There's been some newsy talk here in recent days about Derek Conway, a conservative MP, who has been caught "misusing parliamentary funds". It would appear that he has been paying his son, and there's strong conjecture that he has also done this with another son, a total salary of over £50,000 for work that he didn't do.
It's the sort of thing that business people do all the time here. The old "put your wife on payroll to avoid paying tax" concept is one thing but it seems that this chap has pretended that his sons work for him to actually get money that he wasn't otherwise entitled to.
Pretty shit behaviour really but he got caught, he's been stripped of the Conservative whip, which does sound like an old fashioned surgical procedure but isn't, and he's been reported to Scotland Yard so may well be in very big doo doo. I approve of whatever punishment the chap gets, although I might not if he gets the death sentence. The latest development is that he's been banned from the House Of Commons for ten days, which most people here think is far too light a punishment. In fact, after a bit of reflection, I think it's more than pretty shit behaviour, it's appalling and shouldn't be tolerated in any form.
It's like fiddling expenses; most people do it or have done it at some point, but usually you get sacked if you get caught. I just don't expect that sort of thing from an MP.
As I caught soundbites and glimpses of this story I couldn't help thinking of the contrast between Britain and Sri Lanka. I don't mean this post to be a strong torrent of ways in which Britain is "better" than Sri Lanka, nor even the other way round. Few people would disagree that Sri Lanka wins on many points; food, climate, landscape, friendliness, ease of hailing a trishaw and inflation of course.
Sri Lanka also wins hands down on the issues of lawlessness and the behaviour of her MPs.
Some relatively unknown MP here gets caught trying to claim money under false pretences and he gets the book thrown at him, as well as the whip withdrawn. Meanwhile, over in Sri Lanka, we have MPs doing all sorts of things with TV stations and High Commissions and they remain in their positions with the full backing of the President.
But the whole thing about corruption in Sri Lanka is a strange issue. Perhaps it's not corruption as much as favours and connections. There are so many times that I've taken advantage of a family connection or friendship, when I've behaved in a way that I wouldn't even contemplate here in the UK.
I remember being introduced to a high ranking Policeman or whatever the title was when I was a teenager. I was told by my parents that I should contact him if I ever got into any trouble with the Police. This was in front of the friendly Mr Plod and he was in full agreement. Totally normal behaviour for Sri Lanka but it would have been morally dodgy had it taken place in the UK, the kind of conversation that could ruin someone's career.
You know what? I'll take the Sri Lankan food, the climate and the landscape any day over the British offerings. I'll even agree with anyone who says that British lawmaking and policing can do with some improvements. But I have faith in the authorities here, with conditions, but faith nonetheless.
I reckon my opinion would be shared by most people living here.
It's a HUGE difference.
But is it right for me, you and almost everyone to complain about the bad aspects of Sri Lanka's authority and workings when we're more than happy to take advantage of it when it suits us?