Bangladesh Cabinet – Charter for Change

January 8, 2009
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by: Shafiqul Islam Kajol, DRIK News

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.

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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.

[Read all posts by Saleque Sufi]

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10 Responses to Bangladesh Cabinet – Charter for Change

  1. Ovi
    January 9, 2009 at 12:00 am

    Why do you sound convinced that everything is in good hands? Let’s not judge books by their covers. I hope I am wrong, but everything will be the same, nothings going to change.

  2. Sentu Tikadar
    January 9, 2009 at 5:07 am

    Thank you E- Bangladesh for such a nice article. I hope this will help a lot to the new Govt. I think India nad Bangladesh should re-think to make new strategy for a very good bilateral permanent relationship. This will help both the democarcy to coexist in peace and harmony. Bangladesh and India combinely can change the boiling situation of South Asia.
    Regards.

    Sentu Tikadar
    KL, Malaysia

  3. Javed Zaman
    January 10, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    I am impressed. But let us not get swayed away by emotions. Many of the newcomers are first timers. They will need backup teams to extract the huge potential residing within. Hasina has a once in a lifetime opportunity to change the course of Bangladesh’s history replete with pathos and stark poverty.

    I think we have enormous natural resources in the Bay of Bengal and inland and a diamond mine of human resources spread all over the globe boosting our foreign currency reserve every single day.

    At a time when two of our giant neighbours China and India are making rapid strides in socio-economic development there’s no reason why we can’t do the same. We are at the foothills of the Himalayas that sustain and nurture all three of us with the pristine water that flows down hill.

    Awami League under Sheihk Hasina should take advantage of our geopolitical strategic situation to join the bandwagon of economic prosperity sweeping across Asia. We mus not fail the teeming millions this time as we have an overwhelming mandate from the people of Bangladesh.

    Let us rebuild the Silk Route connecting South Asia with China and beyond on all flanks of geopolitically strategic Sonar Bangla Bangladesh.

    Let us pledge that we will not allow any power on earth to deny us democracy and economic progress that go hand by hand.

  4. Jhontu
    January 10, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    Zamir Choudhury is a superior choice to Farukh Choudhury. Farukh Choudhury is the brother-in-law of Ifthekar Choudhury and Fakruddin. All three of them are opportunists. Farukh Choudhury hardly ever spoke out while Hasina was being inhumanely treated by the unconstitutional unelected Fakruddin government.

    Hasina should be careful about weasels and chameleons who do not hesitate to change colors (parties or allegiance) overnight.

  5. Mirage Ali
    January 15, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    I am glad to see new faces. IThis government seems to be task-oriented. It is better that they focus on deeds instead of appearing on TV talkshows and talk profusely to the press. They must take businessmen into confidence and help build trust between the two.

    The PM is known to be a down to earth person. I am sure she will avail herself of the golden opportunity to change the livelihood of the common people for better.

  6. Nasreen
    January 21, 2009 at 10:44 am

    I am happy to see that the LGRD minister Ashraf has said in explicit terms that it will scrap the illegal ordinance that stripped member of parliaments (MPs) of their supervisory role in Upazillas.

    Fakruddin’s fascist unconstitutional and illegitimate caretaker government ran the country through many illegal draconian decrees that should be rejected outright by the people’s parliament. We have elected our MPs to rule their constituencies. All MPs enjoy massive popularity among people and have deep-rooted links to their own constituencies. Clerks from World Bank and agents of foreign donor agencies like Fakruddin and his brother-in-laws Ifthekar, Farukh and Enam should not be allowed to leave the country till all the ordinances are discussed threadbare in the parliament. Fakruddin or his brother-in-law Ifhekhar had never served the country as a secretay or DC to lay claim to the highest office of the country. The parliament should thoroughly investigate how spineless, opportunist, below-average traitors like Fakruddin, Ifthekar, subservient CS Karim and Khaleda Zia’s former IG and DG of RAB Anwarul Iqbal could execute such a conspiracy. They including Fakruddin and his family circle and his friend and Finance adviser must be investigated for corruption, nepotism and human rights violation.

    It has been alleged in a local newspaper on January 20 that Taka 1618 core is unaccounted for from the revenue earned during the unconstitutional and undemocratic era of Yunus and donor-backed fascist regime of Fuckruddin. The money must be hunted down just the way Coco’s wealth stashed abroad was scooped out.

    The caretaker government was run by people who had BNP allegiance and they tried everything to ruin democracy in Bangladesh and perhaps harm the former two PMs.

  7. Yasmeen Sneha
    January 22, 2009 at 10:56 am

    Awami League has crossed another hurdle. After more than 15 years it has held the much awaited Upozilla elections successfully. Though the pro-Fakruddin EC Shakawat expressed skepticism in some cases, TV video footage so far have not been able to show one single incidence of rigging, intimidation or violence on tape.

    Both the EC and the populist democratically elected Awami League government deserves congratulations for the great feat.

    Enthusiasm and turnout was visibly much low than the parliamentary elections. When asked many voters said they thought the parliamentary election was more important for them. They thought only member of parliaments can change their livelihood for better.

    Madam Prime Minister, please keep up the good work!

  8. Anti Corruption
    January 22, 2009 at 11:59 pm

    Upazilla election was a joke. How can you expect an election without political influence? Also what is the purpose of Upazilla chairman? You have MP’s (Policay Maker’s) and then you have govt. employee like UNO to deploy the policy. What is the purpose of Upazilla Chairman! Can someone please explain?

  9. Kabir
    January 23, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    Awami League as expected won a landslide victory. There were few scattered incidences of violence on both sides which was over inflated by some media personnel and civil society members working on behalf of NGOs.

    People showed little interest becuz of several factors. Fog, cold weather, apathy among local villagers for the UZ elections held just after the national parliamentary elections, lack of adequate time for campaigning allocated by the EC are the main reasons.

    Most voters opined in favour of the Awami League as they did not want to create a conflict between the ministers and MPs on one side and the UZ chairmen and members on the other side.

    I would request the local government minister to take stern action NGOs that plunder money in the name of welfare and directly or indirectly influence local village politics with donor monies got from the pockets of taxpayers of developed countries. The government should be very strict about ensuring accountability and transparency of NGOs as the developed countries have been shaken by the recent recession. The NGOs will soon feel the crunch as flow of unaccounted and later which is looted, donor money flow is bound to slow down to a trickle.

  10. Newsman
    January 23, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    DHAKA, Jan 22 (Reuters) – At least 100 people were injured and several polling centres ransacked as rival activists clashed during Bangladesh rural elections Thursday, police and witnesses said, but compared to some past polls that was relatively low.

    Analysts and foreign supporters of Bangladesh have been looking for it to achieve a degree of political peace and stability that will help it attract needed investment and aid.

    Voting was suspended completely in two sub-districts and at 10 centres elsewhere across the country, and around 20 people were arrested following overnight poll-related violence that killed one man and hurt around 300 others, mostly in southeast areas, police and witnesses said.

    However, in most of the 481 rural sub-districts — the focal points of local government in the country of more than 140 million people — voting was going relatively smoothly.

    Authorities said they deployed half a million security forces including police and troops to keep peace during the vote, which come on the heels of a late December election considered by most independent to be fair, credible, and quite calm by the standards of the South Indian country where politics has often been marred by clashes and confrontation.

    That vote ended two years of rule by a military-backed interim authority and swept Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Awami League to power for a second time. It also ruled from 1996 through 2001.

    A grand alliance led by Hasina’s Awami League won 262 of parliament’s 300 seats in the Dec. 29 vote, against just 33 by another alliance led by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), of her main rival and fellow ex-PM Begum Khaleda Zia’s.

    Though the rural vote was supposed to be a non-party election, poll officials said both Awami League and the BNP fielded their people in large numbers to assert control in the villages where 80 percent of Bangladesh’s people live.

    Election Commissioner Sakhawat Hossain said “extensive use of political influence in a non-party election led to violence in many places.”

    However, he also said “the commission viewed (that) the voting was largely peaceful and orderly.”

    Political observers expect the BNP to fare well in the rural vote, partly because of “spreading infighting” among the Awami ranks, fuelled by those who failed to run in the Dec. 29 polls.

    In some places, more than half a dozen Awami candidates vied for a single post of sub-district chairman, officials said.

    The rural bodies control local development and social welfare projects, mostly funded by foreign governments or agencies.

    Witnesses said the turnout of voters in Thursday’s election was less than in the parliamentary polls.

    Unofficial results of the elections are expected to be available by Friday, officials said. (Editing by Anis Ahmed and Jerry Norton)

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