Sheikh Hasina’s ‘zero tolerance’ against corruption

Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman gave the most beautiful definition about corrupt people. He said, ‘Who is corrupt today? He who cheats is corrupt. He who takes a bribe is corrupt; He who smuggles is corrupt; He who hoards is corrupt. Those who act against conscience are also corrupt. Those who sell the country to foreign countries are also corrupt. What can be a better explanation than this. In our society, no one commits corruption because of lack, but because of unlimited greed. Corruption is spreading like cancer today. Corruption is one of the main sources of most crimes. It is a disorder that destroys the very fabric of society.

Corruption is sometimes reported in Bangladesh. People have become accustomed to the news of pond theft and ocean theft. But if the allegations of corruption against former IGP Benazir Ahmed and National Revenue Officer Matiur Rahman are true, the ocean of theft will be less. The ACC decided to investigate quickly after allegations of illegal wealth acquisition against former IGP Benazir Ahmed and his family.

He and his family members have also been summoned for questioning as part of the investigation. Bank accounts and immovable assets have been attached as per court orders. On the other hand, after the news about the purchase of goats by the son of revenue officer Matiur Rahman with Tk 15 lakhs, there have been allegations of corruption against him. After the allegations surfaced, the government quickly relieved Matiur Rahman of all duties.

All the properties of Benazir Ahmed are taken into the custody of the government or Matiur Rahman is exempted from all responsibilities, giving importance to public aspirations. Such a quick decision will deepen public confidence in the government. Corrupt people will be afraid of these activities to some extent. During Sheikh Hasina’s tenure, the message that no matter how powerful one is, no one will be exempt – has become clear.

After the revelation of the corruption of two such big current and former officials, national and international media and social media have created a lot of discussion. Benazir and Matiur’s issue has become the talk of the country. Providing fodder for discussion from neighborhood tea tables to the highest levels of administration. Benazir Ahmed has held the highest post of police administration including IGP, RAB, DMP Commissioner.

At that time he created a place of trust among the people due to his great dedication and success. There is no disagreement about it. But the horrendous allegations of corruption against him surprised everyone. On the other hand, the family history of Matiur Rahman that has come up in the media, it seems that there are many more hidden ‘ghosts in Sarsh’.

The history of corruption in Bangladesh is not new. In the post-1975 period, state-sponsored corruption began under military rule. That clause was in operation even during the BNP-Jamaat coalition government (2001-05). Bangladesh was identified as the top corrupt country five times in a row in the Global Corruption Index published by Transparency International. Bangladesh’s position in the global index of corruption was very shameful to the world. Then corruption became a rule. The people were helpless against the corrupt.

In the last election, Awami League promised zero tolerance against corruption in its election manifesto. Clause (f) of the manifesto said that corruption is the main obstacle to the country’s economic development, poverty alleviation, infrastructure development and moral development of the nation. Due to corruption, it is not possible to achieve the goal of overall development of the country. Corruption cannot be curbed by law enforcement and punishment alone. For that, it is necessary to build a social movement. Awami League is working by adopting zero tolerance policy against corruption. Corruption will be eradicated from the society as well as the state by taking integrated initiatives with the people. This is the promise of Sheikh Hasina’s government. The government is working for the purpose.

During the government of the nation Ratna Sheikh Hasina, the salaries of the officers and employees of the republic have been increased several times. But bribery and corruption did not decrease as expected. Even if the salary has been doubled in line with the current market price, there is no prejudice to one class of officers and employees. The prime minister clearly said, ‘The rate at which the salary of the government officials and employees of Bangladesh has increased in the pay scale is rare in the world. So attention should be paid to the people getting services. Salaries have increased so bribery and corruption will not be tolerated.’

Due to increase in salary and allowances, government jobs have become a target for many talented youth. At present, the government’s expenditure on salaries and retirement allowances is about one and a half lakh crore, which is about fifteen percent of the national budget. Despite the many benefits of government employees, those who commit excessive corruption do so out of necessity, not out of necessity.

The government has taken several steps against corruption. Various sectors have been digitized. Due to which people can call 106 free of charge to report various complaints related to online tender, corruption. Anti-corruption commission capacity building and necessary funding has been increased. The trial has been speeded up. To prevent corruption by ensuring transparency and accountability in government and private institutions, the National Cleanliness Strategy, Citizen Charter, Right to Information Act and Grievance Redressal Mechanism have been introduced.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has conducted anti-corruption campaigns several times during her tenure. No party leaders or influential people were exempted there. He is considered a criminal. Many leaders of the party had to face trial. After coming to power in 2019, he did a surgical strike against extortion, tender, casino, corruption. At that time, none of the party leaders including Chhatra League and Jubo League were exempted. Political careers of many have ended due to these irregularities alone.

Government alone cannot stop corruption. A social movement is needed against this. Social movement should be built against corruption. It can be seen in the society, those who can pay more money are made the chief guests in various events. It is they who are put on the committee of educational institutions who can make grants. But the organizers never consider his source of income.

A class of people in the society are surrendering helplessly to the money of corrupt people. The society is so corrupted that in most cases, the bride or the family cares about whether the groom has an income higher than the job status of the groom. Now bribery is considered by some as a fashion or smartness.

Many times it is seen that the corrupt get away with the loopholes of the law. Sometimes, even after taking into account, the investigation process is interrupted or prolonged due to lack of necessary manpower. As a result, it is not possible to prevent corruption. Peace must be ensured as soon as possible against the corrupt. Money and assets should be taken into the custody of the government as soon as possible. When it is seen that the big raghabboals are not getting through, many will not have the courage to commit corruption. But the hope is that even if a few people are corrupt, most people are still honest. The country is also benefiting from it.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has always adopted a zero tolerance policy against corruption. He does not condone any wrongdoing. In an interview given to Voice of America in October 2019, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said very beautiful and significant words against the corrupt, ‘If we do not carry out the campaign against corruption, then a great inequality will be created in our society. While one person in the society is living an honest life, another is doing the same and owning huge amount of money through corruption. That circle is manifesting ‘sickly’ in their living. It affects children. A sick competition to show wealth, a sick mentality – we have to save our society from this.’

The people of Bengal have faith and trust in Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. He also always repaid the trust of the people. There was no exception in this case. Whether Benazir Ahmed or Matiur Rahman is guilty or innocent will be decided through trial, it is a subject of time. But giving importance to public aspirations, all properties of Benazir Ahmed have been taken into the custody of the government or Matiur Rahman has been exempted from all responsibilities. Such a quick decision will deepen public confidence in the government. Corrupt people will be afraid of these activities to some extent. During Sheikh Hasina’s tenure, the message that no matter how powerful one is, no one will be exempt – has become clear.

Author: Former student leader and member, Sampriti Bangladesh.