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Corruption and governance in the South Pacific

CollectionsANU Dept. of Pacific Affairs (DPA) formerly State, Society and Governance in Melanesia (SSGM) Program
Title: Corruption and governance in the South Pacific
Author(s): Larmour, Peter
Keywords: corruption
South Pacific
Date published: 1997
Publisher: Canberra, ACT: State, Society and Governance in Melanesia (SSGM) Program, The Australian National University
Series/Report no.: State, Society and Governance in Melanesia (SSGM) discussion paper series: 1997/5
Suspicion of corruption has contributed to the crisis the PNG government currently faces over the use of mercenaries on Bougainville (Regan 1997), with the Governor General reported as referring to the ‘termites of corruption’ (Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 24 March 1997). Meanwhile the World Bank has announced a ‘renewed approach’ to preventing corruption, including a revision of its own global lending policies (The Independent February 14 1997). Corruption is hard to pin down, in principle and in practice. Transparency International, the anti-corruption non-government organization (NGO), distinguishes between ‘grand’ corruption, or the use of public office for private gain, and ‘petty’ corruption, in which officials demand facilitation payments to carry out perfectly legal tasks, like clearing a container from a wharf, which they are supposed to perform in any case (Pope 1996). The examples used in this paper refer mainly to grand corruption, which is often linked to election campaigning. There certainly seems to be more talk and moralising about corruption in the region. Politicians are widely suspected of it. The word itself (in English) carries connotations of decline, decay and falling away from the high ideals of the past. It has religious overtones in the strongly Christian countries of the region. In this paper, I try to understand it in relationship to some other issues in South Pacific politics: tradition, identity, landownership, privatisation, aid, and sovereignty. These are issues in a wider study of governance in the South Pacific.
ISSN: 1328-7854


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