Home  -  Back Issues  -  The Team  -  Contact Us
     Volume 6 Issue 6 | February 16, 2007 |

   Cover Story
   View from the    Bottom
   Food Security
   Dhaka Diary
   Book Review
   New Flicks
   Chit Bit

   SWM Home

News Notes

Abandoning Bigots?
After the ongoing massive clean up drives to save the country from greedy, corrupt politicians the next bit of good news has been the Awami League's cancellation of the controversial five-point MoU over issuance of fatwas with Bangladesh Khelafat Majlish (BKM).
AL also cancelled all deals, agreements and seat sharing with different political parties in the grand alliance including 14-party coalition. The reason given by the AL's acting secretary was that the agreement along with others, had been automatically cancelled after the January 22 polls had been cancelled.
On December 23, AL General Secretary Abdul Jalil went to the BKM's Chairman's house to sign the hateful MoU which stipulated that certified alems (Islamic clerics) would have the authority to issue fatwas in the country if the grand electoral alliance could come to power.
The other points of the MoU included promises to impose a bar on enacting any law that would go against Quranic values, initiation of steps for proper implementation of the government initiative to recognise the degrees awarded by Qaumi Madrasas, and a ban on criticisms of Prophet Muhammad.
Needless to say, this unholy alliance with a party of bigots completely dumbfounded and dismayed even the most ardent supporters of AL a party that has always had an edge over others for being the party that was instrumental in the liberation War, a party that apparently held secular, progressive thought, had suddenly turned its head around and held hands with a group that believes in taking Bangladesh back to the Middle Ages. Political strategy may force parties to make many compromises. But when such a compromise involves abandoning the basic values and principles of the party's constitution, then this amounts to nothing but blatant opportunism.
The cancellation of the MoU has certainly led to a sigh of relief among the secular-minded. But the reasoning behind it is far from being acceptable. Does the fact that the MoU was cancelled because the polls were cancelled, mean that otherwise the AL would have stuck to this abhorrent agreement? Does it mean that if and when the elections are announced, and if their 'political strategy' demands it, the AL will reinstate the MoU and allow fanatics to declare fatwas? The AL should realise that they had lost countless points of favour among the public by signing such an MoU. If at all they have any respect for the spirit of Liberation which is based on secularism and patriotism, they must admit that they had made a grave mistake, one that they will never again repeat. Anything less will mean that the party has lost its credibility as a party that believes in the power of the people.

Billions needed for gas exploration
The country will need to invest $ 7.7 billion in the next 18 years for exploration of natural gas to meet its growing demand. Demand, which is buoyed by seven per cent GDP growth. Yet exactly where that $ 7.7 billion will come from, remains to be seen. Sources said this was revealed in an exclusive report presented recently in the meeting of the council of advisers. The report stated the country will need 24 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of additional gas to meet national demand in the next 18 years. Petrobangla, the state-owned hydrocarbon corporation, prepared the report while the energy division presented it to the council of advisers, hoping to give a thorough idea about the country's present state of natural gas and mineral resources and their future prospects. Referring to the recently prepared "Gas Sector Master Plan 2006", the report also added that the country may meet the growing demand up to 2015 with the existing reserves. The report said, "After that, the country will require new reserves to meet the growing demand. To ensure the availability of gas to meet the future demand, the country has to intensify exploration activities by 2010." While the future is not entirely bleak in the energy sector, there must be some sort of plan of action. Seven billion dollars will not come easy, one might even question if it will come at all.

Yet another story for Falu
Everyone has heard of him. He was always the 'man with the plan'. With two of the most popular television channels, rtv and ntv, and a daily newspaper Amar Desh to his name, he had suddenly become a 'media mughal' in the country. He is none other than the smiling one, probably even greeting the television cameras and the reporters, while being taken away by the officials a few days ago. He is none other than Mosaddak Ali Falu.
Falu, who is now in jail on a 30-day detention for anti-state activities, obstruction of public safety and illegal hoarding, has yet another felony to his name. Last week, government relief materials, from a business establishment of the former BNP lawmaker and businessman were seized by the army-led joint forces in Savar. The 40 by 50 feet houses were built for accommodation of the workers of Dhaka Shanghai Ceramics Factory at Gohailbari in Savar. The forces demolished five houses constructed with corrugated iron (CI) sheets, which are actually government relief materials, on the factory premises.
Seven hundred pieces of CI sheets worth around Tk 4 lakh bear inscriptions, 'Relief materials of Relief and Rehabilitation Department: Not for sale' were found. Police filed a case with Ashulia police station accusing already detained Mosaddak Ali Falu of embezzling government property. A very few of the sheets were bought from the market which were mixed with the sheets marked for government relief. The workers however said the company did not charge them any rent.

Joint forces seized 700 corrugated iron sheets marked "Relief materials of Relief and Rehabilitation Department: Not for sale" which were used for building structures at factory site of former BNP lawmaker Mosaddak Ali Falu in Savar.

Honesty, Still the Best Policy
What would you do if you found 31 diamond rings? New York cab driver 41-year-old Osman Chowdhury from Bangladesh found just that in the back seat of his cab and did not hesitate for a moment to return them to their rightful owner.
On Monday evening, when he picked up a woman at a hotel in midtown Manhattan and drove her to an apartment building several blocks away. She gave him $20 to pay the fare and asked for $9 back. Hours later, at about 10:00pm, three other passengers with luggage discovered the woman's suitcase when Chowdhury popped the trunk open for them.
Chowdhury took the suitcase to the Manhattan headquarters of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, a drivers' advocacy group to which he belongs. He and the alliance president looked inside and found two display cases with 31 diamond rings inside.
They also found a small luggage tag with a Texas telephone number they called the home of the woman's mother in Dallas. Meanwhile, she called the number, too. The woman, who said she was a jeweller, got back the gems on Monday when she arrived at the alliance office around midnight--incredulous at her luck. She offered Chowdhury a reward--a check for $100, which he reluctantly accepted to cover the costs of finding her.
A Bangladeshi expatriate has set a remarkable example of honesty. If only the politicians and businessmen of this country were as honest, Bangladesh would be a much better place to live in.

Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2007