Does heat breed hardship?

13 Jan 2024 04:00pm
Pix for illustration purpose only. - FILE PIX
Pix for illustration purpose only. - FILE PIX

IN September 2023, Siwakorn Saibua, a police officer in Thailand, was fatally shot multiple times during a police gathering.

While incidents of violence are unfortunately common, the circumstances of Siwakorn's death were particularly shocking, given the presence of over 20 other police officers at the scene, making it a seemingly secure environment.

Upon investigation, it was discovered that Siwakorn had declined a request from an influential person to promote his brother, leading to speculation that his death might be connected to his refusal to partake in corruption.

Such reports suggest a concerning spread of corruption within high-ranking officers.

While Malaysia has not reached such levels of corruption, the possibility of reports emerging cannot be ruled out.

Malaysia currently ranks 61st out of approximately 180 countries in the Corruption Perceptions Index, a relatively low position.

In comparison, Thailand is at 101st place, while Singapore leads the ranking in fifth place.

This places Malaysia in a position similar to many countries in Africa and other parts of Asia, often not considered role models for progress.

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Despite being a perception-based index with questionable calculation methodologies, the Corruption Perceptions Index reflects negatively on Malaysia.

While it may sound peculiar, could the weather contribute to corruption in many Asian and African countries?

With Singapore as an exception, many of these high-corruption countries are close to the equator, experiencing slightly warmer climates, often characterised by poverty and political conflicts.

Although Malaysia's political conflicts may not be as severe as those in some African or Arab nations, the country faces various political-related issues continuously.

Comparatively, less corrupt countries with cooler climates, such as Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, tend to be wealthier and experience political stability.

The correlation between hot weather and criminal activities is standard, with hot climates often associated with increased restlessness and irritability, potentially leading to aggressive behavior.

However, limited research explores whether hot weather is also a contributing factor to corruption.

Corruption is generally linked to power, which is, in turn, related to wealth.

Living in a hot country with almost equal day and night lengths may provide more opportunities for discussions and engagement in corrupt practices.

Like many in Scandinavia, colder countries experience shorter daylight hours, potentially complicating various activities.

Considering these factors, it might be prudent not to solely attribute our struggles with corruption to weak enforcement or police efforts.

The weather could be another influencing factor.

Therefore, persistent challenges in addressing corruption, despite changes in government, may have roots beyond administrative failures.

The weather, traditionally associated with floods and natural disasters, may also play a role in shaping societal attitudes, potentially contributing to a culture of greed and materialism.

While speculative, these considerations invite reflection on the multifaceted aspects that may influence the prevalence of corruption in a given society.

Dr Mohd Awang Idris is a lecturer and researcher in the field of psychology at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Malaya, and an Associate Professor Adjunct at PSC Global Observatory, University of South Australia.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of Sinar Daily.