The visiting British parliamentarian Mark Field yesterday appreciated Bangladesh's gradual progress -- turning into one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
Bangladesh has many achievements to celebrate, like reduction of extreme poverty and increase of life expectancy. The country can be proud of the huge progress it has made, said Field, the UK's state minister for Asia and the Pacific at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Speaking at a seminar in Dhaka, he also thanked the Bangladesh government for taking good development policies, and maintaining partnership with the international community and private sector, which helped to make the huge strides.
Policy Research Institute, a non-government research organisation based in Dhaka, arranged the seminar on “Governance and development” at a hotel in the capital.
The British state minister, however, observed that the 11th parliamentary election of Bangladesh, held in December last year, could not meet the standards of free and fair polls.
Democracy means holding elections that are fair, and providing the voters freedom to choose, he said.
“…but I fear the parliamentary election which took place here in December did not meet this standard -- as I said at the time,” said Mark, while presenting his keynote speech.
He urged the government of Bangladesh to uphold the democratic values along with making economic progress or achieving middle-income status.
Having a political opposition is important to hold the government accountable; besides, presence of a vibrant civil society and strong role of media are also crucial in upholding transparency of public institutions and resisting corruption, said the parliamentarian.
“We want to see a confident Bangladesh, with strong, transparent and accountable democratic institutions,” said Field.
Speaking as chief guest, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's Political Affairs Advisor HT Imam, however, claimed that the 11th parliamentary polls was held in a free and fair manner.
“Many polling officials were recruited to ensure the fairness of the election. The government did its best to fulfil the demand of the Election Commission,” he said, claiming that some 104 million people voted on election day.