Bribery and corruption -The main Enemy of the nation

6 September 2017 12:00 am - 1     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The difficulties of tackling the ballooning issue of corruption

Bribery is omnipresent with a long history starting from the time immemorial and spreading fast at all levels of the community.   

It is cancerous, and exists all 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.   

Corruption erodes trust in Governments, businesses and markets. Bribery is an offence punishable under the Penal Code as far back as 1882. In 1994 Act No 19 was created to combat bribery 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 Assets and Liabilities Law No 01 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.”   

The 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.   


  • Bribery is omnipresent with a long history starting from time immemorial and spreading fast at all levels of the community.   
  • Corruption erodes trust in Governments, businesses and markets.  
  • Citizens had high hopes on the learned, and pleasant new Bribery Commissioner who has still not appeared to have started his job in sweeping the dirt.   
  • Is it incompetency or lack of interest of the Government on eradication process is in the minds of the citizen sandwiched between the State corrupt officials and incompetence of the Government?  
  • If the system is not effective short and long effective genuine methods are to be adopted and implemented to curb it. 

 


Surprisingly, so far, only 822 complaints and 639 anonymous calls have been received in 2017, incurring an expenditure of Rs. 1, 515,200,392 (Rs. 1.5 bn) as expenditure for the fiscal year, which indicates the loss of interest or loss of trust in the system on using the institution created to combat corruption. 

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 2 of the Act deals with such offences and could be considered as the most relevant in today’s context  to deal with contractors and others offering any gratification as an inducement, solicits or accepts bribe at any given moment at any given place in the country.  

Institutionalized Crime and Corrupt Institutions

President Maithripala Sirisena has strongly echoed in the Sinhala daily paper “Ada” on 31.08.2017 that  “Bribery, corruption, wastage and inefficiency were in their highest ebb and  has become a sickness in society and that it needs a concerted effort of all parties.” 

Presumably headed by the Bribery Commission, which he carefully picked up to lead, to arrest and eradicate bribery and corruption. President in his official capacity as President during his tenure and also as the powerful Health, and Agriculture Minister in the last regime has tirelessly fought against corruption, bribery, nepotism and misuse of national wealth.   

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.   

Citizens had high hopes on the learned, and pleasant new Bribery Commissioner, who has still not appeared to have started his job in sweeping the dirt.   

Is it incompetency or lack of interest of the Government on eradication process is in the minds of the citizen sandwiched between the State corrupt officials and incompetence of the Government?  

This reminds us of the Quotation by “Wangars Mathis” a Kenyan Activist “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” . Churchill said what worries him in inaction and not action in the right direction.

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.   
The President should be credited for attempts made and steps taken and excellent speeches on the subject

While the 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 country wide with the network of Police 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 the streets. Enough is enough. Bribery and corruption appear to be in the hands of those who are in the office. 
The protection of the politicians shows that the menace purely originated and groomed by politicians for personal benefits.   

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 inquired into the corruption of Minister “Ta Wing Van” – while the inquiries are 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 of its members should be serious, educative, and vision based.   

Can one compare the CB bond sale controversy-an issue of national importance, to “James Bond Episode”?  

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 with the nation as trustees for a short period of time.   

It is noted with regret that only four members of the legislature have provided the declaration of assets 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 Commission should take steps on its own volition as a matter of urgency!  

Way forward

Obviously corruption and bribery cannot be eradicated and the attempts should be made to minimise 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.   

Corruption in the Transparency International - one of the largest money making NGOs have disassociated a lawyer, who has charged 3.5 million for an insignificant inquiry and submitting an substandard report  

It is alleged that no receipts were issued and break down is not given 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 Technology  and Communication skills.   

Witness protection, remuneration, inducements, offers, to be streamlined and modified and modernised.   

Payment of 21 million for an unoccupied building to date continuously is a day light robbery and Corruption Commission should take steps on its own volition as a matter of urgency!

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 or corruption inefficiency and inaction on their duties.   

The writer could be contacted sarath7@hotmail.co.uk

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  • Thanga Thursday, 07 September 2017 04:09 AM

    Bribery is endemic in isle of paradise. Recently, two of the friends went to Sri Lanka after the lapse of several years to visit their parents and kith and kin. But trouble irrupted as soon they landed at the Katunayake International Air Port. Both were carrying Canadian passports that normally receives recognition and approval. My first friend was detained by the Immigration Officer(s) and a grilling Questions and Answers continued for well over. My friend argued that his name is not in any terrorist or banned list. He had a clean record prior to leaving Sri Lanka. The immigration officer still adamant to deport him back to Canada by the next flight came with a deal. He wanted Rs.500,000 to let him leave the air-port. My friend has already spent 3 hours since landing. He to pay Rs.50,000 instead of Rs.500,000. Sri Lankan Immigration and Customs are corrupt top to bottom. My second friend encountered the same problem at the hands of the Immigration Officer. But he refused to give.


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