Murphy's Law: The Lady Vanishes

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September 26, 2007: A murder trial in Malaysia has inadvertently revealed the extent of corruption in the purchase of weapons for the Malaysian military. The murder victim, a Mongolian woman working as a translator for the Malaysian government, became the lover of a close friend of the corrupt Defense Minister. The Mongolian lady got greedy, and tried to blackmail her boyfriend for half a million dollars. If he didn't pay, she would go public with details of $300 million in payoffs by Russian, French and Malaysian arms suppliers. The blackmail attempt backfired, and the Mongolian woman was shot dead, and her body blown to bits with explosives. The use of explosives only the military had access to led to an investigation which led to this trial.

What's not surprising is that there is corruption in the procurement of military equipment. This is a tradition that goes back thousands of years (and that's just the written record). But in many parts of the world, like Southeast Asia, it amounts to 10-20 percent of the cost of the weapons, equipment or supplies. This is particularly the case if the weapons are brought from abroad. If there are competing suppliers, everyone knows that, whoever offers the highest bribe, gets the sale.

The governments involved do not like this sort of thing to be made public. For then they have to at least go through the motions of eliminating the corrupt practices. All this means is that some bribes may be lost (not paid) or delayed. But its annoying if your accustomed to plundering in peace.

 


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