Fighting corruption starts with you


JUSTICE Teresa Berrigan is right – corruption is like a cancer that grows and leads to death.
Corruption is deadly to Papua New Guinea if it is not dealt with swiftly and sternly.
In general, corruption is a form of dishonesty or criminal activity undertaken by a person or organisation entrusted with a position of authority, often to acquire illicit benefit.
Last week, Justice Berrigan jailed a Lands Department officer to three years for soliciting K450 from someone for the replacement of a property title.
Luckily for the officer, her sentence was suspended and was fined K2,000 (to be paid within a month) and ordered to do community work under the supervision of the probation service one day every weekend for a period of one year.
We concur with Justice Berrigan that this case is the perfect example of the type of cancer that grows until it becomes so entrenched, as in some countries, that is simply becomes accepted as a necessary part of dealing with the public service.
One of the biggest crimes committed in almost every country is corruption, which is eating into the fabric of our society.
Corruption in public office is very difficult to detect because the offenders are demanding money for simply doing their job.
Some years back, Justice Oagile Betheul Dingake told a law and order summit that people could pass laws to reduce crimes “but if you do not educate people to depart from crime and corruption, you will not succeed”.
This is exactly the problem we have in this country.
Laws after laws, amendments after amendments, but the policing or enforcing is lacking. The fight against corruption is not one that should be left to politicians alone.
It is a fact that the nature of our society has contributed in no small way to the current state of affairs. The blame should surely lie with us – Papua New Guineans.
We live in a society where political leadership is seen as an opportunity to accumulate wealth.
With such a mindset, it will be difficult to stop corruption without a collective effort.
While the Government and various stakeholders are taking steps to check unacceptable practices, we are of the opinion that the fight against corruption can be won if we shed ourselves of vices such as heads of schools charging unapproved fees and hospital officials demanding money before attending to patients, even in emergency situations.
Corruption deprives the nation of the resources that could otherwise be used for the general benefit of the larger population and has the tendency to discourage businesses, both local and foreign. Corruption and incompetence are eating away at society like termite and unless we do away with them, progress and prosperity will remain next to impossible.
Corruption can be seen as a cancer that eats at every fabric of the society and comes in countless stages from low-level petty to high-level.
Despite the constant awareness campaigns in the media about avoiding unethical and illegal conduct, citizens still want to commit the very sins which they read about, hear or see preached in the media or public notices.
We should change our attitudes if we are to reap the benefits of a diverse, resource-rich nation.
It is, therefore, vital that every step is taken to ensure that this plague is uprooted.
It starts with individual and what he/she is willing to do.