It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it. Most Burmese are familiar with the four a-gati, the four kinds of corruption:
- Chanda-gati, corruption induced by desire, is deviation from the right path in pursuit of bribes or for the sake of those one loves.
- Dosa-gati is taking the wrong path to spite those against whom one bears ill will, and
- moga-gati is aberration due to ignorance. But perhaps the worst of the four is
- bhaya-gati, for not only does bhaya, fear, stifle and slowly destroy all sense of right and wrong, it so often lies at the root of the other three kinds of corruption.
Just as chanda-gati, when not the result of sheer avarice, can be caused by fear of want or fear of losing the goodwill of those one loves, so fear of being surpassed, humiliated or injured in some way can provide the impetus for ill will. And it would be difficult to dispel ignorance unless there is freedom to pursue the truth unfettered by fear. With so close a relationship between fear and corruption it is little wonder that in any society where fear is rife corruption in all forms becomes deeply entrenched.”
Acceptance message for the 1990 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought (July 1991)