Ruling party tries to capture everything, The Daily Star, February 24, 2012


Ruling party tries to capture everything

Ex-CEC critical of democracy Bangladesh style

Staff Correspondent 
The type of democracy practised in Bangladesh is something vulgarised by the ruling party, which encourages black money and muscle power in the absence of the rule of law.
ATM Shamsul Huda, the immediate past chief election commissioner, said this yesterday, adding that electoral democracy does not necessarily mean a complete democracy as every time the poll winner tries to take all.
“Instead of building up institutions, they [the ruling party], in most cases, try to destroy institutions like the Election Commission and the judiciary,” he said. “They also try to politicise the bureaucracy, police, administration and, dangerously, the military.”
Sometimes, they even scrutinise the Public Service Commission’s recommendations, he said. “Such was not possible even in the Pakistan period.”
The rule of law is something of fundamental importance, he observed. Every citizen has a right to file cases with police stations. But often police do not want to record cases.
Shamsul Huda was addressing a book launch and a seminar on “India-Bangladesh-Myanmar Relations: Challenges for Mutual Development” at Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) in Dhaka.
The book, “Democracy in Bangladesh: Political Dimensions of National Development”, a compilation of papers, has jointly been edited by Zillur R Khan and Syed Saad Andaleeb.
At the seminar, eminent jurist and former foreign minister Dr Kamal Hossain said money has destroyed democracy in Bangladesh. “Electoral democracy has fallen sick in the country,” he said.
“There is a security problem for people in the absence of the rule of law in this country. We do not want to see impunity enjoyed by some of the people,” he said. “The system is like a democratisation of corruption.”
Forty years into independence is enough time to establish the rule of law in the country and yet the political parties are still urging the people to wait, wait and wait, he said.
Echoing the views of Huda, Dr Kamal said the ruling party wants to control everything, even the police, military, media and administration.
As the chief guest, Prof Rehman Sobhan, chairman of Centre for Policy Dialogue, said four free and fair elections were held in Bangladesh. And this is a reflection of the country’s making significant progress in democratic practice.
In terms of economic and human development, Bangladesh has made advances among South Asian countries, he said.
BEI President Farooq Sobhan moderated the programme. Scholars, academicians, researchers and diplomats attended the book launch.

24 February, 2012