Sheikh Hasina Void : Caretaker government system !!! Respecting democracy – rights of the common people

Rejecting to restore the caretaker government system, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said in New York on Wednesday night that all the doors to the caretaker system have been closed.

“People are the source of power…we all need to be aware that no one can play with the rights of the common people. They don’t want to return to the 1/11 situation again,” she said while addressing a civic reception at Hotel Marriot Marquis.

Bangladesh Awami League, US chapter, arranged the reception in honor of the prime minister, who is now in New York to attend the 67th UN General Assembly.

The prime minister said the government through the 15th amendment to the constitution has made it clear that no one will be able to grab state power, and if anyone does so, he or she will have to face the music of law.

“We must strengthen democracy and take it forward for the welfare of the country and its people,” she said.

Recalling various incidents that occurred during the previous caretaker governments, Hasina said BNP with the controversial February 15, 1996 election had formed the government at midnight with so many culprits, including the killers of Bangabandhu.

The last caretaker government, she said, showed that they can stay in power for an indefinite period. “And in this case, one world reputed Bangladeshi lawyer had helped them a lot saying there is no time binding for a caretaker government.”

Mentioning the bitter experiences of the past caretaker government, Hasina said the Fakhruddin-led government had wanted to cling to power. “They hatched various conspiracies to hang onto power, but they were compelled to hold election under local and international pressures.”

Claiming that her government has ensured the basic rights of people, including their franchise, Sheikh Hasina said now it is up to people to choose either the path of development or militancy in the next general election.

“I don’t have anything to say now…we’ve ensured the fundamental and voting rights of people. Now it is their decision to choose their path,” she told her audience.

Hasina said that now people have to decide whether they want militancy, terrorism, ‘Hawa Bhaban’ and ‘Khoab Bhaban’ or the path of development.

The prime minister said the present government has proved that it is possible to hold free, fair and credible elections under a party government.

She mentioned that her government, in its current tenure, has so far held some 6000 elections at different levels across the country. “There has been no question against the elections,” she pointed out.

The prime minister said if her party is voted to power again, the government would undertake the 7th five-year plan by implementing the sixth five-year plan.

“We want to build Bangladesh a middle-income country by 2021,” she said.

Reiterating her government’s firm stance against terrorism and militancy, Sheikh Hasina said the government would never tolerate these social menaces.

“We want to build Bangladesh a peaceful nation in South Asia. We also want to build a non-communal and democratic Bangladesh being imbued with the spirit of the War of Liberation,” she said.

Listing various successes and achievements of the present government in different fields, including agriculture, education, health, women empowerment, food security and social safety net, Sheikh Hasina said people get better services and their comforts are restored when Awami League comes to power.

She said her government, since assuming of office in 2009, has been working tirelessly to mitigate various problems of the country, including the acute electricity crisis.

Sheikh Hasina said her government has been able to maintain over six percent of GDP growth in the last three years despite global economic meltdown, while the country’s foreign currency reserve has increased to 11 billion US dollars from six billion in 2009.

Hasina said there had been transactions of over Tk 42,000 crore during the Eid-ul-Fitr shopping this time, which is a bright example of enhancement of the living standard of people.

Recalling the contributions of the expatriate Bangladeshis to the country’s development, the prime minister said the economy remains on the right track, thanks to the immense contributions of the expatriates.

“The expatriates are the main driving force of the country and they advanced the country a lot economically,” she said.

Chaired by AL, US chapter President Dr Siddiqur Rahman, the function was addressed, among others, by Foreign Minister Dr Dipu Moni, eminent IT expert Sajib Wazed Joy, US congresswoman Caroline Malony, Jatiya Party US unit President Jashimuddin Chowdhury, JSD US chapter president Abdul Mosabbir and New York City AL General Secretary Shaheen Alam.

At the function, Unesco director general Irina Bukova unveiled the cover of a book titled ‘Philosophy of Statesman Sheikh Hasina’.

Bangladesh Awami Jubo League published the bilingual book on the occasion of the 65th birthday of Sheikh Hasina.

Obama Defends Free Speech After Asking YouTube to ‘Review’ Anti-Islam Movie

As riots across the Mideast targeted U.S. embassies and consulates, the White House quietly asked YouTube to “review” whether an anti-Islam film allegedly fueling the chaos violated any terms of use. Now, in front of the United Nations, President Obama insisted that the only answer to offensive speech is “more speech.”

It’s not that Obama thinks that the Prophet Mohammed(SW) ought to be maligned by a filmmaker who uses tons of aliases and was once busted for PCP. There’s a principle at stake, he told the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday morning: “Our Founders understood that without such protections, the capacity of each individual to express their own views, and practice their own faith, may be threatened.” The calls for censoring the video emanating through the Muslim world are ultimately futile, as well: “When anyone with a cellphone can spread offensive views around the world with the click of a button, the notion that we can control the flow of information is obsolete.”

True enough. But his administration’s response to the video and the anti-American protests continues to whipsaw. The U.S. Embassy in Cairo tweeted condemnations of the film on September 11 and stuck by them as mobs outside stormed the embassy gates. Obama basically deleted those tweets in his speech. He challenged offended Muslims to “also condemn the hate we see when the image of Jesus Christ is desecrated, churches are destroyed, or the Holocaust is denied.” And Obama dismissed the idea that the anti-Islam film was the true cause of this month’s assaults on U.S. embassies, locating it in “intolerance” instead. Even Obama critics like Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol conceded that the president’s speech was “conventionally unobjectionable.”

But it was also, at the least, unmoored from the way Obama previously handled the crisis. “If we are serious about upholding these ideals, it will not be enough to put more guards in front of an embassy; or to put out statements of regret, and wait for the outrage to pass,” Obama said. “If we are serious about those ideals, we must speak honestly about the deeper causes of this crisis.”

At the same time if we are serious about those ideals, we also have to acknowledge that the White House asked Google to “review” the 14-minute trailer for the anti-Mohammed video to see if it violated YouTube’s terms of use. (It didn’t.) And if we are serious about those ideals, we also have to acknowledge that Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, placed a call to the anti-Islam pastor Terry Jones to see if Jones would rescind support for the movie. (He wouldn’t.) Let’s be clear — there’s a world of difference between those requests and government demands for censorship. But they’re still a far cry from combating hateful speech with more speech.

Obama’s United Nations speech was another indicator that his administration’s approach to this month’s anti-American violence is under revision. First the administration attributed the deadly assault on the Benghazi consulate to mob violence; then to a terrorist attack; and Obama declined to attribute blame for it at Turtle Bay. That might be fairly chalked up to the fog of war. But information doesn’t just want to be free, it wants to be accurate. And it should lead to a consistent response.

World Bank agrees to revive scrapped loan deal with Bangladesh

The World Bank today agreed to revive a USD 1.2 billion loan to Bangladesh for a major road and rail bridge on a condition that the government implements anti-graft measures for smooth functioning of the project.
“The Bank has agreed that, upon satisfactory implementation of the agreed measures by the Government (against corruption), and with the support of the Bank’s governing bodies, the Bank will engage anew in the Padma Multipurpose Bridge,” the World Bank said in a statement.
It, however, added the global lending agency “remains vigilant to any signs of corruption in the Padma Bridge project and our determination to take a strong line against wrongdoing will never waver”.
The World Bank withdrew a USD 1.2 billion line of credit for the 6.2-km bridge over the Padma River, saying it had “credible evidence” of high-level corruption among Bangladeshi government officials.
Since then, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government pursued a campaign to revive the loan agreement. The government removed a minister from the cabinet and sent a senior adviser to Hasina on leave for their suspected involvement in the “corruption conspiracy”.
The World Bank said, “The Government of Bangladesh has now begun to address the evidence of corruption the Bank identified. The World Bank understands that all government employees and officials alleged to have been involved in corrupt acts in connection with the project have been put on leave from Government service until an investigation is completed and that a full and fair investigation is now underway.”

YouTube blocked in Bangladesh over controversial video

Bangladesh have ordered a block on YouTube  , in protest against Google’s reluctance to block a controversial movie trailer that mocks the Prophet Muhammad on the video-sharing site.

Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf ordered the blocking of YouTube late Monday, after YouTube refused to block the video at the request of the government, the press secretary to the prime minister, Shafqat Jalil, said on phone on Tuesday.

Bangladesh also decided to block YouTube temporarily after its requests to Google to block the controversial trailer in the country did not get a response, a spokesman for the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission said. “Once the offensive video is removed or blocked, we will restore the YouTube site in our country,” he said.

One businessman complained on BTRC’s Facebook page that his business was affected by the block on YouTube, but other comments were generally supportive of the decision of the government.

Pakistani networks blocked YouTube in the country from late Monday after receiving the prime minister’s orders, a spokesman for the telecom regulator Pakistan Telecommunication Authority said on Tuesday.

The orders by the Pakistani government follow an order by the country’s Supreme Court on Monday, ordering the PTA to block all links to the “offending material” on YouTube or any other website. The court did not however order the block of the entire YouTube site.

PTA said on Monday that it had blocked over 650 URLs on YouTube, besides links on other websites, indicating the proliferation of copycat videos and commentaries relating to the trailer on the Internet.

So far, Google has blocked the trailer in five countries: Egypt, Libya, India, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Although the company finds that the trailer is clearly within its guidelines and so will stay on YouTube, it has restricted access to it in countries where it is illegal such as India and Indonesia.

The trailer was also blocked in Libya and Egypt given the very sensitive situations in these two countries, Google said last week. The U.S. ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans were killed last week when a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was stormed by gunmen.

The trailer has led to protests at U.S. embassies and consulates in various countries including Egypt, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, Indonesia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

Civil rights organizations such as Bytes for All, Pakistan are worried that the cutting off of communications channels, limiting access to information platforms, and other steps that curtail free expression could lead to a curb on the voices of individuals by politicians.

“Time and time again, we have witnessed in the past how censorship and filtering backed by religious reasons has eventually served political interests only,” the organization said in a statement on Tuesday.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said last week that the U.S. government did not have anything to do with the video, but that the U.S. does not and cannot stop individual citizens from expressing their views.

The video was filmed in the U.S. by a person, or people, whose identity has yet to be established, according to some reports.

Google responded to requests for comment on the block of YouTube by the governments of Pakistan and Bangladesh with a brief statement. “We have received information from users that they cannot get access to YouTube in Pakistan and Bangladesh. We have checked our networks and there is nothing wrong on our side,” it said in a statement. A Google spokeswoman also noted that YouTube isn’t localized in Bangladesh.

Ship-breaking sector springs to life with import bonanza

Sources :Chittagong-based ship-breakers have imported a record number of recyclable ships weighing about 2.1million tonnes of iron plates during the last nine months, industry people said.

They said over 200 ships have already been broken in the first nine months of 2012, which is the highest in the last two years when the industry saw many ups and downs due to legal complexities.

They said their business is back on track and they are expecting more ships to dismantle in the coming days.

“Now Bangladesh is on the top position in terms of dismantling ships,” President of Bangladesh Ship Breakers Association (BSBA) Hefazatur Rahman told the FE.

Bangladesh is a unique place for ship-breaking as nearly cent per cent of the products coming from the dismantled ships are being used here, he said.

In a ship there are more or less 200 cabins and all the furniture goods are sold in the local markets reducing the pressure on forest, he said.

He expressed the hope to extract around three million tonnes of steel from the broken ships by the end of this year.

The situation is now different from that a few years back, he said adding over the years, the industry has improved safety standards for the workers and “it is also conscious about the environment”.

A total of 206 ships weighing 2.1 million tonnes were imported at a cost of about $945 million, Technical Adviser of BSBA Captain Salahuddin Ahmed said.

“Bangladesh is the only country, where every part of the ship is sold at a doubled rate compared to other countries like India,” he added.

Bangladesh was the top ship buyer for eight times in a row from 2000 to 2010 leaving China, India, Pakistan, Turkey behind, he said adding after 2009 various legal campaigns by environmental groups almost shut down the sector.

“But now it is back on the track,” he said adding the ship-breaking sector is vital to the economy as it supplies the much-needed steel and iron to the domestic market.

Bangladesh’s unique geography is also another reason why ageing ships are taken to its beaches. The unique tide pattern makes it easy to ground the ships during occasional tides, he explained.

The country’s 125 ship-breaking yards imported 145 ships weighing 1.7 million tonnes of iron plates in 2011. The import had dropped significantly in 2010, upon a judicial verdict, as environmental groups took the issue to court on the allegations of dumping hazardous materials by the ships on the coast and exposing workers to toxic substances.

In the face of protest and obeying the court order, the government had suspended import of recyclable ships for about a year. Later, the government introduced new rules for ship-breaking and formed a Ship Breaking Cell at the Ministry of Industries to implement the rules.

The Ship Breaking and Recycling Rules 2011 was issued in a circular on December 14, 2011.

The once active ship-breaking yards at Sitakunda, 20 kilometres north of the port city of Chittagong, dismantled only 75 ships in 2010, more than 170 ships in 2008 and 150 in 2007. Bangladesh used to dismantle around 50 per cent of the ships sent to scrap-yards across the globe, according to BSBA.

The government gave ship-breaking the status of an industry in February this year as part of a long-term plan to promote labour standards and safe toxic management. The ship-breaking industry is the country’s main source of iron and steel. Private re-rolling mills and steel mills melt the scrap pieces dismantled from ships to produce mild steel (MS) rods, bars and angles.

Bangladesh economy under severe threat

SOURCES : The apparel industry in Bangladesh, which has turn-over of more than US$ 19 billion every year has visibly fell victim of certain vested interest groups inside and outside Bangladesh during the recent days. Syndicated media propaganda is continuing against Bangladeshi readymade garment industry, which employs approximately 2.7 million workers, mostly women from the unprivileged segments of the society. It is believed that, ever-flourishing status of the Bangladeshi textile industry enable the women in not only attaining self-sufficiency but also has greatly contributed in their empowerment. Most of the top ranking international brands already prefer Bangladesh as their priority choice because of cheap labors. It was also reported in the international media that, the Chinese giant exporters and manufacturers of apparel and textile products were already considering shifting their plants and orders to Bangladesh with the hope of keeping their business alive, as due to significant increase in labor wages in China, cost of production went hugely high, which already has caused buyers from feeling discouraged in buying their products from China. Bangladeshi factories make clothes for brands including Tesco, Wal-Mart, JC Penney, H&M, Marks & Spencer, Kohl’s and Carrefour. The garments manufacturing sector earned US$19-billion in the year to June 2012, one of the impoverished nation’s biggest industries. Bangladesh is the world’s biggest exporter of clothing after China. Ready-made garments make up 80 per cent of the country’s US$ 24-billion in annual exports. Consultancy firm McKinsey & Company has said Bangladesh would double its garments exports in the next 10 years.

While Bangladeshi apparel industry are at the footstep of golden opportunity, there is visible sign of extreme conspiracy against this most prospective sector in the country, by some vested interest groups, which are seeing creating crisis in the sector as a “potential” way of pushing the current government in Bangladesh towards dire economic catastrophe. The syndicate campaign against Bangladesh’s most prospective industrial sector include broadcast of documentaries as well as publication of editorial comments almost on a regular basis, since past six months, which is a bad signal for the people of Bangladesh in general and the government in particular. The campaign is continuing everywhere, from Washington to London to Singapore to Kuala Lumpur to Manila to almost all other major cities in the world. The situation went even worst when a trade unionist in the apparel sector, Aminul Islam allegedly became victim of enforced disappearance and murder, which rocked top policymakers in the world, including US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, although according to some critics, Mrs. Clinton picked up the Aminul Islam issue as a potential ‘weapon’ to put pressure on the Bangladesh government in making them compelled in stepping back from the recent actions taken by the government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, against the founder of Grameen Bank, Dr. Mohammed Yunus, as the Nobel prize laureate is a long-time family friend of the Clintons.