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Corrupt leaders going out of fashion

Recent trends in Asia indicate that, maybe, the peoples in the region are beginning to change their attitudes towards their leaders.

Indonesians forced Suharto out and the present leader President Abdurrahman Wahid is barely holding on to power after his name was linked to a few corruption scandals.

In the Philippines, the people helped prevent further backsliding into the old ways of kickbacks and pocket-lining by staging another EDSA people's power revolution.

People power has shown up in Nepal, South Korea, Taiwan and other countries throughout the area over the last decade or so.

The old practice was for the common people in Asian countries to pretty much tolerate authoritarian leaders.

These leaders often had near absolute power including the ability to enlarge their personal bank accounts via the state coffers.

In the early days, after the developing nations had thrown off the yoke of European colonialism, this attitude was not devoid of sense.

The people were worried about maintaining sovereignty and security in a Cold War world.

Strong leaders were desired regardless if these leaders were honest or not.

And not all were corrupt. What they all seemed to share was a mandate by the people to rule with an iron hand.

To a some extent, the authoritarian rule of these leaders helped lift Asia into its position as the fastest-growing region in the world.

But absolute power corrupts and a corrupt leader with absolute power can do a lot of damage.

And if the leadership at the top is bad, you can bet there's a lot of shady business at lower levels of government.

So, one can't help but think that the new attitude in Asia is a good development.

Certainly it will cause some short-term instability but in the long-run it will create more honest, efficient and accountable governance.