Bribes are sometimes given as gifts during Tet, but they are also a year-round problem, Dang Ngoc Dinh, director of the Center for Community Support Development Studies, told the Tien Phong (Vanguard) newspaper.
Tet is drawing near, and some people are worried that this is an occasion where bribes could be given under the pretense of being Tet gifts. Your centre has conducted some surveys on corruption in Viet Nam. What's your opinion on giving and receiving Tet gifts?
Yes, Tet is an occasion for people to give gifts to each other. But bribery takes place all year round. For example, it could be camouflaged as a present at a wedding party. That's why we should not equate Tet presents with acts of bribery.
In Viet Nam, Tet is a special occasion for people to give gifts to each other. This is a normal practise in other countries, too. However, I should say, corruption has become a plague in our country and it has become very serious and complicated. That's why certain people have abused the occasion by giving or other items of value to influence the actions of an official.
So how can we differentiate Tet gifts from bribery?
I should say it is very difficult to differentiate gifts from bribes. Only the givers and recipients know what are inside the packages. Of course, we all agree that Tet presents are totally different from bribee. Tet gifts are just symbolic of the giver's feelings for the recipient. It should not be calculated in terms of value. But bribery must involve items of value. Corruption is still rampant, so it's not easy to deter acts of bribery.
The Government has prohibited the use of public money or assets for gifts. What's your position on this policy?
I support the Government policy. This is a good way to prevent the wrong use of taxpayers' money. In reality, public money is rarely used for bribery in our country. The majority of people giving bribes use their own money or their company's money to buy the gifts. Of course, after getting what they want, they look for ways to recover the costs.
The Government Inspectorate has established a hotline to receive tips on any bribes being given to Government officials during Tet. Do you think this is an effective tool?
It is better than nothing. But I don't think it is an effective measure. As we all know, acts of bribery are illegal. That's why both the givers and recipients want to hide them from the public. Having an anti-corruption hotline is good, but what's more important is having effective anti-corruption measures in place.— VNS