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.

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Foregone Conclusion!

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

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

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