Maswood Alam Khan, USA
Having reacted angrily to the contents of the news published in a Bengali daily on making the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) toothless by amending its laws, my Facebook friend Masud Khan, a young man in his mid 20s who is now studying in a Norwegian university, in a bid to air his grievances wrote on his ‘Facebook Wall’: “Dear friends, I am utterly upset. I am deeply shocked. I am completely broken. I am really frustrated. And I believe every one of you feels the same way as I do. Please stand against those heinous culprits.
Earlier, they (parliamentarians) enacted (made) law not to pay income tax, now they have made a law to stay/live beyond law. Do you let them do what they want to do? Please discuss these matters among all your friends and stand against those culprits. Please do something for our beloved country.”
As I was dissecting Masud Khan’s fiery words I marked that he had refrained from mentioning the party in power in Bangladesh as solely responsible for “defanging” the ACC; his wrath was against all the parliamentarians who are voted by people to enact law and protect the public interests. I also could smell a semblance of zeal in the tone and tenor of his words we hear and find in the messages the youths around the world of late are venting their anger on their Facebook pages against misrules and injustice with new revolutionary fervors.
Alas! We have not yet heard a single word of protest against the move in the parliament to make the ACC ineffective from BNP or any other political party in the opposition camps who, as we found, always look for an opportunity to find faults with the party in power.
With a motive to inciting people to topple the government our politicians on the roads are always trigger-happy in calling for a Hartal in the name of protecting public interests whenever they find any measure—good or bad, no matter—the government takes. But, in this case of weakening the ACC all the politicians, in both positions and oppositions, are silent like cold stones because they did not find any fault in a weak ACC. Is a weak ACC a prize for politicians?
Is not a strong ACC indispensable for protecting public interests? The answer to this question is YES only to the poor and the oppressed living their subhuman and tormented life and also to young people like Masud Khan who are yet to become corrupt. But the answer to this question is probably or invariably NO to most of the politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen, professionals and also to a special class of intellectuals and social workers, irrespective of their color, creed or ideology. In unison, they likely enjoy the fruits of corruption. Tenaciously determined, they are likely to fight against bodies that may dare stop them from reaping the benefits from corruption.
I cannot vouch that they are corrupt or corruptible and I had to use the adverb ‘likely’ to characterize their bent for corruption because we all are terribly afraid of them, because they are the brute majority, because they are viciously powerful. They have money power. They are the king makers. They are united. Yes, they have to be united. United they steal, divided they starve.
ACC will soon revert back to what once was BAC, Bureau of anti-corruption merely as a branch of the executive having little power and initiative of its own. From now on, the ACC will be required to ask for the government’s approval every time they have to file a graft case. While it is mainly in the public sector where allegations of bribery and corruption are loud and high, from now on, it is the public servants and elected representatives who will remain out of the jurisdiction of the ACC. Only the general public will come under their purview. What an irony!
We must not blame only the politicians and the government functionaries for corruptions that are plaguing our nation. We the people are more responsible. We encourage corruption by bribing, by voting corrupt people, by breaking laws for our small benefits, by finding ways to escape from law, by finding shortcut illegal ways. We find ways to avoid paying taxes. We never insist on getting receipts from the sellers. We rather encourage people to steal on sales taxes. We keep mum when we see law and order is broken in front of us thinking it’s someone else’s problem.
The tolerance of our people for corruption is pretty high. Our people are not bothered about who in the public offices are stealing or which policy is robbing the nation of its future or which law is gagging our right to seeking justice. Our people are not closely knit in terms of social cohesion. Our people are less nationalistic. So, it is easy to cheat on our people if only the price of rice and lentil can be kept under control. Our people are content only with two meals a day.
Only God knows for how many eons we will have to wait to see an end to bribes, blackmails and corruptions that are permeating the corridors of power and breaking the backbone of our nation. We don’t know whether there would ever be a chance for us to rid our societies of the cancer of corruptions with such malignant forces at work riding roughshod over the nation?
It is however heartening to note that there are still people who are decrying the government’s move to change the anti-graft body act. At the initiative of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) and Sachetan Nagorik Committee (SNC) people from different walks of life formed human chains to voice their protests at curtailing the freedom of ACC. It is also inspiring to find that there are young men like Masud Khan who are giving clarion calls to stand against corruption through his Facebook—a new and powerful tool to fight for truth and freedom.
Writer is a contributor to daily sun and writes from Maryland, USA