It comes as no surprise that civil servants top the list of people detained and charged for “corrupt practices”! According to the figures released by the MACC the highest incidence of corruption occurred among government servants especially those in the support group.

Vested with  the authority to approve applications from the public for government licences, schemes and  projects; grants, scholarships, subsidies and other handouts, civil servants often assume a superior position in performing their duties. Given access to huge public funds and the discretion in allocating  them, some officials are imbued with a sense of power over those seeking government-controlled opportunities. Wielding the arm of enforcement they are open to persuasion from those eager to cut corners and escape the tedium of  bureaucracy, procedures and regulations and the full brunt of the law. It is an irony in the vicious circle of corruption that government red tape provides a fertile breeding ground for corruption, and corrupt bureaucrats increase the extent of red tape to extract additional bribes.

In a country poised for development, the opportunities to make money are everywhere and open to everyone except the public servants who earn a modest salary compared to their peers in the private sector.  It is no wonder then that to improve their living standards, the more gullible among them fall prey to the monetary temptations and bribes offered by the entrepreneurs participating in government-controlled businesses. And it would be logical to deduce that the officials handling ventures yielding abnormal profit are likely to be offered greater inducements.

While we are quick to denounce the uncivil servant charged with bribery and corruption, we forget that at the other end of the continuum is the equally greedy and corrupt member of the public, business house and even multinational corporation dangling the carrots filled with money, luxury goods, condominiums and family holidays. We condemn the takers while ignoring the givers whose excuse is that they are expected to grease the palms of the officials waiting in line to serve the public. Ironically, we sympathise with a  business community driven to work  the country’s resources forgetting that they too are exploitative and corruptible.

In a country where the culture of materialism has taken root, it is not surprising that the citizens from both sides of the public and private divide  are in a desperate rush to get rich.  In the  mad frenzy to answer the government’s clarion call for development and more development, people are prepared to literally cut corners in driving to reach their destination and achieve their goals. In a society where the measurement of success is quantity rather than quality, speed is of the utmost importance in getting to that magical level of affluence and material advancement.

Sadly with speed accidents happen – many of them fatal!


4 Responses to “”

  1. 1 Tokman
    March 19, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    Its really an uphill battle in our fight against corruption. Corruption is happening everywhere, everyday and at all levels of hierachy in any society. Even the office boy and file searcher demand money today to get things done though the jobs are already paid by their employers. If I were allowed to relate my personal experiences on this matter in this blog I am sure I will be sued or charged for libel or slander. Corruption is an old profession, as old as prostitution….and the irony of it is that it is just ‘love’ by almost everybody at all levels of any society. I may sound very crude here but thats the fact! We hear everyday about the rakyat complaining about corruption among the government servants, politicians and the corporate leaders. Many point their fingers on the government servants and politicians while others blame the private sector. Who really is at fault? Who really holds the power? Why do they need to indulge in such corrupt practices? Some writers prefer to use the term ‘immoral acts’ but to some society such acts are not ‘immoral’ just ‘unfair practices’. How do we attempt to eradicate corruption in our society…our multicultural society? Its really a tough battle and even if we win we are not sure we have won the war! Down deep in my heart the only way that we can attempt to eradicate corruption is for those ‘in power’ to show openly and practise integrity by rejecting any ‘offer’ made to them. Any gesture or attempt to bribe by the ‘interested’ party will automatically result in disqualifications and blacklisted from the registered lists.The sad thing in this issue is that in most corruption cases it is those in power that ‘requested’ for their ‘commissions’! The ‘applicants’ normally dare not make the ‘offer’ unless they get a clear ‘signal’ to do so. As rightly said by you the genuine contractors are left high and dry and the projects given to the incompetent ones rsulting in many projects abandoned or collapsed. What we do need are incorruptible politicians and government servants as the corporate boys play to the ‘tune’ played by those in power. Personally I would not want to blame the private sector for practising corruption as without that ‘offer’ you get nowhere in the business world, but if as suggested earlier the politicians and government servants are straight and honest in their dealings then the way to stop corrupt practices may get very positive results.

  2. 2 ninitalk
    March 20, 2010 at 6:55 am

    How right you are Tokman that like prostitution, corruption stems from a basic human weakness -the inability to refuse a good offer be it sex or money! Some call it lust or greed which are considered as personal failings!

    For as long as people do not see that like cheating, bribery and corruption are dishonest acts committed against others and against society, they will continue to view them as “unfair practices” as you kindly put it. They will continue to believe that they are only being fair to themselves and to the party they bribe. I scratch your back, you scratch my back, as the saying goes!

    What they fail to acknowledge is that prostitution and corruption can impact society in greater ways than they can ever imagine! It can lead to syndicates and gangs and secret societies preying on their unknowing victims and holding them to blackmail and ransom. Human lust and greed is part of a deadly vicious cycle!

    You are right again that the top leadership must lead the way in being squeaky clean, exemplary and incorruptible!It is they who must break the viciousness and vileness in Malaysia’s fight against corruption. When the rakyat see that their leaders are truly honest and honourable, only then will we begin to see the change in societal values.

    But Tokman, that does not mean that you and I should just stand on the sidelines and wait for the miracle to happen. We must continue to speak up and speak up we will till the cows come home!

  3. 3 Gopal Raj Kumar
    March 24, 2010 at 8:56 am

    The term corruption can mean many different things to many different people when applied to as many different situations. What we commonly refer to as corruption especially in the civil service is the taking of bribes. Whats often not considered (and conveniently so) is the giving and offering of bribes wwhich is as much if not the greater part of the offence.

    Corruption is in my view and in reality incompetence and everything that surrounds it or attaches to it. The examples you provide here to illustrate the point you make is perhaps the most common and the more damaging forms of corruption because the civil service is accountable to the public. And the truth is that it is widespread a practice in th public service not only in Malaysia but in many other countries.

    Corruption in all forms is prevelant in pandemic proportions in centralised bureaucracies where people and businesses have to wait many months sometimes years for a service. They wait because the population demanding the same service is to large for the bureaucracy to cope with efficiently (India and China) or the service or power behind the service is limited to very few centres or concentrated in a few hands to provide over a large demographic. Queue jumping through bribery is the natural result of this phenomenon.

    India is a prime example of how such a vice has now become a virtue through customary practice and sheer necessity for decades that it is too deeply entrenched in the political, economic and social culture of the place. No one complains loud enough there against it for the danger of not being served in future if they do. An extreme example of the point was demonstrated during the Kargil War on the Pakistan border with India. Soldiers on leave requiring to report for immediately for duty during the outbreak of that conflict were forced to to pay premiums to railway clerks for tickets to travel to their destination.

    In Malaysia it is those who today complain of the existence of corruption who are themslves promoters of corruption. The race debate would have to be invoked to further this argument and I should not digress.

    The civil service in Malaysia like in any other place would not be as corrupt a it is claimed to be by some if the hand that feeds the corruption is severed. But for that to happen the state needs to perform radical surgery at a political and legislative level that it would very well hurt business that has so far thrived on the practice.

    Perhaps it would be best for those who complain the loudest to stop the practice of innuendo and hearsay to defame those they dislike and to come forward with the real hard evidence they have to prove their case.

    Corruption is a disease recognised in the civil service which can be checked. But corruption in the private sector which is unaccountable in many respects to the public and at law is whats more insideous and a danger to efficiency and public morality. Yet the private sector and their cohorts appear indifferent to the culture of corruption and inefficiencies and rampant criminal conduct in their sector because there are few political points to score in attacking the practice in business.

  4. 4 ninitalk
    March 26, 2010 at 9:09 am


    While I will concede that corruption is not unique to Malaysia or the Malaysian civil service, I remain steadfast in calling for its eradication because of its insidious nature in leading a nation to a state of moral depravation.

    The utter disregard for ethics, integrity, honesty and all the other good human values which it encourages, and the blatant disrespect for people and the office they hold – all because businesses and institutions want to wrest that extra buck or a bigger profit margin – is to me deplorable!

    Malaysia certainly doesn’t want to go down the road of India or Africa where bribery and corruption is a way of life, a form of investment that corporations “factor in” to appease their competitors or the awarding bodies. I’ve heard enough stories of Indians wriggling their heads to say NO which actually means a YES!

    Whether it’s the inefficiency of bureaucracy and red tape that allows time for bargaining and the rottenness of the rotten apples in the public and public sectors to decompose, there must be a citizen outcry against corruption.

    If our political leaders don’t know better, the pressure must be applied consistently and continuously by concerned citizens like you and me. Corruption must be linked with shame and disgrace – and even sin by our religious leaders!

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