CORRUPTION has been with us since the beginning of human organisation. Yet, we cannot be unconcerned and complacent because corruption not only attacks the economic and social fabric of society, but also the moral foundations of order.
It is pervasive and affects almost every aspect of life. From the person who wants his business application to be processed speedily, to others who want to expedite their application for low-cost housing, bribery can take place in any shape or form. It has been proven in many instances that greed is the motivating factor behind most if not all corrupt practices.
Officers involved in corrupt practices are mostly those in charge of law enforcement. Law enforcement agencies, hence, should have an internal control system that can detect irregularities. Efforts, too, should continuously be made to instil integrity and ethical values, because people with integrity are not likely to commit corrupt practices.
I believe the inculcation of noble and ethical values, accompanied by adherence to the oath of good governance, is the most effective to fight corrupt practices in the civil service.
We need to build strong incentives that will subject corrupt practices to public scrutiny. The information age is providing citizens and non-governmental organisations with powerful tools to combat local corruption. Likewise, the global economy puts tremendous pressure on local governments to rid themselves of factors that reduce their competitiveness.
The movement towards decentralisation, accountability and transparency at the local government level is gathering momentum. In this context, the enormous costs of corruption are being explicitly recognised, as is the urgent need to correct governmental malfeasance.
Corruption is an entrenched symptom of misgovernance, often reflected in patronage, red tape, ineffective revenue-generating agencies, large-scale bribery in procurement and failure to deliver services to city dwellers.
But when local officials in charge of public resources are accountable to their citizens, decision-making can become participatory. In turn, a participatory process can be the cornerstone of a national strategy to reform “sick” institutions and improve the welfare of city dwellers.
Cities implementing and sustaining accountable and transparent systems as well as good governance can expect to attract financial and human resources and become showcases of exemplary practices to be emulated nationwide.
In the final analysis, preventing corruption helps raise city revenues, improve service delivery, stimulate public confidence and participation and win public support.
While we welcome the incorporation of noble values in the civil service, what really is important is to ensure the practice of these noble values by all civil servants. Mere slogans and lip service are not going to help.
TAN SRI LEE LAM THYE