Culture of Accountability; Firewall against Corruption... A Possibility


The way forward to combat corruption is to instill good values such as honest,, accountability and integrity to our young population. There is a need  for education policy to place moral values as a major component, besides the traditional educating approach of imparting various professional discipline. 
"...... In the words of Mr. Peter Eigen, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Transparency International as a preface to TI Source Book 2000... Corruption is one of the greatest challenges of  our age - a challenge that must and can be confronted. There are no short cuts, and no easy answers. The scourge of corruption will, to some degree or another, always be with us. As we enter a new millennium, we are conscious that corruption, to a greater or lesser extent, poses a threat not only to the environment, human rights, democratic institutions and fundamental rights and freedoms, but it also undermines development and deepens poverty for millions the world over. If it is allowed to continue to provoke irrational governance, one driven by greed rather by the people's needs, and to disrupt the development of the private sector, corruption will even deny that most fundamental of human needs - hope.”
Corruption is endemic and everywhere in the eyes of Transparency International. It is not just a case of public officials abusing their positions, but of people abusing their positions wherever there is easy money to be made. For many or most countries, corruption of the public sector seems to have taken centre stage and there is a general perception that only low rank or junior officers are hauled up or punished while senior officers or the ' big fish ' has been left out of persecution.
It is indeed hard to believe that private sector has the virtues of angles. From time to time we do hear cases of bankers, contractors, corporate figures, accountant and other professionals such as lawyers and doctors being charged with corrupt offences. Politicians are the regular offenders and of late judges have joined the club.
A literature review will show that corruption is a well researched subject by social scientist and being subject to numerous fora, both at the national and international levels. It has also been a favorite subject for NGO's and institution of high learning that had churned out thousands of research papers. Topics of interest cover all aspects of corruption. Types of corruption  within the public domain  include ' petty ' corruption practised by public servants who may be grossly underpaid and depend on small rent from the public to feed their families and pay school fees.
What causes corruption has been exhaustively dealt with by various quarters. Corruption in the public sector has been indicated as a manifest failure of government to pay a living wage to public servants. From the perspective of developed countries, corruption is part of  ' culture ' of many developing countries but studies have shown that in some cases, corruption may reflect practices introduced into the culture by  foreign power. The cause for corruption in the public sector has to some extent related to public delivery system and areas of government  activity most vulnerable to corruption include public procurement, zoning of land, revenue collection, government appointment and local government.
Damaging impact of corruption is a foregone conclusion due to the fact that under corrupt environment important decisions are determined by ultrior motives, with no concern for the consequences for the wider community. Corruption generates inefficiency in allocation of resources, on production and on consumption as it permits the least efficient contractor with the highest ability to bribe to be the receipient of government contract. Since the cost of bribes is included in the price of goods produced, it will lower the general welfare of the populace.
Combating corruption is another area that was extensively deliberated and  a string of possible actions that can be taken to cure this endemic disease. However,  the Transparency International Source Book 2000 flags six main areas of reform which can help implement an overall corruption strategy: (a) leadership (b) public programme (c) government reorganisation (d) law enforcement (e) public awareness, and (f) creation of institutions to prevent corruption.
On reviewing the various components and issues related to corruption, one tends to believe that in the case of a disease, prevention is better than the cure. As such, it is not wrong to believe that corruption can be prevented through concerted effort and commitment on all parties to the culture of accountability; a culture that permeates within an individual own personal values and widely accepted and practised by the society. Accountability covers answerability, responsibility, democracy and public interest that can only exist under a democratic and transparent enviromnent. All these elements form core factors in combating corruption.
For many countries, there is need to overcome various roadblocks to accountability that include low literacy rate, decline in moral values, lack of financial system and lack of will power by the government to set up accountability regime in the society. The effort to develop culture of responsibility and accountability must be top of any government policy initiative; the only answer or solution to combat corruption and corrupt practices.
The way forward to combat corruption is to instill good values such as honest,, accountability and integrity to our young population. There is a need  for education policy to place moral values as a major component, besides the traditional educating approach of imparting various professional discipline. An individual coming from a family practising good values of life will most likely turn out to be a citizen with high moral values. Religious values can be the core component in the effort to create and sustained culture of accountability and hopefully create individuals who are not going to tolerate and practise corrupt practices......"
Tan Sri Dr Hadenan Jalil
GBSES 1964
(Extract from yet to be published autobiography of author)

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