Sunday, December 30, 2012

What's this animal called 'Corruption'.

I thought that Malaysia had been doing extremely well in eliminating corruption with a number of big fish ( erstwhile called 'sharks) being nabbed and disabled. No, they are not incarcerated really. Just disabled for a while, then restored. But, everyday we hear through the media (especially, the non official channels) that more corruption is going on, and at very high levels....

And so I keep asking myself, what animal is this corruption? Especiaaly since we hear about it in all levels of societies - the so-called post industrial, the industrial and pre-industrial. Is it a kind of communicable disease or sickness like the HIV,TB,drug-abuse and obesity which we can never really eradicate unless we kill off the victims who may not be entirely responsible for the infection.
May be there's something in corruption that underlies every normal economic and business transaction in our everyday life. In other words there could be bits and pieces of corruption in every economic and business dealings and even social transaction , and only when the degree gets too obvious and unethical like asking for money to close an eye over certain rules, do we call it corruption.

Do parents who reward their children with an enhanced allowance or an expensive gift in return for a favor, indulge in corruption? No, that's motivation maybe. Do shopkeepers who give their regular customers a big discount, indulge in corruption? No, that's...what? Just a favor? Incentive? Do the Police who reward a thief in roping in other thieves indulge in corruption? No, that's a reward as it is blendly called. Do political leaders who shower their supporters with gifts, financial assistance and other promises, indulge in corruption? No, those are the benefits for electing them to the offices they hold. Do businessmen who give out a big commission for a huge purchase indulge in corruption? No, that's business.

When many of the things mentioned do not constitute corruption, then what is it? The law may say it's getting a reward for not doing anything that deserves it, abusing power to gain something substantial etc etc..But there's also a bit of that in all legal and monetary transactions.I would be happy to call corruption just an unethical swop of goods or favors. When one person has something that another person wants and the latter has something that the former wants, a swop can occur. Is that illegal? Certainly not if the swop is ethical. You give me what I need and I give you what you want. Only when what you give is not rightly yours, it belongs to the people who gave you the authority to utilize public money, resources or the power to exercise certain action, does it become unethical. It becomes corruption.But when I use the power that I have to get a bigger piece of the rewards I am normally entitled to (like my pay),or raise the price of things so that I can get some of the payment made, that's stealing.
Worse than that, if I squeeze money from another party that is squeezing money from other people or the public, that's more like an animal eating up another animal...

So, what corruption? Manipulating the rules and regulations to benefit oneself is certainly no corruption. Everyone does it sometimes. Every good businessman does that.
I am only left with one answer. If it's done ethically, it's not corruption. If what is offered and what is taken is unethical (or illegal), then it's corruption, often happening at very high levels. Until that which happened at higher levels is stopped, how can we expect it it to be eradicated at lower levels?

Of course, the court of law will decide if and when a charge of corruption arises. The question is: does the court of law take into consideration the ethics of the case or just the facts as it sees fit? I've no answer to that.


Anonymous said...
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abdulhalimshah said...

From the viewpoint of Islam, corruption is the commission of an act by inducing the person with the authority to decide against or in favour of the party in question in a way which is unjust, meaning not putting something in its proper place. One example is that of a judge who decides on a case in favour of one party because he has been influenced through monetary gain or similar inducement, although the odds are against it. Thus corruption creates such an injustice to the aggrieved party which suffers as a result of unfair means by the other party. I do not know which ayat in the Al-Quran which dwells on this, but this is considered a big sin for the perpetrator.

norzah said...

The action/decision of a judge can be easily reviewed, Akhi Halim. I agree fully with your definition. But what about the payment of money as a share in a business deal. Is that corruption? Or takng money for a bit of info, making something happens etc. It happens everyday. Yet some are called corruption, some are not,