The Fijian Elections Office has become the latest public sector organisation to join the “I don’t accept bribes” campaign currently underway, receiving their badges on 02 December 2021.
Speaking at the launch this morning, Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem thanked the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) for the initiative and stated that the anti-corruption programs are only as good as the organisation’s commitment to it.
With an election looming, Saneem explained that an anti corruption program such as the anti-bribery campaign is essential. “Anti-corruption should not be a matter that we should discuss, it should be a genuine direct thought, a pattern that comes from your own self. That you are not going to be susceptible to undue influence, you are not going to be susceptible to direct force such as bribery”, said Mohammed Saneem.
Mohammed Saneem further explained that the bigger problem is what is called the “corruption of the mind” and which needs to be addressed personally by individuals. “The most important thing in terms of the functioning of an organisation is that if your mind becomes corrupted then your actions will also become corrupted” added Saneem.
Saneem stated that it was worthy to note that the Fijian Elections Office has not had any incidences of any corruption related activities and he thanked his staff for their sincerity in the work they have done.
Saneem further encouraged his staff to report any incidences where there may be a compromised or an apparent compromised in relation to the activities of the Fijian Elections Office.
FICAC Deputy Commissioner Mr Rashmi Aslam while speaking during the launch said that bribery is a hidden offence and is committed with two satisfied individuals, a very satisfied giver and a satisfied taker.
Therefore in addressing the matter and in its efforts to changing the perceptions of the public towards bribery, FICAC with the assistance from the United Nations developed a campaign with a very simple motto, the motto being “I don’t accept bribes”.
“If you are honest, if you are not a corrupt person, wearing this badge or wearing this message will not offend you. In fact it will bring you more pride. If you are a civil servant, by wearing this, you showcase to people you come to contact on daily basis, it brings pride, it brings pride to your work, it brings pride to your institution. You are openly embracing the idea and telling them “I don’t accept bribes” ” added Aslam.
The simple message “I don’t accept bribes” and by wearing the badge symbolizes the protection of the Fijian economy and the country from corrupt acts. “You wear this close to your heart and keep this message when you’re out in public service; and gradually it will become part of your life, gradually it will becoming part of the way you conduct your civil service or public career, gradually it will become part of your heart” said Aslam.
The Deputy Commissioner also spoke on the Transparency International Global Corruption Barometer Pacific 2021 Report and stated that in the view of the Commission, the report is not an adverse report to Fiji however it is a very positive and a very good report.
“And whatever the findings there, I would like acknowledge and I would like to take as a learning curve and also an eye opener” said Aslam in reference to the Transparency International Global Corruption Barometer Pacific 2021 Report.
Aslam congratulated the Fijian Elections Office on the positive initiative, that is, the Resource Centre as reported by Transparency International Global Corruption Barometer Pacific 2021 Report. “But that is not the only positive initiative Election Office has taken. I would like to acknowledge at this point in time, the commitment by the Government as well and also ensuring to have a very stringent, very efficient legal framework to efficiently undertake elections and have proper regulations on the Politicians or the Political Parties” added Aslam.
UNDP Deputy Team Leader Effective Governance Nanise Saune-Qaloewai said, “This partnership with FICAC is in line with our mandate to support the national efforts to address the corruption threats within the overall good governance agenda of UNDP. In this context, am pleased to note that the anti-bribery and integrity campaign in Fiji is aligned with the Agenda 2030 and specifically it’s Sustainable Development Goal 16 which calls for countries to improve their governance systems and fight corruption.”
“The Fijian Elections Office commitment to join this collective journey is very important for at least two reasons; to share the message of ensuring that the electoral process is based on the values of integrity and is free from any form of corruption; to inspire future political candidates to equally instil the values of integrity and anti-corruption in the electoral campaigning and in the subsequent discharge of official duties once elected by the citizens” added Saune-Qaloewai.
Saune-Qaloewai further said “UNDP remains committed to continued partnership with FICAC in the nation-wide anti-bribery and integrity efforts and we look forward to embracing more stakeholders and spreading the message and knowledge as loudly and as widely as possible.”
The management and staff of the Fijian Elections Office will undergo anti-bribery awareness training sessions conducted by the Corruption Prevention Department of FICAC.
In his concluding remarks Aslam thanked the Management and Staff of the Fijian Elections Office for the excellent work performed with regards to the political system of the country, ensuring that the legal framework is efficiently protected and all the monitoring mechanisms are in place.
The campaign is supported by UNDP under the United Nations Pacific Regional Anti-Corruption (UN-PRAC) project funded by the New Zealand Government.