Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘corruption’

Brazil: Temer Holds On

Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 3rd August, 2017

Michel TemerLast evening was quite surreal. I was at a local working men’s health club in Fortaleza where, in one room, men were taking part in a karaoke competition, while in another, people were crowded round a TV screen, watching a live broadcast from Brazil’s lower House of Congress in Brasilia. The shouting and catcalls from the MPs were even rowdier than the hullabaloo among the karaoke contestants. An electronic clapometer recorded the scores of the amateur singers, while on the TV screen, votes for and against sending President Michel Temer for trial on charges of corruption were recorded one by one. The latter took a considerable time, as many of the MPs insisted on making a speech outlining why they thought the President was a scoundrel or else much maligned, according to their own political loyalties.

Dilma Lula As the figures mounted, the MPs’ vote became as exciting as a Eurovision song contest, particularly as the “Yes” votes started to accelerate. But as a two-thirds majority was needed for the motion to begin proceedings against Mr Temer to be passed, it was in the end a lost cause — which prompted more shouting and jostling from the elected representatives. It should be remembered that Brazil’s last President, Dilma Rousseff, was ousted from power by Mr Temer and others, and that her predecessor, “Lula” da Silva has been given a prison sentence (against which he is appealing); corruption is at the centre of all these scandals. In fact, corruption is such a part of Brazilian political life, from the margins of billion dollar contracts to planning permissions at a local council level, that is surprising that the electorate bothers to vote at all. But another thing about last night struck me forcefully, which was that the besuited members of Congress, overwhelmingly white, overweight and puffed up like prize cockerels, bore precious little resemblance to the ordinary people I was with, both physically and in the way they behave. There is a huge gulf in this country between the governing and the governed and the shattered reputations of almost all recent senior politicians must surely lead to growing cynicism, then perhaps angry unrest.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Fighting Corruption

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 17th August, 2014

corruptionIn Brazil, where I’ve been for the past fortnight, much of the discussion in the run-up to state and presidential elections has been about corruption, which is so prevalent here, as in much of Latin America and elsewhere in the world, that it undermines the public’s confidence in democracy. The poor majority already feel marginalised from society, and the pervasiveness of corruption — whether on a massive scale by senior politicians lining their own pockets or the every day minor graft that poisons everyday transactions — is sapping the popular will. When I first started coming to Brazil, over 30 years ago, making radio programmes for the BBC, the country was a military dictatorship, with an appalling human rights record. People hoped that the peaceful transition to democracy would usher in a new age of safety and justice, but that promise has only partly been fulfilled. The rich and powerful elite still enjoy “rights” from which the poor are excluded, despite the left wing presidencies of Lula and Dilma, and until corruption is purged from the system millions of people will feel their voice does not matter and probably will not vote.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Britain Slips Down Corruption Table

Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 24th September, 2008

Britons like to think of their country being squeaky clean, but according to Transparency International — the Berlin-based group which ranks annually the world’s nations according to their lack of corruption — the UK has slipped down four places since last year, from 12th to 16th. Chandrashekhar Krishan, the organisation’s Executive Director, points to Britain’s ‘wretched and woeful record’ in prosecuting businessmen who pay bribes to foreign politicians and official to win contracts. The Labour government of course famously squashed the investigation into the BAe Saudi arms commission scandal, fearing it would harm bilateral relations. Other countries which have performed worse this year include Bulgaria, Burundi, the Madives and (less predictably) Norway. In contrast, Transparency International says, countries including Albania, Georgia, Qatar and South Korea have got better — and even Nigeria.

The four least corrupt nations are Denmark, New Zealand, Sweden and Singapore, while the four worst are Somalia, Myanmar (Burma), Iraq and Haiti. So much for Bush and Blair delivering Western values to Baghdad!

Link: www.transparency.org

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »