Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Priorities for Caretaker Government in Bangladesh

After seven months, it is now time to ask what are the real priorities of the CTG. While Chief Adviosr and his colleagues have spelled out a number of priorities on different occasions, what are the public perceptions as to what CTG's priorities should be? Here is a list eight priorities that came up in a perception survey, done by Election Working Group. These are:

· Supporting the Bangladesh Election Commission in implementing the electoral reforms
· Taking effective action to check rising prices of essentials;
· Arresting and punishing corrupt persons and barring all from participating in elections;
· Increasing the supply of electricity;
· Ensuring a good law and order situation;
· Ensuring the independence of the judiciary; and
· Enforcing the Money Laundering Act and recovering all money illegally kept abroad.

Our people are very simple, and these are their simple demands which CTG should address, in order or priority.

This survey was carried out in June and first week of July 2007, with technical support from The Asia Foundation and Data International Ltd. This is the fifth rapid assessment of citizen perception of recent political and other events in Bangladesh The assessment is based on perceptions of 1,515 individuals that include 759 ordinary citizens and 756 elite consisting of local political leaders, civil society members, and local government officials or elected representatives.

While all previous perception reports are available in its website: http://www.ewgbd.org/, the fifth report is yet to uploaded. EWG also carried out a supplementary survey follwoing Hasina's arrest (hope they will do so for Khaleda), and here I lift the whole text for your reading:


Following Sheikh Hasina’s arrest on July 16, 2007, a rapid supplementary survey of 20 ordinary citizens in each of nine district headquarters of the country was conducted by EWG. The total sample size was 180. A subset of questions was re-administered to a different group of citizens and results were then matched against the results from the principal fifth-round survey that was completed by July 15—that is, before the arrest of Sheikh Hasina.

The supplementary survey reveals that, following the arrest of Sheikh Hasina, people’s attention seems to have shifted to democracy and capacity issues in a significant way. The proportion of ordinary citizens that were most concerned about price hikes dropped to about 50 percent, while the percentage of those expressing concern about an erosion of democratic values increased from 16 percent (in the main pre-arrest survey) to 30 percent (in the supplementary post-arrest survey) of ordinary citizens. Among this latter group, 13 percent mentioned the arrest of Sheikh Hasina as their major concern, and another 10 percent voiced the concern that proper legal procedures were not followed in arresting her. Moreover, people expressed concern about arrests of politicians and businessmen without warrants, and bias in the CG’s actions against individuals suspected of corruption. They also worried about the suspension of basic human rights and freedom of speech, and harassment by the joint forces. People commented that the CG is aiding the division of political parties under the guise of reforms, and voiced concern that the armed forces may be playing covert political games.

A significant rise in the percentage of ordinary people citing the CG’s incapacity and inaction is also observed in the post-arrest survey. Besides the fertilizer and electricity problems, respondents expressed concern about the closing down of jute mills, laying-off of workers, and rising unemployment. They mentioned the moribund state of the economy and the languishing business sector, as well as the increasing numbers of armed robberies and murders.

Those interested to get a soft copy of this 66-page report, pls send e-mail to: bdfact@walla.com

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