WINNING is not everything; that’s the only thing. If you signed up, would you do whatever it takes to win? It seems to be the norm now. The winner takes it all.
Total dedication to winning the sports world is okay, but what about in business and politics? Is it at the service of the well-being of the company and the country?
The World Bank has estimated that globally over 1,000 billion US dollars (4 trillion RM) are spent annually on corrupt officials. Simply put, corruption is dishonesty among those in positions of power who give or accept bribes, play double-game, manipulate elections, embezzle funds, launder money and defraud investors.
Corruption is not announced with a capital C, but it appears to be both systemic and systematic. It is closely linked to the way governments do business and cannot be reduced without reform. It is a symptom of bad governance, especially when the bureaucracy has grown too big and too heavy.
It hurts the economy and hurts the poor.
On the supply side, it prevails because people often pay bribes under duress. For example, it makes a difference between waiting years or a short period for a permit or license. It is regressive against the poor and âunconnectedâ due to the lack of political support.
Most often, the accounts of corrupt officials tend to be in banks located in stable and developed countries or in tax havens.
Corruption usually directly affects a few people, but the effect on general integrity is contagious and multiplying. The harm done both to individuals and to society as a whole is damaging.
The consequences include a bad reputation, a lack of trust, inefficient allocation of resources, undermined democracy, reduced accountability, poor representation in parliament and disregard for the rule of law. If left unchecked, it can stimulate criminal activity and organized crime.
Valuable resources will be needed to repair the damage and other critical areas will be deprived of them. As a result, inefficiencies occur and the damage to reputation is immense.
Corruption can be reduced through education, accountability mechanisms, a culture that fosters strong ethical behavior – honesty and integrity and leading by example. In addition, the perpetrators face the maximum penalty.
It takes transparency to hold governments to account. Too many secrets keep corrupt practices secret.
Another area is to build stronger governance and regulatory institutions. In this context, it is the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and it has five external oversight bodies to monitor and balance its roles and functions. The question here, is it really effective or overkill?
Ordinary citizens may not know much, and journalists often have “inside” information. Investigative journalism with a healthy dose of transparency could raise concerns and also provide a check and balance. We can learn from Indonesia on the free media.
It doesn’t help when politicians ridicule our journalists when they should be helping to raise their dignity and standards.
Ultimately, it is good for the economy as it attracts foreign investors due to less risk of higher sunk costs and an economically predictable environment.
The success of the fight against corruption depends on a mixture of strong political will; eliminate opportunities for corrupt actions; educate citizens to be honest, competent, God fearing and of course, opposition parties who hate corruption. Above all, avoid preferential treatment for politicians over ordinary citizens.
It may be urgent to consider whether investigators from law enforcement agencies, prosecutors as well as members of the judiciary should take refresher courses as there has been an increase in the number of reports reporting a discharge not equivalent to an acquittal. The former Inspector General’s allegations of corruption among thugs and “everywhere” in politics have also not been investigated.
Last but not least, have we ever wondered, how is it that normal people – sometimes without qualifications – walk into middle class offices and out of wealthy offices?
What do you say … – December 5, 2021.
* Saleh Mohammed reads The Malaysian Insight.
* This is the opinion of the author or post and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight.