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Speaking Dutch

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Oscar Arias Sanchez, the Nobel Laureate, had the following to say at the opening of Transparency International’s Office in Berlin Germany
“When the public at large demonstrate for more accountable and decent government in so many countries of the world they are motivated, to no small extent, by anger over corruption; corruption that humiliates the poor; corruption that bankrupts the honest trader; corruption that empowers the unscrupulous captains of commerce and their partners dishonest politicians; corruption which spreads like a cancer to kill all that is decent in society.” {{more}}
For generations now, the industrialized and technologically developed countries of the north have traded comfortably and sometimes corruptly with the countries of the developing world, content to pay bribes and kickbacks to gain business. Indeed, Lord Young, the former British cabinet minister for trade and industry and the one-time Executive Chairman of Cable & Wireless, defended bribes in business. “The moral problem to me is simply jobs,” he said. “Now, when you are talking about kickbacks, you are talking about something that is illegal in this country (U.K) and that of course, you wouldn’t dream of doing. But there are parts of the world I’ve been to where we all know it happens and if you want to be in business you have to do. In many countries of the world the only way in which money is trickled down is from the bosses who own everything. Now that’s not immoral or corrupt. It is very different from our practice. We must be very careful not to insist that our practices are followed everywhere in the world.” The former Zambian cabinet minister, Dr. Rodger Chondwg, who resigned from government in protest over kickbacks, countered by saying,
“Corruption is corruption whether it manifests itself in England or in Zambia, it is the drain on the resources in the country.”
Backed by strong public opinion, all political parties in S.V.G have been calling for integrity legislation, with teeth as a watch dog over all public officials who are paid form the public purse. To boot, the Constitution Reform Commission (C.R.C.) seems receptive to the incorporation of integrity provisions in our constitution to be. The philosopher Bacon, speaking of integrity of judges posited, “ Above all things integrity is their portion and proper virtue, cursed is he that removeth the landmark.” Needless to say, the same is true for public officials and indeed society in general.
The deep truth, however, is that there is somewhere in our system a hidden aversion to tight integrity legislation. For some, integrity carries too high a price, especially those who have risen by sin and corruption. The current unwritten law makes heroes of the slickest and smartest.
Of all governments, the Dutch most abhor corruption and theft. Punishment is certain, swift and heavy. In the colony of Curacao the acknowledged politician of the year was recently sentenced to two years in jail for corruption. So were several other high government officials who were found guilty of various acts of corruption, which are sometimes smiled at elsewhere.
Times are changing and so the comfortable culture of silence needs a wake up call. Needless to say that corruption is the enemy of progress and must be struck down with a bold decisiveness. After all, the state has no power of itself. Its power comes from the people who now cry out for urgent action. If the proposed integrity legislation comes on stream we may all be ‘speaking Dutch’.

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