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Corruption in Different Languages

  • Date Submitted: 05/30/2011 11:52 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 46.3 
  • Words: 448
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THE Thais call it gin muong (nation eating). In Chinese, it is

known as tan wu (greedy impurity), in Japanese oshoku (dirty job),

and to the Pakistanis, it is ooper ki admani (income from above).

Every Oriental language has its own phrase for corruption—and in

every tongue the words are unpleasantly familiar. All around the

rim of mainland China, many Asian nations are making notable

progress, but the greatest obstacle remains the furtive hand in the

till, the kickback artist, the bagman, the specialist in "squeeze."

Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos, who has more than his share

of corruption to bog him down at home, is convinced that "we must

change a whole way of life. We must do it or fail to survive."

Chiseling is a part of the Asian ambiance, from the ramshackle

capital of lazy little Laos to the broad boulevards of booming

Bangkok and the expense-account nightclubs of prosperous Japan.

Even rigid Communist disciplinarians have failed to suppress the

fast-buck artist: from Red China come tales of profiteering in the

communes; refugees report that shady officials do a brisk business

in exit permits; and the government is constantly renewing its

"Four Cleans" anticorruption campaign. As for North Viet Nam, Hanoi

recently headlined a Politburo official's complaint that party

members were indulging in "dubious financial situations" and

"incorrect borrowing."

That could mean anything, for as any Asian can testify, the

technique of the take has infinite varieties. A stranger at the

airport in Vientiane should not be startled if the customs official

politely demands a 100-kip "deposit" for the transistor radio in

his baggage. In the Philippines, some of the busiest businessmen

are the "commuters," people who travel back and forth between

Manila and Hong Kong counting on bribed customs officials to let

them return with luggage loaded with...

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