Honiara: 13 June 2015
In his keynote address, at today’s Queen’s Birthday Parade held at Lawson Tama, His Excellency the Governor General, Sir Frank Kabui, GCMG, CSI, OBE, said corruption was as old as humanity and it needs to be fought with God’s intervention.
I referred to a similar message prior to Easter when I wrote, in an article to the Solomon Star, newspaper and published on my website, "Corruption. to widen the term one might expect to find defined in the proposed anti-corruption legislation, has implications in morality and rights and “Though Shall Not Steal” is one of the Ten Commandments which are widely understood to be moral imperatives by legal and Christian scholars.
In my early religious instruction I seem to recall that in the book of Leviticus, the prohibitions of robbing and stealing also included dealing falsely or fraudulently in matters of trade and negotiations.
It has often been argued that the church and politics should be separate and I feel sure the concept, largely, applies in the Solomon Islands.
I would acknowledge such limitations on the role of the church exist, but in terms of all the actions and events relating to governing, administrating, managing and building a just civil society and, specifically in the context of dealing with corruption, the church must have a say in the socio-political debate.”
His Excellency was therefore right to signal that ‘God’ through the churches views on ethical, moral and religious teachings must be part of the overall strategy to combat corruption within society.
The Governor General mentioned, too, that education about corruption does help to understand the problem as being one of the human heart but education itself was not enough.
Fighting corruption in any society does need a change in mind set and the reinforcing of moral principles will help but enforcing an anti-corruption strategy requires a three pronged approach focusing on deterrence, prevention and education.
In terms of enforcement, priority must be given, from the onset, in any locally established Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) to targeting corrupt officials and demonstrating to the public the political will to fight corruption at all costs.
Effective enforcement will act as a strong deterent.
To be successful in enforcement the ICAC must recruit professional staff of high integrity and intelligence and provide them with wide powers of investigation and prosecution in terms of appropriate legislation.
I envisage an ICAC Operations Department needing intelligence experts, technical experts, accountants, lawyers, information technology specialists, ethics and public relations experts, writers and surveillance staff, and all must have, apart from personal integrity, a passion and sense of mission in carrying out their duties.
Witness protection officers, computer forensics and protracted financial investigators will also be needed for specialist positions.
In terms of an overall effective deterrence strategy, educational programs must be instituted to broaden the knowledge about corruption and to induce public reporting of complaints to a centre manned on a 24 hour basis. A telephone hotline to the ICAC must also be facilitated.
Finally, an effective anti-corruption prevention strategy, I suggest, should begin by reducing the corruption opportunities in government departments and public institutions with priority given to public procurement, tendering processes, public works, licensing, public service delivery, law enforcement and revenue collection.