UPA (Utanian Press Agency)
Release: June 25, 301 AP.

UK newspaper reveals the culprits in building collapse

An Utan Krysaror (UK) newspaper has named the people Federal Police are
investigating in connection to the collapse of a council-run apartment block in
the city.

On May 14, just after noon, an apartment building in Utan Krysaror collapsed
killing thirteen people, and rendering homeless some three hundred people. It
prompted an outcry against the federal government's policy of de-slumming the
capital city with high-rise apartment blocks, to which the government has
already allocated Û1 billion to build two hundred such apartments, and the
President suspended all building, pending an investigation.

Residents were quick to point the finger of blame at the local city council
which is suspected of corruption and in-deals with the one billion pund federal
grant. It seems the Utani-language Utan Krysaror Mana (Honour) newspaper
believes federal police agree, by publishing a purported extract from a federal
police briefing paper that names three dozen people, from Utani B'yan state
government ministers to Waverley City Councillors and employees to the
contracting companies involved in the construction.

The newspaper claims that the investigation has concluded that contractors and
council employees conspired to avoid certain federally mandated construction
codes — these were included in the contract for the funding, and based on
Lasanne state laws, as Utania has no such legislation yet — and that council
inspectors would pass the buildings that were considered safe but not legally
so. It required councillors to orchestrate the deal, inspectors to accept it,
and contractors to pay everyone their due "fees". It also required the
complicity of state government ministers, who were apparently informed of the
illicit deals but were "convinced", the paper says, to look the other way.

Unfortunately for the residents, and the corrupt parties involved, the building
has collapsed and the corruption has been exposed, declared the newspaper.

The estimated savings from the construction, and thus the "fees" to thirty-nine
people involved, amount to Û8 million, and involve thirteen buildings to date.
The tempation for officials, says Professor of Ethics at Utan Krysaror
University, Dr Otoje Dayama, is that they are being tempted by "easy and
uncontrolled" federal funds.

"The federal government does not have the checks and balances that the state
governments and councils have on their own funds, so it is easier for that
money to disappear", Prof. Dayama says. "In addition, it is much higher
amounts. The entire budget for the Waverley City Council in 298ap was
Û133 million. Suddenly, they have ten times that amount from the federal
government. An easy half-million here or there is apparently too much
temptation for lesser people earning only Û10,000 a year."

But, he warns that the bad situation is not blanket acceptance that corruption
is inevitable and acceptable. Instead, Prof. Dayama says, the guilty must be
"most severely punished" because their actions had such "dire consequences".

The UK Mana says federal police are seeking to charge the guilty parties with
manslaughter, the newly introduced federal code for "involuntary killing". This
would see the convicted imprisoned for up to twenty years.

At this stage, neither the Federal Police nor the President's office are
prepared to comment. Governor Artos has denied his government is corrupt, in
the past, but now the charges are likely to stick. He is not facing another
election for at least a year, which may afford him an opportunity to clean-up
before then.

Not so the federal government, currently in election mode. The opposition
leader, Thomas Kemp, is hinting that the former state Governor, George
, now President, is implicated in any corruption in his former
government role. It is a suggestion that shows how little Mr Kemp understands
Utani politics — the name Okarvits is synonymous with anti-corruption amongst
Utani in the same way that Boornal is in Lasanne state. It may win his party
votes up north, but will fail amongst southern Utani voters.

The leak and subsequent trial by media, however, will mean that the guilty will
probably duck for cover. Expect to see them on live television being pursued
down the streets next.

©UPA, 301 AP.

©Mike Ham, 2001. All rights reserved. No reproduction without, at least, tacit approval. ;-)