Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Two Receipts vs Blank Receipt

"Malaysia is on the right track in terms of fighting corruption, malpractices and abuse of power following various initiatives undertaken by the government"

I was about 18 years old when I was driving my step-mother's car one night, many years ago. My sister, Bridget, and her then husband, Amran, were in the car with me. We were chatting happily when suddenly one of the headlights went dead. And of course as Murphy's Law would have it, minutes later, as we were approaching the Sembulan roundabout, there was a traffic policeman, waving his hands, instructing me to stop the car.

He approached my window and told me that my headlight was out, and I replied in the affirmative, trying to explain that it happened just moments ago, and there was nothing I could do at that hour. I looked at him pleadingly, hoping that he'd have some pity on this schoolboy driver. He flipped out his book and was about to write me a ticket when he suddenly stopped and looked at me.

"I'm sorry," he said in Malay, "but I'm afraid I'll have to write you a ticket", adding that it was a serious offence.

We were silent, and he appeared to resume the task of writing out the ticket, when he stopped again.

"Unless if you want, we can help each other?" he said with a smile.

I did not have any money on me then. But even if I did, I doubt that I would attempt to bribe the policeman to escape the fine. He explained that it would be very troublesome to deal with the fine, as I would be required to appear in court.

I turned to Amran and saw the expression on his face. It was one of shock and disgust—it reminded me of the expression on my cousin-sister's face when she saw the amount of hair in my late grandma's armpits—but that's a different story.

"Carry out your duty!" Amran said to the policeman. I was quite surprised by Amran's reaction. I could see that the policeman was surprised too. I fancy that he must have taken for granted that we would attempt to bribe him with a little cash, but we didn't!

Corruption is almost a way of life for us Malaysians. From politicians at the top to the ordinary people in the street, the general mentality is that you can always bribe others to get things done. In fact, it is almost expected that you must bribe others to get things done!

I was in KL yesterday morning with my colleague, Ben. We took a cab from Brickfields to Bangi to attend a seminar. When we reached our destination, I paid the cabbie and asked for a receipt.

"Oh! you're gonna claim from your company?, he asked.

I said yes. And then he asked me—almost automatically—if I'd like to have a blank receipt. I said that's not necessary; that he could write the actual amount on just one receipt.

Then he looked at us, and asked if we would like to have a receipt each. I suppose both Ben and I could then use our respective receipts to claim from the company. After all, it's entirely possible that Ben and I took different cabs that morning. I told the cabbie to write out a single receipt showing the actual amount of the cab fare; that's quite good enough. He gave me a strange look. Apart from the fact that it's kinda silly for me to cheat my own company for a miserable amount of money, I wouldn't do it even if it's not my own company.

Almost every day I see these creatures all around me. The corrupt mentality is so deeply instilled in the minds of our people. It's almost like those who're not corrupt would be treated as abnormal—even dumb!

I think the Deputy Prime Minister was very brave to make the above statement which I'm sure even he himself knew was idiotic.

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