Name Game Virus
Before it was the Awami League renaming every institute they
could think of, with 'Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman'.
Now it's BNP's turn. Recently, the National University (NU)
authorities have decided to rename the Institute to Ziaur
Rahman National University. This time, however, the intelligentsia
of the country are more vocal in their disapproval of such
an arbitrary act. Academics have referred to the move as 'unfortunate
and morally unacceptable'. Professor Serajul Islam Choudhury
referred to this as a 'disease' and said that this would only
make Ziaur Rahman a controversial figure. Professor Choudhury
was critical of the practice of renaming old institutions
without establishing new ones. Former Vice Chancellor of Dhaka
University, Prof. Emajuddin Ahmed, said that such renaming
would not increase the late president's dignity. According
to Prof. Mozaffar Ahmed, such a practice reflects the poor
quality of Bangladesh's political culture.
According to Dr. AAMS Arefin Siddique, president of Dhaka
University Teachers Association (DUTA) and former syndicate
member of National University, the renaming is also a political
move as the university is already plagued by political appointments.
The 29-year-old case of four slain politicians has finally
ended with death sentences for three former military officers.
Dhaka Metropolitan Sessions Court Judge, Mohammad Motiur Rahman
read out the judgement in a makeshift court compound near
the Dhaka Central Jail after it had been deferred twice last
month. Twelve senior army officers were given life terms.
Eleven of them have already been sentenced to death for killing
Four founding fathers of the country's first government --
Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmed, Mansur Ali, and AHM Qamaruzzman
-- were killed in Dhaka Jail in 1975 by a group disgruntled
army-men. Only days ago the same group led a bloody coup to
overthrow Sheikh Mujib's regime; Mujib was brutally killed
on that night of August 15, along with almost all the members
of his family. An ordinance was promulgated by Khandakar Mushtak's
regime indemnifying the killers of Sheikh Mujib and the four
leaders and it was later passed in the parliament by Ziaur
Legal proceedings started two decades after the killing Sheikh
Hasina took office in 1996. But proceedings took a backstage
when Bangladesh Nationalist Party won the next general elections
The main opposition Bangladesh Awami League has denounced
the verdict and called a countrywide a half-day strike on
November 3, coinciding with the 29th anniversary of the jail
killing. The party has also condemned the acquittal of M Obaidur
Rahman, a BNP MP.
The BNP lawmaker in charge of saving the lands unlawfully
encroached by some is now out to align himself with the accused
says a newspaper report. The Member of Parliament in Dhaka-4
seat, who is part of the authority in charge of driving the
encroachers out, has settled for a portion of the river Buriganga.
A four-story building was being built right behind his abode
in Shyampur flouting the rules. The taskforce formed to combat
encroachment clamped down on such installation. But in a weird
twist of events, one of the eight MPs who were part of an
ancillary force to materialise the goal is now finding himself
in the role of an encroacher.
Last October the BIWTA and the Dhaka District Council jointly
initiated a drive to efface all the installations that unlawfully
and drastically narrowed down the Buriganga river. It was
at this time that the structure behind the house of Sallahuddin
Ahmed caught the attention of the authority. He promised to
get rid of it as per rules, but after all this time, the structure
not only stands on the encroached land but also expands to
incorporate a garden. When asked about the house under-construction,
he gleefully replied to a journalist, "I am building
a garden behind my house."
News for the Garment Sector
With the scheduled phase out of quotas on some garment items,
Bangladesh must brace itself for a heavy blow in its export
earnings from the garments sector. According to a Daily Star
report, in the last three years, the country's income from
exports to the US, its largest buyer, has dropped by 22 percent
or US$534 million. The worst is yet to come as the US market
may shrink even further for Bangladeshi garment exporters.
Thanks to the abolition of all quotas, China, India and a
few other countries will become Bangladesh's biggest competitors.
Export income from the US reached the highest of $2500 million
in 2000-2001 fiscal year which came down to $1966 million
in FY 2003-2004 due to decline in export earnings in the Readymade
Garments sector (RMG). According to a Anisul Huq, president
of the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association,
this alarming decline was attributed to phase out of quotas,
lead time problem and US's decision to provide preferential
market access for Sub-Saharan and other countries. Huq suggested
that the only way Bangladesh could increase export to the
US market was if it had duty-free access there.
Huq added that studies have shown that the Chinese share in
the US market may go up by 50 per cent (from 16 per cent at
present). Indian exports to the US may also grab around 16
per cent of the market (at present it is 4 per cent). Huq
fears that if Bangladesh cannot cope with the stiff competition
after the expiry of the multi-fibre arrangement (MFA), it
may lead to the closure of 25 to 40 percent of RMG units in
the next two or three years which means thousands of garment
workers losing their jobs.
In the already quota phased out categories. Bangladesh's position
in the US market has slipped to seventh from the second place.
Income from other categories still enjoying quota facility
also fell due to problems in lead time and a declining trend
in prices. China has cut prices of its products in the US
market by 46 percent and there is stiff competition from India
and Turkey in some other categories.
Iraqi held hostage
"Please help me, please help me, these might be my last
hours," sobbed Margaret Hassan, a British aid worker,
who was kidnapped on her way to work in Baghdad. Hassan, a
dual British and Irish national who married an Iraqi and has
lived in Iraq for the past 30 years begged British Prime Minister
Tony Blair in a video aired yesterday to save her life by
scrapping the planned redeployment of British troops and pulling
them out of Iraq.
Her plea came one day after Britain agreed to a US request
to redeploy 850 troops to Babil province south and southwest
of Baghdad, freeing up US soldiers for an expected assault
on the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah.
"Please, the British people, ask Mr Blair to take the
troops out of Iraq and not to bring them here to Baghdad.
That's why people like Mr Bigley and myself are being caught
and maybe we will die. I will die like Mr Bigley," she
said, referring to the British hostage executed in Iraq earlier
Al-Jazeera, which initially had an Arabic voiceover, later
aired the plea in the original English.
Her call for not bringing British troops "here to Baghdad"
suggested she was still in the Iraqi capital.
Blair's office declined to immediately comment on the emotional
plea. "We have no comment," a Downing Street spokesperson
(R) thedailystar.net 2004