SURVEY REVEALS THAT 72% OF YOUNG PEOPLE ACROSS FOUR ASIA PACIFIC COUNTRIES WOULD ENGAGE IN CORRUPTION FOR PERSONAL GAIN
Urgent action is needed to avert a crisis of values amongst young people in four countries in Asia Pacific, according to a survey released today by Transparency International. 72 per cent of the young people surveyed said they would engage in a corrupt act for personal gain, whilst one in five found it acceptable to lie and cheat to get rich.
Asia Pacific Youth: Integrity in Crisis was carried out in Fiji, Indonesia, South Korea and Sri Lanka to find out how young people understand experience and engage in corruption. Young people aged from 15 to 30 were surveyed by their peers in the four countries.
The majority of the Sri Lankan youth (84%) who participated in the survey believe that the lack of integrity is a serious problem not only in their personal lives but also affect their families, economic prospects and the country as a whole.
One in every three youths in Sri Lanka is willing to raise their voice against corruption always. Another similar number would ‘sometimes’ raise their voice against corruption.
The survey conducted by the Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) covered 1,005 persons aged 15 to 29. 56% the respondents feel that youth can play a big role in combating corruption and an additional 33% feel that youth can play at least a ‘limited’ role.
Only 6% of youth at all education levels felt that they knew ‘a lot’ about corruption rules and regulations and 45% of the youth respondents felt that their voice will not have any effect on corruption. An additional 23% felt that raising their voice against corruption was not their business.
However, a troublingly high percentage of more than 80% would display unethical behavior to get a job or collect an important document. This was more likely for male than female youth, and for rural than urban youth. 40% of urban and 23% of rural youth were willing to engage in unethical behavior in certain situations to please a relative or simply because “it is how things are done”.
“A majority of the young people surveyed know that corruption is wrong, have high standards for integrity and aspire to live in just societies,” said Transparency International’s Asia Pacific Director Srirak Plipat. “Despite this, a very worrying number of them believe that in order to succeed in life they will have to compromise their values and conform to the current status quo.”
Encouragingly, an overwhelming number of young people believe they have a role to play in fighting corruption (over 80 per cent) and more than half of young people are willing to report and expose corruption. To capitalise on this energy, governments should develop and fund national action plans designed to respond to this crisis, as well as invest in ways for youth to report corruption. Education authorities should develop anti-corruption curriculums and ensure ethics training is included at all levels of education.
Pervasive corruption impacts youth behavior
The survey found that at least one in five young people had experienced corruption over the past 12 months when dealing with the police or health services, when applying for an official document, in an exam, while applying for a job or in another business context. Youth gave police and security services low ratings for their levels of integrity, as well as local and national administrations.
The scenario where young people were most likely to violate standards of integrity involved a relative helping them get into a school or job. Approximately a third of young people in Indonesia, South Korea and Sri Lanka say they would cheat or pay a bribe to pass an exam, while 18 per cent of Fijian youth would do so. When it came to obtaining official documents, the number of those saying they would act dishonestly ranged from 12 per cent in South Korea to 32 per cent in Sri Lanka.
A substantial share of young people does not associate giving gifts or small amounts of money to public officials with corruption.
“Young people represent the future of their countries and we firmly believe that they hold the power to change their societies for the better,” said Srirak Plipat. “They must therefore demand integrity from their leaders, just as leaders have a responsibility to shape a corruption-free society.”