A world first: anti-corruption Commissioner’s corruption-dealing office

16 February 2019: People in Nepal have long lost faith in their politicians. They mostly have a ready-made view about their netas and it is not a nice one; it is rather ugly. Nepalese netizens make jokes about them; they laugh at them; they make confronting memes of them; they make them subjects of degrading mockery; they shower them with expletives all over the Internet.

Nothing penetrates the thick skins of Nepalese politicians few of whom play musical chair to become the impoverished nation’s prime minister – the best job in the opportunity-constipated country. One of them is currently waiting for the music to stop so that he can rest his bottom on the prime ministerial chair for a record fifth time.

However, corruption in Nepal has just been given a new dimension, thanks to the innovativeness of Raj Narayan Pathak, an anti-corruption Commissioner himself. He has taken the culture of corruption to a new height. One could almost say he has “institutionalised” corruption in the country. He reportedly ran an “office” complete with staff members – that too from the public service. It is ironic that he ran his “corruption-dealing” office right in the heart of Kathmandu given he was in charge of controlling that very endemic culture of corruption.

It is worth mentioning that Mr Pathak, who resigned from last Friday in order to avoid impeachment in the parliament, had received a presidential award only few years ago for his “contribution” to the “well-being” of Nepal and Nepalese people.

Mr Pathak has already resigned from his position as one of the Commissioners of the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) in the wake of an intensive media reportage on his “business model”. The reportage intensified in the wake of a video that caught him red-hand in his criminal enterprise.

But it’s not the breach of their trust in CIAA for which Nepalese people are currently blinded by anger.

They are particularly furious because their Prime Minister has taken his hollow rhetoric to another level. Only recently, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli had professed zero tolerance against corruption but Nepalese media reports suggest both Mr Oli and opposition Nepali Congress had watched the video which proves Mr Pathak’s involvement in corruption clear as day.

What made both Nepali Congress and Communist Party of Nepal maintain total silence (versus Mr Oli’s “zero tolerance” rhetoric) on the video?

In any other country, that solid an evidence would have meant the offender would be relieved of his or her duty in less than few hours. Why did it take four months for the pressure to build on Raj Narayan Pathak? Why were the Nepalese Prime Minister and opposition leader Sher Bahadur Deuba silent about the video? These are the questions Nepalese people are asking on social media.

What is it that unites these two main political parties of Nepal when it comes to cases of corruption such as the wide-body scandal involving Nepal Airlines Corporation and the video showing the Commissioner responsible for controlling corruption clearly discuss his criminal enterprise?

The two parties began talking about the video only after the local media in Kathmandu began running reports on the video since last Thursday. It appeared they began talking only because they needed to save face in front of the Nepalese public.

It does not take a political scientist to conclude that both the ruling party and the opposition party owe answers to the Nepalese public.

It is noteworthy that one of the demands of Dr Govind KC, a physician who has been staging hunger strikes to reform Nepal’s medical education industry, was “impeachment” of Raj Narayan Pathak.

Perhaps it was everyday stories of corruption like this that prompted popular folk singer Pashupati Sharma to come up with his trending song:
“Loot as much as you can, Kanchha
Loot as much as you can loot
Can’t do it in any other country
Only in Nepal do you have the concession to loot!”

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