Bribery and Corruption


[dropcap font=”0″]T[/dropcap]hese two words are inseparable like two lovers. Without bribery there won’t be corruption and without corrupted person there won’t be bribery. Please note that I did not say briber, because even if there are no corrupted person there could be bribers, who will attempt to bribe to get favours and undue privileges. Bribery and corruption is a worldwide phenomenon that plagued every country, though they may vary in dimensions.
What is Bribery and Corruption?
I will try to define it from a layman’s point of view and not from the legal perspective. Bribery is an act of giving someone, with authority, a gift, either in kind or cash, to get that person’s favor, or in most cases, undue privileges. Corruption is an act of taking a bribe and going out of the way, or rather out of the procedure, to grant favors and privileges. Both bribery and corruption are criminal acts punishable by imprisonment.
Difference Between a Gift and a Bribe.
A retired judge once explained to me the difference between a gift and a bribe. He said, quoting the standing laws of those days, only fruits and flowers in small numbers can be accepted as a gift. However, if it is in abundance, that is, if some one gives you a truck-load of fruits or flowers it would amount to bribery. Here, fruits and flowers are just metaphors, what he meant was things that are of little value. According to him, cash cannot be accepted as a gift, whatever the amount and if taken, it is deemed as taking a bribe and is guilty of corruption.
Different Ways of Taking Bribe
In the past, bribery and corruption is not so rampant as nowadays. In those days bribe money is dubbed tea money. From that term it can be deduced that the amount is not much, thus it must be going on among the lower echelons of the burocracy only. Here, I would like to relate one interesting episode that will support my deduction. While I was posted at a far flung district town, there was an office superintendent (OS) at a certain office. People who came to that office for one reason or the other, would invite him to have tea at a shop in front of the office. The old OS would tell them he was busy so he cannot join them, but to order a cup of tea for him and to tell the owner of the shop that he would come for his tea later. By the nature of his work, the OS had to deal with twenty to twenty five clients every working day and almost all of them offered him tea. After office hours he would go to the tea shop and ordered one cup of tea and sat down to enjoy his drink. After a while he would tell the cashier at the counter to settle the bill and a waiter would approach him and passed him a folded paper. The OS would take a peek inside the folded paper and when satisfied he would pocket it and left happily. I will leave the details for your imaginations, as to what was in that folded piece of paper.
Later the term changed to one table, indicating that the cost or the price of a bribe had increased and hence the level of the bribe taker or the corrupted person were getting higher. At present, I think the slang for bribing is pouring water, indicating the volume of money involved. I must admit I do not know how that expression came into being. However, I am sure the epidemics of bribery and corruption had spread further up the ladder of hierarchy. The methods of taking bribe, too, had changed over the years and have become more sophisticated than that of the old OS’s days. As there are too many ways of bribing and because they are just hearsays and I haven’t had the first hand knowledge, I would not expound on that matter. Nonetheless, I like to point out that a biscuit tin containing biscuits only can be deemed a gift, but if it is stashed with money, it would amount to be a bribe.
How to Tackle Bribery and Corruption
There is a saying in Myanmar,” the floors decayed because of a leaky roof”. If we repair or replace just the decayed floor without touching the leaky roof, it would not be effective. The floors will rot again. So what I would like to suggest, with goodwill and intentions, is to either replace or if still repairable, to start from the roof first. In other words, we must tackle this epidemic from top to bottom and not the reverse.
Another important factor for the successful eradication of bribery and corruption is to increase the salary of the employees at all levels. Here the Singapore’s example should be taken into consideration. Singapore may not be one hundred percent corruption free, but is among the list of least corrupted nations. The reasons—reasonable and appropriate salary and other financial assistances, enough to cover the expenses of the government employees, played a crucial role in controlling corruption. We don’t need to equal that of Singapore, but at least some improvements from the present status will do. Also it would be necessary to take criminal actions against those corrupted government service personnel. Administrative action alone would not be enough to deter the would-be bribe takers.
Looking forward to a corruption free  society

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