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     Volume 7 Issue 41 | October 17, 2008 |

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Deformed Reforms


After twenty hard months of claiming to have been scraping the crust of corruption from our despoiled democracy the outcome is in the least most discouraging and greatly alarming.

Here is just one example:
Amplifier (that is another way to call a speaker) Jamiruddin Government has spoken. According to a person holding such a high position in the state/government (only he perhaps does not realise because he could not rise above his party) a speaker can be partisan. No he cannot! He should not! That has precisely been the problem with our parliament. That is one way how it became non-functional.

Sometimes you have to dig deep to get to the facts. Here are some extracts from the recent past!

In his DS column (October 08, 2006) 'Sense & Insensibility' Shahnoor Wahid wrote under 'Much ado about a mess?':

“Never in the two hundred plus history of parliamentary democracy has any nation been blessed with a speaker of parliament like Mr Jamiruddin Sircar. His tricks and magical acts to keep the opposition outside the edifice called Jatiya Sangsad during the full tenure of the BNP-led government reminds us of the vanishing tricks of magician PC Sarcar. It is only our sheer luck that Jamiruddin Sircar did not learn the trick to vanish the entire parliament building!

Our very own Sircar will go down in history as someone who set inimitable examples as a blatantly partisan person while running the affairs of a democratic institution. He was largely responsible for making the multi-party democratic system look so dismal and useless through misusing his power and position. Our memory fails to recall any other person so partisan to have occupied the supposedly neutral seat of speaker. “

In his DS column (December 04, 2005) 'Point-Counterpoint' M. Abdul Latif Mondal wrote under 'Non-partisan Speaker needed':

“The Daily Star of November 24 reported that on November 23 the Speaker of the parliament Jamiruddin Sircar "rejected all the opposition lawmakers' demands for discussion in parliament on different issues including rise of militants and price hike of essentials." The Speaker reportedly said that the government was seized of these problems and trying hard to solve them. So, there was no need for holding any discussion on these issues. The 19th session of parliament that began on November 20 was prorogued on November 24 without transacting any major business, including enacting laws.

The Speaker's rejection of the opposition lawmakers' demands to discuss burning issues like terrorism, price spiral of essentials, gas and power crisis is contrary to the recent assertion of the Prime Minister in the 18th session of parliament. While addressing the parliament on September 8, the first day of the 18th session, the Prime Minister and Leader of the House Begum Khaleda Zia said that they considered parliament as the most appropriate place to discuss all the issues of national importance. “

On December 23, 2005 DS published Dr. Badiul Alam Majumdar's 'The Speaker and our parliament' in which he began with the following paragraphs:

“A recent front-page item in The Daily Star ('Four years of Jamiruddin Sircar: Putting party before parliament', October 30, 2005) expressed serious disillusionment with the performance of the honourable Speaker of our Jatiya Sangsad. The write-up pointed out that during the last four years of his tenure as the Speaker, Sircar could not rise above partisan interests and clearly compromising the sovereignty and effectiveness of the legislature. It cited several incidents and quoted Sircar's parliamentary colleagues in support of the contentions. Such contentions, if true, are clear threats to our nascent democracy.”

And in the latest big slip the 'neutral' speaker engaged the top gear, apparently to gain points from his party leadership. The New Nation reported this on September 29, 2008 as did other national dailies the day after: (Jamiruddin) Sircar on Thursday (September 25, 2008) launched into a tirade against the Awami League-led alliance saying 'those who do not have any principle and do not believe in democracy, will not win against the nationalist forces in the elections even if they have 100 parties in their alliance'.

Whether it becomes true or not only 18 December can say, but because Sirker is no soothsayer, he cannot utter such a thing because he is still enjoying the post of Speaker of the Parliament, who is supposed to be absolutely neutral and maintain a balance among all the parties, and be a friend to all. Is it that difficult to rise above one's party?

It is in defence of that blatantly one-sided statement that Sircar said that indeed a speaker can speak in favour of his party. Given his standards, speaking is one of his lesser transgressions, because he has habitually acted in favour of his party in parliamentary affairs.

One should take example from the role played by the parliamentary speaker of major world democracies, such as that of neighbouring India and of Great Britain.

Akin to the reforms attempted by the post 1/11 government in bringing order in the Election Commission, Public Service Commission, Anti Corruption Bureau, etc. the focus should also be on the post, function and role of the Speaker of the next parliament because on him/her depends greatly how far and well we have been able to reform our political deformations.


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