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Floating Hope

Tatmadaw again fails to keep its promises. From the list of 8032 Rohingyas, Myanmar is ready to take back only 1,101 , who are found to be eligible for repatriation after meeting the criteria laid out by Myanmar. This is indeed a very bad news as it will only delay the whole process, agreed both the countries in their previous encounter. Earlier Myanmar chief of Army staff had made it absolutely clear that the Rohingyas wishing to go back to their villages should be ready to remain interned in govt shelter houses and Tatmadaw would not provide any security to their free movement across the country.

This dilly-dallying of the Tatmadaw only unmasked their mercurial nature. It only strengthens Bangladesh’s conviction that the unpredictable neighbor from across the border is not a reliable partner in the negotiation table. Bangladesh is facing the bitter truth that it has to provide shelter to Rohingyas for a long time.

Right now Bangladesh should focus on a contingency plan. I have long been arguing for a Rohingya Bill at the parliament. The bill will provide them temporary residency status barring them exercising their political rights here. Moreover, it will help them opening bank accounts and operating business here, with id documents furnished by Bangladesh govt.

It will insulate them from influences of vested quarters.It will also mitigate their vulnerabilities.

Earlier in one of my posts, I argued how a branding campaign “Made By Rohingya” can make them trade-dependent instead of aid.

International pledge for Rohingya aid plummets in recent months. However, unofficial pledge for Rohingya cause is on the rise. A recent report shows how religious center-based charities in UK raised millions of dollars overnight by airing programmes on Rohingya. The risk that this kind of fund may end up in wrong hands is higher than before. Scarcity of land surrounding the camp and in the rest of the country makes any of their business initiative untenable.

Given Bangladesh’s rising number of land dispute incidents and limited available opportunities, I also advocated floating docks to house their business initiatives.

Abandoned ships, cargo carriers, burge, floating docks etc can easily be the proxy for lands in setting up Rohingyas’ business initiatives. Moreover, the floating vessels can also be used for schools, hospitals and accommodation.

Bangladeshi merchants are already familiar with the procurement process of these phase-out ships as country’s growing steel demand is met by steel reproduced from dismantling old and rustic ships.
Off the coast of Cox’s Bazar, these floating marvels can house several knit factories, workshops , handicraft manufacturing unit, food processing unit , leather goods manufacturing facility etc. These goods will have the brand name “Made By Rohingya”.

For that, the international community needs to train and finance 2,000 or 3,000 Rohingya entrepreneurs. Consequently, their initiatives, including the joint ones, will create jobs for 300,000 to 500,000 Rohingyas.

Since sympathy towards the community is aplenty, Bangladesh can urge the countries interested to stand by the Rohingyas to provide special trade and concessions to it instead of aid. For instance, it may approach to OIC countries and urge them to provide RMG quotas to Bangladesh. Soldiers of these countries wear knitted clothes and the countries can easily pledge to Bangladesh to purchase a certain quantity of knit goods from Bangladesh. Since defense expenditure is more like spending on public goods, Bangladesh can easily secure commitments from these sympathetic governments on the grounds that this will help lessen the pressure of Rohingyas on its economy.

Bangladesh has a long history of administering the quota system in RMG sector. It is not a surmountable task for it to oversee the RMG quota operation for the Rohingya. If there is a $100 quota commitment , $75 will be reserved for Rohingya entrepreneurs and $25 will go to Bangladeshi entrepreneurs on the condition that the Rohingyas constitute one-third of the factory employees.

In addition, local suppliers and vendors will also be benefited from this kind of arrangements as they will have new business opportunities emanating from this kind of quota system.

One thing that is apparent from this negotiation impasse is that the Rohingyas will stay here for an indefinite period. The way things going on about their management in the camps will not bring any good for them and for us. Restive Rohingya youths already expressed keen interest to start armed struggle. Unless significant resources invested behind them, the whole region is going to suck into a secessionist maelstrom.

Having welcomed nearly a million Rohingyas, Bangladesh cannot simply long for international aid to nourish this hungry population. There will be no short of sympathies, but what we really need is some tangible commitments before their successful repatriation. A contingency plan should be put in place until a secured future is bargained out for the Rohingyas in Myanmar. At the heart of this contingency plan lies a Rohingya Act, which is supported by Made-By-Rohingya campaign and floating docks.


La Semaine Dernière A Mes Yeux

(11 mai — 18 mai)

Les agitateurs ont réagi contre le gouvernement pour ne pas proclamer l’annulation de quota dans le service public. PM a déjà dit au parlement que le système de réservation des places dans le boulot public était rendu nul. Mais les agitateurs demandent que le gouvernement publie la décision dans un communiqué officiel dès que possible. Ils ont bloqué le Shahbagh Square encore une fois. Lundi soir, ils ont enlevé le siège, mais ils ont appelé grève dans toutes les institutions éducatives jusqu’à l’annonce du gouvernement sera fait officielle.

Selon un reportage, les agitateurs, identités comme étudiants de Kobi Nazrul Bishwabidyalaya , ont sévèrement battu des journalistes qui faisaient reportage sur le blocus dans une rue à Mymensingh.

Selon un reportage, 10 personnes ont été tuées dans une débandade à Chittagong. Ils sont allés chez homme d’affaires pour recueillir des produits alimentaires,distribués gratuitement par cet homme d’affaires à l’occasion de début de mois de jeûne.

Selon un reportage, le cadavre d’un salarié de l’ONG ASHA a été trouvé au bord du fleuve Balu à Gazipur.

Bangladesh est devenu un des pays qui a mis sur orbite un satellite de communication. Selon un reportage Bangabandhu-1, aka BS-1, a été mis en orbite par la fusée Falcon 9 de SpaceX. Satellisé à une altitude de presque 36.000 KM, Bangabandhu-1 est un satellite stationnaire qui améliorera les services de télécommunication et diffusion des programmes de chaînes privées. Par ailleurs, il se peut que Bangladesh puisse louer une partie de satellite aux pays étrangers. A cause de dépense énorme, le satellite a fait l’objet de polémique dans la presse bangladaise.

Selon un reportage, il y a un déficit commercial de $13 milliards pour l’ année fiscale actuelle. Bangladesh ne connaît jamais un déficit commercial comme ça depuis son indépendance.

Selon un reportage, les Bourses de Shanghai et Shenzhen ont fait un accord avec la Bourse de Dhaka pour devenir partenaires.

Selon un reportage, 4 personnes ont été frappées à la mort par le foudre au Bangladesh.

Selon un reportage, environ 600 feuilles d’examen ont été mis à feu à l’Université de Chittagong. Ils sont feuilles d’examen de l’ Informatique. Le câble de camera de surveillance a été coupé.

Selon un reportage, UNICEF a dit que les femmes rohingyas accouchent 60 bébés chaque jour dans les campes au Bangladesh.

Selon un reportage, un étudiant de l’Université de Rajshahi a subi des blessures de coup de couteau. Ses assaillants sont identités comme fidèles du parti en exercice. Il a eu des altercations avec eux au propos de harcèlement d’ une amie.

Selon un reportage, deux bangladais ont été trouvé mort à Texas aux États-Unis. Ils ont été tués pendant qu’ils essaient d’ enter aux États-Unis clandestinement, en traversant le fleuve Rio Grande .

Selon un reportage, un bus a frappé la moto d’un salarié d’un quotidien anglais à Jatrabari, Dhaka. Le salaire qui travaillait dans le département de la publicité de ce quotidien est mort sur place.

Chez moi, il n’y a pas de connexion des chaînes de câble. En plus, on ne s’inscrit plus aux quotidiens locaux. Donc, c’est un peu difficile à noter les nouvelles principales de la semaine.

My Two Cents On Quota Reform

With the alacrity govt responded to the quota reform demands surprised many. PM’s declaration brought a reprieve for the moment. However, protesters threatened to resume their anarchic movement unless govt publish the gazette of cancellation of quota.

The spontaneous outburst was an indication that a good number of people remained unemployed and the rate at which the public and private sectors absorb them needs to be accelerated.

The public sector’s job is still lucrative for educated youths hailing from middle class families because perks and job assurance far outweigh those available in Bangladesh’s crony dominated private sector.

Year-long protest of CityCell employees is still afresh in our minds. Though jobs in mobile phone companies were once considered most secured and lucrative in the private sector.

Violence in the quota reform movement left a blot in its reputation. Particularly the degree of vengeance manifested on attack of VC residence shocked everyone. Moreover presspeople were also targeted. At the highest learning center of the country, which was designed to be a place for debate and breeding ground for life changing ideas, such attack indicates there are people who harbor intensions to turn the abode of learning into an abode of war.
The timing of the movement coincided with the visit of Indian foreign secretary. So it would not be wrong to assume that communal feeling also worked as a stimulant in this movement.

Moreover, my personal experience on the road cemented my conviction that a certain section of the law enforcement agencies were sympathetic to the movement. I could barely notice law enforcement vehicle on that day.

The twist came when government divulged a teleconvesation between bête noir of Bangladeshi politics and a university teacher to the press. The bête noir did not like the lukewarm support of the teachers subscribed to his tribal group and they were goaded by him to do more.
The damage the revelation caused is that the movement started to lose support of many sympathizers. Rightly or wrongly, they started to solve the equation between violence and movement.

Placards flaunted by protesters read “Nati -Puti Quota ( Grand Children Quota)” , “Media Koi?(Where is the media?)”, “Ami Rajakar (I am collaborator)”, ” Ami Ekjon Nari Bolcchi, Ami Kono Nari Quota Chai Na(I am a female and I do not want any female quota)”, made negative impressions in the minds of many people. At the same time it hurt the freedom fighters tremendously.

Blocking key roads in order to attain some demands reminded us of the movement of Shahbagh that drew overwhelming media coverage and witnessed a month long siege of the Shahbagh square.

The role of social media in the climax of the movement needs to be examined. False news of protester killing was spread to instigate violence. Government came down hard on rumor mongers, sparing the ones close to govt.

I am in favor of quota reform. But I am not in favor of abolishing it completely. Due to ambiguity involved in the process and the less transparent manner it is done, the whole quota system has become questionable. Now let me put forth my observations about the quota movement:

1. The movement was pretty old. It all started with the demand of raising the age ceiling of government jobs to 35 years. Two years ago the protesters assembled themselves at Shahbagh square. That movement culminated into the full blown quota reform movement.

2. Without political patronage, this movement did not gain this overwhelming momentum. True BCS aspirants have their support to the cause but do not subscribe to any such movement. The ultimate goal was to wage a movement like the one happened in the Maghreb where a movement for change, powered by angry and unemployed youth, was steered towards regime change. But in reality, true reform never came. The protesters were used like the cannon fodder.

3. Drawing members from angry unemployed youth and making them an adversary to the freedom fighters and people from different sex, ethnic and religious backgrounds , the mentors tried to wedge a divide within the society and stoke communal tensions across the region. Its timing with the scheduled visit of Indian foreign ministry secretary gathered the evidence behind such claim.

4. The movement also unmask the communal and misogynist feelings many critics have.

5. No opportunity was spared to mock freedom fighters and their offspring. Quite unreasonably they have been placed at the center stage of this debate. While it was found that district quota, complex calculation process and corruption in the process are the culprits.

6. The strongest argument put forward in favor of quota reform is that the prevailing quota system is an obstacle to recruit more “suitable” candidates. But all the candidates have to pass a screening before the quota comes into effect. Moreover suitability is a relative term, which should be tested at various stages of employment. This is not the case in Bangladesh Public Service Commission. For this reason, this job is especial and transgressions are never translated into loss of job.

7. The quota reform leaders failed to spell out the ambiguity involved in quota selection and how it hurts the more eligible candidate. Even if they post an explanation on facebook or their blog that will help many grasp the key points of their argument. The dailies are doing a far better job in decoding the quota mystery. On behalf of the protesters, a former cabinet secretary who had once been severely beaten by a Bihari OC Hafiz tried to explain the things in his way. This epitome of “suitability”, who claimed to bag a degree from an university in Boston, helped the audience not only better understand the quota as well as was the clue to creaky condition of bureaucracy.

We need to tread carefully on quota. There is no gainsaying that we should rationalize the existing quota system. It will be wrong to ignore the support and sympathy the quota reform movement managed to gather in such a short time. Moreover, PM pledged to cancel the quota in line with the demand of reformers. Govt needs to be circumspect about the impact this will have at home and abroad.

The following points need to be taken into account:

1. If Bangladesh is an orchard, then freedom fighters and their offspring deserve the right to cherish the first fruit from that orchard. Quota reform committee should give utmost priority to their interests in the post quota phase. Moreover, some privileges should be attributed to them in availing public services.

2. District quota should be abolished.For less advanced districts, special arrangements can be devised to accommodate the candidates hailing from this region.

3. Women are honest in discharging their duties. They are also more efficient in critical decision making. In addition, they are less corrupt. So they will play far more greater role in public services. For this reason, quota reform committee should pay extra attention to the fact that at least half of the vacant position should be filled by women.

4. Ethnic groups, backward and less privileged section of the society should be the true contender for the quota. And a significant amount of quota should be preserved for them. Quite shockingly I noticed the name of runaway chief justice was mentioned to review this category of quota. His alleged corruption was the reason for the mooted suggestions. The point we are missing here, even if he is guilty, it is not caste or quota to be blamed for that.

Abolishing/downsizing this quota may have regional ramifications. In Indian states where the regimented groups formed govt, loyalists may cry for reform in the public service jobs, using the Bangladesh case as a pretext. In addition, hurdles may be added to the ongoing trade between the two countries.

5. If “suitability” is the key point to reform the quota, then we should allow provision to find more suitable candidates from abroad. There are many Bangladeshis who are contributing to the public services of other nations. We should make amendments to Public Service Commission laws so that foreign nationals can also play a role in our public service. Since their involvement in the RMG industry and Sports is yielding the desired results, they can help govt attain key public service and development goals.

6. Govt should go for a federal structure, dividing Bangladesh into 3/4 states. To support the federal government, provincial administrative services will be needed. This will increase the number of public service jobs as well as bring new opportunities for the educated youths at the regional level.

In administering quota reform, the committee should cogitate over the points discussed above. To dispel the quota at one fell swoop will not bode well for the society and the region. Already the debate inflicted a deep schism within the society. The reform result should be aimed to mitigate it instead of further widening. Pandering to the anarchic demands may send a wrong message to people at home and across the border.The committee should tread carefully on the quota reform and should not give in completely to the wild demands the wave of quota movement brought to the fore.

La Semaine Dernière A Mes Yeux

(4 mai —- 11 mai)

L’ordre public dégrade dans tous le pays. A Bogra, 4 personnes ont été massacrées dans un champ de riz. Ils étaient ouvriers.

A Dacca, un salarié a été trouvé mort chez agence de publicité. Des gens inconnus ont demandé argents à son père au téléphone. Il l’a informé à gendarmerie.

A Munshiganj une Sud-coréenne est morte mystérieusement chez beaux-parents.

A Faridpur, un banquier et un prof de lycée ont été brutalement tués chez eux. Leurs appartements se situent au même étage. Police soupçonne relation extraconjugale a provoqué la tuerie.

A Narasingdi , luttes intestines du parti en exercice ont blessés plus de 28 personnes. Selon un reportage, armements locaux ont été utilisé extensivement pendant les luttes.

A Mymensingh, un conseiller a été massacré. A Dhaka University, un médecin a été blessé par un coup de couteau.

Le géant de e-commerce Alibaba a acheté le site de e-commerce Daraz qui opère au Bangladesh, au Pakistan, au Népal , au Sri Lanka et en Birmanie. Selon un reportage, Alibaba a détenu toutes les actions de Daraz. L’ achat a cause polémique parmi les hommes d’affaires dans le monde de e-commerce au Bangladesh. Beaucoup de personnes pensent que plus de moitié des actions seront restées à la possession des dirigeants bangladais.Il y a aussi des personnes qui l’ a apprécié beaucoup.

Selon un reportage, orage a tué 24 personnes dans tout le pays. On n’a jamais connu ce type d’orage.

The Orange Market

Recent American ban on Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE took everyone off guard. Very few could have imagined that Trump administration’s decision could also severely affect a country like Bangladesh.

According to a report carried by a leading daily, ZTE is implementing two ICT projects: installation of a 4-tier-data center and modernization of telecommunications system. In both of the projects it used and intends to use peerless telecommunications equipments made by USA. The data-center implementation work is almost done. But the modernization of the telecommunications system is grappling with the uncertain outlook the US ban brings.

American probe found that ZTE had clandestinely procured US made equipments on behalf for countries like North Korea and Iran, violating international embargo on these countries.

What I understand from the latest development that kind of ban takes some time before it comes into being. Whether that time is sufficient enough to implement an ongoing project is a different issue. ZTE needs to procure US made equipments at various stages of project implementation.

If some other companies were allowed to manufacture these license-built equipments, then Bangladesh would not face this trouble in the wake of American ban.

Last year I wrote a post titled “Robin Has No Border” stressing on the need of Private Corporations manufacturing and trading defense goods between countries which are at odds with each other or facing international embargo.

A private corporation that has interests different from those of conflicting parties /countries can purchase the license of articles which have great demands in countries that cannot do business with the country of origin due to some external factors. This kind of private non-state actors are also insulated from regimented groups that exercise overwhelming influence in shaping domestic policies and international deals.

The ZTE incident shows that it is not enough to be a private corporation. It is targeted for violating international restrictions. For this reason, I would like to add an addendum to my idea of free corporation. Sometimes We also need a market where everyone can operate despite international pressure and restrictions.

I would like to call this “Orange Market”, bearing the features that both legitimate and so called illegitimate producers, due to failure to comply some international rules, and buyers can do transactions here. First I thought of calling it the “Grey Market” , but then discarded the idea due to strong negative connotation attached to the word “Grey”. As you have heard of the “Grey List” in the USA. Like the traditional market, or the “Green Markets”, the Orange Markets will also be guided by some rules and regulations.

Though we do not have any example before us what the market should look like. But the closest parallel is the country Switzerland. It is a neutral country where disputed parties can park their wealth and do trade with each other as long as there is no violation of international laws. It has remained a safe home for dissenters, political refugees, banned groups, dictators and their legitimate and illegitimate wealth. Every country recognizes its special status.
So, countries facing international ban can do transaction here with other countries. Political refugees/banned groups can use their wealth to set up business in a bid to do business with the rest of the world.

Another close visual can be found in the movie “The Waterworld”, where hundreds of landless refugees meet in a floating market in the middle of nowhere in a sea to trade commodities in exchange of dirt. Buyers and sellers represent folks from all walks of life.

Please do not mix up this market with the one that sells stolen goods.Buyers and sellers who will operate here are both general buyers and sellers and those who fail to meet some international criteria. And the goods and services offered in this market will be genuine and respect intellectual property rights.

Despite the ban, ZTE can still implement its project here in Bangladesh using US made telecommunications equipments. For that, it has to either outsource the task of procuring the equipments to other countries. Or it has to take assistance of a company of a third country to purchase these telecommunications equipments and then resell them to ZTE. This process will take some time.

Bangladesh has reached a stage of development where it badly needs technologies and technological expertise with the admixture of good governance to propel its development process, particularly true for its industrial sector.

A prolonged financial crisis and rise of populist parties in the west make the prospect of technology transfer from the West except Germany ,Nordic and East European countries bleaker.Governments formed by these nationalist regimes may cry foul against the governments and corporations they deem hostile.So Bangladesh has to rely on countries like China , Russia, Eastern European countries and Asian countries for tech transfer.

Since the chances of tariff war and restrictions on adversary companies loom large, this kind of neutral market offers a viable solution. At least it will provide a safe passage to tread on trade issues in this entrenched environment of global trade.

Even in a building there is an emergency exit way. Imagine in a neighborhood where residents are reluctant to give away space for an emergency road or widen the existing road that will have ample space for firefighting vehicles and ambulances. This neighborhood is more prone to accidents and a difficult place to carry out emergency evacuation in distress situation.

Similarly, Orange Market offers a market for relief when the Green Markets are not working and negotiations reach a dead end. Until a settlement has been worked out , this market can be used to do trade as usual to complete already pledged commitments. Alternative to this is clandestine transaction that is hard to track. So another advantage of this market is it will help the international watch bodies to keep tab on who is selling what,to whom and at what amount. Since the trade will be done under some framework, documentation of trade will be available for record keeping.

Idea travels, be it terror or trade. But there is no point to stall all channels of communication (better read emergency passage). Let us go back to our example of Switzerland. In the medieval times and long before that, Christian pilgrims on their way to Rome made a stopover there. Some of them were good craftsmen. They started to trade finest quality products to other pilgrims. Later many political dissenters facing purge and persecution in their country of origin set up business and did business with rest the world. The Swiss allowed them as long as they comply its own rules. For this reason, you will find many left and right political ideologues and their followers found sanctuary in that country and their wealth, which was not safe in their country of residence, was ended up in Swiss Banks. Similarly, you will see countries facing international pressure negotiate purchase of equipments for power plants or eavesdropping software with manufacturing companies complying Swiss laws.

We need a market like the Swiss one, but with greater freedom and scope. For aspiring developing nations like Bangladesh that will dearly feel the fallout of this trade dispute, this “Orange Market” provides a sigh of relief for implementing tech-intensive development projects. In this market, Bangladesh can negotiate with ZTE how to implement its unfinished project, American manufacturers can sell their goods to a Chinese company facing ban, a Chinese company can supply goods to American consumers at prices settled before the tariff hike, a Grey-listed Pakistani defense manufacturer can sell the license/design of a defense article to a Bangladeshi defense company and Russian IT professionals ,engineers facing travel ban can sign contract with Bangladeshi firms or Research institutions to initiate computational textile research project or to start an IT venture. There is already a need for this kind of market apart from the traditional one. Will,along with concerted effort, to formulate policies to make it a reality is what we need right now.

La Semaine Dernière A Mes Yeux

(27 avril — 4 mai)

L’interdiction américaine dont la société chinoise de télécommunication ZTE fait l’objet a causé assez de problèmes au Bangladesh. Selon un reportage, ZTE est en train de réaliser deux projets: mise en place une base de données nationales «Four-tier Data Center» et modernisation du système de télécommunications. Tous les deux projets coûtent presque Tk 30 milliards. Comme ZTE a besoin d’utiliser matériel informatique américain, ça sera difficile de le procurer maintenant. «Four-tier Data Center» est presque fini. Mais interdiction va sévèrement heurter la modernisation du système de télécommunication.

Selon un reportage, l’ orage a tué plus de trentaine de personnes dans deux jours. On n’a jamais connu ce type de l’orage dans tout le pays. Les pluies torrentielles ont inondé les rues principales à Dhaka.

Selon un reportage, une équipe de Conseil de sécurité a visité le campe de Rohingya à Cox’s Bazar. Les membres ont parlé avec les Rohingyas. L’équipe est rendue en Birmanie pour tenir discussion avec Tatmadaw.

Selon un reportage, un conseiller a été tué par balles à Rangamati. Il était aussi dirigeant du Janasanghati Samiti. A vendredi pendant son funèbre, 5 personnes ont été tuées par balles.

A Narasinghdi, un conseiller a aussi été tué par balles. Selon un reportage, les maisons de son adversaire ont été mis à feu suite à la tuerie. Dans les années récentes, les deux factions ont bataillées plusieurs fois.

Selon un reportage, Dhaka Stock Exchange a choisi Shenzhen Stock Exchange et Shanghai Stock Exchange comme les partenaires stratégiques de DSE. Bangladesh Securities And Exchange Commission a donné son aval à la vente de 25% action de DSE à deux Bourses chinoises. L’Inde a opposé la proposition chinoise depuis longtemps et reporté la vente pour quelques mois en déposant plaintes à BSEC. Les Bourses chinoises détiendront plus de 450 millions d’action en payant Tk 9,47 milliards. Donc chaque action coûte Tk22. Les Bourses indiennes mené par NSE ont offert seulement Tk15 pour chaque action. En plus, les Bourses chinoises investiront $370 millions pour améliorer le système informatique de la Bourse de Dhaka en 3 ans. L’ investissement chinois dans la Bourse de Dhaka a causé assez de soucis à Delhi, qui l’a vu comme une perte stratégique dans un pays avoisinant.

Police a appréhendé un directeur de prison. Selon un reportage, il vendait des amphétamines à l’intérieur de prison.

A Chittagong, Police a appréhendé deux frères pour avoir vendu des amphétamines.

Devils On The Road

Taking a nonchalance stance at the deteriorating law and order situation does not offer any viable solution. In fact, it just worsens the situation. More and more ruling party activists are found involved in unlawful acts. Factional clashes are often ended up with the murder of political activists.

Just have a glance at the news reports on the print and electronic media and you will find how the ruling party men contributing to ruin the govt efforts to make Bangladesh a prosperous country.

In our country we have a group of people who have natural inclination to categorize people based on their frank views and opinions. It is more like the philosophy of “with us or against us”. No surprise that this kind of philosophy has become dominant in a land where tribalism reigns supreme. So people like me who like to see things in many hues, no matter how subtle they are, run the risk of facing all kinds of troubles.

Ordinary people face everyday the ruling party sponsored anarchy on the road. There are no death of motor bikes now a days. A good number of them belong to political activists. How they managed to possess those bikes, which have price tag of more than Tk100.000 apiece, without any ostensible means of income is a mystery. They have no respect for the pedestrians and are a bunch of horn-happy devils. Without any slightest hint they blared their horns aiming at pedestrians. They just keep pressing the button without caring the damage
it is causing to others.

A leading Dhaka daily ran an editorial on noise pollution. Citing Department of Environment, it said that a tenth of Bangladeshi population suffered from hearing loss due to noise pollution. Moreover, referring to experts, it pointed out that a third of the population could develop hearing related problems in less than a decade.

I once encountered one such bike-devil on the road. I asked him why he was blaring the horn insanely. I received an angry look. Then I tried to know whether he represented a party or worked for police, what harm I caused to him and why he was angry at me. He did not give any response and just disappeared.

These bike devils ply over the roads with overwhelming impunity. Their political bosses have never taken them to tasks for their wrongdoings.

Another day I watched how a driver got beaten by one of these road kings as the driver did not comply with his blaring horn for space in a road already clogged by construction works of a bridge. They do not even spare the footpaths which are dominated by vendors. Whatever space left in the footpaths for pedestrians are not suitable enough for walking. Because the surface area is battered by poor tiles work.

The street vendors are a source of clandestine capital as they pay a regular extortion on a daily and monthly basis. A study reveals that political parties receive extortion worth Tk 1300 crores per annum from the roadside vendors.

Unwarranted extortion is the source of fatal infighting that ended up in loss of life. Roni’s severe beating of a coaching centre director and cable business altercation that led to killing of a Jubo League revolve around this extortion money.

If law enforcement personnel were honest to tackle the problem, things would improve drastically and pedestrians would walk freely on the streets.

The nexus between the political class and police is pretty old. It is the ruling party that holds the key to Police’s recruitment and transfer . Police in turn pay astronomical sum of money to political leaders at various stages for their recruitment and transfer.

This nexus is the key to understand why this problem remains unresolved. Police needs to recuperate the money they paid for desired position. Parties need police protection to keep the illicit business going.

Legendary economist Rehman Sobhan wrote this opinion article ” Clean Politics As A Way To A Clean Heart” for Daily Star back in 2003. In the article he stressed that the nexus stemming from a systematic crisis. He wrote:

“We have reached a point where law enforcement now needs political clearance which is only provided selectively. In such an environment, where initially the crimes of political loyalists enjoyed the protection of the law, today common or hardened criminals have joined a political party in order to practice their trade with immunity.

……Within a system of politically patronised crime, the capacity, muscle and probity of the law enforcement agencies has become the other major systematic casualty.If police officers know that law enforcement can, at best, be selective and that there are no rewards for the bold and impartial discharge of their duties , then some officers and their rank and file will eventually seek to abuse the system for their own advantage. As a result, politically selective law enforcement has now become linked with law enforcement for private gain. We now live in a society where there is no uniform law for all citizens but some citizens can now purchase whatever law enforcement services they are willing to pay for. Thus, law enforcement is no longer a public service but a marketable commodity.”

Use of Police for political purposes did a great harm to country’s law and order situation. With inflated ego some of the personnel indulge in condemnable acts. This week a high ranking police officer drew media attention after allegations of harassing a journalist had surfaced on the press. Earlier, a house wife had brought allegations of harassment against him and received death threat from him.

At the grass root level, one may find bevy of examples like the misdeeds of the police DIG. This is a worrying sign ahead of next election since law and order situation generally hits the nadir at this period. The way the Awami juggernaut is heading for its next electoral goals , the need for objective law enforcement services is dearly felt.

This culture of ” all citizens are equal, but some are more equal than the others” is leading us to an inevitable clash. Given the existence of politically selective law enforcement services, bringing all the law enforcement service providers under one umbrella is call of the day. An independent commission may be formed to oversee their operations and to insulate them from political decisions. People like me who do not subscribe to any tribal group at least have the assurance that politically motivated law enforcement services will be abated under the tutelage of such commission.