The fight against corruption has always been dear to my heart. Why is this so? Because being an accountant and sometimes called to audit financial reports, my motive is to produce accurate financial reports, free of errors and frauds. Therefore, when Transparency International PNG published their profile and a headline “TI PNG fighting corruption today”, I got very interested and decided to apply for membership, not as individual but as an association -Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters in PNG.
What is TI PNG? From Ms Yvonne Ngutlick, their Communications and Public Relations Officer, she wrote a brief profile of TI PNG as follows:
“Transparency International PNG is a member of Transparency International a worldwide global movement. The member country organizations are independent and are called chapters. There are over 100 national chapters around the world. The TI PNG chapter fights against corruption and promotes openness, honesty and accountability both in public and private dealings.
We do not support individual politicians or parties. Instead we try to strengthen the integrity systems of our country such as the police, the parliament and the judiciary”.
How does TI PNG fight corruption today? They have many partners with different capacities to assist members to report corrupt practices or issues observed.
- The Advocacy and Legal Advice Centre office helps anyone prepare complaints about corruption to be sent to the ombudsman’s office and other agencies (TI PNG do not investigate or prosecute corruption complaints)
- TI PNG provide regular comment in the media about corruption issues such as the controls on leaders.
– provide teaching materials for the education systems on good governance and corruption
– train youth leaders in governance issues through the Annual Youth Democracy Camp
– lobby for freedom of information and protection for whistle blowers
– observe elections and comment when the processes used are not democratic or lawful
– run awareness and advocacy campaigns both in the mass media and through drama in villages on governance and corruption issues
- TI PNG support and work with many partners in the Community Coalition Against Corruption such as the Youth Against Corruption Association, Churches and Businesses.
- TI PNG implement projects such as the Forest Governance Initiative which helps research and propose better processes and laws for the management of the natural resources.
The variety of network possibilities will make it easier for us to help and support this fight against corruption. One such avenue is the organization Youth Against Corruption Association. YACA was set up in 2002 by John Glynn at Jubilee Catholic Secondary School. Over the years, it was introduced to other schools. We have started with a group of Grade 6 to Grade 8 pupils in St. Michael Primary School in Alexishafen. Actually it was started as Vocation Club since they are too old to join the Sunday School. However, gradually the members were taught topics other than vocation. As members of YACA, they have to pledge: always to speak the truth, respect other people’s property, to be gentle in actions and words, to pay debts and to keep promises.
Since sometime in June, PNG will hold its elections to elect members of the Parliament, TI PNG organized a Voter Education Regional Forum to educate voters on their rights and responsibilities. I attended the one for the Momase Region which was held at Divine Word University Auditorium. The participants were encouraged to be observers at the polling place on the day of voting. In 2007 elections, our Sisters were given IDs as observers by the Electoral Commission. We were placed in Malala, Alexishafen, Divine Word University and Holy Spirit Convent, Madang. So I gave our names to be observers again in June. As observers, we can report anomalies or frauds at the polling place.
There are other ways we can support the fight against corruption through the members and partners of TI PNG:
- Community Coalition against Corruption – 67 groups coming together to fight corruption
- Forests Anti-corruption Solutions and Advocacy – address and prevent corruption as a primary driver of illegal logging and continuous destruction of forests.
- Advocacy and Legal Advice Centre – provides free legal assistance by structuring corruption complaints.
- Sir Anthony Siaguru Walk Against Corruption – among other objectives, the walk provide a peaceful avenue for citizens to express their opposition to corruption.
- Youth Against Corruption Association – a membership based organization that is run by youth who are committed in the fight against corruption in PNG by refusing to practice corruption in oneself and rejecting the attitudes that support it.
By Mary Jeanette Matela, SSpS