Mr Abdul Awal Mintoo is a proud product of the Juldia Marine Academy. In 1971, he was still a junior officer on a Pakistani ship when Pakistan army unleashed its killing operation in the in the then East Pakistan. In support of the liberation war, Mr. Mintoo walked off the ship and took refuge in the United States. The liberation war brought a big change for Mr. Mintoo. He worked hard for a living and at the same time supported the liberation war. Instead of returning to his sea career, he engaged himself in business. Fortune favours the brave and that was the case with Mr. Mintoo. He returned Bangladesh and continued with innovative business. He was one of the first private sector ship-owner in Bangladesh. He has also set-up a specialized textile mill. He is involved in many more business that I do not know of. His business empire provided employment to many and generated new blood stream to our economy. The business community made him the President of FBCCI. At one time he was a supporter of Awami League but later became a leader of the BNP.

The recent continuations of strikes and shut-downs have affected the economy very badly. The FBCCI decided to meet the two leaders and request them for a solution to present political crisis. The present president of FBCCI requested Mr. Awal Mintoo to accompany the delegation. Mr. Mintoo was initially hesitant but later agreed and accompanied them. When they met the prime minister, she looked at Mr Mintoo and wanted to know as to why he was there. Mr. Mintoo replied very politely and explained that he received his first political lessons from her. He still believes and fights for three things that Sheikh Hasina taught him and one by one he spelled them out in front of the other members of the delegation. They are:

  1. The only way Bangladesh can have free and fair election is under a non-party care-taker government;
  2. The political parties both in government and in opposition must have respect for each other; and
  3. At the time of election, the EC should have all the powers to conduct the election.

The encounter made the prime minister very embarrassed and angry. As usual she looked for revenge. Perhaps it was on the next day when Mr. Mintoo was coming out of Khaleda Zia’s residence, he was arrested.

Bangladesh needs politicians like Mr. Mintoo who would not compromise on principle. Mr. Mintoo showed that he does not believe in shifting goal posts. The movement will continue until it is decided once for all that all general elections in future will be under care-taker government and that people will not be required to sacrifice lives on the street to re-establish the system.

London, 13-November-2013                                       <fazlu.chowdhury@btinternet.com>


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