Country needs no more advice on corruption, it needs quality enforcers

Dear Editor,

I refer to the article titled, “Commonwealth to assist member states in stamping out corruption” (SN June 6).  Does Guyana, as a member of the Commonwealth, really need assistance in this area?

The ones saddled with overseeing corruption at a panoramic level are themselves, to a significant extent, compromised, fingered, and known quantities.  That, too, is now part of established culture.  It is more than mere practice.  This is mentality and obsession and modus vivendi.  The results are revelatory asset accumulation, and complementary lifestyles, with the usual conspicuous consumption thrown in for good measure.  Cannot be concealed.  There is little by way of interest or intent to be otherwise.

I am aware that the proverbial-indeed, biblical-straight and narrow road is crooked.  It is made twisted by the warped calculations and observances of even the pious.  Many are the seemingly religiously righteous, who are partakers of the manna from the government’s heaven.  That is the treasury of contracts, taxes, runnins, positionings, collections, and collusions.  There is also the now characteristic stonewalling and dissembling when there is probing for and seeking of information.  Only godly mysteries of people never knowing anything.  If these cannot be recruited in the anti-corruption conflicts, then who is left?  What is left?  To make a difference?  To hold the near-invisible line of decency and integrity and untouchability?  Who?  Not many. Obviously.

Editor, harnessing all the of the aforementioned, my point is this: the corrupted and corrupting citizens of this country know so much about wrongdoing and how to practice it, live it, succeed in it, camouflage and get away with it, aid and abet it and, last, involve more in it, that citizens and country need no further education, and no more training and expertise.  In fact, such well-meaning training from the Commonwealth only serves to alert the local drivers as to: 1) what warning signs they are giving out; 2) how to recognize approaching danger; 3) how to dilute and negate from the inside; 4) how to capitalize on new ideas and methodologies geared towards standards and detection; and 5) how to use (misuse) the very tools and exposures obtained to continue with personal programmes and masquerades.

To reinforce my assertions, a brief extract from the SN article should be helpful.  According to Commonwealth Secretary General, Patricia Scotland, “This package consists of a set of 22 benchmarks, covering topics from sanctions for corruption offenses to investigating and prosecuting authorities, and from political lobbying to the disclosure of asset ownership.”  I quickly admit that all of that reads well and are well-meaning.  Now for the hammer of the “but” and Guyanese realities.

First, this country does not need any more benchmarks.  It is virtually choking on them; chronically constipated by them.  Second, enlightenment and guidance as to “sanctions for corruption offences” would be redundant and meaningless, in view of what is already on the books here, and means absolutely nothing in the dirty national picture that sprawls from high places to low corners to dark alleyways.  Some are not so low nor so dark, as the dens are bright and expensive and very open.  As to doubts about high places, I invite a conversation with the Prime Minister.  Third, that sortie about “investigating and prosecuting authorities” that is a damn joke in this country.  Never happens: that brotherhood and sorority is thicker than family.  Blood oath and code.  Reality check: how many hauled before the public?  At any time after all the digging and delving?

Fourth, political lobbying is another joke: encouraged, entertained, exploited, and enabled.  That is another Mafia cabal.  Try intruding upon that code of silence.  And fifth, I like the one about “disclosure of asset collection.”  Disclosure has turned out to be torture and an eternity of posturing and evading for impacted Guyanese.  I cannot see what is the problem, as shortsighted as I am.  But I do believe that dedicated investigators (where such exist) could use some retina washing so that they could see (better) and detect (more) of what has been re-sheltered (lots more).  The philosophy, insistence, and hard labour are just not present in both quality and quantity to pursue and persecute.  What is present is a sham and handled with shambolic aplomb.

Editor, what I assert amounts to this: this country does not need more assistance (thanks); does not need more benchmarks (much obliged); and it does not need more knowledge or exposures or indoctrinations (most grateful).  What it needs is more quality enforcers, more ball busting officials, and more hardnosed, brass knuckled untouchables.  Now where are they, please?

Yours faithfully,

GHK Lall

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