Beating political corruption

| 03/07/2011

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 theconsequences 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 the streets 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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Comments (46)

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  1. Brian Kendall says:

    THANK YOU ,THANK YOU.. YES I AM SHOUTING.. Thank You , I applaud you with all my heart and soul. I reside in Saipan,M.P.96950

    We have one of if not the most corrupt and pathetic Government in the world. So much so that I am constantly at a loss for words. No longer !

    Thank You on behalf of all Honest People .. 😉 Peace

    Kind Regards, B.R.Kendall 

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thank you, Mr Duckpond for your brilliant viewpoint. Here's a little light at the end of the long, dark tunnel. This is an excerpt from a wonderful book called HOME (Heaven on Mother Earth) by Patricia Diane Cota-Robles:

    As the Light of god increases on Earth and the negativity that conflicts with that Light is pushed to the surface to be transmuted and healed, we are seeing the global economy reel on the shifting sands of corruption and greed. From outer appearance, it looks like the economy is headed for total collapse but, in fact, this is only the darkness before the dawn.

    The purging that is taking place in the economic world is a necessary part of the healing process. The old-age archtypes of greed, selfishness, corruption, and moral depravity are being exposed and shattered in order to clear the way for the new archtypes of limitless abundance. Those who are willing to attain their wealth by harming another part of life are doomed to failure. Whether they are hurting people or polluting the Earth, their nefarious efforts are being exposed in the radiant Light of Divine Truth.

    The dog-eat-dog, looking-out-for-number-one selfishness that has been so prevalent over the years cannot be sustained once the new archtypes of limitless abundance are in place. This is the time that has been prophesied when "All that has been hidden must now be revealed"  The clandestine schemes of deception and dishonesty that have trapped the multitudes in a web of poverty will no longer be concealed in a cloak of darkness. The elite few who hoard the wealth of the world while millions live in hunger, disease and squalor will no longer succeed in their self obsessed ventures.

  3. Libertarian says:

    All for personal gain.

    There was nothing you brought into this world, and there is nothing you will take with you to the grave. All over the world, politicians are being deluded in thinking that "united I stand" instead of "united We stand."  There is this fear of self-sacrificing for one's country and constituency as a minister. We are living in a new era where our leaders have forgotten what unity is all about. 

    It is until something catastrophic happens or there is a personal misfortune, that such individuals of polticial power, will come back to planet earth from their high horses and see the mess they have created from their indifference.

    It seems like that those people who are humbled with a true message of humanity, and not caught up in the arena of politics, are the true followers of light and liberty.  

  4. The lone Haranguer says:

    Mr Bush is a businessman at heart he understands what it takes to make money. he would be one of the richest people in this country if he had gone to the private sector. Most of the other MLA's are just funtionaries, compedent administrators, do gooders people who have the best interests of the country at heart but really just do not understand money and how to make money.

    Mr Bush understands that to keep we Caymanians in a style that we have become accostomed to,with half the voting public working for the goverment or it's authorities, and half of the other half recieving goverment assistance, we must keep developping at a rapid pace and we must keep bringing in foreigners to do all the hard work that we do not want to do, and to comsumer goods that will bring in income to keep the party going.

    Capice ?

    • Anonymous says:

      "Mr Bush is a business man at heart" – OK

      His associates in government are "functionaries" and "compedent" – I'll take your word for that

      "if he had gone into the private sector" – love it – that "if" is hilarious, no sense of irony in that statement at all – priceless.

    • Anonymous says:

      Explains a lot.  Thanks for clearing that up.

    • whayasay says:

      Lone Haranguer, you seem to be the only poster equating this viewpoint with Mr Bush. Either you are a lot smarter than you seem or you know something the rest of us don't, in which case, please do share.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Corruption covered up is like a wound or a sore not cleaned and covered up.  It festers and becomes infected and spreads and can sometimes cause major damage and death.  Small acts of corruption lead to bigger and bigger acts.  Politicians need to realise that their behaviour should be to a higher standard than the ordinary person.  Just like the reputation of a financial institution.  Any hint of criminal wrongdoing or corruption can ruin the reputation of a financial institution.  People under investigation should do the right thing and step aside – even if only temporarily.  The silence is deafening regarding this matter.  I'm not saying there is any wrongdoing but the hint of it is not good for our Islands. People in positions of power must always be seen to do the right thing for the people, not for themselves.  We should ensure that the world sees that we are not afraid to investigate  this matter and are not afraid to do what is right at the conclusion – whatever that may be.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Mr. "Duck" has certainly come out all guns ablazing.  Remarkable article.  Now if only the voting public may take note.

  7. nauticalone says:

    A very well written viewpoint!

    Unfortunately many of the "Powers that be" will likely go straight to defending against much or all of the article, rather than take an objective look….and committment to investigate and prosecute corruption, without bias.

  8. Anonymous says:

    This is a very informative and well written viewpoint article!

    Keep up the good work Mr. Aristophanes Duckpond!

  9. Anonymous says:

    The problem with this country is, that when you say "god says . . .", you have 20k people believing you.

    The people are too naive to understand what is really going on here.

  10. anonymous says:

    It is interesting that we have an Anti Corruption Law enacted under the PPM Government and an Anti Corruption Commission that came into effect in early 2010.

    The AC Law has a number of serious defects that were pointed out both to the PPM Government and also to the current Government. The silence was deafening. The most important defect is that the Commission is not fully independent. Thus, it is almost inevitably doomed to failure out of the start gate.

    What is also interesting is that there is no Cayman branch of Transparency International (the leading private sector anti corruption organisation). When I invited various local organisations to support the establishment of a Cayman branch, the yawns were depressing.

    A country gets the Government it deserves – sadly.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I am Caymanian and I call on each of our current politicians, both government side and opposition, to immediately introduce new legislation which will be the strongest and toughest anti-corruption legislation on the planet backed by a well funded unit with the most robust investigation powers on the planet. Those politicians who oppose stronger anti-corruption measures will clearly show which side of the line they are on.

    • anonymous says:

      The Anti Corruption Law was enacted in 2008 and came into effect in 2010, as did the Anti Corruption Commission. There are also relevant offences under the Penal Code and other laws. What is indeed required are (1) the commitment at the highest level to execute these Laws and (2) the allocation of the resources to execute that commitment. Currently, neither exists.

    • Anonymous says:

      It's a shame that systems of government exist where those who we fear being corrupt are the same one's making the laws. Oursystem like most others puts the fox in charge of guarding the hen house. Wouldn't it be better if an independent non political body were formed for the making and passing of laws which would free up politicians from having to make decisions about granting themselves pay raises and provide more free time for politicking and people pleasing. Laws are too important and permanent to entrust the power of legislating to the random citizen who decided to run for office. Power should be spread evenly amongst many elected members to prevent renegades from taking control and dictating their will. No one elected official should have such power or the ability to gain it. The more people involved in decision making, the less chance of corruption. Corruption happens when one person or small group of people take control. Power can be intoxicating.

      • Anonymous says:

        I gave you thumbs up before I had fully read your post. I suspect it is the same with others who have thumbs up. I withdraw my thumbs up.

        "Power should be spread evenly amongst many elected members to prevent renegades from taking control and dictating their will. No one elected official should have such power or the ability to gain it. The more people involved in decision making, the less chance of corruption. Corruption happens when one person or small group of people take control".

        Are you proposing that we have even more MLAs and they all be in the govt?. The reason some are not in govt is to those who are accountable on ourbehalf.

        However, I agree that politicians should not have the ability to give themselves pay raises.     


  12. Anonymous says:

    We live in a country where a political slush fund is a line item in the budget called "Nation Building".  When politicians dare ask what the money is being spent on they are harrangued and ridiculed by Mac as interfering.

  13. noname says:

    It is not uncommon in Cayman to have business dealings with a politician who asks for a share or expects something in return. . Neither is it uncommon to have dealings with some fine, honest Caymanian politicians who do have the interest of this country at heart 

    Since it is no myth that corruption does exist inside Cayman polititics, perhaps it is now time for those good Members of both Parties, including Independents, to join forces together under one new Alliance and move forward together to rebuild and protect the interests of this country.

    By joining forces in a new Alliance they are likely to ostracise those whom they do not want to be associated with. Initially this may be a brave decsion for some but, perhaps a necessary choice also for some who do want to continue to serve their country in the years to come.


    • OkMan says:

      The last thing we want to have is 15 elected members (soon 18)  working together as one political party.

      Democracy operates best with more than one party.

      Be careful what you wish for! 

      Some Caymanians and some long time residents do not seem to be able to accept political parties, but they should embrace, guide and help to direct these two parties and not holding on to the past. 

      This country is unlikely to go back to the days of loosely organized groups of people seeking Political Office and then "pretending" to work together once they are elected. 

      Let us stop "holding on to that which we never really had" in the first place.


      • Anonymous says:

        Democracy works best with no professional politicians and no political parties. Over the long term professional politicians and political parties tend to limit both transparency and accountability. They do whatever it takes to stay in power.

        We also need term limits – maximum 2 terms per politician per life time. These changes will greatly cut down on the probability of large scale corruption.

        • peaceful protest man says:

          Be real! There are no examples of any such situation in any country!

          We are living in the real world with ordianry people.


          • Anonymous says:

            Go back a little over 10 years ago and there was such a country. It was called Cayman and it was in better shape that we are today with corruption and crime everywhere you look.

        • Anonymous says:

          Two terms, eh. LOL. Some politicians only need two years to have their fingers in the cookie jar.

        • kevin says:

          I think what they should have in the LA, is law defining the divisions of power, such as, no more than 6 members per party should be in the house. That way, you would have by most three parties in the LA, and everyone would be force to work together in order to get a majority vote out of 18 members in order to pass a law.

          That one party could take the entire house or dominate the entire house, I feel, is dangerous.

          The Constitution needs to be changed or amended. That is why I never voted for it in the first place.

          • Anonymous says:

            It is we the people who decide how many of each party gets elected. If ALL of us would vote only for the the most competent, hardworking and honest candidates regardless of party affiliation we would get better representation. Instead people vote according to little cards they are presented with on election day.   

  14. MER says:

    I applaud this article! Fabulously written and it hit the nail on the head and drove it straight through the wood!

  15. Anonymous says:

    Regardless of it being small time or big time corruption of any kind, freedom tends to corrupt in particular if that freedom is created rather then given or earned. Similar to opportunity when it comes along your path, you may assess that opportunity with great care and vision and do something really good things with that for the benefit of many, but we also know that opportunity can also make the thief and it will take some really fine and honest people with enough integrity to discover and subsequently expose the difference to the authorities as well as general public. The rest would be up to the public offices with that same amount of honest integrity to correct the problems for the betterment of all.

  16. Anonymous says:

    'Its hard to play the “Big Man” when everybody knows you are just a common criminal.'  Isn't that the truth!  Love it!

  17. Anonymous says:

    How many corrupt transactions or meetings are required to qualify for prosecution under the US RICO ACT?

  18. Anonymous says:

    It is not every country that sends a criminal to meet with US officials regarding what a wonderful job the country does assisting the US tracking down tax evaders and other criminals.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Many very good points. Those peopel who have been photographed smiling and standing beside a corrupt politician should consider that for the rest of their lives those digital images will survive on the internet. Every time they do anything public that picture can appear and everyone can be reminded that they associate with criminals.

  20. Anonymous says:

    In the US there  is a law called the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act which applies to US corporations and people making corrupt payments to foreign officials to secure any business, and it also applies to the foreign officials who receive corrupt payments. If there is a Cayman politician whose activities fit those criteria maybe that politician and any civil servant that aided him or her should spend a dozen years or so in a real prison in the US. That might be a good lesson for any apprentice corrupt politicians and civil servants working their way up the system in Cayman. No sane person has accused the US Fed Max-Security prisons of being a hotel. The corrupt politician could have some real fun room mates in a US prison.

    • Anonymous says:

      So does anyone think that this revelation might change the travel pattern of any politician?

    • Anonymous says:

      Yeah, like Bernie Madoff and Conrad Black….

      • Anonymous says:

        Not likely. They were big players. Corrupt politicians from outside the US are likely to end up bunking with a guy covered in tattoos who bench presses 350 and has an insatiable sexual appetite.

    • Anonymous says:

      A prime example of a corrupt politician is none other than former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.  That is a great example of civil f*ckery from our great Northern neighbors!

      Although, I would say at least he was caught. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks for that. Here is some more information.

      The FCPA applies to two broad categories of persons: those with formal ties to the United States and those who take action in furtherance of a violation while in the United States, say Las Vegas for example.

      Individuals face up to five years’ imprisonment for each violation of the antibribery provisions of the FCPA, or up to 20 years for certain willful violations. Corporations and other business entities may be fined up to $2 million for each violation, individuals as much as $100,000. The maximum fine maybe increased to $25 million for corporations and $5 million for individuals in the case of certain willful violations.

      A corrupt politician who falls within these categories should be very concerned about stepping off the plane in Miami.

  21. Anonymous says:

    So if a corrupt politician sells his influence to get political approval for a project and then disguises the money he got from his corrupt act as some legitimate income, does that make him a money launderer as well? 

  22. Anonymous says:

    Wow. Fantastic viewpoint. I am Caymanian and I grew up playing.  baseball. I am tired of seeing good honest people being tripped up by the giant lumps of corruption that others sweep under the carpet. I am tired of talking to other Caymanians who are afraid to even notice the lumps. Pass me the bat coach I pretty sure I can still beat the (*&^ out of that carpet.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Brilliant piece of writing and advice to the people.  Come on Cayman lets do it!

  24. Anonymous says:

    Well said!  I am an ordinary citizen who does not want to be part of the quiet majority any longer.  I therefore demand that:

    (1) laws are changed so that any politician convicted of corruption not only spends at least 20 years in prison, and 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.

    (2) 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 and their names should be placed on public criminal and anti-money laundering watch lists.

  25. Within the Memory of Justice says:

    The "Duck" hascertainly proved his worth.

  26. Patriot says:

    A hit, a very palpable hit. Cayman Islands, a good friend of mine who is gone now said something very simple but true; if you are not a part of the solution, then you are a part of the problem. No-one who reads the Viewpoint above can deny the truth of the matter any longer. It is the truth that will set us free. Let the chips fall where they may. The battle lines have been drawn.  The situation at hand is untenable, unacceptable and, in its complete totality, unworthy of being allowed to continue. When one builds a boat one starts from the bottom (the backbone) and works up from there. Conversely, and directly applicable to our present political arena, when one washes, cleans and restores said metaphorical boat then, by guidance of common sense, one starts at the very top and works down from there. To take a different course of action is and would be counterintuitive and counterproductive as the filth which remains above will continue to soil that which is below and ultimately render useless such hard work and amount to nothing more than continually wasted energies, resources, opportunities and potential. Within the memory of justice there is the history of a consequential sequence of cause and effect. It is this which is an identifier of the problems if one truly wishes to find and obtain real and lasting solutions. The punishment has to fit the crime directly and be exponentially relative to the level of position. Step one of many is to remove the proverbial fox from the proverbial henhouse and to prevent any further intrusion. This "boat" of ours needs to be made ship-shape if we are to have any hope of weathering the gathering and formidable storms on the horizon and in the foreseeable future.  

  27. Anonymous says:

    Thank you. Even the possibility of corruption puts honest business people off. Why would any honest person waste time and money putting together a bid on any government contract when there is no chance of getting the contract. Not only that. Why would an honest person even want to get their picture taken with a corrupt politician.