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As fixing accountability and rooting out corruption and nepotism becomes the talk in every home and office, many wonder how and when it would start.

While many are sceptical that it would be easier said than done, the Royal Address on the National Day emphasising accountability as the overall national consciousness gives hope.

Accountability is sought when governance doesn’t function as it should and all citizens are not treated equally. It is desired when the systems of governance do not provide equal opportunities to all citizens.

Blaming the system and using accountability as a loose remark will not help anyone. People in the system must change the way they function. There has to be grit and will to ensure professionalism.

But ours is a tolerant society.

When water projects fail miserably in Mongar and Samtse, officials either choose to close their eyes and remain silent or defend their stand instead of fixing accountability and ensuring farmers benefit from the projects.

In the dredging business, people related to top politicians are alleged of benefiting but our bureaucrats do not have an issue with that. Relevant agencies like the Royal Audit Authority and the Anti-Corruption Commission would take years to investigate the matter.

Many litigants are now coming on social media to share their stories and seek justice. The judiciary ignores the issue and does not explain to the public what went wrong and what they would do to address the grievances. In legal matters, all litigants have their side of the story, but the public deserves to know all sides of the story.

Prisoners in Chamgang protested online and made various allegations, but police said they are investigating and never divulged any information. Many such investigation reports were never made available to the public.

The victim of the Changjiji streetlight incident died before receiving any compensation. Many litigants do not know the status of their cases because the State and police prosecutors choose not to inform them. They are even scared to ask updates of their cases.

The recent local government election results were delayed by a day against usual practice, but there were no satisfactory explanation to convince the curious contestants and their supporters. 

Fixing accountability in the present context should start top-down, from the bureaucrats and politicians to those providing basic services.

Singapore’s political legend, Lee Kuan Yew, made the country corruption-free by believing that top leaders should be beyond reproach and the higher echelons should be cleaned up before the lower.

It is time we show the seriousness of our fight against corruption. It cannot become endemic in our small nation. Only leaders with the highest morality and integrity could fix accountability and shake us out of complacency.

Treating everyone equal before the eyes of the law is the other answer. There should not be any double standards.

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