The Sunday Leader

Peace Building And Corruption

by Colin Athuraliya

Partners in the coalition government

After sometime following  January 08, 2015, there is not much progress in the area of anti-corruption activities and good governance. There are many partners and allies to support the coalition national government,  and there is good recognition(UN human right commission, invitation from world anti-corruption forum in UK, and G7 countries meeting in Japan),  in the international community.

However, the country needs to progress the good framework of the anti-corruption plan in good governance, particularly those tackling corruption and establishing rule of law, widely alleged to be the central question in the present context. People seek to impose the will of power to do something to build the trust in the general public(though there is some action taken) with the minority groups in the country. Both development and anti-corruption strategies and use as a component part of the good governance and peace building is fairly recent progress.

The damage caused by corrupt practices in Sri Lanka is well known locally and internationally. It has eroded the rule of law(still no confidence among the public) and the stability of the democratic institutions with an infringement on fundamental rights, freedom, undermining the trust and confidence of the citizens in the fairness and impartiality of public administration. It has a bad effect and undermines the business climate – discourages domestic and international investment, wasted economic resources and hampered economic growth, also threatening  the objectives of peace building, democracy and good governance in the country. Can these be put down to corrupt cultural or administrative behaviour in the present moment? The pace of reform maybe less than many hope or wish for and there is little doubt about the things that are progressing in the country.

To address the present context welcomes the high level representative’s development of a comprehensive anti-corruption strategy which would provide the framework necessary to identify, develop and implement changes in the structure and procedures of a national government to reduce significantly corrupt activities and establish the public awareness programme ensuring transparency in all phases of governmental operation.


Public awareness

The extensive anti-corruption strategy would be applied to address ‘Sri Lankan mindsets’ through education and public awareness campaigning, but it is a very crucial task for the success of any anti-corruption programme if the public is demoralised  and accepts it as inevitable presence. However, a  high level of internal and international involvement in public education and political awareness is needed to increase awareness about the issue of corruption.

My strong preference would be that the coalition government undertakes the changes themselves because it is clearly in their long-term, collective self-interest to do so. To promote this kind of thinking we have to set a high priority on the campaign of the  independent media (unfortunately we do not have this yet in Sri Lanka). Supporting public programmes should be central.

In highly segmented society such as Sri Lanka, it is inevitable that elected representatives would reflect this social, ethnic and political division; we can see the relation to the good governance initiatives, there are clashes between these segments and programmes such as anti-corruption campaigns, and also the corruption mechanism is not designed to strengthen trust in state institutions, civil society and ethnic minorities.  What we are experiencing today that the general public is not interested in  is that they say slow progress (and spread  more rumours in the society) for the present coalition government investigation activities and their process (Bribery Commission, FCID,CID etc.) and there is possibility to weaken their public legitimacy.

There are many people who can physically and mentally resemble the general public (a few incidents happened in the recent past).  In some way things relate to the anti-corruption programme and post-war peace processes.

(The writer is from the CNU Institute)

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