What is Corruption? The nearest dictionary I have with me says, “Dishonest or immoral behavior or activities”
Wikipedia, the new online thesis for everything, says, “In philosophical, theological, or moral discussions, corruption is spiritual or moral impurity or deviation from an ideal. Corruption may include many activities including bribery and embezzlement. Government, or ‘political’, corruption occurs when an office-holder or other governmental employee acts in an official capacity for personal gain.”
Finally, Webster Online defines it as “a : impairment of integrity, virtue, or moral principle : depravity, b : decay, decomposition, c : inducement to wrong by improper or unlawful means (as bribery) ,d : a departure from the original or from what is pure or correct”
There is the sense that, in corruption, there is an ideal of what is ought to be and that there is a deviation from that which ought to be. Politicians should be noble, government officials ought to be impartial and military officers are to be professional.
I have been told that Singapore is an island of incorruptibility in our region. I do not mean any disrespect to our neighbors and I have also heard that things are getting better in our nearby region but I still hear stories of greasing the wheel when my friends are overseas. There is also the view that Singapore practices a legalized form of corruption where we pay our leaders a rather obscene amount of remuneration as compared to other world leaders.
Compare this to the definition of corruption as mentioned above, we pay our ministers and expect them to deliver. If they do perform at a reasonable standard, there is no deviation from the ideal, hence no corruption.
A new official have explained in a closed session that, corruption is to be expected at all levels, especially when the organization is large. It may not be monetary but simply inefficiency due to complexity of processes or complication of issues. Bribery is one form of corruption but often the most highlighted one as someone is getting more than his fair share. Thus, another way to look at bribery in certain systems is just that the government official is getting a part of what he is due through unofficial means.
This may sound very controversial but I must state that I do not condone corruption of any kind. I simply wish to say that sometimes, corruption exists not because of moral failure of any officials, but simply because the system causes it to be.