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     Volume 4 Issue 68 | October 21, 2005 |

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Price Hike?
In another characteristic lambasting of the press, our eccentric Finance Minister along with LGRD and Cooperatives Minister, have stated that the media has misreported the price hike of essentials. The deadly duo gave the hackneyed and rather ludicrous argument as the motive behind such 'undermining' of the government to tarnish the country's image! It seems strange that journalists are all conspiring to make their own country look bad to the rest of the world. Or perhaps the Finance Minister believes that these journalists are under the influence of some hallucinogen that makes them write such slanderous yarns. But perhaps they should go to the markets themselves disguised as poor labourers or middle-class school teachers and find out for themselves like a certain caliph did many years ago. An easier way would be to just ask their bua or darwan what they have been eating lately and why, unless of course they are privileged enough to get special concessions being the ministers' household help.

But then what about the ruling party's own members who are just as crazy as these audacious journalists. In fact they are even crazier. At a pre-election meeting grassroots level leaders of the BNP made no bones about blasting the government for the skyrocketing prices of essentials. Their concern was that this, together with the electricity crisis would badly harm the government in terms of losing valuable votes as people-the ordinary folk that is--are just fed up. Although the BNP stalwarts who were present, tried their best to persuade them to sing praises of the coalition government, fifteen out of the seventeen grassroots level leaders criticised the government for price hike of essentials, power shortages, bomb attacks and internal party conflicts. This is when the Finance Minister and LGRD Minister talked about the media's 'misreporting'. This did not do much to convince the rural leaders who said that they were being questioned by the people of their respective areas, regarding the price hike of essentials. An organising secretary of the Brahmanbaria district said, "Some responsible ministers including the commerce minister, are saying many words that sound good, but we cannot feed the people with those words. "He also said" The talk of millions and bilions of dollars will not bring any benefit. Lower the prices of rice, pulses and essentials." All this from the BNP leaders who have direct contact with the rural people. Wonder if these grassroots leaders have joined hands with those demonic journalists in their campaign to 'tarnish the image of the country.'

A Doll's House
It's obvious that the freedom of speech and expression is curbed in the prison. However, with the new system to be in place the prisoners' freedom to read any newspaper they want is also going to be curtailed. The prisoners will now have to choose from the newspapers that they get to read every day -- the Amar Desh, the Manabzamin and the New Age. It seems that these newspapers, in particular, are "soft to the government" and "anti-opposition". "No newspaper which criticises the government will be served to the prisoners," the source said, quoting the verbal order. Meanwhile, prisoners cannot watch programmes of any television channels other than the state-owned Bangladesh Television and listen to only Bangladesh Betar.
The government restriction on mainstream newspapers inside the jails came after two senior BNP ministers on Saturday castigated the media for not projecting "positive news" and showing interest in what they called "subjective journalism".

Construction workers -- lesser lives!
On October 15 two construction workers died when an under-construction building collapsed in Tongi. Two others died two days ago in DOHS and Badda. Such deaths of construction workers while at work is not exactly new, rather they happen almost on a regular basis in and around the city. Not all of them are reported in this Rab era, deaths other than those in 'crossfire' do not seem to interest many. Some of them are reported and it seems, had there been any count, the number would not have been very small. The most unfortunate part of the story is most of these deaths could have been averted easily if some sort of safety measures had been in place. The concerned government authority should look into the matter and makes sure that at every construction site the building owners provide minimum safety for the construction workers.

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