Press statement, 5th May 2014, Kuala Lumpur – “I don’t know, Teacher”, “Lau shi, wo pu che tau” was accompanied by looks of incomprehension and confusion when asked how they wanted to ‘settle’ their problems. These were the cumulative responses of Malaysian children when they were put under pressure for ‘cheating’.
In a social experiment, conducted in a school by Transparency International-Malaysia (TI-M), students were hauled up for an alleged misdemeanor and offered an option to get out of trouble via bribery.
Hidden cameras recorded their responses as teachers asked their students a line familiar to all Malaysians, “So, how do you want to settle this?” Most of us know that the answer to this question means dipping into your wallet and offering a bribe. The range of bewildered, naive expressions when teachers attempted to solicit illicit bribes from children, underlined the fact that we used to react exactly the same way as these children when confronted with corruption.
So where did we go wrong? How did bribing become intrinsic to Malaysian culture? Our children certainly don’t know about corruption or bribery. The answer lies in apathy and the need for a stronger belief that as a society, we can institute change and demand for an open and just democracy.
Malaysia has become a country where corruption is synonymous with our way of life. Whether deeply entrenched in the bureaucracy of our country’s governance or at the street level, society’s acceptance of bribery as the easiest way to get things resolved has become a key contributor to Malaysia’s infamous reputation of suffering from prevalent corruption.
TI-M’s 2013 Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) revealed that 39% of the respondents believe that the level of corruption in Malaysia has increased. In the past 12 months prior to the GCB, 12% of the interviewees said they had paid a bribe to the police, 8% to the judicial system and 3% to the education system. Yet, 79% of the respondents confirmed they would report an incident of corruption.
As TI-M’s President, Dato’ Akhbar Satar states, everyone has a role to play in stopping corruption: the government, the private sector and civil society. The most important role played by civil society TI-M wants to see is that individuals refrain from engaging in corrupt activities. Make sure that we do not give. Once there is no giver, there is no corruption … remember the scourge of corruption can destroy good values, justice, oppress the people, and ruin democracy and the nation. Those involved in corrupt practices are traitors to the nation.
So what can we, as Malaysians, do? The answer is as simple as it is telling in the video shared by Transparency International-Malaysia. Corruption is not inherent to us as individuals and to society (nature), but it is something we learn (nurture). Take a leaf out of these children’s books; Malaysia, the answer is staring you square in the face: ‘Do as Kids Do’ and #dontsettle. You can stop corruption!
For more information on ‘Do as Kids Do’, #dontsettle and Transparency International-Malaysia’s social experiment, head to Transparency International-Malaysia’s website and YouTube channel at www.transparency.org.my and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7V3NFBjpIA
Dato’ Akhbar Satar, President Email: email@example.com
Transparency International Malaysia Mobile: 017-256 0811
Dr KM Loi, Secretary-General Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Transparency International Malaysia Mobile: 012-3036757