[Dhaka Correspondent] Anti-Corruption Commission chairman, Hasan Mashhud Chowdhury, Thursday said the government should broaden scope for the right to information to cut corruption in society. The former army chief referred to a missing article from an international magazine that had focused on Bangladesh. The article was apparently torn off by the government what Mashhud termed as an “interventionist” act.
Mashhud’s comment came a day before International Day for the Right to Information, when he spoke at a seminar on the same theme. “I wanted to read the article when I saw it in the content page of a widely-circulated English weekly. I turned to the page only to find it missing. Here the state has curbed the right to information.” He said: “It did not work as I read the article online.” Mashhud did not name the magazine.
Many readers had complained that they could not read the article “The minus-two solution” in the September 8-14 print edition of The Economist.
Mashhud apparently agreed with keynote speaker Robaet Ferdous who said post-colonial states are “overly interventionist.” Mashhud said the right to information, good governance and democracy are interlinked and compared them to “blooms of the same tree”. “They will flourish together or die together. If you want to have the fruits you have to start from the soil.”
Expressing solidarity with the spirit of the right to information law, Mashhud said, “Many have spoken about the military budget of Bangladesh. I was personally involved with the matter. Ethically, the information regarding the budget should be disclosed. Nothing would be found if the budget was laid open to the public as 90 percent of the budget is spent on salary and allowances.”
Transparency International, Bangladesh co-organized the seminar with five other non-governmental organizations, including Ain O Shalish Kendro at the LGED Auditorium. Former caretaker government adviser Sultana Kamal, speaking as special guest at the seminar, said, “The notion that information may hamper state security is not acceptable. The security of state means the security of people. When the security of the state runs counter to people’s security, there is an ulterior motive.”