Khamis, 7 Februari 2013


1.0         INTRODUCTION

Generally, ‘Ethics’ is very important in our everyday life because it is a code of values which guide our choices and actions and determine the purpose and course of our lives. In the built environment ‘ethics’ is to sustain collaborative trust and transparency in the cultural changes in the procurement methods during the development of the built environment. Ethical framework is very important in the built environment in order to make effective and fair decisions and also develop professional values because ethics provides standards of conduct, standards that indicate how one should behave based on moral duties and virtues, which themselves are derived from principles of right and wrong. 
            Nowadays, there are many unethical behavior and practices in the built environment such as dishonesty, cheating, selfish, bribery and many others that leads to corruptions. Therefore, this project paper will only focused only on one type of the unethical behavior and practice, which is purposely to study on what is actually so-called as ‘bribery’ and ‘corruption’ in the built environment. Furthermore, this paper also discussed on the factors caused to the bribery and corruption, examples or case studies and the Islamic perspectives on the issues.


2.1       BRIBERY

2.1.1   Definition

Bribery is a payment made to a person who holds a certain authority in consideration of a misuse of that authority to gain a certain benefit for the payer, which the payer is legally and morally not entitled to get.

It occurs when a conscious attempt is made to influence another person unfairly either with specific payment or gift, or any that influence to unfair advantage. Bribery is considered as a corrupt act. There are two parties in a bribe; the bribe given and the bribe receiver.

2.1.2   Categories of Bribery Motives

  1. Instrumental Motives

The bribe giver is to ensure that enforcing officer either does not take action or act leniently towards non-compliance of a regulation, or a specified design requirement.

  1. Institutional Motives

Refer to the government policies or legal regulations that unintentionally encourage bribery. It also refers to vagueness in the conduct of the project.

  1. Social Motives

Refer to interpersonal norms, practices, pressure, and social rules that drive a person to engage in bribery.

  1. Attitudinal Motives

Refer to the individual’s work temperament (character) that leads to an inclination towards practicing bribery.

2.1.3   Examples/Case Studies

The case studies subtracted from findings by Mohd Hisham Ariffin, Lecturer from Uitm, which was presented in MiCRA 2011. The case studies are based on the interviews with construction teams. The interviewees were 16 civil engineering consultants (cis), and 18 contractors in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur. Instrumental Motives

  1. Contractor quoting a low tender to get the project and thus had to accept no profit or the thinnest of profit margins. Therefore, the cost cutting through the provision of substandard materials or work quality is used to prevent the project from becoming a loss-making venture. Once the work was discovered, bribes had to be paid out to the clerk of works or other enforcement personnel of the client and consultants to ignore or accept the substandard work or poor quality work.

  1. Subcontractor bribing the main contractor employee to obtain his approval for defective work.

  1. Main contractor had to bribe the client employee who is assigned to release funds for successful claims so that the funds are reimbursed faster than normal.

  1. Contractor bribing the employee of a QS consultant so that the employee would ‘over-measure’ the amount of work done so that the contractor is paid more that what he had done.

Interviewee 1   

“..The contractor has to give them (the enforcers) some stuff of money, so that he (sic) will help the contractor in the approval lah…or sometimes he lay down approval conditions that the contractor find difficult to comply with, right? So the contractor is forced to be on good terms with the enforcer by giving a little corruption (bribe). Then, he will cooperate with the contractor”.

Interviewee 2

“…for example a person who enforces by the book (i.e. strictly) will be falsely accused of corruption. Let’s say he is not on the take. But when he does not approve most of the contractor work, in fact every work is not approved, then he will falsely accused that he actually wants a bribe. So, they say that if he gets the bribe, the work will be approved”. Institutional Motives

  1. Some so-called bribery are considered to be actually positive cultural practice such as giving a superior party, lunch, breakfast, hampers.  This cultural practice considered as a means of maintaining good consultant-contractor relations.

Interviewee 1  

“..So if we want to define bribery, sometimes during Chinese New Year, it is normal for a Chinese person to visit and give angpows to his associates. If we rejected his offer of an angpow, he will definitely upset. But suitable to the situation, it is logical that the angpow had RM10 thousand or RM100 thousand? This example, how can it not be vague? Let us define say gifts. What is the form of the gift? What is the price limits? If a person treats another person to a drink, each gift and each service is considered bribes. Having a drink with him is also considered a bribe if the friend paid for it”. Social Motives

  1. Bribery is part of the industry’s culture. Even one wants to avoid bribery it is difficult to do so. Good relations between the parties help to smoothen and remove delays to the work process. Sometimes, the bribe is forced upon by the bribe giver.

  1. When a junior employee or subordinate does not want to entertain a demand for a bribe, a good strategy is to refer the demand to his more experienced superiors. In this way, he transfers the ethical problem to others.

Interviewee 1  

“…for example, if the contractor sees that A (i.e. the enforcer) has a car. The tyres look sorry looking. OK, so the contractor replaces those tyres with new good looking ones. Actually, A did not even ask for it. But A thinks, why refuse free good-looking tyres? He does not have spent his own money at all….” Attitudinal Motives

  1. Bribery can easily become a habit and has cautioned against ever taking a bribe. Once a person fails to resist the temptation to get a bribe, the next offer of bribe is less hard to accept and so on. Thus, it becomes a habit to accept bribes when offered or to solicit for bribes. Women are less likely to solicit for bribes because they are shyer than men.

Interviewee 1  

“…it is normal that when young people become engineers, they tend to want buy all the gadgets which are widely available today. Temptation (to young people) is very high. I know because I have young teenagers. These things cost a lot of money. (Life is) very materialistic. Now, people want material things. So sometimes, people will do anything as long as they get the things they desire….”

Interviewee 2

“I have worked long in this construction industry. So my advice (to the interviewer) is if you do not want to participate at all in bribery, do not enter the construction industry. That is my advice because you will face bribery. Confirmed! One hundred percent (probability) that you will face bribery! If you don’t, if you do not really want to face bribery, do not enter this industry. Enter another industry. Let’s say tailoring or let’s say catering”.

2.2       CORRUPTION

2.2.1   Definition

Whereas, corruption is a requesting, offering, giving or accepting, directly or indirectly, a bribe or any other undue advantage or prospect thereof which distorts the proper performance of any duty or behavior required of the recipient of the bribe.

There are two types of corruptions, an active corruption and a passive corruption. The active corruption is offering or asking for the bribe directly or indirectly, meanwhile, the passive corruption is accepting or not objecting to bribes.  

2.2.2   Categories of Corruption

According to Transparency International (TI), corruption can be categorized into four such as the followings:-

  1. Bribery

Offering of an undue award (supply side) or the demanding or receiving of a reward (demand side) in order to get favours and may be initiated by an individual or a corporation (institutional bribery). It may also be shared and secret kickbacks can be offered to certain individuals on the supply side in order to help its payment.

  1. Extortion

Is so called as blackmail where a payment is demanded where there is little choice but to comply. This is normally connected to gang or mafia activity controlling certain activities or actions in coercion (by force).

  1. Fraud

Wrongful approval of work which is substandard or other deception to add false value or payments through accounts that now do not comply with the facts.

  1. Concealment

A practice also associated with corruption and often involves the excess payment of an agent whose services are vague, who proceeds to pass on facilitation or bribe payments.

2.2.3             Why Corruption?

According to Transparency International, corruption in the built environment is due to MONEY. Based on Fewings (2009), the reasons why corruption happens due to several factors such as:

  1. Low salaries – public officials who are tempted because of a need to supplement their income.

  1. Greedy – satisfying the desire for status, influence to become rich and powerful.

  1. Sudden financial demand – being diagnosed as danger diseases which required large amount of money to cure it, or involved in accident.

  1. For approval of works – drawings approval, local authority approval

  1. To speed up payment
  2. Business survival – to hide certain problems in order to get profit.

  1. To make strict enforcer become lenient

  1. Weak religious principles – pretend to ignore the bribe while commit the bribe and do not even recognize and understand what is bribe.


Allah says in Qur’an 9:24, “love God more than business”. This shows whatever Allah says for mankind to do, mankind has to follow, and whatever Allah prevents mankind to commit, he has to prohibit. Bribery is prohibited by Allah as stated in hadith: Avoid bribery/corruption. “The one who gives and the one who receives are in Hell.” The Islamic perspective towards bribery and corruption is, they are wrong and to those commit them will get sin and anger or Allah.

Moreover, Islam also concern on HALAL and HARAM. The earnings from bribery are HARAM. Haram earnings will not get barakah from Allah.

Besides, to commit bribery and corruption leads mankind to dishonesty, unjustice and not amanah to Allah.

Another types of corruptions besides bribery is fraud. Fraud is one of act in the corruption. Islam promotes to do not deal in fraud and be transparent, be fair and just in all your dealings (al-Mutaffifin 1-3; al-Isra’ 35) Allah says: “Deal not unjustly and you shall not be dealt with unjustly.” (Qur’an 83: 1-4) Qur’an also condemns the people of the Prophet Shu’ayb for their unjust business practices. (al-Shu’ara’ 177-185).

Based on the interviews, it can be seen how bad corruption in construction in Malaysia is. There should be action to be taken in order to minimize and delete all those bribery and corruption. The knowledge and exposure on how bribery occurs, what so-called bribery is very important in order to enhance the self awareness on reminding self to prevent and avoid to involve with it. Sometimes, people not clear with what so called bribery, because it occurs in vagueness, become habit, become culture.

The existing regulation, rules, funds and agency to prevent bribery and corruption should be the secondary rules to enforce the Islamic stand on bribery and corruption. The main rule, regulations, to prevent from bribery and corruption is the Islamic foundation on the bribery and corruption. If from the beginning in the construction (built environment), the knowledge, course, training, self awareness was main concern, there will be no problem of such bribery and construction, the problem can be little in cases which may be commit by non-muslim. It is better to prevent from the beginning rather than to cure.


The bribery and corruption are the ethical problems in our built environment. There are varies motives to bribe and to do corruption in the built environment. The bribery is due to four types of motives which are instrumental, institutional, social and attitudinal motives whereas, the corruption including bribery, extortion, fraud and concealment. The reasons of the occurrence of bribery and corruption are because of, low salaries, greedy, sudden financial demand, work approval, to speed up payment, business survival, to make strict enforcer to become lenient and weak religious principles. Bribery and corruption are prohibited in Islam, they (those who commit them) will be throwing to Hell, their earnings are haram and no barakah from Allah, they create unjustice, and not amanah. Although there were many rules, regulations and funds imposed to those who commit bribery and corruption, but still out there cases occur on the same issues. It is not easy to cure the diseases but better to prevent it. In this situation, self awareness and religious stand is very important to nature back the culture practice of bribe and corruption in the built environment.


Fewings, P. (2009). Ethics for the Built Environment (chapter 10, p. 243). Taylor & Francis: Oxon.
Spahic Omer. (2011). Lecture notes: Values, Ethics and Built Environment. KAED:IIUM.
Mohd Hisham Ariffin. Conference paper. 10th Management in Construction Researchers (MiCRA) Conference 2011 in Kulliyyah of Architecture and Environmental Design (KAED), International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM). 26 – 27 July 2011.