“NIA Award should inspire more people”

“NIA Award should inspire more people”

NIA Award Committee making a statement said they hope this Award will inspire more people to stand up against corruption in whatever form or shape — in government, corporate, civil society and all other sections of our society.

“We also hope it will strengthen the resolve of all good people to be more vocal in demanding transparency and accountability in all spheres of public life – such as politics, business, culture, media and sports” they said in a statement.

Having studied this year’s nominations, we feel that more work needs to done to enhance the public understanding of corruption. This cancer is not limited to isolated acts of bribery or influence peddling or subverting the rules. Indeed, these are merely the tip of the iceberg — and there are many other ways in which corruption and mal-governance erode our entire social fabric the statement further added.

Member of the Award Committee veteran science writer and journalist Nalaka Gunawardene read out the statement at the awards ceremony on behalf of the committee.

Following is the full text of the ceremony.

The Award Committee initially comprised four independent individuals, i.e. Dr Wijaya Jayathilleke, Dr Selvy Thiruchandran, Dr Rohan Samarajiva and Nalaka Gunawardene. Dr Wijaya Jayathilleke stepped down in September 2010 to avoid a conflict of interest when he was designated as the next Executive Director of Transparency International Sri Lanka.

This year’s National Integrity Award was announced in May, and was widely publicized in the media and through other means. Nominations were invited in the three languages – English, Sinhala and Tamil – using the prescribed applications format. The original deadline of August 31 was later extended till September 15 to allow more time for nominations.

Transparency International Sri Lanka served as the Secretariat for the award. They checked all applications received by the extended deadline, and identified 38 nominations that met the eligibility criteria. These were presented to the Award Committee.

In the first round of review, the Committee examined the 38 nominations and found that six (6) among them could not be considered due to insufficient information. The balance 32 nominations were assessed according to the published criteria for the National Integrity Award. In this review process, some nominations were found to be unrelated to corruption and/or marginally relevant to the scope and objectives of the award. After these were ruled out, the Committee seriously considered a total of nine (9) nominations.

Among this shortlist of 9 were nominations the Committee felt were pertinent yet premature as the specific anti-corruption interventions cited were either in their early stages or the final outcome was pending judicial decisions. The Committee requested the Secretariat to carry out field investigations about four (4) nominations that were considered to be the most relevant and promising. The Committee also provided the specific lines of inquiry and research.

After a thorough examination of the investigative reports and discussion, the Award Committee unanimously agreed on the winner for National Integrity Award 2010. In the same manner, the Committee was unanimous in deciding to present a Special Mention Award to one of the short-listed nominees, for his courageous commitment to highlighting and countering corruption at the local level. The two citations will summarize why these two individuals have been selected.

May I also offer a few generic observations.

Being involved in the selection process has been a revealing and rewarding exercise for us, members of the committee. On the one hand, we are impressed by the passion and commitment shown by many nominees in their respective spheres of professional work or social influence. At the same time, we were disappointed that the award did not attract more eligible nominations. And the identity of this year’s winner, to be announced shortly, probably explains why.

We hope this Award will inspire more people to stand up against corruption in whatever form or shape — in government, corporate, civil society and all other sections of our society. We also hope it will strengthen the resolve of all good people to be more vocal in demanding transparency and accountability in all spheres of public life – such as politics, business, culture, media and sports.

Having studied this year’s nominations, we feel that more work needs to done to enhance the public understanding of corruption. This cancer is not limited to isolated acts of bribery or influence peddling or subverting the rules. Indeed, these are merely the tip of the iceberg — and there are many other ways in which corruption and mal-governance erode our entire social fabric. When people can better recognise the many ugly heads and tentacles of corruption, we hope it would motivate more public-spirited individuals to counter them.

In our view, the various legal, regulatory and other structural arrangements are all necessary – but not sufficient – to combat corruption. Corruption is deep rooted in human greed. The temptations and opportunities for corruption are greater today than ever before.

Faced with these stark realities, we must find the bulwark of resistance in our individual and collective values.

In the end, the journey to a cleaner, honest and more equitable society begins with each one of us – the man or woman in the mirror. Each one of us is corruptible. At the same time, each one of us also has the potential to counter corruption. In this era of mobile phones and WikiLeaks, the opportunities are only limited by our courage and imagination. No act is too small or too insignificant. And silently looking away is not an option.

I would like to end by quoting the Malaysian social activist Anwar Fazal, whose words sum up what the National Integrity Award is all about. Quote: “In a world that is increasingly violent, wasteful and manipulative, every effort at developing islands of integrity, wells of hope and sparks of action must be welcomed, multiplied and linked…” End quote.

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