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Politics and Corruption

Updated on November 23, 2020

Introduction: Origin of Corruption in Politics

Corruption goes back to the Latin roots cor-, "altogether," and rumpere, "break." In essence it's the breaking of society by individuals wanting betterment for themselves at the expense of others. The majority of the populace have a "price" they are willing to accept to do things outside their moral compass. The practice of bribery to gain an upper hand on your oppositions is nothing new. Even in ancient times, Roman senators or any figure in the political scene would have bribed to buy votes or make large donations to parties to gain favours. Fast forward to present day, politicians are still the subject of scandals ranging from mis-use of taxpayer funds to deliberately passing laws and/or construction projects in favour of corporate lobbyists.

Najib Razak, 6th Prime Minister of Malaysia, is marred in allegations of corruption and bribery.
Najib Razak, 6th Prime Minister of Malaysia, is marred in allegations of corruption and bribery. | Source

Problems of Corruption

Why does corruption occur? Especially within positions of power? Mostly because people and organisations have their own agendas they'd like to progress in. As a result, donations, bribes, and dirt about opposition members are all fair game in the world of politics. Just take a look at the 2016 American presidency race. How many of the candidates have actually talked about the real issues facing the USA. Instead they are focused on personal attacks. In developing countries, elections generally are not an accurate reflection of the populace votes due to bribery and non-ethical practices. The most recent Malaysian general election that saw Najib Razak hold onto power is marred in controversy. It has lead to mass rallies and protests. According to Reuters, at least 40,000 people showed up in May 2013 to show their displeasure of election fraud. Of the 222 constituencies, more than 30 were deemed suspicious with images and videos surfacing of authorities bringing boxes of ballots into ridings the Barisa National were losing. More the locals, especially in East Malaysia, there was a massive power outage for about 45 minutes near the end of election night. Prior to that the opposition party was leading, but after they were losing by a large amount of votes. There is speculation during the blackout, illegal voters (non-Malaysians obtaining PR cards and paid to vote) and ballots from other areas were trucked in to bolster the Barisa National's vote count.

Corruption is all around us. Whether it's visible, as in the case of Malaysia or not, ethical lines are being crossed everyday. Once that happens, the politicians are no longer serving the people who have voted them into office, but rather for those who have paid for their way. As such, governments can no longer act freely and democracy can't function.

Elimination of Corruption

Elimination of corruption is sadly a long and daunting task. Speaking out, organizing rallies and creating petitions are just several ways we can start to reverse the tide. It may not be in our time but in our children's time or grandchildren's time, change will certainly occur. After all it's the masses who vote the politicians into office and if we want a change we let it be heard during the next election. Improving the access to freedom of information is quite a good start to ensure transparency in government doings. Essentially, if state resources are abused, we must report it. If regulations to prevent corruption aren't in place or is weak, we must demand stronger legislation. The biggest hurdle will certainly be stopping large corporations from donating and funding political campaigns. Because in this way, it distorts the democratic process. They can certainly donate to campaigns but under the freedom of information act, they should publish that donation and be able to show the contributions aren't for favors.

© 2016 Alan Ling


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