One of the most glaring, if unremarked, oddities concerning China nowadays is how perceptions of its leaders diverge depending on the observer. In the eyes of the Chinese public, government officials are venal, incompetent, and interested solely in getting lucrative appointments. But Western executives invariably describe Chinese officials as smart, decisive, knowledgeable, and far-sighted – roughly the same adjectives that they once used to describe Bo Xilai, the disgraced Communist Party boss of Chongqing, before he was purged.
From ‘China in the eye of the beholder” by Minxin Pei in Business Day
Could it be that parents, back in 1998, told their young children to: “Take all the opportunities you can! We now have freedom. Make money and be rich!” As a result, these young people went for economic opportunity, and did so at any cost, knocking over ethical and moral values in their wake. . . . For this generation, perhaps reformasi is not about democratization, but rather about getting rich quickly. Could it be that these are the lost generations of Indonesia?
From ‘Corruption and interpretations of ‘reformasi’’ by Ratih Hardjono in the Jakarta Post
A group of law firms in international law practice held a meeting in South Africa. I was the only African at the meeting. So they asked me what I felt about what was going on. I then told them that if you are sitting in the reassuring safety of an air-conditioned office and you get a letter telling you that there is a contract which had been awarded and performed, and about $60 million because of difficulty in getting the money.
And you are told that if you can get the money out you will get a $25 million commission, and if you accept such an offer, then you’re part of it because there is nothing you have done to deserve such an amount. That tells the story of who is collaborating with who.
From an interview of Professor Uche Uko Uche in allAfrica
There is a history of defence transactions with Saudi Arabia being tarnished by corruption. An arms dealer of more than 50 years experience described to me how business with his Saudi clients is done, using a glass on his desk: “You always have to pay bribes. If they want to buy this glass you tell them it’s $5. They will beat you down to $1, then they will say, ‘OK, I will give you $3, but you give me $2 back!'” He claims that on his Saudi deals he gives more than half of the contract price back in bribes.
From ‘The Saudi-GPT deal inquiry must not be another whitewash’ by Andrew Feinstein in the Guardian.
Thousands of people in Russia’s large cities took to the streets in recent months, unhappy with President Vladimir V. Putin’s system of running the country. Under his leadership, they believe, Russia is steadily becoming a medieval country with corruption trumping all laws. These people have traveled the world, and they feel embarrassed when their peers in London, New York or Berlin ask about the Pussy Riot trial or the imprisonment of Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky. Members of this new class of Russians often hide their nationality just to avoid being compared to their country’s ruling elite or asked questions that they cannot answer.
From ‘For Russians, Corruption Is Just a Way of Life’ by Misha Friedman in the New York Times.