MNA Editorial Desk: Democracy is one of the most practiced government system around the world and it projects sheer beauty if embedded with sacrifice and accountability. It asks for the leaders to take responsibility of their words or works and complete dedication towards the welfare of the people. Democracy calls for participation of the people in forming a government of their choice as well as entitles them for answers. In spite of worldwide adoption of democratic concept, democracy is flawed or not in full practice in most countries including the initiators of democracy. Hence now extent of democratic practice becomes important and unfortunately Bangladesh is falling far behind in that run.
Leaders, representatives of the people, work for welfare of the society which requires strong dedication towards that goal and requires fighting against the odds with a specific dream – people’s content. Selflessness is highly required among the leaders to serve the voice of the people. Otherwise democracy fails terribly as a concept and that is happening all around the world. Citizens are being the most neglected and accountability of leaders is going missing. It is hard to find an example in our country when the leaders took responsibility of their works or words and they seem to be invincible in our society.
Often Bangladeshi leaders are unsympathetic towards people’s problems and issues as they deliver irresponsible remarks without giving any priority towards the emotion of the people and are never actually sorry for the miseries of the citizens. It has become an identification mark of our national politics with several such incidents. This is not actually the real democracy which requires leaders to take responsibility of every single word they say. But we all must admit that such practice does not prevail in Bangladesh as we have observed several incidents like that during the last few days though this trend started much ago.
Former home minister during BNP-Jamaat regime, Air Vice-Marshal (Retd.) Altaf Hossain Chowdhury once said that, “Allah has taken back Allah’s asset”. He made this comment while visiting the family of a child who was killed during exchange of bullets between two groups. Being the home minister he should promise the capture of the culprits rather he pushed it on the will of the Almighty- a lame remark considering his post. The then state minister of home Lutfuzzaman Babar was also again and again criticized for his funny remarks.
After the collapse of Rana Plazas, Awami League government’s home minister Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir, claimed that the collapse was due to the shaking of the pillars by the fundamentalists and supporters of BNP’s strike. That remark brought huge criticism for him in the media both at home and abroad. Former home minister Advocate Sahara Khatun was also criticized for her remarks of catching the killers of Sagar-Runi within 48 hours which till today did not happen. These exaggerated remarks often put our leaders’ authenticity under questions.
Our current finance minister and veteran economist AMA Muhith has become the icon of irresponsible remarks during the last few years. He often uses the word ‘rubbish’ in his speech. Securities market is very important for an economy but he once said, there is no investor in the share market rather all are gamblers. This makes impossible for general investors to have any hopes after such remarks. He again and again made callous remarks regarding issues like loan defaulters issues of banks, cyber heist of Bangladesh Bank and many others. Our economy lost huge amount on those instances but according to him, those amounts were nothing much.
Regarding recent gold scam of Bangladesh Bank, Muhith said, the gold was ok and problem was found in only 3 kilograms gold and gave not much importance to the incident. He has repeatedly attacked the journalists for their roles in creating hype over issues like; corruptions and scams in the banking and economic sectors. He even insulted them on multiple times. His reluctance in critical matters portrays either his avoidance of responsibility or the illogical confidence of the government on people’s ignorance.
Other than finance minister Muhith, many of the ruling party leaders have often used inappropriate statements. Like; home minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal’s comment on brutal beating of the journalists by police when he said that it was just an incident of pushing. During the quota reform protest by the students Matia Chowdhury, a veteran Awami League leader, asked if quota facility should be provided to the children of war criminals rather than to the children of the freedom fighters. It indicates that all protesting students are the children of war criminals. It was absurd especially when it comes from a leader like her.
Most recently, it was all about our shipping minister Shajahan Khan with his innocent smile. After two school-going children were killed by the reckless act of a bus driver, which is the prime cause of hundreds of road accidents throughout the year, the minister of shipping was asked to comment on that incident at a press conference. He responded with his famous smile and indicated that road accidents are very low in number considering the same in India. He also laughingly said that, such incidents can occur on roads. His unsympathetic behaviour ignited the anger of the young students and a huge protest took form. His resignation was demanded but it is very hard to move our leaders from their chairs and till writing this article Shajahan Khan sits strong.
Our opposition leaders are also of same character as their leaders including BNP chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia and senior vice president Tarique Rahman, on-power and off-power made similar senseless comments on multiple occasions.
In Bangladesh, it has become a trend that our leaders will make senseless remarks without understanding importance of their positions and will never be really sorry in spite of breaking people’s hearts as well as putting their party in an awkward position. This is completely against the concept of democracy as people’s welfare is ignored in such process.
Though complete democracy is hardly found all around the world, the situation elsewhere is not this bad. Nepalese law minister Sher Bahadur Tamang, has resigned on July 24, 2015 following extreme criticism for his controversial remarks on Nepali girls who are studying or have studied MBBS in Bangladesh as he claimed they were bound to compromise their honour to claim their certificates. He offered apology but due to pressure from within his party stepped down from his post. It is commendable that Nepal, being a democracy for only 10 years, could set such an example.
Not only in Nepal, but several such examples are found all around the world. Kent Hehr, the minister for Sports and Persons with Disabilities of Canada, resigned on January this year from cabinet pending an investigation into accusations he made sexually inappropriate comments to women.
The Congress Party of India recently warned its party leaders against making irresponsible statements. Indian leaders were several times criticized for their remarks on rape and its victims. In different countries of Europe and Africa, the leaders had to pay heavy price for their ill words and works. Current practice in USA under the presidency of Donald Trump only resembles slightly with the Bangladeshi context.
On many occasions, ministers have resigned from their position taking the responsibility of events like train accidents, sexual remarks, racist remarks, irresponsible acts etc. Japan’s energy minister few months back bowed for 20 minutes in penance for 20 minutes power cut in a small village. But such is not the case in Bangladesh. Here none takes the responsibility rather they remain silent on such instances and waits for people to forget the incident. Rule of law can be found in every governmental concept like; socialism, autocracy even martial law. But accountability and self-judgment is what makes democracy a beautiful concept. But our democracy faces strong challenge in this point.
Not only the political leaders but also people in important roles like scholars especially university teachers also remain silent on important incidents. Intellectuals of our country play dubious roles sometimes which do not justify their position and proves their irresponsibility.
The beauty of democracy is not at the establishment of rule of law. Rather it actually lies with the accountability, responsibility, sacrifice and compassion of the leaders along with dedication towards their people’s development. It all comes from the conscience and ethics. In Bangladesh, if we cannot establish that practice, then our development cannot be sustained and we will at some point fail in all aspects.
We can just hope that, our top personalities especially the leaders will nourish their conscience to restrain from making wrong remarks on people’s issues and to take responsibility which will definitely bring them closer to the people and that will be required at some point of time.
The writer is Chief Editor at Mohammadi News Agency (MNA), Editor at Kishore Bangla and Vice-Chairman, Democracy Research Center (DRC).