I am moved to comment on recent news on incidents of corruption in our nation, with some reservation though. A blogger friend perceptively,no doubt moulded by experience, that a blog posting on corruption is always a 'turn-off' for readers.Although I know my friend is right to a great extent,from the point of view of readers approval or hits, I cannot let this consideration be the sole determinant of my blogging concerns.
This antipathy towards the issue of corruption itself is worth thinking about. I wonder why? Allow me to hazard some possible explanations. I think for a great many they are simply weary not so much of the 'issue' but of the persistence of corruption itself in their daily lives. This is reflected in their attitudes of being 'fed up', 'tired of it', 'weary', 'disillusioned', 'pissed off', 'revolted', 'disgusted','don't care anymore', and various other emotions or shades of them. In short it has hardened into public cynicism,scepticism and a demoralised sense, which we can perhaps be summed up as 'what's the use', 'what can we do about it', 'no point', 'why get worked up about it', 'its reality' and so forth. What is worrying about these responses is that they do suggest the 'normalisation' of corruption, a kind of reluctant acceptance of the inevitable. It is a kind of moral and psychological defeatism against the scourge of corruption.It is such fatalism or resignation which caused many to avoid the issue of corruption.
There can be other explanations why people are uncomfortable with the issue of corruption. It could be that corruption is really an integral part of their lives, not necessarily as perpetrator but as victims. I am sure readers can themselves think of examples from real life. For example stall operators who have to pay high rent to 'contractors' who managed to obtain cheap leases from town councils directly because of 'contacts', 'strings' etc. For such victims of corruption, they are not interested in the issue of corruption simply because it is a bitter and painful reminder of their lives.Such a response to corruption suggests the deepening dan widening spread of corruption, which had weaved itself into the fabric of our daily lives, assuming the status of 'reality'.
On the more sinister side, there are many others who 'shy' from the issue of corruption because they profit and gain from it operationally, either as 'taker'or 'giver'. Out of guilt conscience,, they avoid corruption as 'issue' but not as active participants.. To them corrup practices are merely part of daily business practices or modus operandi,expressed or manifested in normal practices like 'gift
making', 'entertaining','socialising', 'networking','recreational','courtesy', 'political support', and many other expressions.
Another unfortunate explanation can be a kind of 'sympathising', 'emphatising', even 'vicarious thrill' of some pertaining to corruption. This emotional or psychological state can be summed up as 'its normal', 'its human', 'I would too', 'who wouldn't'. 'you would too ,given half tthe chance', 'its everywhere', 'it can never be eradicated'. For this group,they do entertain perhaps the idea that their day may come, when they get their 'big break'. For some others, they know they may not have such chance, sufficing in mere sharing vicarious thrills with some corrupt ones waxing riches, leading the fabulous life of the rich and famous as idolised by the media.
One thing has to be said about the development of corruption in our nation today. Once it used to be thought that corruption is merely the affliction of the BN, but it is no longer so. Corruption is very much a question of power and the opportunity for it. It is easier for the opposition to point a finger at the establishment when it is in the oppositon with not much opportunity or tempatation for corruption. But once a former opposition is thrusted into positon of power, authority and influence, events suggest it is just as adapt to the affliction of corruption, as recent events and news indicated.. I refer readers to the phenomena of sand stealing,business or contract 'brokering' by means of misrepresenting councillor's letterhead, or the usual mundane direct acceptance of bribery in the granting of contracts etc. The reverse of this principle of 'power corrupts' while 'non-power limits ' is that corruption gets exposed and scandalised with the loss of power and position of authority. We note many examples of this in the news, an outstanding one being the PKFZ case with a former cabinet minister being charged in court.
To give readers some materials to cross-refer the above observation with, take the recent reports on corruption cases brought to public attention. Last week we learned that the purchase of six new coaches for Malayan Railway Ltd had been inflated by more than half a billion. Those responsible are being investigated. This case suggests that there will always be some officials or executive ever alert to 'opportunities'. The sad thing about our situation or condition is that whenever there is any big deal or mega project available, it never fails to attract the corrupt. This does not auger well for our future and well being. A simple direct consequence of this case would be Malayan Railway would have to make up for the 'extra cost' by passing it on to consumers, who would thus suffer, paying higher for the same service, or settle for shoddy services, to make up for the inflated cost of providing them.
Another interesting development is the General Manager of Sime Darby is being charged for accepting briberies for favouring some contractors. For the granting of one project, he accepted a bribe of $100,000, while for another he accepted $200,000. Going beyond the newspaper report, it is interesting for us to infer the impplications and mangnitude of the phenomenon. It reflects the decline of our corporate life. Sime Darby used to be a household name in the past, being a favourite of investors, a true blue chip. Recently Sime Darby annouced a loss of more than a billion ringgit. Is it a wonder how this could have happened? Now it is reasonable to infer that the case of the GM may not be the only one, neither is his 'collection' confined to just the two bribes that came to light. Interestingly as a footnote, he used the bribes as downpayment for luxury cars. Wow? He has fine expensive taste, except he wanted it for free at public expense! I am reminded of a previous case of an assistant district officer who took bribe related to sand stealing, who also used the money for a new car . Doesn't that suggest a pattern or a certain corrupt way of life? Based on my observation, I can say that for some, opportunity for corruption may also be an integral part of their career planning, prefering jobs or career lines with great opportunities for corruption.
Yesterday we read of the corruption related to the 'sale' of titles or datukships in Johor. A distant member of the royal family had been arrested and charged for attempting to 'broker' a tille for a doctor. The case came to light when problems and complication developed.Putting this particular case aside, the talk of titles being 'marketed' and 'commercialised' had been going on for decades really.There was this much publicised case in Perak involving a close membeer of the royal family. We note that such cases get publicised only when 'complications' developed. I wonder if there are many cases or transactions that 'went smoothly' with the deals being closed? One thing I can say is that the public is somewhat cynical and sceptical about the titles of some being based on merit or meaningful contribution to state and nation.
What can be done to curb or at least minimise corruption ? A pertinent question indeed, but one that is too big to address in this posting. Perhaps in future posting I might venture to etxplore the matter. For now my intention is merely to jot down some personal reaction as I read the news. What's brewing certainly gives me the creep! It is plain to see that we are not going anywhere in terms of improving our lives as long as our progress is persistenly pulled back by this scourge of corruption. Whatever little we gain by way of advancement in the quality of life is soon erased or squandered by the greed of some, leaving our citizens high and dry