Honesty, Integrity and Conflicts of Interest
Posted on July 9th, 2015

Janaki Chandraratna – Perth, Western Australia

Ethical values of Honesty and Integrity are fundamental to our existence in this complex modern world. In terms of governance these values are essential for politicians who are being elected to positions of trust and power to act on behalf of the voter and safeguard the rights and welfare of the electorate.

Honesty in simplest form is to be truthful and not lie to others. In the broader sense it includes not generating/spreading un-substantiated rumors; denying commitments; fabricating evidence; deceptive behavior; stealing; cheating etc.  Integrity is an extension of honesty where one is expected to uphold the moral values and ethical standards one professes to maintain.

In the secular world one can argue that there is some difficulty in adhering to these norms and standards at all times and we do need to occasionally indulge in ‘white lies’ to overcome certain unavoidable situations. But the gross manipulation is something that can never be of any gratification to the offender. Buddhism purports that every action has a reaction and the said reaction can be immediate and shattering depending on the gravity of the depraved action.

Conflict of Interest occurs when there are competing professional and or personal commitments/obligations. These competing interests do have the potential to motivate corruption and dishonorable conduct. Codes of ethics are of immense value to practitioners to mitigate the risks of conflicts of interest in various disciplines. It is regretful that such a code of ethics is not available to Sri Lankan politicians. Nevertheless, common sense suggests that honesty and integrity are basic values that need to be considered when dealing with conflicts in competing interests.

It is no secret that moral values of Sri Lankan society, in particular, those pertaining to honesty and integrity had plummeted in recent months. People have gone viral on faceless Facebook with unsubstantiated allegations in unspeakable language. Facebook junkies are on an over drive once again with the forthcoming elections. As adults we are to set an example for the younger generation. I wonder what score we have on this count. Much of this damaged moral ethos is due to unscrupulous politicians trying to win their seats by whatever means available. Lying, denigrating competitors, fraudulent and unethical conduct are of no consequence if they can win elections. Misleading the voter, character assassinations, and deals made compromising the sovereignty of the nation are secondary to the immediate gains at the polls.

What is more heartbreaking is that some of our educated role models, have at times, endorsed the decrepit behavior of our politicians as the accepted norm. For example, writing to The Island, on 10 May 2015, Prof. Carlo Fonseka, appears to have accepted the notion that the dictatorial activities of the current President in the last 150 days and the seeming inaction of the public are due to a temporary replacement of the rule of law by the will of the sovereign in times of a revolution.  I see no justification to this statement, whatsoever, because what happened on 8 January is not a revolution but a well-orchestrated ‘Arab Spring’ to replace the existing regime. The surreptitious defection of the current President, the secret meetings with the West, RAW, and Diaspora are unmistakable evidence of a coup that took place under our own noses.

Also the apparent lack of protest is mainly due to the fear psychosis developed in the community in recent times. People writing against Govt.’s actions; generally do so under different names and most newspapers are reluctant to give a voice to critics because of the ‘self controlled media censorship’ imposed by the PM. I would like to inform the good professor that the above are more plausible reasons for lack of protests and media apathy and not by any means people accepting the ‘will of the sovereign’, as the rule of law.

Further, a learned civil servant, Mr. Somapala Gunadheera, explains in the Island (8 July), that the ‘President have other tricks up his sleeve to optimize the aspirations of his backers’; and advises ‘the Presidents sponsors should have the trust in his integrity and capability to get over the crisis, without peeping over his shoulders’.

I fail to understand this ‘integrity’; the learned public servant is alluding to. Isn’t the President’s current predicament due to the conflicts of Interest related to the basic ethics of honesty and integrity’?

3 Responses to “Honesty, Integrity and Conflicts of Interest”

  1. Christie Says:

    ‘Honesty, Integrity and Conflicts of Interest’

    TRUST is the most important and how many of us will pass that?

  2. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    TRUSTY LOYAL HELPFUL,
    BROTHERLY COURTEOUS KIND,
    OBEDIENT SMILING THRIFTY,
    PURE AS THE RUSTLING WIND-(wynd)

  3. Ratanapala Says:

    Sirisena who got a thrill by the touch of naked female hand has no honesty or integrity. He is driven by greed and hatred. He was an underling whose only credential in political life is being a member of the SLFP for over 40 years and nothing much to his credit. Having filled the years and gaining seniority in the party he aspired for the Prime Minister position which of course went to other more senior albeit good for nothing D M Jayaratne a veritable walking mummy. Aiyo Sirisena only bred greed and hatred and has shown in the brief time he is in power that he is amenable to sell his country, people and religion to anybody who will keep him in power. That he is a misfit for the post of the President and most essentially to the post of the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces.

    He made illegal promises and made the 29 times serial failure of Sri Lanka politics the Prime Minister even without dismissing the incumbent. He sacked the Chief Justice without going through the accepted constitutional procedures of removing a Chief Justice. He says one thing in the morning, another by mid day and the very opposite in the evening and switches off his phone at night. Under his watch the country has seen the biggest Financial Fraud in Sri Lanka since becoming an independent country over 67 years ago for which he has no words. He even connived with the chief fraudster Ranil W to dissolve the parliament before the COPE Committee could table the findings.

    In short he is a disgrace and a potential danger and damage to the Sinhala nation and to Sri Lanka. The earlier Sri Lanka see his political demise and fall from grace the better.

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