Sydney, April 18, 2014 (Alochonaa): Corruption goes with development and power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely – few much sought words. But corruption in Australia? It was therefore like a thunderbolt from a blue sky when my climbing mate, Australian Mt Everest conqueror, Brendan O’Mahoney pointed out what was happening; that his brother, a lawyer by profession, is in a legal battle to finalize one of the biggest corruption cases in recent Australian history. It made me feel that I am in a time lapse and made me think, ‘am I listening correctly?’ Really, corruption should be a ‘museum term’ for a country with the living conditions of Australia, according to the ideological definitions of what we are used to, and the historical precedent. I had thought I left corruption behind when I left Bangladesh.
Yes, I am also accustomed with the Bangladeshi condition, where corruption reigns supreme. We have been named the world champion for corruption as a country for five consecutive years. So the development for the average Bangladeshi happens in a sarcastic way, we very often misunderstand the train had just passed or how we have just been sold down the river, knowing only that we have.
But, once we are abroad, we can realize more thoroughly how the leaders of our country are jeopardizing the lives of our family and friends back home. This is a result of what I always say, that our leaders have intentionally kept us in such a situation of ignorance; that Bangladeshis are always doing the “pain management” in Dhaka and elsewhere in Bangladesh from dawn to dusk. Moreover, our political leaders pay little more than mere lip-service to the democratic ideal of “for the people” rather following more a policy “of personal development”, so consequently the general people have started losing hope for the political situation. Interestingly, these masses of people are the key economic factor for Bangladesh.
Dr Eahteshamul Hoque has just finished his PhD and is now living in Sydney, Australia. He left Bangladesh, as he was not being charmed by the economic opportunities of home or the obvious benefits of living closer to his friends and family. Rather, Bangladesh did not suit him for further education, moreover for job opportunities, once he had gained higher education. Why this is the case results from the issue of corruption. Hoque faced a few interviews, and pursued several opportunities in Bangladesh after finishing his MPhil degree but failed to find an opportunity that suited him. As a result he opted for going overseas and to secure a lifestyle with peace in mind absent of corruption and where work with dignity reins. He, like many other of the Bangladeshis here in Australia are doing very well, working hard for themselves, and by extension, for their homeland as well.
The Bangladeshis in Australia are for the most part studying well, performing excellently at work, caring for family, mingling with friends, arranging cultural programs and many other things, many of which remind them of the homeland they left behind. Nevertheless, their minds remain sobered for Bangladesh. When they talk about Bangladesh, they also feel pity over the political chaos that corruption brings, as the politics never speaks for the small issues of the average Bangladeshi; to live in harmony and peace in the rural and urban areas, to guarantee the proper pricing of corps, to feed the children formalin-free food, to end the misery of 2.2 million graduates every year from unemployment, for ensuring the quick disposal of millions of cases at the courts, to end the massive corruption from the top of society to the bottom, to end the inflation in price of necessary commodities beyond affordability, to deal with the congestion within the urban areas, and also not to mock democracy, gender equality, equality in social justice – above all, to establish the theme of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh.
However those demands were ignored by the politicians. The people’s hearts were broken and their dreams were shattered. The harsh truth is the political leaders of Bangladesh; regardless of political parties, have never addressed those issues, rather mocking each other with an unnecessary race to the lowest common denominator in a quest for the throne. Still Bangladesh is considered as a land of opportunities, especially for the corrupted politicians who barely care for the people. Dr Eahteshamul Hoque furthermore has explained that during the political turmoil of 2013, many of these same leaders brought properties themselves in Australia. The “happy-abroad” politicians from Bangladesh preferred Australia as their exile destination from a short-list. However now they are back in business and the turmoil subsided, they have returned to Bangladesh. This flight from Bangladesh to save their own comparative wealth and well-being compared to the average Bangladeshi is the clearest indication that Bangladeshi politicians are only out for themselves.
Professor Muhammad Rafiqul Islam of Law at Macquarie University also in Sydney, feels pity for the political leaders of Bangladesh. As an internationally well-known law researcher and widely published author of numerous articles on law issues in contemporary Bangladesh, Islam says that the politicians hardly have knowledge about the responsibility bestowed upon them as the elected members of parliament. Also their ignorance of the constitution hampers the interests of the country where the bureaucracy is also a huge obstacle to development. He opined that the constitutional posts of the country should move with guts, to work independently so that the average person in the street could live in a better situation.
Islam however was positive about the people of Bangladesh, the overseas students from the country and is happy to offer opportunities with well educational background to people from Bangladesh to help combat the impacts of the corruption at home. He stated the educational institutions of Bangladesh should have a better teaching-learning situation and we should serve Bangladesh after finishing our education. Meanwhile, Dr Shawkat Alam, Associate Professor and Acting Dean at Macquarie Law School of Macquarie University was more optimistic with the youths who are self-reliant and doing very well. His main message was we should believe in ourselves and act accordingly.
* Musa Ibrahim is the first Bangladeshi to conquer Mt. Everest
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