Saturday, November 17, 2012

Alas Bangladesh!

Today, I came across a cartoon, sent by a classmate, published probably in a Bangladeshi newspaper, which says it all about corruption. The cartoon is about a class room setting in English grammar where a teacher asks the students to name the tense in the sentence: "One day our Bangladesh will become corruption-free." "Future 'impossible' tense," replies a student.

Yes, the student is right, or so it appears from Bangladesh's losing record to tame corruption within its society. It is sad to see that Bangladesh has not been able to tame this nasty beast. Through its laws, passed at the parliament, every government that comes to power, ensures that its own corrupt members could not be tried while in office. It ensures that the Anti-Corruption Commission remains a toothless and nail-less tiger, as so aptly complained by its Chairman, Mr. Golam Rahman. The government puts a limit on how much money the ACC can spend in legal fees to pursue cases against the corrupt people. Thus, the end result has been a zero-sum activity in which with highly paid lawyers like Barrister Rafiqul Haque defending the corruption of the accused, the latter comes out free - sometimes without even serving a single day in the prison. 

During my personal conversations a few times with Mr. Rahman, and his predecessor (Retd.) Lt. Gen. Hasan Mashud Chowdhury, I have been told about the scheme that the government plays. With so limited a budget/quota to appeal a corruption case (it is so pathetically low that you can't even find a reputable lawyer other than 'bat-talar ukil' to hire), it is not difficult to understand why the corrupt defendants always come out free from such cases. In spite of running handicapped, for our record, the ACC, run by some of the honest personalities of the nation, has not taken out any of the corruption cases from its own list against the members of the ruling party (as soon as the government will be replaced, they will have to face their turn). But when the system is meant to be run with hands and feet tied, with so much constraints imposed by the government, the ACC cannot win the battle against corruption even if an angel were to put in charge of routing such a vice from our society today. That is the sad reality!

A few suggestions that come to mind:
  • Making the ACC totally independent and autonomous by any account with enough funding so that it can afford all the legal fees required to fight corruption. It is simply not there today. 
  • Enacting laws in the parliament to ensure that the ACC can do its task without being handicapped and with the ability and power to go after any member of the society - at home or abroad - ruling party members and members in the opposition. 
  • Ensuring that the judges and magistrates are incorruptible by choosing people of honesty and integrity over partisan affiliation. It is a sad commentary that many see the judges and magistrates to be the worst individuals in the Bangladeshi society. There is hardly a judge today whose children are not studying in the western country without ANY scholarship. How can they afford such high tuition fees from their salaries?
  • Working towards building a corruption-free society at the grassroots by conscientious members of the society, which enables and empowers people to say enough is enough with corruption, and thereby refuses to elect corrupt members from Ward level up to the government level.
The sad fact is our society has become corrupt from top to bottom. Like a fish it started with the head and now every part is rotten. 

Some 14 centuries ago, Prophet Muhammad (S) said, "As you are so will be your leaders." Through its sad state of affairs, Bangladesh has epitomized that statement.

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