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     Volume 5 Issue 103 | July 14, 2006 |

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Resigned to Continuity


To all those who have suffered from my shortcomings and mistakes I both apologise and from them beg forgiveness. For heaven's sake, that cannot be me speaking for two very good reasons, one I do not hold any power and two, I am a down-to-earth Bangalee. In fact, that was how Bernard Law, Mexican-born US Roman Catholic archbishop and cardinal, defended himself a few years back upon resigning as Archbishop of Boston over criticism that he had incompetently dealt with allegations of sexual misconduct against clergy in his district.

I'll say thank you very much for your support and I am sorry for my mistakes, and I hope my country will live forever. Again, you would not hear such an expression of humility and patriotism from any powerful deshi in power for three weeks, but Suharto, the Indonesian president uttered those words as he stepped down in 1998 after 30 years in power.

A man is supposed to make mistakes, and there is little blame on him if they are unintentional and done without ulterior intentions. Greater is the sin if after committing a fault, be it criminal, unlawful or scandalous, the perpetrator makes an attempt and/or succeeds to pass the buck (very popular in Bangladesh), to conceal the felony, to fight for his supposed innocence (gradually gaining favour among Bangladeshis), and if all fails refuse to step down.

There are docile officers, who it may seem work punctiliously from nine to five and know nothing about what is happening even in the adjacent room, nor are they apparently concerned. In many cases these unassuming persons are dangerous for society, country and posterity. Sometimes after being exposed of their mischief, which they hatched while working punctiliously from nine to five, these men (and women) put up a fight to show the world their supposed innocence. They never resign until made to do so.

The only time in his life he ever put up a fight was when we asked him for his resignation. No that was not an executive officer in Dhaka but Georges Clemenceau, the French prime minister, referring to Jacques Joffre, a successful French commander during the first two years of World War I, but blamed for his inefficiency in protecting a French city from the Germans later. He was summarily removed.

Such stubborn people have an opinion of their own, contradicting the established norms of the society; and often they seek shelter in legal labyrinths. American editor and journalist Art Kleiner have described them as thus: Modern heretics are not burned at the stake. They are relegated to backwaters or pressured to resign.

People (and so you wonder whether people live here) have resigned for all sorts of reasons if it appeared by an iota of consideration that the person was somehow responsible for the condemned act. People have resigned for losing a political battle or a bill in parliament, for leak of a scandal, for sale of sensitive equipment, for accepting bribe, for tampering with documents, for lying, for corruption, for a train accident or a plane gone down, on health grounds, for losing a sporting match, for strategy, to save face, for incompetence, for wine women and wealth, and even for claiming to doing nothing…

Case in point is Richard Nixon who in 1974 became the first United States president to resign from office. Maintaining his innocence (!) till his last breath in the Oval Office, Nixon relinquished his presidency after a White House sponsored espionage plan against his political opponents became public. His successor Gerald Ford eventually pardoned for all possible crimes. But he had to go.

Said Nixon in is Resignation Speech on August 8: I have never been a quitter. To leave office before my term is completed is abhorrent to every instinct in my body. But as President, I must put the interests of America first. Put that down as fear of impeachment or on a positive note as patriotism.

Many have been forced to resign, some have volunteered to step down to save family the humiliation and the country the damage, and some have signed on the dotted line as sheer repentance.

May 26, 1911: Mexican president Porfirio Díaz was forced to resign to make way for free elections. Mark the word 'free'.

June 15 1963: The Indian minister of mines and fuels, K. D. Malaviya, resigned because of a charge that his ministry had asked for and received a donation of $2,100 from a Calcutta mining firm to aid the political campaign of a candidate for a state assembly seat. Mark the word 'charge'. Later investigation absolved the minister of charges of personal gain. Long-established tradition in India requires that a minister assume full responsibility before Parliament for acts of his subordinates.

August 21, 1999: Glen Clark, premier of the Canadian province of British Columbia, resigned from office, one day after authorities revealed that he was under criminal investigation for allegedly using his influence to help a group of investors obtain a casino license. Mark the words 'one day' and 'allegedly'.

March 16, 1999: All 20 members of the European Union's (EU's) powerful executive body, the European Commission, resigned, after the release of an independent report accusing commission members of ignoring widespread financial irregularities, mismanagement, and fraud. Mark the word 'ignoring'.

Alas Bangladesh! Our first reaction and horribly wrong retort is who is making the charges, why is he making the allegations, what interest does he have, and how possibly we can blame the complainant for something he may have done. We have to learn to separate the two cases, the crime of the offender and the crime (if any) of the alleger. One cannot and should not negate the other.

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