Lately, I’ve noticed that since the past few years, corruption and petty bribery have become a way of life in Kuwait. We never experienced this in Kuwait in the previous decades. Corruption is now endemic in the public sector. When you go to process any paperwork – which is your right and required by law – it is the duty of the employee, whoever he or she is, to do it. But you feel that they are not encouraged to accomplish your task efficiently and quickly, unless you bring a small present or pay something. This is what is called petty bribery.
At a glance, you say OK – KD 5 or KD 10 – what’s the big deal if I finish my paperwork quickly and avoid delays and the repeated comings and goings and wasting time, because this is what happens. You run to 100 departments to sign a paper and many times they tell you come back tomorrow or in the afternoon or after an hour. But if you know how to ‘adjust’ things, paperwork can get done more quickly, at the same moment.
This is where the danger lies. It starts like this, and slowly it becomes required. The employee psychologically starts to feel like it’s not his duty to do this work – he needs an incentive outside of his salary. And he starts building his life on that ‘extra’ coming from here and there.
If you think about societies where petty official bribery takes hold, you will be saddened. They are impossible to improve. Many Third World countries suffer from a terrible infestation of petty bribery. The problem spreads quickly amongst employees and results in hindering advances in the society and efficiency on all scales.
I’m worried for the generations to come, because if this grows and continues to spread – it looks like it’s escalating, not stopping – then the next generations will adopt it as the norm, a natural way of life or process. No ethics, no principles, no religion – whatever you want to call it. I don’t think any religion approves of bribery, be it Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, etc, etc. But me, as a Muslim, I know for a fact that bribery is totally forbidden and is a sin. According to a Sahih Al-Bukhari hadith, Abdullah bin Amur narrated that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: “Allah cursed the briber (rashi) and bribe-taker (murtashi).”
By Badrya Darwish