A Transparency International report on the alleged corruption of Bangladeshi parliamentarians has angered the lawmakers, who have sought a ban on the operation of the anti-corruption watchdog in the country.
In a recently published report, Transparency International Bangladesh has alleged that 149 sitting Bangladeshi legislators are involved in corruption. The report is based on surveys conducted by the Bangladeshi chapter of the international corruption watchdog and claims that the Bangladeshi lawmakers unfairly used their power to influence government decisions.
The report claims that three-quarters of the 149 MPs are involved in financial kickbacks, such as taking bribes to influence the recruitment of teachers and other government employees and controlling educational institutions. "75.5 percent of the accused MPs siphon off funds which were meant for public sector development. 70.6 percent of the surveyed parliamentarians were involved in 'criminal activities' like financial embezzlement, illegal take-over of state properties and murder,” the report said.
Transparency International said that it conducted 44 group discussions in which 600 teachers, lawyers, businessmen, journalists and people from other walks of life took part and presented their views about the accused lawmakers.
The Bangladeshi government and the accused parliamentarians have said that the report was "ill-motivated."
“The Bangladeshi people have elected us. Transparency International has no connection with the people," said the ruling Awami League's member Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim during the parliamentary debate on the report. "The report is a plot to make the parliament dysfunctional," he added.
The angry lawmakers said that the NGO had no authority to issue certificates about lawmakers and demanded that the government should ban the organization in Bangladesh.
Another Awami League lawmaker Tofail Ahmed said that the Transparency International executives should be summoned before a parliamentary committee for questioning.
Transparency International officials say that their report is based on facts and that they are ready to appear before any parliamentary committee.
“We have followed internationally recognized research methods and ensured the highest levels of integrity, impartiality and accuracy of the process before analyzing them for this report. There is no justification to say that the report is faulty,” Iftekhar Zaman, executive director of Transparency International Bangladesh, told DW.
Zaman said that Transparency International's objective was to strengthen democratic institutions and bring qualitative changes to political space to improve governance.
“For us, there is no acceptable alternative to democracy, other than better democracy,” he said.
Rights activist and lawyer Mahbubul Islam told DW that he was not surprised by lawmakers' reactions.
“The report perfectly reflects what people think of their representatives in the parliament," Islam said. "The parliamentarians should learn to accept criticism. They should also know that the critics are their well-wishers. Demanding punitive action against Transparency International is ridiculous,” he added.