Transparency International (click here for more information) is a global civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption. The society publishes annual corruption perception index which measures the perceived corruption levels of public sector in 178 countries. I stumped upon the website in one of my Operation Management classes, using a score system of 0-10 with a score of 10 representing a corruption-free country, you have information on how your own country ranks in terms of this indicator. As it measures the corruption levels of the public sector, you have an idea of how corruptible or clean your government is.
While I am definitely proud to be a Malaysian, I am not proud of our score which stands at 4.4/10.0 in 2010. As far as I could recalled, it was 22 years ago that I was introduced to this practise of corruption. I was told that that in order to smoothen the process of getting my driving license I have to pay extra “coffee money”. Well, being a fresh high school level, that extra “coffee money” is not a small amount of money, by the way being a fresh converted Christian I was taught that bribing is not a right thing to do, so based on the conviction that I have I told the uncle from the driving school that I will opt for the normal route, that is pay for my driving classes on the frequency basis (RM12.00 per class) and I will only pay the exact amount of the cost of the practical test which was RM50.00. I passed the theory test, attended 10 practical lessons and went for the practical test.
I flung my first test by knocking the pole during side parking and taking the wrong route during the driving test, obviously there goes my RM50.00. I was determined to pass my test, so after a month I registered for the test again, paid another RM50.00 and passed both my parking and driving test. While majority got their license by paying the package price, I’m somehow pleased with my decision that I got mine the clean way. That is my first taste against corruption.
As time passed I realized that there were many other “coffee money” packages out there, the package to clear your car summons, package to get documents approved by certain authorities, festivities package, package to smoothen 1001 type of applications…… the list goes on. This mentality is not just happening in the public sector, as I started to work in the private sector I came across sales people asking for “commission” in the form of “special price arrangement” and so on.
I remembered that there was one occasion that our government tried to regain trust in the government by launching the CAT policy – Competency, Accountability and Transparency, traffic police officers were all seen wearing a tag “Don’t bribe me” with their patrol cars pasted with the same stickers. I am not sure how successful is the program but I don’t see them wearing the tag anymore, maybe another “Hangat Hangat Tahi Ayam” effort, a Malay idiom that stands for “A short term effort”. The issue of corruption is prevalent, we just have to be aware of what's is happening and open our eyes to these issues.
So the big question is…. Are we one of them, do we allow ourselves to be bribed or to bribe? We may not be one of the big timer "briber" but we may have willingly or unwillingly be part of it. I always believe if there is supply, there is demand. Stop the supply and the demand will stop. What is your decision the next time you beat a red light, litter, deal with the authorities, are you going to offer coffee money or are you willing to take up your guts, acknowledge your wrongs, accept the penalty, make the decision to do it right. Do you want to live in a country that is free of corruption where the administration is competent, accountable and transparent or do you want to live in a country where you are expected to dig deep into your pockets and pay your way out. I have made my decision 22 years ago, how about you? The next general election is coming soon, please pray and vote for a clean government.