Can ACC stop corruption?

The International Anti-Corruption Day was observed on Wednesday. The theme this year is ‘recovery with integrity’. Needless to say, this places importance on transparency and ethics in tackling the global COVID-19 pandemic. We must try to overcome this crisis by addressing our corruption.

We noticed how coronavirus, besides causing life threats and health risks, exacerbated our ethical crisis. Lack of transparency and irregularities in the health sector were drastically revealed during the pandemic.

People almost forgot about the incidents of corruption in other sectors after the irregularities and misappropriations in the health sector came to the fore. The media was rife with the anti-casino drive in March before the pandemic started. The anti-corruption commission announced in the beginning of the year that it would take stringent action against those, no matter how influential they are, who are involved in the casino business and money laundering.

Can ACC really perform its duty objectively, with its own free will? Or does it operate on the whims of the government and ruling party?

ACC then started investigating people engaged the in casino business, froze their bank accounts and barred them from travelling abroad. There were several MPs and leaders on the list. But the anti-casino campaign came to a halt shortly after COVID-19 outbreak, and those against whom the ACC began investigating and was taking legal action for alleged involvement in these activities, went unnoticed. Their files remain closed and forgotten at the ACC office.

A comment made by a deputy director of ACC who wished to remain unnamed was published the Daily Star on Wednesday. He said the irregularities in the health sector overshadowed the casino cases. ACC shifted its focus to the health sector. This is how ACC hops from one issue to another and leaves its previous cases unfinished. In the process some of the issues see better progress while others have less progress.

The question is, why does ACC keep an issue pending and jump into another sensational issue? Can ACC really perform its duty objectively, with its own free will? Or does it operate on the whims of the government and ruling party? A statement made by TIB exeutive director Iftekharuzzaman is important here. He told the Daily Star, ACC had drawn a line and it is unwilling, incapable or fearful of going beyond it. It depends on the identity and status of the individual whether ACC will take any action or not against him.

Visibly ACC’s anti-corruption activities are selective. The organisation will never be able to perform its duties properly and as per people’s expectations until it shrugs off such practice. How will ACC be abl to move away from its selective stance and achieve the power to take action in all sectors freely and neutrally?