IT comes as no surprise that civil servants top the list of people detained and charged for corruption.
According to figures released by the MACC, the highest incidence of corruption involves government servants, especially those in the support group.
Vested with the authority to approve applications from the public for government licences, schemes and projects as well as grants, scholarships, subsidies and other handouts, civil servants often assume a superior position when performing their duties.
Given access to huge public funds and the discretion in allocating them, some officials are imbued with a sense of power over those seeking government-controlled opportunities.
They are open to persuasion from those eager to cut corners and escape the tedium of bureaucracy, procedures and regulations and the full brunt of the law.
It is an irony that in the vicious circle of corruption, government red tape provides a fertile breeding ground for corruption, and corrupt bureaucrats increase the extent of red tape to extract additional bribes.
In a country poised for development, the opportunities to make money are everywhere and open to everyone except the public servants who earn a modest salary compared to his peers in the private sector.
It is no wonder that to improve their living standards, the more gullible among them fall prey to the monetary temptations and bribes offered by entrepreneurs participating in government-controlled businesses.
And it would be logical to deduce that the officials handling ventures yielding abnormal profit are likely to be offered greater inducements.
While we are quick to denounce those charged with bribery and corruption, we forget that at the other end of the continuum is the equally greedy and corrupt members of the public, business houses and even multinational corporations dangling the carrots filled with money, luxury goods, condominiums and family holidays.
We condemn the takers while ignoring the givers whose excuse is that they are expected to grease the palms of the officials waiting in line to serve the public.
Ironically, we sympathise with a business community driven to work the country’s resources and forget that they too are exploitative and corruptible.
In a society where the culture of materialism has taken root, it is not surprising that the citizens from both sides of the public and private divide are in a desperate rush to get rich.
In the frenzy to answer the Government’s clarion call for development, people are prepared to literally cut corners to achieve their goals.
In a society where the measurement of success is quantity rather than quality, speed is of utmost importance in getting to that magical level of affluence and material advancement.
Sadly, with speed accidents happen – many of them fatal!
HALIMAH MOHD SAID,