Efficient but not quite ethical and maybe even illegal
THE ongoing campaign, launched by the front organisations of the ruling Awami League, in which ‘achievements’ of the AL-led government have been enumerated and contrasted with the ‘failures’ of the previous political administration of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led alliance, in attractive banners plastered on hoardings at all strategic points in the capital Dhaka, seems to have been conceptualised by a public relations wizard. Its execution has been exquisite, with almost all the hoardings in the city having been covered with the banners overnight. The cardinal problem with the entire campaign, however, is that it is unethical and perhaps illegal even. Maybe, that is why the banners do not mention the names of the sponsors, although, according to a report published in New Age on Wednesday, the AL press secretary, who is also the environment minister, said the party’s front organisations had launched the hoarding campaign. He would not elaborate on the source of the money spent on the campaign, though.
Meanwhile, owners of these hoardings claim that no leader of the Awami League and its front organisations or any representative of the government approached them before putting the large banners on the hoardings covering the advertisements that their clients have already paid for. The general secretary of the Bangladesh Billboard Owners’ Association was quoted in the report as saying that they clients were complaining about their advertisements being plastered under another set of campaigns and demanding refund on their payment. Clearly, the partisan overkill and arrogance of power of the AL front organisations have resulted in an unethical, and even illegal, practice that looks set to have an enduring adverse impact on the owners of the hoardings.
Similar partisan overkill is also evident in the elaborate programmes that the government has undertaken under the Special Mass Awareness Campaign on Development Activities. The campaign, to be monitored by a five-member committee of the mass communications department, will feature a seven-day fair on the south plaza of the national assembly complex and the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre, and a three-day fair in each of the districts. The department and the ministries have been already been asked to execute the whole campaign while the deputy commissioners and superintendents of police at the district level and upazila nirbahi officers at the upazila level will assist in the countrywide venture, according to the project paper. In other words, the government looks set to engage the state machinery to implement a project that appears to be essentially part of an electoral campaign by the ruling party. Moreover, there remains a big question as to where the funding of such an elaborate campaign will come from.
Overall, there are quite a few unpleasant questions about the ongoing campaign and the one in the pipeline that the incumbents need come up with answers to. Meanwhile, the government needs to arrange for the banners plastered on the hoardings to be removed because they clearly trespass into the space of the advertising companies and the advertisers alike.
On a different note, although the ethical and legal mooring of the ongoing campaign remains questionable, the model can be followed, of course without breaking the law or impinging on anybody else’s rights, by different organisations, political and otherwise, which want to present to the people what they believe are the performance and policy failures of the incumbents.
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IT IS indeed unfortunate that teachers and staff of different... Full story