corruption - The Trawler.org
Chinese government officials have become notorious for owning or buying expensive luxury items, cars, and houses despite having a meagre official average income of 5000 yuan per month. According to Wang, from 2005-2007 about 100 court cases of bribery were conducted on government officials that received bribes during the Chinese Lunar New Year. The most common bribes were small luxury items such as wristwatches.
However, discipline officials of the Chinese Communist Party have maintained that “[they] would have no way of knowing that eyeglass frames could cost several million yuan if a bribed official had not confessed of his own accord to owning them.” Wang believes that this argument is unsatisfactory – He argues that while it is true that “not only Party discipline officials, but also the general public are unlikely to know at a glance the value of a piece of wristwatch jewelry or a pair of eyeglasses…discipline officials should know from common sense that what corrupt officials wear and carry are quite different from the apparel and style of a clean official.”
Wang notes that recently, internet users in China were able to expose the corruption of Yang Dacai, a senior local official in charge of workplace safety. Internet users studied recent pictures of the official and determined that during a public appearance late August, Yang sported eyewear that was worth at least 138,000 yuan (USD 22,000). Further research revealed that the official wore at least 11 different expensive watches on various public occasions, and led to the commencement of an investigation into Yang’s finances by the Chinese central government.
Wang asserts that it should be the job of disciplinary officials, and not that of the general public, to catch corrupt officials like Yang. He argues that even if disciplinary officials cannot be expected to know the price range of certain luxury items, they should automatically flag an official for suspicious behavior if he or she fails to “dress like the rank-and-file he or she deserves [in other words, dress simply and not overly luxuriously].”
It is potentially problematic to assume a necessary correlation between an official wearing luxury brand fashion with their engaging in corruption. According to Wang, there is a clear dichotomy between what corrupt officials wear and what clean officials wear, which may not be an accurate portrayal of Chinese society.
Modern Chinese society has a flourishing consumer culture in which luxury brands have become coveted symbols of status. It is conceivable that a “clean official” would seek to own the luxury items their means allowed. Admittedly though, corruption in the Chinese political system bears more investigation and attention than is currently given.
L. Offeddu writes for Il Corriere della Sera about the case of Tymoshenko that is creating tension just a few weeks before the European football Championship of 2012.
Yulia Tymoshenko was the Prime Minister of Ukraine in 2005 and from 2007 to 2010, and the protagonist of the Orange Revolution that showed a lot of claims for more democracy in the country. She was the Prime Minister when the organization of the European Football Championship was awarded by Ukraine (and Poland). However, today we find a country which is far from the period of the Orange Revolution: the hopes that were generated were not realized. The actual President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych, who defeated Tymoshenko during the elections of 2010, has to deal with a lot of problems during these days. Cases of corruption and abuse of office opened against Tymoshenko in 2010 and she was subsequently arrested; photos which show the suffering and bruises she acquired from prison are now circulating.
Offeddu stresses that many European leaders have expressed their concern of the situation. Governments of Austria and Belgium have decided to boycott Euro 2012. The German Chancellor Angela Merkel has stated she will take a decision at the last moment, and other representatives have shown concern.
Obviously we know that it ia not the first time that sports and politics have mixed. Yanukovych denounces “the climate of the Cold War” but there is no need to go back that far: still today many people wonder about the before and the after of Beijing 2008. A lot of promises on human rights have remained just promises.
Jimena Val Gora
Ezequiel Nino, at Clarín, denounces that the democratic institutions in Argentina are seriously damaged. The crossed accusations in the “Ciccone case” between high ranked officers of the three powers are a clear evidence of this.
One of the problems lies in the fact that it has been more than a decade since the last measures to promote transparency and fight corruption were promulgated. Furthermore, in this last decade control organisms have been weakened. The “Ciccone case” is a good example of how the system is working: the Vicepresident was able to remove a judge, after the judge had ordered a raid in one of his properties. The reason to remove the judge was that he was in touch with the lawyer of the other accused in the cause: the vice-president’s partner.
Nino concludes that we need a democracy that works. This means a clear division of powers and mechanisms of control between the three powers. A working democracy enables respect for the rights and protects civil society from the abuse of power, and this is not what is happening with the current situation of democracy in the country.
Jimena Val Gora
Martín Lousteau, at La Nación, attempts in this article to track down when the collective idea of a nation was lost. He starts from the 1960′s, a decade where the country recovered some terrain in face of the most industrialized nations.
During the 1960′s Argentina was leading the region. Thanks to the social conquests of previous governments the country enjoyed an egalitarian and modern society, with prestigious education and health systems. There was indeed a collective belief of a nation. Lousteau claims that this collective idea of a nation began to dismantle in the 1870s, with the appearance of armed groups, state terrorism and violence everywhere. This led to an individualist conception of social life, anchored in fear and distrust. This selfish conception of the social life lasted until the 2001 crisis.
After 2003 the country experienced indeed a successful economic recovery –in fact the most successful period in history after 1903-1910 and 1918-1925. Lousteau points out that situation also improved dramatically inside the homes –more income, better houses, vacations, etc. However, Lousteau claims that there has not been an improvement in terms of social interaction: “Our social interaction is rough, the ability of coexistence is poor, dialogue and tolerance are minimum, politics stay degraded, public spaces have not been recovered for their proper use because of the constant menace of insecurity, health and education are not improving, and the physical infrastructure –social and productive –is still in deficit”.
Here lies the great challenge of our time: abandon individualism and go back to a collective search for a common future. Reconstruction, claims Lousteau, will not come from a fearful or submissive state; but neither will it from an inefficient, arrogant, arbitrary, cyclothymic and corrupt one. Lousteau does not hide his lack of sympathy for the present government. He concludes that even though there have been a lot of improvements during the last decade, they are not enough. Argentinean people still need to recover the idea of a shared future.
Jimena Val Gora
Fernando Laborda, at La Nación, explains in this article that President Kirchner has known how to turn almost every crisis into an opportunity. Now that Vice President A. Boudou is under investigation, she used the situation to attack General Attorney Esteban Righi and force his resignation.
According to Laborda this was a perfect opportunity for Cristina Kirchner to imitate her Brasilian colleague Dilma Rousseff, who forced the resignation of 12 members of her administration the moment they were implicated in corruption cases. Why did Kirchner not follow the Rousseff model?
Laborda suggests that if Boudou had resigned the message would have been: First they are taking Boudou, I can be the next one . . . If Boudou had resigned the investigation and suspicions of corruption would go deeper, and the President was likely to lose some key persons from her administration like AFIP director Ricardo Echegaray and Central Bank president Mercedes Marcó del Pont. Laborda also points out that the government strategy of defending Boudou and attacking the judicial system can also be dangerous for the President’s interests. Righi was after all a president’s man, and now all government officers somehow related to him are also under suspicion.
Jimena Val Gora
Julio Blanck, at Clarín, analyses in this article the current state of the corruption accusations held against Vice-president Amado Boudou. Clarín is well known to be one of the fiercest anti-government newspapers. Cross-accusations between the government and the media group have been an everyday occurrence during the last couple of years.
Vice-president Boudou is currently under federal investigation and accused of influence-peddling regarding contracts awarded by the Economy Ministry while he still held that office. Julio Blanck analyses Boudou´s last speech, where the vice-president attacked the press and even the Judicial System, accusing the media of fabricating a case against him. However, Blanck points out that the Vice-president forgot to give any explanations regarding his own accusations. Blanck concludes that the vice-president is lying; there is already evidence proving the link of Boudou in the so-called “Ciccone Affair”.
Blanck argues that Boudou’s mistake is trying to hide behind the strength of President Cristina Kirchner. By doing this he is turning her into a potential participant of his own errors, and this may cause a shared political cost. In order to try to save himself Boudou is dragging the President with him. Blanck final question is up to what degree is Boudou’s disarray something inherent to the ‘essence’ of Kirchnerism.