The Daily Star has distorted facts ‘again’ in an editorial published over Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s reiteration of her stance on holding the next general election in line with the Constitution, the PMO claims.
At a press conference on Sunday at Ganabhaban, Hasina had said, “The Constitution will not be amended before the election. (We) amended the Constitution with the people’s mandate. The election will be in line with the Constitution.”
The newspaper’s editorial, titled ‘PM’s emphatic ‘no’, a rude jolt’, on Tuesday said, “…she [PM] herself amended it according to her own wishes, and in undue haste, without a serious effort to engage anybody, including her own allies, let alone the opposition.”
The Prime Minister’s Office ‘found the editorial as imaginary and baseless’. In a rasping response, it cited the editorial as a ‘glaring example of distortion of the truth’.
“As a matter of fact, the Government followed a lengthy process for the fifteenth amendment in the Constitution,” it said in a statement said.
Then the PMO rejoinder, signed by the Prime Minister’s Press Secretary Abul Kalam Azad, went on to describe in detail on how the government took steps to amend the Constitution and how the BNP stayed away from the process.
A 15-strong special parliamentary committee on the amendment was formed for this which had submitted its report on June 8, 2011. The 15th Amendment was passed in Parliament on June 30 same year, following a Supreme Court ruling which scrapped the nonpartisan caretaker government system.
In its withering ripostes, the PMO continued: “Though BNP did not take part in the activities of the Special Committee, the party had immense scope to give their opinion at any stage of the one-year process and also in the parliamentary proceedings during the passage of the bill in the House on June 30, 2011.
“But with an ulterior motive they kept them in abeyance from the process. The Daily Star perhaps knowingly ignored the fact aimed at making the government’s sincere efforts questionable.”
An article by the Editor of English-language broadsheet carried on Tuesday over Hasina’s comment on the newspaper during her press conference two days ago also drew criticism from her office.
The article said Hasina had ‘made a pointed attack on The Daily Star, singling out the paper saying that the newspaper always distorts whatever she says’.
During the press briefing on Aug 18 at her official residence, Hasina responded to a query from a correspondent of the daily on how long the current Parliament would continue as per the amended Constitution. The Prime Minister said, “It is written clearly in the Constitution. Please read that. It is Daily Star. Whatever I say, it will be distorted.”
“This is important. I will not say anything, instead, I will ask you to follow up on the election process of any country in the world where there is a parliamentary democracy.”
Hasina continued, “The election will be held like the way it is held in other countries. There is nothing to worry. The current Parliament, whether you dissolve it or form another, will stay until the next election.”
As the Daily Star reporter wanted to ask another question, she stopped him saying, “One question is good enough.”
The reporter, however, hastily made another query regarding the Cabinet. Hasina only replied, “It is in the Constitution.”
Regarding her attack on the newspaper, the article it ran on Tuesday said, “The Daily Star practises the highest level of ethical journalism where distortion of facts and statements has no place.”
“Since the Prime Minister on Sunday brought a serious allegation against this newspaper in an event telecast nationwide we would invite her office to provide us with instances when we distorted her comments.
“But unless the PMO can point out our slips, our readers may be forced to conclude that the Prime Minister’s comments were yet another example of media bashing and maligning a free and independent media that has always upheld the norms of democracy,” it said.
The article concluded seeking an explanation from the PMO for its readers as well as the wider public.
However, responding to that, the PMO statement said, “It is the expectation of each reader of a newspaper that it would practice ethical journalism and refrain from distortion of the facts. Unfortunately, the Daily Star, being an influential daily, is out of the practice every now and then.”
Then it cited the Daily Star editorial.
The statement said, “Neither the Government nor the Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina believes in maligning or bashing media. Rather, the present government is a real promoter to ‘Full freedom of the media’.”
“However, it is very regretful that a section of the press, which have limitation of thoughts, cannot give due value to the Government’s sincere endeavors.”
Source: Bd news24