Bangladesh PM moves to curb graft among political associates

Last Updated: Thursday, September 17, 2009 - 12:16

Dhaka: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has directed officials to nab her Awami League (AL) subordinates who have allegedly been involved in the felling of 30,000 trees along the coast of Cox`s Bazaar.
"Whoever the plunderers, even if they are from my party, find them out and take stern action against them," she told the third meeting of the national environment committee here on Wednesday, The Daily Star said.

This is yet another move by her to curb highhanded behaviour by her colleagues who have been found to indulge in extortion and corruption since the party returned to power in January.

Curbing these tendencies takes much of time, effort and political will to curb this tendency, irrespective of which party is in power in Bangladesh, political analysts say.

Awami League activists, said to be `influential` in Cox`s Bazaar, the world`s second longest beach and a major tourist resort, are alleged to have felled the Jhau (tamarisk) trees on about 250 acres of land in Teknaf beach of Cox`s Bazar and carted them away over seven days.

This has removed a natural barrier to any cyclone or flood to which the region is prone, media reports say.

Over 50 people led by Sabrang union unit AL president Zahed Hossain, his brother and Teknaf upazila (sub-district) unit Jubo League (youth wing) general secretary Noor Hossain cut down the trees from August 5 to August 11.

Upazila Chairman and the party`s sub-district general secretary Shafique Miah has provided `a strong back up` to felling of Jhau trees.

Those accused have denied the allegations, the newspaper said.

Awami League activists have been accused of violence in their efforts to regain political hold on the party`s returning to power.

Hasina has time and again issued warnings to her partymen. Some weeks ago, she resigned from the youth and students bodies of which she was the symbolic chief when they engaged in factional wars.

The leaders sat in hunger strike to protest her action.

The Daily Star said in an editorial on Thursday, "We fully share her views on the issue of MPs exerting influence on the bureaucracy to extract undue advantages for the ruling party activists."

The editorial deprecated the `argument` from some AL quarters that they were doing precisely what the rival Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its allies had done when they were in power.

Urging AL leadership to "go beyond condemning" acts of highhandedness, the editorial suggested: "The ruling party should have its own version of intelligence that will let the leaders know where things are crossing the limits of acceptability and who are responsible for it."


First Published: Thursday, September 17, 2009 - 12:16

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