PM defends DCC split, slams critics
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has stated that had there been adequate money with the government, it would have split Dhaka City Corporation into four zones instead of two.
"There was in fact a proposal for splitting DCC into four parts to ensure better services to citizens," said the premier in her 50-minute winding up speech at the 11th session of parliament yesterday.
The PM, coming down heavily on critics of the DCC split, said that she was at a loss to understand why they had been raising a hue and cry over the partition.
"The people against the division may have other intentions. In my view, they are against it for the sake of opposition, misleading the people and bringing the development activities of the government into question," said Hasina, citing examples of earlier criticism of her government's decision to subsidise quick rental power plants.
Claiming that her government had eradicated militancy and terrorist activities from the country, the premier said, "Maybe one day they [the critics] will ask why they don't hear the sounds of explosions any more or why there is no militancy. In reality, they want to mislead people and create confusion over good government activities."
She reiterated that the idea of Dhaka divided is absolutely wrong. In her assessment, Dhaka has already been divided into many parts as there are cantonment boards and 17 union parishads, which are not under DCC jurisdiction.
She said, "Splitting a city corporation is nothing new." She mentioned instances of two metropolitan corporations in London, four municipalities in Manila and a number of municipalities in Sydney.
Hasina also told parliament about the government's plan to split 19 greater districts of the country into 60, some eight constituencies into 15, and increase the number of police stations in the Dhaka Metropolitan area to 41 against the previous eight.
Referring to the sorry state of roads, drainage and sewerage system and the mosquito menace, the premier said, "No one raised any voice when people died of dengue fever owing to the city corporation's failure in destroying mosquitoes."
The prime minister also criticised some lawmakers who yesterday expressed discontent at the Speaker's decision to drop other scheduled business of the House on Tuesday, which resulted in the passing of the DCC-split bill in just over four minutes.
Workers Party MP Rashed Khan Menon, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal's Mayeen Uddin Khan Badal and lone independent lawmaker Fazlul Azim were among the legislators who submitted proposals opposing the passage of the bill. They could not participate in the House proceedings, as the bill was passed hurriedly.
Taking the floor on points of order, the three lawmakers raised the issue yesterday and expressed their dissatisfaction over the DCC-division move.
They said they could have joined the House earlier had they known that the other scheduled business of the day would be dropped and the process to pass the bill would start ahead of the assumed time.
In response, Speaker Abdul Hamid said he had no other option but to do it.
He said he had decided to suspend the day's business -- scripted question-answer session and disposal of call attention notices -- to allow for more time for discussions on the bill.
“I made such arrangements [started ahead of schedule] because I wanted to allocate you more time,” the Speaker claimed.
He defended the decision by saying that he had done so in order to attend a meeting with a German parliamentary delegation and a dinner in honour of the German president hosted by President Zillur Rahman.
“I found none when I started the process to pass the bill. But I had no alternative but to continue. If at least one of you were present at the time, there could have been a discussion.”
He also urged the lawmakers to join the House on time.
Later, Hasina also echoed Hamid's view and bitterly criticised Menon, Badal and Azim for their arguments.
“Members of parliament must be present from the beginning of the House proceedings. It's not fair and logical to blame the Speaker for one's failure to attend the House on time and to speak,” she said.
She added the rules of procedure allow the Speaker to decide how the session will run.
It is the jurisdiction of the Speaker to decide whether any scheduled business of the day will be suspended, and it is the practice all over the world, she claimed. “It is absolutely unacceptable to raise questions over it.”
In her speech, she also condemned the main opposition BNP, its chief Khaleda Zia and her two sons for "indulging in corruption and money laundering and for trying to protect the war criminals".