Space For Rent

Space For Rent
Thursday, July 9, 2015, Ashar 25, 1422 BS, Ramadan 21, 1436 Hijr

The ministers and the media
Anis Ahmed
Published :Thursday, 9 July, 2015,  Time : 12:00 AM  View Count : 24

In all times but few in the past the government (ministers and administration) had been often at loggerheads over critical issues including law and order, justice and predicaments, spending versus development, freedom of speech and abuses etc. But the differences had been logical and argued with a sense of redressing - not at all to provoke mudslinging or anything that goes against ethics, undermines values and suppresses truth. Differences are common in countries where democracy exists.
But recently we have been seeing a new trend in politics and arguments in Bangladesh which are, in most cases, devoid of sensibility and decency. There is a growing design to throttle truth, give lies a place on top of everything and slam hard critics or those who differ in opinion.
This, on one hand, points at growing irresponsibility in media handling  news and views, while on the other hand,  frustratingly diminishing genre of people in the government and administration capable of accepting criticism over wrongdoings or bad deals. The two important planks of the society are in a constant battle for proving themselves always right and others always wrong. There is no fine line in between.
Over the past one week or two, there has been a widely reported scam over import of wheat from Brazil that, according to media reports, has been found 'rotten and inconsumable.' Media quoted stakeholders including police who have reportedly refused to take supply of the Brazilian wheat and given written complaints about it to their respective high-ups. Some reports had implicated Food Minister Quamrul Islam and the Secretary of the Food Ministry for being directly involved in the questionable purchase. Though the media still holds its position on the matter, the minister came back squarely, first by saying the wheat was tested good for consumption, then saying tests at the time of import four months ago and now may be different and lastly, chiding reporters, saying, 'Where did they get this bogus information from?' Further tests on samples of the imported wheat are now underway and it's anybody's guess what the results will be.
For the last few days, the media, citing experts and knowledgeable sources, have been reporting on the validity of the ministerial job of Mofazzal Hossain Maya, Minister of Relief and Disaster Management, who had been convicted by a court and sentenced to imprisonment for corruption.
Maya, a senior leader of the ruling Awami League, remained unscathed, was not arrested or sent to jail and is still romping around, taking no scars from the penalty. This week, someone filed a writ petition to the High Court challenging Maya's ministership. But the HC yesterday expressed its "inability" to hear the writ. Many would question where  justice lies? The rivals of the incumbent government would say the HC became partisan towards the ruling party and so it frisked itself from hearing Maya's case.
This case has been widely splashed in Bangladesh's vibrant media and those who reported it are likely to draw flak from the government.
On Wednesday, various media outlets reported that LGRD Minister Syed Ashraful Islam had been sacked by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who was annoyed over Ashraf''s unnoticed absence from a crucial ECNEC meeting. They even named his replacement and suggested there may be a  further shakeup in the cabinet. Half a day later, the media came out with a fresh report saying Syed Ashraf had not been removed and the minister himself asked reporters "not to pay heed to rumors."
There is probably no way of knowing what mooted his sacking report and its dismissal by the key functionaries in the administration denying any knowledge of any action taken against the influential LGRD minister, who is also General Secretary of the Awami League.
Meanwhile, Information Minister Hasanul Haque Inu recently attracted much attention by saying that he knew "BNP Chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia stands no chance at all to contest the next parliamentary election." It was mysteriously unclear as to how the Information Minister could be so sure when the fate of anyone seeking to contest polls remains in the hands of the Election Commission and in courts if he or she is being tried for any wrongdoing. Apparemtly, Mr. Inu plays the role of  a fortune teller these days!
Then came Dr. Hasan Mahmud, AL's Publicity Secretary and a former minister. He stunned the media and public by saying that "Had the BNP funder (former president and military dictator) Ziaur Rahman been alive now, he would divorce his wife Khaleda Zia for constantly lying." What a great prophecy!
Questions arise whether Hasan Mahmud was ever too close to Ziaur Rahman to read his mind and hear the ticking of his heart. As much we know, the two (Hasan and Zia) were never close nor their roads had ever crossed. Yet he is revealing something that only makes him a laughing stock.
We have a few other ministers who have been nose-deep in corruption. One has already lost his posts in the cabinet and the party, and another, who has been designated a "black cat" for alleged corruption, constantly tries to convince Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina using 'invectives' against Khaleda Zia and delivering it through his unique body language.
No one in this country, especially those in the government and administration, irrespective of which party is in power, wants to look back at his or her past, try to learn from mistakes and take lessons from history. They cannot look beyond today, and so try to gain whatever they can by the end of today.
This is an ominous approach and dangerous for the country and its people. So, please stop overestimating thyself and underestimating  others. Leave justice to the courts, education to the teachers (of course, keep an eye on their characters) and let everyone do "his his job."
Law enforcers must try to clean up the dust accumulated on their selves and stop prying or torturing ordinary people who foot their pay bills at cost of their sweat and toil.
There are many other avenues where we can flash the light but the run would be too long.
Therefore, we urge Prime Miniser Sheikh Hasina to zoom in on the people around her (in the cabinet and party) and prevent them from being unnecessarily predictive, abusive, insensitive and provocative.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
Published by the Editor on behalf of the Observer Ltd. from Globe Printers, 24/A, New Eskaton Road, Ramna, Dhaka. Editorial, News and Commercial Offices : Aziz Bhaban (2nd floor), 93, Motijheel C/A, Dhaka-1000. Phone :9586651-58. Fax: 9586659-60, Advertisemnet: 9513663, E-mail: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]