Posted: 31/12/2014 in Box of Chocolates, Vanuatu
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Corruption - The Silent Serial Killer

On every single day of the year someone dies as a result of CORRUPTION!

That’s right – every single day!

Sound far-fetched? Unfortunately, it’s not. Corruption is the direct cause of more human and other animal species deaths than anything that Mother Nature chooses to throw at us, be it fire, extreme heat or cold, floods, hurricanes, tsunamis, firestorms, earthquakes or volcanic eruptions or anything else imposed on the Earth’s inhabitants by the elements.

In addition to death, corruption is also responsible for more human misery than disease, famine and pestilence combined.

But corruption doesn’t stop there. This silent serial killer also counts among its victims the environment and particularly favours the oceans and forests and any other would-be pristine place – even the air that you, me, the rest of the world’s population, human and otherwise and all the different plant and aquatic species breathe in and depend upon for their very survival.

WHO is it then that wears the cloak of these man-made tragedies?

Is it you? Maybe; it depends who you the reader are and what your role within your own community happens to be. On one hand, you may not even be aware that you are part of the problem which, in itself is a travesty.

On the other hand, chances are that, if you are corrupt, you are fully aware of the fact and just don’t give a damn! Such an attitude is commonplace among those who are genuinely corrupt – as long as something serves their own self-interests, then the effects upon others of their actions and behaviour mean nothing to them.

So, WHAT is corruption?

Transparency International states that “CORRUPTION is the abuse of entrusted power for private gain”.

The World Bank defines it simply as the abuse of public office for private gain”.

You might think that there’s not much margin for error in these two definitions by such high-profile organizations, right?

Wrong! The real truth behind corruption and its survival or should I say exponential growth in this, the real world, is that corruption can and will only be allowed to carry on its dirty work WITH YOUR PERMISSION – tacit or otherwise.

If you turn a blind eye to corrupt practices of any magnitude or adopt an attitude of “I’m only one person and therefore can’t do anything to stop them” and/or “It doesn’t really affect me”, then in effect, you become as equally responsible as the perpetrators themselves for the consequences of such actions by others.

Perhaps you may be thinking at this point – “Well, that’s a bit harsh, isn’t it?” My response to that, very simply, is that perhaps it’s time for you to reach into your own heart and soul and give frank and real consideration to the planet-endemic problem of corruption and in particular, to what measures you can personally take to play your part in not just finding and understanding the solution but to actually being PART of the solution.

With that said, let’s investigate how corruption can affect you.  Putting another slant on it, let’s spend a little time for some selfish introspection, if you will.

For instance, are you a parent to one or more children? Or maybe you’re a devoted grandparent who also cares about the future welfare of these same children.

Imagine the following events then:

Scenario One

Your precious five year-old has a sudden attack of severe diarrhea and vomiting that won’t stop. You take your child to the local hospital for attention only to find out that the hospital has no IV fluid supplies because it has no money to buy them. In a very short space of time, the child, your child dies due to extreme dehydration causing its bodily functions to shut down. The Government official responsible for overseeing the finances of the hospital in the meantime, has fraudulently syphoned off the money and given it to his family, money that would have saved the life of your child. Round One to the silent serial killer due to CORRUPTION in the guise of FRAUD!

Scenario Two

Your sixteen year-old daughter is brutally bashed and raped. You are able to find out immediately who is responsible for this horrendous crime and taking your daughter to the hospital for treatment, you go to the Police to report the incident. The Police then do their duty in taking a statement from you and then from your daughter and promise you that prompt action will be taken to arrest the man. A day or so goes by and you become aware that the man concerned is still around. You then contact the Police again and enquire as to why this is so and following a series of delays, you are told that the file has been lost! You are rightfully angry and demand that action be taken to arrest this person. More days go by until you find out that the perpetrator is a family member of a high-ranking Government official and yes, you guessed it – the man is never charged and the matter subsequently never gets to Court. Your daughter is so emotionally traumatised by the whole incident that she commits suicide a short time later. Round Two to the silent serial killer – CORRUPTION by INJUSTICE!

Scenario Three

On another front – you are looking forward to the arrival of your parents and cousins from your home island as they are coming to help you celebrate your wedding. However, shortly after the ship leaves its port, it sinks with the loss of the lives of everybody on board. It happened because the ship’s Captain had bribed the Port officials to overlook the fact that the vessel carrying your family was not only unseaworthy at the time of leaving but was also grossly overloaded with passengers and cargo thereby making it doubly dangerous for travel. Round Three to the silent serial killer, this time – because of CORRUPTION through BRIBERY!

Scenario Four

In spite of the lack of educational facilities that have been available to you due to mismanagement of the funds that were meant to be allocated to the education  system, you have worked hard for many, many years with your wife’s support that was needed to help raise your family of three kids, your first-born now being sixteen. Just as you have funded your own way through university and now, at thirty five years of age, are the best-qualified person around in your particular chosen vocation, your son has decided to follow in your footsteps by going to university and getting a medical degree. To achieve this, however, he will need your financial support even though he topped his final year at school (his application for a scholarship was unsuccessful due to the fact that it was given to an undeserving child of a Government Minister instead).

To make matters even worse, a well-paid Public Service position becomes available that is perfectly suited to your special skills and qualifications and which, is duly advertised in  the local media. Naturally, you apply for the position but it turns out that the job is eventually given to the unqualified brother-in-law of the Department Head. You then have the unpleasant task of telling your son why you didn’t get the job and that the subsequent result being that you won’t be able send him to university to enable him to achieve his long-held ambition to become a physician. From that point on, your first-born, your pride and joy, becomes not only despondent but also turns to drugs and alcohol for solace and ultimately overdoses on home brew and tragically dies. Round Four to the silent serial killer, CORRUPTION in the form of NEPOTISM!

The above scenarios are just a fleeting sample of the types of corruptive influences that we are confronted with every day, so please don’t take on an attitude of “this can’t happen to me” because of where you live…or don’t!

Yes, I live in Vanuatu where such corruption crimes of this nature abound. However, take a good look around you if you live elsewhere. Look hard enough and you WILL find corruption at work – in the political arena (especially), in the public sector AND  in the private sector as well (with the conscious approval of the powers-that-be within both political circles and government bureaucracy).

On the upside, there is an ever-growing, determined force of individuals (including a small number of politicians and civil servants of integrity) and anti-corruption-specific organizations whose basic attitude is one of “We’ve had enough!” and who are working hard at making the world we live in a better place for everyone – a place where sustainable socio-economic development can take place while also ensuring that  important cultural traditions and the environment are preserved for future generations.

Local-to-Vanuatu NGO’s such as YACV (Youth Against Corruption Vanuatu), WACC (Women Against Crime and Corruption) and the Vanuatu Chapter of Transparency International, to name a few, are all active in the fight against corruption and as such deserve your active, ongoing support.

THE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION must involve you as well – it’s in everyone’s interests that you do so…including yours!

Special Note: This article was first published in the Yumi Toktok Stret Newspaper on 24th December, 2014.


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