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Insults fly in GOP gov debate- POLITICO



TGIF, Illinois. Have a safe weekend and thank you for reading Playbook. Subscribing is free but it means a million that you do it.

A much-anticipated debate between all six GOP candidates for governor served up plenty of entertainment.

They argued, talked over each other, and hurled the worst kind of insults a Republican can throw — “corrupt Democrat!”

Richard Irvin took the brunt of the blows in part because he’s been the perceived frontrunner thanks to having a wealthy benefactor in Ken Griffin and because he’s largely avoided matchups with opponents.

WBEZ’s Dave McKinney described Irvin as the “political pinata” of the debate.

Irvin found himself taking hits for his campaign rhetoric, his deep war chest, and his GOP credentials. He mostly ducked the attacks, though Irvin did get in a zinger. “My opponents … are threatened by the fact that I’m hurting their political aspirations,” he said.

Crime crunch: Much of the hourlong debate on ABC 7 centered on crime and how to handle it. And the candidates used their time in the spotlight to show off their conservative principles.

On handling gun violence: Bailey called for “mental health solutions” to stop the violence that’s gripped the nation in recent weeks. Irvin said it’s a matter of supporting law enforcement. And Paul Schimpf, a former state senator, proposed an idea about retired military veterans keeping a presence in schools.

Gary Rabine and Max Solomon want armed guards at schools. And Jesse Sullivan blamed Democrats and “a liberal agenda that has been taking God and faith out of our society.”

On abortion, they all want to reinstate a law that would require parental notification for young people seeking an abortion (a law just went into effect this week taking away the parental notification rule).

Irvin again dodged the question about whether Roe v. Wade should be overturned, prompting criticism from his opponents.

‘Hellhole’ follow-up: Bailey explained what he meant when he called Chicago a “hellhole” last week: “You want to know what happened within hours after I made that statement? A homeless man was burned alive. He’s fighting for his life today.” He was referring to a 75-year-old man known affectionately in downtown Chicago as the “Walking Man.” Bailey went on to criticize Gov. JB Pritzker, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx for “their woke, anti-police policies.”


— SCOOP: The Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity Action is endorsing Richard Irvin in his bid to head the Republican ticket for governor. In a statement, AFP Action senior adviser Jason Heffley cited Irvin’s “exemplary record” as mayor of Aurora. “We need a governor like Richard Irvin who has the experience and courage to pass balanced budgets while cutting taxes.”

— Billionaire Dick Uihlein just gave another $3 million to Republican Darren Bailey’s campaign for governor.

Son of former mayor joins growing field to unseat Lori Lightfoot: “Ald. Roderick Sawyer’s father, Eugene Sawyer, was mayor in the late 1980s. Roderick Sawyer chairs the City Council’s Committee on Health and Human Relations and is a former chair of the council’s Black Caucus. He’s the fifth candidate seeking to deny Mayor Lori Lightfoot a second term,” by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.

“I just want to help,” Sawyer tells WGN 9’s Erik Runge.

‘Another day, another man who thinks he can do this job better than me.’ says Lightfoot, by Tribune’s Gregory Pratt.

Never heard of mayoral candidate Ald. Roderick Sawyer? Along with being the son of a former mayor, he received a “clout job” and won a no-bid city contract, writes Mark Konkol in Patch.

Have a news tip, suggestion, birthday, anniversary, new job, or any other nugget for Playbook? I’d like to hear from you: [email protected]

At the World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison at 11:45 a.m. to give remarks in advance of the Enjoy Illinois 300 race… At 1:15 p.m. he’ll bee at the Illinois State Police Metro East Forensic Science Laboratory to announce reduced forensic kit backlogs.

Traveling to Reno, Nev., to attend the 90th U.S. Conference of Mayors. Lightfoot will address the conference, participate in a meeting of the Committee on Criminal and Social Justice, a panel on increasing broadband access, and join the opening press conference. VP Kamala Harris will also be in attendance and will address the nation’s mayors.

At John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County at 10 a.m. along with Sen. Dick Durbin and others to highlight National Gun Violence Awareness Month and discuss gun violence prevention strategies. … In Berwyn at noon for the grand opening of Berwyn Shops, a local business incubator.

Tribune endorses Alexi Giannoulias and Dan Brady for secretary of state: Democrat Giannoulis “has clearly thought through the technological challenges of the potential new job.” And Republican Brady understands “the efficient delivery of the services provided by the office” matters to voters.

Steve Kim is endorsed by the Daily Herald in the Republican AG primary

Tribune endorses Fritz Kaegi for Cook County assessor: “Kaegi ran on a pledge to overhaul a dysfunctional office, and voters took him at his word. And on the whole, he has delivered.”

Tom Dart’s a no-show — again: The Cook County sheriff has devoted campaign resources to try kicking off two women challengers, but he hasn’t made the debates to talk about issues. “It’s called a rose garden strategy,” reports NBC 5’s Mary Ann Ahern.

Jonathan Jackson did not file financial disclosure report; top IL-01 rivals did: “That’s an oversight and a mistake that I did not file,” he told the Chicago Sun-Times’ Lynn Sweet.

A new ad targets Rep. Marie Newman and the congressional ethics investigation that’s dogged her campaign in IL-06. “Say no to a corrupt politician representing us. Say no to Marie Newman,” says the ad paid for by the Democratic Majority for Israel PAC, which supports pro-Israel Democrats.

— Congressman Sean Casten released a new ad highlighting gun safety measures and abortion rights. The twist: his daughter stars.

— Jonathan Swain launched his first three digital ads in his bid for the IL-01 congressional seat. The ads, titled “That Guy,” “Better than You Found It,” and “Community,” highlight Swain’s experience as a small business owner in Hyde Park, head of a nonprofit that supports Black youth through college, and being a South Sider.

— Democrat Litesa Wallace is challenging Republican Esther Joy King to a debate about abortion rights. Wallace, a former state rep, is in a heated contest for the Democratic nomination in IL-17. King is expected to head the GOP ballot after the primary.

National Guard training will pull Rockford-area congressional candidate off IL-17 campaign trail: “When duty calls, you have to go serve whether it’s good timing or bad timing for your life or whatever you have going on,” Jonathan Logemann told Rockford Register Star’s Jeff Kolkey.

— JUDICIAL INSIGHT: The Chicago Bar Association has released evaluation results for candidates running to be a judge in Cook County, including those seeking a seat on the Illinois Appellate Court, and the Circuit Court. Here’s the link

— Anna Valencia has been endorsed by City Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin in her bid for secretary of state.

— Column | My opponent is a fiend who likes Joe Biden: “The endless Punch and Judy Show of TV campaign commercials drives home the hopelessness of our time,” by Sun-Times’ Neil Steinberg.

DCFS staffers removed from duties after death of 8-year-old Amaria Osby in Chicago, by Tribune’s María Paula Mijares Torres.

Climate change could spell the end for Midwestern corn, study finds, via Yahoo News.

Chicago man has first ‘probable’ case of monkeypox in Illinois, by Sun-Times’ Stefano Esposito.

What foods did the Lincolns like to eat? Culinary series to cook up historic cuisine, by Natalie Morris in State Journal Register.

AIDS Garden Chicago opens along lakefront, dedicated to the thousands lost to the deadly epidemic: “The memorial was created near the site of the former Belmont Rocks, a popular gathering place for LGBTQ people between the 1960s and 1990s,” by Block Club Chicago’s Jake Wittich and photos by Colin Boyle.

The site plays an important part of history in Chicago’s queeer community, by WTTW’s Nick Blumberg

They had abortions, some in secret, now, as high court weighs a ruling, want their stories heard: “Fifty years after Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court is weighing rolling back access to abortion. Nine from around Chicago who had abortions talk about what’s at stake. “If men could get pregnant, there is no way we would have restrictive laws about abortion,” one says,” by Sun-Times’ Elvia Malagón.

Chicago Episcopal diocese’s $750,000 sex abuse case puts Bishop Chilton Knudsen’s actions under scrutiny: “She didn’t immediately call police after an 18-year-old told her he’d been molested by Richard Kearney, according to a just-settled lawsuit,” by Sun-Times’ Robert Herguth.

Northwestern Medicine plans $100M outpatient center in Bronzeville: “The proposal still needs to be approved by the state Health Facilities and Services Review Board. Pending that approval, construction could begin next summer, and the facility could open in the summer of 2025 on the 4800 block of South Cottage Grove Avenue,” by Tribune’s Lisa Schencker.

Ald. Jeanette Taylor applied for Section 8 housing in 1993 — but only now ‘made it to the top of the waiting list,via MarketWatch. Taylor tweeted her acceptance letter.

Safety equipment will be required at Lake Michigan piers under new law prompted by teen’s drowning, by Tribune’s Clare Spaulding.

Boston Consulting Group signs big Fulton Market lease, by Sun-Times’ David Roeder.

Inspired by biblical tenet, interfaith group cuts medical debt for 2,000 Chicagoans, via Times of Israel.

HUGE GIFT | Loyola University Chicago gets $100 million to support students of color — the largest donation in school history: “John and Kathy Schreiber, philanthropists who have been huge Loyola donors, gave the money to fully cover scholarships, housing and support services for underrepresented students,” by Sun-Times’ Tom Schuba.

St. Charles raises rainbow flag for first time in its history to celebrate Pride Month, by Shaw Media’s Eric Schelkopf

Why Cream of Wheaton name is back and how it was created, by Daily Herald’s Katlyn Smith

2 Elmhurst women charged with breaching the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021: “Kimberly DiFrancesco and Trudy Castle are facing several charges including disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds,” by WGN 9’s Melissa Espana.

A list of every known Illinois resident charged in the US Capitol breach: “Almost 800 people have been arrested in connection with the breach in nearly all 50 states. That includes Illinois, where at least 30 known residents face charges for their role,” by Sun-Times’ Jon Seidel.

Feds: Fake death certificates, misidentified bodies part of macabre, $26M insurance fraud scam, by Tribune’s Jason Meisner

We asked who’s a political dignitary you’d wait in a crowd to see. We received just one telling answer: the Queen, wrote Steven Smith.

Who’s a politician you admire so much that you considered voting for their son or daughter, too? Email [email protected]

Can Texas Republican John Cornyn clinch a long-shot guns deal? by POLITICO’s Marianne LeVine

Biden demands action on guns: ‘How much more carnage are we willing to accept?by POLITICO’s Myah Ward and Sam Stein

— Opinion | Many reporters think Kevin McCarthy is dumb. Why can’t they say so? It’s Washington’s last taboo, writes POLITICO’s Michael Schaffer

Bay Area county revives indoor mask order, by POLITICO’s Victoria Colliver

Eastern Ukraine residents say Russia is wiping their towns off the map, by POLITICO’s Christopher Miller

Sun-Times names former HuffPost managing editor Jennifer Kho as executive editor: “She will be the first woman and the first person of color to lead its newsroom. … Steve Warmbir, a 22-year veteran of the Sun-Times and its interim editor-in-chief, said he is leaving the paper,” by Sun-Times’ David Roeder.

After 10 years in Chicago, The Onion is navigating fraught times with its unique sense of humor, by Tribune’s Robert Channick

Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, a New York-based Jewish-focused education center, kicked off the opening of its Chicago office with a reception. Spotted: SHI NA president Yehuda Kurtzer, the organization’s Chicago director Jason Rosensweig, Consul General of Israel Yinam Cohen, Consul General of Mexico Ambassador Reyna Torres-Mendivil, state Rep. Kam Buckner, Spertus Institute president Dean Bell, Crown Family Philanthropies President Evan Hochberg, and numerous rabbis, including Michael Siegel, David Wolkenfeld, Shoshana Conover, Reni Dickman, Paul Cohen, and Ellen Dreyfus.

Maya Serkin has been promoted to be manager for client success at constituent management platform Indigov in Chicago.

— Monday at 6:30 p.m.: A town hall discussion will focus on the impacts of the U.S. Policy toward Central America. Headliners: Congressman Chuy Garcia, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, and state Rep. Delia Ramirez, also a candidate for Congress. At Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center.

June 9 at 11:30 a.m.: A virtual panel discussion about the city’s three-year planning initiative on neighborhood growth titled We Will Chicago. Register here

THURSDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to Bill Velazquez for correctly answering that a real estate office owned by William Kerfoot sprung up Oct. 9, 1871, while the Great Chicago Fire continued to burn through Oct. 10. Jim Nowlan has written about Marshall Field’s opening up Oct. 11. Larry Beaumont notes that the first small retail shop to open was a cigar shop. And hat-tip to Abdon Pallasch for noting the Tribune published on Oct. 11, 1871.

TODAY’s QUESTION: When he was studying in Chicago, where did the actor Peter Falk (of Columbo fame) reside?Email [email protected]

Today: State Sen. Jason Plummer, Ald. Derrick Curtis, Chicagoland Chamber government relations VP Brad Tietz, Future Founders CEO Scott Issen, Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies’ Patrick G. Martin, and Crain’s group publisher Jim Kirk.

Saturday: retired water commissioner Frank Avila, attorney Kevin Fanning, Good Realty Group President Sheldon Good, and PR pro Lynda O’Connor.

Sunday: Illinois House Majority Leader Greg Harris, SPAAN Tech CEO Smita Shah, and Rep. Lauren Underwood caseworker Becky Hooper.


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North America

Kenya election: Raila Odinga projected to win the presidency




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Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto, who portrayed himself as a champion for the poor, was declared the winner in the country’s presidential election on Monday in an announcement mired in controversy.

Kenya’s electoral commission head said that Ruto, 55, had narrowly defeated veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga, with 50.49 percent of the vote to Odinga’s 48.5 percent. But just before that announcement, four of Kenya’s seven election commissioners held a separate news conference saying they could not stand by the results because of the “opaque nature” of the process.

The division within Kenya’s electoral body spawned confusion in a nation already on edge after waiting nearly a week for results and with a history of deadly post-election violence.

Following the release of the results, Ruto praised his fellow citizens, who he thanked for their patience and said “have raised the bar in this election.”

Odinga had yet to issue a statement as of Monday night. His running-mate, Martha Karua, tweeted: “It is not over till it is over.”

The uncertainty within Kenya’s own electoral body — which had spent the past week saying its tally would be the official one — could make it more likely that Odinga’s campaign will challenge the results in the Supreme Court, as it successfully did in 2017. That period, during which the court declared the results invalid, was marked by violent street protests and human rights violations.

Minutes before the chairman of the electoral commission, Wafula Chebukati, announced the result at its national tallying center, with Ruto in the audience, the deputy chair, Juliana Cherera, appeared at a news conference at a Nairobi hotel raising questions about the vote count. “We are not able to take ownership of the results that will be announced,” she said.

What happens next — especially the reaction of Odinga and his supporters — will be closely watched in Kenya and abroad, including Washington, where Kenya is considered an important counterterrorism ally and anchor of stability in the region.

In Kisumu, Odinga’s hometown, his supporters burnt tires and lit bonfires on the streets, blocking roads, while police used tear gas to clear crowds.

“We are done,” said Charles Olongo, 40, a taxi driver. “We are sick. We are tired.”

“This is devastating,” he added, before hanging up the phone.

The election had pitted two of Kenya’s most powerful politicians against one another in a hotly contested and sometimes bitter race.

Ruto, who frequently referred to being a chicken seller in his youth, argued that he was best positioned to represent Kenya’s youth and poorest citizens and promised a “bottom-up” economic model toward small business and employment. He framed the competition as one between “hustlers” like himself and “dynasties” like the Kenyattas and Odingas. Odinga’s father was the country’s first vice president, and outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta’s was its first president.

Odinga, who was on his fifth bid for the nation’s highest office, dismissed that as an attempt at “class warfare” and argued in an interview that Ruto was not the champion of the poor that he claimed. Ruto, who built his career as a businessman, now travels frequently in helicopters and owns numerous properties, including a mansion, a luxury hotel and a massive chicken plant.

Ruto has dismissed claims by critics that his wealth was acquired through corruption. His running-mate, Rigathi Gachagua, was ordered by a court last month to pay back about $1.7 million that it determined was linked to corruption. Gachagua said the decision was meant to undermine his candidacy.

This year, in a twist, Odinga had the support of Kenyatta, who is term-limited and was a longtime adversary. Kenyatta, who served for nearly a decade with Ruto in government, had a public falling out with his deputy during their second term.

Although Ruto praised Kenyans for moving beyond the “ethnic configurations” that had shaped past elections, tribe still played an important factor, with Ruto’s success due in part to his support among the Kikuyus, Kenya’s largest tribe, according to initial results. Three of Kenya’s four presidents, including Kenyatta, have been Kikuyus (the late President Daniel arap Moi was from the Kalenjin tribe). Ruto is from the Kalenjin tribe, and Odinga is from the Luo tribe, which historically has had an especially tense relationship with Kikuyus.

The new president will have to tackle the country’s massive debt, soaring inflation, a drought in the north that has left millions hungry and increasing youth unemployment.

Although voting unfolded largely peacefully Tuesday, tension ratcheted up in the days since polls closed. Disinformation has proliferated online, fueled by both campaigns.

Kenya’s election commission announced one of its officials had gone missing. Media organizations,, which had started tallying the results on their own, paused and then resumed their counts, giving a variety of explanations that left Kenyans with more questions than answers. Election officials urged patience.

As anxiety increased, some families in parts of the country that had seen violence erupt in past elections packed their bags and moved. Others did not have that option.

“I don’t have money, but if I did, I would move,” said 89-year-old Monica Waithera, whose daughter was killed when violence erupted in Mathare, one of Nairobi’s largest slums, in 2008.

Waithera had been having trouble sleeping since the polls closed, worried about what could happen — but hopeful there would be peace.

“I’m praying that things will not get bad again,” she said, “and that God will send us a leader … a leader who can help me buy milk.”

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Myanmar court convicts Suu Kyi on more corruption charges




LONDON: Thousands of Afghan refugees who have been housed in hotels in the UK following the Kabul evacuation last year have been told by authorities to look for new accommodation on online real estate portals.

The UK Home Office has told refugees to find accommodation on Rightmove or Zoopla, The Guardian reported.

On the first anniversary of the Taliban takeover, the UK government is still providing hotel accommodation to 9,500 Afghan refugees, with only 7,000 having been rehoused.

Although charities have welcomed government moves to end the use of hotels to accommodate the refugees, charity officials are concerned that many will fail to find suitable accommodation in the private rented sector and may end up homeless.

Afghan families with children will struggle to find affordable accommodation that is large enough using the housing benefit provided.

Charities also highlighted the fact that refugees may not be able to negotiate their own rental agreements due to language barriers, and would not have paperwork such as passports and bank statements that are required to rent a property.

Home Office sources say that in addition to encouraging Afghan families living in hotels to look for their own housing, they aim to offer each family two choices of accommodation somewhere in the UK. However, it is not known if they will be given a choice of location.

The Home Office said the accommodation offers would be “good, decent proposals,” but that if families rejected the offers, they would be provided with a further two months of hotel accommodation. It did not say what would happen if the families failed to secure accommodation after that.

Home Office sources say they are trying to encourage Afghan families to move to other parts of the UK, such as Wales, but this may be problematic for families with children who are attending school in large cities such as London.

Waiting lists for council housing are long, especially for larger properties that can accommodate Afghan families with three or more children.

Despite Afghan families having the right to rent under immigration rules and landlords being able to check this using an online tool, some are reluctant to rent to people who do not have a British passport, or evidence of life in the UK such as utility bills and payslips.

A letter sent to Afghan refugees from the Home Office says that not all councils will accept a request to put families on social housing waiting lists, urging them to start looking in the private rental sector.

“Not all councils will support you so it’s important to check,” the letters said. They urged the refugees to search for multiple properties to increase their chances of finding accommodation as the UK housing market is “very competitive.”

Eva Tabbasam, director of Gender Action for Peace and Security, expressed concern about the plans.

“Afghan families couldn’t have imagined that one year after arriving they’d still be warehoused in unsuitable accommodation, without space, privacy and stability. There is also a serious risk of homelessness for these families if suitable accommodation is not offered under the current Home Office plans, Tabbasam said.

“The government has had a year to sort things out — instead, it’s getting worse. If suitable accommodation was readily available for the 9,500 people still in hotels, families would already have been moved into it. We don’t yet know what kind of move on accommodation families will be offered,” she added.

London Councils’ executive member for communities, Claire Holland, said: “Boroughs are very concerned by the lack of alternative housing options for these families — a particular challenge in the capital due to the chronic shortage of affordable housing here.”

A Home Office spokesperson said that the use of hotels to house those resettling from Afghanistan is a temporary solution.

“We continue to work with over 350 local authorities to move Afghan families from hotels to permanent accommodation as quickly as possible,” they said.

“To support the resettlement of Afghan families, local authorities are given £20,520 ($24,789) per person over a three-year period. They have the flexibility to use this funding to contribute toward renting accommodation, including deposits, letting fees and furnishing.”

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In Vietnam, ‘feeding the police’ just a cost of doing business | Corruption




Hanoi, Vietnam – When Ngan saw a police car passing by her coffee shop in Hanoi’s Old Quarter on a recent afternoon, she hurriedly grabbed the chairs cluttering the pavement and brought them inside.

After the police passed out of sight moments later, she put the chairs back out on the pavement, where they would stay until the arrival of the next patrol warning vendors to keep the area clear. By using the space in front of her 16-metre square shop, Ngan can double the number of customers that can be seated at a time.

“Everyday, we have to ‘act’ for a few seconds,” Ngan, who asked to use a pseudonym, told Al Jazeera. “They would not punish us anyway, since our ‘fees’ have been duly paid.”

Ngan, whose business supports a family of seven, pays VND 6 million ($260) in cash every 6 months to a police officer in charge of the neighborhood where her shop is located. On a number of occasions, she has even helped him collect money from other shops in the area.

“He would never tell me the amount he wanted. It is always I who offered the amount, and he would bargain afterwards, if dissatisfied,” said Ngan, who has been selling coffee at the same spot for more than a decade.

For many shop owners and street vendors in Hanoi, greasing the palms of local law enforcement on a regular basis, known colloquially as “nuôi công an” or “feeding the police”, is just another cost of doing business.

Vietnam was ranked 104 out of 180 countries in last year’s Corruption Perceptions Index compiled by Transparency International, a Berlin-based nonprofit that combats global corruption, with a score of 36 out of 100, where 100 is considered most clean. The police are widely perceived as among the most corrupt sectors in the country.

When Secretary General Nguyen Phu Trong launched his “furnace blazing” anti-corruption campaign in 2018, resulting in the prosecution of more than 11,700 economic crimes, the police and military were among the major targets alongside the upper echelons of the ruling communist party.

Vietnam has cracked down on high-level corruption in recent years [File: Kham/Reuters]

The campaign, however, has not wiped out petty corruption, which remains widely tolerated by businesses and authorities alike.

Although taking bribes by public officials and managers at state and non-state organisations was criminalized under a 2018 anti-corruption law, payments to police and other low-level civil servants are commonly construed as “protection fees”.

While strong anti-corruption measures have been carried out at the national level — including the establishment of a hotline to report police corruption — provincial authorities have refrained from tackling the issue, according to national officials.

Other measures have shown signs of progress. In 2019, the Provincial Governance and Public Administration Performance Index, which interviewed 14,138 citizens in 63 provinces and cities, reported the biggest decline in corruption since 2011. The rate of respondents who reported a decrease in corruption was five percentage points higher than in 2018.

The Hanoi Municipal Police Department and Ministry of Public Security did not respond to Al Jazeera’s requests for comment.

For Tu, the owner of a small hotpot restaurant in Hoa Bình city, gifts and payments are insurance against police harassment.

“In a restaurant, noise is inevitable. We might be fined for disturbing the peace of the neighborhood at any time,” she said. “It is better to pay and be left alone.”

Being on good terms with the local police saves Tu from mounds of paperwork, trips to administrative offices and other bureaucratic burdens that come with following the strict letter of the law.

“I do not have a lot of education. I do not know how to meet their requirements,” said Tu, who asked to use a pseudonym. “Those requirements are never transparent and might change on their whim. My business might be legal today and illegal the next day.”


A good relationship with the police can also encourage authorities to be flexible when it comes to bribes.

During a two-month lockdown that lifted in September, Ngan’s police officer contact waived “fees” as restrictions deprived her family of income.

Earlier this month, a local police officer called Ngan to inform him that he would “pay a visit”. Explaining that the shop was not doing good business due to a surge in coronavirus cases, Ngan asked for a “discount”. The police officer agreed, but told her she would need to make up for it when things get back to normal.

A former police officer in Hanoi, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Al Jazeera that local police rely on small businesses for bribes as the owners of big businesses are too well connected to shake down.

He said that while he was allowed to keep a small portion of the bribes he collected, most of the money would be handed over to those “above him”, especially the chief police officer of the ward where he was posted.

“My boss asked us [subordinates] to pay him a certain amount of money each month,” the former police officer, who quit the force last year, said. “If we did not, we would be in trouble.”

Hung, who runs a coffee shop in the Đống Đa district of Hanoi, finds it difficult to blame lower-level police officers for the culture of corruption, which he sees as a form of “tán lộc” or sharing one’s fortune, that is necessary to avoid bad karma.

“In order to survive in the business world, you need to know how to pay respect to local authorities,” Hung, who asked to use a pseudonym, told Al Jazeera. “Reciprocity makes everyone happy.”

Hung is certain the bulk of the “unofficial fees” of $40 he pays to police each quarter go to higher-ranking officials.

“Police do not need you to abide by the law,” Hung said.  “They want you to break the law so that they will get the money to submit to their superiors.”

“We cannot blame them if their bosses are indecent,” he added, describing such petty corruption as “nothing compared to the corruption of higher-ranked officials”.

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