Koim: 'mobocracy' will promote unequal resource distribution
Koim: corruption is often legislated by PNG's 109-seat National Parliament.
The following is an extract from a press release by Sam Koim, the chair of PNG's anti-corruption investigation team Task Force Sweep, which was released when he presented his team's final report to the parliament-elected PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill.
Without publishing anything in the report, generally, our investigations have revealed very frightening trend of corruption in this country. The level of corruption had migrated from sporadic such as occasional incidences of bribes to systematic and now to institutionalisation where Government institutions are dominated by corrupt people who orchestrate corruption using their lawful authorities. Institutions that supposed to practise openness and provide check and balance are now becoming a secrecy haven, where they sanction illegality and secrecy.
Unlike in the past where people use existing loopholes to steal public funds, this time they use their position, authority and institutions of government to orchestrate the passage of legislation, gazettal of instruments or even devising of guidelines to create loopholes and loot the country’s wealth using those loopholes. Corruption is legislated in some instances.
Equal distribution of scarce resources as enshrined in our Constitution has not been and can never be, attained as cronyism and minority powerful mob establish powerful networks and decide who should get what and plunder rich resources of the country at the expense of the vast majority, hence turned our Constitutional Democracy into a “mobocracy” and “Kleptocracy”. The locally known phrase “whom you know” builds the channels of wealth creation and wealth transfer. The ugly image of corruption is better described as “PNG so rich, yet so poor”.
Since corruption has grown roots far and wide, it needs a holistic and collaborative approach by all institutions of Government, as well as assertive leadership on this issue. The band-aid temporary investigation teams like Task-Force Sweep and Commission of Inquiries cannot solve our chronic problems. We need a permanent and independent Anti-corruption agency that would work for PNG. We need that institution now than ever.
Most Anti-corruption agencies in many countries had failed. For any anti-corruption agency to work, a strong and consistent political will is an essential ingredient. With a strong political will, however goliath the challenges may, it is too big to miss a chance of attack. The Challenge in PNG is for that Political will without any strings attached and such can be done with a permanent and independent anti-corruption agency.
The Government had recently endorsed the National Anti-Corruption strategy through Parliament. It is one thing to have a strategy but is totally another thing to institutionalise that strategy and making it work. I leave that to your government and future governments to decide.
To the people of PNG
As you approach the valley of decision making to select your political leaders, let me remind you that when the writs are open, the power to govern this country will return to you and remain with you for the brief period until you resolve in the ballot box. I pray that you will not release that power to anyone for nothing except on good leadership. Everything rises and falls on leadership. We have well-structured systems in the government but we equally don’t have good people. The systems are as good as the people. If the people are honest and accountable, they can make even a weak system work. Conversely, if the people are corrupt, they can corrupt even a well structure system.
Many of these corrupt people are now using the proceeds of corruption to enter the elections. I encourage you all to avoid these people and see beyond the borders of your affiliations and choose this day, a good person in your electorate who is putting his/her hand up.
God Bless Papua New Guinea
Task Force Sweep