By Rajeewa Jayaweera –
In the wake of President’s Chief of Staff and Chairman State Timber Corporation being nabbed by Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC)in a five-star hotel car park accepting a bribe of Rs 20 million as part of a bribe from an Indian businessman, local media had published a statement by Secretary to President.
The top bureaucrat has stated; “Govt. will not tolerate Bribery and Corruption. This government will continue to punish those engaged in bribery and corruption.”
The worthy gentleman has craftily left out Nepotism and Cronyism from the narrative.
The Oxford Dictionary defines Bribery, Corruption, Nepotism and Cronyism as; Dishonestly persuade (someone) to act in one’s favor by a gift of money or other inducement;Dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power, typically involving bribery; The practice among those with power or influence of favoring relatives or friends, especially by giving them jobs; and the appointment of friends and associates to positions of authority, without proper regard to their qualifications respectively.
Bribery, corruption, nepotism, and cronyism have had a corrosive effect on Sri Lankan society since independence. They are interrelated.
One of the earliest known cases of nepotism was the nomination by Ceylon’s first Prime Minister DS Senanayake of his son Dudley Senanayake as his successor over the more senior and deserving SWRD Bandaranaike which led to SWRD leaving the UNP.
Friends and family of politicians and their minions often facilitate corrupt deals. Furthermore, their imperious conduct with no accountability causes administrative havoc in government institutions.
The son-in-law of the President’s Secretary was appointed to the Sri Lanka High Commission in London in October 2015 and holds the rank of Counsellor (Consular). He is a British national and had been working in his family law firm before his appointment. His sole qualification to be appointed was having the good fortune of marrying the offspring of a former Government Agent whose one-time Grama Niladhari is now the President of the country.
Career foreign service officers must be graduates and pass an open competitive examination to enter the Foreign Service. After completing three years of probation, they start as Third Secretaries and progress in their careers, many reaching ambassadorial rank after 15-20 years. During this time, they gain invaluable experience so necessary in the conduct of diplomacy.
On the other hand, relatives and friends of politicians and their minions or political appointees parachute into Sri Lankan missions abroad for a few years. They often lack in both formal education and necessary skills required in that line of work. They also deprive junior foreign service officers of valuable training opportunities impacting their performance as they progress in the foreign service.
The Rajapakse regime turned nepotism and cronyism into a fine art. Yahapalanists who faithfully promised to eradicate bribery, corruption, nepotism, and cronyism during the campaign trail lost no time after January 09, 2015 electoral victory in emulating the Rajapaksas.
The chief Yahapalanist appointed his brother as Chairman of Sri Lanka Telecom, one of the most profitable and cash-rich government institutions in the first week of his Presidency.
The deputy chief Yahapalanist, not to be outdone, appointed a member of his ‘Royal’ clan to the Central Bank. Because of the findings of his wrongdoings by a Presidential Commission, this clansman is now a wanted man and a fugitive.
Abraham Lincoln once said; “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”