If you look at the world map, there are precious few countries that can be described as "clean". In most of the world, corruption is flourishing.
I grew up in the Netherlands and Scotland where corruption is the province of politicians and big business (remember the British MP expenses scandal earlier this year?) My first brush with everyday corruption was in the late 1980s when I went to live in Jakarta, Indonesia.
If you broke the speed limit, made wrong turn, or committed some other minor crime, the policeman would ask you for a bribe, rather than give you a ticket. Often it didn't matter what you were doing either; they once demanded money because I stopped at red traffic lights!
In those days fines for locals were 2000 rupiah and for us foreigners it was 5000 rupiah. And if you didn't have exact money, they'd give you change.
I asked for a ticket every now and again, just to hear the guys explain why paying a bribe was so much easier for everyone. But most of the time, I did what everyone else did and paid up. In fact, I got so used to police demanding their money that payoffs became second nature.
So when I went back to visit my mum in Spain, and I was stopped by a guardia civil, a member of the Spanish military style police force who are considered the heavyweights of law enforcement, I handed him some money without thinking about it.
The second I did it I could hear the clang of cell doors closing.
Luckily I had two things working for me: I am rubia (light haired) and I speak horrible but comprehensible Spanish. I showed him my Indonesian driver's license along with my international one, and the guardia civil turned all fraternal. "Don't do it again," he said, "You could get into terrible trouble." And then we had a nice gossip about life in Indonesia versus life in Spain.
The guardia aren't particularly liked in Spain, especially by the older people who remember the days when they were the enforcers for the dictator of Spain, General Franco, so I think my newly made friend got a kick out of being nice to me, and a bonus frisson from feeling a little bit superior to his tropical colleagues.
As i said, bribery is pretty common worldwide. In the 2008 Transparency International bribery perception study, where a score of 1 is "Not at all corrupt" and 6 is "extremely corrupt", Indonesia was rated at 3.9 along with Argentina and the Czech Republic while Malaysia, Russia, Senegal, and South Africa were rated at 4.
Malay slang for bribe is duit kopi or coffee money. Police here wear button badges with the words Saya anti-rasuah (I'm against graft) inscribed. You can read an old Star article about it here. The campaign is still ongoing.
Sometimes I wonder: if I ever go live in one of the few countries where the police are generally speaking squeaky clean, will I be able to adjust, or will I find myself behind bars before you can say, duit kopi?