Here’s the list of the most corrupt leaders in the last two decades according to the Transparency International Report 2004 :
|1. Mohamed Suharto||President of Indonesia (1967–1998)||$15–35 billion|
|2. Ferdinand Marcos||President of the Philippines (1972–1986)||5–10 billion|
|3. Mobutu Sese Seko||President of Zaire (1965–1997)||5 billion|
|4. Sani Abacha||President of Nigeria (1993–1998)||2–5 billion|
|5. Slobodan Milosevic||President of Serbia/Yugoslavia (1989–2000)||1 billion|
|6. Jean-Claude Duvalier||President of Haiti (1971–1986)||300–800 million|
|7. Alberto Fujimori||President of Peru (1990–2000)||600 million|
|8. Pavlo Lazarenko||Prime Minister of Ukraine (1996–1997)||114–200 million|
|9. Arnoldo Alemán||President of Nicaragua (1997–2002)||100 million|
|10. Joseph Estrada||President of the Philippines (1998–2001)||78–80 million|
1. Defined as former political leaders who have been accused of embezzling the most funds from their countries over the past two decades.
2. All sums are estimates of alleged embezzlement and appear in U.S. dollars.
Source: Transparency International Global Corruption Report 2004.
One couldn’t help notice that the infamous names are all from developing countries, with the Philippines gaining the dubious distinction of having to deal with two of the notorious names in the list. The funds embezzeled by these corrupt leaders are estimates but one wonders whether these national leaders are the ultimate villains in the game since one of the longest reigning tyrant dictators in the last two decades, Sadam Hussein of Iraq, whether by design or inadvertence had been ommitted from the list. The list also omits rulers of oil rich sheikdoms who had been stashing away cash largely from the windfall of the black gold lying underneath their desert kingdoms.
Perhaps a filthy rich ruler with relatively well fed citizens appear to enjoy more tolerance from their people than those with famished ones, like most of the names in the list, who were forcibly booted out of office by their people. I am also questioning the conscience of the world’s policeman whose actions towards oppressive and corrupt dictators are predicated on how they play on their interests rather than how these tyrants toy with people’s lives, dignity and aspirations for their personal enrichment.
Transparency International , an international agency on a mission to fight global corruption defines corruption as follows :
Corruption is the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. It hurts everyone whose life, livelihood or happiness depends on the integrity of people in a position of authority.
Corruption isn’t the monopoly of people in government. In countries with high incidence of curruption, it is pervasive through out society – private sector, schools and even non-profit organizations. What strikes me as the most tragic is judicial corruption. I happen to think that a country with a corrupt judicial system is destined for doomsday for if the institution that we expect to defend our rights and preserve the rule of law can be manipulated, then where can else we seek justice ? The destruction of the justice system in a country means that the law of the jungle will reign supreme, that the strongest and the powerful will have the ultimate determination of the order of things in society.
Is it a coincidence that almost all of the above leaders were forcibly ousted by their own people because the country’s justice system wasn’t able to prosecute them for their crimes ? And even when they were removed and exiled, were their respective governments able to prosecute them to the letter ? Perhaps not, for in the cycle of corruption, they needed to be removed so others can take their place.
On former President Suharto of Indonesia :
Economic instability and popular discontent with his rule forced Suharto’s resignation in 1998, and subsequently a government corruption investigation was instituted, and Suharto was placed under house arrest in 2000 and later charged with corruption. The charges were dismissed, however, for health reasons.
Can we say EXACTLY the same thing happened to Joseph Estrada – pardoned for health reasons ? Perhaps for the government that recently “shockingly” pardoned Estrada, it was a lame attempt to seek sympathy from the opposition so they can stop their sleuthing into the corrupt affairs of the administration. Or perhaps it was a case of self guilt, that you can’t talk about hanging a person for a crime you are equally guilty of. Whatever the reasons are, I can almost feel down to my gut that the events unfolding in front of our eyes right now is a case of deja vu, that the changing of the guards is just a reprieve, a changing of the bandages, a dose of pain killers, meanwhile the cancer is thriving and eating up the healthy cells.
An organization like Transparency International is to be lauded for its efforts in attempting to curb corruption not only in the field of being watchdogs but in the area of educating and inculcating integrity in people, especially the youth. It is gratifying to hear words such as ” anti-corruption handbook” and ” the corruption fighter’s toolkit”. We can only look with hope and optimism that this organization makes headway in its mission and that people they reach out to can muster enough will to change for the better.
Filed under: Social Issues |