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Political News

Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Compiled by SDNP

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Letters to 3 other channels
AL warns BTV of legal action

Staff Correspondent, The Daily Star

Aggrieved at 'largely discriminatory coverage' by the electronic media, the main opposition Awami League has sent letters to their authorities asking for immediate redress.

Letters were sent to the authorities of state-run Bangladesh Television (BTV) and three private channels -- Ekushey Television (ETV), Channel i and ATN Bangla on June 15, AL chief Sheikh Hasina's Political Secretary Saber Hossain Chowdhury told newsmen yesterday.

The BTV not only gave poor coverage to the AL but also presented 'negative and motivated' news on it, he said.

The AL's media monitoring cell monitored news aired by the four organisations from January 1 to June 10. It found 'major discrimination' in giving coverage to the AL. Letters were sent following this, Saber said.

According to the findings of the cell, the BTV gave only 0.41 per cent of its news coverage to the AL and 99.59 per cent to the ruling BNP and the government.

The ETV gave 13.73 per cent of its news time to the AL and 86.27 per cent to those in power.

Channel-I gave 12.3 per cent of its coverage to the AL as against 87.7 per cent to the ruling party and ATN Bangla gave 11.71 per cent to the AL and 88.29 per cent to the ruling party, he mentioned.

In his letter addressed to the director general of the BTV, Saber resented 'negative' and 'motivated' news presentation on AL. He warned of legal action if it did not refrain from doing so.

He told newsmen AL considered

See page 11 col 1 Staff Correspondent

Aggrieved at 'largely discriminatory coverage' by the electronic media, the main opposition Awami League has sent letters to their authorities asking for immediate redress.

Letters were sent to the authorities of state-run Bangladesh Television (BTV) and three private channels -- Ekushey Television (ETV), Channel i and ATN Bangla on June 15, AL chief Sheikh Hasina's Political Secretary Saber Hossain Chowdhury told newsmen yesterday.

The BTV not only gave poor coverage to the AL but also presented 'negative and motivated' news on it, he said.

The AL's media monitoring cell monitored news aired by the four organisations from January 1 to June 10. It found 'major discrimination' in giving coverage to the AL. Letters were sent following this, Saber said.

According to the findings of the cell, the BTV gave only 0.41 per cent of its news coverage to the AL and 99.59 per cent to the ruling BNP and the government.

The ETV gave 13.73 per cent of its news time to the AL and 86.27 per cent to those in power.

Channel-I gave 12.3 per cent of its coverage to the AL as against 87.7 per cent to the ruling party and ATN Bangla gave 11.71 per cent to the AL and 88.29 per cent to the ruling party, he mentioned.

In his letter addressed to the director general of the BTV, Saber resented 'negative' and 'motivated' news presentation on AL. He warned of legal action if it did not refrain from doing so.

He told newsmen AL considered a 'blackout' better than 'distorted coverage.'

In his letter addressed to the chairman of ETV, Saber said, "Given that AL is Bangladesh's single largest political party, such discriminatory treatment is simply unacceptable and we wish to register our strongest protest in this regard."

The letter also said the 'discrimination manifests itself not merely in the length of time allocated' but also in the priority, importance and other aspects of AL-related news.

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'Allocation for women enhanced'

BSS, Dhaka,The Daily Star

Women and Children Affairs Minister Khurshid Jahan Hoque yesterday said allocation for poverty alleviation and development of womenfolk had been enhanced in the proposed budget for fiscal 2002-2003.

"We have to utilise every coin of the budget to achieve desired development, establish rights of women and alleviate poverty," she said while addressing the inaugural function of a training programme for project coordinators of Jatiya Mohila Sangstha (JMS) on "Development of Loan Management and Increase of Working Ability" at JMS auditorium here.

She said the government has undertaken a number of projects and programmes for poverty alleviation of women, checking repression and reformation of different laws in the light of National Women Development Policy.

Under the project steps were taken to give interest-free loan for rehabilitating the victims of acids and other repression, low-interest loan for raising domestic animals and micro-credit to destitute and helpless women from the Prime Minister's fund for creating self-employment opportunity.

Terming poverty alleviation as the biggest problem for the nation, she said in the proposed budget the government has attached utmost priority and given a pragmatic direction for poverty alleviation of rural women.

Khurshid Jahan said in the past, desired development of women could not be achieved despite micro-credits were provided from different government and non-government organisations. "They are taking loan from one organisation and repaying it to another organisation," she observed.

Stressing the need for imparting training to rural women, she said rural women were not able to involve themselves with any self-reliant job for lack of training and experience. The main objective of giving loan to women would not be attained if their working ability could not be developed, she said, adding that "it will only drain away public money."

Khurshid Jahan said womenfolk of the country are not involved with the mainstream of the country's development, as they are not directly related with economic activities. She said late President Ziaur Rahman established the JMS in 1976 to involved women with the mainstream of the national development.

Presided over by Chairman of JMS Masuda Hoque, the function was addressed by Executive Director of JMS Nur Mahal Islam, joint secretary of the Women and Children Affairs Ministry Ferdous Ara Begum and field level project coordinator Ahsan Ali.

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Hiring of lobbyist

Charge sheet against Hasina, 2 others

The Independent

Charge sheets against former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and two others were submitted in the Chief Metropolitan Magistrateís Court yesterday for engaging a lobbyist firm in the United States that caused a financial loss of 362,236 US dollars or Taka 2,01,09,688 to the country, court sources said, reports BSS.

The charge sheets said Sheikh Hasina, former state minister for foreign affairs Abul Hasan Chowdhury and Dr. SA Samad, former Principal Secretary to Sheikh Hasina, had committed a punishable offence under the Criminal Penal Code 418/109 and also under the Anti-Corruption Law 5 (2) of 1947 by causing this financial loss to the state.

According to the charge sheets, the accused people, by appointing an international lobbyist without the indent of Bangladesh Export Processing Zone Authority (BEPZA), had violated laws and that the appointment (of lobbyist) without consultation with BGMEA (Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers Exporters Association) was misuse of power with an ulterior motive.

The accused people, in connivance with each another, had selected their favourite lobbyist firm without making any assessment of its work and in 11 months, from September 2000 to August 15, 2001, had paid a total of 362,236 US dollars (about Taka 2,01,09,688).

As per documents in the Prime Ministerís secretariat, the BEPZA chairman was directed to appoint one of the three lobbyist firms and accordingly, he (BEPZA Chairman) went to Washington and signed an interim agreement with Dierman, Wortley and Zola on September 12, 2000. The state minister for foreign affairs was in Washington at that time and the BEPZA chairman had to work at his directives, the BEPZA chairman said in a statement during the investigation.

The charge sheets said the then Prime Minister had approved the agreement on September 9, 2000.

As per agreement, it was decided that the lobbyist would be paid 30,000 US dollars per month and another 1,500 US dollars as pocket money. According to the noting in a file at the Prime Ministerís office, instructions were given to arrange the money as there was no provision of such funds to meet the lobbyistís fee and relevant expenditure.

In this regard, the charge sheet mentioned that the former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina gave instructions to the effect that "itís already late, arrangement be made for quick delivery of money. A lot of work has been done by this organisation."

The charge sheets said it becomes clear that the so-called lobbyist was engaged, testifying to the involvement of the former Prime Minister, despite the fact that there was no need for such a lobbyist for BEPZA and the organisation had no funds for that purpose.

During the investigation into the case, it was found that the lobbyist firm, though initially did not send the monthly progress report to BEPZA chairman as per rule, later despatched reports in which it was evident that description of their work and their quality were not up to the mark.

It was also found that the lobbyist could not make any headway for the entry of duty-free access of Bangladesh products, protect labour rights and stop deduction of GSP facilities, for which purposes it was appointed.

The charge sheets said it has been clearly proved that the appointment of the lobbyist without the indent/ requirement of BEPZA, and bypassing the rules of appointment and not having any consultation with BGMEA, was misuse of power with an ulterior motive, resulting in financial losses to the national exchequer.

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Hasina's remark on Zia's body inhumane, says Mannan Bhuiyan

by Staff Reporter, The Independent

BNP Secretary General and LGRD Minister Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan yesterday sharply criticised Sheikh Hasina for her remark about the body of President Ziaur Rahman.

"She must realise that a dead man should not be subjected to unkind attacks under any evil design", Mannan Bhuiyan said adding that her utterance was not only a blatant lie but also inhumane, indecent and tasteless.

It was Sheikh Hasina who knew better about what he called her new conspiratorial move reflected by such a disgraceful comment 21 years after the martyrdom of President Ziaur Rahman.

Mannan Bhuiyan said that the people of the country knew it well that President Ziaur Rahman was killed by the enemies of Bangladesh only 17 days after Sheikh Hasina returned home from a long exile through the favour of Ziaur Rahman.

Thousands of people had gathered to attend his Janaza at the Sher-e-Bangla Nagar and the patriotic people of the country were upholding the ideals of the late president who dedicated his life for the attainment of a self- reliant and progressive Bangladesh.

Awami League during its rule had tried to tarnish the image of the late president and removed the bailey bridge on the Crescent Lake adjacent to his Mazar out of vengeance, Mannan Bhuiyan said.

However, no conspiracy and evil design could tarnish the image of the late President, but rather he became more popular, Mannan Bhuiyan added.

Mannan Bhuiyan said that the present government was investigating the plundering of national wealth, carried out through undertaking of various projects, to glorify a particular family and its members.

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Zillur condemns Nazmul Huda's remarks

by Staff Reporter , The Independent

Awami League General Secretary Zillur Rahman has strongly condemned the remarks of Communication Minister Barrister Nazmul Huda, published in section of the press, and said the fascist character of the BNP was nakedly exposed through his remarks.

Referring to the remarks of the minister who reportedly said, "Speak cautiously....We can impose a ban on Awami politics by amending the Constitution," Zillur Rahman said Barrister Huda had also created crisis through his objectionable and provocative comments hurting the religious feelings of the Muslims when Awami League raised a proposal in the Fifth Parliament condemning the Hebron massacre by the Jews.

"Not only that, Nazmul Huda said at Jatiya Press Club that he himself had supplied arms to Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal (JCD) cadres during the anti-Ershad movement," said the Awami League leader, in a statement yesterday.

He said that the BNP-Jamaat alliance government was hatching a conspiracy to eliminate Awami League with a view to gagging people's voice. Zillur said, "The dream of Nazmul Huda and others will never come true."

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Ershad open partyís tree plantation campaign

by Staff Reporter, The Independent

Inaugurating party's tree-plantation programme, Jatiya Party Chairman HM Ershad yesterday planted a sapling of Kamini flower at Baridhara Park and four saplings of Mehgani at Baridhara lakeside.

Addressing a gathering of party leaders and workers on the occasion, HM Ershad said that the green Bangladesh was facing desertification due to indiscriminate felling of trees.

The situation would turn grave if it was not averted through plantation of more trees, he said.

Welcoming the tree plantation programme launched by the government, HM Ershad said that mere plantation of saplings would not improve the situation if proper care was not taken for their protection and growth.

Party Secretary General ABM Shahjahan, Presidium member Sardar Amjad Hossain, Shafiul Alam Pradhan, Syed Abu Hossain Babla, Anwar Hossain Linkon, city president Khalequzzaman Chowdhury and the organisers of Baridhara Society.

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