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The fight against corruption has intensified with the setting up of Transparency International ( TI ) and its chapters in many countries across the world. A non-governmental organization based in Berlin, transparency International was founded in 1993 by a group of individuals who had become increasingly aware of the devastating effects of corruption on human development and its distorting effect on trade and investment. The group aims to stamp out corruption.

Corruption deepens poverty by distorting social and economic development and disrupting the provision of essential public services. It also hurts democracy by undermining principles of fair play and justice. Instead of' contracts being awarded on the basis of fair competition relying on price, quality and innovation, they are awarded as a result of competitive bribery. The consequences are (lire. Investors keep away and trade suffers.

TI defines corruption as the use of public office for private gain. Decisions are made not for public benefit but for private interests. Costs incurred are high and prestigious projects are favored over cost-efficient development projects. Access to basic social and economic rights such as education, medical care, adequate shelter and clean water are jeopardized. The environment is threatened and human rights abuse flourishes. When corruption increases, regimes become more secretive, less tolerant of dissent and more fearful of the loss of power.

TI believes that the stamping out of corruption is not the responsibility of any one agency but the responsibility of all parties concerned. Every section of society must pitch in because corruption affects everyone, especially the poor. The government, non-governmental organizations, members of society as well as the local and international business communities must work together if corruption is to be combated at all levels. As a first step, TI ropes in governments to set up chapters in countries. The function of each national chapter is to seek consensus and bring about systematic reform at both national and international levels. The media is also brought into the picture as one of the primary aims of each chapter is to raise public awareness. TI does not believe in broadcasting names or attacking individuals but on building systems that combat corruption.

TI publishes a quarterly newsletter and an annual Corruption Perception Index. The index ranks countries from the cleanest to the most corrupt, based on the perception of the international business community, risk analysts and the general public. In 1998, some 85 countries participated and Denmark topped the list as the country seen to have the least level of corruption. In 1999, 99 countries participated and again Denmark took top spot. Malaysia was ranked 29th and 32nd respectively over the two years. In response to criticisms that the Corruption Perception Index had tended to put unfair emphasis on developing countries, another ranking system was devised. This is the Bribe Payers Index (BPI) which was introduced in 1999. This survey attempts to gauge the tendency to bribe senior public officials by major corporations. The survey ranks Sweden as the country least likely to offer bribes while China occupies the bottom spot at number 19. Malaysia is ranked 15th.

The Malaysian chapter of Transparency International is known as the Kuala Lumpur Society for Transparency and Integrity and at present is headed by Tunku Abdul Aziz. The society believes that any attempt to redress the deteriorating scenario in Malaysia must be based on a long-term plan. First, the public must be aware of their constitutional rights and ensure that these rights are not taken away from them. Then they should assert their right to good governance. To ensure that there is greater accountability in both the public and private sectors, there is a need to institute more checks and balances. Information should also not be withheld but made available to the public so that they will be better informed to make decisions.

To stamp out graft, there are some who believe that the penalties and consequences that will befall the culprits if found guilty of corruption should be made known to all. At the same time, a sense of outrage must be developed in people so that they get angry at corruption because it is about injustice, dishonesty and the impoverishment of many for the benefit of a few. Nurturing such an attitude can only begin at home. If what makes a person incorruptible are the values he holds on to -- personal, ethical and religious -- then the home exerts a mighty influence on inculcating these values in individuals.

Graft must be stamped out. It is insidious and evil and in time to come, will affect every level of society. It is time for people to stand up and act in a concerted manner to rid society of this menace. Otherwise there is every possibility that corruption becomes a way of life undermining justice and fair play and all that is good in society.

     
  1.

What is a good title for this passage ?

       
    (A) Helping the Poor
    (B)

Fighting Corruption

    (C) Corruption
    (D) Ensuring Basic Human Rights
       
  2.

How does corruption deepen poverty ?

       
    (A) Cost-efficient development projects are not carried out.
    (B)

Money is channeled away to fund more prestigious projects.

    (C) The poor are totally ignored.
    (D) Basic amenities are not provided to the poor.
       
  3.

How is the role of Transparency International crucial in the battle against corruption ?

       
    (A) It gets people in different countries to join its organization.
    (B)

It gets governments to agree to set up a branch in their country.

    (C) It has global support.
    (D) It declares the finds of a survey showing levels of corruption.
       
  4.

What inference can be drawn if countries are not willing to have a TI chapter set up in their region ?

       
    (A) That their governments are clean and corrupt-free
    (B) That their governments are corrupt
    (C)

that there is something to hide

    (D) That the countries are not willing to subject themselves to any laws.
       
  5.

One of the most powerful 'tools' that can ensure success in the efforts of TI is

       
    (A) the government machinery
    (B)

the mass media

    (C) the masses
    (D) the Corruption Perception Index
       
  6. As far as the Malaysian chapter of TI is concerned, the head of the chapter urges Malaysians to take note of ______ points.
       
    (A) one
    (B) two
    (C) three
    (D)

four

       
  7. What is the effect of letting the public be aware of the penalties and consequences if found guilty of corruption ? It instills in everyone
       
    (A)

the fear of punishment if caught

    (B) anger towards the guilty
    (C) a sense of share if found guilty
    (D) the complacency to do nothing
       
           
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  Answers : 1) B    2) B    3) B    4) C    5) B     6) D     7) A
 
 
 
 
 

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Comprehension 1

 

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