Question paper leak at BG Press
THERE is little question that corruption in government is a sad reality we have lived with for years. Even so, there is in us that certain feeling that as governance improves and public sensibilities get to be more sharpened, such wrongdoing will be rolled back and the country can move on toward its desired goals. That being the sentiment, it comes as a shock for all us that some government staff have been involved in the crime of leaking question papers in return for dishonest financial gains. The crime we speak of concerns the Bangladesh Government (BG) Press taking place in Rangpur and involving a number of candidates for the position of assistant teachers at public high schools. As a report in this newspaper on Saturday notes, elements at the BG Press sold question papers related to an interview for the positions for a rather staggering amount of Tk. 25 lakh. The interview was, of course, cancelled as a consequence of the leak.
The manner in which the whole scam was organized speaks of the sophistication and strategic planning that were brought into the scandal. Those involved made it a point to have some candidates peruse the question papers, on payment of Tk. 2 lakh each, at a guest house in Gangachhara upazila of Rangpur. They were to pay an additional Tk. 3 lakh each once the examinations were over. They were forbidden to take out the question papers or to copy their contents. They were only permitted to commit the questions to memory, which again was a bizarre situation. In any case, what is jarring is the involvement of government employees in such a sensitive area as a government printing press. Besides, when the matter involves a public examination, it is shocking that some employees there could so easily and recklessly set up links with corrupt elements and in exchange for money agree to let them know the questions beforehand. In simple terms, departmental confidentiality, to say nothing of trust, has been undermined here. Of course, such leaks of questions have happened before, particularly at educational institutions. But now that it is the BG Press which is involved, one can only guess what might happen --- and on a graver and bigger scale --- in future if the problem is not tackled right away.
Altogether 167 people have been arrested over the scandal. The authorities have constituted a five-member probe body to inquire into the incident. We urge that the body go into the details of the scandal and submit its report by the July 19 deadline given to it. Moreover, it is important that the report be made public in the interest of citizens. We also think that a wholesale survey of all such institutions be conducted immediately in order for any gaps or loopholes to be plugged for the future. And it goes without saying that those found guilty of involvement in the Rangpur BG Press scam be given exemplary punishment as a deterrence for those tempted to commit similar crimes in future. No mercy should be shown here.