The recent arrest of driver Abdul Malek has gained massive attention as it made rounds across the media nationwide, revealing the depth of corruption entrenched in our system. As president of the driver's association at the institute, he influenced the drivers' recruitment and transfer processes. Soon enough, he became extraordinarily powerful within the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), which would explain how he amassed wealth of at least Tk 1,000 crore. Malek's overarching influence in all matters earned him the title "shadow DG" because of his abuse of power and alliance with key officials at the DGHS. Apart from maintaining good connections with high-ups, he also manipulated a section of the staff members and officers who used to provide him with vital information with which he would lobby for appointments and transfers of officers and other employees.

Malek's influence was such that the immediate past DG as well as many DGHS officials, all chose to turn a blind eye towards his criminality. Malek's name was in a list made by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) in early 2019 of 45 grade III and IV health sector employees who were possibly involved in corruption. Are we to believe that their superiors had no knowledge of what was going on? And if this is the case of a single staffer, one can only imagine what more is yet to be revealed about the rest of those accused. How was it possible for him to make his superiors so afraid of him that they did not report him to the authorities?

This is just one institution where the level of corruption has reached unbelievable heights. What about other government bodies? We must not forget that such deeply embedded corruption cannot take place without the support of superiors and powerful backstage players who enable such crimes but manage to elude detection.  All government institutions should be impartially investigated.

Malek's case is just the tip of the iceberg and unless further investigation is conducted, the remaining corrupt people at the DGHS, including some grade III and IV employees as well as DGs, ADGs, and line directors, among others, will never be brought to book. While we applaud the decision taken by the ACC to investigate this matter, it is high time the government brought transparency and accountability to such cases too. The ACC must probe into other government bodies and their employee unions. If we are to free our system from the chains of corruption, the authorities must enforce strict monitoring and exemplary punishment for those who indulge in such practices.


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