作者:费言 1:24pm 04/06/2006
回应: 我也来喋喋不休。。。。 作者: 费言 4:07pm 02/06/2006
By Lee Eng Lock
Political will key to eliminating graft
"Corruption is inherent in politics in Chinese-dominant societies," so said a foreign journalist at a recent tea reception hosted by Kuomintang chairman Ma Ying-jeou for foreign media based in Taipei.
Mr Ma did not agree with the observation and cited Singapore's clean political system twice in his rebuttal of the view.
Referring to his "Singapore experience", Mr Ma, who was in Singapore last month, said that he visited the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau twice and was most impressed with what the bureau considers as the key factor in fighting corruption: the political will of the leadership.
Indeed, the success of anti-graft efforts depends on the political will of the leaders, said Mr Ma.
In China, soon after Deng Xiaoping spoke about "learning from Singapore's experience" during his tour of the south in 1992, the third-generation Chinese leadership with Mr Jiang Zemin at its core began sending groups of Chinese officials to study Singapore's experience, with special focus on how to develop a non-corrupt system.
That both China and Taiwan think there are valuable lessons to be learnt from Singapore has nothing to do with a sense of affinity for Singapore because most Singaporeans are Chinese.
It's because Singapore's success is well reflected in many authoritative surveys.
For example, Singapore has been ranked by the Swiss-based International Institute for Management Development as the least corrupt economy in Asia, ahead of Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan.
It has also emerged as the cleanest country in Asia in a graft index released by the Berlin-based Transparency International.
I'm not citing these to give ourselves a pat on the back, but to examine how much China and Taiwan understand from the "Singapore experience" about what it takes to root out graft as well as to prove that "corruption is not inherent in politics in Chinese-dominant societies".
The fifth issue of the Shenzhen University Journal in 2000 carried an article by Chinese academic Lu Yuanli who made a comprehensive analysis on how the Singapore government manages to keep its officers graft-free.
He concluded that under the Singapore system, officers "dare not and have no need, desire or opportunities" to take bribes.
While there is some truth in the observations, they miss the fundamental point - the "political will of the leadership" which Mr Ma had referred to repeatedly.
When leaders lack the resolve to take bold and resolute measures and are not prepared to act against their kith and kin, even the best system and organisation will serve no useful purpose.
In other words, the political will of the leadership is the deciding factor in stamping out corruption. When it is absent, any graft-fighting efforts at the lower levels will be futile. And this has no causal relationship with being Chinese or otherwise.
Singapore's success in creating a system that is free of corruption is not easily understood from a theoretical perspective.
Said political thinker Baron de Montesquieu in his book The Spirit of Laws: "But constant experience shows us that every man invested with power is apt to abuse it, and to carry his authority as far as it will go."
The years of one-party dominance by the ruling party is, at least in theory, in contradiction with the principle of "effective and independent checks and balances".
Can "internal self-supervision" be the same as effective supervision? The people quite simply will not think so.
Without the checks and balances by a strong opposition, it is a miracle that the absolute power enjoyed by the ruling party has not led to absolute corruption.
Singapore leaders do not adhere to political doctrines or a distinct ideology, but the first generation of founding leaders led by Mr Lee Kuan Yew are determined to realise their ambition of making and keeping Singapore as a prosperous and vibrant city-state.
With such strong political will and convictions, there is of course no place for corruption.
The writer is a journalist. Translated by Yap Gee Poh.