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Saturday, November 10, 2012
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Yunus' 'Anti-Bangladesh Propaganda'

Prove it, please!

No less a person than our finance minister has accused Prof Yunus, our only Nobel Laureate and the most well known and well regarded Bangladeshi in the world today, of carrying out, “with his wonderful publicity machinery”, anti-Bangladesh propaganda worldwide. “He is the single major reason for Bangladesh's failure to project its positive image”, Muhith said and quoted Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen in this regard. Amartya Sen, in a written reply, to The Daily Star received yesterday refuted Muhith's claim and asked him to withdraw his comment attributed to him (See separate story on this page).

Yunus, according to our finance minister, is also preventing direct foreign investment for want of which we are “starving”, he said. He also accused Yunus of dishonesty saying, “everything he says does not reflect the whole truth”.

For any Bangladeshi to carry out anti-national propaganda is a supreme moral crime. And for a man of Prof Yunus' stature it is more so. This statement of AMA Muhith comes as a great shock to millions of Bangladeshis, especially the young who feel proud of Prof Yunus and consider him to be a role model.

Those of us who support his cause, like this writer; those who think that he has brought tremendous honour and prestige for the country by his activities; those who think that his pioneering idea of micro credit-- that has been emulated in more than a hundred countries spanning all the continents, all economies (capitalist and socialist), all political systems (democratic, communist, monarchy, one-party, multi-party) and among both rich and poor nations; those who think that with all its weaknesses micro credit has so far been the most effective and self-sustainable system of fighting poverty; those who think that Yunus is an excellent institution builder who set up the first ever bank solely for the poor women serving 8 million borrowers and built nearly fifty other separate companies aimed at solving specific problems faced by the poor --- like housing, energy, health, education --- and those who consider him to be one of the greatest and most successful image builders of Bangladesh MUST know the TRUTH about this man.

It is the DUTY of the finance minister to tell the people how Yunus is damaging the image and harming the interest of the very country he spent his whole life working to improve.

So the least Mr. Muhith can do is to PROVE what he said. We would like to know when, where and how Prof Yunus hurt Bangladesh's interest. We would like to know which foreign investments were deterred by Yunus and when. As the finance minister he has all the resources and the staff to gather facts. So he must give the nation FACTS, not claims, surmises and innuendos and implied meanings. We want the plain truth so that we stop admiring Yunus as we do.

Minister Muhith also said that because of Yunus Bangladesh's good work is not being publicised and appreciated. When journalists asked why, Muhith said because of his “wonderful publicity machinery”.

Are we to understand that all these leaders -- from the USA, France, Germany, China, Saudi Arabia, India, Indonesia, Japan -- to name just a few, known the world over for their leadership and wisdom and who respect Yunus and grant him audience whenever occasions call for, are basically fools who have been duped by Yunus' “publicity machinery”?

Are we to understand that hardnosed investors who search the world for a place to invest and brave the harshest of circumstances to make a profit forego Bangladesh as a profit making destination because Yunus said so?

Who are we fooling?

On the contrary, can the fact be refuted that possible FDI from French and German companies like Adidas for cheap but durable shoes for villagers, malaria preventing mosquito repellent nets by BASF, vital nutrition providing yoghurt by Danone and cheap pure rural water supply by Viola were either not allowed in or made to suffer various obstacles just because they were linked with Yunus' projects dealing with the poor?

And what about KEPZ? The deal was signed 17 years ago. And yet, land ownership documents have not been completed. Samsung wanted to locate one of their smartphone factories there employing about 50,000 people, it is learnt. But they decided against it because of the ambiguity of the situation. If the government feels that the original contract does not serve Bangladesh's interest well, then it should renegotiate and implement the project so that foreign companies can seriously think of investing there. Keeping it uncertain is a sheer way of driving away FDI.

As for Yunus' good press, are we to understand that the world famous media institutions, who are otherwise quite capable of being discerning, objective and brutally honest, suddenly lose all their critical faculties when they are faced with that disarming Yunus smile?

If we think foreign leaders, investors and global media are so naive as to be guided by one man's briefing, then we are obviously not expecting to be taken seriously by any one of the above groups.

It is with a heavy heart that we write this piece, for we respect the finance minister. His integrity is beyond question, his patriotism is well known, his capacity for hard work can put to shame most of his younger colleagues, his honesty of purpose is exemplary. Yet, shunning decency he has chosen to question the honesty, integrity and patriotism of a man like Prof Yunus who is a source of pride for the nation. That is why we reiterate our demand that the finance minister must PROVE what he has said for the good of the nation. In this regard, we are ready to publish his interview or a written text by him providing the necessary proof that decency demands.

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Mr. Anam - I totally agree to what you have written. This propaganda against Dr. Yunus by the current AL government must stop.

: Truth Teller

Prove it, please! Or resign!

: Ootoya


  • Ahmed Shafi
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 06:55 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    There is no way he can prove; he did not record the conversion. Besides, Mr Sen is cleverer and perhaps younger. His statement is cunning and he has nothing to lose.

  • shawkat
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 09:05 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    Finance Minister should step down if he can not prove.

  • Anonymous k
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 09:38 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    If Prof Yunus's propaganda machine is so powerful then the question is what the Foreign Ministry and all the Bangladesh Embassy's all over the world are doing. By his remark, the FM has admitted that the government machinery has been broken down by Yunu's propaganda machinery. It is a shame and for that reason, the Foreign Ministry and his own ministry should be abolished and our entire embassy's overseas should be closed for a total failure. This way lot of poor people's tax money could be saved. If an individual is more powerful then the government of a sovereign nation, that incompetent government has no moral right to stay in power.

  • neutral
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 09:59 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    Leaving aside my concern about unresolved issue of sixty years of age limit for the GB's chairperson, I have no cause for disagree with this very powerful commentary by Mahfuz Anam. This upholds the question of accountability and transparency. The learned finance minister has not only failed to prove his allegation against Prof Yunus, he has unnecessarily dragged in Prof Amartya Sen into his failed conviction and approach to undermine the status of Prof Yunus. It is time for him to put down his crown and rest in retirement and not to enter into any mudslinging game of politics. I hope sooner or later the GB board and Prof Yunus would speak on the age limit issue and admit their failure to make it updated to give legal cover of the chairmanship of Prof Yunus which expired as soon as he crossed the age limit of sixty years.

  • Asad Zaman
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 11:46 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    Dear Mahfuz Anam, with this powerful title - Prove it please! - You have made an attractive piece that will certainly capture the conscience of the FM. But by corresponding with Amartya Sen first, you nicely fixed the proof source and shut its door for the FM to change anything. This is a methodological error in your investigation. Mr Sen is a wise human being who will not even try to recognise thing that is embarrassing for him. Now there is no way to find any direct source of proof. However, your own description of FM's integrity, patriotism, honesty and your own respect for him is the indirect source open to you. If we truly love Dr Yunus, we must also respectfully tell him that going against his own country's rule of law or legal system is not helpful. Nor is it matching with his status. Please note: Your excellent title - Prove it please! - is also perfectly applicable for the World Bank to submit its proof to the ACC.

  • CM Tufail Sami
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 11:55 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    I was stunned at this unwarranted statement by our Hon'ble Finance Minister. I know him as most dignified intelligent civil servant; even Mr Hanif has disowned the statement. I feel he should retire now and save the govt. from further embarrassment in home and abroad.

  • Mehedi
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 12:20 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    One of my class mate from Canada, told me he came across the word Bangladesh when he attended a conference in Canada where Prof. Yunus was chief a guest. During the conference, Prof. Yunus introduced Bangladesh as a developing country with great capabilities rather than a poor country who need foreign support. I am not sure what MA Muhit did for our country except promise and hope.

  • Jumana Sarwar
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 12:29 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    The proof of your challenge is just unproved by Amartya Sen where he vehemently denied passing vulgar comments about Prof Yunus. Even Hanif has scored better and wisely distanced himself from Mr. Muhit.

  • Translucent
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 12:37 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    Yes you are right. Prove it Mr Muhit! Either put up or shut up!

  • niloufar sarker
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 12:40 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    Dr Sen's refutation speaks for itself.Mr Muhith by his irresponslble remarks are tarnishing our image at home & abroad.

  • Ishfaq
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 12:42 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    This writing is the part of Yunus 'wonderful publicity machinery'¯. You, The Daily Star, Prothom-Alo are part of it who failed to establish Yunus as a Political Leader after 1/11 Military backed Govt.

  • rch
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 12:42 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    Dr Sen probably is right because by going after Dr Yunus, AL government made whole world displeased because Dr Yunus is very well respected all over the world--So the blame is squarely on government for destroying foreign Investment by alienating Foreign Investors --Muhith did not get Dr Sen's comment just like he does not understand macro finance with his English Lit background anyway!

  • asif
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 01:00 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    What AL govt is doing is insulting themselves world wide. It is an open secret now about all the loan and bridge scandals. These scandals are major , however there are millions of other scandals around. Mr Muthit please stop being jealous.

  • Vampire knight
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 01:02 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    Its already proved with Dr Sen's response to it. Mr Muhit must give an explanation now clearing his position or he must resign accepting the blame that he speaks lie. Our Finance Minister can not be a liar.

    In any case, AL's false propaganda against Dr Yunus must stop.

  • ashfaq choudhury
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 01:02 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    Prof Yunus-we need you here in bangladesh and please continue doing what ever is possible by you. Please understand- there will always be criticism from vested and ignorant quarters.

  • Shahjahan
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 01:06 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    It's indeed shocking to hear comments such as these from a country's finance minister. Infact, Mr Muhith is only losing his credibility and respect only from his endeavours to downgrade Prof Yunus.

    In rhetorics, if in the event Prof Yunus is hindering FDI and if he is actually so charismatic in tarnishing the image of Bangladesh; then WE MUST agree that he has some great convincing powers to make world leaders to listening and believing in him. Therefore, it would be great and much wiser if Prof Yunus is rather made the finance minister instead of Muhith, as he can then eventually assist in bringing more FDI by convincing world leaders.

    Our finance minister has rather proved himself a failure, incapable and incompetent to hold such a crucial ministry indeed.

  • Optimist
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 01:10 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    Mr Muhith needs a break. He is exhausted by the failure of Padma bridge project and quite a few others. There is no other way but to blame others. Dr. Yunus is a scapegoat that will make some happy as well.

    So, why not?

    The question now is, who are we fooling? Is BD the same as was 20 years back?

    A very good, balanced and responsible opinion.

    I think Prof Yunus should be left alone, as there is no way for us mere mortals to understand his philosophy, and his REACH.

  • Dr. Ahsan Habib
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 01:18 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    Very nicely analyzed and written. Congratulations to Mahfuz Anam. While Yunus is not projecting any negative image of Bangladesh, the way our leaders are treating him, by default, has already projecting an unfortunate negative image for Bangladesh.

  • Mohammad Zaman
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 01:25 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    It is not unreasonable to expect that Dr Yunus may be awarded another Nobel Peace Prize for his pioneering work on Social Business.

  • Zia
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 02:20 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    So silly to get caught for name dropping, failing to differentiate between Micro and Macro ecomic issues, FM is just committing political suicide.

  • Pokraj
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 02:21 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    Thank God, Bengalis all over the world knows Prof Yunus and we are proud of having him.

  • Maswood Alam Khan
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 02:25 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    By bashing Dr Yunus our politicians are displaying to the whole world how mean they have been groomed, how badly they have been schooled, how spitefully they are motivated to speak ill of others, and how horribly they are navigating our nation.

  • Khalid U.K.
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 02:47 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    We all know Muhith will not dare accept the challenge and will rather keep on moaning about his silly and unwise irresponsible remarks. It is not he alone other ministers also surprise the nation by their childish remarks and make the people wonder are they really cabinet ministers? We can not blame them alone they simply follow the foot step of their leader.

  • Mahfuz
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 02:55 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    I, in fact we were furuous about the comments made by Mr Muhith. He just shut up his mouth. He is so shameless, make unnecessary baseless comments. We hate Mr Muhit.We are proud proud and proud of Prof Yunus.

  • Shireen Farhana
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 03:15 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    Mr Muhith's comment proves that the AL government is very jealous of Dr Yunus.

  • Mufassil Islam
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 03:21 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    Like majority of shameless politicians I am sure even after this he will never have what it takes to withdraw his senseless and irresponsible comments. Alas! Finance Minister! You never deserved the Nobel prize.

  • mohsin
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 03:37 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    Dear Editor, you know for sure that Mr Muhith will never take your challenge to prove what he said. It is a childish way to cover such an issue.Maturity of your paper demands a different treatment of the issue. Knowing Yunus well,you could have demanded Muhith's apology, and ask him and his likes to refrain from the bad culture of inventing scapegoat.

  • Sharier Rahman
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 03:41 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    Wonderful writing Mr Anam, but I must hold you and so-called other member of civil society for installing this AL Govt in the first place and then continually giving people like Muhith and Suranjit limelight in the national debates.

  • Tirtho Mahmud
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 03:41 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    Maybe PM should issue a moratorium on Mr Muhith so that he can keep quiet for a while. I mean how can a person like him go unnoticed by the PM, despite public outcry home and abroad? Is he doing this with PM urge or consent? If so, it's certainly embarrassing for the administration of Hasina.

  • Mushtaq Elahi
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 04:04 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    I forgive, Mr Muhith. He is too old and senile. Just ignore what he says.

  • Shahid ul Hoq
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 04:11 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    Muhith is an utter disgrace of Bangladesh. He is low in his thought. He has no clue as to what he is talking about.

  • Ataur Rahman
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 02:53 PM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    Dear Mr. Editor, Thank you for a very well written piece. I fully endorse your views and support your call for the finance minister to prove the accusations againt Prof. Yonus., If I were Dr. Younus, I would have taken him to court. I however could share the positive attributes you made about the Minister. These probably emenated from the inherent sense of decency among Bengalis. Mr Muhit has rendered himself as a laughable for his irresonsible utterances and has done more damage to the image and credibilty of the government and the people of Bangladesh than he can imagine.

  • akash
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 01:24 PM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    I think our political leader are very often reckless to speak about Honorable person. Dr Yunus is The Pioneer of Micro credit is a Famus person in the World but the Finance minister has insulted the big figure several times to destroy our image. He the finance minister should change his behavior about Dr Yunus.

  • S.G. Jilanee
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 03:26 PM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    A most balanced comment. Prof Yunus is a man in a million, a treasure any country should be proud of. The qualities in Mr Muhith that you have listed and lauded, however, cannot hide the act that he is fallible; jealous of this simple, unassuming man's international fame.Muhith should go.





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