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Bangladesh graft watchdog report sparks political uproar

Report states that politicians and their parties are the most corrupt

Gulf News

Dhaka: Major political parties have reacted sharply to a report by Berlin-based global watchdog, Transparency International, which found politicians and their parties to be the most corrupt-prone institutions in Bangladesh.

The Awami League of Prime Minister Shaikh Hasina called the report an attempt to assassinate the characters of politicians and to “depoliticise” society during a critical political situation.

Ex-premier Khalida Zia’s main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party claimed it was a reflection of massive corruption inside the ruling party but it was unfair to hold political parties responsible “institutionally” for corruption.

“It was seen earlier that the politicians’ characters are assassinated whenever efforts are made to install ‘undemocratic forces’ to power,” ruling Awami League’s joint secretary general Mahbubul Alam Hanif said.

Hanif feared the TI report “at this moment could be part of an identical design” while it was entirely “unjustified” to call political parties or politicians corrupt just based on some peoples perception while no proof was available to the watchdog.

Senior BNP leader Maudud Ahmad said the TI pointed their fingers to the Awami League when referring to the political parties’ corruption “as the party in power has the scopes to be engaged in corruption.

“The watchdogs like Transparency International give their reports in a traditional manner... but I don’t think it is a right approach to accuse political parties of corruption institutionally,” he told Gulf News.

BNP’s acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, however, said: “[Corruption] is nothing new, it has spread everywhere after this government took office”.

The Awami League’s crucial left leaning ally Workers Party’s president Rashid Khan Menon admitted that the ruling alliance failed to fulfil their pledge to curb corruption “but I can’t understand the reasons behind the report being published just now blaming the political parties.

“We have to think whether it is a move toward de-politicisation,” he said.

The TI report, which was released on Tuesday, said the 93 per cent people they surveyed believed political parties and police were the most corrupt institutions in Bangladesh followed by the judiciary, parliament and government administration.

The TI carried out the study to prepare its Global Corruption Barometer 2012, the biggest worldwide survey on people’s perception and experience of corruption, which said 60 per cent of Bangladeshi respondents believed the level of corruption had increased in Bangladesh in the past two years.

In 2010 the same study showed that 50 per cent of Bangladeshis considered government measures to be effective in controlling corruption. The current study showed this had dropped to 26 per cent.

TI, however, said in nine out of 12 sectors, corruption in Bangladesh was lower than at a global level while the study acknowledged that few financial scams contributed to peoples perception that corruption was on the rise.

The report comes as Bangladesh is witnessing growing political tensions due to disputes between the two major political parties over the electoral system ahead of the general elections scheduled for next year.

The United Nations recently warned that the political parties’ failure to reach a consensus could invite another military intervention.

UN assistant secretary-general Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, who recently visited Dhaka as a special envoy of secretary-general Ban-Ki-moon, said the history of Bangladesh suggested what the consequences could be unless the political leadership could resolve their differences through constructive dialogue.

Fernandez-Taranco was referring to the installation of the 2006-2008 military-backed interim government as relations between the then ruling BNP and opposition Awami League witnessed a breakdown ahead of scheduled general elections.

The interim government eventually handed over power to the Awami League after the landmark 2008 general election which earned it a three-quarters majority in the 300 seat parliament.