I will not let go! Of corruption and bribery that is!

The more I interact with people the more I realise how wide ranging their understanding of these concepts is. It is human nature to see things within our own perspective based on our knowledge and experience of things. Our understanding is guided by what is relevant to us.

I’m reminded of a theory of communication and cognition I studied many dreams ago when I thought I could impact the world of academia with this one amazing theory of translation and interpretation – the dream that faded into the horizon of day to day reality… !

But the theory of RELEVANCE (Sperber and Wilson 1986) is real enough and plausible enough! 

In an act of communication the speaker/ writer  verbally or non-verbally (through signs and gestures) communicates a piece of information which the hearer/ reader cognitively processes against the context of  his sensory, linguistic and encyclopeadic knowledge. The hearer/writer then selects the interpretation which conveys an array of meanings and implications which are relevant to him/her. 

This theory is highly plausible and supports the human condition of   seeing and hearing, of “seeing” and “hearing” that is, interpreting the world and its myriad inputs and “meanings” through the context of our own minds – the context which includes our religious, cultural, educational, economic, political etc etc etc experiences.

Understanding the meanings which are formally defined and listed in dictionaries,  thesauruses, encyclopeadias and specialist texts is one aspect of communication and cognition; perception and interpretation. There are many more “meanings” which the human mind is capable of processing!

Which brings me back to the concepts of corruption and bribery!

Corruption is generally defined as …acting dishonestly in return for money or  personal gains or,  abuse of power by those in positions of authority. Bribery refers to the act of… dishonestly paying or giving of inducement in money or kind to someone to act in one’s favour. Therefore by their formal definitions, corruption and bribery are two sides of the same coin – DISHONESTY. The receiver is as dishonest as the giver. When you extend the context of interpretation both parties are committing unethical acts in the eyes of society. In the eyes of religion, corruption and bribery are immoral and sinful acts.

Different societies may assign different values to questions of ethics and morality. Different cultures may view these acts differently. In some cultures giving an inducement prior to or after seeking a favour may be an acceptable practice. In some cultures showing one’s gratitude can be in the form of a sincere “thank you” while in other societies gratitude is shown by way of gifts in cash or in kind!

How then does a nation, especially a multiracial, multireligious and  multicultural one, define and manage corruption and bribery which disrupts and destroys the legitimacy of its ministries, agencies and departments and ultimately of itself? It becomes a tussle between the public and the private sector, between a nation and its citizenry! How does a government make its anti-corruption efforts relevant to the people? How can they be effectively managed?


Abuse of power and authority is immoral in any form! When people who have been given the duty and responsibility of looking after the public good are dishonest, there’s no question that they are indeed CORRUPT! When they use the opportunities, rights, privileges meant for the public to further their own interests or fatten their own pockets, they are CORRUPTED! When they ask for and receive bribes for doing work which is within their line of duty they are clearly ABUSIVE!

What about the private citizen who abuses the law and then tries to wrangle his way out of it by bribing the people in authority? What about the man in the street who gives the policeman or Rela officer RM50 for withdrawing a summons or letting an illegal worker stay in the country? What about the businessman who takes the family of a government officer for a holiday for pushing his application through? What about, YES what about the foreign investor who gives a government minister the time of his life in a 7 star hotel in Dubai for endorsing a billion dollar project?


YES – corruption and corruptibility occurs along a continuum and if it is not clearly defined and explicated by watchdog bodies like the National Integrity Institute, Transparency International, Corporate Governance etc and the individual department and business house etc, Malaysians will plead ignorance or worse, point to others – never at themselves.

Clear guidelines as to what constitutes corruption and bribery must be in place at all levels in the public and public sectors. Workers and staff must be constantly engaged in discourse regarding these two scourges of society in order that they are imbued with an acute awareness and knowledge of right and wrong in the workplace. Slogans and posters must be put up in strategic areas to warn people of the seriousness of these offences and their repercussions!

Of course, religious and moral education must be intensified at all levels but this matter deserves a posting of its own!


4 Responses to “”

  1. August 6, 2009 at 10:10 am

    for that matter what about taking clients (and future clients) to golf games? buying govt officers lunches and presents during hari raya, birthdays etc? How many ministers receive all types of presents? Surely one will not just buy a simple book or kain pelikat as a present to a cabinet minister right?

    I think a standard operating procedure cannot be implemented in dealing with what is corruption or what is not. If a friend who is in the position of power helps a businessman to obtain a “legitimate” bid or perhaps even assist the guy to do the right things in order to get the business without expecting anything in return, and the businessman friend obtains what he was trying for, surely there will be some gratitude shown so is this corruption?

  2. 2 ninitalk
    August 7, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    Friend or no friend, minister or no minister – there’s no need to shower people with gifts or lavish shows of gratitude.

    You can introduce a monetary cap in your SOP! Why not? As long as you don’t have different standards for different categories of people! Better to get Patchi’s chocolates – even then cap it at RM500/!

  3. August 8, 2009 at 7:55 am

    as a consequence of you for your report and it helped me in preparing my college assignment.

  4. 4 ninitalk
    August 8, 2009 at 10:39 am

    Viagra – a part of this posting was published in The Sun (Friday 7 August 2009). You can also refer to this.

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