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Best Weapon Against Graft? Try Education

A report this week by the VOA’s Trung Nguyen said although Vietnam ranks 116 on the Corruption Perception Index and is one of Asia’s most corrupt countries, citizens there want to clean things up. The problem is that they don’t know how.

Le Hien Duc, an 81-year-old Vietnamese activist called the “anti-corruption grandmother,” said people aren’t well educated and don’t know the proper legal procedures to fight corruption.

She told the VOA people file complaints to the prime minister and other senior officials, thinking those officials handle the cases directly. “People draft complaints about corruption but do not know how to prepare them properly or even how to sign them or where to send them,” VOA reported.

Duc said graft in Vietnam is bad. She’s received complaints from 50 of Vietnam’s 58 provincial areas, involving land and real estate management as well as education and other sectors.

People with an education understand the law, Duc said, but farmers, workers and others do not, and do not understand that giving cash to police creates favorable conditions for corruption.

Duc, a retired teacher, helps people by filing complaints for them about public corruption. She’s been honored by Transparency International and was included on Ethisphere’s list of the 100 most influential people in business ethics. (Duc was listed in 2008; here’s the list for 2010.)

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