Solomons watchdog praises progress on corruption
: Solomons gaining momentum in fight against corruption: Transparency International.
The head of Transparency Solomon Islands says the country seems to be gaining momentum in its efforts to tackle systemic corruption in the public sector.
Daniel Fenua says more effort needs to be put into praising and commending officials who stand up to bribery and corruption, a practice he says is considered a part of normal public life.
Mr Fenua told Jamie Tahana that two cases in the past week are worthy of commendation, and meetings he's had with new prime minister, Manasseh Sogavare, suggest things might, slowly, be changing.
DANIEL FENUA: What happened is the customs officials down at the Solomon Islands Ports Authority actually intercepted a number of vehicles. Where they found out that there is an under value in terms of these vehicles that are being brought into the country and they suspected that there is something fishy or suspicious going on there. So they conducted an investigation and they found out to be true that these guys who are responsible in importing these vehicles are actually trying to overstep down the laws of this country. So this is what happened to them and then with the case of the police you know there is a recent case where we have senior police officers public demands that in order to restore public confidence within the force the police commander should remove the people who continue to tarnish the image of the police force so what he did recently I think is really something that TSI would like to applaud for.
JAMIE TAHANA: And you say people should be giving more praise more applause for people who go against the face of corruption?
DF: Yeah I mean the issue here in this country is really a lot of people treat corruption as, you know in the public sector we have people who actually think that corruption is part of the norm and where they it has been practised in the public for so long and even in the rural areas where we have people who think that we have corruption is part of normal life. And we think that with our approach of trying to work with the government to address corruption. We think we should really highlight people who have contributed in one way or another trying to make sure that corruption is eradicated in this country. And this is in a way trying to convince other people too. That they will get praised and will be bringing good some, things in the public sector.
JT: Is it somewhat concerning that you should praise someone for what should be expected of a public job that is not be corrupt?
DF: Yea, absolutely but in this case where we have, where people see that we cannot really find out whether people in the public service are actually practising corruption. There is no one within those circles who would come and say this guy is practising corruption, this guy is practising corruption. Until of course we see some actions. So in this case as to why we see instead of giving individual praise we could actually applaud the sector concerned. Like the officials within the customs for what they, they've done. And of course you mentioned the customs and the new police commissioner.
JT: And of course you mentioned the customs and the new police commissioner trying to change the culture there. And for Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare in his inauguration speech promised to set up an independent commission against corruption and do a lot to tackle corruption. Are you seeing signs of these promises starting to gain some momentum here?
DF: Yea, I mean with the current government we have had a number of dialogue recently trying to discuss the possibility of creating this, establishment of the independent commission against corruption I think in the process we at transparency we work very hard to ensure that the government look forward with this initiative. At the same time too we have contacts with senior police officers who are responsible in the anti-corruption team as well as the investigative team. We still maintain that contact to make sure that corruption cases are progressing and that they get investigated. And these are actually signs of somethings that are moving forward in terms of fighting corruption.
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