Timor-Leste: Tackling corruption
October 26, 2011
Timorese across the country continue to mutter that it is “KKN” that is threatening to derail the country as it strives to reinforce peace, the democratization process and economic development.
Joao Boavida, Executive Director of Interpeace local partner in Timor-Leste, the Centre of Studies for Peace and Development (CEPAD), sheds light on exactly what ‘KKN’ is: “It stand for Corruption, Collusion and Nepotism. It is what we say here. Its in our conversations all the time so we simply need an acronym.”
‘KKN’ is endemic
KKN touches every area of daily life in Timor-Leste. Anti-corruption legislation has been developed but KKN is still rampant: from the presumed actions of the political elite to the smallest transactions in local communities it is there.
‘KKN’ is threatening to unravel the county
’KKN’ threatens to unravel the substantial achievements made by the country so far.
Since the country regained its independence in May 2002, many areas have come a long way. The democratization process is one of the crucial elements that, while moving in the right direction, could be easily de-railed.
Call to eradicate corruption
Boavida stresses the need for comprehensive action on the priority issue of ‘KKN’. “In a post-conflict and fragile state with widespread poverty such as Timor-Leste, the control of corruption must be made a priority. Only when corruption is eradicated can a country’s stability be ensured. It is a central component of stabilization.”
A window of opportunity
It is now that we need to get serious about tackling this issue head on. Boavida confirms: “As seen elsewhere in poverty ridden societies, corruption creates instability and the failure to combat and control corruption in the early stage of the country’s democratization process. Here in Timor-Leste the time is now.”
“We are now in the lead up to the presidential and legislative elections that start in 2012,” confirms Boavida.
Starting the process
Thanks to a German-based development agency, MISEREOR, funding has been secured for the first key stage in the initiative. The Programme of Research and Dialogue for Peace (PRDP), a joint initiative between CEPAD and Interpeace, will be starting work in all 13 Districts on 28 October 2011.
Nationwide involvement to influence policy
The objective of the process is to develop a set of proposals and recommendations on how Timor-Leste can make constructive progress on this priority issue. Boavida added that the “establishment of working group and focus group discussions is key to mounting an effective strategy for getting ownership as to how corruption can be addressed.”
“It is expensive to be poor but it will definitely be more expensive for us East Timorese in particular, and the international community in general, if we increase the fragility of our state. We cannot perpetuate the poverty of our people by letting pass this timely opportunity to fight corruption in this early stages of transition to democracy, ” concludes Boavida.