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 Monday, August 19 2019 3:39pm Hongkong Time

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Knowledge: Knowing the environment – The subconscious propaganda

A general rule of thumb in curbing organized crime is to make it a low gain and high risk crime (Graycar, 2000). So suppose this is also applicable to the case of corruption, the idea would be to make people believe that they are becoming relatively richer and will no longer need to be corrupt. This is more or less equivalent to answering the question: "What will make people think they have been removed from poverty [2]?" In fact, like Durst (1995) said, "the removal of poverty is not an emergency action, but an ongoing process." In order for the process be successful, it has to be smooth and steady. So what is smooth and steady? Figure 1 below shows the change of the median monthly income of working persons and that of the households in Hong Kong from 1971 thru 1991 [3]. The household income was HK$708 in 1971 and rose in a stepwise manner to HK$9,964 in 1991, which apparently represented a 13 times of increase over 20 years (1971-1991).

Median monthly income of working persons and households in Hong Kong, Reports on Population Census, HKSARG
Figure 1. Median monthly income of working persons and households in Hong Kong. (Source: "Reports on Population Census," 1993. Census and Statistics Department, HKSAR Government.)

Yet if we further look into the nominal and real wage indices in Hong Kong from 1982 thru 1992 (Figure 2), we will notice that the general purchasing power of the people have remain relatively the same and have never been substantially risen. Interesting enough, with a per capita GDP that is almost constantly growing [4], people in Hong Kong have never actually enjoyed a real increase in their purchasing power even though the economy has virtually always been expanding.

Nominal and real wage indices in Hong Kong, Report on Half-yearly Survey of Wages, Salaries and Employee Benefits, HKSARG
Figure 2. Nominal and real wage indices [5] in Hong Kong. (Source: "Report on Half-yearly Survey of Wages, Salaries and Employee Benefits," Census and Statistics Department, HKSAR Government.) (Note: Nominal index = Real Index = 100 in 1982, March)

So, what does this imply? It implies that in order to make a crime "low gain and high risk," the government will have to control the relative "quality of living" in terms of the current dollars or otherwise increase the "cost for committing the crime" through the use of inflation (probably). In the case of Hong Kong, a carefully maintained relationship between the nominal and real wage (via inflation) has caused the society to gradually pick up the attitude of "living better and better lives" and hence effectively lowering the gain of the crime and increasing the risk of losing the quality of living – and in turn creating an environment that helped prevent people from taking bribes – in other words, this possibly helped relieved the problem of petty corruption on a city-wide scale.

To further examine the logic of this rationale (if it really worked), let us take Nigeria as an example. In Nigeria, "real wages fell significantly in the l980s following a statutory wage freeze (1982-88), salary cuts in the public sector in 1985, and a constant nominal minimum wage that started in 1981. From 1986 to 1989, real wages fell almost 60 percent" (US Library of Congress Federal Research Division [USLCFRD], 1998). The failure of maintaining the relationship between the nominal wage and the real wage (i.e. inflation) by allowing the various wage freezes and cuts has caused social and economic instability which in turn created the perception of a "corruptionfriendly yet unstable living environment." Knowing the phenomena that public opinions about inflation differ depending on people's political affiliation, and that those who support the government are more likely to expect lower future inflation and, interestingly, are more likely to have perceived lower past inflation (Carlson & Valev, 2003), the inability of the government to control inflation will cause the attitude of the people to drift and hence form the perception of a "higher gain crime (relative to their current living standards) ." In short, people will tend to accept the reasons for taking bribes as a way to "fit in" to this situation (oh wait... some of my Nigerian friends do not concur and they explained that this is all due to some kind of a cultural issue – any Nigerians around to help us check with this?). After all, attitudes and perceptions toward corruption are dependent upon the social and economic expectations which are government-controllable to a certain extent. The smarter the use and control of these components, the more likely the public will perceive a "corruption unfriendly environment."

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Note 2: For relationship between poverty and corruption, see "Wealth, Culture, and Corruption" (Husted, 1999) and "The Link between Corruption and Poverty: Lessons from Kenya Case Studies" (African Centre for Economic Growth [ACEG], 2000)

Note 3: We take the period from 1971 to 1991 because ICAC was established in 1974 and this period would show the actual impact of the wage increase with respect to relieving of the corruption problem

Note 4: The per capita gross domestic product (GDP) at current prices of Hong Kong in 1967 was HK$12,000 (HK$4,000 at constant prices), whereas that in 1992 was HK$127,700 (HK$49,400 at constant prices). Source: "National Income Branch," Census and Statistics Department, HKSARG.

Note 5: Real wage is derived from nominal wage index by discounting changes in consumer prices. This can reflect changes in the purchasing power of wages.

Commentary and reflection pages by Raymond Cheng, PhD DPA FRSA

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COUNT ON THE STATISTICS  100% Towels (c) Daniel Chittka
Photo © Daniel Chittka

This new section contains some interesting statistics in bribe and corruption, please check back for more as we pile up our numbers!

It's statistics time!  Using n-gram: kickback, graft, bribe and corruption - Comparison of their historical occurrences from 1810 to 2009 A.D.

  The word guanxi (collocation) and meanings of bribe: Deeply rooted, disgusting, sad endings

Looking for a good book (c) Doug Logan
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tagged by area of interestBY AREA OF INTEREST
Pragmatics: Politeness trends from the historical perspective of global trade
Computer mediated communications: Social network – Came riding the waves of amazing coincidences
Language acquisition:
A critique on "A corpus driven study of the potential for vocabulary learning through watching movies"

Grammatical analysis: "When a linguist stumbled upon a Buttonwood"
Lexicon and the corpus: "John Sinclair's lexical items – an introduction"
tagged by regionBY REGION • Anything AsiaUS Presence in Asia
ChinaTaiwanHong Kong and MacauJapanKoreaSingaporeMalaysiaPhilippinesPakistanIndiaAfghanistanVietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and MyanmarTimor-Leste and IndonesiaMongoliaNew Zealand and Australia
tagged by topicsBY TOPIC • BiofuelRhino and elephant poachingAmerican movies hit China marketChina Internet censorshipChina's outward FDI opportunitiesGlobal rice yield
Island disputes in Southeast Asia | Senkakus-Diaoyu and historical findings | Dokdo-Takeshima | Spratly, Paracel, Scarborough | Kurils

For those you who don't have time to read all our news excerpts about the Asian island disputes (links above), you may find the following video, "The economic impact of a war between Japan and China", very enlightening.

© Minute MBA: More from

Free Pussy Riot!
Free Pussy Riot!

Photo © Igor Mukhin, retrieved from Wikipedia

"This trial is another example of the Kremlin's attempts to discourage and delegitimize dissent. It is likely to backfire." John Dalhuisen, Director of Amnesty International's Europe and Central Asia Programme

 More from Amnesty InternationalFree Pussy Riot

How it started – Pussy Riot Prayers, February 2012

08/17 Pussy Riot imprisoned on hooliganism charges
08/17 The only professionals in sight
08/19 Pussy Riot protesters arrested in Marseille
08/20 NZ PM – Sentence 'disproportionate'
08/20 Pussy Riot fear their kids being put in care
08/22 German supporters face criminal charges
08/22 Pussy Riot – it's carefully calibrated
08/23 Russian church-state corruption unveiled
08/23 Putin's secret weapon: The Orthodox faithful
08/24 Putin-nominated watchdog slams convictions
08/31 'Pussy Riot ritual killing', man detained
09/03 Orthodox deacon speaks over verdict
09/06 Putin denies part in 'Pussy Riot case'
09/10 Pussy Riot benefit concert draws 1,000
09/10 Gorbachev says verdict "disproportionate"
09/19 Punk group to transfer to remote penal colony
09/21 Aung San calls on Moscow to release RP
10/01 Sentence appeal delayed until Oct 10
10/10 Katya freed, 2 years for Nadya and Masha
10/16 Masha and Nadya sent to remote labor prison

BBC • Pussy Riot women begin life in prison

11/16 Merkel challanges Putin on imprisonment
11/22 Maria Alekhina transferred to solitary cell
11/28 Tolokonnikova's appeal case goes to court
12/24 Extremist videos appeal adjourned

01/15 Masha's sentence deferment denied
02/01 PR civil claim granted right to appeal
02/07 Pussy Riot files complaint with ECHR
03/06 Ombudsman asks court to overturn verdict
03/08 Protesters detained in Moscow
04/13 PR gets reprimand: parole problematic
04/21 PR defense seeks abolition of conviction
07/26 Parole denied, PR remains defiant

The Knife supporting PR at Pukkelpop

08/17 Against verdict on PR – Day of Solidarity
08/23 PR seeks mitigation of remaining sentence
GLUCK ON SOCIALISM AND CHINA Asia (c) Robert Churchill
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Professor Sidney Gluck (c) Sandi BachomI am honored to have obtained Professor Sidney Gluck's (right) permission to allow me to repost here some of his work and interview related to China and socialism. Professor Gluck is professor emertius at the New School University in New York. A classical Marxist, Gluck has been studying China for 60 years in history and modern development. He has lectured all over the U.S. and still welcomes engagement at the age of 94 – photo © Sandi Bachom


Usman Khurshid on Mike McCune's HD Monitor with Paths logo with Maartje van Caspel's Public Space
I am proud to announce that the website is now carrying the technology updates from Usman Khurshid's Usman is a network consultant and works in a mixed environment of Windows and Linux platforms. He likes to study about the latest advancements in computer technology and shares his views on his blog.

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COMING 2019 – COMPUTING CORPUS Active Network Hub (c) Phil Sigin-Lavdanski
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Oh, please do not get me wrong. This new section is not about computers, electronics or any engineering stuff, but rather I am currently constructing a new corpus based on Spectrum, the monthly publication from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers USA, from July 2007 to date. Having been a member for over 20 years since 1992, I am always fascinated by some of the terms scientists use when they talk about or envision their new inventions or methodologies. How many of them eventually come into practice? Could there be some insights we could possibly derive, from the linguistics perspective?


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