Ami Bangladeshi

Ami Bangladeshi

Ami Bangladeshi

The "Mother of all Parties" to begin soon - Shahnoor Wahid

The "Mother of all Parties" to begin soon - Shahnoor Wahid

Committed to PEOPLE'S RIGHT TO KNOW

The Daily Star, Tuesday, June 24, 2008 BRING out your silver cape, chill your summer wine and put on your dancing shoes, for the time is coming to party with the VIP thieves and robbers. Ah! That motley band of men patent in their utter worthlessness! Aren't you excited beyond disbelief? Don't you look forward to brushing shoulders with people who should have been in the dungeon forever? But, no, nothing of the sort will happen. They are creeping out soon, like those "critters" in the Michael Jackson song Thriller. And then they will throw the biggest party the world has ever seen. Let's go and wait on the sidewalk and watch the cavalcade of world's most expensive limousines on the streets of one of the world's poorest countries. Bravo, brothers!

Oh, about the party. Yes, the preparation is very much on, cleaning and polishing is going on, a new coat of colour has been applied, chandeliers are lighted, buntings, ribbons and garlands have arrived. In fact, that would be the "Mother of all Parties," and we shall have to take part in it whether we like it or not, because the "system" demands it. The system calls the shots, no matter what. The system determines our fate and nothing else. So, in the party, in that discomfiting evening, you shall have to dance with men who had gobbled up graves. You shall have to drink with men who had outrageously tampered with the country's constitution. You shall have to guffaw with men who had given safe passage to murderers. You shall have to dine with men who had let loose a reign of terror throughout the country for years together.

So, you see my beleaguered countrymen, the "system" wins over everything else. Before it, everything looks so hollow -- propriety, morality, rule of law, accountability, logic, reason, aesthetics and so on seem meaningless. The system allows the VIP thieves and robbers to enjoy impunity from all sorts of crime. The system keeps loopholes in laws so that the VIPs can come out clean and grab state power again and again. The system talks about "people" all the time but in reality it is the VIP thieves who enjoy all the conceivable worldly benefits that are there.

Tell me one thing, had there been no such worldly benefits coming in tandem with power, would the VIPs spend crores to become MPs and ministers only to serve the poor people? If there were no opportunity to get back the investment 1000 times or to import duty-free expensive limousines or to stay in luxurious flats paying almost nothing or to get all the perks our poor people cannot even dream of, do you think the thugs and hoodlums would ever express any desire to join the system? Therefore, if all the benefits and perks are removed today we believe only the real patriots and devoted social workers would come forward to serve the country.

Do you agree, dear readers, that to become a public representative there should not be any extra benefit, not even a monthly salary, definitely no duty-free car, no free lodging, no free food from the MP Hostel canteen, no extra khatir for violation of law, no fita cutting (cutting of ribbons) during office hours, no helicopter ride to catch a cheat at SSC exam in a remote part of the country.

Do you agree wise readers that the police department must work totally independently during the tenure of a government so that no MP or minister can "order" the IG or DIG or SP to arrest one and release another. Law must proceed according to its own course and the police authority must have the courage to stand up before such intimidation.

Discerning readers, should not public service be considered a philanthropic work, which should be done by spending money from your own pocket? Why should a social worker expect a salary for doing something he volunteered to do? A philanthropist does not take money from the institution he/she establishes, because it is not fair, it is not proper, it is not expected. And then again, why should such work be done like a full-time professional?

The time has come to reject those corrupt to the core and glib-talking conjurers who take the people on a ride in the name of doing good for them. History tells us these people are best at exploiting the credulous people and know best how to make a quick buck stealing from the public coffer. Except a few rare ones, most of our public representatives have turned into VIP brothers who are now planning the big party. So, let us oil our hair, trim our whiskers and get ready for the big show.

Bangladesh today looks like a huge stage where slapstick comedians are entering one after another to play their funny roles. But most of them most often are saying the same line again and again, knowing not what to say next or when to stop. No one knows when the clowns will leave the stage and real good actors will enter to enthral the audience with their powerful dramatics. We are waiting for the day.

Shahnoor Wahid is a Senior Assistant Editor of The Daily Star.

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