Enough is enoughby FR Chowdhury
AT THE very outset, I would like to state that I am not a politician. I am not a supporter of any of the political parties in Bangladesh. I have no political dreams or aspirations. I am just one of the many Bangladeshis who left Bangladesh out of utter frustration. The professionals were never evaluated for their skill and expertise. I have seen an air commodore serving as director general of shipping (head of the maritime administration). The political and bureaucratic bosses in Bangladesh seem to believe they know everything and the rest of the people know nothing, they are just stupid fools. They are not wanted in Bangladesh. Yet, when these people go abroad, they contribute their knowledge and wisdom to their new country and get rewarded. They get a sense of fulfilment and happiness. Bangladesh remains deprived. It will probably remain deprived for many more years.
I say so because of the current state of affairs in Bangladesh. Student politics in the name of Chhatra League, Chhatra Dal, Chhatra Shibir, etc seems to have successfully driven all academic activities out of the campuses. Most of the campuses seem to have now become the breeding and training ground for criminals. Most of the professors now gather at the Shahbagh square to express their support for the so-called projonmo. The political parties patronise all such activities. Education which is supposed to be the backbone of the country is now being totally destroyed.
Most political leaders, top bureaucrats, judges, generals and businesspeople send their children abroad for education and they normally do not return. This is the story of brain-drain, both present and future. The future of the country looks bleak and dark. The type of student politics that we have in Bangladesh does not exist anywhere else in the world. From Oxford to Harvard, they all have students’ council elected by students who contribute a lot to the cause of better education. They are role models for others. What we got in the name of student politics is all rubbish and it must be immediately finished to restore academic environment in all universities, colleges and other institutions.
After the 1/11 drama, we were delighted to have a democratically elected government and that also with more than two-thirds majority. It could do everything it wanted but it turned out to be missed opportunities. First of all, we have to talk about the carnage at the headquarters of the Bangladesh Rifles (since renamed Border Guard Bangladesh). I have never heard of a prime minister sitting with the leaders of an armed mutiny for negotiation. It does not go to our heads as to why she had to declare amnesty for them. It is also not understood why the prime minister was treating it as a political issue. Due to such handling of the situation, we lost some of our brilliant officers. Then, she showered the bereaved families with money, not her own but from state treasury. What a mockery!
Once in power she appeared hell bent on rewriting the history of Bangladesh where everything was done by her late father and whatever remaining is now being done by her. All praise is on her and her father. She granted posthumous national award to Mr Hannan of the Chittagong Awami League for reading out the declaration of independence on behalf of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. She even went to High Court to get a judicial order to this effect. Despite all that people know the real truth that it was the then Major Zia who proclaimed the independence of Bangladesh on behalf of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Late Dr Anwar Ali was a good friend of mine. It was Dr Anwar Ali who risked his life and took the radio technician from Agrabad colony to Kalurghat to fix the transmitter. Those present at the time of declaration were Hannan and Mannan of the Awami League, Belal and the technician of radio and Dr Ali besides a few others. I personally heard the recorded declaration much later on April 6, 1971. So, this project (to establish a total lie as truth) of the prime minister misfired.
The Nobel Committee in Norway may have created more trouble for us. Instead of selecting our prime minister, it selected Professor Muhammad Yunus and his Grameen Bank for the Peace Prize. Sheikh Hasina apparently got furious and engaged all governmental agencies to trace out any mishandling of fund or other irregularity. On several occasions, she publicly said that Yunus sucked the blood of the poor through the Grameen Bank. The more she tried to defame Yunus the more honour he received in international circle, eventually leading to the US Congressional Gold Medal. His concept of social business has now spread over the whole world. People of Bangladesh shall always remember the contributions made by Yunus and Sir Fazle Hassan Abed and continue to regard them highly, no matter what Hasina and her government think of them. Another project misfired.
It is ridiculous to trust an unelected government, instead of an elected government. However, in case of Bangladesh, it is different. Here, love for power overrides all other considerations. Quite a few years back, Sheikh Hasina came up with a brilliant idea. She insisted on non-party independent caretaker government for free and fair election and she won that election and that is how she came to power. Now she is against it. She wants the next election to be held under her own supervision. The Bangladesh Nationalist Party opposes the move and has threatened to boycott the election. Most people seem to believe that the caretaker government system should continue for a few more years so that democracy in all its fairness can establish a firm base. However, Hasina appears adamant and has virtually divided the nation on this issue.
Through the apparently government-managed Shahbagh Square projonmo and Hefajat gathering, including the burning of the Qur’an, the incumbents have again divided the country between so-called astik and nastik. In between there was another drama to divert attention — the questionable rescue of garment worker Reshma weeks 17 days after the collapse of Rana Plaza. The incumbents seem to think that, amidst all these chaos and confusion, they will declare a snap election and get elected for another term.
Immediately after coming to power, the AL-led government declared that all politically motivated cases would be withdrawn. Subsequently, all Awami League leaders and workers including some known criminals got out. I have not heard of any political leaders of other parties being released. Meantime, presidential pardon has been granted to a number of convicts. This is what we call ‘misuse of power’. There is no better example than that.
The judiciary and the bureaucracy appear to have been sufficiently moulded to the government’s liking. Debatable characters have been appointed as High Court judges. Competent civil servants have been made officers on special duty and then retired in so-called public interest. I had been a civil servant in the United Kingdom and I have never known of OSD business with the change of government. Some of the highly-placed Bangladesh civil servants cannot make any contributions when they attend any global or regional meetings outside Bangladesh because of their deep devotion and love for mother-tongue (they cannot speak English or any other UN languages). However, they are considered to be inspired by muktijuddher chetona. The police seem to have been turned into a criminal terror group of the Awami League. Besides, active members of Awami League, Chhatra League and Juba League have been suitably armed.
Bangladesh has possibly the highest rate of extrajudicial killings. No wonder, the police cannot resolve the killing of labour leader Aminul or journalists Sagar and Runi. They cannot even find any clue with respect to the disappearance of Ilias Ali and his driver. The killing of Bishwajit in broad daylight shows how daring the Awami League and Chhatra League have become. The latest is the serial murder of Milky and Tareq. It shows that most AL, BCL and Juba League leaders and activists are criminal thugs with all the firearms at their disposal.
With the elections getting closer, the Awami League seems to have gone all out for last-minute purchases and procurement. It started with the prime minister’s trip to Moscow. She suddenly decides to make Bangladesh militarily the most powerful country in Asia and makes huge purchases of military equipment. It is all on credit and Bangladesh will have to pay it back with interest. Some future governments will face the financial squeeze. The prime minister made another official visit to Europe (UK and Belarus) with her family to attend the wedding of her niece in London. New licences are being issued for more banks and insurance companies. The railway minister hastily imported some coaches and engines that are not suitable for our conditions. The communications minister received his buses. The shipping minister is very eager to buy ships for the Bangladesh Shipping Corporation and ferries for the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation. The aviation minister quickly gave order for construction of another runway. He is also keen to buy a new set of radar for the civil aviation/air traffic control before the end of his tenure and new aircraft for the national airline. The arrangement for carriage of pilgrims was done in such a protective manner that the High Court had to give an order to allow pilgrims to travel on airline of their choice. The cabinet has already started leasing out various offshore blocks for oil and gas exploration. They have issued new licences for fishing without any study of stock and growth. Hundreds of civil servants have been promoted even though there are no suitable vacancies for them. Things are being done in a way as if there is no tomorrow.
In the meantime, there has been a total collapse of the civil administration. Take the Financial Express of August 3 and you can read all about the internal state of affairs. A ministry is publicly talking to newspaper about insubordination by a department under it. The minister seemed unaware of the matter. If the minister cannot keep control over his own domain, he should resign.
I have on previous occasions written about corruption and financial irregularities. I do not intend to repeat those. However, there is a new one that I could not avoid. I understand that the Anti-Corruption Commission is going to give a big financial reward to one of the private secretaries of the prime minister for his cooperation and assistance in getting back the money that Khaleda Zia’s son Koko had earlier supposedly smuggled to Singapore. This must be a very unique case. However, it reminds me of another unique incident where a minister’s private secretary was caught with car full of money and later it was clarified that the minister had nothing to do with it. In Bangladesh it is good to work as a PS or APS to a minister because they are the lucky ones to get Aladdin’s magic lamp.
Ever since the local election results are known, the AL leaders seem to have gone out of their senses. I was shocked to know that the prime minister said the leader of the opposition drank whole night and then slept up to late afternoon. About the results of the local election the prime minister said that people have voted all the criminals. This clearly shows that she has no trust or faith in democracy. Democracy is not safe in her hands. That is why I say enough is enough. For heaven’s sake give a free and fair election under a non-party caretaker government and handover the power to the elected government.
For the future, I would like to say that we have to change our political culture. We must respect each other. We must shun street demonstration and violence. Parliament should provide the forum for political resolutions. We must get rid of students’ politics and bring back education on the right track. Education will prevent us from speaking rubbish. Education can teach us refinement. Better education means better future.
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AT THE very outset, I would like to state that I am not a politician. I am not a supporter of any of the political parties in Bangladesh. I have no political dreams or aspirations. I am just one of the many Bangladeshis who left... Full story