Corruption will never end, says Dirk Harrison

Recently retired Integrity Commission Acting Director of Corruption Prosecution Dirk Harrison last night said that Jamaica will never get rid of corruption.

“My view is that we will never ever get rid of corruption: Never. We can reduce it. We can control it, but we will never get rid of it,” Harrison told a public lecture and discussion at St Luke’s Church in Cross Roads, St Andrew.

He was responding to comments from members of the public attending the lecture on the theme ‘Restoring a Culture of Integrity to Transform the National Perspective’ hosted by the Anglican church.

However, Harrison, who related an experience he had with a custom broker who tried to encourage him to pay $800,000 to import personal belongings — which he suspected would have been shared among scammers — insisted that unless the church, as a body, led the charge, the country would not be able to return to “the days of old that we want”.

He said that parliamentarians who appoint whomever they wish to public boards, work within a system that offered no checks and balances, while a number of people, in order to conduct business transactions, are willing to pay to facilitate an act of petty corruption.

“So I propose that we find another way that is independent, and let the church and others determine the pace,” Harrison said.

However, he said that it would have to be linked to a policy that would ensure that there is budgetary support for a campaign to discourage corrupt activities.

Harrison said that it is his belief that there are good and bad people, and they don’t really change, but the circumstances and opportunities around them change.

“When people say he has changed, and he used to be such a nice guy, he really hasn’t changed, you know, it is the circumstances and the opportunities around that he or she is going to react to, and he or she displays a side that you have never seen before,” he stated.

“It is not a new side, it is a manifestation of the opportunities and the circumstances that people thrive upon,” he went on.

“Some things have been with us for a long time, and some things will be with us until time immemorial,” he added.

Harrison, who was the country’s contractor general until he was drafted into the new Integrity Commission last year, opted for retirement in August, after falling out with the commissioners following disagreements over a report he drafted as contractor general on an investigation into the sale of the Rooms on the Beach property in St Ann.