AGENDA

Powerful forces - from rapid technological change to economic globalization - are reshaping the way Bangladesh fits into the new globalized world. Now, more than ever, our nation needs a robust public debate that does justice to the complex challenges and opportunities of this unfolding era. Instead, there is a dearth of new thinking on both sides of the political divide, and a lack of investment in developing the creative young minds most capable of crafting new public policy solutions.

The purpose of the Pro Reforms Group is to bring exceptionally promising new voices and new ideas to the fore of our nation’s public discourse.

Bangladesh Needs You - Make Your Opinion Count

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Foregone Conclusion!

Foregone Conclusion!
Let the nation now focus on the Future!

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Donations vs Nomination Business

By Adnan Anwar

Donations, by definition:

1. The act of giving or bestowing; a grant.
2. That which is given as a present; that which is transferred to another gratuitously; a gift.
3. (Legal definition) The act or contract by which a person voluntarily transfers the title to a thing of which he is the owner, from himself to another, without any consideration, as a free gift. --Bouvier.

The basic connotation of the word donation is giving without receiving any consideration in return.

Today, our political leaders are confusing donations with their business of selling nominations. Receiving Taka 5 crores in return for a nomination is surely not donation. It is selling nominations, pure and simple.

Furtnermore, I would like to know where are these so called donations kept. Are they kept in an account in the name of the party, or are they kept in the personal accounts of the leaders and spent as they wish.

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Bangladesh Emergency Six Months On - BBC

By John Sudworth, BBC News, Dhaka

Six months after widespread rioting forced the cancellation of January's general election, Bangladesh remains under a state of emergency. And six months on there are many people who may feel less kindly disposed towards the philanthropic general. A series of military raids have seen dozens of senior politicians, many of them former cabinet ministers and household names, arrested and jailed. Gen Ahmed argues that that is exactly where they should be - more

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Army chief feels need to review the Constitution

Army chief Gen Moeen U Ahmed yesterday said the constitution should be reviewed through a "constitution commission" for preparing new laws and mechanisms to ensure accountability and effective governance. ...more

The vortex of lies and denial

Today, the nation is caught in a vortex of lies and denial. But what surprises and angers us most is that none of the leaders has ever apologized for the wholesale plundering of national wealth by his/her party men! ...more

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Roadmap for polls Sunday

The Election Commission (EC) on Sunday will announce a tentative date for holding the stalled ninth parliamentary elections and declare the roadmap to the polls in which the date for completing the voter list with photographs would be mentioned.

Sources said the chief election commissioner (CEC) on Sunday would make the roadmap public in a press conference at the EC Secretariat. more

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Trouble at the grassroots

Moazzem Hossain

In recent weeks and months, the nation has been witnessing a reform fervour going through the minds of our politicians. This got further momentum immediately after the announcement made by Professor Yunus that he changed his mind with regard to running for politics. Presently, the old political forces are back in the ring again with proposals and counter-proposals of party reforms to begin afresh after the current ban in politics is over. more

Democracy without a support structure is unsustainable

Many complex factors -- such as rampant corruption and the undemocratic behaviour of politicians -- are responsible for the events leading to that fateful day on January 11 and they ought to be thoroughly analysed and clearly understood. However, another factor behind the collapse of the system appears to be that it lacked the necessary support structure for the democratic edifice created at the national level. more

Saturday, 7 July 2007

Let the nation not forget!



Let the nation not forget that both the ladies have sided with Jamat at one time or the other. In their hunger for power both have sided with anti-liberation forces. Both have betrayed the nation.

Bangladesh: Country Prepares for Political Reforms

Guest Columnist Dr. Anand Kumar writes at the South Asia Analysis Group site:
The international and domestic pressure has made the caretaker government adopt a less hawkish approach to the reform agenda. But it has not given up. The government is trying to give a legal basis for reforms within political parties. This will create an infrastructure which will help democracy within the political parties. This is a laudable effort of the caretaker government. ... more

Meaningless Political Reforms

Mustaq Ahmed writes from Bluffton, Ohio, USA:
There are fundamental issues of democratic pricipals missing from the current political reform debate in Bangladesh. No democracy can function unless the political parties put on their agenda the interst of Bangladesh first. This message is getting lost in the current debate over leadership. ...more

National Security Council

THE initiative to form a National Security Council (NSC) as has been stated by the Law and Information Adviser on the other day will be welcomed by the people. This is for the reason that such councils are more the rule than exceptions in many otherwise democratically governed countries. ...more

Friday, 6 July 2007

Reforms - What & When

All the democratic institutions have been deliberately destroyed in the last 15 years that the two major parties have been in power. The three pillars of state: The Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary have been used and abused repeatedly in the name of democracy. Those who actively participated in raping these sacrosanct institutions are today talking about reforms? ...more

People are not in a hurry

Brigadier General (Retd) Syed ABM Ashrafuzzaman's writes in his column:
These days everybody is talking about how to ensure a level playing field for all the political parties and their candidates in the next parliamentary election, whenever it is held. If an election is a game, only a level playing field cannot ensure fairness and success of it. To make it a meaningful and successful game the players have the most important role to play. Players who are addicted to crime, terrorism and corruption cannot make a game of politics like election a success. Such players must be disqualified to participate in an election, as a player in any game is disqualified if s/he is found positive in a dope test. ...more

Abdul Jalil quits Awami League

In a statement read out by Rehana, her husband criticised Hasina for her "authoritarian leadership". He did not elaborate. Analysts said Jalil's decision dealt a further blow to Hasina,already reeling from news that several former loyalists includingsome party presidium members were demanding drastic party reformsapparently aimed at ousting her from the top job. Jalil was arrestedby army-led joint forces in late May as part of an anti-corruptiondrive, in which more than 170 key political figures have beennetted. - MORE

Army-backed Reforms Imperil Democracy

By Farid Ahmed

An army-backed plan to marginalise the country's main political parties and their leaders may result in serious damage to the democratic fabric of the country, say observers. After failing to send two long-serving former prime ministers into exile the military-backed interim government has now set in motion plans to divide their parties by encouraging internal dissensions. A group of senior leaders of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), led by its secretary general Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan, has already unveiled a reform plan that will exclude party chief Begum Khaleda Zia, who has served two terms as prime minister, from positions of power. The reform plan proposes that the party president be elected by a national executive committee for a period of three years and serve not more than two terms. "If the party chief becomes prime minister, he or she would leave the party post immediately," the proposal says. This would mean Khaleda Zia can no longer become either party chief or prime minister in future, having headed the party for more than 20 years and served two terms as prime minister. A group within the rival Awami League party is working out a similar plan to keep out its chief Sheikh Hasina Wajed, also a former prime minister, from retaining situations of power. Similarly the Jatiya Party, the third largest political outfit in the country, has announced that Rawshan Ershad would now be itsleader, replacing her husband and former president H.M. Ershad. In a statement Ershad said the group led by his wife did not have the legitimacy to remove him."It's clear that the so-called reforms of the political parties are nothing but the plan of excluding the two top women leaders from politics as desired by the interim government," Harun-or Rashid, dean of the social science faculty of Dhaka University, told IPS. Rashid who teaches political science said it was obvious that the emergency regime was restricting political activity to a few hand picked people who are now going about reforming their respective parties. "With this discriminatory attitude, the present government has become a party instead of playing the role of an umpire for the next elections," he said.The interim government has imposed movement restrictions on both Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina -- arch-rivals who have ruled the country for alternative terms since 1991. The parties led by Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina shared nearly 75 percent of the total votes in all elections in the last one-and-a-half decades after democracy was restored in 1991 following the fall of a military dictatorship run by H.M. Ershad. The interim government headed by a former World Bank official took power in January with the help of the army and under a state of emergency, following deadly street violence over the conduct of general elections that were originally timed for Jan. 22. Fakhruddin Ahmed a former central bank governor has vowed to cleanse the country of corruption before holding polls towards end 2008. Since the inception of the state of emergency, the two major parties have seen most of their senior leaders arrested and jailed in the name of cracking down on corruption in the country. Those held include Khaleda Zia's eldest son Tareque Rahman and Awami Leaguegeneral secretary Abdul Jalil.While many were happy with the anti-corruption drive, some have questioned the open moves to create dissensions in the parties, instead of concentrating on getting the elections back on track as promised by Fakhruddin Ahmed. Many believe the move for forging new parties by several groups of people, including Muhammad Yunus, a Nobel prize-winning microcredit pioneer, was supported by the military-backed government.The foreign donors who initially gave unequivocal support for the interim government recently expressed doubt in many activities of the government.The United States has said that it does not want to see any sort of military involvement in Bangladesh politics, and thinks it will be a mistake."We've been pretty straightforward saying that any military personnel can retire or resign from military and decide to take to politics, that's their business, but direct military role in politics will be a mistake," said the outgoing U.S. ambassador in Dhaka Patricia A Butenis."I do not want to see anybody coerced or forced to join a new party, and certainly we do not want to see military involvement inpolitics. I have made this point before that the military should nottake any sort of political role," said Butenis who left Dhaka lastweek for her next assignment in Iraq. Attempts by the interim government to exile the country's two leading ladies failed because of widespread criticism both at home and abroad. Both Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia were slapped with criminal charges, including homicide and corruption, immediately after the attempt at exiling them failed."The process of ongoing reforms in political parties would create suspicion among people... the country needs not only structural changes in political parties, it also needs reforms in overall political culture," BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia told media. President of the Workers Party of Bangladesh Rashed Khan Menon said the ongoing efforts at reforms in different political parties were `'imposed''. ''These efforts are not spontaneous…They have not initiated the process of reforms on the realisation of what they have done in the past," he said. He said the ongoing activities in the name of reform would give rise to mistrust and lead to splits in the parties. "Politics ofconspiracy would hold sway," he warned. Prof. Ataur Rahman of Dhaka University, also president of Bangladesh Political Science Association, said, "It (commonality) is not unusual... in the past things happened in the major political parties the other way round -- powers were concentrated in dynastic leadership...These need to be corrected."But Prof. Rashid was doubtful about the prospect of reforms with its "minus-two solution'' aimed at the two women leaders. "It's not true that only the two top leaders were involved in corruption," he said "It's nothing new. The military dictator in Pakistan Ayub Khan came up with the same theory in 1959, barring a number of national leaders from polls… but he didn't succeed ultimately," he said."Those who are now talking about reforms never told this before,"Rashid said, adding, "now the question arises whether they are doing it in fear of something or under duress."The `New Age' daily in its editorial on Jun. 28 said, "The drastic reforms within the political parties are essential for the democratic growth of society and the state… they would have to be brought about in an open political environment and through the spontaneous movement of the leaders and activists of the parties who demand such reforms.""Forced reforms in a climate of fear, in our view, will fail to deliver democracy within the parties or in society," the editorial said.

Political future of Bangladesh in abeyance

The writer is Research Officer, IPCS

The last six months have seen a complete transformation of politics in Bangladesh. The fall from grace of Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia, engineered by the military-backed caretaker government (CG), has created a leadership vacuum in the Awami League and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) respectively with no prominent second-rung leaders to take up the reins.
It also means that the CG will have a free ride in the coming months with no worthy opponent to question its actions and policies. Since the declaration of emergency on January 11 and the subsequent ban on indoor politics, the political future of both Hasina and Khaleda has been in a state of limbo. The CG came up with a "minus-two" formula, a tactic to purge the two leaders and revamp the entire political system of Bangladesh.
The plan became evident when Hasina was not allowed to return to the country while on a private foreign visit. At the same time, Khaleda was being pressured to go into political exile to Saudi Arabia. However, neither attempt succeeded. The CG withdrew its ban on Hasina's return succumbing to international pressure while Khaleda, decided against going to Saudi Arabia in return for the release of her detained son Tarique Rehman and a safe passage for her entire family.
Presently, both leaders are in the country with a thick cloud of mystery and ambiguity surrounding their future plans. Khaleda's situation is more precarious when compared to Hasina as she is also facing an intra-party rebellion. The BNP is divided into pro-Khaleda and pro-reform camps with more and more joining the latter.
The pro-reform camp is led by BNP Secretary General, Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan, whose supporters have been openly criticizing Khaleda for her dictatorial style of functioning and for promoting her sons and relatives. A set of reform proposals for increased intra-party democracy, decentralization and transparency has been finalized by the "reformists" who are determined to implement the proposals with or without Khaleda's acquiescence.
Khaleda's options are limited considering most of her close aides have deserted her in the past few months. Tarique Rahman is unlikely to get bail and even if he does, the military will force him to leave the country immediately. The CG, aided by the military in this endeavor, is abetting the intra-party discord and striving hard to force Khaleda into exile realizing that that BNP without Khaleda will be a political non-entity. Meanwhile Sheikh Hasina has been non-committal about her future course of action and it appears that the CG too does not know how to deal with her.
After first banning her entry into the country, the CG has now imposed restrictions on her from leaving the country. Meanwhile, Hasina too is being challenged within her party by a group of dissident leaders who reportedly drafted a reform proposal without her consent. Realizing that such a move might jeopardize whatever little chance she has to salvage her political career; Hasina has come out strongly in support of intra-party reforms and in the coming months, one can expect to see a greater devolution of power within the Awami League.
Although Hasina's stature will be weakened considerably, it would be premature to rule her out from the political equations of the Awami League or the elections in 2008, unless there is a military coup. So far, the military has appeared disinclined to take over the mantle of governing the country. The Army Chief, Lt Gen Moeen U Ahmed has clearly stated that the army is merely "assisting" the CG and that it is not the appropriate institution to rule the country.
Assessing the performance of the army objectively in the last five months, one has to admit that it has greatly improved the law and order situation in Bangladesh. It put an end to the confrontational politics of the BNP and Awami League and brought relief to ordinary citizens by banning street politics. The anti-corruption drive netted some of the most important leaders of BNP and Awami League and though the ban on indoor politics is still in place, it is not necessarily a bad thing. Lifting the ban may see a resumption of the street politics that had plagued Bangladesh from October 2006 till the declaration of emergency on January 11.
However, in the longer term, the army or the CG cannot be entrusted with the task of governing the country, given the inexperience in governance of the former and the impermanent nature of the latter. Problems of inflation, pricing of essential commodities, power outages and providing social security to over 150 million people is a job that would be best accomplished by democratically elected representatives of the people.
Politics in Bangladesh appears ideologically deficient and directionless. While the credibility of the BNP has been greatly undermined by the arrests of several of its leaders, the Awami League has to reinvent itself in order to stand a good chance in the 2008 elections. In any case, like in Pakistan, Thailand and Fiji, it appears that the military in Bangladesh will continue to be the custodian of political, social and economic stability for some time to come.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Awami League presidium member Tofail puts forward his reform proposal

Another presidium member of Awami League (AL), this time in Tofail Ahmed, has made public his reform proposals.
Addressing a press conference at his Banani residence, Tofail once a firebrand student leader, said currently the political parties are at a crossroads and there is no alternative but to carry out reforms.
Like his presidium colleague, Tofail's proposals include the one that says no one would be allowed to hold the posts of president and general secretary for more than two terms in a row.
He however stressed that his proposals do not intend to have the party minus any particular individual. He added that his will be placed before the central working committee meeting as per the AL constitution.
At the news briefing, the AL leader came down heavily on different moves by the party chief. Without mentioning Hasina's name, he said that the AL has been rendered controversial through sales of nominations to those who had never been involved with it.
He also said leaders and workers of the party have been made stand against the military-backed caretaker government through provocative speeches.
TOFAIL’s PROPOSALSTofail said his reform proposals aim to make sure that democracy is practised at all levels of the party, and establish collective leadership to promote transparency and accountability in decision-making.
A proposal is that the party funds should be deposited in a bank under supervision of the party treasurer, who will report quarterly at party meetings.
They also suggest a set of amendments to the AL constitution not to allow anyone to hold the posts of president or general secretary twice in a row. The same rule shall apply to those at district and upazila levels.
Anyone down to the secretary level cannot simultaneously hold posts in the party and government.
All committees will be elected through secret ballots. Anyone accused of having a role against the Liberation War or war crime will be considered ineligible for membership of the party. Likewise, criminals or black money owners will not be eligible to contest elections on the AL ticket.
A member convicted of criminal offence by the highest court will be disqualified from holding any post in the party and getting nomination for any election.
In the proposals, he also calls for national recognition of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as the father of the nation, execution of those condemned to death for the gruesome killings on August 15, 1975, and punishment to those responsible for killing four national leaders on November 3, 1975.
He also suggests abolition of communal politics and establishment of a secular, democratic Bangladesh.
Some other proposals that he has come up with relate to economic, administrative and judicial overhaul, electoral reforms proposed by the Election Commission, and functioning of the Anti-Corruption Commission. Besides, Tofail proposed amendments to the national constitution to define the balance of power between the president and the prime minister.

Monday, 2 July 2007

Lifting of Ban on Indoor Politics

By Adnan Anwar

The ban on indoor politics should only be lifted after promulgating a Political Parties Act for the registration and conduct of a party in a democratic society. The ordinance should clearly include a framework on what should be incorporated in the constitution of the parties.

It is imperative that the regulation should also safeguard from any single individual attaining absolute power within the party. It has already been proven beyond doubt that the kind of power enjoyed by both the top ladies has rendered the concept of democracy a fatal blow. They have only managed to run a dictatorial and autocratic regime in the guise of democracy. This should not be repeated again and it should also be made sure that the same dose not happen within other parties.

True and sustainable reforms should be ensured.

Sunday, 1 July 2007

Need Separate Laws For the Political Parties

Written & Posted by: Feroz M. Hassan founding member of Bikolpo Dhara Bangladesh. He is ex-Secretary General of FEMA.


It’s now time to have a formal legal framework for establishing Political Parties as legal entities. This law should define the rights and privileges of the political parties. In a representative democracy well-organized and accountable political parties are essential.

Introduction:

Political parties galvanise and organize the participation of citizens in the political life of a country and the multiparty system presently is undoubtedly one of the major pillars of contemporary democracy. Within this context, it becomes necessary to define the rules that govern the activities of political parties so as to ensure their proper functioning in the country.

Political Party; Party system

A political party generally refers to an organization that organizes citizens and mobilizes voters on behalf of common set of interest or ideologies. Parties play an important role in political life by setting public policy agendas, nominating candidates for public office and even monitoring the work of the elected representatives.

In western democracies, political parties emerged at the end of an extended process, growing out of craft guilds, professional associations, local government and various interest groups. In developing countries, parties generally have grown around a particular leader or leaders or as the outgrowth of a civic movement to change the governing system.

In our country political parties first came into being during the British colonial period. In course of time it was under the banner of parties the autonomy and independence movement were organized. In the post independence period with the establishment of multi-party framework a process of positive political development was initiated marking a significant departure from the dysfunctional party system in erstwhile Pakistan. But unfortunately the process was thwarted by introduction of one party system and subsequent intervention in civil politics.
Political Party law:
Interestingly, political parties are not mentioned in the constitution, a constitution which defines in details the role of every area of the Government. The Constitution includes no language, for example, identifying Bangladesh as a multi-party state. Nor is there any legal guidance as to the formation of political parties or their status as legal entities for financial, contractual or other legal purposes.

However, the election process in Bangladesh is highly party driven, with recent history demonstrating characteristics of a two-party system. Over the last 15 years, three competitive were held. On scrutiny of the candidates that ran for election, it is observed that the overwhelming majority of the candidates were party nominated leaving only about 1-2% (real) independent candidates.
The political parties play very important role within the political system in the election and parliamentary systems.
Given the role of parties in the Parliament, and their extraordinary influence in the nomination of candidates, the conduct of the campaigns, and the mobilization of voters through demonstrations, and rallies, it is time that the parties fall under some degree of formal accountability within the system. As a matter of principle reflected a common view that parties cannot effectively participate in and promote a democratic system unless they are democratic institutions themselves.
The time has now come for an overall comprehensive set of laws to define the precise role and status of parties in the political system.

The proposed political parties laws should not serve to inhibit the constitutional guarantees regarding freedom of association; nor should they promote the intrusion of the state into the internal organization or affairs of the political party.

Efforts are under way for reforms. Reforms of the election laws, rules and also the procedures related to election. With my experience over the years, I suggest that we make a separate law for registration of political parties. This is more appropriate, than just to amend the Peoples Representation Order making it compulsory for party to register. Mere amending the RPO just for election will be inadequate and will not provide the rights & privileges of the political parties. The proposed laws should be able to clearly distinguish the rights of the parties as well as the responsibilities.

It is appropriate that political parties are registered with the election commission under the proposed political party laws which will also clearly describe the requirements & procedures for registration. Political party laws should include the issue of the internal party organization, which must confirm to the democratic rules besides policy making process through holding of national convention or party congress to ensure participation and representation of constituencies up to grassroots members. The proposed laws should also address various other issues such as transparency in the process of its operation and specially electing the leaders, accountability specially of funds and its sources.

Another major issue is about the process of nominating candidates for various elections.

The success of representative democracy largely depends on the effective party system. The parties help hold the political system together and keep it working. It is primarily the task of the political parties to participate in political will formation by the people and as such they put forward candidates for political office and organize election campaigns.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

BNP 15-pt Reform proposal

Pro-form BNP leaders led by party Secretary General Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan yesterday announced their 15-point reform proposal for the party. Following is the full text of the proposal:
1. The changes that are to be brought in the existing party structure:
a. There are provisions for village councils and village executive committees in Article 1 of Section 6 (a). To be added here: Formation of 31-member ward executive committee.
b. Sub-section a (10) of Article 6 empowers the chairman to nominate 10 per cent of members in all eight stages of leadership, from thana executive committee to the National Standing Committee. This section will be abolished.
c. Section 10 (c) of Article 6 authorises the chairman to nominate different subject committees with members from the National Council, if necessary under circumstances of important national problems. The subject committees may be formed, among others, on the matters concerning national planning and finance, health and population control, rural development, flood control, food and agriculture, eradication of illiteracy, education, labour welfare, women, youth community, international affairs and welfare of children. Experts on different sectors, competent and efficient people, who are not members of the party, could be co-opted in these committees. But, under no circumstances the number of such members should exceed one-third of total members of the committee. Co-opted members will enjoy all other facilities like other members. To be added: The chairman will take approval of national standing committee before nominating the committees. Activities of the committees will be specified.
d. Article 6 (11) mentions that the party chairman will nominate members of the National Executive Committee. This provision will be replaced with the following: Councillors will elect all members of the National Executive Committee.
e. Article 6 (12) states that the national standing committee, nominated by the chairman, will be comprised of 15 members. Instead of this provision, members of national standing committee will be elected through a national council. A person, who is not member of the national executive committee, will not be eligible to become a member of the National Standing Committee.
f. Committees in all strata of the party will be elected through council of respective stages.
2. Article 6 (14) points out that the parliamentary party shall comprise the elected party lawmakers. The parliamentary party shall select its leader, deputy leader, chief whip and other whips after consultation with the party chairman. This provision will be replaced by: Members of the parliamentary party will elect their leader, deputy leader, chief whip and other whips.
3. It is stated about the party chairman's advisory council that there shall be a advisory council comprising 15 members with the status of vice-president for giving advice to the chairman on different issues. But, on special demand the party chairman has the authority to increase the members of the advisory council. They will be nominated by the chairman and will be treated as ex-officio members of the national executive committee.
Instead of this provision, the chairman will be able to appoint advisors on demand with approval of the National Standing Committee and this will have to be approved in the next Executive Committee meeting.
4. Article 8 (a) says that the party chairman shall be elected for a two-year term with common majority of direct votes by the national council members. Anyone can be elected for another tenure after completing the term. The following provisions will replace this provision:
8 (a) (1): Party chairman will be elected for a three-year term winning common majority votes of the members of the national council.
(2) No one can continue as chairman for more than two terms or six years. This provision will also be applicable for those who have been already in the post for two terms or more than six years in the aforesaid post.
5. The elected prime minister will run operations in government and parliament in consultation with the party's chairman and National Standing Committee on policy issues.
6. If elected the prime minister twice, a person can no longer be the prime minister or the party chairman.
7. In sections 1,2,3,4 of 8 (b), it is mentioned that (1) as the party's highest official, the chairman will control, supervise and coordinate all party affairs, and to that end, will officiate over the national council, National Standing Committee, National Executive Committee, subject committees and other committees nominated by the chairman, and will control, supervise and coordinate their operations. (2) The chairman can also take punitive measures against members of the aforementioned committees if necessary. (3) As the president of the mentioned committees, the chairman will also assign the committee members' responsibilities, power and duties. (4) If he/she thinks necessary, the chairman can dissolve the National Executive Committee, National Standing Committee, subject committees and other committees nominated by the chairman.
8. Section 13 of Chapter 6 states: There shall be a parliamentary board to nominate candidates for national parliamentary elections or any other elections. The party's Standing Committee shall be the party's parliamentary board. But, when a district's candidate is asked to appear before the parliamentary board, that district's party president, first three vice-presidents, and general secretary will be considered as members of the parliamentary board. But, if a member of the parliamentary board runs for election, he cannot be present at the meeting when the candidate nomination for their constituency is being decided. The party chairman will be the parliamentary board president. The parliamentary board will serve to nominate the candidate for national parliamentary elections or any other elections and their decisions shall be considered final.
To be added: Measures are to be taken to reflect the wishes of the leaders and workers from the constituencies.
9. Council of all the committees must be completed by the time allocated by the party constitution.
10. The party treasurer will collect the organisation's funds and maintain its accounts. A bank account shall be opened in any commercial bank and the account shall be operated with the joint signatures of two among the president, treasurer and the general secretary, but one of the signatures must be of the treasurer. An audit of the party's account must be held annually, and the audit report has to be published within six months of the completion of a fiscal year. The party's fund will be created through the donations and grants of members.
To be added: All donations will be acknowledged with a receipt. All income and expenditures of all organisational units will also be annually audited for the fund's transparency. A specific guideline must be drawn up to collect funds and the fund's maintenance must adhere to the rules and regulations set by the standing committee. An annual budget must be prepared and all income and expenditure accounts presented before each meeting.
11. Party ministers, MPs, Standing Committee members, Executive Committee members, subject committee members, district committee members, and thana committee members will have to submit their annual wealth statements to the National Executive Committee.
12. The inclusion of family members and close relatives of leaders on all levels of the party must be discouraged.
13. Section 2 of the Article mentions that if required in case of an emergency the party chairman can make a change to the party constitution, but the decision must be accepted at the next meeting of the national council as described in Section A.
This section will be cancelled.
14. The candidates' wealth statements must be submitted to the party during all nominations, and on behalf of the party, a committee will determine their veracity.
15. The reform programmes that the Election Commission will undertake through discussion with the political parties will be adjusted with the party constitution.

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Leadership of Hasina, Khaleda hangs in balance: Move to free AL, BNP from dynastic control

As Published in the




By Shahidul Islam

Leaders of the BNP and the Awami League are busy preparing separate roadmap for democratic reforms in their respective parties with a view to freeing the two major political parties from autocratic dynastic control and corruption. Insiders yesterday said senior leaders, who were involved in preparing the documents of the roadmap in both the parties, were ready to bring about reforms even without their respective party chiefs-BNP Chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia and Awami League (AL) President Sheikh Hasina if they do not agree to the proposals.Begum Zia and Sheikh Hasina, who alternated as Prime Minister of the country during the last 15 year from the restoration of democracy in 1991 and dominated national politics featured with violence due to their personal rivalry, were now widely blamed for high profile corruption.Reformist leaders-Suranjit Sengupta, Mukul Bose and Mahmudur Rahman Manna of the AL and Lt Gen (retd) Mahbubur Rahman, Major (retd) Hafiz Uddin and Ashraf Hossain of the BNP told journalists separately that their proposed reform document was aimed at establishing joint leadership and democratic practice in their respective parties from top to bottom. Besides, the party constitution will be democratise, corrupt elements will be purged from both the parties. And the parties will be freed from leaders appointed on family background. They have identified the centralisation of excessive power in single hand (of Khaleda and Hasina), both as Prime Ministers and party chiefs and their practice to promote family members in the government and party leadership as the major reasons for triggering an all-pervasive corruption and reducing democracy both within the government and the parties.Meanwhile, the two former Prime Ministers have been considerably marginalised by efforts to reshape politics from their own parties, corruption charges and the interim government move to make governance free from corruption.However, there is a second group in both the parties, who support Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina despite the high-profile corruption charges against them and their wrongdoings, including the autocratic practices. There is also a third group, in both the major parties, which have not yet decided as to which sides they would take.In the meantime, reformist leaders in the BNP are now conducting a signature campaign on document, which reportedly asks party Chairperson Khaleda Zia to relinquish her position and expel her elder son Tarique Rahman, the Senior Joint Secretary General, for their involvement in corruption.Over 100 former ministers and MPs as well as leaders have already signed the document. Led by BNP Secretary General Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan, the reformist leaders will decide their next course of action if Begum Zia does not comply with their request. "Begum Khaleda Zia has lost moral right to lead the party following the recent corruption stories involving her," said Lt Gen Mahbubur Rahman, who is a member of the BNP National Standing Committee, the highest policymaking body of the party."She cannot shrug off her responsibility for the debacle in both the BNP government and the party," he added. Another reformist leader Joint Secretary General and former Whip Ashraf Hossain said autocratic dynastic control from the BNP should go once for all.However, party Vice Chairman and former Minister, also a reformist, said the arrest of a number of party leaders on different ground has made their task difficult.BNP Joint Secretary General Gayeswar Chandra Roy, however, blamed senior leaders, including the votaries of reform, for non-practicing democracy in the party. AL Acting General Secretary Mukul Bose and Organising Secretary Mahmudur Rahman Manna said they were preparing a reform document that would be distributed at all levels of the party.Mukul Bose said three Presidium members-Abdur Razzak, Tofail Ahmed and Suranjit Sengupta have prepared a document for reform in the party."The document will also be given to party President Sheikh Hasina and she will be asked to clarify her position on the issue," he said, asserting that they would bring about reforms without Sheikh Hasina if she does not agree. He told a private TV channel last night that the AL would remove Sheikh Hasina from the post of party President if her corruption charges against her were proved. Mahmudur Rahman Manna said they have contacted many leaders and all of them were in favour of reforms.Although Begum Khaleda Zia's position on the issue could not be known, Sheikh Hasina opposed the move initiated by the senior leaders of her party saying, "I my self initiated the process of reform both inside the party and the country."

Party symbols should not be allowed in the ballot papers

In the next election the Ballot papers should not have party symbols instead have candidate photo and name. Now that we are going to have new voters list with photo and every eligible voter will get ID cards with photo, there is no need to have party symbols in the balloting paper. By making the necessary change in the election laws parties will be unable to put up rubbish candidates (even Kola Gaz) This will also discourage the present system of giving nomination to highest bidder. Undue influence of money over popular leaders will be reduced.

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Pro Reforms Group Programs

Pro Reforms Group (“Shongskar er Pokkhe Amra”) has been established by a group of activists seeking political reforms both within and outside the parties through non partisan programs. Pro Reforms Group is an independent platform and dose not belong to any particular political party. Mr. Feroz M. Hassan, Founding Secretary General of FEMA, is the Chief Coordinator of the Pro Reforms Group.

In order to disseminate ideas for reforms and to gather public opinion the Pro Reforms Group has established this internet blog at http://www.proreformsgroup.blogspot.com

Pro Reforms Group invites all, irrespective of party affiliations and support, with an active interest in and intent to ensure positive reforms to communicate their ideas and comments freely. Everyone is welcome to participate or be a part of the group.

The Pro Reforms Group is also organizing the following grass root programs to generate interest and participation:

a) Round tables at the district level to discuss political reform issues.
b) Workshop at thana level on Political Education.
c) Democracy Camps at different districts.
d) Education and Training programs for political activists.
e) Young Democrats Program across the country to educate the youth on democracy,
electoral process, etc.
f) Institute study circles.

These programs will start very soon and will be a continuous process. The programs are aimed not only at generating public awareness, but also in ensuring peoples participation in establishing a transparent and accountable democratic system in Bangladesh.

In this connection, the Pro Reforms Group seeks assistance from all.

Saturday, 9 June 2007

Democracy should be the only way to Power

Political parties in a democratic system should not only preach democracy but also practice the same in a transparent and clean manner. The founders of Bikolpo Dhara (now LDP) have always propagated clean politics and projected their leader as “Rajnitir Porichonno Purush” translated “the Clean Man of Politics”. Surely, these leaders are aware that the only way to replace an elected government is by means of a democratic movement culminating in a general election.

To everyone’s disbelief, it has now been revealed that the BDB leaders were actually busy doing just the opposite. They were involved in clandestine and undemocratic moves to overthrow government by buying out the then BNP MPs at a cost of Ten million Taka (Tk.1 crore) each, better known as the “April 30 Trump Card”. Also revealed that funds were being raised for the purpose from businessmen known for their unscrupulous practices. Apparently, some politicians belonging to different political parties were also involved in conspiracy.

Time will tell who else fueled all this. Democratic means of forming a government indeed!

The world has witnessed “Watergate”, a scandal of international proportions. This is worse than that. The nation should now realize that these so called democratic and clean politicians are actually rotten to the core. They are no alternative – they are all the same. The people who have led thus far have not only cheated the nation, they have also cheated their own party men. For politics to go forward in a democratic manner, it is absolutely essential that it is done so without these leaders.

Friday, 8 June 2007

LDP Leaders Talk Democratic Act Autocratic

Bilkopo Dhara Bangladesh (BDB) was formed to give to the people an alternative. They propagated clean leadership and democratic behaviour and stood firm in their fight against corruption and militancy. For over two years, the party fought it out and sustained in the most difficult of times. This was possible because the founders had a few good men believing in them and the ideals that they said they stood for. People perceived BDB as an alternative where people from all walks of life, profession and party willing to pursue clean politics would converge.

Meanwhile, while the party workers were busy promoting clean politics, the leadership was busy in clandestine and undemocratic moves to overthrow the government by buying out other corrupt MPs from the governing party – better known as the “April 30 Trump Card”. This has recently come to light through the ongoing investigations by the joint interrogation cell. Reading the daily newspapers the party workers were appalled as they were not aware of such moves earlier.

Even though they did not achieve any success then, the moves later on let to the formation of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). DBD party men dedicated to the principals that were the basis of the foundation of BDB raised their concerns about the inclusion of certain corrupt and militant politicians migrating from BNP. At that time, they party leadership had reassured them that the ideals of BDB would be carried forward into LDP and that the questionable leaders would be dealt with at a later stage as at that point in time the breaking of BNP was the need of the hour.

However, the dedicated party men continued to raise their concerns. Their concerns came to pass during the nomination process. Alas, LDP had turned into nothing more that what BNP was. It had, to their dismay, turned into a party where money was the primary driver in positioning oneself into the good books of the leaders.

The saga continued in spite of the shift in the political arena thereafter. Divisions became visible between the two distinct groups – Dr. B. Chowdhury vs Dr. Col. Oli. The ego war and the battle for party leadership continued and ideals and principals propagated went out the window. Promises made to the people in the past two years were forgotten as usual.

Alarmed, the few good men started to write to the leaders. They started raising their voices for reforms. Their voices where perhaps mute as the leaders either did not hear them or simply ignored them. This put the workers at the different levels of the party including people within the National Executive Committee to raise their concerns to the press. The agenda – reforms. The issue – democratic behavior within the party.

The leaders, by now having changed their colours, were angered. How could the petty party workers raise their voice against the imperial leaders, the high and mighty? The actions that followed were very much Machiavellian. Silence them, pick one and expel the person from the party for his audacity so that no one else dares to raise their voice anymore. On the 5th of June, 2007, ATM Kamal, the Publicity Secretary of the National Executive Committee, was expelled. A unilateral decision taken by the President, the Executive President and the General Secretary.

It is now clear, that the LDP leadership preaches democracy but practices all ways and means of undemocratic methods with the sole intent of attaining power.

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Party Should Undertake Urgenty Needed Reforms

Statement Issued by
Feroz M. Hassan,
Founder member of Bikolpo Dhara Bangladesh
Jt. Secretary General National Executive Committee

Today the nation is united in its demand for political reforms, for establishment of democracy within the parties and to get rid of the autocratic leadership that has dominated politics for so long.

In spite of the current scenario, the Publicity Secretary of the National Executive Committee of the Liberal Democratic Party has been suddenly expelled. The expulsion is un-lawful as, to my knowledge, it was not done as per the provisions of the party constitution and was not discussed even at the National Executive Committee. The expulsion was a unilateral and autocratic decision taken by the President, the Executive President and the Secretary General without due regard to democratic party norms.

I totally and absolutely refute this unilateral decision and demand an immediate withdrawal of the expulsion of ATM Kamal and his reinstatement.

The charges against ATM Kamal are based on the facts that he had the audacity to raise his voice in favour of reforms and against certain corrupt and militant leaders who have joined LDP. Like many others in the party, ATM Kamal raised his voice when it was apparent that the initial values and ideals that was instrumental in creating Bikolpo Dhara have been totally forgotten by the party higher ups who like AL and BNP started establishing autocratic dictatorship, nepotism and corrupt practices like granting nominations in return for money.

ATM Kamal, I believe, was singled out and targeted so that other vocal pro- reform leaders in the party are silenced. The whole episode is a manifestation of the fact that LDP leadership has taken a hypocritical approach in talking about reforms and believing in just the opposite. Their actions are merely a proof of that as they totally contradict what is said by them. They have used dedicated leaders like ATM Kamal and others to deliberately and falsely position themselves as clean and honest in the minds of the electorate.

I further demand that the President, the Executive President and the General Secretary refrain from undemocratic behaviour and indulgence in corrupt practices, rather work to fulfill the promises they made in the past two years. They should further focus on uniting the party, bring in necessary reforms and leading the party to fulfill the aspirations of the people.

July 19, 2007 - Coalition for Good Governance Seminar

Seminar on Political Reforms will be held at the VIP lounge of the National Press Club at 10:00 a.m. The seminar is hosted by the Coalition for Good Governance. Dr. Akbar Ali Khan will be the chief guest. Pro Reforms Group is a member of the Coalition. The papers, points of view and details of the seminar will be published at this blog.
For all the resources on reforms, governance & democracy including papers, articles and links please click here