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Corruption is an insidious plague that has a wide range of corrosive effects on societies. It erodes the quality of life and allows organised crime, terrorism and other threats to human security to flourish.

Characteristics of Corruption

  • Corruption always involves more than one person.
  • Corruption on the whole involves secrecy, except where it has become so rampant and so deeply rooted that some powerful individuals or those under their protection would not bother to hide their activity.
  • Corruption involves an element of mutual obligation and mutual benefit.
  • Those who practise corrupt methods usually attempt to camouflage their activities by resorting to some form of lawful justification; they avoid any open clash with the law.
  • Those who are involved in corruption are those who want definite decisions and those who are able to influence those decisions.
  • Any act of corruption involves deception, usually of the public body or society at large.
  • Any form of corruption is a betrayal of trust.
  • Any form of corruption involves a contradictory dual function of those who are committing the act.
  • A corrupt act violates the norms of duty and responsibility within the civic order.

Source: Syed Hussein Alatas, The Sociology of Corruption, 2nd ed., Singapore: Delta Orient, 1975, p. 11

Corruption found in all countries-big and small, rich and poor.

Corruption is a key facet in economic underperformance and a major obstacle to poverty alleviation and development.

For average person, a bribe is the most obvious evidence of corruption.

The cost of bribes “The cost of bribes falls primarily on the poor. When a corrupt contractor from this or some other rich country pays a 15 percent bribe, he adds that to the price of his contract. His power station or irrigation scheme will cost more, and the little people – those who buy the electricity or the water to irrigate their crops – will pay the price of that bribe. Bribery is a direct transfer of money from the poor to the rich.”

Source: British MP Hugh Bayley, House of Commons, Hansard, 25 February 1998.

Corruption distorts resource allocation and government performance. The causes of its development are many among the contributing factors are policies, programs and activities that are poorly conceived and managed, failing institutions, poverty, income disparities, inadequate civil servants’ remuneration, and a lack of accountability and transparency.

The corruption effects more widespread and great than these bribes suggest. Corruption diverts leads funding resulting in services of poor quality or that are simply unavailable.

Combating corruption is instrumental to the broader goal of achieving more effective, fair, and efficient government.

Systemic corruption undermines the credibility of democratic institutions and opposes good governance. There is a high correlation between corruption and an absence of respect for human rights, and between corruption and undemocratic practices. Corruption alienates citizens from their government.

Corruption, like violence, must be understood as a regular, repetitive, integral part of the operation of most political systems.

Source: James C. Scott, Comparative Political Corruption, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: 1972, p. 11

Erasing corruption is important for sustainable development.

Efforts to end corruption and achieve sustainable development must have at their core the full participation and involvement, at all stages, mainly young people.

As they are the next generation of political and business leaders, civil servants, educators and community workers, they represent the important fabric of society. We will need their commitment to succeed these three key parts to curb corruption.

Emphasis on education

It is important to stress more attention on the need for inclusive education for the future generation. This achievable making sure school and university curricula updated and modernised reinforce positive ideas and societal values for future generations and protect vulnerable groups of children.

It must not limited to only the formal school or university setting. It includes the holistic education of the next generation through community and religious institutions, vocational and internship opportunities, and participation in public and political processes as an important part of socialisation and development.

Build a culture of integrity

Meticulously related to the focus on education is the need to build a culture of integrity in society.

This effort must not to limit to only young people. Civil servants, political leaders and private-sector actors can straightaway begin creating and strengthening a culture of integrity that focusses on high-quality service delivery and professional performance standards, treating individuals with respect and dignity, and playing by the same rules of fairness and objectivity.

Insistence on accountability

To be successful at suppress corruption and nourish a culture of integrity, there must be instruments in place that function as a check on thinking or behaviour that would represent a relapsing to the earlier corrupt ways of doing business in the public or private sectors.

Such monitoring helps to strengthen integrity and professionalism In order to create such institutions, though, it is up to the public to demand accountability from their political leaders, civil servants and private-sector actors.

Transforming these three key focus areas into physical action can help free the world from corruption and guide to long-term sustainable development that benefits all in the society.