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Thursday, February 7, 2013
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PMO rejoinder, our reply

The Prime Minister's Office has sent a rejoinder to the editor's note published on January 25 headlined “PM pointer to Star's 'ill motive' and our humble reply”. Below we publish the full text of the rejoinder and our reply:

REJOINDER
Attention has been drawn to the Prime Minister's Office of the reply of the Daily Star's ill motive as it has been termed and published in the Daily Star on Friday, January 25, 2013. The PMO feels that the misgivings and misleading reply might create an impression in the public mind undermining the level of alertness and efficiency of the officials of the Prime Minister's office in presenting different papers and the course of events to the Hon'ble Prime Minister on time.

2. In the so called humble reply the respected editor of the Daily Star quoted the statement of the Hon'ble Prime Minister in the Press Conference held on 23.01.2013 in the PMO “as to how a particular daily newspaper could publish the letter sent to the Anti-Corruption Commission before the Commission, the Ministry of Finance or I got it”.

3. In the opinion of the editor the letter the Prime Minister meant was the letter dated 9 January 2013, sent to the ACC by Luis Moreno Ocampo, Chief of the World Bank's external panel following his team's visit to Dhaka. Editor of the Daily Star also quoted the Prime Minister saying that there was an understanding between the external panel and the Anti Corruption Commission that nothing about the investigation would be disclosed.

4. The Anti Corruption Commission is fully an autonomous and independent Commission and the correspondences between the World Bank's External Panel and the ACC had to be kept confidential with a view to ensure a neutral and effective investigation process to end the stalemate for the national interest.

5. We don't question anybody's patriotism, but the way the Daily Star rejoiced its ability to obtain a confidential letter between two investigating bodies like the ACC and the World Bank's external panel and enjoyed the pleasure of publishing it by creating hindrances in the way of a successful process of investigation may hardly be appreciated. The respected editor also lamented that the respective officials of the Ministry of Finance & the PMO should have unethically got hold of those confidential letters like his staff of the Daily Star and made best use of this letter as the Daily Star has done.

6. The Publication of this confidential letter in your esteemed Newspaper has seriously impeded the process of investigation of the alleged conspiracy of corruption in the Padma Bridge Project. We appreciate that the Newspapers go for so called 'scoop' stories and it is true that often good investigative journalism helps the country's interest. But in this particular case it was neither a scoop nor investigative journalism. What the reporter did was simply procuring copy of a highly confidential correspondence between two independent agencies one international (World Bank's External Panel) and the other national (Anti-Corruption Commission). The Prime Minister's Office had no knowledge about this correspondence nor did the staff of the PMO thought it appropriate to obtain copies of such confidential correspondences. In fact, this would amount to undue interference with the affairs of ACC. The reporter of your esteemed Daily has precisely committed this unethical act only to create a sensation.

7. We acknowledge and are aware that the members of the public have the right to know facts and only the truth. The presentation of distorted pictures and half truth does not serve the interest of the public or of the nation.

8. Finally, the Prime Minister's Office would humbly request the respected editor of the Daily Star to utilise his sharp intellect for the sake of the greater national interest and not look for publishing 'scoop' stories as a stunt to create sensation.

OUR REPLY
We publish the PMO's rejoinder in full. Frankly we are at a loss to understand the reason it has been written as it does not address the point that we had written about.

At the press conference held on January 23, 2013 the PM categorically asked how The Daily Star could get a copy of the letter sent by the World Bank's independent panel to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) BEFORE the commission, the finance ministry and the PM herself got it. We showed in our reply that we did NOT, and that the ACC got it three days earlier. The conclusion is that the PM was wrongly briefed by her staff leading to considerable embarrassment to her.

With ref. to paragraph 5, where the PMO detected our “rejoice” and “pleasure” in publishing the letter is beyond our understanding. Similarly, we never wrote that “respective officials of the Ministry of Finance & the PMO should have unethically got hold of those confidential letters”. What we said was that if the PM and the Finance Ministry did not get those letters then we should not be blamed for it.

The rejoinder claims (paragraph 6), without giving any proof, that our publication of the letter “seriously impeded the process of investigation”. On the contrary, we think we have helped the process by making the letter public. It is beyond our understanding how publishing of the letter by the panel could affect investigation.

We fully agree with the PMO's assertion that “The presentation of distorted picture and half truths does not serve the interest of the public or of the nation” (paragraph 7), but how publishing the full text of the letter led to either “distortion” or “half truths” is beyond our understanding.

Readers will recall, one ACC member, referring to the letter, initially said that the WB panel was “happy” while the truth was the opposite, and it came out only after we published the letter.

We leave it to our readers to judge whether we have served the truth and public interest by publishing the letter.

-Editor

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If anything that the Bangladeshi politicians, especially those from Awami League including Sheikh Hasina have learned from history is that from the Nazi propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels.

: Truth Teller

The PMO has nothing better to do?

: Citizen

Comments

  • Robin
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 01:37 AM GMT+06:00 (97 weeks ago)

    By publishing the WB's letter, The Daily Star has done a rare and great justice to democracy in Bangladesh.

  • hasan
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 02:03 AM GMT+06:00 (97 weeks ago)

    We again salute you Daily Star. Keep doing what you have done, let the PM continue to be in the la la land. She is out of touch and being surrounded by Yes mans, same like Mrs Zia. She needs to get some bold and honest people around her to get the full picture and do the right thing for the nation. Nation will remember her for giving air cover to Abul and delaying the Padma bridge by 2-3 years. I am still hopeful that she can be our Mahatir if she gets only the best around her, disband Chatra league, prosecute some of the criminals in AL and work in building consensus with all on national issues. Its not hard, needs open- ness and ability to have the vision. Hope the PMO will see these comments.

  • rashed
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 06:13 AM GMT+06:00 (97 weeks ago)

    You have served the truth !!!

  • M. Ashraf
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 06:37 AM GMT+06:00 (97 weeks ago)

    We as citizens of Bangladesh strongly question the patriotism of the ruling party and denounce their corruption and lack of justice provided.

    The Daily Star should stand its ground and stand proud in disclosing the activities of all parties ruling or not.

    The blatant banter of politicians should be highlighted at every opportunity in the interest of Bangladesh.

  • Syed Wasif
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 07:21 AM GMT+06:00 (97 weeks ago)

    We commend the DS on its efforts to bring out the truth before the public. What irks me is why the PM is sticking out her neck for a questionable character like Abul? She knows she cannot deliver on her promise to build the bridge from our own funds.

  • Graham Prince
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 09:05 AM GMT+06:00 (97 weeks ago)

    The truth is sometimes detrimental to those with something to conceal.

  • Asad Zaman
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 10:23 AM GMT+06:00 (97 weeks ago)

    Dear Editor, your comparative presentation of PMO rejoinder, [and] our reply is quite interesting and meaningful. However, I wonder if there was an understanding between the external panel and the ACC -- that nothing about the investigation would be disclosed – why the World Bank’s external panel [or any other body] then breached the principle (of that understanding) and handed over the copy of its letter to the media?

    Though, the PMO rejoinder and the Daily Star’s (DS) reply have made their points, I would respectfully mention that the main points of the former are clearer and straightforward than that of the latter.

    For instance, the PMO humbly requested the respected editor to utilise his sharp intellect for the sake of the greater national interest; and there is no ambiguity in it (as the way there was no ambiguity in the editor’s earlier argument that the DS got the copy of the WB Panel’s letter 2-3 days after the ACC received its original). But when the DS argues that “we have helped the process by making the letter public” and it is beyond our understanding how the letter could affect investigation, it raises questions in readers’ mind that how does it help the process? And why don’t they ask ACC how the letter could affect investigation?

    Furthermore, if the DS repeats that it “is beyond our understanding” how publishing the full text of the letter led to either distortion or half truths, it raises further possibility that the DS may miss something; for example the ACC and the government may consider that the contents the WB Panel’s letter are one-sided.

  • Bijoy Bangla
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 11:41 AM GMT+06:00 (97 weeks ago)

    Thank you Mr. Anam for standing up for journalistic principles. Thank you for keeping us informed of what we are entitled to know. As long as we have a free-thinking media, we still have some hope that things may go right eventually.

    Bijoy Bangla


 

 


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