Chief Justice, Most. Hon. Professor Sir Kenneth Hall, Professor Trevor Munroe, members of the National Integrity Action Forum, a pleasant good morning. I am pleased to welcome each one of you to Kings House for this second anniversary appreciation breakfast of the National Integrity Action Forum.
Since January 2009 the National Integrity Action Forum has placed the issue of combating corruption at the forefront of public agenda and discussion. Not only have celebrated cases of corruption in the society been brought to public attention, but more Jamaicans now have a greater understanding and appreciation about how corruption can and does affect every aspect of daily our lives. People now also understand that the giver and receiver are both liable in all cases of corruption.
We do not want to be perceived as a corrupt society because that breeds distrust and makes relationships more difficult to foster. Therefore the collaboration between the National Integrity Action Forum and the leadership of the public and private sectors, and civil society to ensure more effective outcomes in the struggle against corruption is most welcomed.
It is commendable that arising from your action, the country has seen improved score and global ranking in the 2010 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) following successive years of decline between 2007 and 2009 when the NIAF was established. Too often we look the other way or say ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’ only to realise that we have a 1000 pound gorilla on our backs and do not know how to put it down.
At my inauguration on February 26, 2009, just one month after the launch of the NIAF, I drew the attention to the moral problems that threatened to destroy the principles on which our nation was founded. I said then that: “We should not sacrifice honesty, integrity, responsibility and trustworthiness for the sake of making money.”
I believeintegrity should be a national value that is taught at home alongside values such as respect, fairness, punctuality, forgiveness, sharing and caring and lending a helping hand. These values must remain an indestructible part of the fabric of our nation. I believe the NIAF and like-minded organisations should help Jamaicans accept the pertinent need to embrace the values that will develop a just society and define or in this case, redefine us as a people.
As we go forward let us remember that we cannot move forward unless all Jamaicans are moving forward and with an upright and principled approach. I therefore believe that our young people should not be left behind. I would recommend therefore that you include in your advocacy, communication and action plans, activities designed to encourage young people to embrace values such as integrity, truth and responsibility.
Your work provides renewed hope for Jamaica that by enhancing public awareness of the wrong constituted by corruption, we can reduce the incidences of corruption and improve Jamaica’s perception in the international arena. “There is nothing wrong with Jamaica that cannot be fixed with what is right with Jamaica.” Please be assured of my support in your endeavours.