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     Volume 6 Issue 41 | October 26, 2007 |

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View from the Bottom

Bangkok Banter

Shahnoor Wahid

If you go to Bangkok today you will find many overweight Bangladeshi people holed up in various hotels and hospitals along with their overweight wives and overweight children. You will find them talking constantly on their cell phones. Stand a little closer and you will hear them giving instructions to their secretaries, legal advisers, drivers and musclemen back in Bangladesh. If you are lucky enough you might even hear them giving threats to their opponents! These people don't care two hoots about the people around them and talk in a voice too loud to be called decent. You will find them doing business, giving instructions to their bankers on financial transactions over cell phones.

This is not a scene from a cheap movie but a real life drama witnessed by a Bangladeshi university professor who spent one week in a hospital in Bangkok and overheard many interesting Trans-Asian conversations free of cost. He was aghast at the way those overweight Bangladeshis treated hospital attendants, as if we didn't have enough bad publicity. The university professor felt extremely uncomfortable to introduce himself as a Bangladeshi when he witnessed how politely citizens of other countries in the same hospital behaved with the locals. The polite and humble attitude of Thai attendants was in sharp contrast to the crass behaviour of the Bangladeshis.

Who are these people, you may ask? They are none other than some of our “five star thieves” who created history in Bangladesh by looting public property many more times than Mahmud of Gazni looting of the famous Shomnath Temple.

The respectable professor watched in dismay how the godfathers of murderers and looters of public money, land, water-body, canals, riverbanks and relief materials showed not an iota of remorse as they gleefully went out with family members on countless shopping escapades. Rather they imparted the feeling that they had not violated any law of the land, and as the public representatives whatever they had done while in power was part of politics. To a large extent those politicians were blissfully oblivious of the parameters of morality and immorality, good and bad, divine and evil, good governance and bad governance, lawfulness and lawlessness. From their callous and reckless behaviour it became forthright to the decent Bangladeshi teacher that there would be or could be no such thing as reform in the political culture of Bangladesh, no matter how hard the caretaker government or civil society tried. The cancer of corruption has reached the core of the system and there is no way it can be saved. Today, the professor is contemplating taking the most painful decision of his life. He, after reaching the middle-rung of his bright career as a teacher, is now thinking of leaving the country for good.

So, dear readers, be prepared to be invaded once again, rather again and again, by a swarm of illiterate and ill-educated, ill-mannered, rowdy, roguish, malicious, wicked, wayward and unpatriotic people in the name of rajniti.

Think of it! Actually there is scope for students of psychology or political science to delve deep into the riddle - why do politicians go wayward once in power? It is happening all over the world, even in the rich countries of the Europe, Asia and the US. Why even a millionaire cannot resist the temptation of earning more money illegally when they become part of a government even though they can earn it legally from their business? And while making illegal money, why do they remain completely insensitive to the laws, moral teachings, ethics, values and legal procedures of civilised society?.


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