THIS ACT WE CALLED LIFE

If you watch the movie titled “Augustus, the First Emperor of Rome”  (Youtube: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jjdk1hLqF34,), which was acted brilliantly by Peter O’Toole (same actor for Lawrence of Arabia), which was started by the scene of Augustus on his death bed, and he said “Did I play my part well in this comedy called life? Was I just or cruel? Applause please” after that his wife put the mask of a smiling comedian over his face..and towards the end of the movie, the whole scene is repeated again, and he continues lamenting that “the price of long life seems to be lost”, and he asked his daughter the same question, and her answer is “the Gods will tell you father”. It was a very touching scene and it stuck with me for a long time thinking about the meaning of those words and scenes.

Life is indeed nothing more than an act, and worse still it can be seen as nothing more than a mere comedy!! And that is truly so, if we understand the meaning of life well.

Before we were even born, the script of life has been set (written) by God. When we will be born, what is our fate, when we will die and how we will die: all has been preordained, and we have no choice in making our own. as the Quran says all the events, fate, etc., has been written in “lauhil mahfudz” and written in the forms of “kitaabun maknun”. But then what is our role in the “act we called life”?

While the script has been written, and movie is being produced, the actor still needs to play his/her part. If you play it well, you will be rewarded and there upon and by which God will judge you. He will not judge you by being born as a male of female, as a Malay or a Chinese, born in 20th century instead of 14th century, and so on. And yet here most of failed. We failed to “act well” even the script has been pre-written and the rest being done. Such failure to perform, even in its easiest part, is the test for us.

People asked me: if all has been set, script has been written, we are only performing our act, why then we still should make dua and prayers, etc? My answer is: it is part of the acts that we supposed to do; and we need to pray and make supplications that we could do our “act” well. Even to do the acts, we need guidance and prayers. Why then we need to read al Quran? It is the “script” that is available in front of us, which is the most important reference, that was revealed to us through our Prophet Muhamad s.a.w. 

How can we be a good actor if we don’t read the script (or truly scripture), that is in front of us? And what more about the script that is unseen?

if we understand that life is only an act, and in fact, if we understood well, is full of comedy; then life is not a burden upon us; rather, it is great blessing. But then, do we really understand it well? Even with such limited role, and obligations, we fail to see and understand it, and that’s why we are led astray.

And finally, the last question I would like to pose: when we die, who will we meet? The answer is: our “true self” and His Almighty Allah s.w.t. In another word, our whole “act” which we called “life” is nothing more than to finally know who we are, and off course our creator. That is the penultimate end to this act we called life.

May God bless us all.

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HOW CAN WE LIVE FOR 1,000 YEARS?

Let me start with the following verse from Al Quran:

 “And you will surely find them (the Jewish people) the most greedy of people for life – [even] more than those who associate others with Allah . One of them wishes that he could be granted life a thousand years, but it would not remove him in the least from the [coming] punishment that he should be granted life. And Allah is Seeing of what they do.” Al Baqarah 2:96

I have come across this verse many years ago, while studying the Tafseer (meaning) of the Quran. I never get the full meaning of it until recently. Surely, most Tafseer explains that the Jewish people are greedy and hence they wish and think that they can and should live for 1,000 years. And surely those who study Tafseer, understood that 1,000 years is a parable, which implies that they want to live forever. 1,000 years (“alf sanah”) is used in the Quran to describe long period of time and sometimes, it symbolizes an infinitum.

I was not satisfied with the explanations, and it seems to be missing something. I understand the negative part of it – namely, against the greedy behaviour, which is epitomized by the Jewish people. How about the “positive” lessons of it? Is there any?

I have dealt with prominent people from Jewish origins; even worked with them in some fashion or another; and interacted with many over the years of my business life. I could understand some of the truth of the Tafseer, but always questioning whether are there anything else to learn or could be understood?

The answer only came to me couple of years ago. When I have the chance to sit with someone (whose name, I avoid mentioning here, for the sake of confidentiality). He is of Jewish origin, aged more than 80 years old. He is physically impaired by old age, and could not move well due to the physical conditions.

We met and set for seven straight hours –debating everything from business to world economics and politics – non-stop. His energy is like someone who is 20 years old, and his vibrancy is like he is going to live at least for another 100 years or more. We discuss about his business and his plans – he works, strategize, and plan, as well as execute them, as if the business will last for few hundred years.

Well, was he then being “greedy”, and that’s why he behaves this way? On the contrary it was the opposite. He is holding one the greatest treasures of Islamic civilization under his collections. They are worth few billion dollars. And yet he is not even thinking of benefiting himself,  but to preserve such treasures for the next 1,000 years, as it was kept for the last 1,000 years, and more.

It dawn on me then what is the meaning of living 1,000 years – that is to preserve the legacy – way after you are gone. He knows he will not last much longer and yet he talks, plan and work – in order that the legacy could last 1,000 more years.

Most of us plan for the next day, week, month or a year at the most. Few spent great deal of time to think even beyond ten years. And yet, they think, plan, and work for hundreds of years ahead, if not 1,000 years. They plan and execute their planning – we don’t. They can be greedy, but greed drives them to plan that long and we don’t. We claim to have loftier goals and reasons better than them, and yet we do nothing of that sort, in terms of planning.

It is easier to look at the negative side, and trump the drum that we are better. But once you look on the positive side, the drive to live 1,000 years brings people to greatness and success. The only difference, as the verse says, is that we have to do it out of loftier objectives, not merely for worldly sustenance and glory.

May Allah guide us to the right path, and give us the full meaning of the Al Quran, which unfortunately, being taken for granted by most of us.

 

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PROSPERITY OF NATIONS – THE CASE OF SOUTH EAST ASIA

One standard measure of wealth and prosperity widely accepted and used in economics is GDP per capita. (Gross Domestic Products per capita). As a continuing discussion on my earlier piece of Prosperity of Nations, I intend to expand the subject a bit more for the case of South East Asian countries – in particular for the case of Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and Myanmar (or Burma). I do not cover Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Brunei, since data are not available to me for analysis. I am planning to use GDP per capita as my basis for discussions. As explained before, any meaningful analysis must be done based on long periods of data. The most complete database that I managed to get is from Prof. Angus Maddison; he has compiled data for various countries since 1820 till today.

As we hypothesized, 100 years or so ago, the the GDP per capita (or in another word – status of wealth of the populations) in South East Asian countries were pretty much having the same base. And yet today, the divergences are significantly large. The questions that we want to ask: how such divergence occur, and why? What path did these countries took that makes them today to be far different from each other? And for some of us who have travelled the region, such remarks as “this is like Malaysia 30 years ago” – seems to be familiar cliché – reveal the fact that some regions never did grew at all over the last 30 to 50 years!!

Angus Maddison, champion the hypothesis that in order to understand the wealth of nations, we have to go back, even 1000 years ago; at the time, the dominant economies of the World are India and China. Both combined for more than 50% of the World GDP. Today, the US, Europe and Japan combined constitute of 40% of world GDP. While over the 1000 years, China and India went through a long period of decline, until only the last 30 years, the trends were finally reversed. The Graph below provides an interesting view of the subject.

Image

Now let us look at the case of the SEA Nations over the last 180 years….

GDP per capita for SEA Nations from 1900 to 2008

Note: figures are based on 1990 USD (adjusted)..

As I have stated before, at the early 1900’s, all SEA nations started at almost similar base, and the clusters remains pretty much the same till post-colonial (1950 onwards), and only in the 80’s when major divergence start to take place.

Table below shows the GDP/capita figures for 1820, 1870,1950 and 2008 (and the difference with Singapore – as the benchmark):

1820 1870 1950 2008 Difference
Singapore 83 682 2,219 28,107
Indonesia 612 578 803 4,428 -23,679
Philippines 584 624 1,070 2,926 -25,180
Thailand 570 608 817 8,750 -19,357
Malaysia 603 663 1,559 10,292 -17,815
Burma 504 504 396 3,104 -25,003

 

As the table shows, in 1820, the countries are pretty much at par with each other. The difference in 1950 (post WWII) are again not so significant. However, by 2008, we can see that Singapore is 5 times wealthier than Indonesia, 2.5 times Malaysia, 9 times Myanmar; Malaysia is 2.5 times Indonesia, 3 times Myanmar, and so on. In a nutshell, these countries took different path of growth and that’s why we can see the remarkable difference between them today.

In the case of Singapore, I would say that it would be inaccurate to group them together in the analysis, since it is a city state; and hence it would be not exactly correct to compare with them clearly large and populous nations such as Indonesia and others. The appropriate way to compare is to measure Singapore against Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok (Manila and Yangoon, if we want) as cities. As of 2011, the GDP per capita of Jakarta is approximately USD10,000; of Kuala Lumpur is at USD16,000; and of Bangkok is at USD14,000. Whereas GDP per capita for Singapore is currently at USD50,000. While the numbers might look still remarkably different (in comparison to Singapore); they all are decent numbers if taken into consideration of the size of these cities in terms of populations: Jakarta (10 millions), Kuala Lumpur (1.6 millions), Bangkok (8 millions), and Singapore (as the whole country: 5 millions). In gross terms the GDP of the cities are as follows: Jakarta (US100 billions), Kuala Lumpur (US26 billions), Bangkok (US112 billions), and Singapore (US240 billions). Kuala Lumpur being the smallest in terms of GDP, due to being smallest in size and population.

For the purpose of country by country comparisons, let us exclude Singapore from the next level of analysis.

GDP per capita: ex-Singapore

[Notes: Source of data – Angus Maddison; all figures are in USD 1990 prices].

We can see that post colonial period, it took about 30 years before the growth starts to really take off, that is from 1980’s onwards, and that’s when the path of each countries diverged. We can also say that Malaysia and Thailand, being less populous, took a much stronger growth trend, compared to more populous countries like Indonesia and Philippines; and in case of Philippines, is much more sad compare to Indonesia. Myanmar (or Burma) is of course a very sad case until today. I am sure if the data sources are available, the stories of Vietnam and Cambodia will show another set of trends.

The most important issue arises of these observations: why did Malaysia and Thailand fares better than the others? Why the growth started after 30 years post independence? Why some did better, while others didn’t do as well? And furthermore, where will these countries be 20 to 30 years from today? And how it will get there?

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ACCIDENT THAT DIDN’T HAPPEN

Throughout our life, do we ever know how many accidents that didn’t happen to us? The truth is we never know. For example, when you drive home from work, and arrive safe and sound without any scratch – and nothing strange or extra ordinary happen. You would say that no accident happened. That’s all, and you will continue the same thing day after day, and it never occur to your thoughts that actually those seemingly mundane things of going back and forth to work safely are actually mired in so many things that you didn’t see and so many accidents that may happen and didn’t happen to you. And that is actually the grace of God upon you that you never even realize and for many never ever thank God for it. In actuality, this is a major and fundamental understanding of our life – which so many things happen smoothly in our life, is actually something that has been bestowed upon us unknowingly to our normal conscience. Only with a deep thought then we realize how great are the mercy and grace of God that we enjoyed at every second of our lives.

Life is mired with risks at every moment passing by. An earthquake can strike at any moment, things can fall from a building and fall upon someone, tires can burst and cars stray off the roads, brakes that failed, reckless drivers hitting bystanders, and so on. We see them in the news almost daily. But it happens to someone else and not to us. God chose upon whom the calamity is befallen upon at the time and place He chose. The more important point is – He chose that it didn’t happen to you. And that what is meant by “accident that didn’t happen”.

Daily we make choices at every moment of our steps – to take this road instead of the other, to go left instead of right, to write these words instead of the others, to say the certain things and so on. Some of them we do them knowingly, and some others, just by pure reaction. Out of each action, there are results and reaction – when you sway left, the other car has to give way to you, or braking in order not to hit you at the back; when you say nice words, the other person responded with possibly nice words too, and so on. Do we know that whether any of those actions avert any accident (or wrong reactions)? We never know! It is only by Grace of God, that we got the right reaction and nothing bad happens. However, the truth and actuality is – anything can happen, and something terribly wrong may result out of these actions – except that God determines that it shouldn’t happen. And therefore, we move on without realizing that God has indeed save us.

This subject is indeed a deep and major philosophical issue that is being addressed by many Muslim scholars about the Qadha’ and Qadar; similarly by philosophers about fate and destiny; by scientists about probabilities and outcomes; and so on. While the approach may differ between different religious beliefs, the subject is the same – it is about understanding events in life.

Nasseem Nicholas Taleb wrote two books about the matter under the title of “Fooled by Randomness” and “Black Swan”. Which I found to be rather interesting read. Al Farabi and Al Ghazally did write long treatise on this matter. Ahlul Kalam has been debating them for centuries. Many people got lost in the discussions and understanding them, whilst most common people just got themselves confused.

The best writing that I found on this matter is by Ibnu Qayyim Al Jawzi – under the title of “Sabr and Syukr” (Patience and Gratefulness). This is summarized by one hadith of Prophet Muhamad in generic translation says “Verily the affairs of the Believers are quite unique – when anything good befallen upon them, they say their Grace to God; and when anything bad happens, they will invoke their patience”.  They accept whatever happens as purely from God, and for that they are rewarded for whatever things that happen – good or bad.

One thing that we have to realize in our life, the balance between Patience (Sabr) and thankfulness (grace or Syukr) is not the same.  To be thankful should be the most prominent act of our life, while to be patience is indeed very minuscule  We have to thank God for every breath that we take, for every blessings that he gave; and very little, if any we have to invoke our patience. However, for this little patience that is required from us, we fail. And we totally forgot to thank God for anything that we have, as if they are rightfully belongs to us, and not as something as providence from God. Many human beings do not possess patience; and very few indeed are the grateful lot. (Wa qaliilan min ‘ibaadiyas Syakuur – very few indeed of the men are grateful).

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ELECTIONS

We all know by now that the US Presidential election is won by Barrack Obama, for his second term. We should wish him well, and hopefully he will utilize his second terms to better use. Our only caution would be that, the US President is only part of the story, and Obama, alone as President, cannot do much, unless he can muscle his way through the American political system. Hopefully, with the “honey moon period” of the first term is over with, he can focus on his second term to be the real mark of what he can do achieve to create his legacy. For that, we should wish him well.

Malaysian general election (PRU13 as they called it), should be coming around any time from now till April 2013. Whilst so many political pundits try to predict the time of it, and with the believe that timing is critical for the incumbent (BN) in regards to their success in getting another mandate to rule the Nation, the truth is nothing much more can be done to change the mind set of most people to sway the results in anybody’s favour. And timing is not the critical factor any more.

The popular votes between BN (National front and ruling coalition) and PR (the opposition front) in PRU12, roughly about 47% (BN) and 53%(PR). That will not change much from those voters who was there in PRU12 (2008). Out of that, roughly urban voters voted 40% (BN) and 60% (PR), while rural voters make up as the balancing factor to make the 47:53 ratio for the whole country. We have about 3 million new eligible voters, which off course are the young people, and nobody can tell for sure how they will vote this time around, and what ratio of support they will give between BN and PR. If they are split by half, then PR still get the majority of popular votes; and that would the best scenario anybody can imagine. To view that majority of them favours BN would be a bit too much. The block of non-Malay voters (Chinese and Indians), this time around will be quite sure favours PR. While the rural Malay would pretty much remains majority towards BN.

The issues to be played out this time around won’t be that clear. Economic issues are important, but not getting much attention and well understood by voters. Give outs by incumbents may play some role, but is no longer a sure thing. Role of traditional media is useful, but not totally effective, since alternative media are becoming incumbent source of news and information. Budget and government policies, while remains essential, is no longer very effective tool to cover the eyes of the people. Issues on corruption and mismanagement, while popular on lecture circuits among the opposition, undermines the real issue of what are the solid plans they have to run the nation, should they govern. The trial run of first term PR rule of Selangor, Penang, together with Kelantan and Kedah, provides mix results and views.

I would safely say that Kelantan and Penang will remain with PR (PAS and DAP respectively). Sarawak, Johor, Pahang, Melaka, Perlis will likely remains under BN. The hot contests would be Selangor, Perak, and Negeri Sembilan. While Terengganu, Kedah and Sabah would be closely on the margins for either side.

What would matter more this time around, would the choice of candidates for both BN and PR. Choices of good candidates may results in winnable seats for well chosen candidates that appeal to people, beyond the party. For this matter, BN is facing severe challenge, since UMNO is mired with problems that party veterans/stalwarts hardcore stand that candidacy is a given right to them. Choosing other candidates will make them to be sabotage the election process, and UMNO/BN cannot take the issue lightly. Probably this time around we will see more independent candidates fielding in. This is probably quite healthy, since party lines seems to be at times out of order to voters. The chance of independent candidates winning seats are probably higher, and this might be the trend for the future as well.

Local issues would dominate more than National issues – such as local development and economic performance. Why Melaka fares better for BN, because economically (as small state) they are quite well off. The same thing for DAP in Penang. But in case of Sabah, the internal issue would be “economic autonomy” with “political autonomy” – in the sense that Sabahan should have more say about how they manage themselves, rather than being dominated by “Semenanjung”. Examples of petty issues like minor school repairs cposting only RM50,000 must be approved from Semenanjung, does not augur that well for Sabahan; and personal fiefdoms by Sabahan leaders only adds insult to injury. And finally, for urban population: empowerment seems to be more important than pure economic issues.

So what would be the “likely results” of the PRU13?

My simplest view would be – everything would hang in the balance. There will probably be no sure winner and no sure loser. Probably, the parties have to resolve to some form of bargaining and trade off, as well as bargaining and trade off at the MP or ADUN levels, as we saw part of it post PRU12 (2008). Probably, what we saw was just the beginning of what’s more to come. Hence let us not be surprised that this time around, it will much vigorous than before.

Is good or Bad?

My view is that it Malaysia is a working democracy that are maturing. No need for real alarm. We need more check and balance, and hopefully, out of it, all parties are checked upon any excessiveness, and be more guarded in what they promise to deliver.

Effect on the economy?

It will move on regardless of ruling party. Many may not realize that our economy has taken path towards political independence quite sometime back, and the way forward will be more independence, since politics will become less and less influential.

Final words: Please perform your duty to vote responsibly.

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PROSPERITY OF NATIONS

The title of this writing can be written as “Why Nations Failed?”, but it would counter to my personal view that it is easier to say why nations fails, but a lot harder to define path to success or prosperity of nations.

One the theory proposed by Acemoglu and Robinson about why nations fails is because of existence of extractive political institutions, which in turns breed extractive economic institutions. Both went into a vicious cycle that eventually leads to the doom of the nations. The theory has lots of logic and meaningful ways of looking at the subject, and really worth studying further. 

How nations could get out of such predicaments if they could have check and balance among the major institutions such as the independence of judiciary and media as the two most important ones, followed by a liberalized economy with strong protections of property rights, and major detachments between politics and economy. To achieve such positions would be a major challenge, since the incumbents would try any forms of resistance to resist any changes that leads to such conclusions. The presence of such entities, would create to what is termed as “creative destruction process” (borrowing from Joseph Schumpeter’s term), where once it happened, there will be irreversible process destruction of old systems and regenerations and rebirth of new set-ups and institutions.

Learning from the last 200 hundred years of history since industrial revolutions, we can see that nations, at the time of industrial revolutions started relatively on almost the same footing (economically), but due to the changes in the political landscape to some, and while others are not; the two nations of comparable, took different path and 100 years later, will look totally different from every possible aspect. Such are the fate of prosperity of nations.

Let us ask the same thing about ASEAN Nations. Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines,Thailand, Myanmar – all started about the same post WWII. But if we compare today the fate of these nations – they are all of far difference from each other. The question is why and how? What path did these countries took that made them different from each other today. Singapore grown by leap and bounds; Malaysia grown somewhat well, Indonesia is moving, Thailand is struggling, and Philippines are still languishing. How come countries that start the race together end up on different positions after almost 60 years later?

This is the question that I will try to address, learning from the theory proposed by the authors

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DEMOCRATIZATION OF CORRUPTION

Corruption – which etymology means -to abuse or destroy – is an evil act and behaviour, and shall never be condoned. Any form of evil, whether small or large, are still evil, and should not be accepted, period. in the Quran, the verse: “Wa Tudlu Biha ilal Hukkaam, liya’ khuzu amwal an-Nas bil baathil” – in general meaning “by giving the people in position of decision making, with the purpose of taking the wealth of the people (or other people), illegally” – describes the essence of economic corruption – that is to give some compensation to decision makers (politicians, government officers, corporate officers, etc.), in order to gain something at the expense of the others.

In a nutshell – corruption is illegal and a disease for the society – it is haram, and should be punishable under the law.

Then, what the hell am I talking about “democratization of corruption”? Is is a new lingo to justify corrupt practices? To make the activities to be somewhat less evil and acceptable? This is the subject that I will address in this writing – which I am sure will be controversial and creates lots of issues for the readers. Nevertheless, I will try my best at it.

Corruption has been far in existence in our societies more than we can imagine. The Sultanates exists purely on the basis of providing rent on any sorts of rights. The rents were the main source of income and support for the Sultans, and hence prosperity of the kingdom. If you read the history, it is all littered with such examples. It was the acceptable way of governance, and the society prosper based on that. The costs to the society of such practices is hard to calculate – whether on balance the society was benefited more than harmed? with such systems, the Malacca Sultanate succeed more than other Sultanate of the time, and in fact it provides them with wealth and power to conquer other Kingdoms. Trade prosper, and Malacca became one of the major trade centre of the region, until the colonialists came.

The Portugese, Dutch and finally the British came of South East Asia, not to promote industrialization, democracy and freedom, as what they have gained in their homeland. they came to expropriate, and further enhance the “systems of corruptions” for the benefit of their control over trade and resources. Not only does the colonialists propagate the practices, they even make it more organized and ensure law and order to protect the practices. Kingdoms that were not adhering to their orders, will be eliminated or conquered, and the rulers will be deposed. What they practices was the highest order of corruption under the name of the Crown and what have you. None of them were of any real meaning, rather than to continue the feudal practices of Europe into the South East Asia, in order to maximize the expropriation benefit for the motherland.

The colonials provide the Kings, Sultans, etc., with sufficient rewards for being obedient, so that they can go in their order of business to get the most from the colonies they manage. Little, if any, benefits are given to the people at large.

When the colonials left (despite leaving behind some legacies, positive and negative), we were left with our own political systems to deal with how to develop our nations, and how to grow out of the predicament of hundred of years of colonization. Each nation took its own path of development, including the political, economic and social systems. There were no more Kings or Sultans as before to deal with, and each country (save a few) develop its own democratic systems.

The democracy that we inherit is far from perfect and mired in so many issues and problems that we have to deal with. In another word, we have a far from ideal democracy in place, while the economic challenges to develop the country is extremely pressing. Furthermore, the culture and background of the societies, from the days of the Kingdoms and Sultanates, and the colonial rules, are still embedded in our inner culture (and sometimes we call it our DNA). The tendency is that the society reverts back to its customs and hence imbued our system with such mentality. And believe me, the customs and culture are far reaching than what we could imagine.

I would like to take a quick digression of modern day Bali. Balinese by any count is a truly description of Malay society prior to Islam and colonials. The Caste system is still embedded in the “Adat” of the Balinese, and these adat is a clear system of justifications of the rights of the upper caste to “collect rent” from the lower caste. And the lower caste “willingly” accepts that the upper caste are rightfully party to get such privileges. Such is the culture and customs deep in the Malay psyche. And it won’t be strange if largely, many Malays still accepts certain privilege groups have advantage over the others, “willingly”.

For that reason, our societies tolerate rulers and leaders that continue the “corrupt practices” even long after the colonials are gone, and democracy is being practised. Despite not being too happy, people are willing to live under such conditions, and no riots or major upheaval such as revolutions as in other places never happened. To say that they never do because of strong laws and ruling elites restricting such activities would be a bit too apologetic, since if by nature people would resists such, no body can stop it.

To conclude the discussion thus far – corruption has always been presence in our society, and it has been somewhat an embedded part of our culture and customs. The only issue left is how do we as society practice them today, and what would be the outcome of such practices?

For this reason I coined the term “democratization of corruption” – that is corruptions that are no longer become a source of the elites, but economically spread out to a larger circle of people. When corruption occurs at the top most, only few people benefits from it, and by and large it discourage economic activities, and the lack of incentives at the lower level to perform cause severe economic under performance. This is the case that you see today in some of the African nations, where people have no incentives to do anything, because there are no incentives to do so. For example, in the case of Sierra Leone, any farmers would not try to get better output, since for example, the cocoa they produced extra will be of no extra benefit for them, since it will be “taxed” heavily by the Cocoa board, which pays them not even 20% of the market price for cocoa. They will just grow and plant, enough for them to eat and survive, since anything extra will have no consequence for them.

The same case would be for local officers, if their incentives for income does not change whether they worked a bit harder or do the same amount of work as normally expected out of them, then the natural thing for them to do would be just work as normal. There is no need of extra efforts. Due to such system, progress would be very slow, and any economic activities would take a long time to be developed. they would just obey the order of the superiors, just to ensure that they will keep their job (and salaries). With the dictator in power, he would order any of his project as priority, and all the officers will just ensure that the jibs are done. But how much can any dictator do? he cannot run the whole economy by himself.

However, when the small level officers are given some autonomy to make decisions on his own levels, and by doing so, he can gain some extra incentives, we will see the opposite start to happen. He will work extra hard, even at the extent of beyond normal duties to ensure that the projects are successful and implemented on fast track basis. He is doing so not because of sudden realization of duties and obligations – but rather, from the promise of extra rewards from the projects that will be obtained by him – albeit illegally through corrupt means.

This is what I meant by democratization of corruption. It is bad and illegal, but it kept the economy chugging along. Corruption in this case is no longer for the super elites, but also to lower level people as well. In fact, as the cry for democracy gets wider, the higher level corruption, which are a=obvious, will be gradually eliminated, and what’s left are the lower level corruptions.

Perhaps, as nations grew, economic development took place, hopefully, with better awareness, the society will no longer condoned, even low level corruptions. That is my wish, and I hope that is not too far of an achievement. For that I conclude that I am against any forms of corruption, high or low, small or big. But to live in an idealistic world that in an overnight effort, from such an embedded society and culture, it would take sometime and strong efforts before we can say that we have succeed to have a corruption free society.

29.10.2012

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