Bribery or in malay rasuah is a rampant activities in many countries, either Muslims or non-Muslim countries. In some countries the activities of bribery or rasuah has become a way of life. Bribery in those countries has become so common, to the extent; it is no longer regarded as evil. In order for any applications to the government to be processed promptly, in those countries rampant with bribery, a person must give bribes. Most governments in those countries were trying to curb bribery but without much success. Most governments know, bribery is endangering the very survival of their nations. When bribery is not eradicated, many are able to do illegal activities or activities without observing standard procedures. Foreign investors would not like to invest in those countries where bribery is a way of life because it is unprofitable to invest in those countries. It is unprofitable because in such countries, business activities will not comply with procedures of international standard making the qualities of product to decreased and become unmarketable. In countries rampant with bribery, the rich will be able to run away from procedures by giving bribe. The most eligible persons may be deprived of many opportunities because they could not give bribe, because they are poor. On the other hand, the least eligible persons can have many opportunities because they are rich and can give bribe. In countries rampant with bribery, the poor becomes poorer and the rich becomes richer.
Bribery is evil and it causes injustices to prevail in the communities. With bribery the rich can have whatever they want and the poor will be at the mercy of the rich. With bribery, illegal things can become legal; falsehood can become the truth and the one who is not eligible can become eligible. Allah has forbidden Muslims from giving and accepting bribery. Bribery is regarded as evils in Islam. Bribery is rampant mainly in poor Muslims countries. In poor countries, many are forced to practice bribery, because the amount of salary earned by an average worker cannot even meet their needs. When their needs are not met, the poor has to accept bribery in order to fulfill their needs. It is a normal rule; when there are markets for a product, the products will be produced according to the market demand. In poor countries, there are many who want to accept a bribe and there are also many who want to give a bribe.
As an example a policeman in a poor country is having a wife and three children. Eid celebration is coming and all the children and the wife need food to eat and new clothes to wear during the celebration. It so happen during that time the policeman does not have enough money to buy all those needs. If there is an opportunity during this time to get more money, will the policeman grab such opportunity or he will avoid it? One day while on his duty the policeman has caught a man driving without a license and according to the law, summon should be given to that person. The person pleaded to the policeman not to give him summons and in return the person promises to the policeman to give him some amount of money. What would the policeman do in this situation? Should he gives summon or should he not? In the mind of the policeman are pictures of his wife and children, who will go without food and new clothes during the next coming eid festival. Realizing this, the police immediately come to the conclusion that he needs the money. Without much hesitation the policeman decided to accept the money. This is called bribery or rasuah. Bribery is sinful. When a Muslim committed an act of bribery, syaitan will inject delicious sensation or lazat in his heart, which will make the Muslim to continue committing the act of bribery. Once a Muslims has accepted a bribe, the next time, he will certainly accept another bribe. In this way the activities of bribery increase and become common and rampant among Muslims.
Bribery is not done only by policeman but also by other government officers. Whoever can impart power to the public will be prone to bribery. According to a survey conducted in Malaysia, only those who are working in the weather forecast department were less prone to bribery while other officers in other ministries are susceptible to bribery. Let take a case, on how officers in the Ministry of Housing can commit bribery in Malaysia. Government of Malaysia wants to build five thousand houses for the low income groups and the government welcomes all the private companies to participate in the projects. All private companies who would like to participate in the project are requested to submit their proposal to the government which include their company profile and the costs of the project. In order to avoid bribery, the government ordered the selections of the companies to be based on open tender and the company which has quoted the lowest cost to the government will be selected to take up the project. It happens during that time, the officer who is in charge of the project has so many debts to pay and the current salary that he draws is not sufficient to pay for the debts and the expenses of his luxurious lifestyle. Immediately the officer sees that, this project gives him the opportunity to commit bribery. He sees that in this project he can commit bribery because he knows that the power to decide to whom the project should be given lies in his hand.
He knows that the project should be given to the contractor who quoted the lowest prices to the government. Since he wants money so deliberately, he starts to make plan on how to commit bribery. He has committed many acts of bribery in the past and until now; no one could get hold of him. He thinks this time as in the past; he will commit bribery and as usual he will escape from being caught by the authority. He started to negotiates with one contractor who is the director of a company named A, and promises to the contractor that the project will certainly be given to his company, provided the company is willing to quote the lowest prices as ordered by him and in return the company should give him a one percent share of the profit. On the day when all the companies including company A, are called to present their proposals to the committee, the person in-charge of the project who had done negotiation previously with director of company A, also happens to be the decision maker in the meeting, will definitely choose company A to undertake the housing project. In reality the project has been given by direct negotiation and not by open tender. The meeting is conducted only to camouflage to the higher authority that the project is given by open tender. This action is call bribery. The officer has misused the power that he has and instead of using the power, to benefit the government, he uses the power to benefit himself. On the surface, it looks as if everything is done according to procedures but in reality bribery is being committed. When such sinful acts are committed in such project, the blessing or in Malay the Berkah of the project is gone. When the blessing or the Berkah of the project is gone, the government, instead of building low cost houses for the poor is building high cost houses, of lower quality to the poor.
Because of bribery the poor need to pay much higher costs for a house of much lower quality. Since everything on the surface is conducted according to procedures, the government fails to smell the aroma of bribery in the project. Because of bribery, the poor has to pay more for a lower quality houses. Houses built with bribery will not have qualities. In short, when any acts of bribery are involved in any projects, the end result, the projects will have lower qualities. Not only government officers can commit bribery, ministers also commit bribery. How ministers commit bribery? A minister can commit bribery even on major projects. The power to give major projects is only in the hand of ministers. When a person becomes a minister, he or she cannot own companies. This rule is made in order to prevent the minister from committing bribery but on the other hand the ministers can have companies by appointing others to be his or her proxies. Proxies are persons who are made by the minister to become the directors of companies own by the ministers and who would do exactly according to the wishes and the orders of the ministers.
The minister will gives many projects associated with his or her ministry to the company belong to his or her proxies. In this way, the ministers are seen to the public eyes as not committing any acts of bribery. In reality, briberies are rampantly committed. Almost all ministers in the world commit bribery and because of bribery many ministers in the world have become millionaires and billionaires. In order to avoid from being track, the ministers will keep their money in banks outside their countries. In order to give the projects only to companies belong to his or her proxies, most of the projects given by ministers are of direct negotiations. Some companies belong to the ministers do not have technological competency and in order to make the projects a success, the project need to be given to another sub-contractor who are competent technologically. The projects are given to the sub-contractor provided the sub-contractor can pay commission of certain percent to the main contractor which actually belongs to the ministers. In this ways the ministers made millions of dollars. Commission to the ministers, causes an increase in the cost of the project and in order to compensate for the increase in cost, the sub-contractors would use cheaper materials of lower quality which do not comply with international standards.
When a person becomes a minister, many businessmen would like to become the cronies of the minister. When a person becomes the cronies of a minister it would be easy for that person to obtain projects from the ministers. Ministers will surely give projects to his friends, members of his families and cronies. In order to become cronies to the minister, ones need to become friendly to the ministers. In order to become friendly with the ministers, ones must attend all the functions attended by the ministers and must give expensive services or presents to the minister. Businessmen give presents to the ministers because the businessmen want the ministers to give them projects. It is actually not a present but a bribe. What present should be given to the ministers? In order to know the correct present to be given to the minister, the businessmen must know what does the minister loves most? In case the minister loves women, the businessmen will give the minister, women as present. In case the minister loves expensive cars the businessmen will give the minister expensive cars. How would the businessmen give to the minister, beautiful women? The businessmen will give the minister a free air tickets to some tourist destination and accompanying the minister is a beautiful woman who will acts as social escort to the minister. All food and hotel expenses for both the minister and the woman are fully paid by the businessman. In the name of a free holiday package to the minister, the businessmen are actually bribing the minister. In case the minister loves expensive cars, the businessman will send as a present to the minister an expensive car park in front of the minister’s house. It looks as if the car is a present to the minister but actually it is a bribe to the minister. Will a businessman give an expensive car to another man whom he has no vested interest? The presents are not given to the ministers for nothing. The businessman gives the present to the minister because he wants the minister to give him projects. In Islam that is not a present but a bribe or rasuah. In Islam a person who holds power cannot receive presents from anyone who in the past had never given him any presents.
As for an example, Ahmad had never invited Hussein who happens to be his neighbour for food in his house. Only when Hussein is appointed as minister, Ahmad invites Hussein for food in his house. In Islam the action of Ahmad is an act of bribery. Hussein should not accept bribe. Ahmad invitation to Hussein to have food in his house is an act of bribery and must be politely turned down by Hussein. Ahmad is committing bribery because the invitation is not sincere. Ahmad invited Hussein to have food in his house in order to gain closeness to Hussein. Once Ahmad is closed with Hussein, Ahmad will use the closeness to gains material wealth from Hussein. The intention of the invitation is not sincere and it has an ultra motive behind it. Inviting someone for food in our house is a good action when the intention is to please Allah. When the intention is not to please Allah, the action is an act of bribery or rasuah. A person who holds power should not accept presents from those who in the past had never given him any presents. Muslims are not allowed to give and to accept bribery.
Allah allows Muslims to accept presents but not bribe or rasuah. When Muslims eat foods given as a bribe, the foods are haram and those who eat even a morsel of haram foods, their prayers (doa) in forty days will not be accepted by Allah. As a precaution it is wise for those who holds power not to accept hadiah or presents from anyone. It is wise for those who holds power not to receive presents or hadiah but to gives presents or hadiah to others. Once a man who holds power accepts presents or hadiah, he will have the tendency in the future to accept more presents or hadiah. All government servants who are in the position to give contracts and projects must not accept presents from the public. If we want to abolish bribery, prime minister, ministers and all government officers who have power to give projects must not be allowed to receive presents from the public. Whatever forms of presents given to person with power are in reality not a presents but a bribe. Even a present as small as a pen given to a person who holds power is an act of bribery. It is wise not to accept at all any presents from the public. Bribery is rampant in poor countries such as Indonesia and Bangladesh. In Indonesia, bribery is practiced even in matters; as to enter universities or to obtain employment from the government. In such poor countries as Indonesia the salaries of the policeman are very low. The received salary in a month of an ordinary policeman in Indonesia cannot even fulfill their monthly basic needs. Situation in Indonesia has forced them to practice bribery. In order to be able to live in highly competitive society, a person in Indonesia is forced to practice bribery in order to become even a policeman, a soldier or government teachers. We cannot expect a teacher or policemen in Indonesia not to practice bribery when at the beginning of their career, they are forced to practice bribery. In Indonesia, only the rich can practice bribery and only the rich can become government teachers, policemen, studied in government universities and to become soldiers. The poor cannot afford to practice bribery and so in Indonesia the poor will remain as farmers or general labourers. In my opinion, bribery in Indonesia can never be eradicated until the government is able to solve the problem of poverty in Indonesia.
How to eradicate bribery? Bribery is synonymous with poverty. In order to eradicate bribery the government must eradicate poverty. Government must create more jobs by encouraging labour intensive industries. There must be a minimum salary for private as well as government workers. With the minimum amount of salary per month a person should be able to fulfill their needs in a month and with some extra money for holiday. In order to eradicate bribery, instead of the love of money, the love of Allah must be instilled into the hearts of the peoples. Love of Allah will be in the heart of men, when men are involved in the work of calling peoples to Allah, which mean the non- Muslims are invited to recite the Great Kalimah and Muslims are reminded about the Great Kalimah and be invited to obey all the orders of Allah. Such activities which should be done in jemaah must be established in all the mosques in the countries and all the Muslims living around the mosques must be invited to participate in the activities and the non-Muslims to be invited to become Muslims. Such activities will increase the love of Allah in the hearts of the Muslims and when the love of Allah increases, the love of money decreases. When love of money decreases, the activities of bribery will also decreases. In order to encourage the public to reports to the government about cases involving bribery, the person who made the reports must be rewarded but their names must not be disclosed to the public. In this way bribery in the country can be eradicated. Bribery is indeed the number one enemy of a country and a country rampant with bribery will not become a progressive country.
Prof. Dr. Nasoha Saabin
Dean of Faculty of Optometry
International University College of Technology Twintech
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia