BANGKOK – A majority of Pacific Islanders say corruption is a problem in their governments, with a significant number saying they have been offered bribes for their votes, according to a new survey released on Tuesday by an anti-transplant watchdog group.
Transparency International said that its first ever study of Pacific and Territories revealed that corruption is a significant problem in the region, and that its findings highlight some worrying trends.
“This new data reveals for the first time the high levels of corruption directly experienced by people in the Pacific, indicating an urgent need for reform,” said Transparency CEO Delia Ferreira Rubio.
“Governments need to listen to their people and address their corruption problems to ensure that they can vote freely and easily access high-quality public services, no matter who they know and what they can pay for, rooted in justice and accountability.”
The survey examined more than 6,000 adults in different age groups and backgrounds from February to March 2021 in the federated states of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Kiribati, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.
It found that more than three in five people consider corruption to be a problem in their government, with about a quarter saying they had been offered a bribe for their votes and 15% saying they had received retaliation threats if they did not vote in a specific way.
The problem was seen as the worst in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, where more than 95% of respondents said government corruption was a major problem.
In an area where many are dependent on natural resources, almost half of those surveyed said the government is doing little to control the companies that extract them. More than two-thirds of those surveyed also said that companies use connections to get government contracts.
Despite their perception of high levels of corruption, more than 60% of those surveyed welcomed the government’s strategies to combat it and said they were doing a good job.
Those in Kiribati, who developed a national anti-corruption plan in 2017, had the best impression, with 83% saying the government was doing a good job.
As a hopeful sign, 71% of the people in the region said they felt that the citizens could help stop the corruption.