When of­fi­cials try to re­cover from lies

Pakistan Observer - - EDITORIALS & COMMENTS -

WHEN of­fi­cials lie, the press of­ten pounces like a fox, as it should. But what may mat­ter more is how govern­ment re­cov­ers, learn­ing to loath ly­ing and em­brace hon­esty. As famed New York Jets quar­ter­back Joe Na­math once said, “It’s not how you fall that counts .... It’s how you get up.” Scratch around the news these days and you can find many gov­ern­ments ei­ther try­ing to over­come an eth­i­cal breach or be­ing forced to.

Here are a few re­cent ex­am­ples: Last Thurs­day, lawyers at the US Jus­tice Depart­ment were cited for de­ceiv­ing a fed­eral judge in an im­por­tant case about Pres­i­dent Obama’s plan to grant le­gal sta­tus to thou­sands of young, unau­tho­rized im­mi­grants. The dis­trict judge, An­drew Ha­nen, said the lawyers “chose not to tell the truth” in grant­ing more than 100,000 work per­mits to im­mi­grants de­spite his tem­po­rary in­junc­tion against such a move. He wrote in a 28-page or­der that “it is hard to imag­ine a more se­ri­ous, more cal­cu­lated plan of un­eth­i­cal con­duct.” The depart­ment ad­mit­ted what it had done. But Judge Ha­nen saw the need to or­der Jus­tice Depart­ment to pro­vide three hours of ethics train­ing a year for all its lawyers – for next five years. And he wants At­tor­ney Gen­eral Loretta Lynch to present a plan to pre­vent sim­i­lar lapses among Jus­tice lawyers.

In China, a sim­i­lar cor­rec­tion may be un­der way. In Jan­uary, the head of the Na­tional Bureau of Sta­tis­tics, Wang Baoan, was dis­missed and charged with cor­rup­tion. In ad­di­tion, more than 300 of the bureau’s em­ploy­ees were found guilty of pro­vid­ing the real (and hid­den) data to pri­vate in­vestors for fi­nan­cial gain. For decades, in­vestors in China have com­plained that of­fi­cial sta­tis­tics had a “wind of fal­si­fi­ca­tion and em­bel­lish­ment.” But as the econ­omy has slowed, these wor­ries have grown. The rul­ing Com­mu­nist Party can­not af­ford to lose in­vestors. Even Premier Li Ke­qiang has ex­pressed doubts about the ac­cu­racy of govern­ment fig­ures, es­pe­cially those mea­sur­ing gross do­mes­tic prod­uct. In April, the premier ap­pointed a re­spected econ­o­mist, Ning Jizhe, to head the sta­tis­tics agency. In a re­port about the agency’s re­form, Gold­man Sachs stated, “There’s rea­son to be­lieve that the qual­ity of data com­ing out of China will im­prove over time.”In Greece, where past of­fi­cial lies about bud­get deficits trig­gered a fi­nan­cial cri­sis for the eu­ro­zone in 2009, Par­lia­ment passed mea­sures Sun­day to as­sure for­eign cred­i­tors that the govern­ment will meet its bud­get tar­gets. A new law would au­to­mat­i­cally cut pen­sions and govern­ment wages if of­fi­cials fail to hold down spend­ing. “Greece has shown it keeps its prom­ises .... I’m cer­tain [con­tin­gency] mea­sures will not have to be put into ef­fect,” said Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras. In Rus­sia, mean­while, of­fi­cials are slowly com­ing to grips with a huge scan­dal over what the World An­tiDop­ing Agency called “state-spon­sored” dop­ing of the coun­try’s ath­let­ics – and then ly­ing about it. The In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Ath­let­ics Fed­er­a­tions, which over­sees global track and field, has sus­pended all Rus­sian ath­letes from its events. It will de­cide by June 17 whether to lift the ban in time for the Sum­mer Olympics in Brazil. The Rus­sian sports min­istry has since ad­mit­ted the coun­try has a dop­ing prob­lem and “that changes are needed.” But in­ter­na­tional sports bod­ies are wait­ing for reme­dies. Natalia Zhe­lanova, an anti-dop­ing ad­viser to the min­istry, told Bri­tain’s Press As­so­ci­a­tion, “We un­der­stand that we have a huge prob­lem .... We want to build a sys­tem where peo­ple with high moral codes can speak out and maybe be­come he­roes.” As Joe Na­math might say, that would be a “how you get up” mo­ment. The Chris­tian Sci­ence Mon­i­tor

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