Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has ruled out the possibility of any recurrence of 1/11 in the country, saying that the government is taking stern action against corruption in advance to avoid repeat of such an incident.
“I can say it [clearly] that 1/11 won’t happen again. If any irregularity takes place, I will take action, we will take action, no matter who they might be, even if they belong to my party. If I want to punish the corrupt, it will have to start from my home,” she said.
The PM was addressing a press conference at the Permanent Mission of Bangladesh to the UN in New York on Sunday afternoon (local time).
She said some people were becoming owner of a huge wealth by taking the opportunity of distribution of money starting from preparation of projects to securing contracts.
“This money is also being stashed in sacks and we had seen it after the 1/11 changeover.”
The PM said it is in the habit of some people to show off their suddenly-got wealth. “We need to hit this section of the society.”
Mentioning that she did politics for the people and she came to power after being elected by them, Hasina said she always thinks about people’s well-being.
“We should be alert there is no bad effect on my party or on the society for our long stay in power. I also have to tackle this. That’s why I am conducting this drive [against corruption].”
Hasina said some people might become unhappy with her due to the drive. “But I don’t care about it as I don’t have any fascination for power and wealth.”
The anti-graft drive was underway and it would continue, she said, adding that there was no need to form a special committee in this regard.
“Whenever we get any information about corruption, we take action against it… we have formed National Security Cell and we are giving directives on time.”
The PM said there was nothing to be worried about the drive.
She said import of sports goods is very good for the development of sports and games in the country, but it was unimaginable that gambling equipment would come in the name of importing sports items.
The government had carried out drives against terrorists and militants to prevent anarchic situation in the country, the premier added.
“Drive against narcotics is going on and we are on the verge of becoming successful. Now, we have started the drive against corruption.”
Replying to a question, Hasina said Myanmar created the Rohingya crisis and it would have to bear the responsibility.
About a Myanmar leader’s comment at the 74th UN General Assembly that Bangladesh’s demand for creating a safe zone in Myanmar for Rohingyas was “baseless”, Hasina said it is a matter of shame and dishonour as well as weakness for Myanmar that their citizens have taken shelter in another country as refugees.
“It’s a big question to us why they are not taking back their nationals from Bangladesh.”
The PM said Bangladesh was continuing discussion with Myanmar on Rohingya issue and international pressure was being created on them.
She said Myanmar should build confidence among the Rohingyas so that they can return to their homeland. “It’s a matter of shame for Myanmar that the Rohingyas have no confidence in their own country.”
LETTER TO TRUMP
Responding to another question, Hasina said she handed over a letter to US President Donald Trump during the luncheon hosted by the UN secretary-general.
About the content of the letter, she said the government was trying to bring back the absconding killers of the Father of the Nation from the USA. She said she gave him the letter regarding this issue.
The PM said the US is always very much vocal about human rights issues. “Then how the killers of the Father of the Nation, women and children could stay in this country?”
In this connection, she said one of the killers was staying in Canada. “Killers of Bangabandhu are staying in different parts of the world. So we’re requesting all to send them back. These killers are not safe for those countries either.”
She said it would be possible for Bangladesh to execute the verdict of the court if those countries extradited the killers of Bangabandhu.
Hasina said it was military dictator Ziaur Rahman who had initiated loan default culture in the country.
“After capturing power illegally, Ziaur Rahman had said money is no problem and he started the culture of not repaying loan.”
She said the government was taking adequate measures to free the country from this culture.
Referring to high bank interest rates, the premier said it was not possible for many to repay loan due to high bank interest rates. “As a result, they become loan defaulters.”
The PM said many think that there is no need to repay loan. There are many companies who run business after taking loans, but they are not repaying loans, she added.
“You have recently seen what Grameenphone is doing. They don’t pay tax and when the tax amount becomes huge, they say let’s have talks. You can do this once or twice, but not repeatedly.”
Hasina said there was another problem that when a state of emergency was declared in 2007, many businessmen became loan defaulters as they were arrested or fled the country during that time.
“We have given scope to them so that they can run their industries where thousands of workers work, and trade and commerce are not hampered.”
She said the government was taking special steps to bring discipline in the banking and financial sector, and to make sure that there was no new loan defaulter.
“We have already given directives to bring down interest rate to a single digit, and the state-owned banks are following the instructions.”
About stock market, the PM said those who were involved in the business would have to invest very cautiously.
“They will have to see which shares are profitable and which are not. They will have to purchase shares considering this,” she said, adding that the government offered many facilities to stock market traders.
Hasina mentioned that the stock market in the USA crashed many a times and the market turned around also.
Talking about Bangladesh’s missions abroad, she said her government has been making efforts to construct own mission buildings in different countries.
Earlier, the premier in her written speech highlighted her participation in the 74th UN General Assembly and different side events as well as her meetings with world leaders, including UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha.
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen, Bangladesh Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Masud Bin Momen and PM’s Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim were present at the press conference.
PM REACHES ABU DHABI
Meanwhile, the PM yesterday reached Abu Dhabi on the way back home after completing her eight-day official visit to the US.
A flight of Etihad Airways carrying the premier and her entourage touched down at Abu Dhabi International Airport around 7:50pm (local time).
The PM will depart Abu Dhabi for Dhaka by a VVIP flight of Biman Bangladesh Airlines. The flight is scheduled to reach Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at 5:35am today.
Hasina had left home for New York on September 20.