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Combined effort needed to eradicate corruption

Corruption

Mir Mosharref Hossain Pakbir

MNA Editorial Desk: Corruption has turned into such a phenomenon in Bangladesh that it became identical to our name. Without any debate it is the biggest problem of Bangladesh. Corruption has long term effects on national economy, ethics, moral, honour, growth, development etc. It has been a continuing problem of Bangladesh as we are in a habit to find ourselves in the list of the most corrupt countries of the world. During 2001-05, we held onto our position as the most corrupt country of the world while as per Transparency International’s (TI’s) Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), Bangladesh was the 15th most corrupt country in the world and 2nd most corrupt in South Asia in 2016. A bit of improvement we must say but never can we be satisfied with that achievement.

At every sector and area, we have become highly corrupt today. Not only the politicians, businessmen, administrators, policymakers, public service officials, judiciary but also the people have become corrupt. We often fail to realise that we are corrupt too. For example: we do not hesitate to bribe for getting a driving licence, passport or any other documents as it became a common practice. Our education system has got corrupt as well and it is very funny that we are being fooled by the authority comprehensively on fighting that corruption. It is unbelievable that, the students, guardians and teachers are all involved in such corruption and none actually raises their voices. This depicts the extent to which we have become corrupt. Hence, someone once said, we will not get out from the circle of corruption unless we find our soul back.

Believed by many, the corruption in Bangladesh was always driven by the political parties in power and their associates. True in most of the cases, among several other players they have been the most prominent one. Not only corruption but also serious crimes are contributed by the ruling parties of Bangladesh as they are not bothered by the law enforcers or the court. Leaders of all the parties in power starting from Jatiya Party, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and also the current ruling party Awami League were found involved in acts of corruption. But even few years back they were always out of reach of the law. But it is a great thing to note that, the situation is slowly changing.

Several reports of the international research agencies identified judicial system, police, public services, land administration, tax administration, customs administration, public procurement, legislation, civil service etc. to be the main source of corruption in Bangladesh and the protector of the sources has always been the past and present ruling party politicians.

 Lack of transparency and good governance can be pointed out for being the most decisive reason for rise of corruption in Bangladesh. Moreover, violence and deterioration of human rights came out as a by-product of that rising corruption. We have tremendously failed to bring the corruptors under justice and whenever we succeeded, we failed to punish them properly. In consequence, the general people have lost faith on the law enforcers and judicial system.

Only punishing the protectors of corruption is not going to change the scenario of Bangladesh. The history of corruption in our country is almost as old as our independence. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in his last public speech in 1975 addressed a huge crowd to alert them on the uprising of corruption. His farsighted leadership could envision the threat of corruption. He declared a war against it as he asked the people to start fight against corruption at all levels starting from the villages to the cities.

He also said that, the people need not be afraid as he would be on the people’s side. We can assume from that, along with so many dreams, he had declared the last war on corruption.  Corruption has spread its web in all the sectors of Bangladesh. We can easily visualize the corruptions directly related to financial transaction like; money laundering, terrorism financing, bribing in public sector etc. but that does not depict its root in the deep.

Our education system is currently one of the most effected victims of corruption. Streams of question leak stories hit the media. Throughout education life, a student goes through corrupt practices. Parents bribe the educational institutes to get their son admitted, teachers victimize student with illegal coaching business, both teachers and students try to leak out questions before public exams and many things else. It seems they are corrupt from the core. The authority who we believe are engaged with these corruptions is just taking the advantage of several corrupt souls to gain financially and it will destroy the backbone of the nation.

Today, we are not sure of our food. Almost every food product is impure with harmful chemicals leading towards increased sickness. Corruption in food is devastating the health of this nation. Few years later, none will be found without any food related diseases. The medicines we are taking are not per quality as corruption hits that sector too. Our next generation will be lame and unproductive. This corruption is done by general people and businessmen and is much more harmful than money laundering.

Corruption has taken away our canals and rivers. The powerful land grabbers are going to cause the water logging at Dhaka during this upcoming monsoon too. Political influence and money power is not allowing us to solicit this huge problem and people suffer. All sectors of Bangladesh are facing this demon called corruption. It is very hard to find a single person who is not involved in any kind of corrupt practices. If a person who joins the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) has to gain that post after going through so many corrupt practices, we cannot accept him to be uncorrupted.

Our law enforcers often become the headline of newspapers for their corruption or crimes while most of their ill works are not even reported. Our judicial system is completely corrupt as it is very hard to find justice there. The processes in courts have become so tangled that you may never know if you will ever find justice while your pocket becomes slim to slimmer. Thousands of cases are pending with no fate. So, we cannot expect justice anywhere as all the people related to these law enforcement agencies and judicial system have to come to that position through corruption. Of course there are few good exceptions but we should not expect that.

The government and the opposition keeps on blaming each other for the corruption in Bangladesh but none expresses their commitment to eliminate corruption as Bangabandhu did before his sad demise. His daughter current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina took some drastic steps during the last decade but despite that Swiss National Bank (SNB)’s data published on 29 June 2017 shows that Bangladesh has BDT 4423 billion in Swiss banks which is an increase by 20 per cent since 2013-14 portraying the epidemic picture of ongoing corruption in Bangladesh.

The political leaders who led corruption and crime in Bangladesh seemed to be out of reach for the law enforcers till PM Sheikh Hasina, the driving force behind the development of Bangladesh, took strong standing against such crimes and criminals. For the first time in history, a running minister, Syed Abul Hossain had to step down on Padma Bridge corruption charges. On the same case, a secretary was put behind bars. Syed Modasser Ali, adviser to the PM, had to step down also due to his involvement in renowned Hallmark Group case. Several leaders were jailed like; MP Manjurul Islam Liton, MP Abdur Rahman Bodi and few others. Moreover, many faced even death penalty like; Nur Hossain and RAB official Tareque Sayeed despite their allegiance to the ruling party. The Chairperson of the country’s second largest party is serving a five-year sentence in prison on a graft case. Steps were taken against several police officials on different instances while many such cases are ongoing. Investigations were initiated on several leaders of both the government and the opposition.

It seems PM Hasina has changed the characteristics of Bangladesh being out of justice by bringing these people under process of justice. But the scenario is so bad in Bangladesh that we cannot really visualize her efforts to eliminate system-based corruption and crime, which is important to establish the rights of the people.

To eliminate corruption a drastic combined effort will be required as was announced by Bangabandhu with no tolerance policy against corruption. The moral of the people needs to be changed which is not so easy and will require systematic approach. PM Sheikh Hasina seems to have started a fight but needs to adopt a systematic plan and a dedicated workforce. We believe she follows the footmarks of Bangabandhu to achieve the dream and commitment of father of the nation as we bestow upon our hopes on our valiant Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

The Writer is Chief Editor at Mohammadi News Agency (MNA) and Vice-Chairman, Democracy Research Centre (DRC)

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