from Table II it is obvious that corruption remains a serious problem in many Asian countries judging from their performance on these three indicators.

While most Asian countries have initiated various anti-corruption measures during the past 60 years, their effectiveness in curbing corruption has been mixed, with few success stories and many failures. Why is corruption still a serious problem in many Asian countries in spite of their anti-corruption efforts? How effective are the anti-corruption measures initiated in these countries? What are the strengths and weaknesses of these anti-corruption measures? Can anything be done to enhance these measures? What accounts for the different levels of effectiveness of the ACAs in Asian countries after more than six decades of their reliance on these agencies to curb corruption?

To address these important questions, scholars from several countries were invited to present papers at the Workshop on “Fighting Corruption in Asian Countries: What’s Wrong and What Needs to be Done to Enhance their Anti-Corruption Measures?” at the Department of Public Policy and Management, Shih Hsin University in Taipei, Taiwan on 27 June 2014. The invited scholars presented papers on the evaluation of the performance of the ACAs in these five countries: China, Japan, Philippines, Singapore, and Taiwan, which cover between them the three patterns of corruption control described in Table I.

This special issue of the Asian Education and Development Studies (AEDS) consists of the Guest Editorial and seven papers, four of which are the revised versions of the papers on the anti-corruption measures in Japan, Philippines, Singapore, and Taiwan, which were presented at the workshop in Taipei on 27 June 2014. The co-authors of the paper on China’s anti-corruption measures, Yong Guo and Songfeng Li, did not attend the Taipei Workshop and sent their paper to the Guest Editors after the workshop. Professor Robert Gregory, who also attended the Taipei Workshop, was invited by the Guest Editors to prepare an paper on how political independence and operational impartiality affect the effectiveness of the ACAs in the Asian countries.

Following this Guest Editorial are the five country papers which focus on the effectiveness of the anti-corruption measures in China, Japan, Philippines, Singapore, and Taiwan. In their paper, Yong Guo and Songfeng Li describe the functions of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), which is China’s lead ACA, and provide several policy recommendations for improving its effectiveness. The second paper is written by Eiji Oyamada, who provides a detailed description of the corruption prevention measures in Japan and evaluates their effectiveness.

Among the five countries included in this Special Issue, the Philippines has the most ACAs as it relies on these five ACAs: the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB), which is the lead ACA; the Sandiganbayan (Anti-Graft Court); the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG); the Inter-Agency Anti-Graft Coordinating Council (IACC); and the Office of the Deputy Secretary for Legal Affairs (ODESLA). In the third paper, Eric Vincent C. Batalla demonstrates that these ACAs in the Philippines are under-staffed, inadequately funded, and ineffective in curbing corruption.

Jon S.T. Quah, in the fourth paper, attributes Singapore’s success in combating corruption not only to the political will of its government and favourable policy context, but also to the CPIB’s four strengths namely: its independence from the police; its adequate staffing and funding; its adoption of the total approach to enforcement; and its impartial enforcement of the anti-corruption laws because those found guilty of corruption offenses are punished, regardless of their status, position, or political affiliation. However, arising from a senior CPIB officer’s misappropriation of S$1.76 million from 2008 to September 2012, Quah makes four policy recommendations to address the CPIB’s four limitations to further enhance its effectiveness.

Like China and the Philippines, Taiwan also relies on these three ACAs to combat corruption: the Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau (MJIB), the lead ACA which performs both corruption and non-corruption-related functions; the Public Prosecutors’ Offices; and the Agency Against Corruption (AAC), which was formed in July 2011. In the fifth paper on Taiwan, Chuan-yu Ernie Kuo, Yu-Chang Su, and Chilik Yu analyze the adverse consequences of the sibling rivalry between the AAC and the older, well-established and better-resourced MJIB. They recommend that these ACAs should enhance their effectiveness by cooperating instead of competing with each other for limited resources and public recognition as the foremost ACA in Taiwan.

The remaining two papers are comparative in nature. In the sixth paper, Robert Gregory analyzes the relationship between the political independence and operational impartiality of ACAs and how these dimensions affect their effectiveness. He contends that ACAs require both high de facto political independence and high operational impartiality to investigate corruption complaints against political leaders, senior civil servants, and prominent citizens fairly, without fear, favor or interference from anyone.

Finally, Jon S.T. Quah compares the effectiveness of the ACAs in China, Japan, Philippines, Singapore, and Taiwan in the seventh paper. Singapore’s reputation as the least corrupt Asian country is reflected in its pre-eminent rankings and scores on the CPI 2013, Control of Corruption 2013, and PERC 2014. Furthermore, Singapore’s good governance is also manifested in its highest total percentile rank of 539.3 for the World Bank’s six governance indicators (see tables 3 and 9 in Quah’s paper). He attributes Singapore’s success in curbing corruption and the CPIB’s effectiveness to the Singapore Government’s political will, the favorable policy context as well as its own strengths. By contrast, the ACAs in the other four countries are ineffective because of their own limitations and the weak political will of their governments to implement the necessary anti-corruption reforms.

Apart from the contributions of the authors of the seven papers in this Special Issue, the important role of the five scholars who kindly agreed to peer review the papers must also be recognized. On behalf of the other seven authors, the Guest Editors would like to thank these five scholars for their prompt, insightful, and comprehensive reviews of the papers:

1. Gerald Caiden, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Public Administration, Sol Price School of Public Policy, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.

2. Leslie Holmes, PhD, Professor of Political Science, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Vic., Australia.

3. Michael Johnston, PhD, Charles A. Dana Professor of Political Science, Colgate University, Hamilton, NY, USA.

4. David S. Jones, PhD, Retired Associate Professor of Public Administration, University of Brunei Darussalam, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam.

5. Peter Larmour, PhD, Adjunct Professor of Public Administration, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia.

Needless to say, these five peer reviewers are not responsible for the views expressed by the authors in their papers.

The scholars from Japan, New Zealand, Philippines, and Singapore who attended the Taipei Workshop would like to thank Professor Chilik Yu, Vice-President of Shih Hsin University, and his colleagues at the Department of Public Policy and Management for their warm hospitality and their hosting of the Workshop on 27 June 2014.

Finally, we would like to thank Professor Sonny Lo Shui Hing, the Managing Editor of AEDS, and Head, Department of Social Sciences at the Hong Kong Institute of Education, in Hong Kong SAR for inviting us to edit this Special Issue of the AEDS on the effectiveness of the ACAs in five Asian countries. We are also very grateful to the other seven contributors for their cooperation in incorporating the constructive feedback provided by the five peer reviewers in revising their papers and for the prompt submission of their revised papers to the Guest Editors.

Dr Jon S.T. Quah, Anti-Corruption Consultant, Singapore

Professor Chilik Yu, Shih Hsin University, Taipei, Taiwan


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Quah, J.S.T. (2014), “Six best practices for curbing corruption in the Asia Pacific countries,” Asia Pacific World, Vol. 5 No. 1, pp. 11-27

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World Bank (2014), “Worldwide governance indicators 2013,” Washington, DC, available at: (accessed 7 October 2014).