DHAKA: Nearly 97 per cent of Bangladeshi lawmakers were found involved in “negative activities” and 70 per cent of them in virtual “criminal acts” as the Bangladesh chapter of the Berlin-based Transparency International (TIB) came up with the results of a study.
“These MPs are involved in negative activities while doing development work apart from their main responsibility as they consider their membership in parliament as a source of profitable earning,” TIB executive director Iftekharuzzaman told a press conference late yesterday, revealing the study findings.
He said the study was carried out on 149 of the total 350 lawmakers and it found most of them influencing administrative decisions in an undue manner, controlling educational institutions, misusing development allocations, supporting or getting involved with criminal activities and influencing public procurement.
It showed 70.6 per cent of the 149 members were even involved in various criminal activities including killing, land, river and water body grabbing, extortion, tender manipulations and cheating.
The watchdog, however, declined to name the parliamentarians involved in irregular or criminal activities but said 141 are male and eight female while 136 are treasury bench lawmakers; of these 27 are ministers or state ministers, and 13 opposition lawmakers.
The report said only 3.36 per cent of the MPs got 7.6 points out of 10 from the electorate for satisfactory performance and 68.45 scored less than 5 while the members spent only 9.2 per cent of time in 254 working days in the first seven sessions of the House for legislation.
TIB officials said the research was carried out on the basis of newspaper reports and group discussions they arranged to extract information and opinions of the direct or indirect experiences of a cross-section of electorates.
The parliament is currently not in session but several ruling Awami League MPs blasted the TIB survey, describing it as a national and international conspiracy against the country’s democracy.
“The TIB published a similar study report just days before the 1/11 changeover in 2007 [when an army-backed interim administration was installed proclaiming a state of emergency]. It [TIB] has again engaged itself in a similar conspiracy,” former law minister and Awami League lawmaker Abdul Matin Khasru told a newspaper.
Main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) Chief Whip Zainul Abdin Farroque said, “We [the opposition] are only a few and they do not get any allocation. So the question of our involvement in irregularities does not arise.”
“Most of the ruling alliance lawmakers are now running after money though not all of them are bad,” he said.