…………and lessons from Tamil Nadu (Ceylon Today)
Last week an Indian Court gave orders to initiate action to auction the confiscated properties of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, late Jayalalithaa Jayaram and her close confidante V. K. Sasikala. Their properties and bank accounts were sealed earlier in February this year and action was taken for their forfeiture to realize the Rs 100 crore (Sri Lanka Rs 2,250 million) fine imposed on Jayalalithaa by the Trial Court. Earlier the Indian Supreme Court Bench of Justices Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Amitava Roy said, “We are of the opinion that the order of confiscation/forfeiture of properties standing in the name of six companies, as involved, made by the Trial Court is unexceptionable.”
The SC upheld the Trial Court order imposing a fine of Rs 10 crore each on Sasikala, V. N. Sudhakaran and J. Elavarasi, who were also sentenced to four years imprisonment.
Cartoons from internet
“In any view of the matter, the peremptory termination of the criminal proceedings resultant on this pronouncement, the direction of the Trial Court towards confiscation/forfeiture of the attached property, as mentioned therein, is hereby restored and would be construed to be an order of this Court,” the Supreme Court said.
An Eye Opener
The Tamil Nadu story of recovering stolen Government assets is an eye-opener to other countries faced with similar misappropriation of national wealth. It is no secret that in Sri Lanka too the politicians, bureaucrats and even high ranking Police Officers, who amass money and properties by fraudulent practices and corrupt dealings, steal the national resources that could have been used for development activities, building schools and hospitals and constructing roads, bridges, power generation plants and irrigational canals and tanks.
Everybody in the country is aware that these corrupt persons have no way of proving that they had earned this wealth by legal means. Their amassed wealth is well beyond the salaries or profits from other legal businesses.
These illegal funds, disproportionate to their actual income by many times, have come in the form of bribes, commissions and other shares of mega deals in highway constructions, ports, airports, building of hospitals etc. or in mega-scale corrupt deals like the Central Bank Bond issue as seen recently.
In India, both Jayalalithaa and Sasikala were held guilty of corruption and the verdict also ended their political careers. While Jayalalithaa lost her power after ruling Tamil Nadu for years and Sasikala lost the race for power before it could take off. Sasikala is now serving a 4-year jail term and that could keep her out of electoral politics for a decade. Ten years is a long time in politics and to demand loyalty of legislators and cadres from prison will be no easy task.
The political crisis in Tamil Nadu is mainly due to the fact that the leaders of DMK and AIADMK deliberately refrained from making their parties more plural and decentralized. The AIADMK founder, M.G. Ramachandran, and his successor, Jayalalithaa, built the party as an extension of their persona.
Second Tier Leadership
In Sri Lanka too, we have seen that some party leaders refuse to groom a second line of leadership. This habit could create inner party crisis. However, one positive side is that in a power struggle in the party could, in its best version, help push leaders from the grassroots to centre stage. The emerging new leadership will have to look outside the tropes and leadership models of the past decades and embrace a more modern idiom capable of addressing new social and economic challenges facing the nation if they have to be successful. The new leadership will also be able to project a clean, non-corrupt image.
Jayalalithaa had been accused of amassing wealth to the tune of Rs 66 crore, disproportionate to her known sources of income during the period between 1991 and 1996, when she held the post of the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for the first time.
If half the allegations levelled at top politicians in Sri Lanka are true, they must have amassed much more wealth disproportionate to their known sources of income. Substantial number of politicians are also accused of criminal acts, abetment and criminal conspiracy.
Answering the question, ‘Why do voters support corrupt politicians?’ Political analyst Oskar Kurer said this question is of vital importance if it is believed that corrupt politicians are often widely popular and that corruption has a detrimental effect on development. “The answer to the question shows that democracy is not necessarily a palliative to corruption and that reducing corruption may require political changes that go far beyond the administrative reforms of the ‘good governance’ variety.
He clarified that this is not to suggest that corruption itself is popular. “Indeed, we encounter a widely observed paradox:
unpopular corruption and popular corrupt politicians. Despite the apparent aversion to corruption, many voters do support corrupt politicians like Silvio Berlusconi in Italy, Chart Thai in Thailand and the PRI in Mexico. The paradox deepens when we consider that the “game” of corruption is likely to be negative-sum, thus decreasing the overall gains potentially available to the “players.” Why would a majority of voters support politicians that are likely to impoverish their community, which may often include the majority of these voters themselves?”
Many people are under the conviction that political corruption is by and large limited to raising illegal funds for elections. But political corruption is not limited to party fund collection. It can lead politicians in office to steer away from good government. Their decisions can benefit those who fund them. The public interest comes second. Political corruption can divert scarce resources from poor and disadvantaged people. This is especially common in countries where democratic institutions are weak or absent. Private rather than public interests dictate policy.
Sri Lanka is definitely a case in point for the above definition. The political corruption means an ethical line has been crossed. In such a scenario, a government cannot act freely and democracy cannot function properly.
We have seen the deterioration of the image of politician due to large scale corrupt practices among politicians. In this process, the public trust in politicians is seriously damaged.
The tragedy is, the inaction against corruption would ensure that the political corruption would continue unchecked.
Hence, the government that was elected on a manifesto of good governance has a duty and responsibility to take severe action against corruption. Furthermore the people expect that the corrupt should not be allowed to go free with their ill-gotten wealth. The average citizen wants the corrupt to be punished. If there is something they want more than that, it is to see that the stolen wealth is recovered. It is high time such action was taken.
NOTE by TW
PRECIFEC Chairman Mr Lacille de Silva the corrupt-free bureaucrat was removed by My3 on the insistence of hakim and rishard when they were about to be called for examination. So much for the good governance and Muslim Leadership.