Tuesday, January 6, 2015

HIV Epedamic in Battambang, Cambodia is a failure of the Government

This morning I heard again from a radio news that HIV infected population increases to 230 people in Roka Commune. Government and NCHADS still refused to inform their figure, reasoning that they are waiting for the confirmed test overseas.

I am questioning that the HIV tests of more than 70,000 PLHIV since 1990's were not confirmed yet, as there blood sample was not sent overseas. MoH is telling that their testing capacity is not reliable. (?)

Local Health Center Chief said he didn't know if it is his role to monitor and report the unlicensed doctor. OD director said he didn't know the unlicensed doctor, who was accused for HIV spreading through dirty syringes, who had run his clinic for more than a decade.

I wonder who dare to take responsibility.

MoH Minister, PHD director, OD director, commune chief, district governor, provincial governor, ... and who else you should blame?

I claim for their responsibility, respectively. I blame government. I criticise NGO intervention that they have not done anything with private clinics like this.

However, there is no conclusion yet about how the epidemic has happened. Perhaps more than the blame on a local unlicensed doctor.

Wish to hear your thoughts too.

Monday, January 5, 2015

My Favorite Quotes, from Dale Carnegies’ How to Win Friends and Influence People

“Are you bored with life? Then throw yourself into some work you believe in with all your heart, live for it, die for it, and you will find happiness that you had thought could ever be yours.”

“Do the hard jobs first. The easy jobs will take care of themselves.”

“Do the thing you fear to do and keep on doing it… that is the quickest and surest way ever yet discovered to conquer fear.”

“If you want to conquer fear, don't sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”

“Feeling sorry for yourself, and your present condition, is not only a waste of energy but the worst habit you could possibly have.”

“Happiness doesn’t depend on any external conditions it is governed by our mental attitude.”

“If you can’t sleep, then get up and do something instead of lying there worrying. It’s the worry that gets you, not the lack of sleep.”

“Instead of worrying about that people say of you, why not spend time trying to accomplish something they will admire.”

“Only the prepared speaker deserves to be confident.”

“Tell the audience what you’re going to say, say it; then tell them what you’ve said.”

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Corruption Created by Social Norm and Political Will

Corruption is the use of public or given power for private gain. There are many forms including bribery, fraud, extortion, influencing peddling, kickbacks, cronyism, patronage, embezzlement, vote buying, and election rigging. It is an automatic thinking of civil servants that corruption is acceptable and a norm. 

Corruption caused by social norm:
Cambodians, like many other high-context societies, believe that public officers will lose respect from others if they do not use their power to regard their relatives, friends or party. They will be treated as an outsider if they do not favour their superior and group. If they are given gift and they do not accept, they will be judged impolite and disrespect. Therefore, they perpetuate corruption automatically.

Corruption caused by institutional culture:
In many cases, getting a job in public sector is market – buying and selling jobs. People would like to get into this sector, which offers low salary package, because they could have sustained salary for the rest of their life and retirement package. They do not have to commit full time service to get full time pay and can earn ‘extra’ money. This practice has overtime transformed into an institutional culture and systematic practice.

Corruption is allowed by politicians:
If it is a culture which everyone knows, why they cannot change it? Simple answer is that there is no commitment to change from management and political leaders. They offer low salary, and it is an excuse that they allow corrupt practice

But, normal officials earn little from corruption and high rank officials get more, so why there many allow it to happen even the gain from corruption is not equally distributed? It is the result of both institutional culture and political will. If they break out this circle, everyone will lose. If they walk out of the circle, they will get nothing. If they remain in the position, they will get salary, retirement package, and some extra money. If they report the case, who will break the circle; everyone is corrupted.

It is political will. Most officials, if not all, can contribute to political parties for political campaigns and other activities to gain political support for the party. Low rank officials contribute little and high officials contribute more. Therefore, it a win-win strategy for both the political party and public officials.

Corruption happens due to impunity:

It is political will that corruption is not penalized. It is institutional culture that corruption is not criticized. It is the justice system which is controlled by the ruling party that does not take independent action against corruption. Culture of impunity leads to corruption cycle which never ends.

How can we break corruption cycle? 

to happen so that their official can make some gain to substitute their low pay.
Since corruption is politically allowed, it requires huge amount of simultaneous actions. Below are some examples. Each action requires active participation, commitment, and motivation and must be done over and over again.
From individuals:
  • Understanding corruption
  • Promise not to pay or accept bribe or conduct corruption
  • Promote a culture to embarrass corrupted people
  • Do not corrupt, and do not corrupt
  • Convince friends and family members not to corrupt
  • Tolerate with the delay or difficulty in accessing to public service as the result of paying to bribe or kickbacks.- Do not corrupt and continue to commit to it
  • From organizations/institutions:
  • Create understanding about corruption
  • Create management commitment
  • Make and implement anti-corruption strategy and mechanism with zero-tolerant behavior
  • Create transparent, effective and efficient system
  • Commit to implement and implement the system and strategy
  • Continue to commit and implement
From politicians:

No way they will change their mind unless they understand and there is a mechanism to take them down if they conduct corruption. There is no way politicians will change when the change jeopardize their financial capacity of their party, unless there is a law and justice system to take them down.

In India, zero-rupee notes were published and used by activists to pay to those who ask for bribes. Citizen’s voice to embarrass political leaders who are corrupt or allow corruption happening.

Corruption is rooted by social norm and allowed by powerful people for their own benefits. It requires total actions from every one to stop it. We must believe that corruption can be reduced to a minimum level that development will be fast and sustainable.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Crusade against Shisha is replicating a lesson of failure

War against drug is wasting money: 
War against drugs is already known an aggressive approach and a failure in many ways. First, it is too expensive. Secondly, when the drug dealers are cracked down, the organized smaller groups blossomed, and black market and distribution system created; therefore, they are even harder to be cracked down. Thirdly, if a dealer is arrested, the other dealers are still working and at most, they shift to a different location, village, district, or city. Fourthly, war against drugs give an opportunity to law enforcement officers or even group of officers to corrupt and stay behind the dealers. This approach will still require continual fights forever.
On Tuesday 25, 2014, on the Annual Meeting of NACD, his excellence Meas Vyrith told Cambodia daily1 that in about a month NACD and provincial/municipal authorities have cracked down 90 bars which supply Shisha. Like attacking drug dealers, in 2012, 1,788 people were arrested. In 2013, 1,830 were arrested. 2 So there will be around 2,000 people will be likely to be arrested in 2014, assuming the drug authorities keep doing their good job attacking those people. How much have they spent to arrest those people? We don't know.

Why Shisha was allowed, and then seized?
Who allowed Shisha material and drugs to be supplied in Cambodia in the first place? Was that the government? Who allowed those bars or clubs to sell Shisha very openly? Was that the authority?
Then without any law saying Shisha is illegal, the drug authority and local authorities started smashing Shisha down aggressively.
Yes, it is harmful, but we need a better way to deal with it:
I agreed that Shisha is harmful, like other drugs or the legalized cigarettes. Many research studies proof the substances used in Shisha are harmful. An hour of smoking Shisha equals to smoking 100 cigarettes. More importantly, Shisha attracts teenagers who always like to taste new things.
However, lessons from war against drugs have shown that aggressive intervention stops only the fire we see in the air. The burning part is always hidden and will be spread to different locations. Then the black markets will blossom. They will then require costly and more difficult mechanism to control. They will create opportunity for corruption to the law enforcement officers who always stay behind.

Legalize light drugs, tax them, and get money for education:
What the government should do is to acknowledge that drug uses and dealing happen everywhere on earth. Then, legalize light drugs by developing law and policies to control them, and tax them. Of course, education is still needed to inform those who are not aware to understand the harms of those drugs. Just like we are educating the harms of drugs; while war against drugs is happening. But by doing this, the government can educate in a massive way, because they have money from taxing those drugs, and the saving from not fighting against drugs. Harm reduction program has to be there too as rights and social support program.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Why not declare war on illicit drug?

It is already commonly known that illicit drugs can be harmful to users and profitable to the criminals who sell them, so why not simply stop drug trafficking by strictly enforcing the law?

The US-led ‘war on drugs’, which promotes strict supply reduction at the expense of demand and harm minimization, has failed (just like its antecedent, the prohibition against alcohol in the US in 1930s). Aggressively prohibitive policies have resulted in increases in the quantities trafficked, reductions in their prices and increases in their potency.

Other countries with draconian drug policies emphasizing punitive measures including death penalties operate in a number of South East Asian nations but these too continue to have drug problems. As an exception, Sweden’s approach which promotes a drug-free society and total rejection of drugs seems to have better results but Sweden is an outlier in many of its practices.

As a response to the failures of the ‘war on drugs’, some countries have tried more liberal approaches through increased focus on demand reduction and harm minimization measures including the decriminalization of some or all illicit drugs, as Portugal did in 2001. The results of these policies have been mixed but, interestingly and contrary to critics’ expectations, general drug use in Portugal has not increased significantly since 2001. Again, this proves that the context is important.

An emerging but controversial issue is the call for the relaxation of the laws on the so-called soft drugs such as marihuana.

Source: "Starting the drug trafficking debate in Argentina." Carnegie Mellon University Australia, May 2013. It is contributed by 12 Master of Science in Public Policy and Management students, including myself.