December 9 is global Anti-Corruption Day. To mark the occasion, Groundviews used Twitter’s new poll feature in order to gauge what our followers felt about corruption.
Since the option to add short polls is still relatively new and under-used, only a few who had the latest version of the mobile app or cast their vote through the web version of Twitter were able to participate. By the end of the day, 89% of those who took the poll said that corruption was an important issue.
On December 9, we also asked our readers over Twitter whether they thought the situation regarding corruption had improved or deteriorated after January 8th.
Do you think corruption in #srilanka post Jan 8th has lessened or increased? #lka #breakthechain #anticorruption
— Groundviews (@groundviews) December 9, 2015
Interestingly, the majority of respondents on Twitter (49%) felt that there was no real difference with regards to the situation since January 8. This perhaps reflects frustrations with the current Government, that even with an ambitious 100 day plan and stance on good governance has erred, including President Sirisena appointing his brother Kumarasinghe Sirisena to head Sri Lanka Telecom. The appointment of Arjuna Mahendran as Central Bank Governor also raised eyebrows following some controversy over Government bond sales.
Clearly, with the prevalence of social media, people especially amongst a younger demographic, are less tolerant of what they perceive as corruption. Bulk text messages sent out to raise awareness about the Anti Corruption walk organized by the Director General of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery and Corruption was met by ire by many on social media:
How did they get my number? #AntiCorruptionDay
— Ahamed Nizar (@ahamednizar) December 9, 2015
Some also questioned their service providers on how the Bribery Commission had access to their phone numbers:
@dialoglk can you please explain how bribery commission got our numbers or did you send this for them? A clear answer please.
— PlainTea Girl (@PlainTeaGirl) December 9, 2015
Some were incisive in their commentary on the situation in Sri Lanka:
Dec 9 is #AntiCorruptionDay
2015 Theme: Break the corruption chain
See how successful #lka is in this effort! pic.twitter.com/MBX6c4byKH
— Nalaka Gunawardene (@NalakaG) December 8, 2015
Others were more optimistic:
It's #AntiCorruptionDay today. And while #lka has a long way to go, we can't underrate how far we've come this year.
— ThisuriWanniarachchi (@ThisuriW) December 9, 2015
Heavy rain didn’t stop many civil society organisations as well as students from participating in a walk against corruption from Viharamahadevi Park to Independence Square.
Participants for the Walk queuing up before the rains set in
While the public had much to say about corruption, the case wasn’t necessarily so in Parliament, as Groundviews discovered.
Good governance: The discourse in Parliament
According to manthri.lk good governance (under which category the topic of corruption falls) has been discussed a total of 78 times in Parliament across three years (from 2012-2015) by just 39 politicians.
The majority of the discussion around good governance has come post the January 8 Presidential election – an estimated 75% of the discourse in fact, comes in 2015 alone.
Unsurprisingly, Justice Minister Wijayadasa Rajapakse has discussed good governance the most – 55 times. Next comes Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, who has discussed good governance 22 times.
Below is the full table, provided to us courtesy manthri.lk:
|MP||Number of Times||Score in productive minutes|
|Nimal Siripala De Silva||12||253.55|
|Anura Kumara Disanayaka||13||247.25|
|Palitha Range Bandara||3||223.3|
|Joseph Michael Perera||1||175.5|
|Harsha De Silva||3||157.15|
|J Sri Ranga||1||121|
|Ranjith Madduma Bandara||1||107|
|Ranjith De Soyza||1||87|
|Ajith P Perera||9||75.8|
|Nalin Bandara Jayamaha||2||70.75|
|Anura Priyadarshana Yapa||3||26.8|
|Janaka Priyantha Bandara||1||10.9|
As the table shows, governance has only been intensively discussed by 4 or 5 MPs – Wijayadasa Rajapakse, Ranil Wickremesinghe, Nimal Siripala de Silva, Anura Kumara Dissanayake and Dinesh Gunawardena.
Corruption, specifically has been addressed even fewer times than the data provided by manthri.lk – which is notable in itself.
In Transparency International’s last released Global Corruptions Index Sri Lanka is ranked 85th out of a 175 countries, improving its score by just one point compared to the previous year.
Independent reports have shown that corruption in Sri Lanka is rife – not just in the business sector but also in the judicial sector, police and land, tax and customs administration.
The question is, will this Government make a concerted effort to eradicate corruption and improve Sri Lanka’s standing? President Sirisena said on Twitter that ‘steady progress’ was being made to eradicate corruption
Each day we're making steady progress to eradicate bribery and corruption – Maithri #AntiCorruptionDay pic.twitter.com/1WuZuBYEIp
— Maithripala Sirisena (@MaithripalaS) December 9, 2015
It was also heartening to see so many different civil society organisations participating in the Anti-Corruption walk, together with representatives of the Bribery Commission.
Yet the Twitter polls and the general pulse on social media made it clear that the public remains sceptical about the new Government’s ability to deliver on its promises. Unless some concrete action is taken towards combating it, President Sirisena’s statement will be seen as a mere token, and Sri Lankans with power and influence will continue to grease palms in order to get ahead.