The government said yesterday it would take legal action against parliamentarians suspected of corruption following a report alleging rampant graft, particularly among lawmakers from the ruling Awami League.
A warning came from Information Minister Hasanul Haque Inu after Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) issued a report on Sunday which alleged that 97 percent of parliament members are involved in “negative activities.”
“We will ask for the graft report from TIB and take legal action against legislators if the report is found correct,” said the information minister.
His comments follow efforts by high-ranking members of the government to discredit TIB.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said on Tuesday that the report was “ill-motivated” with the goal of tarnishing the government’s reputation, while Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury said the same day that TIB’s claims were aimed at “impeding democracy.”
“Yes, it is motivated,” said TIB Executive Director Iftekharuzzaman. “The motive is to strengthen the country’s democracy.”
TIB researchers say that data was taken from newspapers and 600 “impartial and concerned” citizens from 42 districts which are represented by the 149 MPs surveyed.
The survey covered 136 lawmakers from the Awami League and 13 from the Opposition Alliance led by the Bangladesh National Party.
It claimed that 53.5 percent of MPs carried out criminal acts in person although criminal cases have been filed against less than half that number.
In most cases, people involved or affected by the criminal activities were too scared to file cases with the police, it said.
“If you look at the performance of your local MPs, you can realize the truth behind the survey,” said Hafizuddin Khan, a TIB Trustee member.
TIB has called on the government to formulate a law to prevent MPs from direct participation in local administration and development works and a ban on group parliamentary boycotts.