Corruption — a tale from two cities
MAY 7 — It was sometime in the late 1990’s. And it was in Singapore.
A trailer driver was delivering some goods to a Singaporean buyer. While doing so, he hit some tree branches which fell onto a car behind the trailer and slightly damaged the car.
Both men stopped their respective vehicle. While they were “settling” their “dispute”, a traffic police officer came by and stopped. Upon his inquiry, the trailer driver related what had happened to the officer. The officer then told the car driver that perhaps he should make a claim from his insurance company as it was not the fault of the trailer driver that his car was damaged.
Noting that the damage only involved some minor scratches, the car driver relented and drove off. The trailer driver was so relieved. He was also glad that the officer supported his case and was filled with gratitude to him.
In true Malaysian fashion, the trailer driver took out S$20 and gave it to the police officer. The police officer took it and rode off.
On the way back to Malaysia, the trailer driver was arrested at the Immigration checkpoint and detained. The next day he was charged for giving bribe to a police officer.
I was then advising the transport company for whom the driver worked. A Singaporean Counsel was engaged and he advised that it was an offence to do so. He advised the driver to plead guilty.
He did and was punished, fortunately, with a just rather hefty fine.
Fast forward to last Monday, May 3, 2010.
Time: 1.15am. Location, Jalan Cheras, Kuala Lumpur.
“Cop held over alleged bribery, sexual harassment.”
The first lady was driving alone at 1.15am when she was stopped at the roadblock. The police said she was driving beyond the speed limit. According to her, the police officer said the matter could be settled on the spot. She then offered RM15 and the officer agreed to take that sum as “settlement”.
Money exchanged hand. The officer than allegedly told her that she was sexy. He allegedly asked her to lift her t-shirt and pull up her skirts. She immediately drove off.
But not before she performed her side of the agreed bargain. She paid him the 15 bucks and drove off.
Next was a nightclub singer about 30 minutes later. The same thing happened. This time the lady gave RM20. The same officer allegedly made similar advances. The lady also paid him and drove off.
It was reported that the two women were “riled over the incidents.”
The report, however, does not specify whether the two ladies were “riled” over the alleged sexual harassment and the fact that the officer had allegedly asked them for money or whether both of them were only “riled” over the alleged sexual harassment alone.
However, the MP for Cheras, Tan Kok Wai (DAP), whose help was sought by the two ladies, was quoted as saying:
“It is shocking to note that there are such sex maniacs in the police force. I believe these two cases may not be the first and many more may have gone unreported.”
The above statement only touches on the sexual harassment and the fact that there are, in the good MP’s words, “sex maniacs” in the police force. Nothing is said whatsoever about the bribery.
It is as if the YB did not even feel that the bribery was an offence. It is as if the bribery demanded by the officer — if true — and offered by the two ladies are not issues which he was supposed to highlight apart from the sexual harassment.
I could also surmise from the report that the two ladies were “riled” up because of the alleged sexual harassment and nothing else. The fact that they willingly paid the police officer — according to what was reported — without even thinking twice that they were actually committing a serious offence under our law is cause for concern.
It is as if bribery, in Malaysia, is an accepted practice and has become a national culture of sorts. It is as if bribery is not an offence and a way of life over here.
Would I be wrong to suggest here that those two incidents would not have been reported at all had the officer not been a horny dude with a perverted mind?
I don’t think I would be wrong. I can bet that the two ladies would not have even said a single word to the press had the incident only consisted of the police officer asking for a bribe.
From the report it is obvious that the ladies did not hesitate to hand over RM15 and RM20 respectively to the officer. No outcry was ever made in the press report about the bribe. It was the alleged sexual harassments that caused the report.
The surprising — and disconcerting — thing is this. Even the Member of Parliament did not see fit to express any outrage over the bribe given by the two ladies!
The MACC recently had made an announcement of sorts that it is also going to target the bribe giver in the future. I think that is a good move. But of course, MACC is so tainted with partiality allegations that nobody even cares to give it any kind of attention, let alone trust. And we can only hope that it changes colour. That would be nothing less than a miracle!
Contrast the KL story with the one from Singapore. See the “cultural differences” between the two.