CORRUPTION, like prostitution, is an ugly word. Professor Syed Hussein al Attas in his book, The Sociology of Corruption, gives a balanced view but takes the position it can do more harm than good.
Businessmen understand the word better than others for they are in the business of competition. They are ruled by the law of the jungle where the fittest and most cunning survive. The competition they are in may not necessarily be a level playing field.
The film Shawshank Redemption is a classic case of a highly corrupt warden where everything has its price. Even his childhood friend was expected to bribe him for a small project.
In theory, businessmen prefer not to corrupt anybody. They know it is a sin to do so for the giver and the receiver are equally frowned upon by God and the law.
In reality, what choice does the businessmen have? How can we change their negative perception that every business dealing is not transparent or above board?
A friend who was an Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) (now Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission) officer took optional retirement to go into business. Despite revealing he was a former ACA officer when dealing with unscrupulous civil servants, he was ignored and told that there were others who were willing to pay. After 10 years of heartache, he gave up and decided to work again.
In some countries, corruption is a way of life. It covers not only business; even vagrants have to pay to sleep under the lamp post. Comparatively, Malaysia is not as bad.
Will daily reporting of corruption be good for the country?
Even the corruption index by Transparency International sends shivers as it can affect foreign investment and tourism.
Perhaps the MACC should work quietly but effectively. But then, the rakyat have a right to know and it also gives political mileage to the ruling party.
At the end of the day, we have to accept that corruption, like prostitution, cannot be eradicated; it can only be contained for there is always the "giver" and the "receiver".
Hassan Talib, Gombak, Selangor | firstname.lastname@example.org New Straits Times Letters to the Editor 18 December 2012