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     Volume 6 Issue 28 | July 20, 2007 |

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He giveth with his right hand, receiveth with his left


In many gatherings, often called assembly, one of the virtues of a “bawkta” is to speak incoherently especially in situations when they have taken a side. Such disjointed ramblings they continue even after office hours and in the absence of his regular audience. It can so happen that he finds a B-I-G difference between Taka Tk 27,86,364, which he has swallowed by self-prescription AND Taka 28,00,000, which this newspaper mentioned for the sake of rounding off the figure. And yet he does not see the sin in sanctioning the huge sum for his own benefit. To him it is a matter of what is fifty-two that is not “teppanno”.

You being the lawyer you are, you know all the rules but the following paragraph may serve to prick your conscience, if any:

Section 10 of the General Financial Rules says: “Every officer incurring or authorising expenditure from public funds should be guided by high standards of financial propriety.” Its sub-section 3 says: “No authority should exercise its powers for sanctioning expenditure to pass an order which will be directly or indirectly to its own advantage.”

In some cases, for the lack of an erect vertebra, a parrot transforms into His Masters Voice. Some unkind people say that his spinelessness was the primary reason for him attaining such a high post. And as it always happens, when someone gets something he does not deserve, he uses the clout to disrespect that revered position. Let the country go to “golla”, what does he care. If his appointer is sitting on his right and thumping the table, he is ensured of a secure job.

Now such people are so adept to always listening to the party in power [the source of his power], instead of being a neutral person as per his job description, he soon enough loses his “manoniyo” voice and [Ta Da!] becomes Mr. Listener.

After years in office, in response to proclamation by his own supposed supporters, lawmakers of BNP, that he was instrumental in making the congregation of policymakers malfunction, he (surprise! surprise!) bravely throws a challenge to the nation that the 'people will decide' about that (his success or failure).

Yes, Mr. Listener, we are speakers on behalf of the people. If only to make you scratch your head and recall why the concrete palace could not do justice to democracy, the following extracts from recent history may help.

You have been severely criticised at home and abroad for wilful negligence for not sending a helicopter to fly in a critically injured SAMS Kibria (MP) from Habiganj to Dhaka for emergency treatment. [Agencies, Dhaka, February 08, 2005] If we are not wrong, he was sitting in the same chamber with you only a few days earlier, on your left to be precise, and thumping the table in your opinion perhaps for all the 'wrong reasons'. He later died. Do you know that?

We understand it as very sad and a gross violation of human rights that you did not have a radio or TV or a mobile phone, and had to learn the news of Kibria's injury and death in the next day's newspapers. We hope you will be given all three facilities soon, because in case of an alien attack we do not want them to find you reading some “patrika”.

Then there was an article headlined “Four years of Jamiruddin Sircar: Putting Party Before Parliament”, published in The Daily Star on 30 October 2005. How about this one for making the parliament ineffective? “Speaker of Parliament Jamiruddin Sircar rejected all [as many as 162] notices from the opposition” [The Daily Star, 2 October, 2006]

In another development [or under-development], the Awami League lawmakers had been boycotting the parliament for over a year. Many termed their action anti-democracy and urged them to raise their issues in the house. You Mr. Listener made sure they stayed out as you, refused to hold discussion on the 21 August [2004] grenade attacks on an Awami League rally in Dhaka.

That grenade attack killed 23 Awami League leaders and activists, and injured several hundred including a number of lawmakers, your political colleagues.

As the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), the international organisation of Parliaments of sovereign States, repeatedly sought to know the actual status of investigation into the August 21 grenade attack case, you even asked the IPU not to continue examining the case regarding the assassination attempt on Leader of the Opposition Sheikh Hasina to let the legal proceedings go unhindered. Alarmed at the situation the IPU asked you to attend their conference to provide information and your observations on the grenade attack. You were rather athletic and skipped the conference.

You blamed the AL for non-cooperation, but the IPU examined the facts and rejected your allegations. The IPU's findings were included in its resolution adopted by consensus by the IPU Governing Council at its 178th session in Nairobi, Kenya on May 12, 2006.

You failed to understand that the IPU resolution, conveyed to you, affirms that “attempts on the life of a parliament member stand as a threat to all members of that parliament and, ultimately, to the institution of parliament as such and to the people it represents.” Alas!

Presently there is no parliament. The constitution remains suspended. The president does not find it necessary [or comfortable] to hand over charge to the Speaker during his absence from the country, as is the rule under Article 54 of the Constitution. And still he is around. Certain developments are unfathomable. We all remember what the three-piece bawkta did when the president went abroad for treatment. How unkind can one be, taking advantage of someone's serious illness? Even the president's limousine was hijacked.

I am in total agreement with Mr. Mahfuz Anam's Commentary ["When a Speaker speaks the unspeakable", The Daily Star, 15 July 2007] except the last bit where he suggests that for the sake of bringing things back to order, the Speaker should return the healthy money. Only that much is not enough. Please join me in voicing that for tarnishing the image of the parliament, the symbol of people's power, the speaker should resign from this sacrosanct post. Believe me no one will know the difference. There will be no constitutional vacuum as the deputy speaker can take easily over, along with his limousine.

Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2007