TIB survey on MPs not neutral, says minister, though admits severe grafts

The Daily Star November 19, 2012

Information Minister Hasanul Haque Inu has termed flawed, weak and substandard the research method that Transparency International Bangladesh used for its survey on lawmakers.

“TIB used a method that conveniently fitted in its prefixed headline and ideas,” Inu told journalists in his ministry yesterday referring to the TIB report revealed on October 14.

‘TIB report on MPs not objective’

‘টিআইবির প্রতিবেদন বস্তুনিষ্ঠ নয়’

TIB has damaged the image and honour of parliament and lawmakers through the weak and biased report. The research has been conducted with a certain purpose, he said.

In its report, TIB said 97 percent of the 149 sitting lawmakers who were surveyed had been involved in “negative activities” while 70 percent of them were engaged in “criminal activities”. It evaluated the activities of 149 lawmakers — 136 from Awami League and 13 from the opposition.

TIB drew flak from the prime minister and ruling party leaders for the report.

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The information ministry later asked TIB to give it a copy of the report and reply to its 31 queries. It then thoroughly reviewed the report and TIB’s answers to find whether the research was done properly following a scientific method.

A ministry statement circulated at yesterday’s press briefing said TIB didn’t apply random sampling; it rather applied a convenient sampling that doesn’t represent the entire population.

It questioned the motive for changing the research headline to “evaluation of positive and negative role of lawmakers in the ninth parliament.” The headline was “expected role and achievement of parliament members” during the research.

Inu said corruption has become a serious disease in the country. “But it is now a fashion to portray politicians as corrupt. Unfortunately, TIB failed to conduct its research neutrally and come out of this trend.”

He said the report is not against the government; rather it is against parliament and members of the House.

Inu said no administrative action could be taken against any lawmakers as TIB failed to bring specific charges.

Replying to a question whether any measures will be taken against TIB, he said, “We will urge it to amend the report and conduct research on important national issues using scientific method.”

Asked for opinion on a number of lawmakers now in focus for controversial activities, he said, “Reports on corruption are published in big headlines, but not the protests of lawmakers. Many even went to court to challenge the reports.”

On corruption allegations in Padma bridge project, and the Sonali Bank and stockmarket scams, the minister said the media and people are criticising the government despite its tough stance against corruption.

Many high-ups have been removed from their positions and they are being questioned. “This has never happened in the past,” said the minister.

However, TIB Executive Director Iftekharuzzaman differed with the minister, and claimed that the research was credible and a reflection of reality.

“It was not a survey. It was a research on the basis of secondary and primary data collected at the field level. TIB maintained the highest standard of research in social science that is followed across the globe.”

He said TIB conducted research in those constituencies where it could collect credible data.

“Initially, we selected 220 constituencies. But finally we stuck to 149 when it came to the question of getting credible information.

“We selected unbiased, conscious and neutral people. We did not just interview people in general,” he said.

About choosing five newspapers, Iftekharuzzaman said, “Every research has its perspective. We get the context from the media. Out of the 220 constituencies, there were negative reports about lawmakers in 180 constituencies. We verified the facts during our research at the field level.”

He, however, said none can guarantee cent percent accuracy in a social science research.

On the motive for the research, he said, “Yes, we have a motive and that is to institutionalise democracy and make it stronger.”

It has another motive, and that is “to correct the lawmakers and make them aware of their role so that they can perform better in their constituencies,” he added.

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