NOBEL Laureate Mohammad Younus' decision to abandon plans of forming his own political party would no doubt have come as a serious disappointment for Bangladesh's suffering population, especially the hardworking middle-class.

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Published: Sun 6 May 2007, 8:26 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 12:58 AM

That his decision has been made largely because those who initially pushed him to turn to politics "are gradually losing their enthusiasm" comes as little surprise to anyone familiar with the politics of the region. As the greatest benefactor yet of the Bangladeshi poor must have realised, few in the political arena 'put the muscle where the mouth is' and when came time for actions to speak louder than words, "they were not interested in joining the party. Others would not leave their existing political party".

Seen closely, such tendencies are visible right across South Asia – be it India boasting the world's largest democracy, Pakistan struggling with adopting the right kind of democracy or Sri Lanka where near civil war and apparent democracy run side by side – and offer the most interesting insight into the region's politics of corruption.

It bears noting that, going by precedent, most of the people refusing to hop onto Mr Yunus' boat would of course have offered their services themselves had he decided to continue and, for the sake of argument, gone on to win. And with few options other than these time-it-right yes-men, it is little surprise that the political system is simply unable to snap out of the long-running cycle of rivals being elected one after the other regardless of the quality of their terms. Over the years, the common man on the street finds little difference between the same set of people making the same promises come election time, especially since they're rarely honoured.

At such a time, Mohammad Yunus offered a plausible change for Bangladesh, and a prudent example for neighbours to follow. A friend of the people with a proven track record, and with no personal axe to grind, is the kind of leadership material South Asia is in need of at present. Unfortunately, the present mix of largely system-dependant elements that thrive on the status-quo continue to upset such meaningful efforts at reform. It is therefore for the people of South Asia to step up to the plate and offer support whenever a Mohammad Yunus comes to the fore. Failing that, change will be ever-elusive.

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