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     Volume 7 Issue 11 | March 14, 2008 |

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View from the Bottom

Tale of a Cliff-hanging King…

Shahnoor Wahid

It has come in some media that the cliff-hanging king of Nepal and his nikotattiyas (close relations) paid no electricity bills for months since the exchequer stopped paying such bills issuing instructions for the palace to pay them. What a pity! Bechara King! How disrespectful modern-day subjects are! It is a paltry sum, and the government should pay it without even bringing it to the Raja's notice! You want to hear about the figure? It is only US Dollar 6 lakh 80 thousand! Peanuts, peanuts, when it comes to kings, isn't it? Really, US Dollar 6 lakh 80 thousand should not make anyone go crazy, should it?

Well, at least it does not make us Bangladeshis go crazy because we have seen our netas and netris and public servants doing it with impunity for years together. They have lived like 'Rajas' in five-crore taka villas among starving, half-naked people of the constituency. They drove in two crore taka cars whereas only a few years ago they paid rickshaw fare by borrowing from a friend. And then they came to power and found the long lost Aladdin's lamp. They conveniently 'forgot' to pay electricity, water, sewerage, gas and telephone bills living under the notion that state property was their father's property. They think that once they have been elected to power they have been given the 'free' pass to do anything. We have even heard of big, netas taking away rice, salt, oil, fish and meat from the MP hostel kitchen to their own kitchens! Then netas took away poor people's iron sheet to construct their toilets or kitchens or stables. They took away poor people's rice and other relief materials to their own home.

So, we began with the story of a king who has turned a pauper. Now, we have the latest story of a pauper who has become a king in five years, thanks to our political godfathers. Here is the incredible story of 'Rags to Riches.' An engineer of BTTB became owner of Tk 500 crore (You heard it right, 500 crore) by doing illegal VOIP business! He used his official power to give illegal connection and earn this money. And like all the other 'patriotic' Bangladeshis, he has sent most of the money abroad for safe-keeping! This great patriot has been arrested recently and during interrogation revealed his connection with the even greater patriots in the last government and some government officials. He has said how he arranged wine and women to entertain “big shots” in a Gulshan rest house and paid monthly “Honourarium” to the great sons of the great ones to keep their mouth shut. Investigations linked him to the destruction of the submarine cable to make extra crores.

As said in Bangla, the one-year drive to find some 'earthworm' has resulted in catching big 'snakes.' And there are thousands of such venomous snakes now lurking low in the concrete jungles of the country. This is a classic example of what a corrupt government and corrupt administration can do to a country's potential for growth. Today's pervasive poverty is the result of brazen plundering of the national wealth done under the patronage of the power of the day. The drive to catch the snakes must be unrelenting, if we want to build a corruption-free, just and progressive society.


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