Journalists need not worry about the passing of the Digital Security Bill as it would not gag them, said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in parliament yesterday.
“We have seen several noted editors, journalists and wise people of the society give opinions against the law. Their only concern is about them being gagged. But they have not been gagged,” Hasina said while delivering the valedictory speech of the 22nd session of the 10th parliament.
She said that had their voices been stifled, they would not have been able to express such opinions.
The bill had to be passed to protect the children, the young generations, students, adults, families, and the society. It had to be passed to ensure nobody's character gets assassinated online, and people, from children to the elderly, do not take the wrong path and get addicted to digital devices, Hasina added.
“Considering this, we've passed the Digital Security Bill. So, there is nothing to be worried about.”
Interests of any particular group should not be taken into consideration, she said, adding, “Why are our journalists being so sensitive and worried? What is the reason? I think there is no logic behind it.
“What we have done is for the wellbeing of the country, the nation and the children,” she said.
The prime minister said it was regrettable that some people gave opinions considering their own interest or interest of their organisations. “They have not thought for a single moment about the interest of the entire society and the country.”
Journalists are only concerned about journalism, she said.
Journalism must not be meant to create conflict, give rise to confrontational atmosphere, instigate terrorism and militancy or tarnish the country's image, the PM added.
Journalism is for taking the country forward and bolstering the confidence of the people, she said.
Mentioning that once there was only one TV channel in Bangladesh, Hasina said her government first dared to allow private TV channels and radio stations.
“Those people cannot recall how press freedom was curtailed and journalists were intimidated during 2001-2006. And which government, except the Awami League-led one, has shown the courage to issue TV and radio licences for the private sector?” she said.
Social networking sites, including Facebook and YouTube, and digital devices have pros and cons, Hasina said.
“Given this, it is very necessary to ensure security for minor children, students, youths and even elderly people,” she said.
“We've built the country as Digital Bangladesh and let people enjoy its benefits. We want people to steer clear of its bad aspects. With this goal, we've passed the Digital Security Bill,” said Hasina.
“The digital technology has brought the globe to our palms, but an unscrupulous section is indiscriminately using the technology to create social problems.”
She said although Bangladesh is considered across the globe as the role model of development, there are newspapers in the country which portray Bangladesh as a country destroyed with no development work done.
“We have nothing to say in case of constructive criticism. But they [those newspapers] try to create confusion. They portray the present government in a very bad light. My question is what bad have we done?”
She said there are some people who do not see any good in anything and that is a mental sickness. “I don't think there's any need to read those newspapers and I don't read those.”