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     Volume 4 Issue 48 | May 27, 2005 |

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To Be or To Be


After every major launch disaster (and there have been several tragic ones, some avoidable, claiming hundreds of lives in the past few years) there have been public calls for resignation of the powers that be. Finally there has been one, nay two.

Last Sunday BIWTA salvage ship MV Rustam resigned from its operation to rescue sunken launch MV Raipura from the depth of Jamuna near Aricha port with over a hundred passengers still missing. Simultaneously police manning the control room at the spot also packed up. (DS 23 May 2005)

While the decision not to prolong the apparently futile salvage exercise with inappropriate technology and equipment may be justified despite the agony it is bound to cause to the kith and kin of those missing, the PCR should have taken its time what with more bodies likely to surface.

In any civilised country repetitive launch tragedies as seen in our waters would have humbled the concerned executive (elected and appointed) to relinquish his office, not because he was the sareng at the wheel but out of respect for the dead, compassion for their relatives, and to inculcate in others the need to increase efficiency in such important jobs.

\One of the major reasons why our ministers, secretaries or any Tom, Dick and Harry do not resign is because they do not know how. There is almost no precedence and no nothi from which to copy the letter of resignation.

This one from Indonesian statesman Suharto delivered on May 21 1998 upon resigning as president of Indonesia after 30 years in power may help: 'I'll say thank you very much for your support and I am sorry for my mistakes, and I hope the Indonesian country will live forever.' See, simple. But make sure you delete Indonesia and replace with Bangladesh. Otherwise you will surprise the Indonesians.

One noble way to hold public office is to be prepared for the occasion. With point 005 inspector per vessel, unbridled overloading by passengers and goods, under design, over construction, zero maintenance, 40-year-old storm warning system (DS same day) and bribery abound you will be lucky to be able to cross River Buriganga on the China Friendship Bridge.

You only have to be wise. That is why you hold such an important post. And of wise men French writer and poet Jean de La Fontaine (1621-95) said, 'Death never takes the wise man by surprise; he is always ready to go'.

Going on surely is the shipping ministry and its affiliate agencies, but they all seem to be lost. If it may encourage them, we are not the first. The Spaniards were once in similar quandary prompting its politician Práxedes Sagasta to open his big mouth, 'I do not know where we are going, but I do know this that wherever it is we shall lose our way'.

To cut the story and the job short, here is a prepared letter of resignation. It may be duly signed and please don't forget to submit:

In all the decisions I have made in my public life, I have always tried to do what was best for the nation. Throughout the long and difficult period of managing vessels and waterways, I have felt it was my duty to persevere, to make every possible effort to complete the term of office to which you elected me.

In the past few days, however, it has become evident to me that I no longer have a strong enough political base to justify continuing that effort. As long as there was such a base, I felt strongly that it was necessary to see the constitutional process through to its conclusion, that to do otherwise would be unfaithful to the spirit of that deliberately difficult process and a dangerously destabilizing precedent for the future.

I would have preferred to carry through to the finish, whatever the personal agony it would have involved, and my family unanimously urged me to do so. But the interests of the Nation must always come before any personal considerations.

I have never been a quitter. To leave office before my term is completed is abhorrent to every instinct in my body. But as ...................................., I must put the interests of Bangladesh first. Therefore, I shall resign effective at noon tomorrow.

I regret deeply any injuries that may have been done in the course of the events that led to this decision. I would say only that if some of my judgments were wrongand some were wrongthey were made in what I believed at the time to be the best interest of the nation.

To those who have stood with me during these past difficult monthsto my voters, my family, my friends, to many others who joined in supporting my cause because they believed it was rightI will be eternally grateful for your support.

And to those who have not felt able to give me your support, let me say I leave with no bitterness toward those who have opposed me, because all of us, in the final analysis, have been concerned with the good of the country, however our judgments might differ.

For more than a ................ of a century in public life, I have shared in the turbulent history of this era, have fought for what I believed in. I have tried, to the best of my ability, to discharge those duties and meet those responsibilities that were entrusted to me.

Sometimes I have succeeded and sometimes I have failed, but always I have taken heart from what .................................... once said: (insert here a quote from your chosen leader)

To have served in this office is to have felt a very personal sense of kinship with each and every Bangladeshi. In leaving it, I do so with this prayer: May God's grace be with you in all the days ahead.*

(*From Nixon's Resignation Speech 8 August 1974. Richard Milhous Nixon was the first United States president in history to resign from office following the continuing Watergate scandal.)

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