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Have You Been Corrupt Today? 今天你腐敗了嗎?
Have You Been Corrupt Today? 今天你腐敗了嗎?
楊恒均     阅读简体中文版

嫉惡如仇 從善如流
楊恒均微信號:yanghengjun2013

歡迎分享轉發


編者按

美國THE DIPLOMAT網站2014年起推出楊恒均專欄,將楊恒均的部分博文翻譯成英文。本平臺將選登部分文章,供英語愛好者閱讀。


Have You Been Corrupt Today?

Yang Hengjun explores the “culture of corruption” that has grown up in China.


By Yang Hengjun

May 02, 2014



I must have written at least 50 essays on anti-corruption. Looking back, I realize that all of them are critiques of the system, officials, and the use of public power. Obviously there’s nothing wrong with this, because the source of corruption must be power. However, if all corruption cases are attributed to the system, the use of power and officials, does that mean that we can relax and ignore our own responsibilities? Can we forgive or even find excuses for our role in corruption?

As a whole, the problem of corruption is caused by ‘them,’ not by ‘us.’ But does that mean that we are completely innocent? Today, I’d like to talk not about ‘their’ problems but about our problems — our own corruption problems. First of all, I’d like to know: have you done something corrupt today? On average, how often do you cooperate in the corrupt acts of those with a little power? Don’t answer too quickly.

When I came to Beijing, I finally had a chance to have dinner with a famous public intellectual. He had just arrived when he got a phone call. The call was from his child’s teacher, and the teacher said he was free for dinner that night. My friend told me that he had waited a long time for this chance. Many parents were lined up to invite the teacher for dinner and forge some connections. This intellectual, whose anti-corruption essays are sharper than mine, apologized and asked where he could buy presents for the teacher on the way. Then he rushed out excitedly, without a backwards glance.

I remember our son only gave a gift to his teacher once. It was when he graduated from elementary school, in order to express our thanks (my son had been admitted to a prestigious middle school). We helped my son buy a beautiful card along with a gift card worth 10 Australian dollars (about 60 RMB or $9.25 US). When my son saw the gift, he hesitated and finally decided to remove the gift card. We can’t bribe the teacher, he said.

I know a fairly well-connected local cadre, a deputy director. He confessed that people from his hometown were endlessly coming to ask him to handle their affairs. Many of those matters could be handled without relying on connections, but it seems that his fellow villagers have gotten used to it. If they don’t use their connections, they’ll feel anxious. This puts the cadre in an awkward position. If he refuses anyone, then he’s not giving that person “face.” Then that whole family, and even the entire village, will speak badly of the cadre, saying that he bites the hand that feeds him. In addition, these villagers will often force the cadre to accept gifts, like a bag of rice or a basket of turnips or Chinese cabbages. Even if he tries to refuse, they will just leave the gifts in his office. This cadre is depressed because he’s too low-ranking to be transferred to another place, away from his hometown. Now, he has only two options: to have a falling out with his entire hometown or to wait for the discipline inspection committee to come and find him someday…

I often get letters from readers, and this type of letter is not uncommon: “Mr. Yang, I have been reading your blog for years, and am deeply influenced by your ideas. Thank you very much… I see that you are pretty close to the officials in XXX (some place). My XXX (child or relative) is facing such-and-such a situation, can you help me? I respect you very much and I have no other way. You have good connections, so you must be able to help me. I’ve already prepared the money you will need to give them as gifts…” Brother, if I use the officials I know to help you handle a small affair, will you still respect me?

In the eyes of many relatives and friends, I’m absolutely not worthy of respect because I have been trying to live up to my words and never use back channels or connections to get ahead. However, if you try to gain respect by taking a stand in a place where “back doors,” “connections” and even actions worthy of the term “bribery” are so prevalent, won’t you become a loner, placing yourself above others? I admit, the only reason I can do it is that my family doesn’t live in China. Hence, I never preach from on high to netizens or my relatives and friends, because I know their life is full of inescapable “corruption.”

If you go to the hospital for an operation, if you don’t bring a “red envelope” you won’t be at ease. In a minor car accident, after Chinese people get out of their cars, they don’t exchange insurance information but rather are busy trying to get their connections within the traffic police to come and help. Everyone has insurance, but even if you don’t, how much does it cost to repair a car? Is it really necessary to pull both your connections and the Chinese judicial system into the mud?

If they are sued, people won’t think about finding a lawyer, but they will think about how to find connections within the court and other political and legal organs. Fortunately, Chinese people have tons of uncles and aunts. Except for a few hundred million peasants, almost every person can find some way to work their connections to decide their fate — and the fate of the Chinese legal system. The winner knows that it wasn’t a victory for justice, while the loser only admits that his personal connections weren’t strong enough. If society continues in this way, will there be any bottom line to defend, either legally or morally?

The shameless profit-seeking of the “flies” can only succeed with the cooperation of ordinary people. As for the ill-gotten wealth of the “tigers,” aside from the huge sums gotten from bribers and accomplices, there are contributions from tens of thousands of flatters and favor-seekers.

If I hadn’t lived overseas for so many years, I could never know that this “corruption” has already spread to every corner of Chinese society. It has become the state of the nation, our culture and custom. We can even say that every single person has been mutated by ubiquitous corruption. Of course, I know that if the overall environment remains unchanged, each individual has to go with the flow. It’s very difficult to be the only virtuous person. But what’s really tragic is that most of us don’t think the above-mentioned behaviors, which have long been labeled “corrupt” by civilized societies with the rule of law, are all that serious. Or people believe that the fault for corruption lies entirely with others, and not with themselves.

The current administration has devoted a lot effort to fighting corruption. I believe that we can move from curing the symptoms to treating the disease. Eventually swatting “flies” and beating “tigers” will develop into an anti-corruption system. It’s been said recently that future anti-corruption campaigns will not only arrest those who accept bribes, but will also detain the bribers. Really, if no one offers bribes, how could anyone accept bribes? However, long-term corruption has nurtured a deep culture of corruption, a sense of “custom” and “habit.” Corruption can’t be eliminated through an “anti-corruption storm” and an overnight reform of the system. Getting rid of corruption will rely on raising the quality of the citizens and awakening public awareness.

When we blindly complain about, criticize, and curse the corruption of the system and of officials, why don’t we search our own conscience and examine our own responsibilities and duties? Yes, we are the powerless; of course we don’t have the power to be corrupt. But even the powerless have a sort of power. We have the power not to bow and scape to those who hold the official seals. We have the power to say no to those judges who accept bribes and issue unjust rulings. We have the power to fight to the end against corrupt officials, to report and expose them. If we start with ourselves, and resist the “corruption” that comes from within or beside us, then the corrupt “flies” will have no place to hide, and the corrupt “tigers” will become true paper tigers.

Have you been corrupt today? Tomorrow, will you silently accept, permit, or cooperate in others’ corruption? When will you be ready to fight corruption?



This piece srcly appeared in Chinese on Yang Hengjun’s blog. The src post can be found here.

Yang Hengjun is a Chinese independent scholar, novelist, and blogger. He once worked in the Chinese Foreign Ministry and as a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council in Washington, DC. Yang received his Ph.D. from the University of Technology, Sydney in Australia. His Chinese language blog is featured on major Chinese current affairs and international relations portals and his pieces receive millions of hits each day. Yang’s blog can be accessed at www.yanghengjun.com


原文:


今天你腐敗了嗎?


文 | 楊恒均


我寫的反腐文章估計不會少于五十篇吧?回頭一看,篇篇都是針對體制、批評官員和針砭公權力的,這顯然沒有錯,腐敗的源頭一定在公權力那里,但如果把所有的腐敗罪責都歸咎于制度、權力與當官的,我們是不是就能很輕松很理所當然地忽視了自己的責任,原諒甚至給我們自己在腐敗中扮演的角色找到了借口?


腐敗總體來說不是我們的問題,是他們的問題,但我們自己完全沒有問題嗎?今天我想談的不是他們的問題,而是我們的問題——我們自己的腐敗問題。我先弱弱地問一句:今天你腐敗了嗎?你平均多少天就配合那些掌了小權者腐敗一次呢?——先別急著回答。


到北京好不容易碰到一位有名的公共知識分子一起吃飯,他剛進門就接到一個電話,原來是孩子的老師打來的,老師說今晚正好有空吃飯了。公知朋友說這可是約了好久才得到的機會,家長約孩子的老師吃飯搞關系可得排很久的隊。這位反腐文章寫得比我犀利的公知說了聲抱歉,打聽到路上什么地方可以順便買禮物送老師,然后興沖沖頭也不回地沖出門去……


記得我兒子唯一一次給老師“送禮”是小學畢業時為了感謝老師(兒子考上了重點中學哦),我們幫他買了一個附有十澳元購物卡(相當于六十元人民幣)的精美卡片作禮物,兒子看到后卻猶豫了,最后還是決定把十元購物卡從卡片上剝下來,他說,不能行賄老師哦。


一位私交不錯的基層副處級干部對我真情表白,家鄉的人不停來找他辦事,而很多事情根本不用找“關系”也能辦成,但家鄉人好象習慣了,不找“關系”心里不踏實。這讓他很為難,只要拒絕任何一個人就是不給面子,整個家族甚至鄉下都會流傳他的“壞話”,說他“忘恩負義”。找他辦事的人又常常會硬給他送禮,一袋米一筐蘿卜白菜什么的,你不收,他們放下就走了。他說級別太低又無法交換到外地去當官,很郁悶,如今他要就是同整個家鄉的人翻臉,要就是等到某一天紀委找到他……


我經常收到讀者的來信,這種信并不少見:“楊老師,過去多年我一直讀您的博文,深受您思想的影響,非常感謝您……我看到你同XXX (或某地)官員比較熟,我的XXX(子女或親屬) 正在如何如何,您可以幫我……您是我最尊重的人了,我沒有別的辦法,只有您關系比較廣,一定可以幫到我,要送禮的錢我們給您準備好……”兄弟,如果我利用自己認識的官員幫你把這么一件很小的事辦成了,你還尊重我嗎?


在很多親戚朋友眼中,我肯定不是值得尊重的,因為我努力做到言行如一,絕不開后門、找關系,但在“后門”、“關系”甚至夠得上“行賄”罪名的事如此盛行的地方,你想要得到這樣的尊重,恐怕得活成孤家寡人、不食人間煙火吧?我坦承,我能做到這點的唯一原因是我的家人并不生活在中國。所以,我從來不會高調地對網友和親戚朋友說教,我知道他們的生活充斥著如此多的無法擺脫的“腐敗”——


到醫院開刀作手術,你不送紅包心里就不踏實;路上出了小車禍,中國人下車后不是交換保險號而是各自忙著撥打尋找自己在交警中的“關系”來幫忙——別說大家都有保險,就是沒有保險,修車能花多少錢?有必要把你的熟人和中國的司法一起拉進污水里?


吃官司了,人們想到的不是找律師,而是在法院等政法機關中找關系——好在中國人都有七大姑八大姨的,除了真正可憐的幾個億農民外,城里人幾乎都能轉彎抹角地找到各自的“關系”,然后就靠“關系”來決定自己,也決定中國法律的命運——贏的人知道不是正義獲勝,輸的人只承認自己的關系不夠鐵……這樣的社會搞下去,還有什么法律和道德的底線可以守?


“蒼蠅”的蠅營狗茍一定有普通人的配合才能成功,“大老虎”的萬貫贓款,除了巨額的行賄者與同謀外,一定有成千上萬卑躬屈膝、笑臉奉迎的民眾們一半的功勞。


如果不是在海外生活了這么多年,我是絕對想不到“腐敗”原來已經深入到中國社會的每一個角落,成了國情、文化與風俗,甚至可以說,我們每一個人都被無處不在的腐敗轉了基因。我當然知道,如果整體環境不變,任何個人都得隨波逐流,很難獨善其身,但可悲的是,我們中的大多數人,根本不認為我上面說的這些在文明和法治社會里早就被認定為“腐敗”的行為有多么嚴重,或者他們認定腐敗的錯全部在人家而不在自己這一邊。


這屆政府強力反腐,我相信從治標到治本,拍蒼蠅打老虎,遲早也會發展到制度反腐,最近就有消息說今后反腐不但要抓那些受賄者,同樣要拘那些行賄人,其實,沒有行賄人,哪里有受賄者?但長期腐敗滋生的深入骨髓“腐敗文化”與“風俗習慣”,恐怕不單單是靠“反腐風暴”與一夜之間的制度就能杜絕的,那還得靠國民素質的提高與公民意識的覺醒。


在我們一味抱怨、批評和痛罵體制與官員的貪污腐敗時,我們為什么不捫心自問一下自己的責任與義務?不錯,我們是無權力者,自然沒有權力去腐敗,但無權者也有自己的權力,我們有權不去對那些手握公章的人點頭哈腰、低聲下氣,有權對受賄而做出不公判決的法官說不,有權對那些貪污腐敗的官員死磕到底,舉報他、揭露他……當我們每一個人都從自己身邊做起,都能抵制發生在我們身邊和我們自己身上的那些“腐敗”時,腐敗的蒼蠅們將會無處藏身,腐敗的大老虎也就成了真正的紙老虎。


今天,你腐敗了嗎?明天你會默許、縱容、配合他們繼續腐敗嗎?你,什么時候準備反腐呢?


楊恒均 2014.4.27


2015-08-23 08:54

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