Youth interest in corruption lauded

Youth interest in corruption lauded

Creating awareness and engaging the youth in discussing the subject of corruption and wastage was hailed as a timely initiative by Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakkody addressing the launch of the report of the Youth Integrity Survey jointly conducted by the National Youth Service Council (NYSC) and Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL).

“This is a subject that is being discussed not only in our country but the world over. It is most commendable that the youth in our country have unhesitatingly presented their views on corruption without any form of compulsion,” he said addressing the gathering at the BMICH on 5 August.

Mr Weerakkody said that although allegations of corruption against politicians are being made, a person making such an allegation should have the courage to take action though proper channels. “There is also another aspect we should be aware of. The government is taking action against persons who are caught in acts of bribery and corruption. Action was taken against a district judge for the first time in the history of our country. A senior police officer has been brought before the courts,” he added.

Pointing out that the Government, the Bribery Commission, the Police or the Attorney General’s Department cannot handle these matters by themselves, he called upon the civil society show their commitment towards eliminating corruption. “How many are ready to stand against corruption”, he asked.

While he applauded the idea of inducing the youth to rise against corruption, Mr Weerakkody said that these issues cannot be solved through street demonstrations. “The objective should be pure in these actions. Depending on the course of action, the position can even be worse than what it is at present. There should be a clear vision. The goal should be a pure one.”

“Whoever does wrong, whatever the status may be, should be prepared to face the consequences,” he stressed.

He thanked TISL and the NYSC for taking the initiative to go across to the villages and obtain the views of the youth thereby paving the way for a debate on a vital issue.

Secretary to the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Skills Development, K A Tillkeratna said that there have been instances where the youth singly and collectively have stood against bribery and corruption.

Referring to a finding in the Youth Survey report that allegations of bribery and corruption are much more against government service than the private sector, he said that this is to be expected because the government service is monopolising a lot of areas which are of benefit to the public. He quoted the example of how the people have to meet the grama niladharis to get numerous things done.If they need a timber permit they have to go to the Divisional Secretariat. They have to go to the Pensions Department to get their pensions arranged. It’s when an individual cannot get his problem solved that he tries to get the job done by giving a bribe.

Mentioning that out of a youth population of six millions in the country, around one million are involved with the NYSC and the Ministry, Mr Tillkeratna said that in such an environment it will be possible to raise a voice against corruption jointly with TISL.

Describing the focus on youth in corruption as a timely and national need, NYSC Chairman Lalith Piyum Perera said that NYSC had no hesitation in partnering with TISL though TISL is a NGO, in the project to know what young people think of integrity and corruption. He stressed the need to educate the youth on these issues and said that the youth survey has provided an ideal platform for discussion.

TISL Executive Director, S Ranugge explained the importance of creating awareness and promoting integrity among the youth.
The lead researcher Dr Shantha Abeysinghe of the Open University presented the key findings and conclusions.
The winners of the cartoon and slogan competitions on corruption conducted by TISL were awarded their prizes.

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