Call to recast CG system in view of present-day perspective, The Independent, February 24, 2012

DHAKA, FEB 23: Dr Kamal Hossain, president of the Gano Forum, said on Thursday that free and fair election is not possible under the incumbent government.

He was addressing a roundtable on “India-Bangladesh-Myanmar Relations: Challenges for Mutual Development,” organised by the Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) at its premises. He added that the 15th amendment to the Constitution does not mean restoration of the 1972 Constitution. While describing the country’s prevailing situation, he observed that people do not get  protection of the law. Anyone building a house or buying a piece of land has to pay “protection money”, he alleged. Such flexing of muscles and money power should end. He stressed the need to remain united to change the corrupt system.

The event was presided over by BEI president Farooq Sobhan. Professor Rehamn Sobhan, chairman of the Centre for Policy Dialogue, former chief election commissioner ATM Shamsul Huda,  Abul Hasan Chowdhury, former state minister for foreign affairs, former election commissioner Brigadier gen. (retd) Shakhawat Hossain and Enam Ahmed Chowdhury, former chairman of the Privatisation Commission spoke on the occasion. Dr Zillur Rahman Khan, professor emeritus of the University of Wisconsin, presented his paper on “India-Bangladesh-Myanmar relations”.
Dr Kamal Hossain narrated his experience of elections under the incumbent government and recalled hijacking of ballot boxes to manipulate the result. He underscored the need for strengthening the Election Commission.
Prof. Rehman Sobhan mentioned that four elections were held in relatively free and fair atmosphere under the caretaker system, and that articles on the caretaker system should be rewritten in view of today’s perspective.
Dr Shamsul Huda said that electoral democracy is generally seen as a way of perpetuating power. Referring to the present scenario, he said it is difficult for any ordinary citizen even to file a case nowadays. “The ruling party has captured all institutions. Even recommendations of the Public Service Commission (PSC) is subject to scrutiny,” he added.
He alleged that the ruling party wants to put its own people in all important positions only to return to power.
In his paper, Zillur Rahman Khan said that Bangladesh, India and Myanmar can immensely benefit by a coordinated approach where they can tap off-shore resources within their overlapping maritime belts.
“The environment that triggered a downslide in trilateral relations involve territoriality, water sharing, trade and investment, off-shore exploration for fossil fuel, Asian highway and transit routes, smuggling and ethno-religious violence, among others,” he read out.
Earlier, a book, “Democracy in Bangladesh: Political Dimensions of National Development”, jointly edited by Dr Zillur Rahman Khan and Dr Syed Saad Andaleeb was launched at the same venue. Syed Andaleeb gave a brief description of different chapters of the book.
24 February, 2012