Oath to responsibility not power

Posted: জানুয়ারি 8, 2009 in Uncategorized

NO one perhaps could have put it better than the gentleman, who, when asked about his expectations from the newly sworn in MPs, said that he would hope that the new members of the parliament would take this oath as an affirmation of their intention to work for bettering the lot of the people rather than an opportunity to wield the power of their position to better their own lot. One hopes that the government of Sheikh Hasina would take this feeling to heart, it being not the hope of one individual only but also representative of the expectation of the vast majority of the people of Bangladesh.

But one cannot proceed without first expressing one’s sense of satisfaction in the fact that the CTG and the Election Commission have succeeded in giving the nation an election, which, in spite of some minor procedural flaws, went without a hitch. Any attempt to paint the outcome or the process in any other way would only ring hollow, for it was not only the more than two hundred thousand election observers who oversaw the process on the December 29th, I feel that everyone of the more than 85 percent of the voters that turned out to vote acted as observer. It is thus nice to see the BNP acknowledging the reality and accepting the verdict of the peopleby not declaring to boycott the parliament. It has also certainly proved those wrong who, in the last one year, tried to read all sorts of ulterior motives into all the election-related work that the armed forces were asked to carry out, including their deployment as part of the law and order machinery prior to the election. One would have to admit that the confidence engendered by the presence of the law enforcing agencies prior to the election was one of the reasons for the huge turnout.

For Hasina and her party and the grand coalition, there is the need to exercise equanimity and self-restrain and at the same time demonstrate a non-partisan, democratic and inclusive attitude in the parliament to ensure that the Jatiyo Sangshad is not turned into a grinding machine of the brute majority that would ride rough-shod over the sentiments of the opposition in the parliament. It would be wrong to overlook the fact that 27 BNP parliamentarians represent 32 percent of the voters in Bangladesh. It is good to see that the new prime minister is aware of this reality, and she has gone on record saying that her government will not consider the number of opposition seats in the parliament to lend it the importance and weightage the opposition deserves, but the substantive manner in which they perform as the opposition.

Sheikh Hasina has her task cut out, which she has also publicly acknowledged. A good start, one feels, has been made, by keeping the cabinet small, too small perhaps, some aver. But that is better than the more than 60 ministers that the last BNP and the alliance government started with, as if ministerial posts are largesse to be dished out to keep the errant party men beholden to the boss. But while one has to accept that the cabinet gives the picture of a clean group, one cannot but, at the same time, express some degree of apprehension at the fact that except for a few all are new hands at running state affairs. Whatever may have been at the back of the mind of the AL chief to keep the heavyweights and the old party stalwarts out of the cabinet (most of the left outs belong to the “reform” camp) Hasina has no doubt taken a great risk in choosing the cabinet she has. However, no one should question her ministers’ ability before they have a chance to prove themselves. All the nation wants is that Hasina, with her team, deliver to the people the pledges made before the election. However, unlike so many, my expectations are not mountain high. I would only hope that the new government would take lessons from the mistakes of the past and avoid the crony capitalism of the BNP-4party alliance regime. I hope that Sheikh Hasina would be able to break the unholy alliance between business syndicates and some politicians that has been singularly responsible for the price spiral over the last two years, and which was beyond the capability of the highly educated CTG advisors to tackle. I would hope that the new government would reduce dependence on foreign aid (in spite of what the outgoing commerce advisor has suggested) and resist their imposed policy; that it would reduce government spending; that it would formulate a proactive foreign policy and take the challenges head on; and that it would bring to trial the alleged war criminals.

And these may just be possible if the new prime minister and her cabinet colleagues keep in mind that the oath they have taken on January 6 is an oath to responsibility not an oath to power. 

The author is Editor, Defence & Strategic Affairs, The Daily Star.




  1. icejobjob বলেছেন:







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