A former adviser to the military-backed caretaker government of 2008, Hossain Zillur Rahman, on Thursday asked citizens to stand up for change in the light of an upcoming “voter-less vote” on Jan 5.
He described the emerging situation as a “dramatic new reality”.
“Should we hold a black badge on our chest on January 5 in silent protest against the voter-less vote?” he asked, urging citizens to consider whether it was possible to “fulfil our duty without mounting a challenge”.
He was speaking at a BRAC Institute of Governance Studies’ flagship research report launching on the “State of Governance 2012”, which showed that powerful politicians, particularly ministers, got more resources for their constituencies than others.
The report did not mention any contemporary political issue like the standoff on the election process or dig into the ruling Awami League’s 2012 performance. It, however, showed how MPs of both parties remained absent in the parliaments over the decades.
The report also focused on service-sector governance issues like health and education and showed that lack of doctors affected health services at hospital outdoor units, and that better school management could improve students’ results.
But speaking as chief guest, Zillur Rahman, who served as caretaker adviser before the Dec 2008 elections, referred to the Jan 5 elections that main opposition BNP has boycotted resulting in more than half of the seats returned winners uncontested.
“Voters have vanished from the election process. This is a dangerous issue,” he said.
“The least we achieved in 1990 (fall of autocratic HM Ershad regime) was that I’ll be able to vote for whom I wish to,” he said, “Now it appears to be a dramatic new reality”.
He also referred to politicians’ wealth as submitted to the Election Commission for contesting polls and said 42 years after the independence “we are preparing to bury idealism” upon which, he said, Bangladesh was created in 1971.
He was critical of the finance minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith’s comment that wealth of the ruling class was bound to increase and that it had been a worldwide trend.
Rahman termed it a “nonchalant explanation”. He said the finance minister once again uttered “a quotable quote”. But he said “it would not be easy to bury the idealism, but the process was on”.
He said over the years, elected leaders had nurtured “the philosophy of dictatorship that’s why they promoted consolidation of power”.
They instilled the thought of “impossibility of change”.
He said ‘civil society’ had become an abuse, “courtesy the politicians”, referring to the ruling Awami League criticism its role.
Rahman said “autocratic political actors” wanted to defeat citizens globally and retain their control by instilling among people the notion of “the impossibility of change”.
He said the rulers wanted to establish that change was not possible, thus creating “a submissive mentality”.
The Chief Election Commissioner could stand up “if he had the guts” since the Election Commission was a constitutional post, he said.
“It happened in India where bureaucrats in this (constitutional) post stood up against their political masters”.
But the founder of a think-tank Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC), Rahman was not sure that citizens had the courage to stand up against politicians.
“We have to look into our hearts to see if we can find courage”.
Source: Bd news24