The Cillit Bang of purges

Bangladesh shows the way?.....

Bangladesh's new rulers are finally cleaning up

As Bangladesh celebrates 36 years of independence, a caretaker government, backed by the military, has declared a hugely popular "jihad against crime and corruption". All political activities have been banned while hundreds of allegedly corrupt politicians and businessmen have unceremoniously been rounded up and await trial. Ordinary Bangladeshis, fed up after decades of bent politics, have reacted with glee.

If anti-corruption campaigns were household cleaning products, this would be the Cillit Bang of purges. Its revolutionary, powerful cleaning formula is removing even the toughest of stains.

The cleaning drive started on January 11, when a state of emergency was declared following violent clashes between rival supporters of the outgoing Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party and opposition leader Sheikh Hasina's Awami League. Elections scheduled for January have been indefinitely postponed until the interim government's chief adviser, Fakhruddin Ahmed, a former World Bank bureaucrat, has finished his clean-up. He has taken measures to wrest political influence from the judiciary and promised to hold a free, fair and credible election in the "shortest possible" time.

Both the zeal and speed with which the temporary government has handled matters is impressive. While Scotland Yard has failed to bring charges against anyone involved in its cash-for-honours investigation, cases are piling up before the Bangladeshi courts. Mr Ahmed's newly "reconstituted" Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has seen arrests of more than 160 senior politicians, including several dozen ministers, some being imprisoned without bail. But this tidy-up has the full force of the country's intelligence, police and military behind it. In a useful check on unbridled corruption, Bangladesh's constitution provides for a non-party caretaker government to take over for a limited time.

The roll-call of those currently held in prison includes some of the most wealthy and powerful figures in the country. Former ministers for health, power, civil aviation and tourism have been detained, along with politicians and advisers close to the former prime ministers from both the main parties, and some of their relatives. The extent and flagrancy of their alleged misdeeds is breathtaking - ranging from open theft and bribery to the concealment of financial information and the allocation of environmentally sensitive plots of land for building development to party leaders and lawmakers.

Khaleda Zia's son, Tarique Rahman, 40, the joint general secretary of the BNP and the person formerly tipped to be the country's next leader, is the most high-profile incumbent. The government has also confiscated property and frozen bank accounts containing an estimated £190 million of "undisclosed" money. Those politicians who cannot substantiate their assets have taken to abandoning luxury goods, from new 4x4s to exotic pets, in the street to avoid detection.

On the streets of Dhaka and in the outspoken commentary contained in the broadsheets, one is struck by the earnestness of people's outrage. The letters pages ring with righteous indignation, with locals complaining their country has been "poisoned" and "polluted" by corruption, the country "crippled by a few greedy, unpatriotic and mentally adulterated high-ups".

Hopes for the future have been pinned on the economist Muhammad Yunus, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, starting a new political party through which to render clean public service. Bangladesh is genuinely striving for the ideal of a pure and simple politics of discipline and public duty.

It's a sad state of affairs when corruption renders democracy worse than autocracy or dictatorship. But, as an editorial in the Dhaka Courier puts it: "For the first time in a long, long time, Bangladesh is in the hands of a group of individuals who, despite their non-elected status, are busy doing what elected politicians ought to have done years ago."

In full:
If anti-corruption campaigns were household cleaning products, this would be the Cillit Bang of purges. Its revolutionary, powerful cleaning formula is removing even the toughest of stains.

Love the phrase


Do they fancy doing a bit of 'House Cleaning' in the UK? We pay above minimum wage - just.
Now that's one thing from Bangladesh all of us would want over here. Good one them.

Might expalin the odd look on Blair's face the other day...


Cracking idea though. Can MI5, Scotland Yard and the Military get together and do that in the UK? Can you imagine it afterwards, honest government - ahhh it will never catch on :(
Even the Journos are reporting it in glowing terms, very unusual indeed - it must be straight up and doing good.


War Hero
There are two professions left who charge hourly rates for their services;
Prostitutes and lawyers.

The difference is that the lawyers can force people to use their services, "selling your home sir? Ooh, lovely, that'll be £500 and the meter's running..."

Until the UK cleans up it's justice system there will be little point in putting bent politicians in front of a court. Or any other crim. to be honest.
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