Letter: Corruption is not the norm

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The Independent Online
TREVOR NASH (Letters, 6 March) is wrong. Corruption is no more 'part and parcel of doing business . . . in these countries' than the sale of council houses for party advantage in Westminster is 'part and parcel' of democracy: both are distortions.

In the early 1970s I worked for the World Bank in Jakarta and witnessed the outraged reaction of Indonesian students to the visit of Japanese premier Kakuei Tanaka. Their protest was against the violation of Indonesian values through corrupt practices being introduced by Japanese officials and businessmen among their Indonesian counterparts. Corruption - a distortion, not a norm - was damaging the living standards of the poor majority and undermining the prospect of authentic development.

I know and work with hundreds of Asian development and human rights organisations who fight local, national and international corruption for what it is: another means of cheating and exploiting the poor and diverting the benefits of development from the majority to the few.

Corruption may be widespread but it is no more integral to South-east Asian culture than are dowry deaths to Hinduism or fanaticism to Islam.

Geoffrey Salkeld

Amsterdam

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