- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Corruption in Bangladesh costs the country tens of millions of dollars in investment and tens of thousands of jobs, according to the U.S. ambassador to the impoverished South Asian nation.

“Corruption has too long robbed Bangladeshis of the fruits of their labor,” Ambassador James Moriarty said in remarks during “Anti-Corruption Week” earlier this month.

He acknowledged government efforts to combat bribery, fraud and other dishonest deals and noted that Bangladesh signed the U.N. Convention Against Corruption in 2007. Nevertheless, he added, the fight against corruption needs more than official action.

“The fight against corruption requires the commitment and support of all sectors of society - government, civil society, business, the media and an informed public,” Mr. Moriarty said.

“Fighting corruption requires awareness and continual vigilance from all sectors of society. … Corruption weakens democratic institutions, and, ultimately, harms most the weakest and most vulnerable members of society.”

Mr. Moriarty noted that American business executives abandoned “scores of millions of dollars worth of projects” in Bangladesh because of corruption.

“What does that mean?” he asked. “Tens of thousands of Bangladeshis who did not get jobs. … Tens of thousands of families who went to bed a little bit hungrier and scores of thousands of children who did not get a good education.”

Transparency International ranks Bangladesh as one of the most corrupt nations in a survey of 180 countries.


He promised “safe change” and compared himself to President Obama, but Mauricio Funes at the head of a party of ex-rebels will have to move cautiously when he assumes the presidency of El Salvador because he failed to win a mandate for change, according to a former Latin American ambassador

Mr. Funes “seems to be a pragmatist, and he must realize that Salvadorans do not want a radical administration,” Jaime Daremblum, now director of Latin American studies at the Hudson Institute in Washington, wrote of the March 15 presidential election.

A former television news reporter, Mr. Funes was the candidate of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), a communist guerrilla movement in the 1980s. He defeated Rodrigo Avila of the conservative National Republican Alliance (ARENA) by 68,000 votes out of 2.6 million cast, or about 2.6 percent of the ballots.

While Mr. Funes rejected any extremist policy such as nationalization of the economy, Vice President-elect Salvador Sanchez Ceren, a former rebel commander, is another matter, Mr. Daremblum wrote in an analysis of the election.

“Sanchez Ceren is fiercely anti-American and has very little in common with Funes. They are a political odd couple,” he said. “The question is: Will Sanchez Ceren be the real power broker in the Funes administration?”

Mr. Daremblum noted that Mr. Funes plans to keep a campaign promise to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba but has mostly “steered clear of ideological pandering.”

“The fact that a left-wing extremist such as Sanchez Ceren is about to be a heartbeat away from the Salvadoran presidency is troubling,” he added, “but Mr. Funes seems to be a pragmatist.”

The ARENA party has controlled the presidency for 20 years, and conservative parties still have a majority in the legislature. Mr. Funes and Mr. Sanchez Ceren will be inaugurated June 1.

• Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail James Morrison.

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