THIS COMING OCTOBER 15th you, the voter, will again be given the entitled opportunity to make a positive difference with your one vote. Last weekend the candidates for this coming by-election launched their campaigns with each group publically announcing their numerical strengths and advantages. A lot of effort and energy will be expelled during this campaign period, all of which will be directly targeted at you, the voter. It is for this reason that Transparency International Vanuatu would like to share with you the voters some thoughts, tips, and other things that we think might be useful to be aware of during this time.

First of all, the next following days and nights will be host to tasty public speeches filled with powerful words and backed by attractive platforms. With six candidates vying for the one vacant seat in Parliament, already the stakes are high. But for the people Port Vila, this is the opportunity to plan your future well by choosing the right candidate, and to prepare not only for this by-election but also for the 2016 General Election.

Every registered voter is encouraged to exercise their right to vote, it was unfortunate that half of the Port Vila registered voters did not vote in the 2014 by-election. But that story must not be repeated, because without a voter’s participation the principals of democracy are not being fully expressed. When thousands of voters refuse to participate, then it allows for the winning candidate to get elected by just a very small number of voters therefore defeating the whole purpose of the ‘majority rule’ context.

This is not the only challenge expected, but 2015 has continued to surprise us by presenting itself as a testing period for national resilience and national integrity. So far, we have been resilient against natural disasters, but can we do the same for our national integrity? Are we willing to choose the right person for just the right reasons?

How can we determine if someone is honest or has integrity? Is it easy to figure it out? Maybe! Honesty and integrity are fundamental values to every good leader. People look for these qualities in political candidates, even ladies and men look for these qualities when in search for a partner.

But how can you determine if someone has any of these values? Interestingly, it seems that the British Army has an answer to this, but on a different context. The British army has a way of removing the weak from the strong, physically and mentally.

Every year young people are conscripted into the British National Service, as part of this program they will have to endure weeks of hard training, along the way many of them will be removed from the program due to their lack of confidence, self-esteem and of course their lack of honesty and integrity.

The process looks like a very normal procedure; the commanding officer orders the privates to leave their packs of cigarettes on top of their lockers and not to smoke within a certain period of time; this is the Integrity Test.

Gradually, the young privates with integrity will show respect and ignore the temptation, a few lot would succumb to the temptation and smoke a cigarette out in the bushes. What they do not know is that they are being watched by their commanding officer.

That was the integrity test; the second part of this exercise is to confront those that have been seen smoking to ask if they had smoked; this is the Honesty Test. Choosing between honesty and denial is a big decision for any youth, their answer will reflect how much they value leadership qualities. As a result their response will determine how their program will end.
In a similar way, national and community leaders go through the same challenges, but on a different context. Laws have been developed to safeguard and to guide all citizens, laws have also been created to protect the public’s interest from corrupt or negative activities. A persons integrity, whether we realize it or not, can be measured by the number of times that he or she has misused state, community, or family property, it can also be measured by their competency in whatever sector that they are responsible for.

Each working individual is bound to abide and work within the contract that he or she has signed, the integrity of the contract solely depends on whether that individual steps ‘over the line’, or whether the management has failed to meet certain standards of the contract, or they have stepped ‘over the line’ themselves.

Honesty is the admittance of the loss of integrity.

This is a quality that Transparency International Vanuatu puts a lot of emphasis in, as this shows that the person is transparent and worthy of a second chance. Confessing that you have lost your integrity is crucial for a better tomorrow.

Again, integrity and honesty are both, to the public’s interest, practical qualities that will lift any office, community, department or even any youth association to a higher standard and esteem. Therefore, as a voter, it is your duty to do your research and ask the right questions to any candidate campaigning in your neighborhood; what does integrity mean to them? What does honesty mean to them?

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