Corruption costlier for politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen

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Dhaka, Sep 28 (UNI) Bangladesh's military-backed caretaker government chief Dr Fakhruddin Ahmed has said his government will make corruption costly for politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen alike.

''This is by no means an easy task, but we're committed to eradicate high-level corruption,'' he was quoted by independent UNB news agency as saying while delivering a lecture at Columbia University in New York today.

Chief Advisor Dr Ahmed's remarks came a day after his government published a latest list of 80 high-profile suspected corrupt politicians, businessmen and bureaucrats.

Already over a dozen of former ministers, MPs and businessmen were tried and sentenced by special anti-corruption courts here.

In his lecture Dr Ahmed pleaded for checks and balances in democracy to stop abuses of power and corruption, saying the caretaker government is working hard to develop zero tolerance against these vices.

''We must ensure that our people reap the benefits of economic growth. We're determined to re-institute the checks and balances of a functioning democracy,'' he said.

The lecture organised by the World Leaders' Forum was followed by a 30-minute question-answer session when students of Columbia University and others guests asked the Chief Advisor various questions.

Dr Ahmed told a questioner that the present caretaker government would not stay a day longer than necessary after the election.

He said two former Prime Ministers -- Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina --have been arrested under the law of the land and they will have access to the due process of law.

The Chief Advisor dispelled the notion that the political parties in Bangladesh will disappear in the wake of the arrests and convictions of senior leaders. He said new leaders will take the responsibilities of their parties.

Asked why Khaleda and Hasina have been kept in sub-jails, Dr Ahmed said the sub-jails have been set up in accordance with the jail code as it happened in the past too to accommodate the prisoners.

In reply to a question about the detention of people in an unknown place by military intelligence, the Chief Advisor said the arrests were made in accordance with the law and the accused were produced before the courts.

Asked about his own income tax, the Chief Advisor told a questioner that he has submitted his income tax return.

Earlier in his written statement, the Chief Advisor said democracy is a necessary but not sufficient condition for good governance. Citing examples, he said democratically elected governments in Bangladesh in the past 15 years failed to promote good governance and protect citizens' rights.

''We must accept that while democracy may take various forms and manifestations, its ultimate objective is always the same, the rule of law by the will of the people.'' Referring to Westminster type parliament democracy practiced in Bangladesh, he said, ''Winner-takes-all'' system of politics implies that winning an election brings nearly absolute power in a given district.

He said as the ''benefits'' of winning elections increase, so do the costs entailed in securing victory, this in turn fulfils the cycle by increasing the need for corruption once in office, in order to ensure successive electoral victories. ''A system so fundamentally corroded from within requires drastic remedies.'' He said the caretaker government is doing its best to purge the malady of corruption in order that the promise of democracy can be fulfilled and elected governments in the future will act for the public good instead of pursuing their own interests.

Dr Ahmed whose government launched a war on corruption said, ''Our government is thus working hard to develop zero tolerance against abuse of power and corruption.'' UNI

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