I am scum. I am, in the words of Minister Syed Mohsin Ali, khobish. I have loose morals, charitraheen in the view of the honourable minister. In all the three decades that I have pursued the profession of journalism, I remained blissfully unaware of the fact that I was actually scum, khobish, a danger to society. Perhaps the minister has done some positive good to me and to all the other denizens of the khobish world.
Where a ruling party lawmaker recently, and proudly, tried to draw an analogy between Alsatian dogs and journalists, the minister for social welfare has certainly raised newsmen to a slightly higher perch. So what if their character is loose? So what if they write for newspapers? They are scum. And they are because they do not have any background of academic studies in journalism. I never studied journalism. So I am scum, khobish, because at university I studied English literature. My scum colleagues studied other subjects. So they are, like me and in the view of the minister, all khobish.
I do not have a daughter who has done a Masters in journalism. Had I a daughter -- the minister has one -- I might have sent her to media studies at any one of the many universities in the country today. The reality is there before you: we who have no daughters studying journalism, we who have come into the media world like scum flowing into a world of beauty and ruined the magic of that world, have reasons to be afraid of the future. The minister has threatened me and the likes of me through the weapon of the National Broadcast Policy. He will teach me and the likes of me a lesson.
The minister has cheerfully informed the nation that his earlier diatribe against the media has the approval of the prime minister. If he is to be believed, the PM was dismissive of her information minister because he belongs to the ruling alliance and not to the ruling Awami League. But Minister Mohsin Ali is grassroots, is an Awami Leaguer. And Sheikh Hasina is appreciative of his role in running down journalists.
Does the prime minister share her minister's view that journalists are khobish? The kind of comments the minister has attributed to the PM have not been contradicted. So here goes this question to Sheikh Hasina: Honourable prime minister, are we who do an honest job of keeping the nation posted on day-to-day happenings in the country men and women with serious character flaws? Are we khobish, like porcine creatures who snort through things dirty in search of food?
Perhaps the PM will respond, perhaps not.
Meanwhile, did the minister remind the PM or did the PM tell the social welfare minister that Communications Minister Obaidul Quader was once a journalist at Banglar Bani? When the PM travels abroad with a retinue of journalists, did Mohsin Ali ever inform her that those journalists were actually khobish out to drive her good reputation into the mud? Perhaps the minister does not know, but I happen to be a khobish who served in Sheikh Hasina's first government in a humble capacity. It is a secret the government did not know?
And that is not all. In these past three decades, I have worked under editors who, if you go by the honourable minister's attitude to the media, were scum like me. And they were because they banked too much on their integrity, because they thought they would keep a watch on how politicians conducted themselves, because they naively believed in the power of the written word. Name all the names you can remember -- Tafazzal Hossain Manik Mia, Abdus Salam, Zahur Hossain Chowdhury, KG Mustafa, Enayetullah Khan, Santosh Gupta, SM Ali, Ahmedul Kabir, Waheedul Haque, Bazlur Rahman, ABM Musa. They were all khobish?
“From now on,” Minister Mohsin Ali has warned journalists, “you should be careful about what you write or show …” He knew what he was talking about, for he had the power of the Broadcast Policy behind him.
But the minister should know a simple truth: once a khobish, always a khobish -- and always without morals.
Yours truly, a proper khobish, has wicked thoughts running through his feverish mind. Here is an instance of that -- how about telling the world that in Bangladesh there are no journalists but only khobish?
After all, we know now there are no adivasis but only small ethnic groups or tribes. Think about it.