The difference between a man and an angel is that man make mistakes but angels don’t. If man did not make mistake then we may not have to come to earth from heaven. Those who do not learn from mistakes do not admit mistake and repent are fools. They are doomed and destroyed. Those who do it can be heroes again. All the persons heading Bangladesh government since independence made mistakes. Some paid back in cruel tragedies others were overthrown by street agitation or through popular mandate. Never before such a fair election could be held as never before an authentic voter list with Voter ID cards was there. People have voted against corruption, terrorism, anarchy and war crimes. People have voted for a change. They vote for lesser evils believing in their pledges and declared vision.
The early steps of Sheikh Hasina led grand alliance government signals that Hasina belongs to the second group which acknowledged their mistakes and are ready to compensate. She learned bitter lessons from her past, did lot of homework and has started to deliver to lead the nation to her vision 2021 –charter for change. Although it is too early to jump into conclusion but one must say it is a promising start. A cabinet of clean image, a cabinet dominated by youth enterprising persons of movers and shakers.
Bangladesh is a developing country, relatively poor in resources, plagued with several problems. A small but performing government is the most appropriate. That is what PM Hasina has done while forming her cabinet 23 full ministers and 9 state minsters.
Four other persons of brilliant career and proven track records H.T Imam, Dr A. K.M Mashiur Rahamn, Dr Alauddin Ahmed and Dr Syed Muddaser Ali have been made adviser to PM. Respected politician Zillur Rahman will be President, veteran Politician Abdul Hamid Will become Speaker and Abdus Shahid the Chief Whip of the ruling party in the parliament. Ex President H.M. Ershad may become the deputy leader of the parliament.
At the very first look this cabinet may surprise many. Many stalwart of Bangladesh Awami League who hit the headlines while Hasina was in solitary confinement and were reportedly involved in so called minus two ventures have been squeezed out. Notable omissions are Sajeda Chowdhury, Toafel Ahmed, Abdul Razzak, Ameer Hussain Amu, Abdul Jalil, Mohammed Naseem, Sheikh Selim, Engr Musharraf Hussain, Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir, Quazi Zafrullah, Saber Hussain Chowdhury, Sheikh Selim, Prof Abu Sayeed and Obaidul Kadir. Hasina also did not pick Anisul Islam Mahmud, Hasanul Huq Inu and Rashed Khan Menon.
Those who follow day to day events of Bangladesh and know about almost everything inside out will disagree little with the author that this could be probably the best option for Hasina to select a cabinet of clean, qualified, farsighted and dynamic ministry. Chamber leaders, intellectuals, fair thinking Bangladeshis have spontaneously welcomed the new cabinet. UN Organizations and international watchdogs also welcomed selection of clean image young cabinet.
Through Sheikh Hasina’s latest acts – election manifesto, selection of party candidature for election and finally selection of cabinet she has once again proved that she had done her homework for the future of the nation while in solitary confinement. She made some mistakes which happens and can happen. But it now seems that she learned from mistakes. She has retained only three of the minsters from her earlier cabinet. All the controversial and alleged corrupt persons are squeezed out. This in itself is a strong signal to those who tried to put her leadership into jeopardy siding with the conspirators.
Now let us see how the new cabinet can meet the present and emerging challenges. The greatest challenge the world is facing is the global economic crisis. Bangladesh will require sound economic policy, good planning. Hasina’s cabinet has two very fair and accomplished persons. Mr A.M.A Muhith and A.K Khondkar have proven track record and honesty. They will be backed up by DR. Mashiur Rahman, Dr Farasuddin and others.
The agriculture sector is the next priority as Bangladesh for some years is suffering from acute crisis of price increase of essentials. It requires very stringent control of syndicates, intense monitoring of supply of agricultural essentials to farmers. Who can match the combination of Matia Chowdhury and Dr. Razzak as Food and Agriculture minster? The very determined Matia Chowhury will streamline Agriculture sector soon and Dr. Razzak will provide professional excellence to food ministry.
The area of main concern is Energy Sector. This is the most important sector of national economy. Agriculture, Industry, Business, Commerce, Health, Education all depend on smooth supply of energy. Unfortunately it is in terrible shape. PM has not selected anyone as Energy minster which is a bit of bother. She must not keep so many ministries in her control. She can not do justice to so many ministries concurrently. PM must find out a capable minister and two state minsters preferably experienced line professionals for energy & power divisions. The success and failure of the new government will largely depend how it address the energy sector issues.
Health and education will be in the safe hands of Dr. Ruhul Huq and Nurul Islam Nahid. They will get required back up from Dr. Mudassar and Dr. Alauddin. Another area of challenge will be home affairs. Advocate Sahara Khatoon and Sohel Taj are expected to combine well to handle home ministry very capably. It will largely depend how Police, Rab and intelligence agencies are manned. H.T Imam as a very capable adviser will definitely guide PM in placing right people in the right place. Government must deal with terrorism with iron hands. Home minister must show his intent at the very outset. HUJI and other terrorist organizations must be combed out as soon as possible. The movements of anti liberation force must be kept under radar. Anti liberation force in different names always go wild whenever pro liberation force is in power. Their venom teeth must be taken out without any compromise.
Foreign affairs will be unchartered territory of Dr Dipu Moni and Dr. Hasan Mahmood. But both are talented, well educated. PM can always seek advice of Faruk Chowdhury and many other career diplomats. Bangladesh must develop a friendship to all and malice to none strategy. Bangladesh among other issues has to be resolved many bilateral issues with India and Myanmar. The maritime boundary issue is a major concern. Bangladesh has to explore its vast resources in offshore.
Engr. G. M Kader can play a very important role in developing civil aviation and tourism ministry. Bangladesh can earn huge Forex from immense potential of tourism. Engr. Kader is visionary and can prove his worth in turning Bangladesh Biman into spirit of Bangladesh in the air.
Raziuddion Raju and Yafez Osman will handle Telecommunication and IT very professionally we believe. Dr Abul Hussain has been given a very challenging sector of Communication, Similar challenge will be confronted by Col (Retd) Farrokh Khan with Commerce. Both are very vital sectors. Bangladesh will need massive infrastructure development in Road, Rail, and Port etc. Abul Hussain has to lead from the front, encourage private investors with transparent policies. Farukh khan will have to run commerce with vision and dynamism.
The selection of fair and honest ministers is the essential first step. This government will not have honeymoon time. Will have to get down into serious business straightway. Capt Taj will have to ensure that War criminals get punished and freedom fighters get due respect and honor.
The cabinet members must work as a team. The young ministers and first timers must be given proper advice by the senior party leaders. Press must make objective constructive criticism and opposition must keep them honest. The first 6 months will be acid test for many.
Saleque Sufi writes from Australia. He graduated from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, Dhaka and was the operation Director and General Manager of Gas Transmission Company of Petrobangla.