Dear Editor – It is perhaps a repetition of the obvious to say that corruption of office was the rock which will destroy the ship of the nation Solomon Islands.
I think corruption of office in the Solomon Islands goes back to the colonial era when the messenger collected bribe from the illiterate people before he allowed them to go in to see district officers and when the interpreter received his kola in order to present the illiterate cases before the expatriate dispensers of justice.
Being the nearest men to the corridors of power, the messengers and the interpreter wielded great influence, later come the council clerks, and courts clerks of the native administrative many of whom succeed only too well in the permission of the course of justice.
Finally as the expatriates withdrew from political and the administrative power, the indigenous stepped into their shoes and many of them began to revel in their new found power.
We should now examine the way in which people corrupt their offices.
Civil and Quasi Civil servants
It would be tough going to convince man in the street of Honiara today that appointment into the lower cadres of government departments, the corporations and the institutions can be fair.
In fact, if you ask any job seeker, you are more likely to be told that to secure an appointment without much ado in any of these institutions you would have to be relation of the boss or be introduced to the boss by his clansman, his fellow permanent secretary, his commissioner, minister or chairman, or his girlfriend.
It all boils down to one point that unless you know the man at or around the top, your chances of securing an appointment are rather thin. I am speaking of experience, which happened to me.
There are, of course, some bosses who would quickly arrange or fix a girl in a job as soon as she is ready to compromise her “honour”.
Finally you would have to blame the girl who is all too ready to surrender her virtue in return for the chance of quick appointment.
Here, however you may be tempted not to be severe on the girl who refuses to pay homage to some quaint honour on an empty stomach.
This is why perhaps the law is not as harsh on the givers of bribes as on the taker although it is made quite clear that both parties are guilty.
There can be no bribe giver, but when a man is driven to the wall, he is ready to offer the bribe to insist on following the correct procedure and giving a fair chance to everyone concerned.
Department heads have other ways of corrupting their office.
Some departments’ vehicles run and maintained with government funds is carrying out their private errands.
Some use their positions to influence petty contracts in favour of their friends, relatives and girlfriends some have their wives using the official telephone in their quarter for their private business, thereby involving government in the expenses of paying huge telephone bills.
In some cases government may have to pay thousands of dollars a quarter on telephone bill run up by the wife of a single official!
Corruption of office has different motives behind it.
One of these motives is the desire to be popular among friends, relations, townsman and clansman.
In Solomon Islands as a man uses his position to provide employment for the sons and daughters of his friends, relations and townsman is usually held a great esteem as one who helps his people.
Another motive is gratification.
Some of the bosses are so incontinent that they indulge in this shameful activity.
Exercise right in their office, exercise right in their official hours, they only need to turn the key of the door to their office and to instruct the clerk that under no circumstances should they be disturbed as they are about to handle a very delicate matter.
So they proceed to take advantage of poor female applicants for employing or aspirant for promotion.
The other obvious motive for corruption of office is the desire for money and the luxuries which it can buy money to build a decent house of your own.
Money to set your wife up in a thriving business, money to keep a string of girlfriends, money to send your children to school overseas, money to buy a car which will be the envy of the neighbourhood and the talk of the town.