Wednesday, October 31, 2007

BNP is close to collapse: Oxford Aanalytica

BANGLADESH: Former ruling party is close to collapse (Oxford Analytica, 30 October 2007)

BANGLADESH: Former Home Minister Lutfozzaman Babar today was jailed for illegal firearms possession. His conviction is the latest sign of progress in a major anti-corruption campaign launched by the military-backed government earlier this year after the postponement of elections. Since then, dozens of politicians have been detained, including former prime ministers Sheikh Hasina Wajed and Khaleda Zia.

Babar served under Zia, whose Bangladeshi Nationalist Party is in a fragile state. Attempts by members to reform it have been resisted, prompting the departure of prominent party personalities such as Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan.

Reports today indicate that Saifur Rahman, a former finance minister, has been appointed acting chairman in Zia's absence, while Hafizudden Ahmed has become secretary general -- in place of the former prime minister's appointee, Khandaker Delwar Hossain.

The nature of a scheduled return to democratic and civilian government next year will be largely dependent on the success of efforts to overhaul the political system. Its prospects will be doubtful without faster progress on the reform of existing parties and/or the emergence of credible alternatives.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Bangladeshi bloggers, pls carry on

Well, Bangladeshi media is yet catch up with citizen journalism, and rightly so as they are completely muzzeled now. So Bangladeshi bloggers, especially those living abroad, pls carry on, bring the other side of the story, which will not be told.

I know for sure selected Bangladeshi blogs are now being downloaded and read by important Government officials in charge of managing information. At least they are reading, and that's a good news. We may have to wait to see if they are really using the underlying messages contained in such Bangladeshi blogs and acting accordingly. So write and write forcefully, because the vacuum created in Bangladeshi media must be filled, vigorously. We have more brave bloggers than what Mahfuz Anam could garner. So carry on, blogging for Bangladesh.

Khallej Times Says 'Uncertainty in Bangladesh'

The fear is taking shape, and rightly so. Read this from: Khallej Times

Uncertainty in Bangladesh

25 October 2007

THERE are fears in Bangladesh that the parliamentary elections planned for the end of next year will be postponed, under one pretext or other. For, the military-backed interim administration, currently pushing a reform agenda by keeping the nation's two prominent political leaders behind bars, is drifting, and has not been able to take any matter to its logical conclusion.

There are clear signs, however, that the dispensation is mindful of the groundswell of support for both Sheikh Hasina Wajed and Begum Khaleda Zia. To the regime's dismay, it has not been easy for them yet to break the back of the two powerful political movements, the Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, that these two are leading respectively. More importantly, the interim government's offensive against them, both former prime ministers, have only helped the two parties come together.

Witness the scenes in which, in rare shows of unity, the rank and file of the two parties are papering over the differences they had within them, even as the two forged a rare alliance between them to more effectively take on the government. The administration is wavering as the two are demanding an end to the Emergency and revival of the political process. Clearly, reform or no reform, the people are on the side of their tried-and-tested leaders.

There is general consensus that the interim dispensation has not been able to handle matters effectively. On the one hand, arresting and jailing scores of political activists, including popular figures, will alone not help anyone take the nation forward. On the other, there’s a growing feeling that a rootless set of mavericks, with military help, are playing havoc with the established traditions in governance. While the old order has been held to ransom, no new, viable alternative has been presented. The resultant chaos and confusion are there for all to see.

The point to ponder is, if not Khaleda and Hasina, who's there to lead the nation? Bangladeshis may be living in want, but they are too smart and too politicised a people to leave things in the hands of the military for long. All the more reason why the interim administration should go full steam ahead with the promise of the parliamentary polls next year.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Bangladesh Forecast by Economist Intelligence Unit

Here are some observations on Bangladesh made in EIU's October issue:

1. Emergency rule is expected to continue in the early part of the forecast period (2008-9)

2. The government hopes to hold a general election by late 2008, when work on the electoral register is due to be completed, but the disruption associated with the monsoon season (which runs from June to September) is likely to see the date of the poll pushed back to 2009.

3. The tenure of the president, Iajuddin Ahmed, has been extended for another five years (This is probably incorrect).

4. ...the caretaker government's actions are likely to have strengthened the resolve of the students, and until emergency rule is lifted street protests cannot be ruled out. The protests could grow significantly in size if other disaffected groups also decide to make vocal their growing dissatisfaction with the caretaker government.

5. Judging from the sentences meted out in recent months by specially created courts to members of their kleptocratic coteries, the two former prime ministers can expect long jail terms.

6. Western governments and donors, which through their silence appeared to give their tacit support to the change of administration in Bangladesh, are growing increasingly concerned about the rise in human rights abuse cases. Even so, diplomats say that the present regime is “the only game in town”. The military's secular stance and tough opposition to Islamist extremism still make it attractive to Western governments.

7. It is unclear how much longer the caretaker government will be able to keep the population quiet.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Bangladesh : ''The Year of Living Dangerously''

The central message of this article was at the bottom, so I'm bringing it up.

WATCHPOINT: Although Bangladesh's future remains uncertain at the time of this writing, democratic accountability, and political representation in a genuinely participatory and impartial political process are required to address these crises in the country. The current interim government cannot afford to use repressive measures again, and has to respond to public concerns and take effective measures for the smooth running of the state.
Read the full story here:

Monday, October 15, 2007

Bangladesh in the latest Pew Global Survey

Not sure why Bangladeshi bloggers missed important findings of a global survey titled: World Publics Welcome Global Trade but Not Immigration, released on 4th October. Among many Bangladesh-specific findings, the survey by the Pew Research Center found support for capitalism in Bangladesh soared from 32 percent five years ago to 81 percent today.

I will try to present some results related to Bangladesh. Former US Secretary of State Medeleine Albright is the co-chair of this project called Pew Global Attitude Survey. As many of you know, Pew Research Centre is Washington DC based ‘fact tank’ that previously carried seven such surveyes and this eighth in the series had 47 countries surveyed that includes Bangladesh. India and Pakistan are two other South Asian countries that participated in the survey, containing a total of 105 questions with sub-questions in few categories.

Out of a total sampling population of 45,239, Bangladesh’s survey was carried out among 1000 national samples (strong urban bias), with a three per cent error margin. The timing of this survey in Bangladesh is interesting, from April 11 to 30 of this year, just after three months of 1/11.

Without much ado, let us see some of the results by Bangladeshi respondents and try to find meaning ‘in between the lines’.

1.90% support free trade, 75% have positive views about foreign companies and 81% support free markets.
2.Impact of foreign companies registered a 27% rise, from 2002’s 48% to 75% in 2007.
3.49% increase in this view that people are better in free market, it jumped from 32% in 2002 to 81% in 2007.
4.65% completely agree that the state should take care of the poor, while 93% mostly agree with this statement.
5.93% agree that protection of environment is important, even it slows down growth and costs jobs. Only 4% disagree.
6.84% believe the government has more control, a sharp rise of 45% from 2002’s 39%
7.90% overwhelmingly said yes to the statement that ‘must believe in God to be moral, while only 6% replied in negative.
8.59% want to keep religion and Government separate, an increase of 6% from 2002’s 53%.
9.51% see a struggle between modernization and fundamentalism. Of those 51% only 18% are in favor of modernization, while 31% in favor of fundamentalism.
10.87% agree that sometimes military forces is necessary to maintain order in the world (This is a more worrying results and supports One World Government agenda)
11.52% feel men are generally make political leaders, only 8% supports women, while 41% feels equally.
12.89% agree that women should have the right to decide if they wear a veil, only 11% disagree. This is worrying as the figure for 2002 was 59% and 39% respectively.
13.Views on democracy produced mixed results. In terms of six core principles of democratic values, 66% agree on court treating all as same, 75% agree on freedom to practice religion, 59% support honest multiparty democracy, 61% support criticizing the government, 43% approve media freedom, and worryingly 38% approve civil control over military.
14.In regard to choosing between a good democracy and strong economy, 82% agreed in favor of democracy while 17% supported strong economy.
15.In choosing between democracy and a strong leader, 79% opted for democracy while only 20% favored strong leader.

Globally, all results reveal an evolving world view on globalization where people are concerned about inequality, threats to their culture, threats to the environment and threats posed by immigration. Together, these results reveal an evolving world view on globalization that is nuanced, ambivalent, and sometimes inherently contradictory.

There are some results on the use of media, media consumption, new sources, computer and internet and those interested on these results can access this 144-page report on

The geopolitical stakes of the Saffron Revolution

I was rather skeptic when some one told me months ago the kind of importance Myanmar would be assuming in global geo-politics. Now I see a pattern emerging. Here is a facinating piece that shed some light on this new 'flash-point' in Asia. Things just don't happen now a days, it is made to happen. Read this in conjugation with what is now happening and likely to happen in Bangladesh.

Chokepoint! The geopolitical stakes of the Saffron Revolution
By F. William Engdahl
Online Journal Guest Writer

Oct 15, 2007, 01:12

There are facts and then there are facts. Take the case of the recent mass protests in Burma or Myanmar depending on which name you prefer to call the former British colony.

First it’s a fact which few will argue that the present military dictatorship of the reclusive General Than Shwe is right up there when it comes to world-class tyrannies. It’s also a fact that Burma enjoys one of the world’s lowest general living standards. Partly as a result of the ill-conceived 100 percent to 500 percent price hikes in gasoline and other fuels in August, inflation, the nominal trigger for the mass protests led by Saffron-robed Buddhist monks, is unofficially estimated to have risen by 35 percent. Ironically, the demand to establish “market” energy prices came from the IMF and World Bank.

The UN estimates the population of some 50 million inhabitants spends up to 70 percent of their monthly income on food alone. The recent fuel price hike makes matters unbearable for tens of millions.

Myanmar is also deeply involved in the world narcotics trade, ranking only behind Hamid Karzai’s Afghanistan as a source for heroin. As well, it is said to be Southeast Asia’s largest producer of methamphetamines.

This is all understandable powder to unleash a social explosion of protest against the regime.

It is also a fact that the Myanmar military junta is on the Hit List of Condi Rice and the Bush administration for its repressive ways. Has the Bush leopard suddenly changed his spots? Or is there a more opaque agenda behind Washington’s calls to impose severe economic and political sanctions on the regime? Here some not-so-publicized facts help.

Behind the recent CNN news pictures of streams of saffron-robed Buddhist Monks marching in the streets of the former capital city Rangoon (Yangon) in Myanmar—the US government still prefers to call it by the British colonial name, Burma—calling for more democracy, is a battle of major geopolitical consequence.

The major actors

The tragedy of Burma, whose land area is about the size of George W. Bush’s Texas, is that its population is being used as a human stage prop in a drama which has been scripted in Washington by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the George Soros Open Society Institute, Freedom House and Gene Sharp’s Albert Einstein Institution, a US intelligence asset used to spark “non-violent” regime change around the world on behalf of the US strategic agenda.

Burma’s “Saffron Revolution,” like the Ukraine “Orange Revolution” or the Georgia “Rose Revolution” and the various Color Revolutions instigated in recent years against strategic states surrounding Russia, is a well-orchestrated exercise in Washington-run regime change, down to the details of “hit-and-run” protests with “swarming” mobs of Buddhists in saffron, Internet blogs, mobile SMS links between protest groups, well-organized protest cells which disperse and reform. CNN made the blunder during a September broadcast of mentioning the active presence of the NED behind the protests in Myanmar.

In fact the US State Department admits to supporting the activities of the NED in Myanmar. The NED is a US government-funded “private” entity whose activities are designed to support US foreign policy objectives, doing today what the CIA did during the Cold War. As well, the NED funds Soros’ Open Society Institute in fostering regime change in Myanmar. In an October 30 2003 Press Release the State Department admitted, “The United States also supports organizations such as the National Endowment for Democracy, the Open Society Institute and Internews, working inside and outside the region on a broad range of democracy promotion activities.” It all sounds very self-effacing and noble of the State Department. Is it though?

In reality the US State Department has recruited and trained key opposition leaders from numerous anti-government organizations. It has poured the relatively huge sum (for Myanmar) of more than $2.5 million annually into NED activities in promoting regime change in Myanmar since at least 2003. The US regime change, its Saffron Revolution, is being largely run, according to informed reports, out of the US Consulate General in bordering Chaing Mai, Thailand. There activists are recruited and trained, in some cases directly in the USA, before being sent back to organize inside Myanmar. The USA’s NED admits to funding key opposition media including the New Era Journal, Irrawaddy and the Democratic Voice of Burma radio.

The concert master of the tactics of Saffron monk-led non-violence regime change is Gene Sharp, founder of the deceptively-named Albert Einstein Institution in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a group funded by an arm of the NED to foster US-friendly regime change in key spots around the world. Sharp’s institute has been active in Burma since 1989, just after the regime massacred some 3,000 protestors to silence the opposition. CIA special operative and former US military attache in Rangoon, Col. Robert Helvey, an expert in clandestine operations, introduced Sharp to Burma in 1989 to train the opposition there in non-violent strategy. Interestingly, Sharp was also in China two weeks before the dramatic events at Tiananmen Square.

Why Myanmar now?

A relevant question is why the US government has such a keen interest in fostering regime change in Myanmar at this juncture. We can dismiss rather quickly the idea that it has genuine concern for democracy, justice, human rights for the oppressed population there. Iraq and Afghanistan are sufficient testimony to the fact Washington’s paean to democracy is propaganda cover for another agenda.

The question is what would lead to such engagement in such a remote place as Myanmar?

Geopolitical control seems to be the answer. Control ultimately of the strategic sea lanes from the Persian Gulf to the South China Sea. The coastline of Myanmar provides naval access in the proximity of one of the world’s most strategic water passages, the Strait of Malacca, the narrow ship passage between Malaysia and Indonesia.

The Pentagon has been trying to militarize the region since September 11, 2001, on the argument of defending against possible terrorist attack. The US has managed to gain an airbase on Banda Aceh, the Sultan Iskandar Muda Air Force Base, on the northernmost tip of Indonesia. The governments of the region, including Myanmar, however, have adamantly refused US efforts to militarize the region. A glance at a map will confirm the strategic importance of Myanmar.

The Strait of Malacca, linking the Indian and Pacific Oceans, is the shortest sea route between the Persian Gulf and China. It is the key chokepoint in Asia. More than 80 percent of all China’s oil imports are shipped by tankers passing the Malacca Strait. The narrowest point is the Phillips Channel in the Singapore Strait, only 1.5 miles wide at its narrowest. Daily more than 12 million barrels in oil supertankers pass through this narrow passage, most en route to the world’s fastest-growing energy market, China or to Japan.

If the strait were closed, nearly half of the world's tanker fleet would be required to sail further. Closure would immediately raise freight rates worldwide. More than 50,000 vessels per year transit the Strait of Malacca. The region from Maynmar to Banda Aceh in Indonesia is fast becoming one of the world’s most strategic chokepoints. Who controls those waters controls China’s energy supplies.

That strategic importance of Myanmar has not been lost on Beijing.

Since it became clear to China that the US was hell-bent on a unilateral militarization of the Middle East oil fields in 2003, Beijing has stepped up its engagement in Myanmar. Chinese energy and military security, not human rights concerns drive their policy.

In recent years Beijing has poured billions of dollars in military assistance into Myanmar, including fighter, ground-attack and transport aircraft; tanks and armored personnel carriers; naval vessels and surface-to-air missiles. China has built up Myanmar railroads and roads and won permission to station its troops in Myanmar. China, according to Indian defense sources, has also built a large electronic surveillance facility on Myanmar’s Coco Islands and is building naval bases for access to the Indian Ocean.

In fact Myanmar is an integral part of what China terms its “string of pearls,” its strategic design of establishing military bases in Myanmar, Thailand and Cambodia in order to counter US control over the Strait of Malacca chokepoint. There is also energy on and offshore of Myanmar, and lots of it.

The gas fields of Myanmar

Oil and gas have been produced in Myanmar since the British set up the Rangoon Oil Company in 1871, later renamed Burmah Oil Co. The country has produced natural gas since the 1970s, and, in the 1990s, it granted gas concessions to the foreign companies ElfTotal of France and Premier Oil of the UK in the Gulf of Martaban. Later Texaco and Unocal (now Chevron) won concessions at Yadana and Yetagun as well. Alone Yadana has an estimated gas reserve of more than 5 trillion cubic feet with an expected life of at least 30 years. Yetagun is estimated to have about a third the gas of the Yadana field.

In 2004 a large new gas field, Shwe field, off the coast of Arakan was discovered.

By 2002 both Texaco and Premier Oil withdrew from the Yetagun project following UK government and NGO pressure. Malaysia’s Petronas bought Premier’s 27 percent stake. By 2004 Myanmar was exporting Yadana gas via pipeline to Thailand worth annually $1 billion to the Myanmar regime.

In 2005 China, Thailand and South Korea invested in expanding the Myanmar oil and gas sector, with export of gas to Thailand rising 50 percent. Gas export today is Myanmar’s most important source of income. Yadana was developed jointly by ElfTotal, Unocal, PTT-EP of Thailand and Myanmar’s state MOGE, operated by the French ElfTotal. Yadana supplies some 20 percent of Thai natural gas needs.

Today the Yetagun field is operated by Malaysia’s Petronas along with MOGE and Japan’s Nippon Oil and PTT-EP. The gas is piped onshore where it links to the Yadana pipeline. Gas from the Shwe field is to come online beginning 2009. China and India have been in strong contention over the Shwe gas field reserves.

India loses, China wins

This past summer Myanmar signed a Memorandum of Understanding with PetroChina to supply large volumes of natural gas from reserves of the Shwe gasfield in the Bay of Bengal. The contract runs for 30 years. India was the main loser. Myanmar had earlier given India a major stake in two offshore blocks to develop gas to have been transmitted via pipeline through Bangladesh to India’s energy-hungry economy. Political bickering between India and Bangladesh brought the Indian plans to a standstill.

China took advantage of the stalemate. China simply trumped India with an offer to invest billions in building a strategic China-Myanmar oil and gas pipeline across Myanmar from Myanmar’s deepwater port at Sittwe in the Bay of Bengal to Kunming in China’s Yunnan Province, a stretch of more than 2,300 kilometers. China plans an oil refinery in Kumming as well.

What the Myanmar-China pipelines will allow is routing of oil and gas from Africa (Sudan among other sources) and the Middle East (Iran, Saudi Arabia) independent of dependence on the vulnerable chokepoint of the Malacca Strait. Myanmar becomes China’s “bridge” linking Bangladesh and countries westward to the China mainland independent of any possible future moves by Washington to control the strait.

India’s dangerous alliance shift

It’s no wonder that China is taking such precautions. Ever since the Bush administration decided in 2005 to recruit India to the Pentagon’s ‘New Framework for US-India Defense Relations,’India has been pushed into a strategic alliance with Washington in order to counter China in Asia.

In an October 2002 Pentagon report, ‘The Indo-US Military Relationship,’ the Office of Net Assessments stated the reason for the India-USA defense alliance would be to have a ‘capable partner’ who can take on ‘more responsibility for low-end operations’ in Asia, provide new training opportunities and ‘ultimately provide basing and access for US power projection.’ Washington is also quietly negotiating a base on Indian territory, a severe violation of India’s traditional non-aligned status.

Power projection against whom? China, perhaps?

As well, the Bush administration has offered India to lift its 30 year nuclear sanctions and to sell advanced US nuclear technology, legitimizing India’s open violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, at the same time Washington accuses Iran of violating same, an exercise in political hypocrisy to say the least.

Notably, just as the Saffron-robed monks of Myanmar took to the streets, the Pentagon opened joint US-Indian joint naval exercises, Malabar 07, along with armed forces from Australia, Japan and Singapore. The US showed the awesome muscle of its 7th Fleet, deploying the aircraft carriers USS Nimitz and USS Kitty Hawk; guided missile cruisers USS Cowpens and USS Princeton and no less than five guided missile destroyers.

US-backed regime change in Myanmar together with Washington’s growing military power projection via India and other allies in the region is clearly a factor in Beijing’s policy vis-à-vis Myanmar’s present military junta. As is often the case these days, from Darfur to Caracas to Rangoon, the rallying call of Washington for democracy ought to be taken with at least a grain of good salt.

F. William Engdahl is the author of "A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order," Pluto Press Ltd.. To contact by e-mail: Further articles can be found at his website,

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Defending Democracy

Some time I also feel if democracy is madness of many for the gain of a few. No doubt, democracy has reduced people to numbers only. But then again, only democracy can give better dividends than other systems. Read the following angry but thought-provoking piece, with this spirit: agree to disagree.

Fuck democracy!(from:


Dictatorship in disguise

Being against democracy is not necessarily the same as wanting dictatorship. It is entirely possible to be against the idea of democracy, whilst at the same time being against the idea of dictatorship, although society rarely gives us any option – it’s always either one or the other.

In order to survive, the establishment must maintain the lie that democracy is the only viable alternative to dictatorship. That the two are polarities, outside of which nothing can exist. Dictatorship is presented as the dystopia, and democracy, the utopia. But polarities are often illusions…

There are, in fact, similarities between democracies and dictatorships. The most apparent one being that for a minority it doesn't matter if the ruler is a dictator or a majority; it is simply being ruled over in both cases. And that’s the point - both systems are designed to control people. The only difference is that people living in a democracy generally tend to believe that they are free. But democracy is nothing but dictatorship in disguise.

The illusion of democracy has many layers that I will peel off, one at a time, until the whole concept has been dissected, brought out into the light, and exposed for the all-time-greatest confidence trick that it truly is. I will begin with the most apparent element of the grand deception.

The First Layer

Democracy is primitive

In the ancient world of warring savage tribes, a bigger tribe would, because of its numerical superiority, probably stand victorious after a bloody conflict with a smaller tribe. The members of the smaller tribe who weren’t slain in the battle would be enslaved.

This bloody principle has, in modern times, been systematized and labeled “democracy.” Bigger groups are given power over smaller groups by law.
Have we come no further? Will the majority rule just because a larger group of people can destroy a smaller group in the event of a fight. Do we really want to base our system on that primitive principle? Is democracy really democratic when looked upon from this perspective?

People only like democracy when it does their bidding

Democracy, or "majority rule," survives, as the phrase suggests, because it appeals to the majority. Most people are content in this system because they agree with it. So discontentment will only arise within minorities, but because they are minorities they can’t change it... Thus the status quo is secured for as long as the system remains.

However, when some extremist party enters the governing institution of any democratic country, even the people that usually shiver with excitement at the mere thought of democracy start proclaiming restrictions to the free vote. Because the truth is that they only supported democracy as long as it successfully brought their own values to the status of laws. Can these people really be taken seriously?

The Second Layer

Diluted Sovereignty

Every individual should reasonably have the undivided power over his own life. But in a democratic system this birthright has been taken away and diluted with the collective power of everyone else in the area, thus rendering it useless. For example, in a democratic country with ten million inhabitants every individual possess only one ten-millionth of their sovereignty. That's only 0,0000001%, which means that 99,9999999% of a persons sovereignty is gone. Now that's a majority! True, they also possess one ten-millionth of everyone else’s too, but that's still a terribly bad trade from the original situation! What good does it do to be able to slightly affect others if you don't have the power over yourself? Why do people accept this?

The Third Layer

The illusion of choice

In elections we the people are given only a few alternatives from which to choose from. Vote for the "left"; which strives for more taxes, or vote for the "right"; which desires stricter laws. Rest assured that any vote will bring us deeper into hell. It seems like a win-win situation for the rulers of the world. This is no coincidence.

Politics is just a show, a lie which whole populations swallow hook, line and sinker. People do not see any further than this seemingly colorful curtain of imagined hope, but behind it hide the real rulers of the world. To them, politics is a great way to channel peoples' frustrations concerning the world into ways that suit their purposes. Frustrated individuals become politicians or activists and have to accept the whole program of their chosen party as their own ideas. The rest of the population then humbly submits to these puppets.

The Core

The true purpose of democracy

Dictatorship wasn’t enough. Its system of control by overt force generally worked, but it also created opposition. Naturally, since people were aware of the fact that they were being controlled, they would sometimes fight for their god-given right to Freedom.

So the elite agreed that the ideal system would be one of control by consent. –A population convinced that its society is the highest utopia possible would not rebel.
All they would have to do would be to fool the people into believing that a world of rules and limitations is what’s best for them. This would later prove to be easily accomplished; by creating reasons for laws and limitations, people would cry out for these readily available solutions.

But the elite realized that it would be impossible to fool everyone. So they made up a system with which there was no need to: In this system, they would only need to manipulate a little more than half to automatically gain control of the whole. Democracy was born!
This system was then presented as the solution; the long awaited final end to dictatorship. Thus, it conquered the world.


Why should your opinion matter to me?

Plato once proclaimed that although he didn't agree with the opinions of a fellow citizen, he would sacrifice his own life for this person’s right to have those opinions. So far so good, but what if a person's opinion is that you should conform to some system of conduct, and this opinion then wins public acceptance? In a democracy your forced submission would be justified by the advocates’ numerical superiority alone.

This is unacceptable! If the opinion of a fellow citizen is that you should be enslaved by his values, the only justifiable reaction would be for you to sacrifice him in an act of self defense and in the name of Freedom!
Why should anyone have any say in how you live your life if your lifestyle doesn't interfere with his; or does but only in moral terms? It shouldn't matter to you what anyone else thinks. Peoples’ opinions should be of no importance to you what so ever because your Rights and your Freedom should be inviolable! Ideally they should be, but they are not…

Let’s create a list of Human Rights where the individual’s Sovereignty and Freedom tower high above everything else. And not even if the world is falling apart and the only way to keep it intact seems to be to submit to the will of some savior shall these fundamental rights be given up.

Those who wish to control this world frequently attempt to scare us into abandoning our sovereignty. Don’t be fooled. Let the world fall apart, and when it does, keep defending your rights until you are kicking around dust in an otherwise empty space and you have drawn your last breath!
As the old Roman proverb so eloquently states, "It is better to live one day as a lion, than a thousand days as a lamb."

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Washington Post on Bangladesh's War on Corruption

In Bangladesh, 'a Quiet Revolution'War on Rampant Graft Brings Pain, Promises

By Emily WaxWashington Post Foreign ServiceWednesday, October 3, 2007; A16

DHAKA, Bangladesh -- It's been called Bangladesh's war on corruption, a revolution in this South Asian nation once persistently ranked as the most kleptocratic in the world. It's a place where extorting cash was so ingrained in the social fabric that even the Bureau of Anti-Corruption accepted a "ghoosh," or bribe.

Now, though, two former prime ministers -- rival politicians who have dominated this country's politics for 16 years -- are behind bars, awaiting trial for allegedly siphoning off millions of dollars from the government. Also incarcerated on graft, tax-evasion and corruption charges are 170 members of the ruling elite, along with an estimated 15,000 political underbosses, local government officials and businessmen.

In one way or another, they are all alleged to have stolen from a population of 150 million people who have long languished in abject poverty.

The list of accused includes not only former prime ministers Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina but also Zia's eldest son, Tarique Rahman, who was known as "Mr. 10 Percent" until recently. Rahman skimmed close to $1 million from government coffers, according to Bangladesh's freshly mandated Independent Anti-Corruption Commission, and is now being called "Mr. 110 Percent."

Rahman, Zia and Hasina all deny wrongdoing.

The arrests this year are unprecedented for South Asia, a region with a reputation for widespread impunity when it comes to thievery in government. Corruption experts say bribes are routinely offered -- and taken -- to push forward a water project, a new road, a sari business or a passport application. Even relief funds for victims of cyclones and flooding have mysteriously disappeared. Since Bangladesh's independence from Pakistan in 1971, an estimated $40 billion in international aid has been stolen, analysts say.

"It's completely surreal and was unthinkable in South Asia that a country's demigods are now in jail, and that's what we are seeing here," said Iftekhar Zaman, executive director of the Bangladesh branch of Transparency International, a leading anti-corruption watchdog, which has its largest chapter in the world in Bangladesh. "For many people, what matters is daily life, and corruption was so deep-rooted here . . . that there has to be a painful transition. But in the long term, it has to happen."

The transition from a system in which corruption rules to one in which institutions do has indeed been difficult. Prices for daily essentials such as rice and fish, staples of the Bangladeshi diet, have increased. The reason, according to some analysts, is that businesses are finally paying taxes levied on their products and passing on the costs.

Bangladesh's military-backed government, which assumed power Jan. 11 following months of unrest, is responsible for the crackdown. It declared emergency rule, banning political activity and protests, and said it would root out corruption by any means necessary before allowing elections to be held in 2008.

Critics, who say the anti-corruption campaign has been taken too far, have called the government's takeover "Bangladesh's 1/11." Arrests are often made in the middle of the night, according to relatives of those charged. "Since 1/11, we are passing sleepless nights," said Abu Motaleb of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry, which recently held a seminar advising business leaders on the crackdown.

Many business leaders say that what used to get through with a call to the right contact, a slap on the back and an envelope of cash now requires paperwork in triplicate and rounds of approvals. On Dhaka's traffic-clogged streets, fruit and fish dealers are learning about new tax codes and fees that need to be paid to get their products to market.

"This is all news to us," said Kazzim Uddin, 37, a father of four who swatted the flies away from his silver trays of sardines and white fish. "We don't have to pay bribes anymore. But we do notice the prices are so much higher. Long-term, it is so much better. But short-term, it hurts the family budget."

The interim government says these are normal growing pains, and the only way to change the system. For decades, a small elite has controlled scarce resources while the poor have suffered; that, the government says, must change.

"Even a little corruption is bad because it sets a tone that anything goes," said Hasan Mashhud Chowdhury, chairman of the Anti-Corruption Commission, which has replaced the now-defunct, and corrupt, Bureau of Anti-Corruption. "Corruption is tied to poverty. Africa has its Big Men, with their sycophants who benefited from their power. Well, Bangladesh has its Big Women and their blind followers. And why should we all be too afraid to take back what our citizens lost?" Zia and Hasina, both women, dominated politics here for years.

Some Bangladeshis say they are optimistic but cautiously so. They point to neighboring Pakistan, whose military-led anti-corruption drive in recent years ended with the military fixed in power.

Some in civil society say that there have been too many arrests and that those who have been arrested have not been provided with due process. Those are accusations that the interim government says are untrue and unfair.

"What about the rights of the Bangladeshi citizens that were stolen from and kept in terrible poverty? What is happening here is nothing short of a quiet revolution without violence," said Mainul Hosein, the caretaker government's key law and justice official. "At least we are trying to establish an honest government."

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Wall Street Journal on Corruption Ranking

Combating Corruption
October 2, 2007

Fighting poverty is a popular cause these days, from Bono's bracelets to fancy
"poverty reduction strategies" at development banks. But if do-gooders are
serious about reducing global poverty, fighting corruption is one of the best
places to start.

For supporting evidence, look no further than Transparency International's
annual Corruption Perceptions Index. Released Thursday, the survey aggregates
14 polls and ranks 180 countries on "perceived corruption," defined as abuse of
public office for private gain. The world's poorest countries -- think Burma or
Bangladesh -- languish at the bottom of the list, while the world's richest
countries get top marks.

Corruption keeps poor countries poor by squirreling away resources in the hands
of elites, who are typically unelected and who spend the gains on, at best,
inefficient public works and at worst, private ends. Examples of such wastage
aren't hard to find; the Burmese junta's jungle capital at Pyinmana or
Turkmenistan's revolving gold leaf statue of its president, Saparmurat Niyazov,
spring to mind.

Corruption also drives away foreign investment and disincentivizes local
entrepreneurs from starting new businesses. That doesn't mean that corrupt
countries don't attract investment; China, which tied with India at a middling
rank of 72, pulled down $63 billion of foreign direct investment, despite
widespread corruption in the Communist Party ranks. But imagine how much money
the mainland would receive if it made a more serious effort to bolster its
legal system and enforce clean business practices -- like Hong Kong does, which
ranks number 14.

This year, 40% of the countries that have "rampant" corruption (i.e. a score
below 3, out of a range of 1 to 10) are also desperately poor -- a trend that's
endured since the poll's inception in 1995. But as William Easterly explains on
a nearby page in a piece on the Asian Development Bank, it's still devilishly
difficult to persuade many actors that corruption is worth prioritizing. In a
recent report on the World Bank's anticorruption unit, former Federal Reserve
Chairman Paul Volcker found "ambivalence" in the Bank toward fighting

Reducing corruption means, among other things, better oversight of foreign aid,
the encouragement of strong, independent judiciaries and support of civil
society institutions to expose graft. Come to think of it, that's a good
mission for development banks to adopt.