A Silver Bar Tears Up the Paper

Call it an ancient wisdom that yields serious consequences when applied in Australia.

Call it an ancient wisdom that yields serious consequences when applied in Australia.

Comments about this post on ABC Open 500 Words – Advice.

<<Facts, pictures and video clips related to this story – Corruption in health, education, commerce, transport, immigration,… in communist Vietnam>>

I can’t remember exactly when I first heard the Vietnamese proverb: “A silver bar tears up the paper” but it was repeated so often in dramas, comedies, newspapers and Vietnamese literature lessons, … The proverb means that money can break protocols, prohibit justice, bend the laws, …

The powerful lesson transmitted by the proverb was entrenched deeply in my mind as I witnessed what went on around me, especially under the tyranny of Communism.

My Chinese neighbours told me that bribery had helped their sons avoid conscription during the Vietnam War, as well as during the war between Vietnam and China in 1979.

Newspapers in South Vietnam before 1975 sometimes broke news of Baccalaureate-selling scandals among the education officials. Nearly any degrees can be bought more easily under Communism now, yet no scandals would ever surface on any newspapers.

While I was expelled from the Polytechnics University after my failed attempt to escape Vietnam, a university official offered to salvage my place if Mum gave them several taels of gold. I stopped Mum from doing it; I didn’t want to go back.

Other families of former Saigon’s regime officers succeeded in obtaining freedom for their husbands imprisoned in the communist jails, while Mum was cheated, and lost 20 taels of gold because she didn’t meet the “right person” to bribe my father out of prison.

Before 30/4/1975, my husband’s auntie married into a family whose wholesale gold tael business Kim Hoang, coming second only to Kim Thanh in the South Vietnam, but their sale number ranked in first. During the period the bourgeoisie was eradicated by the Communists in 1978, his auntie’s family was spared from having their jewelry and money confiscated, and also avoided being sent to the new economic zones and doing hard labour. It was all due to the efforts my father-in-law made finding a broker to bribe the head of the communist party of Saigon. In the meantime, his auntie’s next door neighbour, who only had a small vegetable stall in the market, didn’t escape the “robbery”. Ironically, my father-in-law who had ceased working as a jeweller many years ago lost everything due to a rogue neighbour who dobbed him in and the whole family moved to live in a rural area.

When I came back to Vietnam after thirty years, my father-in-law hinted that we should put $5 inside our passports to avoid any problems with the Vietnamese customs officers, but my husband and I didn’t heed his advice. Seeing no money, the officer bluntly asked us: “Brother and sister, don’t you have anything for me so I can buy a cup of coffee?” We played dumb and smiled at his “joke”, so we were kept standing around for most of an hour as he cited the various, imagined problems with our visas and passports. It is well-known that customs “punishments” cause many people grief, as visitors would have their luggage stolen because they weren’t present at the baggage carousel.

I always feel disgusted by the corruption in the society and never want to help the practice grow. I also feel proud that my father – a man of high integrity and in power before the Saigon Fall – didn’t get tangled up in it.

I am glad I now live in a country where bribing a policeman to dodge the traffic fine wouldn’t get me out of trouble – rather the opposite. In the corporate world, my colleague was counselled when he asked another colleague to speed up the process of his friend’s application. None the less, corruption at a high level and of high volume still occurs in this country, but justice always catches up with the criminals no matter how powerful they were or when it happened.

Dirty money, happy money,
Corrupt officials live with glee!
Australia sure has justice,
To bring fairness to the people,
To make the criminals dwindle,
And the nation profitable.
Corruption can’t be norm basis,
Yet the Communists are comfy,
Dirty money, happy money,
Corrupt officials live with glee!
(Letrilla-style poem)

Image credit
by midorisyu.

Call it an ancient wisdom that can hardly be truthful in Australia.

Call it an ancient wisdom that can hardly be truthful in Australia.

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