A devout driver of decadence!
With all sorts of venality coming out in the open, exposure of the world of vice involving a driver working in a government department has raised eyebrows.
Reportedly, Malek driver is worth more than Tk 100 crore and it does not take a magician to prove that most of his money is ill gotten. A driver possessing Tk 1 crore can be accepted on the rationale that he either inherited the money or worked as a broker in the buying and selling of land as a side profession.
However, the amount of money being talked about is simply pornographic. As per reports, Mr. Malek had his hands in a wide variety of shady dealings and was caught by the law with an unlicensed gun plus counterfeit money.
The news of his arrest triggered two reactions: shock and an outburst, mixed generously with humour. A former colleague of mine wrote in a tone of unveiled sarcasm: we should ask our children what they aspire to be, a doctor or a driver?
Since society equates success in terms of money plus material possessions, Mr. Malek can be called a successful man. At least, he was socially respected until the can of worms was opened.
While many are denouncing Malek, I find it essential to look at this incident from a philosopher's angle.
Did his family ever denounce him as a corrupt person? Well, I don't think so because even after he was caught, his daughter was found to be defending her father vigorously.
I am not blaming the daughter either; in the eyes of a girl, the father is always right, even if he is a criminal.
Be that as it may, the case of Malek is another sad indictment of a social creed which has become irreversibly mercenary.
Money at any cost
As a person on the wrong side of the forties, I had the privilege to witness the evolution of this society from the 70s. What was once a value driven country has turned into money oriented one. With development plus rise of a wealthy class, it's always natural that social ethos will become Capitalist, yet the vicious predatory creed is difficult to digest.
The vicious doctrine, I am sorry to say, is 'Dhor, Maar, Kha' which in English translates into 'grab the money, kick the morals.'
Unfortunately, only the men cannot be blamed. Malek may have made an astronomical amount of money but did his family members ever ask him about the source of such massive wealth? I don't think so.
A person working in grade three of government employment has a specific earning. That person will be able to buy some luxury items during his working life by either putting aside some money or by taking loans on easy conditions. After retirement, the pension can be used to buy a flat or to invest in some mid-range business. The legitimate income pattern of government employees is pretty much known, therefore, if someone is suddenly seen driving a BMW, there will be questions.
In the case of Malek, his family possibly didn't ask him anything or confront him over the legality of his wealth, which indicates to tacit approval.
Regrettably, almost all parents and family members turn a blind eye when they find that their son or daughter is making unusual amount of money or buying property beyond his/her financial capacity.
We simply don't care about the origin. The daughter's insistence that Malek is innocent of the charges of corrupt dealings only proves that if one person is breaking the system, there are others who are aiding him/her to put up an immaculate fa�ade of integrity. These are usually the closest relatives.
The desire to make money whatever the method has insidiously seeped into the zeitgeist with no one asking the source of wealth.
On the contrary, there is admiration, especially from the young.
The youth outlook gets tainted
When fathers or mothers accumulate wealth through skull duggery, children know and over time they learn that going by the book is the stupid way. They also see their parents put up a faux persona of devoutness and swiftly assimilate the formula of making a symbiosis between spirituality and sleaze.
Malek's biggest deception is his projection of a religiously inclined person by sporting a conspicuously large beard.
In Bangladesh, there are some ridiculous social stereotypes one of which is the belief that an elderly bearded man has to be principled and scrupulous.
There is a common tendency to equate old age with integrity.
Exploiting this ingrained notion, countless immoral people take up the religious look with marked zeal.
Malek, reportedly, had performed the Hajj three times. I wonder what went through his mind during the symbolic stoning of the devil.
Without any scruples he and many like him unashamedly create a symbiosis between vice and faith. They are seen to be avidly religious, following all the tenets of faith with diligence; however, in making money, the religious teaching are conveniently brushed aside. Or perhaps given a distorted interpretation to add legality to illegal actions.
The standard doctrine is to do whatever necessary to acquire wealth. Morals be damned!
But I am curious to know how the children of Malek are looking at their father's ethical transgressions. It won't be surprising to find they will never accept that Malek had done anything wrong. Sadly, that is where the diabolic damage is being done.
When the young begin to accept the 'Dhor maar kha' ideology, we are looking at embedded social corruption that will become part of social ethos and cease to be deemed unlawful.
In time, these young will begin to employ the subterfuge of using religion as a shield to conceal their predatory nature. Thus, the toxic concept will proliferate.
Malek has been caught but there are countless like him who continue to make money by astutely exploiting the system, manipulating rules and greasing palms.
An idealist will probably say that Malek's arrest will work as a deterrent but a realist would state, the depraved will only become more cautious and their family members circumspect so they do not, even by accident, exhibit any signs of opulence.
But then, there is always that mysterious thing called karma; no matter how hard one tries to erase all traces of depravity, luck will run out one day, just like it ran out on so many.
The chickens always come back home to roost!
Towheed Feroze is a journalist and teaches at the University of Dhaka