By Luke Balleny
A critical look at some of the good governance stories from the past week:
When will there be a major sporting event without corruption? Even this year’s London Olympics haven’t been immune to scandal. Perhaps one of the reasons why it feels like every major sporting event is accompanied by a corruption scandal is because countries with high levels of corruption have been hosting tournaments of late. The Beijing 2008 Olympics, Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games,Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics and Brazil 2014 World Cup and Rio 2016 Olympics have all suffered scandals and all of them are perceived as corrupt in Transparency International’s 2011 Corruption Perceptions Index.
This is an interesting opinion piece from the Jakarta Post, a newspaper that rarely seems to go to print without publishing at least one corruption-related story. The author comments on the trend for Indonesian officials who have been accused of corruption to wear religious clothing in court, such as the hijab, despite the fact that they had previously never given any indication of religious observance. While those officials may think it makes them look pious and contrite, the author argues that the opposite is true and in fact it just makes them look hypocritical.
Pakistan seems to be lurching from one corruption-related crisis to another right now. The Supreme Court, led by Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, disqualified Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani from office this week having earlier found him guilty of contempt of court after he refused to reopen corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari. However, analysts say only parliament can dismiss the PM. Chaudhry is now facing another headache after a billionaire accused the chief justice's son of corruption in a controversial interview which has rocked the credibility of a major television station.
Indonesian tax collectors are to have three weeks of military training from the president’s special forces in order to “build character”. The report caught my eye after a recent story turned the spotlight on the tactics of Brazil’s much feared, gun-toting, tax collectors, who are famed for their furious pursuit of anyone not paying up. But I’m not sure that Indonesia’s tax dodgers will be quaking in their (well-heeled) boots just yet.
Alexander Lebedev, the financial backer of UK newspaper The Independent, has said that he would fund the Russian opposition activist and anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny, should Navalny ever run for president. Forbes magazine estimates that Lebedev has a net worth of $1.1 billion but Lebedev’s rolodex of wealthy friends would probably be just as useful to Navalny as his money. Against an establishment candidate, be it Putin or Putin’s successor, $1.1 billion is chicken feed.
While stories of corrupt officials in India having their houses seized and put to good use are no longer new (see here for the TrustLaw story), I can’t get enough of them. It just seems like the perfect punishment for an official who has abused entrusted power for private gain (the Transparency International definition of corruption). However, this story is troubling due to the fact that the official in question was first investigated in 1989 and the case is still pending! As far as I can see, the official hasn’t been found guilty yet his house was confiscated anyway. Whatever happened to the rule of law?