TIB's Statement On Parliament
Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) chief Iftekharuzzaman has cast slur on the parliament, one of the three pillars of the state, by terming it as a stage for puppet show. Undoubtedly, his statement has assailed the epicentre of democratic practice in the country. The audacity of the watchdog went even beyond as it had suggested that another untimely, inclusive national election could have only led the parliament to acting efficaciously.
Any person with the faintest sense of reasoning can figure out that TIB is trying to pave the way for Bangladesh Nationalist Party and its key ally Jamaat-e-Islami to take up an opportunity what they had missed in 2014 by deciding not to take part in the parliamentary election. Despite an opposition being there in the parliament, TIB's urge and call for holding an untimely election indicates that scope for BNP-Jamaat ally to take part in an election holds the utmost importance. A serious question mark hangs then, are they not counting the 2014- election? How would the constitutional and democratic process be running, had the election not taken place?
Coming up with such a statement at a time when the contribution of parliamentarians brought about positive changes to the nation raises serious question about its motives. It is the diplomatic effort of these parliamentarians that is to credit for resolving of the land-boundary agreement with India that had been mulled over for long but hadn't made any breakthrough before this May. It is on this 'stage for puppet show' that was passed public private partnership bill - a milestone towards bridging the infrastructure gap and turning Bangladesh a middle income country by 2021. On this 'theatre for puppet show' was passed metro rail act that would ease the intense traffic congestion in the capital. Above all, the 'stage for puppets' passed a budget, envisaging a growth rate of seven per cent for this fiscal.
Through this statement, it has demeaned those who embarked this stage through people's right to franchise. How TIB defied its position as a watchdog can easily be assumed by the fact that this is for the first time a total of four 'puppets' are serving at crucial ranks of different international organisations. Of them, ruling Awami League lawmaker Saber Hossain Chowdhury is the first Bangladeshi to become the president of Inter-Parliamentary Union, the international parliamentary organisation, in its history of 125 years. And that too by defeating three candidates by the biggest margin till date! Besides, Jatiya Sangsad Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury became the first Bangladeshi to be elected as chairperson of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in the last year.
On top of that, the leader of those 'puppets' - Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was hailed unanimously, both home and abroad, during and after her UN visit. Even she was acclaimed by media as the most successful international leader after Bangabandhu to lift up Bangladesh on the global stage.
Is the watchdog suffering from wilful blindness to such achievements?
It argued that the parliament falls short of a strong opposition. It should be mentioned BNP and its key ally Jamaat suffered a huge defeat in the 2008-election. Since then it tried to destabilise the country in many ways none of which could drum up public support. They resorted to violence and burnt hundreds of people alive by hurling petrol bombs. They didn't attend the parliament and above all, they were all out to foil the last parliamentary election.
Finally, they refused to join the parliamentary election in 2014, assuming a massive defeat. They also pulled out of last city corporation elections at the last moment. The whole world witnessed that some of key leaders of Jamaat were convicted as war criminals by the International Crimes Tribunal. Then how will BNP-Jamaat dream of earning public trust and end up being a strong opposition? If the whole nation pins their hope on a party, is it the fault of the parliament? Should the ruling party take the responsibility to create a strong opposition even if another party indulges itself in vandalising, burning and killing?
History bears a glaring testament that a number of developed countries had their low moments in the parliament sessions. In September last, a disgraceful episode unfolded during a parliamentary session in South Africa, when one of the country's leaders Julius Malema was kicked out of the parliament.
Let's take the case of India, a country dubbed to be the largest democracy in the globe. A storm of protest triggered by the opposition party has forced the speaker of Lok Sabha to postpone the last session sine die. A bout of acrimonious exchanges yielded not a single bill to get the nod from the house, obviously causing the government to count a heavy economic toll.
Interestingly, Transparency International sees no puppet show or any economic cost in Indian part.
Eng Tonmoy Ahmed is a writer working as assistant coordinator, (Research) at Centre For Research and Information (CRI). He is also the Assistant Secretary of Bangladesh Awami League (Sub Committee).