The eight services covered in the Global Corruption Barometer 2013 are police, judiciary, registry, land, medical, education, tax and utilities.

Only one percent of respondents in Australia, Japan, Denmark and Finland reported having paid bribes to any of these eight services while the highest proportions were found in Sierra Leone with 84 percent and Liberia with 75 percent.

In Vietnam, police retained the position as the most corrupt of 12 institutions, according to the survey that polled 1,000 people from September last year until this March.

On a 1–5 scale with 1 meaning not at all corrupt and 5 meaning extremely corrupt, the police ranked 4.0, followed by public officials/civil servants and healthcare sectors both at 3.6. Judiciary ranked fourth at 3.5 followed by the education system at 3.4.

Among the other institutions, political parties polled 2.8, parliament/legislature, 2.7, the military 2.8, NGOs 2.4, media, 2.8, religious bodies, 2.2, and business/private sector, 2.9.

The survey found that the percentage of people willing to get involved in fighting against corruption in Vietnam was 79 percent, against the global percentage of 87 percent.

The Global Corruption Barometer 2010/2011 also found that the police force was the most corrupt institution in Vietnam.

Zachary Abuza, a Washington-based South East Asia analyst, admitted he has bribed traffic cops in Vietnam.

“They are awful. They have just enough power to make average citizen's lives miserable," Abuza told Thanh Nien News via email.

"It is easier to make them go away quietly. The line between any policeman (in any country) and criminals is a fine one,” he said.

Abuza said people are less willing to not pay a bribe because the consequences are so great and their other recourses are so few.

He said increasing the pay of government officials can reduce corruption.

“Vietnam is not Singapore. But civil servant salaries are so bizarrely low that no one could be expected to live, let alone raise a family on those salaries,” he said.

Globally, more than one person in two thinks corruption has worsened in the last two years but survey participants also firmly believe they can make a difference and have the will to take action against graft, Transparency International said in a press release.

Still, nearly 9 out of 10 people surveyed said they would act against corruption and two-thirds of those who were asked to pay a bribe had refused, suggesting that governments, civil society and the business sector need to do more to engage people in thwarting corruption, it said.

“Bribe paying levels remain very high worldwide, but people believe they have the power to stop corruption and the number of those willing to combat the abuse of power, secret dealings and bribery is significant,” said Huguette Labelle, chair of Transparency International.

They survey found that in many countries the institutions people rely on to fight corruption and other crime are themselves not trusted.

Thirty-six countries viewed police as the most corrupt; and in these countries an average of 53 percent of people had been asked to pay bribes by the police.

In 20 countries, the judiciary was viewed as the most corrupt; and in these countries, an average of 30 percent of the people who had come in contact with the judicial systems had been asked to pay a bribe.

“Governments need to take this cry against corruption from their citizenry seriously and respond with concrete action to elevate transparency and accountability,” Labelle said.

Transparency International (TI) describes itself as a “non-governmental organization based in Berlin that monitors and publicizes corporate and political corruption in international development.”

By An Dien - Thanh Nien News - July 09, 2013


Vietnam police use new truck permit rule to extract bribes

Corrupt traffic cops take advantage of new regulation and set up graft system

Truck owner and driver Nguyen Trung Trach has been unable to obtain a license to drive inside Hanoi despite applying several times to the traffic police.

“They asked me to furnish a transport contract,” the man from the capital’s Ha Dong District said.

“I don’t own a company to sign a contract with my customers. I simply have a truck and carry anything people want.”

His income has fallen sharply because he has been unable to carry goods into the city since February when Hanoi issued a decision requiring trucks to obtain a permit.

According to the decision, trucks weighing more than 1.25 tons when laden are allowed to drive in the city only from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. and with a compulsory permit issued by the traffic police. Smaller trucks only have to avoid the 6 a.m.-9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m rush hour.

Many truck owners said they have “adapted” to the new regulation by simply following a bribe-for-permit system that some traffic police officers and brokers have created.

Captain Truong Song Thanh, head of the general consulting section of the Hanoi traffic police, said his agency issues two types of permits – one for three days and the other for three months – and both are free.

But a Vietweek investigation found that many truck owners bribe the traffic police to get the permit.

At around 8:15 p.m. on May 28 a long line of trucks was parked outside traffic police station No. 5 in Long Bien District.

At a nearby café, many truck drivers and owners were preparing their applications that included a VND50,000 (US$2.4) bill.

“It is compulsory,” a driver from Hung Yen Province who wanted to be identified only as T. said, referring to the money.

Others were around a desk where a captain checked their applications and quickly put the money in each application into the drawer.

The same scene was repeated at many other traffic police stations issuing the three-day permits.

For three-month permits, truck owners have to apply to the city traffic police division, where a bunch of brokers mill outside.

A Vietweek reporter posing as a driver was quickly accosted by a woman at the parking lot who offered to get a permit for VND3.5 million within a week.

“That’s the cheapest price. Others will demand VND3.8 million,” she added.

A truck driver from Hanoi’s Thach That District said he had paid a broker VND3.8 million for a permit.

“It’s better than queuing at the office without the certainty you will obtain the permit,” he said.

A broker said she takes VND3.5 million up front and the remaining VND300,000 after the permit is issued.

Refusing to reduce the deposit, she said: “I have to pay the traffic police as well. I will lose if you do not return to get the permit and pay the rest.”

Vietweek asked Thanh about the rampant bribery, but he merely sent a written reply saying “the permit is free.”

However, the officer photographed taking money from applicants has been suspended and the police have ordered an inquiry.

Impractical

Many truck owners and experts said the permit is impractical and unnecessary and causes corruption, and authorities should leave it at stipulating the time trucks can enter the city.

To get a permit, applicants have to submit a transport contract (signed and stamped by both parties) besides other papers like driving license and vehicle registration.

But it is common for a family to own trucks and carry goods following verbal instructions.

Nguyen Van Hieu said he and many other families in Dong Ky Village in Bac Ninh Province make furniture and each has a truck to carry them to shops in Hanoi.

“We are not carrying goods for a company, so we cannot furnish a legal contract as required to be eligible to drive in Hanoi,” he said.

Many others said they have to ask the brokers themselves to obtain a false contract when applying.

Nguyen Van Minh, a truck driver based in Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem District, said the decision should be scrapped because it is impractical.

“Although trucks of 1.25 tons or less do not require to apply for a permit, almost all loaded trucks weigh far more than this.

“The smallest truck weighs around 900 kg unladen.”

Bui Danh Lien, chairman of the Hanoi Automobile Transport Association, said his agency has received many complaints from truck owners about the new regulation.

“There is corruption in issuing the permit,” he said, adding that the decision has created an environment for corruption instead of serving the intended purpose of keeping trucks off the downtown area.

Lien said Hanoi should amend the decision to prevent corruption. “Trucks should be allowed to drive in the city center at night without a permit as they did earlier. The regulation should be rescinded.”

Nguyen Van Thanh, chairman of the Vietnam Automobile Transport Association, also criticized the move for creating corruption.

“Any city would ban trucks during certain hours. However, they should be allowed to drive during the other hours without having to obtain any permit.”

By Thai Son & Ha An - Thanh Nien News - July 09, 2013