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Our View: The farce of politicians’ asset statements must stop

Former Interior Minister Socratis Hasikos

WE congratulate Socratis Hasikos, former Disy deputy and minister of interior, for taking a stand against the farce surrounding politicians submitting their assets and income declarations. This sham sparked public outrage and provoked countless disparaging comments in the media, but the politicians closed ranks, refusing to respond and waiting for the storm to die down so they could move on to other matters. They knew that to say a word would be nothing more than defending the indefensible and would keep the matter in the public domain.

Hasikos, to his credit, showed no solidarity with his former colleagues, refusing to adhere to the principle of honour amongst thieves which we witness whenever the personal interests of politicians are at stake. On Facebook he posted the following: “It is at best ludicrous, hypocritical and misleading and justifiably provokes people, who, in turn mock all those that, according to the law submit their asset declaration. It is not possible to exclude spouses and offspring from this obligation. The message sent by those obliged to submit a declaration is ‘we can steal, but put it in the names of our wives and children’.”

He hit the nail on the head, exposing this mockery of a law, which our scoundrel politicians had served as a measure of transparency aimed at fighting corruption. They ensured the law had a huge loop-hole to allow the concealment of their ill-gotten gains. And as if this were not bad enough, they have shown their contempt for the ineffective law by submitting incomplete information, such as real estate at 1980s prices, that they were supposedly given by relatives and so forth. To underline this contempt the previous capital statements were taken down from the website, so nobody could see if a politician was comparatively better off now. Not that any of them would reveal this via the declarations (new wealth would be in the spouse’s or children’s names), but it is show of our lawmakers’ disregard for the law.

All non-politicians will agree with Hasikos’ view that the “law must be amended so that this mockery of the people will at last stop.” But can we rely on our self-serving politicians to do such a thing? The answer is no. And this is why people should mount a public campaign to amend the law and if they are ignored, they should consider reporting the Republic to the Council of Europe which had been urging Cyprus to take measures ensuring transparency. As Hasikos says, this mockery of the people must stop.

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