AS the Chinese proverb goes we are living in an interesting time. But even more than interesting is that we are existing in a surreal environment where the goings-on give one the impression of a state of constant contradiction and inexplicable happenings that lend the idea of good governance a new meaning.
Take for example the case of the Tuba garments. It was perhaps the only garment factory that had defaulted on payments to its workers for Eid. For workers to go without pay on Eid is unpardonable. But that is not the point that I want to dwell on. What is indeed deplorable is that the workers had to undergo brutality perpetrated not only by the police but also, allegedly, by hired goons of some garment owners, to realise their due, and that even did not come in time.
This was perhaps for the first time that the workers of a garment factory had resorted to peaceful ventilation of their demand to be paid for their work till they were evicted from the factory premises by force. And in this episode the BGMEA appeared to have sided with the owner, accused in the killing of 122 of his factory workers. They failed to live up to the commitment given to the Tuba workers that they would be paid before Eid. And this was used as a ploy to get the owner's bail. That the BGMEA should seem to root for a factory owner who has stained the image of our garment industry is beyond me. According to the grapevine it was courtesy of some garment factory owners that he had managed to evade arrest for a long time. If the BGMEA is supposed to work for upholding the interest of the RMG industry in the country then certainly some of their actions do little to prove that.
Another example where the system has been blatantly abused is the traffic laws which are being applied very selectively. When the communications minister has given specific directives (is a directive needed in this regard?) that not even VIPs should be allowed to move on the wrong side of the road to beat the traffic jam, this is going on unabated. In fact, vehicle stoppers had to be removed because it is these VIPs who use the wrong side of the road and cause nuisance to other road users. So much for the much vaunted road safety awareness programme! What is exasperating is when others are hauled up by the police and given a ticket exactly for the same violation as done by a VIP, as I saw happen last Sunday at the PM's Office crossing. A poor motorcyclist had to bear the brunt of the police exactly at the same time when several large Pajeroes and a MPs vehicle took the same unauthorised shortcuts under the very nose of the police. If our traffic system is skewed it is partly because the powerful choose to disrespect the law. Justice should be blind, not the law nor those that are entrusted to enforce it. I suppose it is pointless to cite an instance when Prince Charles was hauled up by London police and fined for over speeding
It is upsetting too to see our Liberation War exploited and demeaned. While the scar left by the plaque episode will take long to heal, the FF certificate episode only exposes the depth we are prepared to descend for self-aggrandizement. Another committee has been formed to go further into the crest scandal, as if the matter is not clear enough. But for secretaries of the government to produce false certificates to extend their service is ugly, and even more so when they continue to hold their jobs.
It is absurd that the government should be thinking of fixing criterion for determining the genuine freedom fighters 43 years after the Liberation War. And what will the government do with those that have gotten away with false certificates and enjoyed the benefits? It is time for the government to consider steps to prevent the two most glorious icons of our history, the Liberation War and the Freedom Fighters, to be made objects of exploitation by the crooked and the unscrupulous.
It is also demeaning for a self-respecting person to see his national cricket team still donning the logo of a company whose chairman is in jail for a financial scam. The BCB should have cancelled the sponsorship the moment the scam was revealed and the chairman of the company arrested.
Peculiar indeed Seleucus …….!
The writer is Editor Op-Ed and Defense & Strategic Affairs, The Daily Star.