A man of success, a man of values: Business leaders remember Latifur Rahman

The Daily Star  July 12, 2020
Star Business Report

Business luminaries yesterday paid a rich and heartfelt tribute to Latifur Rahman, founder, chairman and chief executive of Transcom Group, hailing him as the most patriotic entrepreneur and an icon for ethical business.

Rahman, who was best known for his ethical business practices at home and abroad, breathed his last on July 1.

The late entrepreneur was a towering figure in the corporate world of Bangladesh because of his well-known principles in running businesses.

He and his family members are also respected since they have not held passports of other countries except Bangladesh as they love the country from their hearts, said top businessmen at a virtual remembrance event.

“Latifur Rahman was a symbol of ethics and determination,” said Mahbubur Rahman, president of the International Chamber of Commerce Bangladesh (ICC-B).

Latifur Rahman took Bangladeshi businesses to a new height when he received the Oslo Business for Peace Award, and the Best Business Person Award from the Saarc, Mahbubur said.

The Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) and the ICC-B jointly organised the event.

“One has to be fortunate to get a friend like Latifur Rahman. And it is equally painful when such a friend departs,” said M Anis Ud Dowla, a former president of the MCCI.

Both of them met 43 years ago at the MCCI office and Dowla, himself a noted entrepreneur, was recalling how much he was impressed by his personality.

Dowla was the president of the MCCI at the time and was discussing with the secretary-general of the trade body how to elect Rahman as the president of the country’s oldest chamber.

Rahman went on to become the president of the chamber in 1993. He held the position for a record seven times.

“His leadership helped the MCCI reach its current stage,” said Dowla, chairman of ACI Group.

Rahman also supported the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Bangladesh Employers’ Federation.

“Today I remember such a good friend with a heavy heart. The conglomerate that Latifur Rahman founded is the finest in the country. His demise is an irreparable loss to the country,” said Dowla.

Syed Manzur Elahi, also a former MCCI president, said anyone could disagree with Rahman politely. “His patriotism was admirable and a role model for ethical business.”

The former caretaker government adviser said Rahman was extremely analytical. “He had been a business giant and whatever he touched had turned into gold.”

Elahi recalled he first met Rahman at a dinner party in Dhaka in 1974. “I was impressed by his inherent goodness,” said the chairman of Apex Footwear.

“Latifur Rahman had done everything honestly and ethically.”

Tapan Chowdhury, another former president of the MCCI, said Rahman was a friend of his family for a long time.

“He always talked about the prospects of the country. Nobody can raise questions about his integrity,” said the managing director of Square Group.

Shiv Shivakumar, group executive president for corporate strategy and business at Aditya Birla Group of India, said Rahman was a true business partner, a true friend and a man who used to accept life as it comes.

“He was never angry. He believed in partnership responsibility in business.”

Sanjiv Mehta, chairman and managing director of Hindustan Unilever Ltd, said Rahman set the highest standards in businesses in Bangladesh.

Mehta said he left Bangladesh 14 years ago but he had been in regular touch with Rahman.

“Latifur Rahman was a true lover of his birthplace Bangladesh.”

Rokia Afzal Rahman, a noted entrepreneur and a former caretaker government adviser, said she used to sit with Latifur Rahman on the boards of eight companies.

“His presence in the meetings always added value and made a difference. His presence used to change the environment of the meetings.”

“Latifur Rahman has created history in ethical business in Bangladesh,” said Kutubuddin Ahmed, chairman and founder of Envoy Group.

AK Azad, a former president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), said although he was a very successful businessman, he never interfered in the decision-making of the newspapers he owned.

Rahman was founding director of Mediaworld, the owning company of The Daily Star, and chairman of Mediastar, the owning company of the Prothom Alo.

ASM Quasem, immediate past vice-president of the ICC-B, said Rahman was a natural leader.

“He was a man of courage and determination and he never gave up hope even in cases of the worst situations. He was a great patriot.”

Fazlul Hoque, a former president of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said the late entrepreneur knew how to attract people with his natural love and affection.

Kamran T Rahman, president of the Bangladesh Employers’ Federation, said Latifur Rahman used to guide him in any difficulty in running businesses.

“Rahman was a very good and caring travel partner,” said Mir Nasir Hossain, a former president of the FBCCI, while recalling their visit to Australia.

“Latifur Rahman was a great personality,” said CK Hyder, former secretary-general of the MCCI.

“My father always tried to take the country forward with ethical business,” said Simeen Hossain, the eldest daughter of Rahman and also the managing director of Eskayef Pharmaceuticals Ltd.

She said her father’s legacy would continue for generations. “It was a matter of pride for my father to represent Bangladesh in international arena.”

She thanked the MCCI for naming a lounge of the chamber after the name of her father.

Zarif Ayaat Hossain, the grandson of Latifur Rahman; Sheikh Fazle Fahim, president of the FBCCI; Salman Ispahani, managing director of MM Ispahani Group, and Anis A Khan, vice-president of the MCCI, also spoke.

MCCI President Nihad Kabir moderated the virtual meeting.


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