13 December, 2017

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The Cancer Of Corruption In Sri Lanka

By Ameer Ali

Dr. Ameer Ali

Corruption is defined as the “abuse of entrusted power for private gain”. The yet unresolved bond scam saga in which too many notables, including the prime minister, are alleged to have involved highlights the extent to which this abuse has taken place at high levels. There is an old saying in Tamil, “Arasan evvali kudikalum avvalip” meaning, the monarch’s way is the subjects’ way. In the case of Sri Lanka, it is not the ordinary subjects but the state functionaries that adopt their leaders’ way. If the allegation against the prime minister is proved then from the prime minister, ministers and their deputies to public executives and right down to the petty clerk corruption has become a way of life in the blessed country. Nothing moves upwards or downwards through public administration without bribing someone to get something done. The private sector on the other hand cannot survive without transacting with the public sector at some point and at that point corruption has its corrosive impact on the private sector too. Ultimately corruption becomes pandemic.

There may be a few honest politicians and officials but they are fast becoming an endangered species. If this state of things is called good governance or Yahapalanaya one shudders to think what would be the shape of bad governance.       

Transparency International’s 2015 Corruption Perception Index lists 167 countries with their index ranging from 0 (utterly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). Sri Lanka has an index of 37 in 2015 deteriorating from 40 in 2012 and holding 83rd position. One does not know how exactly this index is computed. Yet, it is not a pleasant rank. It is the greed of the have lots and poverty of the have nots that feed corruption. As Professor Ali Mazrui wrote in his Cultural Forces in World Politics, not only power but even powerlessness corrupts and “absolute powerlessness can corrupt absolutely”. Economically, the greed for unceasing accumulation of the have lots naturally leads to an equally unceasing decumulation of the have nots, and beyond a point when honest means of accumulation exhausts itself dishonesty takes over.  Even the have lots have to resort to dishonest means to prevent decumulation. This is what corruption has done to the Sri Lankan polity.    

The question is how to stop this cancer. In the current political climate changing governments is not going to solve the problem because the so called alternative government has been proved at least equally if not more than corrupt as the present one. Corruption, in a sense, has become systemic and it is tolerated even by the international managers of globalization and free markets. The major political parties have committed themselves to operate within the parameters of this dominant global paradigm. As long as the ruling regime agrees to abide by the dictates of the IMF and World Bank corruption will be frowned upon by the managers but will be tolerated as a price to pay for the durability of the system. In an indirect way their toleration encourages corruption.

It has become customary in the Western world to rank, publish and glorify a list of the richest people without bothering to tell the public how these individuals made their wealth. The publications do not even tell us whether these individuals are also the top tax paying citizens. Only when an investigative journalist exposes the corrupt manner in which the ill-gotten wealth was accumulated there will be some noise made by the economic managers and that will be the end of the story. This is why I call corruption as systemic. If the managers are serious about ending corruption in Sri Lanka all they have to do is to stop lending to the government until serious action is taken to minimise if not totally eradicate corruption and corrupters are brought to books. Neither the IMF nor the World Bank is prepared to do this.

In my recent visit to Sri Lanka I revisited Bandarawela to see what action has been taken to stop the disaster from the Uma Oya project. I went back to see some of the properties that have been structurally damaged by this project. The cracks have widened further and walls are about to crumble. I was told that some owners have been offered a few lacks of rupees by Yahapalanaya to repair the damage to their buildings. One heritage house in particular has been offered eight lacks of rupees, but to save that old building from destruction the cost will certainly be more than triple that amount. What is required is not simple masonry work but a structural engineering job. There are about 8,000 buildings in that beautiful town that have been affected by this shoddy project and the compensation offered has been extremely paltry. President Maithripala Sirisena who was a party to this project in the former government cannot run away from taking full responsibility. The Uma Oya project and the manner in which its victims are being treated reflects another dimension of corruption. How long are the Sri Lankans going to put up with this rotten system? Systemic corruption needs systemic solution and the time has come to look for an alternative politico-economic paradigm.                                 

In the meantime, ordinary Sri Lankans are destined to suffer under the system. In the meantime, none of the parties in the country are presenting any comprehensive plan to tackle the sky-rocketing cost of living, spiralling inflation, increasing unemployment, mounting national debt, looming environmental disasters and other day to day issues affecting ordinary citizens. Published statistics by government agencies do not reveal the whole truth and figures are massaged to fit political agendas. Yet, there is one issue on which all parties have common grounds to contest elections and that is ethnic nationalism. The opposition in order to capture the Buddhist vote bank is rekindling interethnic animosity and the rulers are reluctant to take action against the culprits because they too are eying on the same vote bank. On the other hand, one is yet to see an election manifesto from the Tamil National Alliance and the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress about their solution to the problems mentioned above. Even when the last budget was presented by the Finance Minister none of the Tamil and Muslim MPs had anything constructive or otherwise to say about the budget. Such is the pathetic situation about politics in Sri Lanka. I do not deny that there are specific ethnic issues to be resolved but it is in the interest of these politicians to keep them unresolved because without those issues they will have nothing to offer to the electorates to capture their votes.      

 *Dr. Ameer Ali, School of Business and Governance, Murdoch University, Western Australia

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Latest comments

  • 6
    0

    What is more corruption than perverting the course of justice by supporting corrupted politicians of former government.
    Why Ranil and M&s could not punish them..
    Why this difference ?
    They should treat all same by the rule of land .
    No one justice for politicians and another for public
    One set of justice of law for majority and another for minority.
    One justice for poor and another for rich..
    One for strong and another for weak .
    Judges of this country should have courage to deliver justice

    • 1
      0

      Badudeen, the most corrupt kallathoni is at large. How come?

    • 1
      1

      The seven decades of the GOVIGAMA mismanagement shows that these GOVI SCUMBAGS are deemed unfit for rule of the country. These are historical criminals who plotted with the invaders (Jewish owned British Empire) conspired to unseat the NATIVE MONARCH and then by the backdoor they gained the authority from the British to become the only set of RULING ELITES who have no challenge from any other caste from the majority. GOVI criminals are a one big MAFIA FRATERNITY where they help each other to thieve and thrive. They have this GOVI controlled Buddhist sect/Mahanayake system where they hide behind the fake “Safeguarding of Buddhism” to keep the populace duped and as a cover up for their criminal activities. They have created the Goon squads and racist Mafia gangs (JHU/BBS/Ravana/Mahasona…and many other affiliates) to create unrest among the population with their GOVI Media backed racist propaganda against the minorities sighting them as the biggest THREAT to the nation. Govi’s are the real hidden and open threat the country is facing for the last 100 years with their unceasing waves of racial pogroms conducted with the support of the state and its apparatus.

    • 1
      3

      That’s because there are nothing to press charges against the MR and his clan. All are allegations without hard evidence. The matter will be rejected out right in a normal court. But, the charges are leveled through misappropriation of state properties.

      • 2
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        Shenal,

        “That’s because there are nothing to press charges against the MR and his clan”

        Not correct.

        There were dead bodies and missing bodies.. People have been bought out with the stolen funds from the public. Lasnatha was killed for exposing the MIG deal., where Gota pocketed $30 million. Basil Rajapaksa bought a $4.5 million mansion in California. Guess who paid for it? Grass eating low IQ Paras with a mean IQ of 79.

        • 0
          1

          There were dead bodies of 60,000 people back then including prominent journalists and prominent lawyers. But, no one accused Ranil of murder. An army outfit was blatantly exposed in 2002. But, no one accused Ranil for high treason.

          You are suggesting that everyone including the present governing party members specially Mr. Sarath Fonseka is also bought by Rajapaksha, so that his corruption chargers are not brought forward?

          By the way, speaking of Fonseka. Didn’t UNP accused him of murdering Lasantha back in 2008? What about that? Did UNP lie? or Was they mistaken?

          • 0
            0

            Dear Shenal,

            You are asking very good questions and Amarasiri is not defending any of those you have pointed out who may be equally be culpable. Of course, there were dead bodies in 1958, 1971, 1977, 1983, 1987-89, besides the dead bodies, you have pointed out including the period 1989-2004, 2005-2009.

            Gotabaya Rajapaksa wanted Sarath Fonseka hung, but ended up jailing him.

            Rajapaksa government’s disturbed defence secretary Gotabaya says ‘Sarath Fonseka will be hung

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6UMvrt0AXQ

            What is the difference? The dead bodies during those periods were as a direct result of the conflict between the state and those who wanted to overthrow the state, the “Rebels”, or riots , some state sponsored, that targeted a particular community.

            The dead bodies from Gotabaya Rajapaksa, for example Lasantha, Ekliyadoda etc. was because they pointed out the MIG deal corruption, where he pocketed $30 million, and other corruptions. The Thagudeen body may have something to do with the Egos of the Mahinda Rajapaksa, sons and crooks.

            Why should Gotabaya Rajapaksa be hung for premeditated murder? Read above.

            There is no smoke without a fire (on Earth ) or from Aristotle, the effect must have a cause, and Buddha said the same thing, and the causes were Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Mahinda Rajapaksa and cronies.

  • 5
    2

    Dr. Ameer Ali,

    Thanks.

    Is there a correlation between corruption and low IQ, because some of these low IQ crooks think that they will not be found out.

  • 6
    0

    Singhalese pundit: You siad: “Judges of this country should have courage to deliver justice”. Please read the judgement of the Appeal Courts in relation to the appeal filed by Gotabaya Rajapakse requesting a “decision” preventing the Bribery Commission arresting him over a case filed in a Lower Court, under “Public Property” Law. The Judges in this Appeal Court gave an “Interim Judgement” even without consulting by way of an issue of notice to the AG who has instructed to file that case in a lower court. Now that Judgement has been further extended till 10th December. The interesting point here is: The Judges questioned the validity of filing that case under Public Property Law. This whole matter of “Corruption” has got new interpretations, in that, a popular way to DEFEND is to say: PROVE it, if not it is NOT corruption. As a result all the crooks with the availability of modern technology, now know the way to resort to corruption and avoid been caught. The above case in point is one such, where even the Judges favour such in interpreting the Law.

    • 3
      0

      When judges are crooks, what hope for the country?

  • 6
    0

    Corruption is not cancer here, but a culture.

  • 0
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

    • 2
      1

      Niro/ranjith

      Brilliant.
      Thanks for keeping it brief.

  • 1
    0

    Does the problem lie with the Politician or the People? Are the majority suffering some sort of mental disorder? They keep complaining for six years and then comes an election and they elect the same people. Then start the cycle of complaining for the next six years.

    “https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/matter-personality/201509/what-makes-people-do-the-same-stupid-things-repeatedly”

    • 0
      0

      That’s why we need a new party with honest people.

      • 0
        0

        Nimal

        First find a few honest, wise, ….secular people who respect rule of law, justice, democracy, …. then think about forming a new party.

        Please keep me informed.

  • 2
    0

    Corruption is a hell in Sri Lankan public University system. See Colombo University Arts faculty grand father Emiritus run family Dept. All the Lecturers recruited through out door connections and fake professor appointment and bogus PhD factory to give PhDs to friends and others for money.

    • 1
      0

      And the same silly sods bar the rest of the population from gaining any kind of degree by paying for it. Apparently, paying for a degree is much more honorable than getting for free.

  • 1
    2

    Kallathoni bastard of Northern Provincial Council who refused to hoist the National flag (Lion flag) hasn’t been arrested yet. Other parts of the world this kind of bastard would get the capital punishment.

    • 1
      1

      Johnny Baby

      If you feel outraged about the boycotting of National Flag of the Sinhala/Buddhist fascists please make one amude out of the lion flag, wear it day in day out which could make you proud rather than thrusting just a horrible picture of a beast on a piece of clothe.

      Or probably wear a three piece suite made out of the flag.

      It will make you proud.

    • 1
      2

      He is no more a bastard than you are. What sort of a Kallathoni are you. A Karawe who came to fish, a Salagama who came to peel cinnamon or Berawa who came to beat drums? Or being a John, a progeny of some white man who wanted a quick screw?

    • 0
      0

      John:
      Have you come across the saying “Illan Kanawa”.

      If you did not understand: please read below. You just got served.

  • 0
    0

    rent seeking has become a way of life. destruction follows. productive energy is curtailed, and rent seekers get the majority share of the economy. migration and refugees will be the net result.
    why we dont have private medical universities is due to rent seeking mentality. original thinkers are suppressed and people who are productive are shunned, and un-productive are given more of the economic pie due to law being made to suit rent seekers. All professional bodies be it lawyers/accountants/nurses/doctors all have rent seeking mentality which has destroyed the initiative of the common man to stand on his own feet(self reliance). on top the politico gets the biggest pie. laws have to change for country to prosper.

  • 3
    0

    country men , for the sake of rationality keep aside the religion,language,cast,creed, UNP/JVP/SLFP, MR/RW, NORTH/SOUTH and take a real hard look at the past, do any one of you with a sane mind believe that we as public should be in this current pathetic position, given the fact we had all the opportunity, means and a real advantage in having a early start towards progress years ago, and now in 2017 many of the countries who were way behind us have moved miles ahead and we still are being happily ignorant and spending most of our time in trash talking so that politicians (so called saviours / warriors) are in position to continue exploit,loot,manipulate, spin,lie,steal,send children to foreign countries, having multiple citizen ships and getting their health check ups done in foreign lands, And you?????, keep talking, As long we are happy to spend our time in SHIT that what we as well the future generation will be living in, but eventually it will chock us to death.

  • 2
    0

    Stealing state property is regarded as a heroic act in Sri Lanka and escaping from punishment is another heroism and the looter claims as an achievement and getting proud of this act is tolerated by the poor taxpaying people of Lanka- not knowing these money will be taxed on them in future and the poorer will still go poorer and rich looters will become richer and richer. This is Sri Lankan style of looting and escaping.\It is time for the public to wake up and show their power in the next election.

    • 0
      0

      We do remember as t o how a hero’s welcome was given to one Seypala who was accused of attempting to hi-jak a plane a few yers ago.

  • 1
    0

    Dr Ali

    You have painted the sorry state the country is in very well but you have left the answer to your own question of how to stop the corruption to the readers.

    There is no doubt in the minds of all the readers that corruption, mismanagement, abuse of power, cronyism / nepotism is so pandemic that we have come to accept it as normal. The private sector & even the professionals are happy to support the gravy train to their advantage in maximizing income & profits The sad result is that the rich get richer & the gap between the rich & the poor widening with the middle class being squeezed out but at the same time, a new class of ‘noveu riche’ people are emerging , benefiting from the corruption & culture of cronyism. It is this set of people who spread the cancer & prevent progress in order to consolidate their own positions.

    It is obvious to all that the previous regime took the country down a slippery slope, yet, the masses are still willing to support this foul mouthed band of yob politicians once again despite the blatant misuse, abuse & stealing of state funds. The PM is perhaps the only current politician with a clean pair of hands but he has failed miserably to bring any reforms & has turned a blind eye to corruption & mismanagement around him which has put his own political career in jeopardy. SL will never come out of this mess until we learn about integrity, ethics, humanity & professional pride in what we do because the mindset of the average man on the street can be easily manipulated by nationalistic & religious sentiment.

  • 2
    0

    If heads are corrupt what do you expect from public..
    Ranil and M&s are doing and supporting it ..what do you think public do …
    They will say if all do why not we

  • 3
    0

    Dr Ali,

    Talking of Bond Scam.
    Arjun payed for the Monarch Residence a monthly sum of 15 million on behalf of RK.
    Nations Mother Sheeranthee 1st Lady tour to paris sum of 25 million spent for 3 days hotel stay including mini bar expenses.

  • 1
    0

    Don’t worry, I heard Namak Rajapakse is paying for Azad Sally, a well known Islamic expansioist in Sinhale, to become the Colombo Mayer.

  • 0
    0

    TNA does not need a Manifesto as they never adhere to it. Thus they will be able to go on a wild goose search. The present charge against them by their partners is that they do not follow the manifesto. Similarly the Muslim congress too don’t need one.

  • 0
    0

    We do remember as t o how a hero’s welcome was given to one Seypala who was accused of attempting to hi-jak a plane a few years ago.

    (I have not said it earlier I believe)

  • 0
    0

    The analysis is good but what are the options to take out this cancer?

    If we can all accept that “Small Corrupt Acts” that we commit is the root cause of the and to consciously avoid committing these small corrupt acts, then we may be on the road to taking out this cancer.

    In my view, its not being fair to our fellow beings, by may be jumping a queue for some service or speaking to someone in the relevant office, that you or your family knows and asking him to give your issue priority; need not necessarily be a financial bribe. The middle classes are the worse in this as they generally have the contacts.

    The other democratic institutions, like the judiciary are also important but to weed out the bad eggs will take time; be thankful that not all are bad.

    This is my hope; I hope my hope is not in vain.

    Felix

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