Saudi society encouraged to fight corruption
By : Samar Fatany
Institutionalized corruption and the erosion of our Islamic principles of integrity and the values of honesty and trustworthiness were the subject of research conducted by the King Abdullah Institute for Research and Consulting Studies. The National Anti-Corruption Commission (Nazaha) signed a contract with the Institute on May 25, 2013 to prepare a study entitled: “Financial and administrative corruption in the Kingdom: its degree, its cause, its impact, and ways to treat and control it”. The research identified the origins and sources of corruption and proposed appropriate ways to fight it and hold public servants and government officials accountable for their actions.
Hopefully, this development will finally have an impact and put an end to corruption that is the cause of public frustration and distress. Society has suffered long enough. Young Saudis today are not willing to put up with corrupt and arrogant individuals who get away with embezzlement and bribery and amass millions by illegal means. People need to feel that there is justice and that their rights are protected and that no one is above the law. Mainstream and social media have played a big role in raising public awareness and in exposing the corruption involved in illegal land grabs, embezzlement of government funds and the abuse of power for personal gain.
The concept of “baksheesh” or tips or whatever you may call it can only be described as absolute bribery and it should be outlawed with stiff punishment so that the practice is stopped once and for all. Society has suffered enough from middle men who take advantage of people in need of any government service. There should be zero tolerance for such acts.
Society has suffered enough from middle men who take advantage of people in need of any government service. There should be zero tolerance for such acts.
Nazaha should address public concern about some reports of corrupt officials in the Ministry of Health who have abused power and committed acts of bribery, nepotism, misuse of medicine and negligence. As a result the healthcare sector has suffered and many patients have been victims of gross neglect. Other ministries have had their fair share of corruption including the Ministry of Education where officials reportedly abused their power to gain from contracts and manipulated the transfer of teachers and government personal. People need to feel that there is justice and that their rights are protected and that no one is above the law.
Raising public awareness can also be an effective means to encourage people to take a stand against corruption. Recently the Ministry of Transport in cooperation with Nazaha has installed awareness signs at the entrance to cities and main roads around the Kingdom to promote ethical behavior and a sense of citizenship and to warn against corruption and misconduct.
All ministries, institutions and governmental departments have been instructed to report the details of their approved projects, contracts, maintenance and operation to the National Anti-Corruption Commission.
Nazaha has acted upon many reports against corrupt senior officials. It has stepped up its investigations of municipalities and many municipal officials have been arrested on charges of corruption. Another significant example is Nazaha’s immediate response to a financial embezzlement report in one of the branches of Al-Ahli Bank in Riyadh that was submitted by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency. Investigations conducted by the Commission identified those responsible and referred them to the relevant judicial bodies. A senior official in the bank was found guilty and was sentenced to six years in prison. Four others were also implicated and were sentenced to prison terms of between two to four years.
Hopefully, government officials will show more support and act with integrity to end the corruption that has harmed our society and delayed our progress for so long. Civil society should also contribute to the national anti-corruption campaign and report any violations in order to fight corruption and to hold violators accountable for their actions. It is only in this way that the country will prosper and develop.
Samar Fatany is a radio broadcaster and writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in the Column section are their own and do not reflect RiyadhVision’s point-of-view.