By Mufid Abdulla
Eight years ago the PUK and its green area was under a constant shadow of corruption and sleaze and as a result, Talabani, the leader of the PUK, asked the well-known figure in the public sector Jalal Samagha, to build and supervise an institution (Diwani Chawderi) audit office which would play a pivotal role in reporting and analysing the corrupted situation amongst local departments and councils, which were running public services mainly in the Sulaymaniyah area. Mr Samagha accepted the appointment with an awareness of the big challenges he faced.
During the preceding time covering more than eight years, Mr Samagha and his colleagues in the audit department have faced a huge amount of problems in tackling the corruption. He has tried to submit his resignation on several occasions previously but the authorities would not accept it; not due to their liking of this man, but because it would be another contribution to the shredded reputation of the PUK leaders and their establishment.
Jalal Samagha has always been a well-known figure amongst the general public for his honesty and decency. His career in this field first began in early 1974 when he joined the Kurdish movement and throughout the 1970’s he was working as a civil servant. Twenty years on, when the liberation in the south of Kurdistan took place in 1991, he was well-known for his outspoken nature against the corruption and nepotism amongst the Kurdish leaders and authorities. He has basically sacrificed all of his life wills to the poorest individuals in society and to his colleagues who he has worked so closely with in the audit office in Sulaymaniyah.
In his farewell letter dated end of September 2010 , Mr Samagaha, the chairman of the audit office sent an emotional message to his colleagues and all of the people who have been behind him for the last decade. His letter says to the people; “I do not want to just verbally say goodbye, to the extent that this would not be to your standards and levels because we have all started together and have worked together and we are together in our struggle against financial corruption. Altogether we have managed to save billions of Iraqi Dinar and give this back to the people. We have altogether uncovered a fruitful plan.” He continues to say, “We have never given up. We know we have upset a lot of people but we have managed to get the support from the mass of the people. Despite the fact that not all of the local government departments have worked with us, we have never given up because we have always concluded that we are working for our nation, not for the groups, political parties or anyone else.”
The farewell continues with the point that even though the civil servant has the opportunity to be pure and loyal, if the system is corrupt then that will reflect on the civil servant. In the opposite case, if the state is not corrupt then purity and loyalty can shine through in the civil servant. He continues to say that, “the audit office has successfully managed to bring some people to court ranging from individuals on a small scale, to a higher level in authorities with some responsibility in political parties. The audit office has not only been supported by its own staff, but by the loyalty of the people and loyal journalists who are all united in favour of the struggle against corruption.”
The final part of Mr Samagha’s message concludes to his staff and colleagues in the audit office; “If the government had used our reports and analyses the whole world of the corrupted system and network could have been washed out and would therefore not be such a difficult situation as we have now.”
The chairman of the audit office has struggled to produce a modern society for his future generation. He knew very well of world famous freedom fighters who are frequently erstwhile revolutionaries who have easily succumbed to greed, and the tendency to divert public resources for personal enrichment has ultimately overwhelmed them. Kurdish leaders, by passing their personal wares, and by betraying the noble objectives which made them famous have virtually deserted the masses of the people and have mercilessly robbed the poorest of the poor.
Mr Samagha’s farewell letter informs us of his unhappiness with the authorities and the level of corruption. Now ordinary people have a right to ask, if such a decent man was well connected to all Kurdish leaders from Sulaymaniyah to Duhok, and could not prevent the massive fraud and corruption in our cities, then who else can?
There was something impossible about his work; he opted for principles, integrity and decency for civil servants and for everybody working for the government and playing with public money. The audit office in Sulaymaniyah city and their new ways and principles of preventing Kurdish leaders and politicians from corruption; to tell them those politicians should not profit from the system.
When any other leaders or directors of the local government have been involved with a history of corruption, the people have looked forward to seeing the back of them, but this is the first time that people have been very upset and angry about Jalal Samagha’s departure because they know him so well. That is why the whole spectrum of people from all walks of life has expressed anger and people are now very reluctant to talk about honesty. Jalal Samagha is a hero; heroes too are those people who have been behind him from the outset and supported his work.
Jalal Samagha’s anger and frustration is the same as the mass of the people due to the greed of the leaders and individuals within local government departments. The audit office’s purge and their leader/chairman have brought new talent, a fresh attitude and a dose of humanity to civil servants. We all feel disappointed at the way we are governed. This has been raised and has reminded us yet again of how we have been failed by those that lead us. At this moment, there is so much to deplore and precious little to celebrate. The chairman of the audit office has reminded me of the words of Ken Kesey, “You don’t lead by pointing and telling people some places to go, but lead by going to that place and making a case.”
The response of Mr Samagha’s departure from well-known writer and local friend Kamal Rauf, editor of local newspaper Hawlati, was very, very deep in which he stated that Jalal Samagha’s department was the only flicker of hope to escape us from corruption, deceit and fraud and he stated that his department was very strong in practising law and justice in free journalism. One of his friends, Abdullah Ismael Barzanji stated that as soon as he heard the news about his resignation he shed a lot of tears.
Another Kurdish intellectual, Kamel Zhair, on the 2nd October in Rozhnama newspaper stated and praised Jalal Samagha who had proved that he was a kind and ambitious man. If he continued his work then the world would be a much better place in the future than it is today.
Another local newspaper, Birurar, on 28th September stated in the article by Shwan Mohamed, that his decency and his work could not be replaced and was not only rare but simply did not exist in our Kurdish society. He continued to state that Mr Samagha bravely struggled with corrupted and bad people who had tried to steal money from the public.
Kawa Mohamed in Awena newspaper stated that 2,700 reports had been produced by Mr Samagha’s audit office which would now be orphaned. Another local newspaper, Aso, in an article by Alan Rauf on 7th October stated that, “for the last so many years in the history of the KRG we have never seen any resignation letter like that we have seen in Jalal Samagha’s farewell letter to his colleagues in his department”, he continued to say, “Samagha departs from his office without resolving difficult questions. It is not a good situation as, with his departure, the corrupters can start their bad work again”.
Farhad Awni, the Chairman of the Kurdistan Syndicate of Journalists has stated in his monthly magazine that Jalal Samagha was keen on saving people’s money. Another well-known Kurdish writer, Mustafa Salah Kerim, praised Samagha for his integrity, purity and neutrality in his work. He continued to say that Mr Samagha had worked day and night with his workers in his audit office to produce thousands of reports on the corrupted offices and leaders.
Finally, I am happy that Jalal Samagha is still with us and history will never forget him for his noble, good work and dedication, for his loyalty and the sacrificing of his life for the poor people and his constant striving against corruption in the south of Kurdistan. In the future, we should use Jalal Samagha as a role model and example in our universities to combat modern corruption in the south of Kurdistan, his good work must be continued by our future generations.