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Why is ban imposed after the confirmation of emigration of the corrupt!

Probhash  Amin

Probhash Amin

Sat, 6 Jul 24

Everyone knows that corruption occurs in Bangladesh. It has now become a pervasive trend. What was once merely a perception has now emerged as a stark reality. Corruption exists to some extent in every sector in Bangladesh. Where it is less prevalent, there are fewer opportunities for corruption; where it is more prevalent, there are more opportunities for corruption. The difference lies only in the opportunities available. If someone claims that there is no corruption in a particular sector, it means that there are no opportunities for corruption in that sector. Many people are honest due to a lack of opportunity. If you place that honest person in a corrupt environment, you'll see that they too become part of the corruption cycle. This has become a common trend. However, don't think that there are no honest people in Bangladesh.

Just as there are corrupt individuals in every sector, there are also honest people. If everyone were corrupt, society wouldn't have lasted this long. However, it is difficult for honest people to survive within the cycle of corruption. In some offices, there are even fixed rates for bribes. Regardless of who the person is, the bribe will be distributed chair by chair according to the rate. It's a well-organized chain. If an honest person somehow enters this chain, it creates problems for the others. If one person refuses to take their share of the bribe, the entire system threatens to collapse.

Therefore, the task for others is to quickly pull that honest person into the corruption cycle; otherwise, they make their life miserable by isolating them, or transfer them elsewhere. In Bangladesh, it is actually difficult to survive without engaging in corruption. Whether it's the police station, hospital, BRTA, passport office, NID, birth certificate, or land office – no file moves without a bribe. If you think you can get things done without paying a bribe, you'll curse yourself for being born in this country. A few days ago, a news story received a lot of attention on Facebook.

Adnan Ferdous, a distinguished government officer, has changed his job. Adnan Ferdous, who was working as an Assistant Radio Engineer at Bangladesh Betar in the BCS Information Cadre, has now taken up the position of a non-cadre Sub-Registrar after another attempt. He left the cadre position to join a non-cadre one. It's clear to everyone that his new position holds much less prestige and certainly pays less than the previous one. In his new role, he will have to address his former position as 'Sir.' Despite this, why did he choose the lower position, disregarding respect and salary? The reason is that the new position offers much greater opportunities for extra income.

In pursuit of extra income, professionals from specialized academic careers such as doctors, engineers, and agriculturists also aim to join the administration, police, or customs through the BCS. Among the BCS cadres, those like education and information have little demand. Adnan Ferdous’s voluntary switch from a cadre to a non-cadre position is understood by everyone to be motivated by the prospect of accepting bribes. No one would offer a bribe to a radio engineer, but people will line up to bribe a sub-registrar. A social acceptance of bribes and corruption has developed.

When marrying off a daughter, the bride's father also wants to know if the groom has any extra income. The real problem lies in this social acceptance. Children don't ask their parents how they can afford to pay 60,000 takas in rent on a 50,000-taka salary. Despite the social demotion Adnan Ferdous faces by moving from a cadre to a non-cadre position, he plans to buy back that respect with money obtained through corruption.

The question is, why is there such a pervasive flood of corruption in this country? The reason is that everyone knows that in Bangladesh, nothing happens if you engage in corruption. The wealth obtained through corruption can be enjoyed comfortably. If you can’t enjoy it in the country, you can live in luxury abroad. You can take loans from banks and embezzle that money, transfer it overseas, buy a house in Canada’s Begum Para, or establish a second home in Malaysia. With so many benefits, why wouldn’t people engage in corruption?

Bangladesh has a powerful and independent Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC). The Commission’s job is to detect corruption and bring corrupt individuals under the law. However, if the media or social media identifies a corrupt individual, the ACC can thoroughly pursue that person as a target. Another role of the ACC is to provide a clean chit to government party leaders if allegations of corruption are made against them after an investigation. Everything was going smoothly until information about former IG Benazir Ahmed’s corruption was leaked by a media outlet. One by one, all media outlets began to expose Benazir’s misdeeds, creating a storm on social media.

The prominent MP Barrister Suman demanded that the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) take action against Benazir Ahmed. The court issued an order to seize Benazir’s assets and freeze his bank accounts in response to the ACC's petition. The ACC summoned Benazir and his family members and imposed a travel ban. But ironically, Benazir had already fled the country by then. It has now been revealed that although he could not transfer the land, he managed to withdraw money from the accounts before they were frozen. It’s not that Benazir vanished the day after the corruption news broke. He was still in the country and even appeared on Facebook Live, claiming his innocence and giving a long explanation. But when he saw that everything was spiraling out of his control, he decided to flee. This means he had enough time to escape and transfer money from the bank before taking off.

Benazir’s travel ban was imposed only after he had left the country. It seems as though the travel ban was enforced only after it was confirmed that Benazir had safely arrived at his overseas palace. This is not an isolated case; there are many instances of corrupt individuals leaving the country safely. For example, Matiur Rahman, the NBR official involved in the goat scandal, also gave an interview to mainstream media claiming his innocence after coming under scrutiny. Matiur Rahman also had a travel ban imposed by the court, but he had already disappeared before the ban could take effect. Earlier, P.K. Halder had the opportunity to escape with billions of taka before facing legal consequences. While Bangladesh could not catch him, Kolkata managed to apprehend him. The name of the culprit behind the Basic Bank scandal is well known to everyone. Former Finance Minister A.M.A. Muhith mentioned Abdul Hai Bachchu in Parliament, but the ACC failed to track him down.

In movies, we often see a scenario where a villain is tipped off about a police raid before it happens, allowing them to escape before the police arrive. Similarly, in our Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) or police forces, there are likely to be people on the side of the corrupt who secretly inform them, giving them a chance to escape before the raid takes place. Since we’re on the topic of movies, let me mention another film that has been recently discussed. In Bollywood, there is a movie called “Lapata Ladies” that has been quite popular. In this film, two men’s wives get swapped on a train because of a curtain separating them, and the husbands are unable to figure out which wife belongs to whom.

The film “Lapata Ladies” primarily addresses issues of women’s rights. However, if a Bangladeshi filmmaker were to make a movie titled “Lapata Corrupt Officials”, it would undoubtedly be a blockbuster. The film could depict how corrupt individuals accumulate wealth, find themselves in trouble, and use their connections to escape just in time. It would make for an excellent thriller, showing the entire process from corruption to evasion. Incorporating themes of romance, marriage, sexuality, infidelity, second marriages, and denial of children, there would surely be many twists and turns. While we may not see the real-life story of corrupt officials disappearing, we look forward to seeing it on the silver screen.

Author: journalist and columnist

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