Change the way Business is done in Countries where Corruption is Rampant

Last month I was contacted by an acquaintance who works as a general manager of an insurance company in Malaysia.

He wanted me to conduct a half-day leadership workshop for his company. Let’s call this company, Company A.

He also demanded a commission of 25% of my fee.

But that wasn’t all. The entire event, he said, will be sponsored by another organization and that organization – let’s call it Company B – has instructed that I bill it (Company B) directly.

But there was a catch.

Company B wanted me to bill 25,000 Malaysian Ringgit as my fee.

Out of the 25,000 MYR, I was told to keep 12,000 MYR for myself and return 13,000 MYR. (Yup, Company B was dictating how much my “real”  fee should be.)

(And remember, my acquaintance was insisting that he be given 25% out of that 12,000 MYR.)

If you do the Math I will end up only with 9,000 MYR, which is about 3,500 Singapore dollars, an amount way below what I normally charge.

A total of 16,000 MYR would be pocketed by two other persons who do nothing to earn it.

I would be the sucker doing the work.

How audacious and greedy can some people be? Most robberies occur when there’s a gun and a mask somewhere. These two persons are worse than highway bandits.

Being a Singaporean, living in Singapore which is the 5th least corrupt country in the world, compared to Malaysia which is the world’s 53rd corrupt country, I turned down the work.

(For more information on the ranking, please refer to Transparency International’s website.)

In another study, Malaysia has been ranked as one of the most corrupt nations and listed as a country which is most likely to take shortcuts to meet targets when economic times are tough.

Indeed, Malaysia, along with China, has the highest levels of bribery and corruption anywhere in the world, according to Ernst & Young’s latest report, Asia-Pacific Fraud Survey Report Series 2013.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib has staked his premiership on six NKRA (National Key Result Areas), of which “Reducing Corruption” was one of the most important.

Looks like the country has a long way to go.

There has been corruption since the beginning of time and it’s not going to go away, especially in countries where corruption is a way of life and considered a part of the culture. So, there cannot be one solution for all types of corruption.

Making it easy to report corruption, protecting whistle blowers and meting out harsh penalties are some deterrents and I applaud China for handing out death sentences for corruption. Nearly 63,000 officials in China have been punished and almost 70 officials under investigation have committed suicide.

As an individual, my anti-corruption strategy is to simply avoid incentivizing people who refer work to me.

It’s a small step, but it’s my way of saying “no” to corruption.

I believe that in this day and age, one can still be successful through sincere effort, without resorting to bribing others to get business.

No need for Faustian pacts of any kind to make an honest living.