Tarique Hosts Dinner for Disgruntled BNP MPs
In his newest bid to quell opposition within his own party,
Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's eldest son and Bangladesh Nationalist
Party's Senior Joint Secretary General Tarique Rahman hosted
a dinner for key ruling party lawmakers. No minister, except
for State Minster for Home Lutfozzaman Babar, was invited to
the dinner. According to newspaper reports, some leaders who
attended the event at a restaurant in Gulshan-2, said the party
was thrown to bridge the gap between Hawa Bhaban-based leaders
and some disgruntled legislators.
"I see it as an attempt to mend the difference between
the MPs and Hawa Bhaban-based leaders. Many lawmakers went to
meet Tarique on several occasions and some of them failed to
see him after long waits," a BNP leader told a Daily Star
reporter. Over 100 BNP MPs were invited to the programme. The
main opposition, Bangladesh Awami League, has dubbed Hawa Bhaban,
Tarique Rahman's office, an "alternative powerhouse of
the BNP"; and has long been demanding its closedown.
Laden Offers Truce
In his latest audio-taped message, Saudi fugitive and al-Qaeda
supremo, Osama bin Laden, has offered a truce to the Europeans,
if they pull their countries out of Muslim countries. Bin Laden,
however, has vowed to continue fighting the United State and
Israel. European leaders have immediately rejected the offer.
"The announcement of the truce starts with
the withdrawal of the last soldier from our land and the door
is open for three months from the date of the announcement of
this statement," he says. Whoever rejects this truce wants
war, we are it's (the war) sons and whoever wants this truce,
we bring it, says the Saudi born billionaire, who allegedly
masterminded the attack on Twin Towers on September 11.
As for those who want reconciliation, we have
given them a chance. Stop shedding our blood so as to preserve
your blood. It is in your hands to apply this easy, yet difficult,
formula. You know that the situation will expand and increase
if you delay things, Laden continues.
Alluding to the recent visit of Israeli prime
minister Ariel Sharon to the White House, he says, had he been
truthful about his claim for peace, he would not describe the
person who ripped open pregnant women in Sabra and Shatila and
the destroyer of the capitulation process as a man of peace.
It has not become immediately possible to verify
the authenticity of the tape. The CIA has said some previous
tapes allegedly by bin Laden were likely to be genuine.
The Israeli authorities shot and killed Abdel Aziz Rantissi,
the leader of Hamas. On April 17, 2004 he fell victim to "targetted
killing", a practice of state-endorsed assassination. The
White House has been giving support to such operations to gun
down listed leaders of Palestine, whom they see as threat to
the West and democracy. What the EU is calling "illegal"
and the BBC is branding as "controversial step", Israel
and its mentor US is defending as a means to cope with terror.
Zalman Shoval, advisor to Arial Sharon, the
Israeli prime minister, dubs it as a retaliation against terrorism.
He also brands him as "a mastermind of terrorism",
one who "advocated suicide bombing". Rantassi replaced
the spiritual leader Sheikh Yasin, who was killed last month
in an attempt to thwart the Palestinian cause. As an academician
turned politician, Rantissi's involvement goes back to the inception
of Hamas. He was one of the co-founders of Hamas that took off
in the eighties to counter the state-sponsored terrorism by
Cost Wards Off Foreign Investment
Though Bangladesh has the cheapest labour in the continent,
higher cost in several other fields has been warding off potential
foreign investment to the country. The cost of water in Dhaka
(0.32$/ cubic metre) is higher than Shenzhen ($0.23), $0.15
in Shanghai and $0.22 in Hanoi.
The monthly basic charge for cell phones, prices
for gasoline and cost of a passenger car in Bangladesh are also
higher, a pan-Asian survey carried out by the Japan External
Trade Organisation JETO observes.
the result of the present survey, I would like to say that Bangladesh
is not the cheapest country in Asia as far as investment-related
costs are concerned," Sotaro Nishikawa, representative
of JETO says.
The survey on 'Investment Related Cost Comparison'
has found the corporate tax for general enterprise in the country
(37.5 percent), to be in the 'very high range' in Asia compared
to 33 percent in China, 30 percent in Thailand and 25 percent
Bangladesh, however, is in an advantageous position
in respect of cost of gas and office rent; the wage of workers
in Bangladesh is also the second cheapest, after Yangon, the
survey says. But, the pay scale of mid-level employees is much
higher than its Burmese counterpart. "The wage of workers
in Bangladesh is the second cheapest in Asia. But a foreign
investor considers other factors like the cost of electricity,
water, transport, telecommunications and taxation for an overall
evaluation before he makes his decision," Nishikawa says,
analysing the survey.
Underscoring the need for foreign investment
in the country's economy, Nishikawa explains, "We should
always remember that attracting foreign investment will involve
competition with other Asian countries. The competitors are
always earnestly trying among themselves to secure a bigger
chunk of foreign investment by providing special incentives
to the potential investors. So, the government should study
the investment related costs and incentives prevailing in other
Listeners' Poll: The Greatest Bangali of All Time
In the first day of the Bangla year, many Bangalis snapped out
of the idea that arts and culture takes precedence in the life
of this nation. When the founder of Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujibur
Rahman, beat the Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore in the listeners'
poll to top the list of the Greatest Bangali of All Time, it
surprised a few, and the rest found a cause to celebrate. The
poll was conducted by the Bangla Service of BBC.
Other than Rabidranath Tagore, economist Amartya
Sen, was the only living Nobel laureate to feature among the
top 20 at number 14. The survey put only one woman within the
top slot, Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain, at number six.
Among others, AK Fazlul Haq (fourth), Subash
Bose (fifth), Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose (seventh), Maulana Abdul
Hamid Khan Bhashani (ninth), and Lalon Shah (12th), and more.
Mujibur Rahman, popularly known as Bangabandhu, led a nation
to overpower the Pakistani occupation force. And this, at least,
the listeners of the BBC surely felt proud to acknowledge.
Tragic New Year for Thousands
Twin tornadoes killed at least 68 people in Netrakona and Mymensingh
on Pahela Boishakh. Two thousand others who were injured still
wait for aid to arrive. The storms blew everything away, from
rickshaws and pots and pans to corrugated tin roofs, chunks
of earth and people. Trees were uprooted and thrust back into
with the force of the storm. Many of the injured were hit by
tin torn off the roofs while others suffered from broken bones
after being hurled through the air. Prime Minister Begum Khaleda
Zia and Leader of the Opposition Sheikh Hasina both visited
the tornado-wrecked areas. The Prime Minister asked the victims
of the storms to wait patiently for aid, assuring them of food,
tin, timber and money. But around 3,000 people of 23 tornado-affected
villages are living under the open sky due to mismanagement
in relief distribution.