Archive for July 3rd, 2011

CHEC pushes for more road deals in Jamaica

| 03/07/2011 | 12 Comments

(Gleaner): China Harbour Engineering Company Limited (CHEC) is positioning itself to land another massive contract in Jamaica to construct a new toll road from Spanish Town to Ocho Rios including the Mount Rosser leg of the highway, which is about 88 per cent complete. The company signed a memorandum of understanding earlier this year with the National Road Operating and Constructing Company (NROCC) to investigate the possibility of implementing a concession agreement, which would see the Chinese firm financing, designing, and constructing the new highway. (Photo Zhongdong Tang general manager, CHEC Latin America)

China Harbour's interest in constructing the new highway has already sparked debate among a parliamentary group, with Opposition Member of Parliament Phillip Paulwell sounding a note of caution that the project should be open to international tender. He wants the process to go through the National Contracts Commission and be subject to scrutiny from Contractor General Greg Christie.

At present, the Chinese company is working on the single largest road infrastructure project in Jamaica to construct roads and bridges islandwide. China Harbour is the sole contractor for the J$36 billion Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme (JDIP), which has been dogged by controversy since its implementation.

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Beating political corruption

| 03/07/2011 | 46 Comments

Political corruption, abuse of public office, and similar terms are used to distinguish one type of thievery which is associated with a most serious breach of trust from thievery of other types. This type of thievery is a problem which has been faced in many countries over time. Sadly, in some countries politicians engaged in such thievery go unpunished, as the longer the cancer of corruption is allowed to grow, the harder it is to remove.

Even when a politician’s criminal activity becomes too blatant to be swept under the carpet without turning the carpet into something with the topography of the Rocky Mountains, the police, the relevant prosecution services and, when things have gone very far wrong, even the judiciary, may tend to have a hard time finding so much as the corrupt politician’s wrist to give it a slap with a wet noodle. That is the height of injustice, but it tends to be found wherever there is political corruption which is allowed to grow for more than a short period of time.

Corrupt politicians will stop at nothing when looting a country and they tend to be more brazen and to show more contempt for established rules and protocols and even the constitutions of their countries as time goes on. They manipulate legislation and those who are asked to implement it. They work to eliminate the checks and balances which are designed to protect society from tyranny. They eliminate independent honest individuals from oversight positions on public authorities and replace them with those who may at best be compliant, if not complacent, incompetent and equally corrupt. They and their cronies lie about the role of independent boards of public authorities and try to convince the gullible that independent boards serve no purpose other than to do the will of the corrupt politician.

Corrupt politicians often try to ensure that either there are no laws at all, or exceedingly weak laws at most, relating to political corruption. If they are pushed into passing laws against political corruption or find them in place when they are elected, they tend to ensure that any agencies which might be called upon to detect and prosecute corruption are starved of resources or staffed by incompetents, the corrupt or simply party hacks. Corrupt politicians may try to ensure that those appointed to official positions relating to the detection and prosecution of political corruption owe them in some way, or are at risk of being brought down if the corrupt politician is prosecuted.

Corrupt politicians may use the public treasury to create slush funds to which little or no accountability is attached. They tend to try to buy, and to encourage into corruption, those with any kind of moral authority over their potential voters, including church organisations, pastors and other church leaders. They also try to change or stupefy their society by suggesting that patronage and low level corruption, including vote buying, have always been part of society and therefore their own thievery and slush fund bribes are no more than following tradition. They act as magnets for others that are corrupt and looking to get rich quick by any means, and they will sell out the environment of their country for a few pieces of silver or whatever the environment is worth to those willing to devastate it for profit.

Corrupt politicians also do what they can to insulate themselves politically. They may try to remove and sideline honest civil servants who they know will not co-operate with their corruption and may hand-pick the civil servants that are to work close enough to them to see what they are doing. They may also hand-pick enough of their political associates to make sure that their corrupt backsides are covered by other politicians who have the same regard for honesty, morality and the law that they have. They may resort to vote buying on a massive scale in order to ensure that their re-election is not threatened by their thievery. They are likely to try to intimidate the media into silence, whether by the threat of media stifling laws or by threatening to cancel government paid ads for civil service jobs and government contracts, if the media report on anything that mightbring any truth to light that might call the corrupt politician’s activities into question.

Corrupt politicians hate freedom of information and accountability. They are likely to do whatever is necessary to obscure the accounts of their countries, to defer into oblivion any accountability relating to the finances of their country, and to hinder and harass people, including honest politicians, seeking to understand what is going on in government.

Corrupt politicians work hard to distract voters, no matter the consequences of the distraction. They turn what is supposed to be a life of public service into life as an organised crime boss. They are likely to refuse to do anything practical against, and may covertly or overtly encourage other types of crime, as things like bank robberies and street robberies are likely to distract people’s attention from the thievery of their politicians. Similarly, they may encourage incompetent policing and prosecution services and may sponsor soft prisons, “just in case”.

So what ought to happen in a society that sees itself slipping in the direction of control by one or more kleptocrats? There are a number of things that concerned people can do.

Ordinary people can support the media and private individuals who publicise and demonstrate against corruption. Publicity, both local and international, hinders corruption. Publicity encourages those responsible for good governance to ensure that that job is done. Corrupt politicians and those corrupt individuals and corporations that they do business with also hate publicity. Pompous corrupt politicians in particular hate it when other people they meet on their “no real purpose” luxury world travel already know that they are crooks and are not to be trusted or taken seriously. After all, it is hard to play the “Big Man” when everybody knows you are just a common criminal.

Ordinary individuals can also assist the media in disclosing corruption by bringing to the anti-corruption media's attention any evidence of corruption that they find. That is not to say that the policing authorities should not also receive such information, particularly if they have a track record of not burying such information.

Ordinary individuals can help counter the lies of the corrupt and their cronies and can educate the truly ignorant within their society that may actually believe that politicians deserve to be above the law.  They can take to thestreets demanding action against corruption from police and prosecution services, and they can support those police officers and prosecutors who bravely go after corrupt politicians. They can demand that senior law enforcement officials who do not go after corruption are dismissed. They can demand “whistle-blower” laws to encourage civil servants and others who may see corruption to report it.

Ordinary citizens can demand that every single cent, and every square inch of land, every yacht and every luxury beachfront condo or two which has been in any way touched or paid for to any degree, or in any other way tarnished by any form of political corruption, is frozen by the courts so that upon successful prosecution it can be seized in order to pay off some of the debts that corrupt politicians usually leave when they loot a country’s treasury for their own benefit.

Ordinary people can also demand that laws are changed so that any politician convicted of corruption not only spends at least 20 years in prison, but is also stripped of all publicly paid pensions and other benefits and forced to repay any money earned as a politician while the politician enjoyed so much as anything paid for by even one cent of corrupt profits or earnings. They can demand that any person who does corrupt business with a corrupt politician is also jailed and their assets seized. Foreign persons doing business with corrupt politicians should be identified in the media and to their home governments andtheir names should be placed on public criminal and anti-money laundering watch lists. Ordinary persons can also demand that civil servants, including police officers and prosecutors, who are complicit in or ignore corruption, also go to prison for a long time.
  
Corruption thrives when citizens are embarrassed by their corrupt politicians and try to sweep the politician’s corruption under the carpet. Sweeping things under the carpet does not protect either the economy or the people of a country burdened by corrupt politicians. It only protects the corrupt politicians and their cronies and allows them to go on looting the country. If anything, whenever corruption is even a remote possibility, the carpet should be taken out to a very public place and beaten with a baseball bat to ensure that every microbe of corruption is exposed to the sunlight which corruption fears. The only solution to political corruption is to cut every atom of it out and destroy it.

To those who fear that the investigation of political corruption will scare away investors, have no fear. Leaving corrupt politicians alone only encourages them to seek out corrupt and corruptible investors, including those who have shown themselves willing to pay bribes to get government contracts in other countries. Corrupt deals discourage and drive away honest investors who are willing to compete honestly. Honest investors in every country want to know that the rule of law and not the rule of corruption prevails in any location they are thinking of investing. What better way of showing that Cayman is a safe place for honest people to invest than by publicly demonstrating the forceful application of a figurative baseball bat to anything and anyone that might participate in or shelter any political corruption?

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