Bribery & Corruption: The Solution

Arun Perera

Most often, the eradication of corruption is discussed with great passion on a national level when some politician or business tycoon is accused of stealing millions of Rupees of public funds (I’m generalizing of course). The issue is that big scale robbery is actually only the tip of the iceberg. If we are to make a dent in corruption in this country, we have to deal with the root. Or else no matter how much we try to cut it off from the stems by enforcing stricter laws on accountability (which is also required – don’t get me wrong) the plant will still grow back.

In my previous article I explained how bribery and corruption is not just a problem but in fact is now a lifestyle in Sri Lanka. The way we think influences our actions. Before we could actually do something, we need to entertain the act in our minds. To root out corruption we need to transform the thought patterns of our people. Rooting out takes time. To eradicate something that has become rooted in our culture, we need to look far and dig deep.

We need to start thinking and teaching on moral accountability. Although good morals are often taught, we rarely educate on being accountable for our moral decisions. Of course, when it comes to criminal offences, the judicial system takes care of the accountability aspect. But what about when it comes to integrity in day-to-day life? Are we being taught how to hold ourselves accountable for the moral decisions we make? If people don’t think twice when partnering with, or initiating low-level corruption, it is most likely that the same person will ‘bend the rules’, when he/she is in a position of influence. We may not admit to this, but deep inside lies a culture that looks for Immediate reward and considers only tangible repercussions. To be held morally accountable for one’s decisions even when the offence is hidden is the thinking pattern that will eradicate corruption from this nation.

This needs to be taught. But how?

When considering to engage in corruption, what should come to our mind is that it is like shooting yourself in the foot. The intangible repercussion is that you and your loved ones will have to pay by being forced to make ends meet in a corrupt society. Corruption suffocates the entire population (without exception) socially, economically & politically.

If I were to choose one method of changing the way people think, I would choose television, radio, the web and social media. The solution lies in the fact that ‘media has an opinion’. It is this opinion that can influence a nation and a generation that spends more time in front of a television or a mobile device than interacting with each other. To combat corruption, the media of this nation should move from merely reporting the news and providing entertainment to teaching moral accountability in daily life.

I wish I could give you a more profound solution to influence the thought patterns of Sri Lankans out of corruption. But at the end of the day, it all comes down to what goes on in our heads. For the bed-rock of moral thinking is the information we continue to feed ourselves. If we as a nation can succeed in making moral accountability an intrinsic trait, we can undoubtedly look forward to a Sri Lanka devoid of bribery and corruption.