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Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Home Letters Corruption by government officials amounts to treason

Corruption by government officials amounts to treason

Dear Editor,
Your editorial in the January 28, 2020 edition which stated that corruption is the greatest threat to a nation, was impressive and made me think. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, treason is the offense of attempting by overt acts to overthrow the government of the state to which the offender owes allegiance or to kill or personally injure the sovereign or the sovereign’s family. 2. the betrayal of a trust; treachery.

Historically, in common law  countries, treason also covered the murder of specific social superiors, such as the murder of a husband by his wife or that of a master by his servant. Treason against the king was known as high treason and treason against a lesser superior was petty treason. Countries around the world abolished petty treason, but I believe corruption by a government official is treason.

Are parliamentarians servants of the people, or are they our bosses? If they work for the people then corruption in government is high treason.  Are the people the Sovereign?

Popular sovereignty states that the authority of a state and its government is derived and sustained by the consent of its people, through their elected representatives (Rule by the people or democracy), and these people are the source of all political power. It is a social contract that all democratic societies are built on. Philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau provided the rationale for this standard.  This is the ideal and is not practiced in any country. Benjamin Franklin wrote, “In free governments, the rulers are the servants and the people their superiors and sovereigns”.

Corruption in government is the greatest threat to a nation because it hurts the populace by depriving them of resources. They betray the people for personal gain and set the tone for the society they lead.

Confucius’ political philosophy states, “If the people be led by laws, and uniformity among them be sought by punishments, they will try to escape punishment and have no sense of shame. If they are led by virtue, and uniformity sought among them through the practice of ritual propriety, they will possess a sense of shame and come to you of their own accord.” In other words, if you have honest and virtuous leaders you will have no need for law enforcement.

The fact that globally and locally political leaders depend on police officers and soldiers to make people obey the law, suggests that they have no moral authority and depend on coercion. The more corrupt a government, the more they depend on aggressive policing and rule the populace by fear.

The poor are most affected by government corruption because they depend on public schools, public health care and so on. No wonder the public hospital is not up to standard. Belize has enough resources that everyone can live comfortable. It is the mismanagement of those resources (corruption), that is a major factor in poverty and crime. Fish starts to rot from its head. What will be done about corruption to ensure a better life for all Belizeans?

Yours truly,
Brian E Plummer

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