Corruption


The following is a documentary on Joseph Kony of Uganda Lord’s resistance Army. The documentary vividly describes the despicable crimes committed by Kony.

The man who was dispatched by the global community- International Criminal Court to be more specific, to investigate and prosecute this Joseph Kony, was Argentine Luis Moreno Ocampo. He led the investigation and prosecution. Before his assignment of leading the prosecution of Joseph Kony, he was instrumental in prosecuting the notorious military junta in Argentina. After Joseph kony, Mr Ocampo prosecuted Sudan’s Omar al Bashir and issued an arrest warrant for his involvement in Darfur atrocities.

So it seems after dealing with monstrous Joseph Kony, murderous Generals  of Aregentina and radical Mullah of Sudan– Ocampo finally seems fit to investigate Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her government!
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Awami League political stalwart Tofael Ahmed and center left political icon Rashed Khan Menon declined a recent offer to be ministers for the last year of Awami League Government. Although some media reporting were laced with a strong element of surprise, there in fact should not be any surprise in this decision.

For Tofael and Menon, the decision was very easy. Although they risked alienating the all powerful elected dictator of the country — Sheikh Hasina and they made their re-election process a tad difficult — they earned much more long term dividends with this decision. First,they know very clearly that being a minister does not guarantee or even facilitate re-election if a fair election is allowed to happen under an anti-incumbency wave.

And then, As the current trend goes, i.e. it is very stylish to curse two major political party leaders and demand a 3rd political ( or even non political force) — Tofael and Menon just earned bumper scores in their resume to be considered for a any future 3rd ( political or non political) force front leader job. And in a phenomenon of reciprocity, while Tofael- Menon gain 3rd force credibility, 3rd force also gains traction with more credible 3rd force leadership contenders.

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OK let’s compare. I know comparison is not a good thing and living with the past is another bad thing.But lets indulge for a few minutes.

1. Everyone called 2001 – 2006 rule as BNP-Jamaat rule and AL inclined people called it Khaleda Nizami misrule. Even in the middle, they called it Moinuddin Fakhruddin rule. But during this time although it is practically AL-JP Dilip government, now one says so. Even BNP won’t use the term Hasina Ershad government.

2. During 2001-2006 regime, for every wrong-doing or every perceived corruption, there was a face. Mamun and Tarique Zia.

  • 80% of country’s rural electric pole business is controlled and run by Gemcon of AL leader Col Kazi Shahed Ahmed. Finger was pointed at PM’s son as businessman Mamun stepped into the business of electricity pole contract.
  • Some businessman had to bribe few lac taka to a bank for some loan; the blame went to Tarique Zia.
  • Ex finance Minister SAMS Kibria shot and killed by Islamists, blame went to Khaleda Zia and Tarique Zia.
  • Fertilizer price skyrocketed in North Bengal, blame to syndicate of Tarique Rahman.
  • 21st August happens under BNP government — it was Tarique Rahman’s evil plans to kill Hasina and eliminate the opposition.
  • Bangla bhai and HUJI continued their terror business, which they started under AL regime by launching attack on Ramna New Year’s program — Khaleda and Tarique got blamed for being behind the attacks.
  • Chhatra dal Gundami — It was Tarique Rahman
  • A foot bridge collapsed in Kushtia, injuring a poor Rickshaw-wallah. It was Tarique who got bribe for the bridge and as a result it collapsed.
    Every single corruption, wrongdoing, mishap in the planet and all the star system around — you name it — Tarique Rahman and Khaleda Nizami government was behind it.
  • High price of essentials: Tarique Rahman’s syndicate.
  • Power shortage: Hawa Bhavan and Tarique Rahman
  • Unsafe roads, river transportation: Tarique Rahman corruption faulty fitness
  • Terror plot: It was work of top level leadership of Government

 

3. Things have a changed radically under this Hasina II government.

 

  • Pilkhana happens under AL regime — it was an action of evil quarter to destabilize AL government.
  • Local leaders like Sanaullah Babu, Lokman, and Ibrahim etc get killed. It is either BNP infighting or some BNP gunman doing it.

 

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May be there soon will be a winner in Narayanganj City Corporation election. But question mounts, will she or he really be a winner eventually or will they represent a victory of their backers?

May be NCC citizens are getting an elected rep, they may be the only winner. But without any clout, control, power, money– in Bangladesh context under current system, a mayor is a talpatar shepai — simply a symbolic city father.

But then rest of it is also a lose lose lose lose game.

If Shamim Osman finally pulls through a victory, fair election or not, the demand for CTG will gain momentum. Sheikh Hasina and her ruling part that backed Shamim Osman will lose by winning.

If Osman loses to Ivy, both Awami League and opposition BNP loses big time. Anti CTG rhetoric will gain traction. Tainted civil society ( We all know who they are- new faces Syed Abul Maqsud, Mizanur Rahman Khan, Rubayat Ferdous with Anams and Motiur Rahmans in the background) will again stat jumping with double vigor. Civil society thinks Ivy is their candidate. Selina Hayat Ivy is civil society’s dream candidate. A hardcore Awami League leader, close to Sheikh Hasina currently at odds with another Awami League candidate not in good terms with the civil society leaders. But by no means civil society’s customized candidates are any good for a long-term healthy grassroots based democracy.

If Taimur wins, BNP also loses. Hasina will say, see we lost election to BNP and we can hold fair elections.

This Taimur Alam Khondokar is a pathetic case. If BNP wants to come back, exactly this sort of candidates BNP must shun. This man is running such a lackluster campaign that even Amar Desh is mentioning him in 3rd sequence after Shamim/ Ivy. He cannot talk, cannot make a point. cannot organize get out the vote, cannot gain on anti Awami League incumbency of Shamim, and capitalize on anti Narayanganj incumbency of Ivy. Only thing he is saying very ineffectively is “EVM mani na”, “EC is bad”. Are vhai he is not running against EC. He is running against Ivy and Shamim. And he must have made this a campaign of a referendum to Awami Leagues misrule.
This man is a failure in all way. He was BRTA chairman. That was shame of a record. I don’t know why BNP can’t find a good new fresh face, young blood. There are so many business leader from N Ganj, so many sports stars. Every time I see him walking along Narayanganj roads, he reminds me of the Zombies at the TV series “the Walking Dead”.

BNP must know that if they keep on relying on these Zombies, whatever misrule Awami League exerts on Bangladesh, they have no chance of winning back Bangladesh.

In CCC election an ex Awami Leagues, soft spoken clean image candidate helped BNP regain CCC mayoral seat.

In that context BNP needed Selina Hayat Ivy as their candidate. An honest, smart and bold young woman. In several debates I watched in TV, she was only one who talked some sense and was found to understand what it means to be a city corporation Mayor.

The latest news from Narayanganj tells us that Government decided to ignore Election Commissions request to deploy Armed forces for election eve / day violence prevention.

What will happen in Narayanganj on the election day — no one except the God and Sheikh Hasina can tell. But this blogger can assume that the election day events will be based on which advisor Sheikh Hasina listened to.

It could be a repeat of Bhola, which will be impeccably hidden under the carpet by a submissive friendly media ( In Bhola style). Shamim Osman will just rob the election by forcefully bagging 99% of rural Narayanganj vote.

Or if Mrs. Hasina this time listens to a different advisor, it could be an “apparent” fair election with Sheikh Hasina niece Ivy winning against Shamim Osman. That means civil society is managed for the time being and for next national election, a good example has just been created — ” FOR HOLDING A FREE AND FAIR ELECTION, NEITHER WE NEED A CARE TAKER GOVERNMENT NOR MILITARY DEPLOYMENT”.

After evoking strong reactions, Dr. Manmohan Singh’s office has redacted his comments about Bangladesh from the official PMO website. Indian newspapers initially reported that the Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh had been summoned to the Foreign Ministry to explain those comments, although both the Indian and Bangladeshi officials are denying that at present. It would be extremely out-of-character for the current government to make such a strong move over these comments; so we should probably, just this once, take Mijarul Quayes’s word for it.

While the “25% of Bangladeshis support Jamaat” portion grabbed the most interest, Dr. Singh’s comments about Indian aid to Bangladesh was also intriguing. Here is what he said:

And that is why we have been generous in dealing with Bangladesh. We are not a rich country. But we offered it a line of credit of one billion dollars, when Sheikh Hasina came here.

To Dr. Singh, one billion dollars in line of credit to Bangladesh seems extremely generous. Keep in mind, Bangladesh has not received a single of those billion dollars do far. Moreover, let’s compare India’s treatment of Bangladesh to its treatment of Afghanistan:

•$100 million grant
•$70 million grant to build the Zarang-Delaram Highway
•$200,000 to the World Bank’s Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund
•$4 million grant to repair and build the Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health in Kabul
•$4 million grant to build the Habibba School
•$52 million to the World Food Programme, for Afghanistan and Iraq
•$25 million to build the Afghan parliament in Kabul
•A gift of 3 Airbus airplanes to Ariana, the Afghan national carrier.

While these don’t add up to a billion dollars, keep in mind that the aid given to Afghanistan is through grants, which does not have to be repaid. The line of credit extended to Bangladesh, on the other hand, is credit, that must be paid back, with interest. Moreover, virtually almost all the credit has to be used to hire Indian firms and buy Indian goods.

How generous.

The Indian Foreign Minister, S. M. Krishna, is scheduled to visit Bangladesh soon, a point also mentioned by Manmohan in his comments. Yet, Krishna’s name figures high in the name of those who are expected to lose their jobs in the coming cabinet reshuffle. Intriguingly, part of the reason that Krishna may be fired comes from allegations of corruption regarding lines of credit extended by Indian to neighbouring countries, including Bangladesh:

The controversy (the [Ministry of External Affairs] has scarcely ever been dogged by the C-word) revolves around the award of contracts for projects and the line of credit, worth a few billions of rupees, extended to neighbouring countries, particularly Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, and in Africa. This is said to have led to the shifting out of joint secretary T.S. Tirumurti, who till recently headed the Bangladesh-Sri Lanka-Myanmar-Maldives division (commonly known as BSM)…

But soon enough, what had earlier just smelt fishy now began to toss up evidence of the actual corruption. A few days after [the construction of a housing project in Sri Lanka through an Indian line of credit] was given the green signal, senior officials from the other two public sector entities called the BSM enquiring whether the [Ministry] expected a cut from the project. When asked for reasons, PSU officials disclosed that a businessman, claiming to be close to [the Foreign Minister’s advisor], was demanding a cut. The BSM division promptly replied that its expectations were a “zero cut” from the housing project, and the businessman was asked to buzz off…

MEA officials counter that [a Joint Secretary was removed] because he would have insisted on stringent scrutiny of another line of credit pending in Bangladesh, where India is scheduled to build a railway line. (A line of credit is an MEA programme which has India finance a project in another country, with 85 per cent of it executed by Indian companies.)

Despite what Manmohan Singh may think, Bangladesh can get along perfectly well without his precious line of credit. And, if it turns out, that the money of Bangladeshi taxpayers is going to fuel corruption in India, then it would probably be better to cancel the line of credit altogether.

Now, how about sending some of that grant money our way?

In 2003-04, when Petrobangla faced an arbitration case against Petroleum giant Cairns in the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), the lawyers who were selected to represent Bangladesh and PetroBangla had no experience in international commercial arbitration. The second Khaleda Zia government made that selection based on the lawyers pro-BNP lebel. The result was expected, PetroBangla lost the winnable case and Bangladesh lost a substantial amount of money. The defeat was attributed to poor legal representation and lack of understanding between Petrobangla and its lawyers.
However, in early 90s Bangladesh government and petrobangla won an international arbitration against Canadian petroleum giant Scimitar. The lawyer representing Bangladesh Government was Dr Kamal Hossain and Associates.

So, when Bangladesh was again forced to go to the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in March, 2006 for another dispute involving Chevron, Dr Kamal Hossain Associates were called back in to represent Bangladesh and PetroBangla. The hearing took place between 2007-2009. Although similar case against Cairns went against Bangladesh in 2004, this time the international arbitration court turned down US oil giant Chevron’s claim of around $240 million from Petrobangla. Dr Hossain’s able representation did not only save Bangladesh $240 million dollars of back pay, it also ensured $320 million more savings over the next 20 years contract period.

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Today’s News:

Reception for murder suspects on bail
Fri, Mar 11th, 2011 12:26 am BdST
Natore, Mar 10 (bdnews24.com) — The 11 men accused of an opposition leader’s murder have been given a grand reception after they were released on bail.

Suspects of Sanaullah Nur Babu’s murder were released from Natore Jail on Thursday evening after a High Court order on Mar 6 granted them bail. The victim’s family expressed alarm and dismay at the incident.

Local Awami League leaders received them with garlands at the jail gate around 7pm and later took them on a motorcade for a reception where they issued a 72-hour ultimatum to the witnesses.

The accused are Russel Hosain alias ‘Rappu’, Mohammad Rezaul Karim alias Rikon, 25; Hashem Mridha, 34; Gautam Ghosh, 22; Abdul Khaleque, 28; ‘Habib’, 24′ Bablu Molla, 24, Babu Molla, 25, Badsha Mandal, Ashraful Islam and Lutfar Rahman.

A High Court bench of justices Shamsul Huda and Abu Bakar Siddiqui granted their bail on Mar 6 subject to Natore’s chief judicial magistrate’s satisfaction.

Lawyer of the accused, Arifur Rahman, submitted the bail orders to chief judicial magistrate Mohammad Sharif Uddin on Thursday morning and the bails were granted for Tk 10,000 each.

On Oct 8 last year Baraigram Upazila chairman and BNP leader Sanaullah Noor Babu was chopped and beaten in public when the local BNP brought out a procession as part of the party’s month-long protest. Babu later died in the hospital.

At the reception ceremony the prime suspects, district Awami League publication and research secretary Zakir Hossain, said, “We did not kill Babu. But some people in Banpara have held meetings, processions, human chains demanding our punishment.”

“Within seven days the Banpara businessmen will have to prove we were involved in this murder. Otherwise, we vow that we will judge them ourselves.”

Another accused, Khokon Molla, said, “Not seven days, they will have to prove it within 72 hours. Otherwise actions will be taken against them.”

He also alleged that the video depicting the incident of the murder was a fake one. “It was doctored by the media. The video shows fake images,” he claimed.

BABU’S WIFE ALARMED

Mahua Noor alleged that she had been threatened to withdraw the case.

“They have threatened that they won’t let me out of my house. Those who did not receive bail are roaming around free…I can’t think where to seek shelter with my children. Perhaps we’ll have to run away from the country,” she said.

REACTION ON THE BAILS

Prime witness in the case Baraigram Juba Dal president Sardar Rafique told bdnews24.com, “I am frustrated at the confidence the accused are exuberating. Right after the reception, they called me and said ‘your wife will be made a widow just like Babu’s. You’ll soon find out the consequences of becoming a witness’.”

District Awami League president Sajedur Rahman Khan called the reception “a wrong thing to do”. “Whoever did it, didn’t inform us.”

Upazila BNP general secretary Hazrat Ali said it had become a lawless country. “Otherwise how are the murder accused are able to hold a reception while the case is still under trial?”

Criminal Investigation Department (CID) inspector Ahmad Ali is investigating the case. Even Five months after the incident, he has been unable to submit any investigation report to the court.

bdnews24.com/corr/sh/ta/nir/2306h

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Flash Back:

Elected Chairman of northern district Natore Upazilla Mr Sanaullah Nur Babu was murdered in a public place in broad daylight. The above video footage clearly identifies person committing the murder as local Awami League activists under clearly identified leadership of local leader Mr. Zakir.

This Mr Zakir has never been arrested after PM Hasina publicly defended him and putting the blame on BNPs’s internal conflict.

Out of the other killers, some were arrested only to be released on bail and given reception today.
No investigation or charge has yet been made in this murder.

While our top judiciary were busy protecting their মান সম্মান (respect) by jailing, punishing and fining editors, newspaper reporter and publisher, it looks like the ‘public’ has spoken out. There is a local saying, পাবলিকের মুখ তো আর বন্ধ কইরা রাখতে পারবেন না… one can gag the media by jailing maverick editors, but whatever powerful one may be, no one can keep the general public from speaking out.

Exactly this is what happened to our high judiciary. Bangladesh chapter of Berlin based Transparency International conducted a household survey about their perception of corruption in different service sector in Bangladesh. In that survey, Bangladesh’s top judiciary was deemed most corrupt, even superseding Bangladesh’s notorious police force.

It is true a better perception should not have been expected when the high judiciary in Bangladesh is now led by shamelessly partisan, hypocrite, academically ill and misinformed Judge, Mr Khairul Haque. It matters a little how or what the leadership of our higher court feels about this demeaning public perception. But it is important to emphasize that after this, the judiciary does not have any moral right to keep dissident editor Mr Mahmudur Rahman in jail. Reporter Oliullah Noman, who already served a jail sentence, deserves an apology from this judiciary.

One may ask why public perception about the integrity of our judiciary did give such a nosedive. For them the story below should be enough to describe the state of our judiciary.

গত ১৩ নভেম্বর মতিঝিল থানায় দায়ের করা গাড়ি ভাঙচুর মামলায় বাংলাদেশ জামায়াতে ইসলামীর ঢাকা মহানগর আমীর রফিকুল ইসলাম খানকে গ্রেফতার দেখিয়ে জিজ্ঞাসাবাদের জন্য সাত দিনের রিমান্ডের আবেদন করেছেন মামলার তদন্ত কর্মকর্তা মতিঝিল থানার এসআই। আদালতের নথিতে রয়েছে, রফিকুল ইসলাম খান গত ২৫ আগস্ট থেকে সরকারের হেফাজতে ঢাকা কেন্দ্রীয় কারাগার এবং ঢাকা মহানগর ডিবি কার্যালয়ে আটক রয়েছেন। আদালতের কাছে এ নথি সংরক্ষিত থাকা সত্ত্বেও পুলিশের করা এ মিথ্যা মামলায় রফিকুল ইসলাম খানের জামিন নামঞ্জুর করে তাকে কারাগারে পাঠানো হয়েছে। পল্টন থানার একই ধরনের অন্য একটি মামলায় তিন দিন রিমান্ড শেষে রফিকুল ইসলাম খানকে ২১ ডিসেম্বর ঢাকা সিএমএম আদালতে হাজির করা হয়। রিমান্ড আবেদনে বলা হয়, রফিকুল ইসলাম খান গত ১৩ নভেম্বর সন্ধ্যায় নটর ডেম কলেজের সামনে নিজ দলের নেতাকর্মীদের নিয়ে সশরীরে হাজির হয়ে একটি যাত্রীবাহী বাস থেকে যাত্রীদের টেনেহিঁচড়ে নামিয়ে বাসটি ভাঙচুর করেন। একই সাথে আসামি নিজ হাতে গাড়িটিতে আগুন ধরিয়ে দেন। দাউ দাউ করে বাসটি জ্বলতে থাকলে মতিঝিল থানা থেকে ঘটনাস্খলে গিয়ে তাকে দৌড়ে পালিয়ে যেতে দেখা গেছে। পুলিশের চোখ ফাঁকি দিয়ে তিনি দীর্ঘ দিন পলাতক ছিলেন। গাড়ি ভাঙচুর ও আগুন দেয়ার সময় তার সাথে যারা ছিল তাদের নাম-ঠিকানা জানতে তাকে সাত দিন পুলিশের হেফাজতে রাখা প্রয়োজন।

রফিকের আইনজীবীরা আদালতে বলেন, মামলা দায়ের হয়েছে ১৩ নভেম্বর। ঘটনাও ঘটেছে ওই দিন। ফরোয়ার্ডিংয়ে বলা হয়েছে, গাড়ি ভাঙচুর ও পোড়ানোর ব্যাপারে তিনি স্বয়ং হাজির থেকে নেতৃত্ব দিয়েছেন। তিনি নিজ হাতে আগুনও দিয়েছেন। অথচ এ ঘটনার দুই মাস ১৮ দিন আগে ২৫ আগস্ট রফিককে গ্রেফতার করা হয়েছে। ওই দিন থেকে তিনি কারা ও ডিবি পুলিশের হেফাজতে রয়েছেন। কাজেই রিমান্ড তো দূরের কথা, এ মামলাই গ্রহণযোগ্য নয়।

আদালত আসামিপক্ষের আইনজীবীদের তাদের বক্তব্যের সপক্ষে তথ্যপ্রমাণ দিতে বলেন। আইনজীবীরা রফিকের গ্রেফতার হওয়ার পর আদালতের বিভিন্ন তারিখের আদেশ ও এর আগে রিমান্ডের কাগজপত্র পেশ করেন। তারা উচ্চ আদালতের একটি আদেশনামাও পেশ করেন। এতে উল্লেখ রয়েছে, রফিক গত ২৫ আগস্ট থেকে সরকারের হেফাজতে রয়েছেন। তথ্যপ্রমাণের ভিত্তিতে আসামিপক্ষের দাবিই সঠিক এবং পুলিশের মামলাটি মিথ্যা বলে প্রমাণিত হয়।

লজ্জার বিষয়, দলীয় তাগিদে পেশাগত নৈতিকতা জলাঞ্জলি দিয়ে মিথ্যাচারেও পিছপা হলেন না সরকারপক্ষীয় আইনজীবীরা। তারা আদালতকে বললেন, পুলিশ যে মামলা দিয়েছে তা সঠিক। আসামিকে রিমান্ড থেকে বাঁচানোর জন্য তার আইনজীবীরা আদালতে মিথ্যা তথ্য দিয়ে আদালতকে বিভ্রান্ত করছে। এক পর্যায়ে আদালতের বিচারক অতিরিক্ত মহানগর ম্যাজিস্ট্রেট মো: আলী হোসাইন এজলাস ছেড়ে খাস কামরায় চলে যান। খাস কামরায় বসেই তিনি রিমান্ড আবেদন নামঞ্জুর করেন। একই সাথে জামিনের আবেদনও নাকচ করে দিয়ে তাকে কারাগারে পাঠানোর আদেশ দেয়া হয়।

In a nutshell, a senior leader of political party Jamaat has been under arrest since 25th August. The whole country knows about it. As the cases against him are not that strong and to extend his jail term or to make him confess to something specific, government’s law men needed to bring him back to remand ( Questioning/ torture time). For this reason a request was made to Dhaka district CMM court to grant ten days remand and continued incarceration on the ground that this leader himself burnt buses on 13th November. Per police request, police officials themselves saw that this specific leader was setting fire to a bus and while the bus was set ablaze, he ran away.  And since then he was hiding until 21st December when he was produced before this Choef Metropolitan Magistrate Court. While defendant’s lawyers informed the judge that the defendant in under arrest from 25th August and produced all the paper works in support of their claim, the government lawyers response was that the paper-works were false and fabricated.  The honorable Judge, after being satisfied with government lawyers’ incredible argument, granted maximum ten days remand of the defendant and also approved continued incarceration. ( He even did not bother to ask why continued imprisonment need to be granted if he was indeed not in jail until now).

প্রয়াত পটুয়া কামরুল হাসান একজন শিল্পী ছিলেন আপাদমস্তক. যা ভেবেছেন সত্য সুন্দর ন্যায়, তার জন্য লড়াই করে গিয়েছেন আজীবন . তবে ‘ একজন দূরদৃষ্টি সম্পন্ন রাজনৈতিক ভাষ্যকার’ এভাবে তাকে কখনো ভাবা হয়নি. আমার জানা মতে. এরশাদ বিরোধী গণআন্দোলনের মাঝ পর্যায়ে এসে পটুয়া কামরুল আঁকেন বিশ্ববেহায়ার বিখ্যাত ছবি . 

কামরুল যা বুঝেছিলেন আশির দশকে, আমরা তা আজও সত্য বলে টের পাচ্ছি সিকি শতাব্দী পরে এসেও. পতিত স্বৈরাচারী এরশাদ গতকাল এক অনুষ্ঠানে দশ ই নভেম্বর কে গণতন্ত্র দিবস বলে দাবি করেছেন এবং বাংলাদেশে গণতন্ত্র ফিরিয়ে আনার সব কৃতিত্ব দাবি করেছেন. সবচেয়ে ঘৃণ্য ক্রূর পশুর ও এর চেয়ে বেশী চক্ষুলজ্জা থাকে.

Yesterday was 23rd anniversary of the killing of Shahid Nur Hossain. Shahid Nur Hossain was in a political rally staged at Dhaka’s zero point to demand resignation of the illegal autocrat. Ershad’s police took aim at Nur Hossain, shot and killed him. Nut Hossain was easy target as his chest and back was marked with graffiti demanding fall of the autocrat and  rise of democracy ( গণতন্ত্র মুক্তি পাক, স্বৈরাচার নিপাত যাক).
Here is how celebrated photojournalist Pavel Rahman describes the event.

In the year 2000, according to Corruption Perception Index ( CPI) repoted by Berlin based Transparency International (TI), Nigeria was ” the most corrupt Country” in the World. Nigeria’s score was 1.2 and it ranked 90th among 90 countries surveyed.

How did Bangladesh do in 2000? Bangladesh was not even in the list of corrupt countries in 2000 ( Bangladeshi media will report this way). Fact is that Transparency International did not even start collecting and reporting data from Bangladesh.

Then came 2001. Data from Bangladesh started being reported in annual TI report. While 12 surveys were assayed in case India ( whose score was 2.7); one 3 indicators were assessed in case of newly included Bangladesh. Bangladesh’s score was a meager 0.4 and naturally Bangladesh earned the coveted 91st or last position. Interestingly, Nigeria improved by ranking, lowest to second lowest but it’s CPI score worsened from 1.2 to 1.

In 2001 report, Bangladesh scoring was so weak that TI had to add this caution at the end of it’s report,

“Data for this country in 2000 was available from only three independent survey sources, and each of these yielded very different results. While the composite score is 0.4, the range of individual survey results is from -1.7 to +3.8. This is a greater range than for any other country. TI stresses, therefore, that this result needs to be viewed with caution.”

In 2002 ten new countries were added to make it 102 and Bangladesh was again last (102nd) by scoring 1.2. 1.2 is a big improvement from 0.4 in 2001 but still only 5 survey sources were used with great number of variability between sources.

In 2003 Bangladesh’s score improved to 1.3 but Bangladesh still was at the bottom. Nigeria remained second while it’s scores dropping again.

In 2004 although Bangladesh continue to improve it’s score, now 1.5, Bangladesh shared the last ( 145th spot) with Haiti. Haiti’s score dropped from previous year.

In 2005, Bangladesh improved score further to 1.7 but still was at the bottom ( 158th) with Chad.

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Last week Police raided vernacular Daily Amar Desh, arrested its editor along with some senior journalists, locked up the office and the press that publishes the newspaper. Police cited some procedural flaws as reason for closing down the newspaper. Any reasonable reader will understand, if there was any procedural flaw it was government’s for not processing the application to change the publisher in reasonable time. Several media personnel and observers have stated that there was no flaw on Amardesh’s side and this was confirmed by summery dismissal of this government decision by the high court.

However although the newspaper is being republished now under high court order, there is fear among its journalists that government is trying to force a change of ownership and turn it into a meek pro government mouthpiece. As a part of the strategy, the editor and owner of the newspaper remains under police custody. District level judicial courts have allowed the government to take Mr Rahman away from Dhaka’s central Jail to undisclosed location for questioning. This kind of arrangement is known as ‘remand’ in Bangladesh. Political leaders belonging to all parties have confirmed in the past that remand means state conducted torture. It is very clear that if police has to ask Mr Rahman any question they can do it as much as they want to do it Dhaka central jail. The massive structure has facilities to conduct such interrogation. But the lower court judges, clearly under pressure, allowed the police to take him to an undisclosed location.

And Mr Rahman has confirmed the tortures on him while he was produced before court before a second phase of his total 12 days remand began. Mr Rahman, told the court under oath that he was taken to a place in Dhaka Military Garrison where he was first undressed. Then few unidentified person started beating him till he became unconscious. He told the court that no relevant question was ever asked to him. The partisan lawyer working on behalf of the government, when asked by media about the torture, replied that as Mr Rahman was able to walk and talk in the court, proving that it meant he was not tortured!

Mr Mahmudur Rahman’s plight confirms what the political observers in Bangladesh was fearing over the last year. Current Bangladesh government has a very intolerant attitude towards media. After several very bold reporting of corruption and double standard by this government was published in Daily Amardesh, most veteran political analysts in Bangladesh knew that this Awami League government will not tolerate this sort of reporting. Mr Shafiq Rehman is a legendary journalists, whose weekly, Jaijaidin, was banned twice by the military dictator Ershad in 80s, and who had to flee the country for fear of persecution by the dictator. He recently wrote, after the Amar Desh event, that he learnt that this government had two priorities; evicting opposition leader Khaleda Zia from her home and arresting editor Mr Mahmudur Rahman for daring to expose high level corruption in the government.

From the acts of shutting down TV channels for showing footage of rigging in bye election, closing down newspaper for publishing government documents accusing Prime Minister’s son of corruption and putting a tight gag on TV talk shows, it is clear that this elected government has decided to run a rule of fear and suppression. This is very worrisome. But more worrisome is the fact that the government started all this within only 18 months of its rule. That means worse days await Bangladesh in the upcoming 3 1/2 years.

About ten years ago, Zafar Iqbal wrote a piece in the Prothom Alo. While commenting on the general political situation, he noted that it was not true, as many people insisted, that all politicians had become corrupt and devoid of principles. As an example, Iqbal cited a member of Parliament who had recently been on the same flight with him. Upon arriving at ZIA, Iqbal recounted, he had expected a big, shiny SUV to come and pick the other person up. Instead, the lawmaker had suggested that they walk a little distance from the airport before getting a scooter, because the scooters right in front of the airport charged inflated fares.

At that time, Iqbal kept secret the identity of this person. However, in the subsequent years, it became known that he was talking about Nurul Islam Nahid, then a lawmaker from Sylhet and chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education. No one would dispute Iqbal’s characterization of Nahid as an honest and principled person. Currently the Minister of Education, he belongs to the select group of Bangladeshi politicians who are doubly on the side of the angels: aside from being an AL politician, he also has a distinguished record of service on behalf of the Left, which means that he has a ready-made fan base amongst Bangladesh’s media personnel.
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The recent controversy on Chevron deal and the follow up political rumblings surrounding the PM’s son and her energy advisor on one side and Amar Desh editor on the other side has captivated nation’s attention for the last few weeks. While we debate how freedom of speech is being used to trash political opponents, or how political thuggery is trying to gag free speech, the very important issue of a specific corruption allegation is getting crowded out.

 Let’s keep Mr Sajib Wajed or Mr Mahmudur Rahman out of the issue. Mahmudur rahman is making full use of the victimhood, and his showmanship on this issue is ugly. And Mr Wajed is also dragged in this issue unnecessarily or prematurely. It is an unfortunate fact of life for the children of politicians of Bangladesh and beyond that they are always under close scrutiny and often victim of rampant character assassination attempts.

 However, leaving these individuals aside, we are still left with a specific corruption allegation that has merit enough to demand further discussion and scrutiny. Amar Desh reports a specific corruption report with copies of leaked official correspondence.

The specifics of the corruption allegation are self revealing. A $52 million job was allocated to Chevron without required transparency that includes a tender process. And while protesting the report, PM’s energy advisor repeatedly misrepresented facts. While he said there was no bid in three tenders, the fact is that the Government cancelled earlier lowest bid from Korean Company Hyundai only to award the job to Chevron. He also lied about his agenda for the US trip.

Instead of relying on Amar Desh, let’s turn to the premiere newspaper of Bangladesh, the Daily Star.    The Daily Star printed at least seven reports on this specific issue. (Interestingly, while Amar Desh report is based on government documents, the Daily Star series report, as usual, is based on unnamed sources.  But let’s leave this aside, as no one would accuse the Daily Star of partisan hatred of the current government, or Mr Mahfuz Anam, its editor, of ugly showmanship.

On April 11 2009, the Daily Star warned that a compressor station for gas distribution pipeline was being planned to be awarded to Chevron which would “… unduly give Chevron the authority to control major chunk of the country’s gas distribution system. This will definitely create a number of serious legal complications over the authority and ownership of the compressor station and the distribution pipeline” .

Another follow up report published on June 21 2009 quotes a gas transmission expert: “Even if we accept the idea of pumping PSC investment in compressor, I say Muchai gets no priority for a compressor station now. Because of high volume of gas produced by Chevron, the gas pressure at Muchai and onwards is 1024 pressure per inch (PSI). This pressure will stay for a couple of years at this point. But we need a compressor at Ashuganj where the pressure drops to 700-800psi. A number of new plants are being set up close to the Ashuganj pipeline system. Then why prioritise Muchai now?”

The same report also quotes another official: “Petrobangla’s extreme reliance on foreign investment in the gas sector has already created a precarious situation for the national exchequer. The cost of gas is now very high because foreign companies are producing more gas than the national companies which have been denied adequate funds for their healthy growth”.

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 Update 03/19/10: Sajeeb Wazed Joy accused of running illegal VOIP operations by Opposition Chief Whip Zoinul Abedin Faroque MP. Cases filed against Faroque all over the country; arrest warrant issued against him. Government launches anti-VOIP drive against private telephone operators. 

Update 12/21/09: Advisor Dr. Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury just muddied the waters, even further today, blatantly and categorically lying about his trip to the United States at the press conference.

When asked about his trip:

Dr. Chowdhury said that he did not do anything except for participate in an expatriate (BDI) conference.

However, this press release from the Bangladeshi Embassy in Washington DC (page 15 of 18) shows that he came down to Washington DC the day after the conference closed, had meetings at the Department of Energy, and had lunch as the US Chamber of Commerce with, alongside others, officials from Chevron.

Original Post:

On 17th December, Amar Desh published a news report alleging that Sajeeb Wazed Joy, the son of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, took bribes from Chevron, the US power giant, with Advisor to the Prime Minister, Dr. Towfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury acting as the middleman. The report made these specific allegation:

1. This bribe was given in exchange for allowing Chevron to proceed with the installation of a $52 million compressor station. The installation of this compressor station was awarded to Chevron without inviting any tenders from competing bidders.

2. A $5 million bribe was taken from Chevron in exchange of this work-order.

3. Out of this amount, $2 milion was given to Sajeeb Wazed Joy by Dr. Towfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury on 14th October, 2009 at Texas.

4. The proposed compressor station is currently unnecessary.

5. The above allegation are made in a letter on Petobangla (state-run organization responsible for oil and gas exploration) stationery, which was sent to the Prime Minister’s office.

6. Subsequently, Petrobangla and the Ministry of Power, Energy, and Natural Resources exchanged letters about which organization should be the lead agency in investigating this matter.

The first thing to note about this report is that Amar Desh is not claiming to have found out this alleged corruption by themselves. Rather, they are claiming they have the copies of the specific documents that record these allegations and the subsequent exchange of letters between the two agencies (quiet understandable given the people involved). The allegations are extraordinarily detailed. They mention the project in which this alleged financial impropriety took place, the reason for the bribe, the amount of the bribe, and even the location where bribe was handed over. What is left unmentioned, but remains pertinent, is that Sheikh Hasina is the minister in charge of this ministry, and thus, bears direct responsibility for all activities and transactions in this ministry.

Now, had this been the end of the matter, the story would have died down in a couple of days. The editorial stance of Amar Desh is decidedly anti-government, and absent further developments, this story would have gone nowehere. However, this story was given further rleevance by the Awami League themselves.

At a discussion meeting held the day after this report was published, Awami League leaders roundly criticized this news report, and the newspaper publishing this report. The money quote would be from Jahangir Alam Nanak, Minister of State for Local Government and Rural Development, who addressed his comments directly to Mahmudur Rahman, the editor of Amar Desh: “Do not exceed the limits of our patience. If people get angry, you won’t be able to come out in public. You want to belittle Sajeeb Wazed Joy and rehabilitate Tareq Rahman? That will never happen.”

The over-the-top reaction from Awami League leaders was a fairly accurate representation of their tolerance of negative press. No one has the right to threaten a newspaper and its editor simply because a report containing an allegation of corruption is published. One suspects that with the negative news emanating from the Copenhagen where Prime Minister Sheikh Hasins is currently leading a high-profile delegation (although a final deal will definitely materialize), the stripping of Jatiyo Party MP Abul Kashem of his post by the High Court, the news about Jubo League men beating up two reporters in Bogra, the Supreme Court holding the appointment of the Law Secretary illegal, the fact that disqualified MP Jasimuddin is still drawing benefits from the Parliament Secretariat, and pressure mounting in the government to stop extra-judicial “crossfire” murders and bring RAB under accountability, the government and the ruling party was already buffeted by an extremely negative news cycle. Meanwhile, the opposition BNP appears rejuvenated after its successful council. The Amar Desh report was the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back.

 Today, Amar Desh published the rejoinder that the government sent in, and its own response to the rejoinder. The government rejoinder does not address the main allegations raised in the news report. As Amar Desh’s response correctly notes, the newspaper is not pulling these facts out of thin air. They claim to have copies of the documents that detail this allegation and the subsequent bureaucratic hissy-fit. The governemnt’s rejoinder ignores the initial complaint sent from Petrobangla, and whether the accusations made in that letter were true.

Assuming that these allegations are completely false, it should be an easy matter to disprove them. They can be rebutted point-by-point. One hopes that that is the path the government takes; rather than resorting to jingoistic threats against journalistic independence. This is also a good point to remind ourselves that we are all innocent until proven guilty, and those who are proved innocent can then, in turn, bring their own claims in a court of law. Also, such allegations are rather a rather common occurrence in democracies. Factual inquiries should be met by facts, and facts alone. Along that path lies democratic maturity.

Thu, Jan 29th, 2009 12:12 am BdST
bdnews24.com correspondent

Dhaka, Jan 28 (bdnews24.com) – The Election Commission has requested banks and other institutions not to make national identity cards mandatory for their services, as an estimated 15 million eligible citizens are yet to get their cards, an EC official said on Wednesday.

“The EC has already written to the Cabinet Division, Bangladesh Bank, secretary to the President’s office, all ministries, divisions and relevant organisations not to make the national ID card compulsory for opening bank accounts, getting credit and other services,” EC secretary Humayun Kabir told bdnews24.com.

“The Commission took the decision because ID cards have not reached all and a gazette notification by the government is also still awaited.

“Some 20-30 percent of eligible citizens, or 15 million people, have yet to receive their cards for reasons ranging from failing to register as voters or non-collection of cards issued.”

At least 20 percent of more than 80 million registered voters have not collected their cards, he said.

“Mistakes in the cards already issued are another problem,” he said.

“Moreover, the government hasn’t yet issued a gazette notification making the cards ‘mandatory’,” said Kabir.

The National Identity Authorities Ordinance 2008 requires the government to issue the gazette to make the ID cards compulsory.

Director of the National Identity Card Project, Brig Gen Shahadat Hossain Chowdhury, told bdnews24.com, “The project will start updating the voter list with photos and distributing the national ID cards afresh, if the government asks.”

“Pilot programmes will be undertaken before updating the voter list and national ID card project. The first such pilots will be done in places around Dhaka,” said Kabir.

According to the Voter List Ordinance, updating should be done annually during the month of January.

“But because of the national and Upazila polls, the Election Commission could not do the job within the timeframe this year,” said the EC secretary.

The fresh updating will start after the City Corporation elections in Dhaka and Chittagong and subsequent municipal elections, starting in April, he said.

**********************************************
That what about the claim that this Godsent voter list prevented 15 million fake voters?

Anti Corruption Commission Chief Lt Gen Hassan Mashud Chowdhury claims that he is never afraid of resigning and he carries a letter of resignation in his shirt pocket. Looks like it is about time he takes the letter out of pocket and submit to relevant authorities.

The recent activity of ACC regarding a so called frozen account in Singapore was apparently an attempt to inflict a last moment election manipulating shock. This is called October surprise in US politics. By doing this the ACC has again proved that it has been working as a pawn and political tool in favor of the military chief Moeen controlled caretaker government. In the previous instances people gave them benefit of doubt, but this time it was blatant and brazen violation minimal decency and law of the land.

The problem is not that it worked against Arafat Rahman, it has the right to do so and it should investigate any suspect irrespective of who they are. But the problem is the way they did it. 7 days before election they presented a case against Arafat Rahman. They presented the story of a frozen account by quoting Singapore government. They did not say when the info was obtained and what was the proof that the company belonged to Arafat. The most mind boggling part of the story was that, they called press conference, narrated the crime and then they declared that they were starting an investigation on it soon. If they had not yet started an investigation why they would inform the nation of the crime. What if the investigation concludes that the allegations of money laundering was false?

Will Gen Hasan Mashud Chowdhury be able to revert the effect of his deed on the election? How can he now deny that he used ACC as a tool to harass politicians all along.

It is about the time for him to leave the sacred duties he does not deserve. Please bring that letter out of your pocket and let anti corruption commission work independently.

The military coup of 11 January 2007 is unique in modern history. This is probably the first of a kind where a military coup took place under an impeccable disguise of diplomat supported media sponsored military enforced civil society takeover. Martial law usually follows Military coups and this special constitutional provision of martial law usually provides the very important legal and political protection of the coup leaders.

The problem with 1/11 was that although the coup, thanks to co-conspirator media, was very easy; in the after math, the legal-political protection of martial law was not there. This was, IMO, was the most challenging side of the disguised military coup of 1/11.

There is no martial law; it means that the authority has to use the prevailing laws and processes to achieve the effect of martial law.

Initially a subservient chief justice served the purpose quite effectively. The state of affairs is a bit muddy these days with the ascension of a new chief justice. It will be a matter of time before we will know whether the new CJ will continue to follow the order of the General. (After all, you only can offer presidency to only one person, not two).

In the meantime, in addition to the hiring the chief justice to work as the military government’s button man, the ruling military authority has also engaged a multiple layer of safety network. The layers include, among others,

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Dhaka Mayor Sadeq Hossain Khoka has just been sued by Bangladesh anti corruption Commission for alleged corruption.
With this law suit a pattern is completed. All the mayors of all the major metropolitan cities in Bangladesh is officially charghed with corruption. All, except Dhaka Mayor, are in jail now.
Surprisingly many of the mayors had a clean image prior to starting this Mayoral assignment. Most big city Mayors served governments in other capacities in the past and there have not been major corruption charges against them.

This suggests that there must be a serious problem in the system itself. Just prosecuting the Mayors will probably not do any long term benefit to the country. Once we jail these 6 mayors, tomorrow there will be six new clean faces__ be it Rizvi, be it Badsha, be it Saber, be it Hannan… . Unless we change the factors those facilitate corruption in the local government systems, six years down there will be six new corrupt faces who were otherwise clean.

Instead of Hasan Mashud-Hanif Iqbal destructive, trigger happy approach; a saner approach would have been to hold a public hearing, set up an all inclusive task forces, work with the current mayors, publish white papers and the try to fix the local government systems. Those generals and Colonels should know that the territory they are in now is a civilian territory. It is not a war zone where they will kill the enemy first, destroy the city then and leave the job of reconstruction to be done by the civilians later.

The approach must prefer engagement over shunning. The goal will be to do the fact finding research first, let the public know via white papers, have their input in how to fix the systems and then fix the system with everybody’s cooperation including the sitting mayors who know the system better than anyone else. Punishment? Publish the white paper with proof of crimes and let the public be the judge in the upcoming elections.

I am surprised that this disturbing bit of news was abandoned by Bangladeshi blogosphere as well as the print and electronic media.

In an attempt to make Bnagladesh look civilized, the civil society-military government has decided to start arresting beggers from the street.

And the free judiciary was gung ho to hand the poor begegr a jail sentence!

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New Age editor Nurul KAbir had this to say about this bizarre move of the government:

…the military-propelled government of Dr Fakhruddin Ahmed has, indeed, established ‘rule of law’ in the country! His police on Saturday reportedly arrested two persons, one a hapless nonagenarian and the other a physically challenged man in his thirties, from a Dhaka street on charge of begging. …

…If the poor foodless, homeless beggars are to serve jail terms for creating nuisance on our city streets, then what punishment is due to the rich policymakers for begging in the big capital cities of the world, and that too by humiliating the entire nation?
…..

… The growing number of beggars, visible in the metropolitan cities and small townships, is the direct consequence of the governmental failure to manage the national economy properly. And if the government continues to fail to effectively manage the national economy towards a pro-people direction, and there is hardly any sign of success yet, the number of beggars in the cities, the towns and the villages would continue to grow. And, if the government continues to pursue the policy of jailing the beggars, it may have to declare the larger part of the country, if not the entire one, a national prison…

Lead news of different print media in Dhaka today was that of the ten years imprisonment of businessman Giausuddin Mamun. Like previous cases of conviction, todays news item also did not include the detail of the charges or judicial analysis of the judgement. The Daily Star reporting of today was typical such effort. Naturally it gave this news the top news treatment. Except stating  that the judge “…delivered the verdict just in a minute saying the allegations brought against Mamun and his wife have been proved”, the reporting did not bother to even mention the accusitions that culminated in this sentence. And typical of Daily Star-Prothom ALo, another reporting, full of unsubstatiated rhetorics  already published in DS several times, accompanied this report.

 This is really a sorry state of affair and condemnable journalistic ethics. Newspapers are having a field day on their innovative news creation, the judges are not bothering to explain the justification of their sentence, after closed door proceedings, the accused are being thrown in a jail cell for 10, 20, 30 years. Everything is going on smoothly except for the fact that their is a total denial of the right of the accused to defend themselves or make their case in front of the nation.

 

I recently got hold of the following document that was presented to defend former state minister Mr. Iqbal Hasan Mahmood, who was arrested along with his wife, student son and teenage daughter. I am publishing it here for my readers. This document was specifically prepared for  Mr. Mahmood. But certain facts mentioned here will shed light on several much talked about allegations against many politicians of previous government.

  

The Case of Iqbal Hassan Mahmood

View from a different perspective

The Difference

The media in the country is currently full of stories of corruption by politicians of every hue. The latter are being accused and found guilty of misuse of official position for personal gain, bribery, extortion, misappropriation of public funds in development projects, abuse of relief materials, being a habitual bank defaulter and becoming immensely rich through illegal means during the last five years.

However, the case of Iqbal Hassan Mahmood, former Minister of State in charge of the Power Division of GOB is different in more than one ways. Thus:

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