City dwellers approached by Malaysiakini yesterday agreed with the statement made on Tuesday by Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) community education director Abdul Samat Kasah that Malaysians hate corruption, but may not necessarily reject it outright.
Most approached agree that grand corruption at the top is a bad thing, but admit that petty bribery is something which Malaysians engage in from time to time.
Lawyer Sheela Harikrishnan said that whether politicians, officials or the common citizens are concerned, they are are wrong to get involved in corruption or bribing.
“We cannot say that politicians who are corrupt are bad and people who give bribes are good because both are feeding the problem,” Sheela said.
Visual arts student Stephanie Saidol said speaking out against corruption may be hypocritical for people who are involved in petty bribery themselves.
“You need to be clean yourself before you condemn or judge other people,” Stephanie said.
Most of the city-dwellers approached by Malaysiakini did not say if they themselves practised bribery, though in general many admitted that offering bribes is common at the lower rungs of society, just as it is being said to be rampant at the top.
'Greasing hands helps to get things done'
However, construction company owner Chong Yuen Foo went as far as admitting to greasing the hands of others to ensure his business went well, and said he had no qualms about it as it helped him get things done.
“If we want to have access to malls for construction, we have to pay the security guards around RM10 to RM15 to keep them far and avoid them from disturbing,” Chong said.
Bribery, he said, is prevalent in the current generation of Malaysians, and cannot be easily stopped.
“The awareness of the people on corruption is greater now, but it won’t stop until after one or two generations,” Chong added.
An employee for the Defence Ministry, who only wanted to be referred to as Ramli, said bribery in the country has become something more than a big part of the national culture, but it hasn’t always been present.
“There wasn’t any corruption or bribing during the leadership of Abdul Razak Hussein. So who brought in corruption?” Ramli pointedly asked.
However, he said, he was lucky as his military identity card saved him from having to engage in the bribery that is most commonly mentioned by Malaysians - paying policemen to let them off the hook from being issued a traffic summons.
“I was stopped for speeding at 180 kilometres per hour, but they let me go after seeing my identity card. So I didn’t have to bribe,” said Ramli, who believed that his military identification may have persuaded the cops not to issue him a summons.
However, in the final analysis, Sheela said that the MACC “should do their job (and work to eradicate corruption) rather than try to pinpoint who is at fault”. Only then can the problem be solved, even if, as Chong said, it is going to take some time to do so.- Mkini