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Ruta Mave: Why does corruption continue?

Monday 23 January 2023 | Written by Ruta Tangiiau Mave | Published in Editorials, Opinion

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The Transparency International report indicates bribes and sexual favours are part of getting anything done in the ‘Crook Islands’. The mothers fighting for sport funding might need to address their skill set and try again.

Corruption conjures an image of a dark shadowy figure sitting in the back recesses of a seedy nightclub flanked by two menacing minions named bribery and coercion. On the table is the golden prize of wealth power promotion – a tarnished view of success.

It sits preening waiting to be bought, a long unbreakable chain connects its leg shackle to the belt of corruption. Those who are greedy, sly and manipulative choose to ignore the chain pretending if exposure comes riding in on the sheriff’s horse, they will cut all ties to the glittering prize. They forget the sinister who seek fame and glory without the work and credibility are forever chained directly to corruption long after the luster of the prize fades.

If corruption was dark, it would be much easier to identify and apprehend. Instead, corruption wears the face of the friendly politician, the understanding employer and the helpful secretary who will do anything for you. The corrupt portray an image of goodness, passing good deeds in front of the public eye – as if ‘butter wouldn’t melt in their mouth’ – an expression used to denote a person appearing to be benign, mild and calm but are really untrustworthy.

Let me tell you a story of corruption in an island community where a sports federation was awarded another $25,000 per year to set up a children’s development programme. The decision was made to assign all the money to one person as wages. Despite qualified applicants, a person of naivete is chosen.

The AGM expenses show only $5000 paid in wages plus airfares for the development officer – who was never seen working with children and was never seen again. The money kept coming in unchecked under faith from the world organisation.

A lone voice asked “Where is the missing $20,000 from the grant?” The lone voice accepts the offer of a place on the Executive and a sports trip for their child who surprisingly wins a medal showing great promise. The voice was then informed ‘if’ they wanted their child to travel and compete again…? The unspoken lure – how easy to give the child the advantages the parent couldn’t afford, who would it hurt?

By aiding their child means other children miss out. Taking the prize for self enhancement requires being chained. The serpent symbolises evil power and chaos but also life healing and rebirth – think medical emblem. Adam and Eve chose temptation but it opened a whole new life to them and us. Are we better or worse for it? Such is the divided decisions at the head of corruption.

The voice chooses to benefit the many over the sacrifice of the child. A hard choice to bear when the child continues to win over those chosen and because they shone light on what others would not acknowledge – the messenger was shot down for asking for an audit.

Everyone prefers blindness over looking too closely at them and themselves.

Exposing corruption isn’t shooting one big elephant, it requires tiny stabs at a time. It requires looking past the magnanimous titles ticking boxes and see them rewarding themselves greater than those they covet to be helping.

People notice house renovations, acquisitions of trucks and ride on mowers but shake their head shrugging because they are conditioned to accept these ‘goings on’ as inevitable. They have children coming through sport and they see others fail to stop the gravy train of corruption so they buy into “if you can’t beat them join them”.

Proving corruption requires black and white evidence to succeed in court. Showing a laptop expense of $2500 was a quote not a purchase can be argued a mistake but made by whom? Having no receipts, invoices or cheque butts because they were in a cardboard box on the floor during a flood conveniently removes incriminating evidence. Voting offenders out of their executive positions proved difficult when children and friends march in believing they are being righteous by helping enable the corrupted. 

The investigation discovers the $20,000 missing is a mere fraction of $110,000 the federation received with nothing to show for it. Even as evidence gathers, the ex-treasurer keeps personally cashing cheques for themselves. Bold as brass and arrogant to boot.

When the court case is announced they get name suppression so they can travel overseas with sport. They plead guilty and get off lightly with instructions to repay the money. Then the nations Olympic sporting committee re-employs them.

Why does corruption continue? Because corruption corrupts and every thread is a chain interwoven with others.

The Transparency International report indicates bribes and sexual favours are part of getting anything done in the Crook Islands. The mothers fighting for sport funding might need to address their skill set and try again.

  • The views in this article are not necessarily the views of Cook Islands News.

Comments

Hana Tearii Vaatau May on 23/01/2023

This sounds like the athletics story in Raro. How does a convicted thief keep their job at the sports committee? According to survey report it might be one of two ways bribe or Sexual Favours... Time to choose new sports committee members, come on Raro let's do right for our real athletes our kids.

Hana Tearii Vaatau May on 23/01/2023

This sounds like the athletics story in Raro. How does a convicted thief keep their job at the sports committee? According to survey report it might be one of two ways bribe or Sexual Favours... Time to choose new sports committee members, come on Raro let's do right for our real athletes our kids