Friday, February 03, 2006

Third world corruption

A little while ago I had a long detailed discussion with an Indonesian born Australian about corruption in Indonesia. I have had a similar discussion with a friend from Thailand and with others from various countries.

Corruption is one of the most insidious things that affect people day to day in these countries and I assume the same goes for Iraq. It is always the poorest people who suffer the most as they just cannot afford to bribe to receive what is a basic entitlement.

China has executed government officials and party members for corruption, although I doubt it has made much difference.

But when countries don't or can't pay their government officials a comparatively good wage, then it is expected that they will top the wage with gratuities, or as Ruddock called bribery, 'facilitation fees'. The low relative pay of government officials in third world countries needs to be addressed.

Having said that, corruption comes from the top down. A climate or culture is established and it works it way through the whole system.

Obviously an Australian company has been involved in significant corruption in Iraq. We ought not profit by such means. If we cannot sell our wheat by legitmate means, then we better do some hard thinking on the issue.

So, Aussies use corrupt practices while doing business overseas, why can't we here in Iraq? All so called Western countries should immedietely stop corrupt practices when dealing with the third world, and second world for that matter. Singapore is not a saintly place. I am a firm believer in setting an example (well not me personally) and if Australia sets an example of not participating in corrupt practices overseas and encourages other Western countries to do the same, the world will be a better place.

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