Saturday, March 11, 2006

A knight in shining armour....?

The Hong Kong Standard today has an article about Tony Kwok...he, who has been nominated to save the Philippines from he did in Hong Kong working for the ICAC....

I first mentioned Kwok in May 2005 as a little bit of Hong Kong coming with me to Manila....and then because I thought he had disappeared into the quagmire of Philippine politics I mentioned him (acutally almost posted him on a missing persons board) again in December 2005...

According to the article in The Standard, "Our man in Manila" still here, has settled in and is seemingly confident about his progress and future success...

"If you really want to fight corruption, you can do it," he says over coffee at the Ritz Carlton. "It can be done but only if you really want to do it. It's a matter of political will. We did it in Hong Kong and it can be done elsewhere."

Let me think....I have been here about 9 months...on average every other day I am told "...but it's not like Hong Kong here...." I allowed to pass on my words of wisdom to Mr Kwok...or is he just being polite!

How big is the problem of corruption in the Philippines....just one figure should give you a rough idea...

Agence France-Press recently quoted a calculation by the US investment bank Morgan Stanley that the Philippines had been bled of US$204 billion dollars between 1965 (when institutionalized corruption under the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos began) and 2001.

Or this little anecdote...

On a radio call-in program in Manila just last week, callers were discussing the routine matter of obtaining a passport. One person after another said they had been met by officials in uniform at the passport office demanding a bribe of 1,000 pesos before processing an application that is supposed to cost just 550 pesos. A representative of the passport office came on the air to deny that the practice was officially sanctioned but no one was convinced because such low-level bribery is an every day occurrence at virtually every level of government, according to many Filipinos.

I know from my colleagues that they have to factor in bribes in most official exchanges that take place...traffic infringements are the biggest consumers of their salaries.

Kwok "insists the president herself is honest. "There is no evidence that she is corrupt,"...but the present Ombudsman is "Merceditas Navarro-Gutierrez,"......"a close friend of President Arroyo."

I hope that Tony Kwok continues his seemingly one man crusade and finally starts to cut away at corruption issues here so that the amounts of money involved in corruption can be put to good use...


Anonymous Ron said...

When I was very young, my parents took me to a movie called Alice in Wonderland. I was very happy.

Today, when I read The Standard's article - Our man in Manila, I felt equally happy!


4:13 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That article on Tony Kwok does not gloss over corruption in Manila and it makes it clear how difficult it willbe to accomplish anything in that environment.

full text here:

6:45 pm  
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