12 September 2023
Hon. Prime Minister
Government of Nepal
Singha Durbar, Kathmandu
Subject: Three Corruption Scandals and One ‘Mega-Scandal’
Honourable Prime Minister,
The unfolding scandals such as the creation of fake refugees, the alienation of Lalita Niwas government property, and the smuggling of gold are episodes that have stunned the nation, particularly because of the apparent involvement of those at the highest levels of government and politics. When separate investigations were started in these cases, there was hope that they would be conducted fairly and that the full force of the law would be applied against those found guilty. However, even as the involvement of high-level political players in all three scandals has come to light, investigations seem to have lost momentum.
We did have hopes that the class that wants to exercise power unrestrained by law would be forced to backtrack as a result of the investigations, but we are now fearful that our expectations of due process were misplaced. Extremely concerned by the turn of events, with the political leadership seemingly hand-in-glove with members of this class, we citizens have felt obliged to write this letter to the Head of Government.
It is obvious that large scandals such as these cannot be enacted without the knowledge and acquiescence of powerful officeholders and influential people. When the national leadership itself is thus seen to back criminality, the country is weakened, socio-economic progress becomes a mirage, expectations of achieving a just society are belied, and national autonomy itself is endangered.
Today, we have a situation where laws are being drafted to provide impunity to criminals. An example is the draft amendment to the Criminal Code, which would exempt from punishment those who commit crimes as part of political campaigns. Such a law would surely convert our society into a den of anarchy, and the amnesty given recently to those involved in the Tikapur killings reflects the dangerous mindset of those in power.
Whatever the might of a person in government, the law should always be held higher. Further, a proper law can only be one that is geared towards justice. But the perception that the country’s political leadership is already under the control of racketeers is gaining ground. The ‘voting scandal’ promoted by the Speaker of Kosi Province under the direction of the federal party leadership is further proof of the spiraling culture of impunity in the country.
Mr. Prime Minister,
We note with distress that responsible national-level positions are being soiled by the incumbents themselves. Those in power must understand that all positions held are transitory, and what is required is transparency, morality and respect for the procedures of justice. The investigations that are underway on the three huge scandals must move towards their logical conclusion, regardless of whether present or former top leaders may be caught in the net. Meanwhile, the evident unwillingness to take the investigations forward with due diligence can only be characterised as a ‘mega-scandal’.
According to our political system, the prime minister is elected by Parliament. If it turns out that parliamentarians are unwilling or incapable of addressing the line of scandals and making the requisite demands on the executive branch, the Government and parliamentary leadership must be made aware that the people at large will have no choice but to rise up against them.
As Prime Minister, you are required to exhibit courage commensurate with your high office. There is no sense in filling a post if one is incapable of deflecting the pressures that are bound to come. Our democracy will not be long-lasting if those in the highest positions are unable to act with probity. There may be personal dissatisfaction with some decisions of the courts, but the Executive has no choice but to respect and follow the decisions that are handed down.
We, citizens, have submitted this note to you with the expectation that you, as Prime Minister, will be alert of your responsibilities.
Nilamber Acharya, Suryanath Upadhyay, Surya Prasad Shrestha, Sushil Pyakurel, Kanak Mani Dixit