By Yug Bahadur
There is no doubt corruption existed even during the Rana regime some centuries ago, It prospered more during the Panchayat system and the flood gates were really opened after late King Birendra appointed late Surya Bahadur Thapa as prime minister to defend the Panchayat system against multiparty democracy during a referendum in Nineteen Eighty.
I knew a minister then, who was the father of a good friend of mine and he told me how he had to give more than five hundred thousand rupees at a time to the prime minister. But slyly, his son took one hundred thousand rupees and gave just four hundred thousand to the then prime minister Thapa. That was a king’s ransom at that time and it was no surprise this young friend of mine bought ropanis of land in Kathmandu through such ill gotten money. They mainly got such money by felling trees in the forest regions in the Terai. Even now felling trees is a lucrative business, though many parts have become barren and water sources have dried up.
I also know of a secretary in the government, who is also dead now, who boasted he had amassed enough wealth to last his three generations. The Royal Palace officials were equally corrupt and one can’t even imagine how much wealth they collected. Of course, many in the bureaucracy and also in the then Palace were honest, but some were very, very corrupt.
The flood gates of corruption opened further when multiparty democracy was introduced in this country. But it came to a height when late Girija Prasad Koirala became prime minister after the first general election of the multiparty system.
One person who has opened a big mart in my neighbourhood told me how great a person Girija Prasad was. Since I was taught moral science by Jesuit priests, I could not defer with him and I just nodded in acknowledgement with him. But sadly I know, the Koiralas have been the most corrupt family in this nation, Specially Sujata Koirala, the daughter of Girija Prasad. I am told Girija himself did not take money, but he accepted millions of rupees and told his secretaries to keep them for him. This is the height of hypocrisy.
It is the same with Sujata. She herself had left Nepal and married a German fellow, but she quickly came back to Nepal and reportedly even divorced her husband as soon as her father became the prime minister.
But while being corrupt it is also alleged in some media outlets how she needed “toy boys”, if you know what I mean. The last one was some person as told to me by the name of Rakesh Hamal, a strapping man who is the younger brother of famous actor Rajesh Hamal. It is unclear what advice this man could give to her, but she took him to every foreign tour when she was the Foreign Minister. The same is said about the former President of Sri Lanka Chandrika Bandarnaike, who always took her favourite bodyguard while going abroad, not only for protection but for other purposes too.
But these are personal matters which we must not delve into, but the fact remains that Sujata Koirala was most corrupt. She now has a sprawling compound with two houses, but has anybody questioned her how she got the money to buy the land and build the houses? Nobody! Naturally the German husband she divorced did not give her so much money, so where did the funds come from except corruption? Even her son in law was about to be arrested on some charges. But due to Sujata’s power, he was swiftly able to leave Nepal and go back to his homeland in Bangladesh.
With the advent of Girija and the entrance of his daughter Sujata, the ministers, bureaucrats, the security forces and all others were encouraged more to indulge in corruption. This became a tradition and it is still going on until now. There is no sector which does not breathe of corruption and ill practices.
Before indulging in ambitious projects, this government should try to curb corruption more than anything else. Then Nepal and the Nepalese would benefit without any foreign aid or foreign jobs and corrupt persons should be punished, not only with very short sentences in jail but also with hefty fines.