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The difference between gifts and bribes

I refer to the report Citizens pledge to fight corruption all the way , Irene Fernandez's question as to where to draw the line regarding gifts is an issue many have asked.

When does gifting become corruption? The custom of giving gifts exist in many societies. All ethnic groups in Malaysia practise it. However, the differences between a gift and a bribe are:

  1. A gift is given without the expectation of something in return.

  • Gifts are given openly and the generosity of the giver is publicised. Hence, everyone knows what has been given.
  • Traditionally, gifts are shared with the community. This is especially in small tribal communities where for instance, meat etc is shared out amongst the families.
  • I believe the British government (as well as others) have an official policy or formula regarding the acceptance of gifts - that they should not exceed a certain value etc.
  • Gifts must be declared by the receiver as well as the giver. In other words, the public should know about them.
  • There must be no link between the job or business of the giver and the portfolio of the receiver. It would be highly irregular for someone in the motor trade for instance to give something to the minister for trade.
  • It is not difficult to differentiate between gifts and bribes. We should not hide behind customary practices and disguise bribes as gifts.

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