Corruption? It’s OK lah

by Khairie Hisyam Aliman
The Malaysian Insider
Jan 07, 2013

JAN 7 — “It’s amazing how much shit people put up with, as long as you give it to them slowly.”

The above quote from Mack Leighty echoed in my head as I read that we are ranked second out of 150 countries in Global Financial Integrity’s latest report on illicit financial outflows worldwide. According to GFI, in 2010 alone we lost RM196.84 billion in funds to tax havens and Western banks, second only to China.

Earlier this month, it was Transparency International’s survey. They asked this: “During the last 12 months, do you think that your company has failed to win a contract or gain new business because a competitor has paid a bribe?” We scored the highest out of 30 countries with 50 per cent.

The same survey also found that respondents feel the misuse of public fund by public servants and politicians is common. They also said they feel it’s common for public officials to demand or accept bribes. On the whole respondents perceive government efforts to fight corruption as largely ineffective.

How did it become so bad?

The very malaise at work is our attitude. Writer William Citrin calls it the “it’s OK lah attitude.” “Simply put, the ‘it’s OK lah’ stance is a serene (and often blind) acceptance of the minor inconveniences and irritations of everyday life,” he wrote.

Like everything that inconveniences us every day, initially we feel upset — angry even. Why do people clutter up our mailboxes with flyers and business cards every day? Why do people deface signboards and traffic lights and lamp posts with their advertisements and car-for-rent flyers? Why is the traffic jam so horrible that we can watch a 30-minute sitcom on the Federal Highway during the rush hour? Why do we need to slip somebody “duit kopi” to get the bureaucratic wheels turning?

These things outrage us. But then we encounter them again and again day in, day out. Anger turns to exasperation and before long we grow jaded enough not to care so much. Just another pothole in the road, we drive around it and it’s behind us. We see those flyers lying around outside our mailbox and we shake our heads, then we drive off to work and we forget about them. “Duit kopi” becomes part of operating costs, unrecorded or maybe put under “entertainment” allowances.

Over time, we accept these things as facts of life that we have to deal with. As we accept them as part of the environment, they get worse. More and more potholes appear on the road, and we just slow down so that we can drive around each and every one of them. We don’t bother reporting them to the authorities, because we have other things to worry about. Let someone else make that phone call, we think.

Bit by bit we acclimatise to these “minor inconveniences”, and as they slowly get worse, we acclimatise even more, barely noticing that the pothole in the road is getting bigger and bigger. Just like the culture of corruption and bribery and “gifts” which also grow. We resign ourselves to their existence and do our best to get by, while the cynical ones begin to think of ways to benefit from it. The cycle continues and compounds the issue.

Today, corruption is monstrous. Some government officials become absurdly, suspiciously and unnaturally well-off and wealthy after assuming a public post, and we barely bat an eye at this. We still think it’s not that bad, because we’re used to it. “It’s OK lah,” we say, “country still developing what, a bit corrupt only, where got country without corruption?”

But it’s not okay. Even a small hole in the road is one hole too big, because wrong is wrong regardless of scale. We can’t rid ourselves of the corruption that infects the country in a day, but every great journey begins with the first step. The first step is to change our mentality about the pothole in the road.

It’s not OK lah.

  1. #1 by chengho on Monday, 7 January 2013 - 11:16 am

    Intro capital regime again, RM not an instrument of currency abroad , RM will be back like during ASEAN crisis .

  2. #2 by cseng on Monday, 7 January 2013 - 11:25 am

    Other than OK lah… There is something called courageous.

    Until recently, we were showed what courageous are. Suaram, Ambiga show us what courage is all about.

    Ages of medias’ self censoring put our society in helplessness, we lost their critical thinking skills, lost our voices, lost our involvement, until the e-medias/blogs come for rescue.

    At the same time, Karma ran it course, exactly the same self censoring of medias, lose them (whoever think they fit) the right thinking and their talking can’t hold water anymore.

    Other than, Not OK!, lets claim back our moral, courage and oblige our moral courage to speak with consciences and vote with consciences!.

    It only take good-men to do something, than evils can’t triumph anymore. Let’s walk, let’s talk, let’s involved and being part of it…

  3. #3 by monsterball on Monday, 7 January 2013 - 11:28 am

    Who has ever said RM is an instrument of worldwide currency?
    You are right…once PR takes over the Govt…Agents…will flush out all RM hidden accounts….and bring them back to the rightful owners…the Malaysians.
    We are 35 years behind Philippines and 15 years behind Indonesia…getting rid of dictators using cronies to hide stolen money.
    Better late than never.

  4. #4 by monsterball on Monday, 7 January 2013 - 11:30 am

    chengho will tell cseng to fly kite again.

  5. #5 by megaman on Monday, 7 January 2013 - 11:38 am

    First they came

    First they came for the communists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

    Then they came for the socialists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

    Then they came for me,
    and there was no one left to speak for me.

    Does this poem rings a bell in your mind and heart on how similar it is to our situation ?

    First the potholes,
    We drove around them until the roads are so full of them that they cannot be travelled on.

    Then the Kopi-O money,
    We gave until we ran out of money.

    Then the quotas,
    We abide until we get nothing in the end.

    Then when finally we have nothing and they still came,
    will we then stand up ?
    What will we be fighting for when we have nothing left ?

    The night is always the darkest before dawn.

    Unfortunately, it is our human nature to procrastinate until things become so bad that we have to summon our courage to face the worst.

  6. #6 by monsterball on Monday, 7 January 2013 - 12:13 pm many big and small corruptions.
    One in Melaka….at Ayer Keroh…stalls and a small fountain built with contractors …completed in November 2012….estimating to cost not more than RM1 million…was reported to cost RM4 million…and approved by Melaka CM.
    Right now…all the stalls are vacant…no takers.
    chengho…..why you never read all these factual news and keep talking nonsense?

  7. #7 by chengho on Monday, 7 January 2013 - 5:29 pm

    I read timber land issue in Kelantan , gag orders now , CEC cannot discuss , correct ?

  8. #8 by monsterball on Monday, 7 January 2013 - 5:45 pm

    This bloody chengho keep traveling to all posts to release his sh….i…t.

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