Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, center, poses during the 2010 Bangladesh Festival in Jangchung Gymnasium in Seoul, Sunday. Among other participants were Korea's Labor Minister Yim Tae-hee, second from right, and Rep. Kim Choong-whan, second from left, a member of the fraternity group of lawmakers in the Korea-Bangladesh Forum. left 1st Bangladesh Industry and commerce minister Faruq Khan,The Bangladesh Embassy hosted the event to acknowledge the endeavors of Bangladesh migrant workers here.
“I’ll encourage more economic interaction between South Korea and Bangladesh in the form of trade, investment, technology transfer and development support,” she told The Korea Times.
“We will discuss how Bangladesh can benefit from Seoul’s green technology and expertise to develop renewable sources of energy.”
Ways to foster a bilateral partnership on green growth and climate change are expected to be high on the agenda at her summit with President Lee Myung-bak at Cheong Wa Dae Tuesday.
The prime minister arrived in Seoul Sunday for a three-day visit, during which she will also meet with political and business leaders here to discuss joint cooperation projects.
“I intend to have a frank discussion with President Lee on all areas of our cooperation ranging from trade, investment, development cooperation, cultural exchange and ways and means to further expand these relations,” Hasina said.
“I welcome Korean businessmen and investors to invest more in Bangladesh and take part in the establishment of a power plant, development of energy sources, exploration of oil and gas, construction of large roads, highways and bridges.”
She is paying keen attention to Lee’s New Asia Initiative, under which he plans to upgrade the country’s relations with regional partners in economic, security and cultural areas.
Seoul plans to increase economic contributions to developing countries in Asia and promote people-to-people exchanges based on the growing popularity of Korean dramas and pop songs.
“We want more training and educational opportunity for our experts and professionals as part of knowledge sharing,” said the 63-year-old Hasina. “I shall seek to establish regular contact at the high political level and elevate our relationship to a comprehensive partnership.”
Hasina is the oldest daughter of the late Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father of Bangladesh.
She expressed keen interest in improving women’s rights and promoting the spirit of democracy.
Recalling the turbulent years following the assassination of her father and most of her other family members in August 1975 by a group of army officers, she said her father devoted his life to liberating the country from all kind of injustice, discrimination and social evils.
Hasina and her younger sister Sheikh Rehana were the only survivors as they were in West Germany at that time.
“Life was very harsh and painful in those days, but I have always received support from the people of my country,” she said. “From my early childhood, I saw my parents actively involved in the struggle for democracy and the independence of Bangladesh.”
In terms of women’s status in society, Bangladesh is far more advanced than South Korea.
The country offers free education up to grade 12 for girls. Five important ministers in Hasina’s Cabinet ? the foreign, home and agriculture ministers, and the state minsters for women and children, and social welfare ? are women.
“No society can make progress without taking on board the 50 percent of its population constituted by women. The status of women is an important indicator of that society’s maturity and progress,” she said.
“In a Muslim majority country like Bangladesh, women empowerment reflects the progressive and moderate nature of our society which also helps keep extremism at bay.”