Fighting corruption still an uphill task

Lack of evidence deter naming and shaming, favoritism, nepotism, and abuse of authority

LHAKPA TSHERING | Thimphu

While the perception of favoritism, nepotism, and abuse of authority are the most prevalent forms of corruption in human resource (HR) management, the lack of sufficient evidence deter the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) from publicly naming and shaming individuals to act as deterrents.

A commissioner said that corruption investigations on HR matters are “very difficult”. “When we go for investigations following their complaints, it is not possible to get into the core of the matter unless the selection, recruitment, or promotions have happened openly,” he said.

“There is less room for the commission to intervene in all complaints against placement and promotion we receive,” he said. “We refer back to the respective agencies to see and examine if it merits investigation.”

“They get back to us with explanations. And most of the time, we are convinced by the explanations given by the agencies. It does not really justify naming and shaming them in such cases,” the commissioner added.

However, ACC say they try their best to follow up and address the issues at the earliest if the commission receives any complaint related to HR matters.

Another commissioner said that it is a long march, but progress is being made against HR-related corruption. “Any complaints related to HR, we follow up faster because we cannot lose time,” he said.

Turning the tide against corruption through “naming and shaming”, the commission is also working to launch a website, expected to launch by January end, to share hard facts of naming and shaming the corruptions.

While the commission has not shared much relating to the cases in the past, ACC officials say, people can expect more cases. “Since the national day address was very clear, you can really expect to see those changes coming from the commission,” he said. “So you can expect these major changes.”

“Going further, sometimes it is not possible to report every individual on the websites or media. But big cases might come,” he said, adding that some countries like Singapore publish corruption cases with details including names.

The official said that the commission has done much in the past. “In 2006, we had published names of people who were accused and charged. But because of some reason, it was discontinued. Maybe there was some resistance to public feedback,” he added.

Another commissioner said that while the commission is also careful with certain laws, they are trying to do as quickly as possible but without breaking the law. “There are certain things we have to keep in mind. But as far as possible, we want to reveal.”

“Some of them may be important but may not have come from a lot of public or media interest, but we will start sharing. From our side, we want to do as much as possible,” said the commissioner.

“If it is going to compromise our evidence, witnesses, and sources, we can’t share everything all the time. But whatever we can, we want to push those limits,” said the commissioner.

Meanwhile, an official also said that the commission is also working to spearhead and build a system that will maintain the databases of all the stakeholders.

“We have to work with the stakeholders. Right now we have focused on our own database. This will keep the records of people who were convicted and even people against whom we have a complaint under consideration in the past cases,” he said.

He added, “Any agencies who are trying to hire people in the top positions including executives and P-level at the leadership positions, they can always come to ACC and say “we are trying to recruit this person for this position, does ACC have anything to say against this person about their past.”

If such information is being shared, he said, it makes it much easier for the agency to make an informed decision. “We have already started working on such a mechanism,” he said. “We will also move towards even bringing more databases for other agencies as well.”