• Tue
  • Oct 21, 2014
  • Updated: 3:40pm
My Take
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 January, 2013, 3:49am

Jackie Chan: a buffoon with a point?

Is America "the most corrupt" country in the world?

This statement in the affirmative by action star Jackie Chan has started an online storm, sparking more than 250 readers' responses on the Post website and heated discussions elsewhere.

I am quite intrigued. In substance if not in style, what he said is very similar to a speech the main character made at the end of British comic star Sacha Baron Cohen's The Dictator: "Imagine if America was a dictatorship. You could let 1 per cent of the people have all the nation's wealth. You could help your rich friends get richer by cutting their taxes and bailing them out when they gamble and lose. You could ignore the needs of the poor for health care and education. Your media would appear free, but would secretly be controlled by one person and his family.

"You could wiretap phones. You could torture foreign prisoners. You could have rigged elections. You could lie about why you go to war. You could fill your prisons with one particular racial group and no one would complain. You could use the media to scare the people into supporting policies that are against their interests."

An exaggeration, but basically true! OK, Cohen has a special genius for playing various buffoons, while Chan is a buffoon. Maybe Cohen's dictatorial character didn't mean it. But what he said is readily acknowledged and recognised by many people.

Chan was wrong to say "the most corrupt", but if he had said "a most corrupt country", then that becomes eminently debatable.

Here is what Simon Johnson, an MIT professor and ex-IMF chief economist, wrote: "The fact that our American oligarchy operates not by bribery or blackmail, but by the soft power of access and ideology, makes it no less powerful. We may have the most advanced political system in the world, but we also have its most advanced oligarchy."

And, of course, no one denies China is terribly corrupt, not least its ruling elite. Different countries and systems are corrupt in different ways. To me, there is no question that the political systems of the world's two largest economies are corrupt. The real question is: which system is resilient enough to self-correct without collapsing?

Share

Related topics

More on this story

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive
 
 

 

21

This article is now closed to comments

Asynsis
Chan is both right & wrong.
Like so many things with Chimerica.
Corruption is more democratic in China, less so in the US.
Democracy vrs Corruption - they're inversely proportional. Corruption is ubiquitous & therefore ironically more democratic, piecemeal and demotically distributed in China - but more authoritarian, egregious and elitist in the US - two systems, same human nature expressed in different ways within the varying constraints of those cultures & systems.
Ordinary people can routinely bend the rules and participate in corruption in China, it's a given.
In the US, only the elite can subvert the laws, the silent majority have to toe the line and play by the rules.
So which system is least unfair?
To paraphrase Gore Vidal on the US:
There is only one party, the property party.
Funny how that works for both China and the USA too.
SpeakFreely
Well, sounds like everybody(including our dear Jackie) are trying to justify "corruption" citing US is the most corrupted country. Ok, let me take you to another level. This is a known fact and many cases you probably heard or saw hard cash transaction in Hk for properties that some brought in 10s of million hard currency cash for these big ticket items. Would you or HkMA or ICAC ever suspect about these money? And do a trace on it? Never! In fact we all welcome these money!
What I am trying to say is that you can argue HK is the most "corrupted" place in the world allowing this happening . Is our government not saying anything about this as not wanting to upset our developers? Should we argue this is a "corrupted government"? Legally they had not. But....
How about that if you want to twisted the definition of "corruption" vs. "corrupted government" argument?
SpeakFreely
I tend to agree both US n China government are corrupted ideological. In fact HK government probably most corrupted in the whole planet if you argue they take all our money and put into the pockets of the developers? Right?
But Jackie can comfortably critize US in mainland soil, can he dare to critize China in China soil (for things he dislike about China politics. Assumed he had protest in june 4 years ago, would he dare to speak up now about the incident in mainland soil?). You can argue US is most currupted place, but at least Jackie, Alex, and you, and me can speak up in US soil or any free countries about anything we want to speak about.
Do you think this is a good acid test for currupted government?
scmpbeijing1
Is there really any question about which country is more self-resilent? Mr. Lo, are you optimistic about China's ability to reform? Could you write as freely in Beijing as you could in Hong Kong or New York?
SpeakFreely
To the well off and complacent HK people, they can't distinguish between "corrupted government " and real corruption. They are probably right that all governments are corrupted, but they mostly missed the points as they all never live in a real corrupted country and many are making money out of corrupted countries so they have to say something good about those countries. This is what Chan trying to do.
SpeakFreely
You can redefine "corruption" in whatever way you want to redefine. But there is an acid test you can easily do to check the level of corruption. How? How many people ( in that country) keep cash or paying hard cash for purchasing big ticket items (eg. property) vs. keep their money in a legitimate bank account (not money laundering type). I buy property with cash but using banking wiring but not cash cash as my money is clean. Simple. No need to argue.
SpeakFreely
What I'm trying to make my point is the different between corruption and corrupted government. Corruption can be measured by hard numbers how many people are getting money illegally. Corrupted government is an ideology type of argument. You can in fact argue HK is the most corrupted place in the world as all our wealth goes to the developers? Our richest man in HK are all developers, right? Our government is corrupted in the sense that they made the decision consciously or unconsciously corrupting the majority of the population exploiting us too, right?
captam
@"The real question is: which system is resilient enough to self-correct without collapsing?"
Yes this is the root question.
And the answer is that Chinese system WILL survive because they do self-examine and self-correct . It takes time, but ultimately the Confucian values which the CCP has inherited influence political moves leading to corrections. Leaders of Western democratic parties lack these self-examination skills and have to wait until they are deposed before they reflect on "mistakes" . Even then, these are blamed on others within their party or because of having inherited a broken system from a previous administration.
scmpbeijing1
Are you joking? The CCP self-examines and self-corrects? Give me some examples.
Camel
I do not blame you for your ignorance as many does not expect goodwill and good cause from the CCP. The whole way China is going from the opening till now is a complete, steady and still lasting self-reflection, self-examination and self-correction. Still not perfect but trying to be.

Pages

 
 
 
 
 

Login

SCMP.com Account

or