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 Thursday, September 19 2019 6:05am Hongkong Time

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Behavior: How reality was created

While steady improvement of the economy can be a catalyst in changing people's attitude, the behavior of the people can also be a decisive factor. Consider the following figure (Figure 4):

Relating Geert Hofstede's Power Distance, Individualism and Corruption Perception Index (CPI) of 40 countries
Figure 4. Relating Power Distance, Individualism and CPI of 40 countries [9] (Source: (1) Hofstede, G., 1991, Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind: Intercultural Cooperation and its Importance for Survival, McGraw Hill, New York. (2) TI, 2004.)

In the above figure (Figure 4), we picked 40 countries, located them using Hofstede's power distance [10] theory (Hofstede, 1997), and mapped them with their corresponding CPI values (Transparency International [TI], 2004). The figure demonstrates, visually, how the CPI (the "perception") might be related [11] to the chemistry of the government-society interaction and the effectiveness of the anti-corruption strategies as a function of the perceived strength of legislation, political will, and the degree of obedience toward the law (ok, for those who disagree, I know I owe you a statistically sound explanation... and which I will be doing later on) We then come up [12] with the following (Table 1):

e.g. European, Aussies, American etc.
e.g. Asian, Nigerian, Mexican etc.
Government respects the independence of the people. AC agencies use reactive measures. The society generally respects their leader(s). AC agencies uses proactive measures.
Society's initiative is considered very important (society-centered). AC is geared toward prevention and education, not operations. Order of the society is very important (public order-centered). AC is geared toward strong and proactive operations.
Government expect people to behave in order to stop corruption. People generally expect the government to pass stringent laws for them to follow.
People are encouraged to report spontaneously. People speak up only when asked by the AC agency or being ordered to.
People generally think individually as to whether they will or will not take or give bribes. Education fails for those who believe corruption is acceptable (because corruption then becomes a low risk crime). People tend to always accept (or forced to accept) what the government says. People will refrain from taking or giving bribes altogether, if they happen to accept the law (high risk crime).
Effective AC strategies depend on two-way communication in society. Effective AC strategies are more likely to be results of excellence of the AC agencies. In case the government is corrupted, AC policy fails altogether.
In conflicts between the government and the people, the decision often goes to the people's side. In conflicts between the government and the people, the government makes the call and often forces whatever it wants with the laws.
Lenient policies are more liked than the stringent ones, meaning self-governance (as well as education) is crucial. Stringent policies are more respected (and feared) than the lenient ones, making operations effective.

Table 1: Power Distance and Anti-Corruption ("AC") – The Two Extremes

It is important to remember that the above table (Table 1) only gives a general description of the two extreme environments and characteristics and that in reality the majority of countries would lie somewhere in between. While some of the societies may find either the small or the large power distance description familiar some others may identify themselves with features described in both categories. Austria ("AT") and Israel ("IL"), for instance, would be closest to our small power distance society model whereas the Philippines ("PH") and Venezuela ("VE") would look like the opposite type. Countries like Italy ("IT") or Spain ("ES"), nevertheless, fall somewhere in between these two (Polak 2001).

Now, let us take a look at the vertical axis of Figure 4. According to Hofstede (2001), societies on the individualist end (the bottom part) are those in which the "ties between individuals are loose and everyone is expected to look after him/herself and his/her immediate family." On the collectivist [13] end (the top part), we expect to find societies in which "people from birth onwards are integrated into strong, cohesive in-groups, often extended families with uncles, aunts and grandparents which continue protecting them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty." Similar to the power distance case, different people from any certain country may not fall into the same category.

So what does this have to do with Hong Kong?

The power distance theory and the individualism analysis provided an explanation as to why the three-pronged approach as adopted by the Hong Kong ICAC only worked very successfully in Hong Kong but had never really worked that successfully when other cities tried to do a copycat. For example, in Zambia (labeled "ZM" in Figure 4), a country that also lies in the large power distance region like Hong Kong, they did not benefit much when they attempted to copy directly the Hong Kong legislation model while trying to fight their own corruption problem (Bakare, Banda, Cheng, Ekwekwuo, & Villanueva, 2004). The reason behind, which is also very much applicable to Nigeria ("NG"), is because the two countries are both highly diversified into large numbers (over two hundred and fifty [14] in Nigeria) of clans or ethnic groups and that these ethnic groups neither speak nor communicate through a common dialect (US Central Intelligence Agency [USCIA], 2003) – the only language that they use to communicate across ethnic groups is English – and, sadly, which is the left behinds of the former British occupants. This has led to the wrongful formation and implementation of the preventive policies against corruption in both Zambia and Nigeria because the authorities were targeting individuals in the nation as a whole – yet they should have targeted the corruption problem among different clans or ethnic groups (if you disagee, please let me know). Technically speaking, both the Zambian and the Nigerian societies are "compounds" (not mixtures) of individual small power distance ethic domains and should not therefore be treated as one single large power distance society. It was only because the power distance values were derived from surveys of individuals that resulted in both Zambia and Nigeria being listed as large power distance societies – the large power distance societies only exist within ethnic groups, not across.

Consequently, the result of such a miscalculation (at the policy level) is that the anti-corruption policies in some of these countries were considered as policies that interfere with the nationals' traditional culture, norms and values. And, in the case of Nigeria, such type of policy had incorrectly "damned Nigeria and its nationals as matchless in greed and corruption" (Udofia (2003) and Mangalwadi (1998)) – the last sort of response a heartful policy maker would want to see.

Back to our analysis of Hong Kong, the number of households and the average size of households in Hong Kong had been recorded to go in opposite directions through the 20 years from 1971 to 1992. The number of households increased from 857,000 in 1971 to over 1,640,000 in 1992 whereas the average size of a household dropped from around 4.5 persons in 1971 to 3.4 persons in 1992 [15]. And most importantly, no matter how many Chinese dialects there are, almost everyone speaks Cantonese in Hong Kong – these statistics now happen to explain why proactive anti-corruption measures, stringent laws plus an effective judiciary system, and high profile anti-corruption propaganda exercises have become the necessary keys to successful anti-corruption work in this large power distance, collectivist Hong Kong [16].

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Note 9: Countries are labeled according to the ISO 3166-1 Alpha-2 country codes. For details, please see

Note 10: According to Hofstede (1986), power distance describe to what extent members of a society are willing to accept the inequality, and so: small power distance means that the extent to which less powerful people accept the social inequality is small, that is members of a society are treated as equal as possible in an unequal society; large power distance means that a big inequality in power is considered by the less powerful members of a society as normal.

Note 11: Idea adapted from an analogy of the teacher-student and student-teacher model (Hofstede, 1986).

Note 12: For details, see Polak's (2001) path of analysis in "Power Distance Dimension and Methodology."

Note 13: According to Hofstede (2001), the word "collectivism" in this sense has no political meaning: it refers to the group, not to the state. Again, the issue addressed by this dimension is an extremely fundamental one, regarding all societies in the world.

Note 14: According to USCIA (2003), Nigeria, which is Africa's most populous country, is composed of more than 250 ethnic groups; the following are the most populous and politically influential: Hausa and Fulani 29%, Yoruba 21%, Igbo (Ibo) 18%, Ijaw 10%, Kanuri 4%, Ibibio 3.5%, Tiv 2.5%.

Note 15: Source: (1) General Household Survey and (2) Reports on Population Censuses, Census and Statistics Department, HKSAR Government.

Note 16: Notes: Hong Kong was a collectivist society in the 1960s to 70s but has gradually changed to an individualist society – meaning that corruption will become more of a problem in the years to come.

Commentary and reflection pages by Raymond Cheng, PhD DPA FRSA

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COUNT ON THE STATISTICS  100% Towels (c) Daniel Chittka
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This new section contains some interesting statistics in bribe and corruption, please check back for more as we pile up our numbers!

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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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