Two things in the Prime Minister’s recent statements in Parliament (as reported in the Daily Star) are bothering me.
One is the publishing of White Papers by Parliament on corruption under the previous regime. Now I share the anti-corruption sentiment, and I agree that something needs to be done. But the problem with the proposal is that it seems too much like a tit-for-tat for what the BNP regime did the last time around – which was publish White Papers on corruption between 1996 and 2001.
This politicization of anti-corruption needs to stop. Instead of the AL-dominated parliament passing judgment on the last regime, why not direct an independent body to do the work (say, the independent ACC, for example?), and have the report be reviewed in Parliament in broad daylight, under the watchful glares of the citizenry? And why not have the ACC review the methodology and findings of the last White Report, and ask how its recommendations fared? Such would be the change we need.
The other thing that’s been bothering me is the way that the RAB killings are being framed:
In reply to a question of AL-led grand alliance lawmaker Rashed Khan Menon, the prime minister said she has always been against extra judicial killings.
“The government will remain alert to stop extra judicial killings and those found to be involved in such crimes will be brought to justice,” she said adding, the culture of extra judicial killings raised its head during the BNP-led alliance government after it had launched Operation Clean Heart and formed Rapid Action Battalion (Rab).
The premier however added ‘it might take some time to change their habit of extra judicial killings’.
I welcome the Prime Minister’s uninhibited, unqualified condemnation of extra-judicial killings. But I don’t think that it helps to be talking about how it’s going to take time to “change their habit of extra-judicial killings.” No, it’s not just a habit. It is something that elements in our law-enforcement have been doing with impunity and without hurdles in the last few years. Change the processes that allow these things to happen. Increase formal oversight. Increase the probability of punishment. Do these things. Immediately. It’s not just a matter of saying that these crimes will not be committed any more, or that the simple change of who’s heading things is enough in the long run. Make it happen. Now.
Where’s the outrage? Where’s the urgency? Where’s the activity? The way it is being framed, next time an extra-judicial killing happens, it will be a blamed on the “habit of extra-judicial killing”. And lack of progress on this front will be blamed on the rootedness of the “habit of extra-judicial killing.” Prime Minister - the levers of power and change are in your hand today. Use them!
In the mean time, BNP is still checha-mechaing about front row seats. Ladies and gentlemen – the few of you who still remain in the House of the People: let me remind you that you are not here to watch a TV show.