--BY MADAN LAMSAL
Recently, a South Korean court sentenced the vice-chairman of Samsung Electronics to five years in prison, pronouncing him guilty of bribery, embezzlement and perjury. Former South Korean President Park Geun-hye was impeached in connection with the same case of corruption. Similarly, just a couple of months ago, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had to resign after the Supreme Court there disqualified him over corruption charges. In India, spiritual guru Ram Rahim has been sent to jail after losing a corruption and rape case in the court of law.
People think that people in the developed and developing countries are able to manage things better. But ah, that's not really the case. They haven’t yet learnt from Nepal - though it's a least developed country - how to manage corruption.
Nepal recently set a new benchmark in 'managing' corruption. Inland Revenue Department chief Chudamani Sharma who is said to have committed corruption by exempting undeserving private firms from billions of rupees in taxes in a questionable manner was saved from being labeled as corrupt. His special case, touted as the biggest case of corruption in terms of the amount involved, is underway at the Special Court but he is already out of jail. The big smile on his face while leaving the jail for his mansion like home looked like a huge act of farce in the case of all honest civil servants, that is, if there are any!
Perhaps only a very few people will be surprised if Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) chief Gopal Khadka now sacked by the government on corruption charges gets a clean chit sometime later. Similarly, it's become an open secret these days that those aspiring to be the new GM of Nepal Stock Exchange walk around with briefcases full of 20-30 million rupees for anyone who can get them the job. The 'file' doesn’t move an inch if a huge amount of extra cash is not furnished while seeking licenses to operate medical colleges or any other business.
Nepal passed the 'stone age' of corruption long ago when a few hundred or a few thousand rupees would be offered as a bribe; it's now entered the 'golden age' of policy corruption. Bribes themselves are not enough to start a business today; the neo-rich politicians of Nepal have taught a new lesson to society - seek a partnership in the very business! Times have changed so much that people, including lawmakers, don't feel any kind of shame in demanding that even corruption convicts should be allowed to contest elections. But why would they when out of four similar people, two face corruption charges and two are not even questioned; of the two facing corruption charges, one gets convicted and the other a clean chit?
The appointment, transfer, promotion, demotion etc of government employees, teachers, high officials, justices and what not take place on the basis of the recommendation of the political parties. So much so that even the organisations and associations of journalists who claim to make the fourth estate are directed by the political parties. Then how can we, in such a society, say that corruption is wrong? It is as clear as daylight that corruption is omnipresent. One is bound to make up for the money one spends to get crucial posts. Without money, one cannot get a crucial post. Parties have to run their offices. Politicians, too, have expenditures to make. Both sides need each other. So, they engage in win-win give-and-take. It is so simple.
The very way the so-called developed and developing countries look at corruption is flawed and negative. Corruption is not bad in itself. In Nepal, corruption is a tradition. Deeply ingrained in society, corruption is a culture in Nepal. Why would we leave our culture and tradition? How would our society function without corruption? In the words of a former Chief Justice, there is 90 percent corruption in courts! Now, you yourself decide - in a democracy, can we say what the majority does is wrong?
The fact is some I/NGOs have painted a wrong picture of corruption just to run their businesses. Will corruption be eradicated like malaria just because some people are cursing it? Some people in the developed countries have nothing to do. That's why they issue anti-corruption prescriptions to us. Can they root out corruption in their own countries?
Therefore, it makes no sense to protest against corruption and talk about controlling it. If you think otherwise, then go ahead and stop corruption. Then we will see. Otherwise, let's all of us stop protesting against corruption!