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Secularizing Bangladesh brings promise for future

Corruption is a complex social, political and economic phenomenon that can take nations decades to bring under control.

It is a phenomenon that cannot always be completely eradicated but controlled to a slight dim.

Countries like South Korea, South Africa and Indonesia have taken tough action in the fight against corruption while others like Burundi, Chad and Myanmar keep humming at the same corrupt pace.

Bangladesh is one country out to tackle this situation head on and it shows according to the Corruption Perceptions Index published by Transparency International, a non-governmental organization that monitors and publicizes corporate and political corruption in international development.

“We are updating our laws and exchanging our experiences with countries that are quite serious about combating corruption,” said Suranjit Sengupta, Bangladeshi Member of Parliament and Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs.

From his trip to Korea, his delegation took the knowledge that an anti-corruption commission must be independent in respect to economic, administrative control and general functions.

“The bigger the government the bigger the corruption is,” he told The Korea Herald.
Bangladeshi Member of Parliament and Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Suranjit Sengupta (Yoav Cerralbo/The Korea Herald)
Bangladeshi Member of Parliament and Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Suranjit Sengupta (Yoav Cerralbo/The Korea Herald)

“Corruption has been around since the dawn of civilization. You cannot eradicate it; instead you can prevent it to some extent,” he added.

Korea, once rife with corruption, has steadily improved its international ranking due to its fight against corruption in government.

According to the latest CPI ranking, Korea is the 39th least corrupt nation with an index of 5.4, a big leap from 2002 when the nation ranked 45th with a rating of 4.5.

Bangladesh rests on the other end of the scale as the 134th least corrupt country, but the real story lies in where it came from. In 2002, Bangladesh scored an abysmal 1.2; in 2010, it doubled its index to 2.4. The higher the score, the less corruption a nation faces.

Suranjit has strongly voiced his opinion that corruption needs to be tackled in both the public and private sectors.

“The development and introduction of global politics and economy have made corruption an international phenomenon,” he said.

The parliamentary body is introducing punitive measures into law and bringing in different deterrents, motivational practices and ethical advice to curb corruption.

Salaries will also increase in order to support the livelihood of police officers and other public service personnel.

“The present government’s main objective is to secularize its administration, politics and economics,” he said. “We restored the constitutional ways; we have restored the fundamental rights, and improved the overall relationship.”

The Bangladeshi government is also out to improve relations with fellow South Asian Association For Regional Cooperation member states including improving relations with India, a relationship that has been at times cold.

Suranjit explained that implementing a secular constitution also meant a tough stance against religious extremists.

“I myself have been attacked twice, I have 26 pieces of shrapnel in my body they can’t remove,” he said. “They also tried to kill all of us, the opposition leaders, the present prime minister, so now things have been reversed.

“We are reforming our educational system, and going for a real secular system which is bringing new promise and expectations not only to Bangladesh but to all of South Asia,” he said.

By Yoav Cerralbo (yoav@heraldcorp.com)
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