We all live in glass houses


Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

Talk­ing (and even preach­ing) about cor­rup­tion and mer­i­toc­racy seems to be the new fad and a won­der­ful way to de­flect peo­ple’s at­ten­tion away from the real trou­bles we face.

The fact that money laun­der­ing, cor­rup­tion and fraud has reached the amaz­ing lev­els we hear about on a daily ba­sis should not sur­prise us, as we have all been fully aware of such cases at all lev­els, but sim­ply did noth­ing for fear of reprisals such as los­ing a cushy con­tract or not get­ting in a favour with the lo­cal MP or mu­nic­i­pal coun­cilor.

In fact, it’s a cul­ture thing and, as the say­ing goes, ed­u­ca­tion starts at home.

This mind­set has sunk in from the Colo­nial days when some­one would get hired in Her Majesty’s gov­ern­ment or any other pub­lic ser­vice con­trolled by the Bri­tish rulers and sud­denly ev­ery known rel­a­tive would rush up to that per­son to get a me­nial, yet se­cure, job for his son or daugh­ter. This is when ‘rous­feti’ be­came an in­te­gral part of our so­ci­ety and has sub­se­quently spilled over to other ar­eas, so long as both sides are happy with the out­come. Those peo­ple who were hired through the back door four or five decades ago are the ones who kept this sys­tem alive, pass­ing on priv­i­leges from one gen­er­a­tion to the other.

But if we want this to stop, then per­haps we should start by tak­ing baby steps, as the trans­parency law and the bill on pro­tec­tion of whistleblowers is far from ever be­ing ma­te­ri­alised, no thanks to gov­ern­ment and MPs drag­ging their feet, prob­a­bly in­ten­tion­ally.

If the next gen­er­a­tion is taught in school that, for ex­am­ple, park­ing in a spot for dis­abled peo­ple is bad, then they will in­flu­ence their par­ents and hope­fully grow up to be good cit­i­zens them­selves. Only by treat­ing oth­ers equally can one de­mand to be treated with re­spect, and only then will young grads re­alise that they will be hired on merit and not be­cause they are re­lated to some big shot in lo­cal gov­ern­ment or a po­lit­i­cal party.

And the first ex­am­ple should come from the par­ties them­selves.

After Paphos was thrown into an elec­tion mode, with the res­ig­na­tion of their mayor who is im­pli­cated in a plethora of scan­dals, is it not fair to de­mand that Paphos coun­cilors also stepped down and let the peo­ple choose a new coun­cil? If they only elect a new mayor then they are all hid­ing be­hind their fin­gers, as most if not all of them knew about the go­ings on in their town.

The elec­tion is not a mat­ter of par­ties show­ing their strength, but rather what the rul­ing and op­po­si­tion keep on blast­ing each other about, that is that Cae­sar’s wife should not just ‘ seem’ to be hon­est, but she should ‘be’ hon­est as well. If Cae­sar’s wife had been alive nowa­days and judg­ing how of­ten this phrase is abused by po­lit­i­cal par­ties, she would be the high­est-paid pros­ti­tute ever in Cyprus his­tory.

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