The business community must walk the talk on eradicating corruption

It is no secret that bribery and corruption has reached seismic proportions in many parts of the world – and Sri Lanka is no exception to say the least. In fact, as the caption on the cover of our 24th anniversary special edition infers, corruption has become part and parcel of our culture.

Sad as that may be, it is never too late to right what is wrong although in all honesty, it would seem that the horse has bolted… with our precious money!

For bang on 24 years, LMD has campaigned vigorously to ‘Stop Corruption’ on the assumption that its self-styled tag line ‘The Voice of Business’ would have alarm bells ringing in the corridors of corporate Sri Lanka. We’ve been living and working in the midst of a calamity, after all.

Far from succeeding in this endeavour, we’ve watched bribery and corruption cascade not only through the hallowed house by the lake and various other holiday homes so to speak – the menace has spread its tentacles to virtually every arm of the state, many businesses, society at large and even schools that are meant to ‘educate’ the next generation of Sri Lankans!

As the Director General of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) Sarath Jayamanne PC said at a recent forum attended by the media and civil society groups, if the private sector is serious about eradicating bribery and corruption, it must up the ante and cooperate with CIABOC.

“Everyone is waiting for us to catch the next whale. Well, if you want to catch whales, then whales have to be willing to give evidence,” he reportedly declared, adding: “I invite the private sector to join us and work with us to stamp out corruption.”

And if you were to turn the pages of this edition to where our exclusive Cover Story is, more insights into the root causes of the disease that we have come to call a cancer and how to cure it await – courtesy, CIABOC’s Commissioner Neville Guruge.

As far as the private sector goes, and in addition to assisting those who are serious about playing doctor, there’s the familiar adage that ‘it takes two to tango’ – meaning that if, as we know, a majority of our politicians are rotten to the core and walking around with their pockets full of dirty money, it must’ve come from somewhere.

And guess what, one of the primary sources of the millions of rupees that so many of our lawmakers have amassed in next to no time have been forked out by businesspeople – apparently in return for future favours, should their horses end up in the winners’ circle.

Ask members of the diaspora why they left our shores and continue to remain in lands afar, as we do in our ‘Sri Lankans Overseas’ column each month, and bribery and corruption features prominently on their list of reasons.

‘One has to bribe someone to get anything done,’ they say – and they’re right as we all know.

Ask our precious nation’s first time voters why so many of them chose not to cast their vote for anyone at the recent local government polls, and you may find that there’s a gaping lack of trust and confidence in those whom their mothers and fathers vote into power every time they’re asked by the bounty hunters to ‘exercise their democratic franchise.’

Perhaps the young have the foresight their forefathers seem to have lost sight of. It could well be that in their eyes, ‘democracy’ has become an excuse for a minority of corrupt souls to be voted in by a majority of law abiding citizens!

Come on corporate Sri Lanka. Let’s stop the rot. Let’s make the most of our precious resources and realise our dream of living in the First World – right here, at home.

– Editor-in-Chief