Editorial – March 15, 2013 :
Last week’s Editorial headline, “Failure to get the Integrity Act in motion is an act of corruption”, drew reaction from some persons willing to express their thoughts about it, if only in a limited way. Generally, they felt the article was directed entirely at the politicians.
The hope was that although it was built around the Haitian Prime Minister, Laurent Lamothe addressing his intentions to ‘All Ministers, Secretaries of State and other State fund managers to declare their personal assets to relevant authorities to prevent illicit enrichment’. That really was the only part that had to do with the failure of Montserrat’s government failing to show serious intent to avoid some form of corruption by enforcing the Integrity Act and bring into action.
Right after that was this sentence, “The people’s money should be invested in projects benefiting the population. It should not end up in the pockets of any government officials or other functionaries managing public funds.” That does refer to a long list of persons even in our small numbers.
Near the end we suggested that corruption requires the participation of many. No one person is corrupt although one can sow the seeds because of a pervasive human weakness so many just follow, at times unwittingly.
So what you do about it? As mentioned, wherever it exists, it is bound to thwart progress and development. The best person will never be hired, elected or appointed for the job. This is especially so in the public sector, because those responsible to put into place conditions that challenge corruption are already corrupt, changes are more difficult to enforce.
Look at how South Africa tackled corruption. Taken from an article of a year ago. “South African civil society initiative Corruption Watch. received more than 500 complaints from the public in the first month of its existence, with municipalities, traffic cops and the health sector the most frequently complained about.”
Another clip of 8th March, 2012 ”as the government set about to stamp out courruption and to prosecute those caught: The amendments also include banning all public servants from doing business with the government, Public Service and Administration Minister announced…”
The people rose up, the Government responded. Headlines read: SA govt to fast-track corruption cases; SA govt to fast-track corruption cases.
In Montserrat’s case, the observation is that far too many of the people, almost all sectors are steeped in corruption of one kind or another. That makes it all the more difficult. We can look at the difficulty finding ‘willing’ people to serve on some Commissions. Either the conscience bites, a small few get their voices heard, or the wrong people are being asked.
But, as we celebrate this week St. Patrick’s Day with week-long activities, one of the benefits is to bring revenue to the country. However, while the success of Festival 50 is touted, it is doubtful the size of success. St. Patrick’s week of festivities were completely overlooked and a country that suffers terribly when it comes to promotion forgot about it.
Why the celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day? It is gradually losing its origin – the feast day of St. Patrick; and we hear less and less of: “the Irish people exiled by Cromwell, and African slaves who arrived on Montserrat …… the failed slave uprising on March 17, 1768,” which led to the celebration of St Patrick’s Day.
Note that all of these happenings from nearly three centuries ago were from corruptible minds and acts to those who ratted on those seeking freedom, stolen from them. The history of what went on then does not make good reading, but should be taught and discussed. All can learn the root of the sufferings. Remember those behind it all are today at the head of it all. Even when it appears that action is being taken to repair the damage, those actions are just as corrupt.
When the celebrations take place it should be noted who St. Patrick was and what he stood for. Montserrat was colonised by the British and Irish in 1632. France later held it briefly, but from 1783 it remained British. Its colonial economy was based on cotton and sugar plantations that used African slave labour, and the story goes on.
People must stand up and be, “like the South Africans.” Let us hear it said: “We want to ensure that the public is conscious about what has happened…sometimes when people talk about corruption if you can attach a number to actual persons, you will understand that this fight against corruption, we do it in a very meaningful way.”