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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 950

Those shameless corrupts in Bangladesh:

By Sunita Paul

One of my Bengali friends in San Diego called this evening to tell me that, Dhaka’s two major vernacular dailies have published news items on my commentary titled ‘Election 2007 in Bangladesh: Doubts and Speculations’ in Asian Tribune on 3rd June.

One of them published certain chosen excerpts of the commentary and then spoke to Prime Minister’s son Tareq Rahman’s friend Giasuddin Al-Mamun, who is already a hated name in the country.

When the newspaper reporter drew Mamun’s attention to the facts that in my commentary I mentioned about his massive corruption and becoming a billionaire from a pauper in true sense, he (Mamun) termed it as “an international conspiracy”.

This was really shocking to note that, now these Tareq Rahman palls have not only become desperate in looting country’s wealth but are even shamelessly denying the allegations of corruption. Possibly any kindergarten child in Bangladesh is even aware of the corruption of Mamun and others. Mamun, who hails from a Southern province in Bangladesh, now runs several business establishments as well recently became the owner of a private television channel.

It is almost impossible for anyone (including the foreign investors) to get any business deal concluded in Bangladesh without offering kick backs to this man. His notoriety is gradually increasing because of the fact that Tareq Rahman is even ready to sacrifice his and his party’s political fate in exchange of keeping Mamun happy. And this is nothing new to anyone now.

Newspapers in Bangladesh and abroad have published series of news and articles about the corruption inside Hawa Bhaban. Every time, Mamun’s name came prominently in each of these items. Not only that! International organizations have also criticized Hawa Bhaban and Tareq Rahman’s friends for limitless corruption, which is mainly liable for placing Bangladesh at the top of the list of most corrupt nations.

When I am filling this item, there are two pieces of news about Bangladesh; one bad and another good.

Let me begin with the good news. Awami League chief and leader of the opposition Sheikh Hasina will receive Mother Teresa award this year for her tireless contributions in democracy in the country.

And, the bad news is, Dhaka’s readymade garment industry is again in turmoil. Situation this time is even worse, with the closure of the export processing zones for indefinite period.

Investors decided to shut down all their 92 factories in the Dhaka Export Processing Zone (DEPZ) from Saturday following another bout of workers' violence and said they will not re-open those until the government ensures law and order in the zone and security of their investment. They also requested Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (Bepza) to declare DEPZ closed indefinitely to allow cooling off of the situation.

The Bepza, on the other hand, requested the investors to keep the industries open on the plea that the Ministers for Labor and Commerce would mediate a meeting between the workers and investors this morning for resolving the problem. But the investors remained firm on their decision.

The DEPZ employs 70,000 workers while it exports goods worth over $300 million a year. This year, with over 90 percent of the factories related to garments sector, it has targeted export of goods worth $350 million. The DEPZ is the second largest of its kind in the country with Chittagong EPZ exporting goods worth over $1 billion a year.

Readymade garments are one of the key foreign exchange earning sources for Bangladesh. More than seventy percent of country’s foreign exchange comes from this sector alone. While millions of workers, mostly female are employed in this sector. Any setback in this sector will ultimately put Bangladesh in to jeopardy. It will also affect many other industrial and financial institutions in the country, which are, directly or indirectly related to this sector.

Almost eighty percent of the female workers in the readymade garment sector come from extreme poverty level. If for any reason, this sector faces closure, these females might cause severe social problems. On the other hand, the male workers might end up in various crimes and terrorist activities. They may even turn into ‘muscle power’ for opportunist political activists.

It was earlier reported that Islamist radical group Jamaatul Mujahedin Bangladesh (JMB) managed to recruit youths, mostly from under privileged class, with small financial benefits. Once the readymade garment sector gets in to jeopardy, thousands of such youth might fall into wrong hands.

Now let us get back to the titled topic. Transparency International is now finalizing the list of most corrupt nations, which will be made public in a few months. It is anticipated that, Bangladesh might once again get into the top of the list. But, certainly the government could take a number of steps to save their image, at least this time, by initiating stern action against the corrupts.

But, the statement of Giasuddin Al-Mamun proves that, these shameless corrupts are not only desperate in continuing their wrong doings, they almost know for sure that, under the protection of Tareq Rahman, BNP government will have no reason to take any action against them.

But, this should never be a concluding end for the ruling force in Bangladesh. They should know, in every part of the world, many ‘powerful corrupts’ ultimately ended either in forced exile or life time in prison. Some of them were even killed.

But the problem is, politicians, many countries, never learn from the history. Possibly, because, by doing corruption, their brain and thoughts too get corrupt, which stops them from seeing the future.

Otherwise, considering the present realities in Bangladesh, any farsighted person (even if corrupt) could realize that, a tornado is just waiting for him. Mamun should at least keep it in mind to skip extinction.

- INS – Asian Tribune -

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