Something is Rotten in the State of Bangladesh
Bangladesh has faired poorly in the Transparency International's (TI) Annual Corruption Index 2005; of all the countries in the world that have been gleaned in the report, Bangladesh, along with war-ravaged Chad, has topped the list from the bottom. For Bangladesh the ignoble trophy of the "Champion in Corruption" comes fifth times in a row.
In 2001, in the run up to the last general elections, when the TI crowned the country for the first time, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its pet intelligentsia had made an election-winning issue out of it.
Sheikh Hasina and her five-year rule have led to this disaster, the BNP told voters in 2001: give us a chance, it will never happen, the party claimed. The BNP eventually won the elections and when the country was given the infamous title for the second time, the party heaved the blame at the caretaker government who ruled the country only for three months.
The BNP-led Four-party Alliance suddenly woke up to the idea that the country was, in fact, wrongly singled out; to exculpate Bangladesh of the "menace" of the TI, a bunch of loquacious ministers launched a smear campaign against the Berlin-based organisation.
Lately the zeal to "keep the country's image clean" has reached the optimum level; the parliament has formed a probe committee that, for its turn, has told the Communications Minister Nazmul Huda to provide it with "relevant documents regarding the recent TI report". The irony does not escape us: That Huda, who himself faces allegation of robbery, is going to help the BNP ward off the charge of leading the world's most corrupt government.
The Niko Saga Continues
The inferno at Tengratila has subsided to a mere ten percent though it still continues to blaze. Niko has completed drilling a relief well in the field to tackle this inferno, though the announcement has yet to be made as there are still gas leaks and flames present at the site. "The infernos triggered by gas leakage has now subsided by 80 to 90 percent and gas is escaping out of the soil at zero pressure. These are signs that the relief well is doing its job. But it's not yet absolutely safe. We can't say exactly when the situation will be absolutely safe for the people," said a source close to Niko's operation. Niko's incompetence has resulted in two rounds of blowouts in this field since January and July, causing the country to lose millions of takas. The blow-out in July took place while trying to seal the first well. "The present drilling also saw a number of serious operational hitches," the source added. It is interesting to notice that Niko was found disqualified to explore oil and gas in Bangladesh in an evaluation followed by the government during the second round block bidding.
It's time to rock the country with Half-trained cops
Some call it politics and some call it party-policy-adjustment. It seems that the police administration has reduced the training period for a few thousand policemen of different ranks in a desperate bid to make sure they are working in the field during the next general election.
The training period for the assistant superintendents of police (ASPs) has been reduced to nine months from one year, for the sub-inspectors (SI) to six months from one year and for constables to four months from six by shortening the syllabus.
About 3,600 ASPs, SIs and constables are receiving training at the Sardah Police Academy and police training centres (PTC) under the reduced programmes and about 200 police sergeants and 400 SIs will be recruited soon.
Besides, the government is planning to hold a special BCS examination only to recruit another 200 ASPs in a short time.
"The training periods have been shortened not only to ensure their [police officers in training] duty during the next general elections, but also to fill the vacant posts with the candidates favoured by the ruling alliance so that the next government, if formed by other parties, cannot recruit their men in two to three years," observed a retired top police officer.
Certain experts say that making the training period and course curriculum shorter would call into question the skill and quality of the new-comers in the police administration, which has already drawn a lot of flak for the poor performance of its men.
Top police officials, in reply, however, say that they have had to cut the training period due to a huge number of vacancies in the police, which force a massive workload on the rest. They, however, denied having shortened the course.
Usually, the SIs have to undergo a two-year practical training after a one-year training at the Sardah academy to have their jobs confirmed. Many have to take an additional few more months' training if the superintendents of police are not satisfied with their performance.
"The authorities have cut their academic and practical training in a way that they will be confirmed in their jobs by next August after one year of academic and practical training instead of three years and be able to work during the election," a senior police officer said, adding that such a cut in the syllabus would "definitely make them poor-quality cops".
Bringing Good News to Bush
Who knew that the slamming of a ban on Harket-ul-jihad Al-Islami (Huji) in Bangladesh would cheer the Bush administration in Washington! US president George W Bush seems not only to have noticed the the act of banning he also termed it as a "great decision". The president requested Bangladesh Ambassador to Washington Shamsher M Chowdhury to convey his appreciation to Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, a foreign ministry press release said on October 23.
In a brief discussion at the White House the ambassador appraised the US president of the steps taken "to uphold the image of Bangladesh" and "its continuous effort to root out terrorism from its soil". The discussion took place at a recent Iftar party hosted by the US president.
President Bush, who is leading a global "war on terror", could not help but agree that Bangladesh deserves due recognition and attention for its effort to eradicate terrorism and exercise the rule of law. Perhaps the Bush administration, in their effort to exchange niceties, has failed to do a bit of fact checking. It is the four party alliance who took so long to take a strong stance against the extremists who thrived under the very aegis of a number of partners in the alliance government. When the newsmen made their voice hoarse calling attention to the growing threats of militancy in Bangldesh, the government kept looking the other way. But in the end, the BNP and its partner seemed to have aligned themselves with the new Romans that the US has become. Bangladesh too now is a partner in the war against terror.
(R) thedailystar.net 2005