Heavy is the heart of the business community | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 02, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:11 AM, July 02, 2020

Heavy is the heart of the business community

Businessmen, entrepreneurs, industrialists recalled the work of Latifur Rahman, who died yesterday

He did not stop just by reaching the pinnacle of businesses in Bangladesh through unparalleled dedication, hard-work and extraordinary ethics that brought him adulation at home and abroad.

Rather, Latifur Rahman went on to mentor and inspire a generation of entrepreneurs with his extraordinary business acumen, upstanding conduct and -- grace. 

Chairman and chief executive of Transcom Group, one of the largest conglomerates in Bangladesh, Rahman died yesterday at the age of 75, leaving a legion of businesspeople with heavy hearts.  

"We lost an iconic figure in our business world," said Tapan Chowdhury, managing director of Square Pharmaceuticals.

Rahman had almost been a family member to Chowdhury and a friend of his father, Samson H Chowdhury, one of the most successful entrepreneurs in Bangladesh.

"I have a lot of good memories as I also worked with him in different capacities, both as a businessman and as a former president of the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI)."

Both Rahman and Chowdhury are former presidents of the MCCI. But what truly defined him was his rectitude.

"He was a man of principles -- he never compromised with the principles. And he was very transparent in his businesses," Chowdhury added.

Like him, many business chambers, trade bodies and individual business personalities have mourned the sudden demise of Rahman as he is recalled for his extraordinary personality, for touching the hearts of thousands of successful businessmen and for his good deeds.

After the independence of the country in 1971, very few businesses could thrive following ethics. But Rahman could establish his business empire Transcom Group -- which consists of media, tea, pharmaceuticals, food and beverage, electronics, among others -- just the way he wanted to: moored in morality.

He was a pundit in international trade and spoke for easing business terms, the business community said.

"I am not emotionally fit to say anything about Latifur Rahman. I will talk later," said Mahbubur Rahman, president of the International Chamber of Commerce Bangladesh (ICCB), when the correspondent called him for a few words on his long-term friend.

Latifur Rahman was the vice-president of the ICCB until his death.

"I am totally shocked hearing the news of the death of Latifur Rahman," said Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi, also a successful businessman. 

He was a very successful business personality and entrepreneur.

"We lost a very good business entrepreneur. We need such an entrepreneur this time. Latifur Rahman was a friend. Both of us solved many business issues together," Munshi added.

"With the loss of Latifur Rahman, we have not only lost one of the foremost business icons of Bangladesh, but the MCCI, Dhaka has lost one of its longest-serving and distinguished former presidents. I personally have lost an uncle and a mentor," said Nihad Kabir, president of the MCCI.

As the president of the MCCI, Rahman served seven years in three tenures.

In that role, he was unfailing in trying to develop and entrench ethical business practices, mentor young business people, and forever was an ambassador of all that was good in Bangladesh's business.

"His enterprises brought global recognition for excellence in business in this country. His public service was exemplary, in many ways never publicised as were his business successes," Kabir added.

"We are deeply mourned," said Sheikh Fazle Fahim, president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry, in a condolence statement.

More than 10,000 employees are working in Rahman's 16 companies in the areas of fast food, beverage, media, electrical and electrical, tea industry and insurance sector. Rahman was a director of the FBCCI in 1984 and 1996.

Syed Nasim Manzur, managing director of Apex Footwear and a former MCCI president, said: "The demise of Latifur Rahman has deprived us of not only one of our most admired and respected captains of industry but also our future generations of a great role model."

"Whether it was at the MCCI or it was in his own Transcom group that he built into one of the most admired and successful business groups in Bangladesh, Shamim uncle never wavered from his core values of integrity and humility. I always used to try to be the first to greet him when we met but never succeeded."

"His humility, strength of character and dignity made him almost larger than life to many of us. Yet when I had the chance to speak to him personally, he took such interest in all that I was doing. It was as if he had all the time in the world just for me."

This was his magical ability to bind together hundreds or thousands of lives but never lose sight of the individual.

"The other thing I shall always remember about him was his tremendous attention to detail," Manzur said.

Manzur's introduction to the MCCI was also through Rahman. "I would see how nothing missed his sharp eye yet he would never ever reprimand or embarrass," he added.

"We lost a star from our private sector. He was a pioneer in many ways," said Rupali Chowdhury, president of the Foreign Investors' Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

She had the opportunity to work with him as a board member of the ICCB. "I found him as my mentor in my capacity in the ICCB," Chowdhury said.

"Latifur Rahman will continue to be a friend and a mentor to many of us for years beyond his death," said Rubana Huq, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.

"His contribution to the society, his impact on the business community, his life, his ideals and his struggles will continue to teach many of us that we must all live and lead by example as he had and that we should never compromise our goals for mediocrity."

He was a unique and outstanding human being and his death does not mark his end.

"Rather, it leaves us a new lesson to follow his footsteps and live in grace and faith," the BGMEA chief said.

Rahman was such a personality who made an outstanding contribution towards the development of business, industry and investment and creation of jobs in the private sector with full of his hard work, dedication and integrity throughout his entire life, said Shams Mahmud, president of the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

"His unexpected demise is not only a shock to his family but also a great loss to the nation," he added.

Rahman has been a symbol of successful entrepreneurship in the domain of commerce and industry contributing immensely to the country's development, said Syed Ershad Ahmed, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh.

"Firm self-determination, hard practice and farsightedness brought for him the recognition in Bangladesh and beyond."

The AmCham Bangladesh awarded him in 2001 as the "AmCham Business Executive of the Year".

"We deeply mourn the sad demise of prominent and renowned businessman Latifur Rahman," said John Paul D' Costa, administrative officer of the International Business Forum of Bangladesh.

Rahman was instrumental in the development of business, trade and economy of the country.

His dedication and commitment to the development of the private sector were truly inspirational and unparallel, the Business Initiative Leading Development said.

Rahman was a life member and the pioneer member of the Dutch-Bangla Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DBCCI). He was also a member of the governing body of Brac and a former president of the Bangladesh Employers' Federation.

"Our collective hearts are heavy with sympathy. We pray for his departed soul," said Md Anwar Shawkat Afser, president of the DBCCI.

Rahman was a successful businessman and got success in every sector of his business, said Ahsan Khan Chowdhury, chairman and CEO of Pran-RFL Group.

"He is also the best example who got success practising the business principle and ethics. He was not only a successful businessman but also a good business leader. He played a leading role to expand the business," Chowdhury added.

Rahman's reputation extended beyond the borders of Bangladesh. He was the first Bangladeshi to receive the Oslo Business for Peace Award 2012 for ethical business and social responsibility.

Latifur Rahman set an extraordinary example at home and abroad by running businesses maintaining honesty and ethics, said the Citizen's Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh.

"He made an unparalleled contribution towards creating jobs through development of businesses and investment," said Debapriya Bhattacharya, convener of the platform. 

At the same time, he threw his weight behind civil society activities and played a role during many social movements.

"He would be remembered forever for his role in ensuring freedom of the press and freedom of speech."


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