New Books Engage Timorese Citizens to Fight Corruption

fight corruption
The “Development Turtle”, one of the caricatures featured in the new Anti-Corruption Dictionary. Art: Gil Mauberismo Transformador

Dili – Timor-Leste’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has added two new sources of information designed to improve the public’s awareness of and increase civic engagement in detecting and preventing corruption.

The Anti-Corruption Dictionary and the Strategic Guidance for Outreach Education are the most recent examples of ACC’s efforts to educate government officials, civil servants and the public about the illegality and costly impact of corruption on Timor-Leste’s economic development.

Highlights

  • The Anti-Corruption Dictionary contains definitions for 96 words or phrases that are often associated with corruption.
  • I,500 – 2,000 copies of the dictionary will be produced and distributed to public institutions, schools and NGOs.
  • The Strategic Guidance for Outreach Education includes outreach materials and recommendations for Timorese media to use in developing their own awareness campaigns.

“During the next 20 years, we aim to create a society that rejects corruption,” said Mr. Jose Neves, ACC’s Deputy Commissioner for Education and Research. “To achieve this goal, we must understand the basic conditions of our society and use that understanding to create appropriate materials. Both books are made to be simple and easy to understand which makes them useful for raising awareness at different levels of society.”

The Anti-Corruption Dictionary contains definitions for 96 words or phrases that are often associated with corruption.  Each entry uses the word or phrase in a sentence to help clarify the meaning.  

For example, the word bemokrasia combines bemo meaning public transportation and krasia indicating democracy. The accompanying sentence says,”They have a good life now. We elect them through democracy but in the end they leave us on the roadside.”

The authors used a number of techniques to insure the dictionary reflects the widest and most comprehensive collection of words and phrases related to corruption. They eavesdropped on conversations while taking public transportation often catching people criticizing the work of state institutions.  They gathered ideas with NGOs and youth groups. Reading the local newspapers and watching TV were important sources of information.  They even listened to participants at the cockfighting arenas.

The Dictionary also includes 28 caricatures that graphically present what a word or phrase means, as well as synonyms and antonyms for specific words. ACC plans to produce and distribute between I, 500 – 2,000 copies of the dictionary to public institutions, schools and NGOs.  

Whereas the Dictionary is intended for the Timorese public, the Strategic Guidance for Outreach Education is a reference book to be used by ACC staff for the development of outreach and education programmes for public servants, school teachers and civil society organizations.

“We’ve targeted every level of society with the objective of changing the attitudes of ordinary people toward the corruption culture”, said Mr. Neves.  “We start with the ACC staff, but will ask other institutions to use the material because it is important for the public to become involved in preventing corruption in daily activities within each institution.”

One unique feature of the Guide is the inclusion of outreach materials and recommendations for Timorese media to use in developing their own awareness campaigns.

Released in mid-December, both books are to be distributed in 2014. UNDP’s, Support to Anti-Corruption Initiatives in Timor-Leste provided both technical and financial support toward the development of both products.

For more information about the two books and UNDP’s Support to Anti-Corruption Commission Initiatives, please contact Signi Verdial, Programme Officer at signi.verdial@undp.org