Obviously corruption and bribery cannot be completely eradicated and the attempts should be made to minimize it as far as possible. If the system is not effective short and long effective genuine methods are to be adopted and implemented to curb it.
by Sarath Wijesinghe
Bribery and Corruption
( December 27, 2017, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Sri Lanka has come to 4th position in Bribery and Corruption with the first place as the largest cabinet in the world. “Yahapalana” came to power with the negative vote with lot of funfair to eradicate alleged corruptions and bribery of the previous regime still trailing to recover the missing/ misplaced and misappropriated billons siphoned and hidden in Dubai or other parts of the world. Few months after coming into power over a trillion was robbed to run over 30 years and now there are mega scams lined up from military ship deal, fertilizer scam, vacant building taken for the Agriculture Ministry onwards in the public domain are only a few when compared to many more deals by the Parliamentary Mafia on sale of permits and shady deals to be exposed by activists in the near future.
Everybody has skeletons in cupboards thereby it is unlikely there will be an outcome from the toothless commissions. Citizen is confused whether billions spent on helicopters and cars for the President and Prime Minster and billions allocated to Parliament Mafia for cars and the illegal trade on car permits given to individual MP s for personal use. Case filed by the legal activist on the permit robbery is on the hold and the Judiciary is given perks increased salaries holidays and many more facilities as indirect remunerations expecting something in return in the future. Telephone communications are rampant and still taking place at “Hulftadorp” especially in view and before promotions, proving sadly that Bribery and Corruption is rampant frequent and all over as air.
West is silent as remuneration for ousting their enemy MR who was considered a difficult man to control. In the process the independence of the judiciary which is connected to the enforcement of Bribery and Corruption is in doubt as the success of eradication is connected to legal process. Laws delays are not a new scenario in the legal field which is a continuous problem ever all the time when Wijayadasa Rajapaksa became a casualty for not brining the members of the previous regime to books soon. There are proposals to appoint more and more judges with salary increments, more perks, directing them to hear cases on daily basis, possibly expecting to use discretions on granting/refusing bail to the politically inclined cases when they are remanded on suspicion on a B-report of alleged misappropriating of public property which is billable only in very exceptional circumstances.
MR is a pleasant but firm personality credited for liberating the country from the clutches of terror tortured the country for 30 years was unfortunately surrounded by cronies and yes men at the second phase of the regime with less or no control on bribery and corruption rampant then but a lesser extent- not billions- may be in millions, thereby he is finding it difficult to defend some of his lieutenants submerged in bribery and corruption. Our exercise is to get rid of the culture of bribery and corruption we are used and immersed in day to day life and those in governance engage in this illegal though lucrative illegal practices unharmed and unpunished. Bribery is omnipresent with a long history starting from the time immoral spreading fast viral all levels of the community like wild fire. It is cancerous rampant and exist all over as air and breath with no borders and barriers. Efforts made by the state, religious leaders, and social workers to arrest or complete eradication of this menace has miserably failed due to excessive greed of the human being. Oxford defines it as fraudulent conduct by those in power typically involving bribery and the act or effect of making someone or something morally deprived. Corruption evades trust in governments, business and markets Sometimes it is considered customary and accepted. Bribery is giving or receiving something and influencing a transection.
Corruption involves more than two or more persons involved enter into a secret agreement to pay an inducement to an official of official for securing for a favour of some deception in return. In the west bribe id indirectly legitimized by way of commissions to companies which in the process trickles down to the line down to the dishonest members of the community. Bribery is an offence punishable under the Penal Code as far back as 1882. In 1994 act no 19 was created to combat briary and corruption. The preamble of the bribery act states that it is an establishment to investigate allegations of bribery or corruption and direct institutions for precautions for offences under the bribery act and the declaration of asserts and liabilities law no 1 of 1975and the matters connected or incidental. Chapter 36 provides the definition as an act to provide for the prevention and punishment of Bribery and to make consequential provisions relating to the operation of other written law. Commission to investigate Allegations of Bribery or corruption will be appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Constitutional Council by (Article 41) out of the nominees submitted by the Constitutional Council.
Commission is given enormous powers to combat Bribery and Corruption in the entire country with a strong support of professional and technically qualified staff with branches. Surprisingly only few complaints and anonymous calls have been received in the year 2017 to the Commission incurring an enormous expenditure for the fiscal year, which indicates the loss of interest or loss of trust on the system, on using the institution created to combat bribery and corruption, when the commission is competent to act upon complaints on “own motion” on initiating inquiries on wrong doings against the community and the state at large. It is in the mandate of the commission to educate the citizen on their rights and duties jointly combating this menace which has drastic effects on the life if the citizen and the economy of the country.
Part two of the act deals on offences and 18A is most relevant today dealing with contractors performing and work or services offering any gratification as an inducement, solicits or accepts asking place in large and small scale every second somewhere in the country Bribery, Corruption, Wastage, inefficiency is in the highest ebb, has become a sickness/menace in the society and that it needs a consolidated effort of all parties presumably headed by the Bribery Commission to arrest and eradiate Bribery and corruption. Lacille de Silva the able and honest secretary of the “PRECIFAC “and Dilrukshi Wickramasinghe DG/BC, who started the cleaning process with lot of energy and funfair with long marches were compelled to exit with disappointments to themselves and the country raises eyebrows of the concerned citizens ready to help the campaign on the eradication of this menace are inferences that the President/Prime Minister and the governance is not interested or incompetent to fight to eradicate this menace that has engulfed the entire nation.
Citizens had high hopes on the learned, and pleasant new Briber Commissioner who has still not appear to have started his job in sweeping the dirt. Is it incompetency or lack of interest of the governance on eradication process is in the minds of the citizen sandwiched between the state corrupt officials and incompetence of the governance. Churchill said what worries him is inaction and not necessarily action in the right direction reminding us of the Quotation by “Wangars Mathis” a Kenyan Activist that “when you have bad governance the resources are destroyed- there is illegal logging, and soil erosion. I got pulled deeper and deeper and saw how there’s issues became linked to governance corruption and dictatorship”.
Some Corrupt Institutions and “BOND SCAM” – the highest scandal of the decade
Police, Court Administration, Customs, Port, Electricity/Energy, Water, Motor Traffic, Immigration, and the highest echelons of the legislature are among the most corrupt institutions the Bribery Commission can deal with at any given moment with no notice. Unfortunately this is the order of the day in Sri Lanka with no plans for short or permanent solutions. Small sprats are caught by the ineffective network of bribery net which is hardly sufficient to control the fast growing cancer at a rapid speed. Recently a lady teacher was sentenced to 8 years for attempting to demand a bribe of Rs 25000.00 and government servant was fined 20,000 for seeking a gratification of 10,000 rupees in the fast tract during the course of routine investigation and production process when the big sharks slip off or mark time successfully looking avenues for permanent exits.
It is Mr. Laxman Yapa who made number of pronouncements that the amount involved in the bond scam may lead to a trillions rupees / dollars for 30 years which sum is the highest of alleged scams of the decade in Asia by purchasing EPF funds of the employees provident fund- the sweat of the working class in Sri Lanka- managed and protected by the Central Bank at a cheaper/lower rate and selling it again to CBC in few hours later with maximum profits of trillions running to 30 years using an unusual and unprecedented process orchestrated directly and indirectly by visible and invisible forces and individuals of a political party for the political party and the perpetrators of the scam are enjoying freely in the broad daylight with no restrictions whatsoever investing national wealth robbed heavily in businesses with a spending spree.
Scams and crimes revealed in the process so far are stunning and astonishing when media revelations are in the public domain. The scam on Gall Face mansion in question- currently occupied by Honourable controversial MP and his family (a former Minister of Finance) taken on rent before purchased by his wife’s company headed by Kanthan another controversial British businessman with the initial funding of Arjun Aloyaisious – the head of perpetual treasuries and son –in –law of Arujan Mahandrian the former Governor Central Bank – a Singaporean appointed with direct intervention and personal guarantees of a powerful personality in the highest echelons of power in Sri Lanka, now directly accused of misuse of the position as the Governor to assist his son in law who orchestrated the scam of the decade amounting to trillions brining the national economy to shatters! The case against Honourable controversial MP in the High Court ( heard as the last case before retirement of the lady judge) on charges of money laundering and exchange control offences of millions of dollars belong to the Jailed U S A billionaire Raj Rajaratnam , alleged to have funded LTTE was terminated on a technicality leaving the AG’s department to file a fresh case in due course which has not been materialised despite the writ application of the activist lawyer Kodituwakku on a writ application to compel AG to take immediate steps to revisit and activate the case which is still pending .
Surprisingly lady judge heard the case was re-appointed as a High Court Judge subsequently on contract basis despite strong protest from the Bar Association against the appointment, Indicating existence of unexplained wheels within wheels going viral in the system against clamping down Bribery and Corruption. Three senior officers in customs were caught accepting 125 million as the largest ever detection known as the Vat Scam of the decade are happily enjoying in Dubai – another safe havens for the corrupt, apart from Sri Lanka!.
Rajitha Senaratna alleges of hidden sum of 18 billion in excess of the national annual income said to be swindled by MR and hidden in Dubai for which the Bribery Department has taken no steps though the amount is far excessive to leave alone when the delay in inquiring into is questionable. There are Ministers in the legislature alleged to be accused of massive corruptions on the vehicle scam amounting to 3.1 billion on sale of car permits by 100 members’ of legislation including vociferous Hon Ranjan Ramanayaka, on whom the activist lawyer Kodituwakku has obtained a judgment to which the Bribery Commissioner said to have pledged to take action to proceed and not taken so far.
Some corrupt members previous regime in the Cabinet are supposed to be shielded by the ministerial and political powers alleged to be involved in massive corruptions including swallowing ships, deforestation, and massive frauds accusing that the kettle is black. Previous rulers were accused of corruption on now profit making express ways unfortunately are for sale today for day to day expenditure due to economic downfall, and the latest revelations with regard to 36 billion scam on extension of few kilometres of the express way with no Parliament approval should be taken serious consideration is now in the limelight. Apparently only four members of the legislature have submitted the declaration of assets under the act indicating how honest our legislature is on matters subject to criminal precaution.
Who do we complain to if the legislatures which is supreme and who is entrusted with our wealth and future as trustees are misusing the trust and the national wealth including our family silver. While the Big Sharks are free to exploit the nation further with the power gained and money swindled, the small time bribe takers are busy exploiting the masses in the absence of a consolidated disciplined and forceful mechanism countrywide with the network of peace officers. President’s speeches are fine and attempts to curb corruption are commendable attempting to arrest and prevention corruption, but it appears that there is something wrong somewhere for which an immediate solution is to be found. It is time the professionals and the genuine activist groups take to as a part of governance not leaving politics to the politicians alone.
Now it appears enough is enough when the bribe and corruption appear to be in the hands of the governance with their blessings carrying on regardless with the protection of the politicians giving cover and protection for political benefits shows that the origin and thriving of the menace purely originated and groomed by dirty politics and politicians for their own benefit. Bribery and corruption is the oldest and most prevalent crime. In 1931/47 seven members of the legislature were found guilty and1959/60 six parliamentarians were found guilty for bribery and corruption by “Talgodipitiya” Commission. Since then to date there are no records of any attempts of legal process though the menace was thriving with a terrific speed when Singapore the worst corrupt nation in 1952 has reached the 4th position on clean bill of health in world standards. The secret is simple- in 1987 Prime Minister in China inquired into the corruptions of Minister “Ta Wing Van” and while the inquiries were in progress, the Minister committed suicide leaving a letter to the Prime Minister because he knew the Prime Minister is genuine and serious in clamping the menace which is not the case in Sri Lanka.
This shows that there should be a genuine desire from the above and the top of the pyramid should be straight and clean. Parliament should be an honourable shrine and the conduct should be serious, educative, and vision based. It is unfair to ridicule colleges and supress the genuine grievances. Is one compares the Bond issue of national importance to” James Bond Episode” to ridicule the opponents when the economy needs tough measures, one wonders what avenues are left of the citizen helplessly awaiting for justice and fair play from the rulers entrusted the nation as trustees for a short period of time. It is noted with regret that only 4 members of the legislature has provided the declaration of asserts in which non declaration is a criminal offence! Payment of 21 million for an unoccupied building to date continuously is a day light robbery and corruption the Commission should take steps on it own motion as a matter of urgency!
Obviously corruption and bribery cannot be completely eradicated and the attempts should be made to minimize it as far as possible. If the system is not effective short and long effective genuine methods are to be adopted and implemented to curb it. It is difficult to combat bribery and corruption as corruption is linked to drug, underworld, politics, money political power and government machinery on contracts and development projects. A genuine desire and need from the highest in the echelons of power is paramount to fight this menace. Political corruptions committed by politicians are rampant with no concern to the nation and economy. Before election and changing political affiliations they travel to Singapore obviously to deposit the bribe safe in foreign banks.
Corruptions in the Transparency International – one of the largest money making NGO’s have disassociated a lawyer who has charged 3.5 million for an insignificant inquiry and submitting an substandard report which would have taken few hours/days as an indirect remuneration for regime change for which most lawyers including the former Bar Association President in the forefront of the campaign were amply remunerated. It is alleged that no receipts were issued and break down is not given in the Sri Lankan Airline inquiry by the controversial lawyer as required by the rules of profession. Political intervention and excessive media circus are to be avoided.
Modern IT developments should be made use of for the citizen participation when the citizens are armed with mobile phones and knowledge on Tec and communication skills. Witness protection, remuneration, inducements, offers, to be streamlined and modified and modernized. Officers should be given incentives and proper training encouragement should be given to the civic minded citizens in the campaign against corruption.
Imprisonment and fine should be increased and incentives to be offered to the concerned activist citizens. Government servants are privileged with lot of perks and future stability with pensions and similar benefits over other employees in the private sector. They should be educated and trained to live within means a simple and contended life devoid of extravagance to repulse bribe and corruption. No lenience should be shown to those responsible for bribery corruption inefficiency and inaction on their duties. Citizens Social workers NGOs Civil Society organisations media polity bear major burden on the national joint activism programs and activism in the eradication process of bribery and corruption.