Sajib Wajed Joy


Mahfuz Anam’s recent editorial, The Sons are Coming, makes for interesting reading. I advise readers to then go back and read a pair of his columns from 2007: How could BNP come to this stage?, written after the arrest of Tarique Rahman on March 9, 2007, and The mandate that Khaleda Zia Wasted, that ran on September 4, 2007, the day after Khaleda Zia was arrested.

Browsing through Daily Star in 2007 is like watching a super-sad movie: you know how all this is going to end, but you cannot help but be touched by the optimism in the middle. An article on the National Coordination Committee, written by the breathless Julfiqar Ali Manik (as a part of his competition with Zafar Sobhan to see who could make grander pronouncements about the all-encompassing success of the CTG), nicely illustrates the point. It would have “ultra-crime bust forces” and a “mighty committee.” It would “be at the helm of all major hunts for corruption and criminal suspects.” It “will not rest on filing of cases but follow those up till the disposal by keeping constant contacts and communications with relevant authorities.” In fact, short of wearing leotards and flying through the sky, it would virtually have no other limitations.

Newt Gingrich apparently shut down the US government because Bill Clinton did not invite him to the presidential cabin while taking a trip in Air Force One. Did Mahfuz Anam support a coup because he was “teased” (Mr. Anam’s words, not mine) by TR?

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Amago Bhai er Harvard degree asey — have you heard this line of argument from the Awami cheerleaders?  Not yet?  Don’t worry, you will.  And when you do, remember that Saif we’ll-crush-al Qaeda-backed-junkies Qaddafi received a PhD from London School of Economics.

Here is Mr Qaddafi’s thesis.  This is the abstract:

The thesis explains and adopts three philosophical foundations in support of the argument. The first is liberal individualism; the thesis argues that there are strong motivations for free individuals to seek fair terms of cooperation within the necessary constraints of being members of a global society. Drawing on the works of David Hume, John Rawls and Ned McClennen, it elaborates significant self-interested and moral motives that prompt individuals to seek cooperation on fair terms if they expect others to do so. Secondly, it supports a theory of global justice, rejecting the limits of Rawls’s view of international justice based on what he calls ‘peoples’ rather than persons. Thirdly, the thesis adopts and applies David Held’s eight cosmopolitan principles to support the concept and specific structures of ‘Collective Management’.

I haven’t read Hume and Rawls for a while, but I am sure if I looked hard enough I could come up with justifications for mass murder in their work.

Our own Prince, Sajeeb Ahmed Digital Bangladesher probokta Wajed Joy, has a mere masters degree from Kennedy School.  But still, his intellectual output is nothing to scoff at.  Better bloggers than me have written approvingly of the great mind of Tungipara-Rangpur-Virginia here, here, here and here.

Amago Bhai er Harvard degree asey, if you don’t appreciate it, it’s because you’re too dumb — remember this post when you hear the Joy Joy chants.

The memory of two years of under disguise martial law is still fresh in our minds. Among many things, that was the time for the center right politics in Bangladesh to get a much deserved thrashing. The military regime did not only go overboard in thrashing the emerging icon of center right politics, Tarique Rahman — the Army Chief and disguised CMLA Moeen U Ahmed received Horses from his Indian counterpart fulfilling all its symbolic value and pardoned a convicted murderer because he was a freedom fighter! And when the martial law steamroller was at its peak, rather surprisingly, woke up a portion of Dhaka University. During that short lived rebellion and the months following, while neo-Awami Leaguer and master revisionist of History Dr Anwar Hossain became face of intellectual and academic resistance, pro-BNP teachers suddenly all became pro -milirary crusaders. After enjoying all the perks of BNP rule of ten years, these “BNP minded” teachers who claim to belong to “Shada Panel”, suddenly became silent academic scintists who don’t understand anything about politics. However as Moeen U’s adventurism failed, it looks like suddenly these ‘Shada panel” academics got their voice back. Here are some excerpts of their recent chattering taken from Ali-Mahmed’s blog

ঢাকা বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়ের জীববিজ্ঞান অনুষদের ডিন আবুল বাশার বলেন, “দেশের আকাশ-বাতাসসহ প্রতিটি কণা ‘আমি তারেক জিয়া বলছি’ ডাকটি শুনতে চায়।” (প্রথম আলো/ ০৪.০৯.১০)
কলা অনুষদের ডিন সদরুল আমিন বলেন, “আমরা চাই তারেক জিয়া আমাদের মাঝে ফিরে আসুন…।”
বিজ্ঞান অনুষদের ডিন তাজমেরী এস এ ইসলাম বলেন, “…তারেক রহমান দেশের বাইরে বসে আত্মসমালোচনা ও আত্মবিশ্লেষণ করছেন।”
ঢাকা বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়ের শিক্ষক সমিতির সাধারণ সম্পাদক এ বি এম ওবায়দুল ইসলাম বলেন, “তারেক রহমান তারুণ্যের অহংকার। তাঁর দেহে দেশপ্রেম ও স্বাধীনচেতার রক্ত বইছে।…।”(প্রথম আলো/ ০৪.০৯.১০)

Anyway all their Tarique Rahman love fest did not help them win votes of Dhaka University teachers. In both Dhaka University and Chittagong University; the ” BNP-Jamaat ভাবধারার সাদা প্যনেল” got their thrashing of life by being soundly defeated.
One can rest assured that these dumb scoundrels will not take lesson from this. They will keep on their তারিক বন্দনা forgetting their real role in Bangladesh politics.

First of all, while they have their right to get involved in national level politics, they should have known that they should not bring the national politics in University Teachers union election.

Second, when university teachers get involved in national politics, they are expected to play the role of ideologues and pressure groups of caution within their political platform. Arranging Tarique love fest is exactly the thing that is not the job of University teachers. But being the ideologues and pressure group of caution within the party, their role should have been to speak out that Tarique is at the core of everything that went wrong with BNP since 2001. Thanks to Tarique Rahman, BNP got 20% less vote than Awami league during last election. These university teachers were supposed to tell that to Mrs. Khaleda Zia. Who will tell otherwise? They are the ones who would rather arrange seminar, round tables and talk about the outrageous nature of the verdicts of current Chief Justice Khairul Haque, or the gross misinformation and frank lies in the Fifth Amendment verdict. These teachers should have been the ones who should have explained Zia’s politics to the new generations. or discuss about the শুভঙ্করের ফাকি in the name of transit or they would have been nations conscience regarding Tipaimukh issue. And shame on these morons, only thing they thought they could do is this, “দেশের আকাশ-বাতাসসহ প্রতিটি কণা ‘আমি তারেক জিয়া বলছি’ ডাকটি শুনতে চায়।”

And thirdly, what do these BNP supporting teachers mean by “BNP-Jamaat ভাবধারার সাদা প্যনেল”? Do they know or understand what is Jamaat’s vabdhara? Jamaat’s main political goal is establishment of আল্লার আইন . How does that match with BNP’s ভাবধারা ? Do that Dean of Arts faculty, those Professors of History know that BNP founder Ziaur Rahman did not allow jamaat to do politics in Bangladesh? Or I am expecting too much from these foolhardy opportunists known as Shada panel member teachers?

If this is the intellectual quality of the academic leaders of our top academic centers, what is the future of the country?

1. Bangladesh Supreme Court is imposing a new sort of blasphemy fear in our society. They just jailed an editor for six months and a reporter for a month and fined financial penalty to additional others for reporting some facts which the court even did not try to refute as false. Courts stand was like this, ” be it fact or truth, as long as we six men feel someone has written something which we consider harmful to our image, we shall punish him/ her. And there will be no appeal to this verdict because there is no court above us in this land”.

2. The report in vernacular Daily Amar Desh quoted a senior lawyer and ex justice, Mr TH Khan, as ” Chamber Judge Means Stay (of High Court Order)” as the title . The report chronicled the spate of cases where this chamber Judge Mojammel Hossain, acting on the plea of government’s lawyers, blindly stayed all high court orders without any exception. Cases he stayed included high court rules to cancel police remand ( which means police torture in Bangladesh) although there are previous high court ruling discouraging ‘Police Remand’. The person Daily Amardesh quoted was present in the court as a lawyer. Court did not bother asking him a question. The court did not bother discuss the facts whether indeed chamber judge means stay or not. The Supreme Court did not bother/ dare go into that detail because they knew all what Amar Desh published was true.

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Last week Police raided vernacular Daily Amar Desh, arrested its editor along with some senior journalists, locked up the office and the press that publishes the newspaper. Police cited some procedural flaws as reason for closing down the newspaper. Any reasonable reader will understand, if there was any procedural flaw it was government’s for not processing the application to change the publisher in reasonable time. Several media personnel and observers have stated that there was no flaw on Amardesh’s side and this was confirmed by summery dismissal of this government decision by the high court.

However although the newspaper is being republished now under high court order, there is fear among its journalists that government is trying to force a change of ownership and turn it into a meek pro government mouthpiece. As a part of the strategy, the editor and owner of the newspaper remains under police custody. District level judicial courts have allowed the government to take Mr Rahman away from Dhaka’s central Jail to undisclosed location for questioning. This kind of arrangement is known as ‘remand’ in Bangladesh. Political leaders belonging to all parties have confirmed in the past that remand means state conducted torture. It is very clear that if police has to ask Mr Rahman any question they can do it as much as they want to do it Dhaka central jail. The massive structure has facilities to conduct such interrogation. But the lower court judges, clearly under pressure, allowed the police to take him to an undisclosed location.

And Mr Rahman has confirmed the tortures on him while he was produced before court before a second phase of his total 12 days remand began. Mr Rahman, told the court under oath that he was taken to a place in Dhaka Military Garrison where he was first undressed. Then few unidentified person started beating him till he became unconscious. He told the court that no relevant question was ever asked to him. The partisan lawyer working on behalf of the government, when asked by media about the torture, replied that as Mr Rahman was able to walk and talk in the court, proving that it meant he was not tortured!

Mr Mahmudur Rahman’s plight confirms what the political observers in Bangladesh was fearing over the last year. Current Bangladesh government has a very intolerant attitude towards media. After several very bold reporting of corruption and double standard by this government was published in Daily Amardesh, most veteran political analysts in Bangladesh knew that this Awami League government will not tolerate this sort of reporting. Mr Shafiq Rehman is a legendary journalists, whose weekly, Jaijaidin, was banned twice by the military dictator Ershad in 80s, and who had to flee the country for fear of persecution by the dictator. He recently wrote, after the Amar Desh event, that he learnt that this government had two priorities; evicting opposition leader Khaleda Zia from her home and arresting editor Mr Mahmudur Rahman for daring to expose high level corruption in the government.

From the acts of shutting down TV channels for showing footage of rigging in bye election, closing down newspaper for publishing government documents accusing Prime Minister’s son of corruption and putting a tight gag on TV talk shows, it is clear that this elected government has decided to run a rule of fear and suppression. This is very worrisome. But more worrisome is the fact that the government started all this within only 18 months of its rule. That means worse days await Bangladesh in the upcoming 3 1/2 years.

The recent controversy on Chevron deal and the follow up political rumblings surrounding the PM’s son and her energy advisor on one side and Amar Desh editor on the other side has captivated nation’s attention for the last few weeks. While we debate how freedom of speech is being used to trash political opponents, or how political thuggery is trying to gag free speech, the very important issue of a specific corruption allegation is getting crowded out.

 Let’s keep Mr Sajib Wajed or Mr Mahmudur Rahman out of the issue. Mahmudur rahman is making full use of the victimhood, and his showmanship on this issue is ugly. And Mr Wajed is also dragged in this issue unnecessarily or prematurely. It is an unfortunate fact of life for the children of politicians of Bangladesh and beyond that they are always under close scrutiny and often victim of rampant character assassination attempts.

 However, leaving these individuals aside, we are still left with a specific corruption allegation that has merit enough to demand further discussion and scrutiny. Amar Desh reports a specific corruption report with copies of leaked official correspondence.

The specifics of the corruption allegation are self revealing. A $52 million job was allocated to Chevron without required transparency that includes a tender process. And while protesting the report, PM’s energy advisor repeatedly misrepresented facts. While he said there was no bid in three tenders, the fact is that the Government cancelled earlier lowest bid from Korean Company Hyundai only to award the job to Chevron. He also lied about his agenda for the US trip.

Instead of relying on Amar Desh, let’s turn to the premiere newspaper of Bangladesh, the Daily Star.    The Daily Star printed at least seven reports on this specific issue. (Interestingly, while Amar Desh report is based on government documents, the Daily Star series report, as usual, is based on unnamed sources.  But let’s leave this aside, as no one would accuse the Daily Star of partisan hatred of the current government, or Mr Mahfuz Anam, its editor, of ugly showmanship.

On April 11 2009, the Daily Star warned that a compressor station for gas distribution pipeline was being planned to be awarded to Chevron which would “… unduly give Chevron the authority to control major chunk of the country’s gas distribution system. This will definitely create a number of serious legal complications over the authority and ownership of the compressor station and the distribution pipeline” .

Another follow up report published on June 21 2009 quotes a gas transmission expert: “Even if we accept the idea of pumping PSC investment in compressor, I say Muchai gets no priority for a compressor station now. Because of high volume of gas produced by Chevron, the gas pressure at Muchai and onwards is 1024 pressure per inch (PSI). This pressure will stay for a couple of years at this point. But we need a compressor at Ashuganj where the pressure drops to 700-800psi. A number of new plants are being set up close to the Ashuganj pipeline system. Then why prioritise Muchai now?”

The same report also quotes another official: “Petrobangla’s extreme reliance on foreign investment in the gas sector has already created a precarious situation for the national exchequer. The cost of gas is now very high because foreign companies are producing more gas than the national companies which have been denied adequate funds for their healthy growth”.

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