Corruption is a persistent problem in many countries, including Sri Lanka. It hinders economic development, undermines public trust in government, and erodes the rule of law. One solution that has been successful in combating corruption is the Hong Kong Style anti-corruption mechanism. In this article, let me explore why Sri Lanka needs such a mechanism and how it could be implemented.
Firstly, let’s look at what the Hong Kong Style anti-corruption mechanism entails. Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) was established in 1974 and has since become a model for effective anti-corruption measures. The ICAC is an independent agency that investigates and prosecutes corruption cases without interference from the government. The agency has a high success rate in convicting corrupt officials and has been instrumental in reducing corruption in Hong Kong.
Sri Lanka, on the other hand, has a long history of corruption. According to Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, Sri Lanka ranks 94 out of 180 countries, indicating a high level of perceived corruption. Corruption in Sri Lanka is widespread and affects all levels of society, from the police to politicians to public officials. The country has faced several high-profile corruption scandals in recent years, including the Central Bank bond scam, which led to a loss of over $11 million.
The current anti-corruption mechanisms in Sri Lanka have proven to be ineffective in combating corruption. The existing anti-corruption bodies lack independence and often face political interference. The Bribery Commission, which is responsible for investigating corruption cases, has been criticized for being understaffed and underfunded. The legal framework for combating corruption is also weak, with low penalties for corruption offences.
A Hong Kong Style anti-corruption mechanism could be the answer to Sri Lanka’s corruption problem. The mechanism would involve establishing an independent commission, similar to the ICAC, that would have the power to investigate and prosecute corruption cases. The commission would have the resources and the authority to operate independently of the government and other institutions.
The commission would also be responsible for educating the public on the dangers of corruption and promoting transparency and accountability in government. The commission could work with civil society organizations, the media, and other stakeholders to raise awareness of corruption and promote good governance.
To implement a Hong Kong Style anti-corruption mechanism in Sri Lanka, several steps need to be taken. Firstly, the government must demonstrate a commitment to combating corruption by establishing an independent commission and providing it with the necessary resources. The commission should also have the power to investigate and prosecute corruption cases without political interference.
Secondly, the legal framework for combating corruption needs to be strengthened. Penalties for corruption offences should be increased, and the legal process for prosecuting corruption cases should be expedited. The government should also consider enacting a law on whistle-blowing to protect those who report corruption.
Finally, the public needs to be educated about the dangers of corruption and the importance of transparency and accountability in government. The commission could launch a public awareness campaign to raise awareness of corruption and promote good governance.
In conclusion, Sri Lanka’s corruption problem is a major obstacle to economic development and good governance. The current anti-corruption mechanisms are ineffective, and a Hong Kong Style anti-corruption mechanism could be the answer to combatting corruption in the country. Establishing an independent commission, strengthening the legal framework, and promoting public awareness of corruption are necessary steps to ensure the mechanism’s success. The government and civil society organizations should work together to implement these measures and ensure a corruption-free future for Sri Lanka.
Bottom line is that as the late leader of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew says, “the fight against corruption is not a fight that can be won by government alone. The ultimate solution lies in the attitudes and values of the people.”