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Asia’s young adults in an ‘integrity crisis’

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Adek Berry | AFP | Getty Images

Asia's young adults face an "integrity crisis" amid rampant corruption in many of the region's developing countries, says Transparency International.

According to the anti-corruption watch-dog's new survey, 72 percent of individuals in the 15-to-30 age group polled in Fiji, Indonesia, South Korea and Sri Lanka said they would engage in corrupt acts for personal gain.

"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 Srirak Plipat, director, Asia Pacific at Transparency International.

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"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," he said.

Transparency International defines corruption as bribes, nepotism, conflicts of interest or any other abuse of power for personal gain.

South Asia is the most corrupt region in the world, which the organization says explains high levels of poverty in the subcontinent despite strong economic growth.

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Many young adults in the countries surveyed regularly experience corruption in public and private institutions.

The scenario where they were most likely to violate standards of integrity involved a relative helping them get into a school or job.

Around 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 percent of Fijian youth would do so.

When it comes to obtaining official documents, the number of those saying they would pay a bribe or try to find a friend or a relative who could intervene to speed up the process ranged from 12 percent in South Korea to 32 percent in Sri Lanka.

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"Young people represent the future of their countries and we firmly believe that they hold the power to change their societies for the better. They must therefore demand integrity from their leaders, just as leaders have a responsibility to shape a corruption-free society," said Plipat.

"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," he added.