TI: Nearly a Quarter of Asia’s Population Paid a Bribe Last Year

Nearly a quarter of Asia's population had to pay a bribe to public servants last year, mostly to police officers, according to a landmark study Transparency International released Tuesday.

asia-932068 640Transparency International surveyed over 20,000 people in 16 Asia Pacific countries (Photo: tookapic CC0 1.0)"Without proper law enforcement corruption thrives. Bribery is not a small crime, it takes food off the table, it prevents education, it impedes proper health care and ultimately it can kill," said José Ugaz, chair of the Berlin-based NGO.

The report surveyed over 20,000 people in 16 countries and estimated that 900 million people in Asia had paid so-called "tea money" in order to access basic services like public education and healthcare.

The police are the most likely to demand a bribe with nearly a third of respondents who'd come in contact with law enforcement in the last year saying they'd paid a bribe.

India and Vietnam suffered the worst rates of corruption—nearly two thirds of respondents said they had to pay bribes—while Japan and South Korea had some of the lowest bribery rates.

In China where the government has been publicly cracking down on corruption, 73% of respondents said they felt that corruption had increased over the past three years.

Both the poorest and the youngest people surveyed were more likely to have to pay a bribe to access a public service.

Transparency International called on governments to deliver on their promises of reform and better integrate anti-corruption targets into their Sustainable Development Goals.