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Business as usual?

  • Published at 12:41 pm November 9th, 2014

The Internet has been established as an information regime which, some believe, makes it easy to violate people’s rights or allows corruption. For critics, however, it’s hard to imagine how the World Wide Web would guarantee transparency unless individual acts and their collective will are reflected in the functioning of institutions.

Every day, we receive phone calls from organised group members who try to exploit people financially and otherwise. Where are the law enforcement personnel to deal with those cheats?

Many serious allegations, to the extent of extortion and killing for ransom, are there against the protectors, and an increasing number of such cases are being exposed nowadays.

Last week, mastaans sought “monetary help” from an expatriate Bangladeshi at the Cox’s Bazar sea beach. Identifying themselves as powerful local boys, they even hurled abusive words at the older sister of the gentleman who came all the way from Canada.

During the recent Eid holidays, drivers were forced to pay Tk50 for each car near the Daulatdia ferry terminal and the “toll collectors” were not officials, but musclemen.

When commoners love to avoid law enforcers, it is the ruling party-backed Chhatra League or Jubo League men who play a dominant role, again, in tormenting the masses.

They are active in tender manipulation, the transfer and posting of doctors and engineers, campus violence, illegal businesses at the jail gates, smuggling, and illicit trade, among a variety of “voluntary services” to plunder national resources.

Lately, a curious housewife aboard a car saw a police constable clearing the road for the vehicle of what he termed a “League leader,” stopping all others on the street. We have no knowledge if the government introduced any protocols for the so-called student leaders, like the one offered to the prime minister, at the cost of traffic congestion.

It warrants investigation into how only the leaders of the governing party and their accomplices gain so much wealth – cash, flats, land, luxury cars, and business establishments – in such a short span of time, and that too so magically, without having any formal sources of income. The unwillingness of ministers and lawmakers to make wealth statements, in violation of their electoral pledge, indicates how honest they are.

As many look resigned to the system of corruption, opportunists argue that the people have accepted the flawed elections of January 5. The obvious question then is: How much corruption is acceptable, and how long will it be sustainable for the nation?

Even after a series of scams in the banking sector, there is no end to embezzlement of public money. Culprits of the share market manipulation have gone unpunished. Land-grabbing by members of parliament and leakage of public examination question papers are not considered crimes anymore. Who cares, as long as the people remain silent spectators?

In fact, the agents of Digital Bangladesh have taught the citizens how to become tolerant of corruption and overlook misuse of power. It’s a great achievement for this government – anti-corruption campaign as a political issue has now become a foregone conclusion. A journalist friend tilted to the ruling camp said: “Who should we bring to book when all are our brothers and sisters?”

So generous! But that is not the case for ordinary citizens and political rivals. Youths are being subjected to detention simply for satirical remarks about national leaders. So, users of social media networking sites don’t dare to share news items that appear to be damaging for the corrupt clique, should the former want to live in the latter’s kingdom.

Moreover, corruption charges are being used as excuses to harass those who have dissenting views. For example, the graft cases against the BNP leaders, no matter whether the charges are right or wrong, are inherently perceived as politically-motivated, not aimed at upholding the rule of law.

Only the discarded members of the AL regime were summoned to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC). Still, no one believes the measure to be anything more than eyewash.

The names of AL stalwarts were removed from quite a number of corruption cases earlier, and the ACC declared some leaders innocent in cases like the Padma Bridge corruption scandal.

Tyrannical regimes usually shun the path of speaking loudly over issues of rights and good governance, rather than concentrating on development and security matters to justify their stay in power. But the current administration in Dhaka, despite its legitimacy crisis, is consistently showing its arrogance of power, apparently to dispel its stigma of corruption.

This attitude means corruption is a matter of right for the ruling party men. Therefore, their countrymen have to live with this system of misgovernance, or else they shall have to revolt against the tormentors to change the system. 

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