Monday, April 03, 2006

Corruption and bribery, an acquired habit and response (Pt 2)

(The following letter was written by one "Hopeless" from Petaling Jaya to the editor of The Edge and published in The Edge Malaysia, April 3 2006 issue at page 50. It has been reproduced below in full.)


Living with corruption

I wonder if there is any Malaysian who has gone through life without some experience of bribery or corruption, either as a corrupt official who demands or an offender who offers.

My first experience with bribery and corruption was 38 years ago when I rode a bicycle without lights. I was threatened with confiscation but the policeman told me he would let me off if I paid 50 sen, which I did with a sigh of relief. It felt like a great escape!

I am 52 now and nothing has changed since then, except that 50-sen bribe has risen steadily with inflation from RM10 in the 1960s, RM20 in the 1970s, RM50 in the 1980s and RM100 to RM150 in the 1990s until now.

With roadblocks prior to festive seasons (of which we Malaysians have many), the settlement sum is nearly always RM100 for one-off individual offences, when the police seem to pop out from nowhere. Whenever you make an illegal U-turn or when one of your vehicle lights is fused, the usual settlement sum is RM50.

The standard procedure when you are stopped for a traffic offence is a charade of bargaining between yourself and the policeman. If you do admit your fault and agree to receive a summons, he will inevitably ask several times: "Are you sure you want a summons?" - a clear hint at "alternatives".

Bribery and corruption are not confined to traffic offences. Being a developer and businessman, there is no way I could do my business without some form of corruption with the government departments or banks I have to deal with.

The demands come in many forms until some kind of settlement is made. Some of the threats include:

  1. Extremely slow processing of one's application for approval or permit.
  2. Outright rejection of one's application for non-compliance with one thing or another, which can seem endless at times. Somehow, all these so-called requirements are not really required when a settlement sum is placed on the table.
  3. What you applied for is reduced or altered to your disadvantage. For example, conversion of land status, layout plans, plot ratio or density for land development. All these can be negotiated with the right connections and money.
It is a nightmare doing business in Malaysia; there is always something to apply for - signboards, restaurant permits, entertainment permits, collection of rubbish, land approval, certificates of fitness for buildings (which involve several departments), foreign workers' permits, Customs clearance, approval to import certain products, licences, and so on.

All these require approval from a government agency or department, whether at state or federal leval.

On the commercial side, bribery and corruption are also rampant, especially in the banking industry - kickbacks for loan approval are a norm where a predetermined commission is usually agreed to before the loan is approved. So are entertainment at karaoke centres, expensive dinners and gifts, hampers, overseas golf trips, and so on.

Recently, I had a frustrating experience, which clearly illustrates how much of a disease corruption has become in Malaysia.

I applied for two foreign workers, and it took me nearly a year to get approval because I refused to grease anyone's palm. I knowof people who got their approval in a month. Having complied with all the requirements and with the approval letter in hand, I finally went to the KLIA to pick up the workers.

Lo and behold, the immigration officer insisted that I had to produce photographs of my factory and the workers' quarters, without which I was warned, the workers could not leave the airport with me.

I know there was no such requirement and to argue with the officer meant more delays or waiting until my staff from Ipoh delivered the photographs. This was definitely an act of intimidation by an officer and who could argue with him?

He was in charge and no amount of argument would have made a difference. While telling him politely that I was ignorant of the requirement, I dropped RM50 on his counter desk, whereupon the requirement of the photographs suddenly disappeared.

This kind of intimidation is so common that one has no hope but to "give in" to bribing. It's a bane but it is always easier to get things done and approved with "coffee money".

There will always be one officer or another in any government department who can and does really make one's life very difficult.

Fight for your rights? Hell, no! Your application will be rejected.

Report them? Hell, no! It's too trifling a matter and not worth the hassle. Would you bother making a police report, get evidence and attend court hearings for a small matter that can be resolved with just a few ringgit? Certainly not!

Settlement or connection is the only solution and relief from such daily inconveniences. It is that blatant!

After all these years, bribery and corruption are still so common in Malaysia. Fight corruption? I really think it's way beyond redemption. They are a pain in the neck but no one bothers nor do such small daily incidents (of which there must be thousands every day) ever get reported.

Life goes on ... What the heck, pay up and be done with it!

****************

(Would you, the reader, like to share your views on this subject matter?)

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8 Comments:

Blogger Maverick SM said...

It is not about corruption anymore. It is part and parcel of the system which had been design to react the way it had react - that's positive result.

I agree with the man who speaks bluntly and correctly. Is there a need to resolve? No! Justice will not beget justice. In return, you get into more trouble requiring a higher penalty at a higher and more complex level within the system.

What's the problem? Too many procedures, red-tapes and regulations that encourages the act.

Is there a way out? No! It was built-in system design defects.

Scrap and revamp the system? Hell will break loose. See the IPCMC proposal. Even the IGP had been pressured by his own people to stood defiant and challenge the PM.

3/4/06 20:20  
Blogger Wormie said...

If the IGP can reject IPCMC implementation that was agreed on by the PM and recommended by a royal commission, what can small people like us do? When the PM who is also the Internal Security Minister, cannot enforce a ruling on his subordinate, what can the Rakyat do to weed out corruption? As it is, Malaysia is such an 'efficient' place, things get done fast why want to change the system? If there is any improvement maybe the 'efficiency' will drop tremendously!!

3/4/06 22:23  
Blogger Daft Oi said...

dear son of indie,

why have you forsaken your fellow patriot. why have you decided to presume my welcome and then disdain it?
i am very hurt. i don't know if i can trust my fellow patriots anymore. this is a sad day for patriotism.

3/4/06 22:49  
Blogger Anak Merdeka said...

Thanks for the comments, Mave & Wormie. I hope others will not hesitate to voice their opinions here. All are welcome.

Daft Oi - eek! I've been caught ... so sorry for what happened. Obviously you know what I've written and I want to state that what I have said still stands. I erased it because I realized that someone might misunderstand the purpose of it and accuse me of being an opportunist. Don't feel sad la - I'm very sincere with my words. Glad you took note of it and dropped by to let me know. I'm soooo red-faced now!

4/4/06 11:17  
Blogger desiderata said...

anak merdeka:

it's that missing frenchkissing unck come a-calling with I.S.A:men, art thou scared?

I don't do it in da dark one, i do IT openly.
"From below to above-the-table" -- a cuntfession from One who thinks it's all hAPpening the lust 2 years only WHEN THE GAME HAS BEEB PLAYING FOR umpteen years.

I'd go to the door now, I hear some1 knockin 3X! Luckily it's NOT in the steal of the night!:)

and maverick sm: To save on all my breath and tehtraik2, I second all your views.:)
Both of us should try to get into Parliament eh?
You propose, I put both my legs up INSTANly!

NMayhaps anak merdeka can record it in her Hazzard!:(

5/4/06 12:36  
Blogger Anak Merdeka said...

Wah ... the English prof uncle has finally paid me a courtesy call, after sneaking around for so long. Must go buy 3-ekor today.

I'm so scared la, not because of I.S.A. but because you threatened to put both your legs up instantly.

No can do lah uncle - I don't want to end up with boils on my eyelids!

Whether below or above the table, hairy legs (& everything else) are a big NO NO. French gal also beh tahan.

Haiyah Unc Desi - alreadi you are a very corrupting influence lah. Sure fail my Engrund if I take lessons from you!

5/4/06 15:56  
Blogger howsy said...

I wonder one day the Chief Judge will not prosecute corruptors by saying that "In England, the act of prosecuting corruption are acceptable to the people in that country but is that acceptable to Malaysian citizens? Is the act according to the morality of the Asian people?"

5/4/06 22:14  
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17/12/16 00:43  

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