Morale factor

Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala has promised to help the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) to fight corruption. Speaker Subas Nembang said that the parliament is ready to ratify the UN Convention against Corruption. They were speaking at a function on Monday to mark the establishment of the anti-graft agency. The CIAA acting chief has been saying that the anti-graft agency will initiate action against those found to have committed corruption by the High Level Probe Commission formed under former Supreme Court judge Krishna Jung Rayamajhi to investigate the excesses committed during the active royal rule, including the anti-Jana Andolan acts. Under heavy public pressure, the government had made public the commission report. But no action has been taken on that; the cases of corruption accused by the commission have been handed over to the CIAA, whereas violations of human rights and other excesses have been forgotten. Those accused

of corruption number more than 50 (ministers in the king-headed cabinet and its political appointees), out of a total of 202 against whom the commission recommended action.

Whether anybody is prosecuted and how many are found guilty remain to be seen. But the delay in action has not given the public high hopes. As regards human rights offences and the security forces’ excesses, Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula claimed that those cases had already been taken care of. His statements made clear the government’s intentions. Indeed, even while the Rayamajhi Commission was doing its work, some accused were promoted. And not all the chiefs of the security forces were suspended despite the commission’s instructions. Even if one-fourth of the accused were prosecuted belatedly, the question arises how non-action against the three-fifths of the accused could be justified.

The SPA government and the parliament established on the strength of a historic Jana Andolan failed to act swiftly on such an important matter. Those who occupied even more powerful positions, misused the entire state machinery against the people, and even ordered the misuse of funds cannot be spared for fairness’ sake. Some of the government leaders had argued in defence of sparing security personnel, including the top brass, on the grounds that action against them would lower the morale of the security forces. By the same token, the morale factor could be equally invoked for other sectors as well. That is no good governance. On the contrary, action against the corrupt and human rights offenders should raise the morale and the reputation of the organisations where the punished persons worked. It is the failure to crack down on these evils that leaves the people disenchanted and erodes their faith in those in authority — it is the people for whom all the state apparatuses, including the security forces, have been created, not vice versa. Unless this realisation dawns on those in power to deal severely with the wrongdoers, the concept of good governance will remain a mere concept, and the building of a New Nepal becomes doubtful, despite politicians’ pledges.