Method: This is a classic case of being trial by the media - based purely on hear-say, no evidence is required
Australia legal frame work on foreign bribery:
A search through the Australian Government website on law against foreign bribery (www.ag.gov.au/foreignbribery) produced the following information:
“Australia has a wide-ranging anti-corruption system. We signed the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) on 9 December 2003 and ratified it on 7 December 2005. Since then Australia has implemented the mandatory requirements, and some non-mandatory requirements, prescribed in the provisions of UNCAC. The Australian Government believes UNCAC is an important step in combating corruption.
Australia’s approach to fighting corruption is based on four key elements:
• constitutional safeguards
• accountability and transparency
• criminalisation of corruption, and
• international cooperation and technical assistance.”
Under the subheading ‘Criminalisation of corruption’, it is stated that:
“Australia has a strong legislative regime criminalising corrupt behaviour. Australia also has strategies in place to ensure that these laws are understood and enforced. Corruption offences cover a very broad range of crimes, including bribery, embezzlement, nepotism and extortion. For this reason Australia’s corruption offences are not contained in any single Act of Parliament.
Instead, different types of corruption are dealt with in different pieces of State / Territory and federal legislation.
At the federal level, for example:
• domestic bribery and foreign bribery offences are contained in the Criminal Code Act 1995”
Again, it is stated in the website that:
“Australia ratified the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions in 1999. In order to comply with the OECD Convention, Australia introduced a new offence into the Criminal Code Act 1995. Division 70 of the Criminal Code creates the offence of bribing a foreign public official. Any person or company who commits the offence when in Australia can be prosecuted in Australia, and any Australian citizen, resident or company incorporated in Australia who commits the offence, whether or not the offence is committed in Australia, can also be prosecuted in Australia.”
Again, it was asserted that:
“Australia identified this as a potential area for improvement and embarked on a campaign to:
• raise public awareness that foreign bribery is a criminal offence with significant penalties
• encourage organisations to implement policies and procedures for reporting allegations of bribery, and
• increase the level of reporting of allegations of foreign bribery.
The key messages of the public awareness campaign are that:
• bribing a foreign public official is a crime with serious consequences
• bribery damages the global economy, and
• allegations of foreign bribery should be reported to the AFP.
The campaign targets government and non-government organisations, including large companies, small- and medium-sized enterprises and professional bodies”.
Again, under the subheading ‘International cooperation and technical assistance’, it was stated that:
“Corruption is a form of transnational crime that has no respect for, or loyalty to, nations, boundaries or sovereignty and is a critical restraint on development that affects countries throughout the Asia – Pacific region. For these reasons, Australia recognises that corruption cannot be dealt with in isolation—a collaborative approach to developing domestic and international techniques to combat corruption is required. Through AusAID’s, ‘good governance’ activities, Australia is actively involved in assisting countries in the
Asia – Pacific region combat corruption.”
Again “International legal cooperation ensures that corrupt individuals will not be able to exploit international boundaries to avoid prosecution. The Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act 1987, the Mutual Assistance in Business Regulation Act 1992, the Extradition Act 1988 and the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 enable Australia to
cooperate with other countries to prevent, investigate and prosecute offenders”
“Australia recognises that corruption is not just one country’s problem and, in recognition of this, is an active participant in international initiatives, including:
• ratifying UNCAC on 7 December 2005
• ratifying the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime on 27 May 2004
• ratifying the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions on 18 October 1999 and participating in the Asian Development Bank OECD Anti- Corruption Initiative for the Asia – Pacific
• participating in the Asia – Pacific Economic Cooperation Anti-Corruption and Transparency Experts Task Force (APEC ACT), and
• participating in monitoring exercises operated by both the G8 Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering and the Commonwealth Secretariat on anti-money laundering measures.
Australia is committed to sharing technical expertise and improving our legal cooperation relationships with other countries to strengthen the fight against corruption, both in Australia and throughout the Asia – Pacific region.”
Again, there are detail description of legal framework for “asset recovery, extradition and denial of safe haven” at the final few paragraphs of the website demonstrating the determination of Australia government to root out corruption practice.
Above are the legal framework pledged and legislated by the Australian Government to fight corruption and bribery both domestically and internationally. It is obvious that, Australia government has the legal obligation (when requested) to help foreign country investigate into any alleged bribery against its citizens, residents or registered businesses.
The way Stern Hu’s incident was handled indicated that the Australian Media and government failed to respect its own anti-foreign bribery law :
However, when China detained Stern Hu in Shanghai for bribery investigation, Australia Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd not only failed to offer any assistance, but politicised the whole issue by publicly reminded China: “Our Chinese friends”, “China had significant economic interests at stake” in it relationship with Australia and other commercial partners around the world. (Brisbane Time 16 July 2009)
Virtually, all major newspapers and TV news over the last few weeks across Australia demonised China decision to detain Stein Hu using all sort of skilfully crafted named and unnamed quotes to demonised China. Just to list a few examples as below:
1) Skilfully crafted wording using the techniques of creating, repeating, asserting and confirming an unproven speculation that the arrest was related to the recent failed negotiation over Australian iron ore exports to China.
For examples, the Australian newspaper (9 July 2009), began the report by objectively using the term ‘speculation’ with a statement: the arrest “prompted speculation that it was linked to fraught negotiations over Australian iron ore exports to China”, follow by a more assertive statement: “analysts (note: unnamed, who is the so-called “analysts”?) and Nationals Senate leader Barnaby Joyce (Note: Who is Barnaby Joyce? How much he personally know about the case and China? What make him qualify for those statements?) pointed to the protracted negotiations between Rio and Chinese steel mills over iron ore prices”. And then, quoting another ‘speculated’ statement by the Foreign Minister, before asserted one more time the ‘background’ of the arrest: “The arrests come after the failed $US19.5 billion ($24.8bn) bid by Chinalco”. And then confirmed the speculation by quoting another unnamed China ‘expert’: “China experts told The Australian the arrests were linked to problematic negotiations with China over the iron ore contracts.” And then, ending the report with another quote from Senator Joyce: “Senator Joyce said he believed the failure of Chinalco to increase its stake in Rio was behind the arrests”.
This is a typical case of ‘trial by the media’ in which no actual evident is required, every statement quoted base purely on hear-say and speculation from unnamed ‘expert’ and people like Barnaby Joyce whom I believe is a typical politician who has the habit to comment on virtually everything in a negative way without any substance to back them up. I do not believe that Senator Joyce has any insight information on Stern Hu’s case at the time. (Readers should note that this is the kind of skilfully crafted technique most mainstream Western Media used to demonise their target without having to produce any actual evident).
2) Blaming China for its culture of Guanxi (the act of exchanging favours), and claim that: “While foreign countries are reluctant to operate with the Chinese that way on international deals, executives would have been exposed to this behaviour and potentially put under pressure to conform.” (The Age and WA Today, dated 10 July 2009)
The reality is corruption is a disease in every society. A few minute searched on the net, and you will find cases of corruption in Australia, just to list a few:
Sydney Morning Herald (20 July 2009), title: Aussies face bribe charges in Dubai.
The Age (16 June 2009), title: Rudd close-lipped on RBA millions:
Brisbane Time (15 July 2009), title: Nuttall found guilty
ABC (16 April 2007), title: Police corruption rife in Qld, says former officer:
There are a lot more insulting report and articles throughout Australia with the intention to demonise and abuse China on the bribery case using the above described technique to craft a misleading statement to lead their reader perception of an event. For example: Sydney Morning Herald, 29 July 2009, title: China does not response positively to humiliation.
It is not possible for me to present them all in detail in one short article. Readers are encouraged to explore the facts themselves by searching the net for Australia newspapers, TV or radio channels, and used key word such as “Rio Tinto”, “Stern Hu” to search for news in the respective media for self-analysis.
Special note on media response to the 91 Australians arrested in the UAE, Dubai:
Comparing the media response to the Rio Tinto case and the recent report by the Sydney Morning Herald (20 July 2009), title: Aussies face bribe charges in Dubai, one should note the double standard approach on the part of the Australia media and government on the two cases:
Double standard 1:
Unlike the Stern Hu case, the Dubai case did not draw the systemic abuse and attention of the Australia media. Australian government and politicians were totally silence on the case.
Double standard 2:
Despite the fact that 91 Australians have been arrested in the UAE - most in Dubai - since January 2008, Australia media were generally silence on the facts until 20 July 2009.
Double standard 3:
The two Australia businessmen had been placed in Dubai prison without trial for almost 6 months before formally charged with fraud (bribery) and the media seem to think that 6 months without trial in Dubai is an acceptable situation.
Double standard 4:
Australia media only widely reported the above Dubai case on 20 July 2009 after the two businessmen were officially charged. No follow up report since.
Double standard 5:
Under the diplomatic agreement between Australia and China, either party can detain the other party citizen for up to 48 hours for investigation before informing the other party, and up to 5 days before allowing consular access. However, unlike the Dubai case, Australia media has begin to abuse China from the very first instant of receiving the news. Why?
Conclusion - Corruption is a world problem not just China: Countries should honour and respect the International Convention against Corruption and bribery they ratified.
From the content of the Australian government website under foreign bribery, it has acknowledged that “bribery damages the global economy”, and a “collaborative approach” is needed to fight against corruption.
Jean-Pierre Méan, an anti-corruption expert, Vice President of the Swiss Chapter of Transparency International, a member of the Anticorruption Commission of the International Chamber of Commerce, and of the Board of Trustees of Caux Initiatives of Change.
During an interview by EBBS (A professional non-profit association of men and women practicing and promoting moral and ethical value in business), Jean-Pierre has the following observation:
“Corruption is widespread. There have been a few shocking instances in the US. Everyone has read about the governor in Illinois selling the government seat that was previously occupied by Obama. There is also a recent case where two judges—in Pennsylvania, I believe—had a deal with a private company that was running a prison. The judges were getting a kick back for each youth they sent to prison. The longer the period the higher the kick back. So you had sentences that were ridiculously high for young men from disadvantaged backgrounds in a poor area of the Alleghany Mountains. In many cases, they shouldn’t have even been sent to prison. And the judges made 2.5 million dollars from this. So I think the other reason I would mention for corruption being so rampant is greed. It’s difficult to fight against corruption as long as money is the measure of all things for so many people.”
“Transparency International publishes a corruption perception index; it isn’t rocket science, but it does show African and Asian nations at the bottom of the list. Out of the 180 countries listed, Iraq and Afghanistan, where we are supposedly ‘creating new democracies’, are among the worst. Somalia, Haiti, Sudan, Guinea, Chad are pretty far down there too. The idea of Italy being the most corrupt in Europe is supported by the transparency list as well. The US is 18th, France 23rd, while the best are Denmark, New Zealand, Sweden, and Singapore.”
Therefore, like the case of 91 Australian arrested in UAE, Australia media and politicians should allow China to complete it investigation of Stern Hu case before making any unfounded accusation and insult. Let us respect our own legislation on anti- bribery and anti-corruption convention, as well as China domestic law on the respective area.
Written on 10 Aug 2009
Back to Media Disinformation
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