The fight for corruption starts from you' CIABOC marks the International Anti- Corruption Day by reaching out for thousands of Sri Lankans

The dawn of 09th December 2019 was not just another day for the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC). It was a day full of potential, of hope, and of activism for the Commission in ensuring a culture imbued with values and honesty. A Public Outreach Campaign of vast magnitude was organized by the CIABOC on 9th December 2019, from 6.00a.m. to 7.00p.m., honouring the International Anti-Corruption Day. The vision behind the campaign was to uphold the collective responsibility of the state as well as of the public in eradicating bribery and corruption. This campaign was also in furtherance of Strategy B of the National Action Plan for Combatting Bribery and Corruption in Sri Lanka. Strategy B-“Value Based Education and Community Engagement”- foresees a renaissance of the social fabric of Sri Lanka through enhancing ethical values. As CIABOC is not only engaged in investigations and prosecution of bribery and corruption but also in prevention activities, we believe that bringing forth an ideological change in the public is the initial step in an anti-corruption journey of a thousand miles.

This Campaign was vital for two reasons. Firstly, this Campaign was held against a backdrop of Sri Lanka recently electing a new President, HE Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who has made ‘ensuring a resilient nation of integrity by ridding our motherland of bribery and corruption’ one of the top priorities in his election manifesto. Secondly, this was the first time CIABOC is reaching out to the public, subsequent to the launch of the National Action Plan on 18 March 2019. This Campaign was a joint result of the immense hard work of CIABOC officials as well as the University students who volunteered in this Campaign, and the generous cooperation of the Sri Lanka Railways.

The Public Outreach Campaign was centred at the Fort Railway Station, Colombo and other Railway Stations around the Island. CIABOC recognized that in order to change the values of the society we must in fact start from the smallest unit of the community, i.e. the ‘home’. Therefore, we picked a location where we could target not only the general public including children but also public servants, as the railway is the most common mode of transportation among the public. The Fort Railway Station was specifically chosen as the central point, as it witnesses the passage of more than 250,000 commuters at any given point of time. However, simultaneously public outreach Campaigns were carried out at Railway Stations in Maradana, Dematagoda, Slave Island, the Secretariat, Bambalapitiya, and Colpetty. Additionally, mobile campaigns were conducted on 4 identified train routes. Accordingly, teams of volunteers travelled to Polgahawela, Beliaththa, Kurunegala, and Chilaw on trains departing Fort to raise awareness among the commuter public. Furthermore, banners containing Anti-Corruption day slogans were displayed on 48 trains on the front and on either side of the first compartment of each train. However, the Campaign chiefly used leaflets, picture booklets, and handbills containing frequently asked questions to communicate the anti-corruption message to the public in a striking manner.

The event was attended by distinguished guests such as the highly regarded Mr. Mahindha Deshappriya, Chairman of the Election Commission, , who in his address stated that democracy would be in turn strengthen when there is no bribery, Mr. Jagath Perera, the President of Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka, the Senior Consultant of ICTA, Mr Indika De Zoysa and Mr. S. Hettiarachchi, the Secretary of the Ministry of Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial council and Local Government.

An array of activities in addition to engaging with the public and reaching out through the vivid printed material, were carried on, such as conducting raffle draws and competitions on themes of anti-corruption for the public to gain insight in to the occurrence of bribery and corruption, branding train compartments with anti-corruption slogans, affixing vehicle stickers carrying anti-corruption slogans etc. One of the activities that attracted much attention from the public were the short plays performed by Mr. Mihira Sirithilaka, the well-known actor and his team as well as the series of street dramas performed by the National Youth Council Maharagama throughout the day. These eloquent performances, in their creative interpretations of anti-corruption, left an indelible mark on the viewers assisting in successfully raising awareness among the public.

Approximately 500 volunteers including 216 University students and CIABOC officials participated in the Campaign. The service of these volunteers was appreciated by way of a certificate of appreciation distributed by the Director General of CIABOC at the end of the campaign. The Campaign successfully concluded not only with a message on Anti-Corruption and enlightening the public on why thieves were not caught but also by spreading the message of a clean and green environment. Thus, we marked the end of another day ensuring everyone who joined us went home with clean hands and clean hearts leaving behind mere footprints and a litter-free environment.

“The world is changed by your example not by your opinion”
– Paulo Coelho-

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