With 2016 drawing to a close and the battle against global corruption waging on, the citizens of several developed countries around the world are placing greater blame on their local and national governments for the proliferation of this continuing phenomenon within their borders. Deutsche Welle, Germany’s top international broadcaster for in-depth governmental news and updates, recently reported on a “corruption awareness” survey run by Transparency International (TI), a non-profit, Berlin-based group that takes action to combat corruption and prevent related criminal activities. The survey gauged public knowledge on this subject from a pool of sixty-thousand citizens from forty-two countries in Europe and Central Asia. The results of the survey uncovered significant issues and a widespread sense of distrust by citizens of their respective government bodies, specifically in regards to their enforcement of anti-corruption laws and policies. The article, “TI: ‘troubling link between power and corruption’” cited in BSA News Now on November 18th, stated that “the results of the poll showed that overall, 30 percent of respondents said corruption went unreported, because people felt the consequences. Fourteen percent said they wouldn’t speak up, because corruption was too difficult to prove, while another 12 percent argued bribery wasn’t reported because people did not believe anything would be done about it” (DW, 2016). The failure to report these corruption claims, mostly due to the fear of repercussions against those making the claims, is a disturbing trend, and the sentiments that have been gathered from the affected citizens help to explain a possible cause of the worldwide failure to put a stop to the exponential growth of corruption cases seen around the world in recent years. The lack of faith seen in democratic governments has also forced a shift in ideologies amongst the masses within these countries, with another trend emerging that has seen European citizens beginning to support “populist and nationalist movements” due to their current democratic governments “failing to deliver on promises of prosperity and equal opportunity” (DW, 2016).
Chairman of Transparency International Jose Ugaz expressed his thoughts on the survey’s findings, asserting that “governments are simply not doing enough to tackle corruption, because individuals at the top are benefiting” and suggesting that to end the relationship between power and corruption, governments must require “higher levels of transparency” (DW, 2016). The survey also found that an estimated “one in six households in Europe and Central Asia paid a bribe in the past year to access public services”, and that nearly 30% of public service users in former Soviet Union countries bribed officials to get what they wanted (DW, 2016).
Some of these governmental corruption claims were validated in Russia this week with the arrest of Minister of Economic Development Alexey Ulyukaev, who is said to have received “2 million (1.9 million Euros) in bribes for the sale of the Russian state-controlled oil company Bashneft to the likewise state-controlled oil company Rosneft” (Goncharenko, 2016). This was the latest, but not the sole corruption-related arrest made in Russia recently, as earlier this year, Nikita Belykh, Governor of Kirov, was arrested after being accused of having received 400,000+ Euros in bribes in early 2016 (Goncharenko, 2016). These instances have been
received with great disdain by Russian citizens, who have gone so far as to call for the resignation of the entire government. These corruption cases have also been criticized by national conservatives who see these issues as a direct result of the “economically liberal wing of a Russia increasingly under the influence of conservatives”, which many have blamed for Russia’s profound economic woes (Goncharenko, 2016).
Shifting focus to East Asia, a different survey published by the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission stated that nearly two-thirds of South Korean citizens surveyed thought their society was corrupt. These beliefs are now likely to be further exacerbated, as South Korean President Park Geun-hye has herself fallen victim to the “Korean disease” of political corruption that former President’s had vowed to cure in years past. In her article, “Presidential scandal shows that ‘Korean disease’ of corruption is far from cured”, cited in BSA News Now on November 18th, Anna Fifield of the Washington Post writes that “Park is set to be questioned by prosecutors about her role in an influence-peddling scandal revolving around a friend of 40 years” which will see Park become the first South Korean incumbent to be questioned by prosecutors in history (Fifield, 2016). Fifield also states that although she cannot be charged while holding office, Park could potentially be indicted following her leave, which is expected to happen soon due to weeks of large protests being held in Seoul calling for her resignation.
Park is accused of being advised by a longtime friend, one which used her connection to Park to raise an estimated “$70 million from big business groups for two foundations — most of which she is said to have siphoned off” (Fifield, 2016). This newest scandal is a sad reminder of the corruption issues that have plagued China for more than 30 years, some of which is said to be the result of government-sponsored industrialization that has encouraged the links between government and business for the past fifty years. The timing of this latest impropriety is also ironic, as it comes just days after South Korea enacted its latest piece of legislation to root out bribery and corruption at the low end of the scale by “prohibiting people from spending more than $27 on a meal for public officials, employees of state-run companies or journalists” (Fifield, 2016).
However, a bright spot has emerged from the aftermath of this controversy. Korean citizens are now being called upon to provide feedback to help solve the problems that face their country in what is being viewed as a great opportunity to not only overcome antiquated ways of thinking, but also to rebuild society and the political sphere altogether. This powerful concept will hopefully set the standard for future practices in other corruption-afflicted countries, and may ultimately lead to an increase in basic tenets of citizenship, public trust, and national pride while seeing a decrease in corruption and financial crime rates.
Fifield, Anna. “Presidential Scandal Shows That ‘Korean Disease’ of
Corruption Is Far from Cured.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 16 Nov. 2016. Web.
Goncharenko, Roman. “Russian Minister’s Arrest – a Fight against
Corruption or Liberalism? | Europe | DW.COM | 15.11.2016.” DW.COM. Deutsche Welle, 15 Nov. 2016. Web.
“TI: ‘troubling Link between Power and Corruption’ | Business |
DW.COM | 16.11.2016.” DW.COM. Deutsche Welle, 16 Nov. 2016.