Social Climate

The Miss Incorrupt contest

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And Miss Incorrupt 2012 is . . . a triple tie! The winners, in alphabetical order, are Miss Denmark, Miss Finland and Miss New Zealand! They all got scores of 90 percent from the board of judges of Transparency International (TI).

On the other hand, Miss Corrupt 2012 is . . . also a triple tie! The winners are Miss Afghanistan, Miss North Korea, and Miss Somalia! They all got scores of 8 percent from the TI board of judges.

The scores are on a new Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) of TI, a Berlin-based civil society organization engaged in fighting corruption. It is scaled from zero to 100, where zero is “the highest level of perceived corruption” and 100 is “the lowest level of perceived corruption.” In effect, it is a simultaneous contest for Miss Incorrupt and Miss Corrupt.

Fifty points is the divide between the incorrupt and the corrupt. Of the 176 contesting countries or territories, 53 got scores ranging from 90 down to 51, and the balance of 123 got scores ranging from 49 down to 8. This puts 30 percent of the contestants as relatively incorrupt, and the great bulk of 70 percent as relatively corrupt. Corruption is a very pervasive global problem.

There are seven Asian areas scored as relatively incorrupt, namely (with CPIs in parentheses) Singapore (87), Hong Kong (77), Japan (74), Bhutan (63), Taiwan (61), South Korea (56), and Brunei (55). The two African areas scored as relatively incorrupt, Botswana (65) and Rwanda (53), deserve notice, too.

Last Dec. 5, Transparency International Philippines, TI’s national chapter, issued a press release headed “Philippines surpasses neighbors Vietnam, Indonesia, Bangladesh” in 2012 Corruption Perceptions Index, “as well as a score sheet showing Miss Philippines with a CPI of 34 “tied for 105th to 112th with Misses Algeria, Armenia, Bolivia, Gambia, Kosovo, Mali ” and Misses Indonesia, Vietnam and Bangladesh with CPIs of 32, 31 and 26, respectively.

By examining how the judges individually graded Misses Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and Bangladesh, one can see that TI Philippines’ report reflected a majority decision, rather than a unanimous one.

Four of nine data sources, or “judges,” graded the Philippines on top: (1) Bertelsmann Foundation Transformation Index 2012 scored them as Philippines 36, Indonesia 32, Vietnam 28, and Bangladesh 28. This private German foundation uses in-house experts to assess 128 countries.

(2) Global Insight Country Risk Ratings1 scored the four at 42, 32, 22 and 22, respectively. This is run by IHS, a for-profit, US-based, business information company, whose in-house country specialists score corruption in 200 countries.

(3) The Transparency International 2011 Bribe Payers Survey graded the Philippines at 38 and Indonesia at 33; it did not grade Vietnam or Bangladesh. In 2011, TI commissioned surveys of 100 business executives in each of 30 countries, regarding bribery and corruption. It was the first round of a survey intended to be triennial; data are for the public.

(4) The World Economic Forum 2012 Executive Opinion Survey scored the four at 37, 36, 32 and 21, respectively. WEF is a Swiss-based nonprofit international organization that publishes a Global Competitiveness Report. It scores corruption in 140 countries through national partners that survey business executives here, the Makati Business Club and the Management Association of the Philippines.

But three of the nine sources did not favor Miss Philippines: (5) Political and Economic Risk Consultancy Asian Intelligence 2012 gave scores of Vietnam 33, the Philippines 26, and Indonesia 25. PERC is a Hong Kong-based consulting firm that surveys its own subscribers in 15 Asian countries.

(6) The Political Risk Services International Country Risk Guide gave scores of Indonesia and Bangladesh both 50, Vietnam 41, and the Philippines only 31. The US-based PRS is a consulting firm with specialists who rate political risk in 140 countries.

(7) The World Justice Project Rule of Law Index 2012 gave scores of Vietnam 35, the Philippines 34, Indonesia 23, and Bangladesh 21. WJP is a nonprofit, launched by the American Bar Association, that works to advance the rule of law. Its Index has 97 countries, based on polls of local experts and the general public.

Two of the nine sources were neutral: (8) The Economist Intelligence Unit Country Risk Ratings scored all four countries at 21. The EIU uses experts based primarily in London. It rated 144 countries in 2012.

(9) The IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2012 had the Philippines and Indonesia tied at 36. IMD, a Swiss-based institute for executive education, surveys senior business leaders in 59 countries.

Thus, Miss Philippines, topping the group of four came via a narrow margin of four wins, three losses, and two draws, in the scorecards of nine judges.

The CPI, established in 1995, has succeeded in bringing the problem of corruption to global attention, purely from the allure of country-competition—much as the Miss Universe contest has drawn global attention to feminine beauty. So far, however, it has only been valid for comparisons across countries, i.e., for beauty contests.

Starting with the new system of 2012, TI aims to maintain the CPI methodology henceforth, so that later it will be able to assess a country’s corruption across points in time. Only by measurements of change from the past can one learn how to progress in the future.

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Contact SWS: or mahar.mangahas@sws.org.ph.

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