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Be aware, so any irresponsible person doesn’t come to power: PM

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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today criticised the then BNP government’s irresponsibility about 1991 devastating cyclone management, urging the countrymen to be cautious in voting such a party to power which chief said so many people didn’t die what was thought.

“I urged the countrymen to be alert as any such person (Begum Khaleda Zia) couldn’t come to the power (again) who showed irresponsibility saying so many people didn’t die as it was thought (in the 1991 cyclone,” she said.

The prime minister made the call while inaugurating 50 Mujib killa, 80 flood-shelter centres and 25 district relief godown-cum-disaster information centres, marking the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction 2022.

The day is being observed in the country as elsewhere across the globe today.

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The Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief organised the inaugural programme at the Osmani Memorial Auditorium here as the premier joined it virtually from her official Ganabhaban residence in the city.

Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh has placed its position as a disaster resilient country on the global stage.

“The world believes that whatever disaster appears, Bangladesh is able to tackle that. But, we have to continue the efforts,” she said, urging people to be aware of choosing the right person in the government.

The premier said Bangladesh had witnessed a devastating cyclone in 1991 likewise of 1970, when the then BNP government was not aware of it at all and for this, 1.5 lakh people were killed and many others were washed away.
 
Sheikh Hasina, also President of the Awami League, said leaders and workers of her party stood beside the cyclone affected people prior to the government, adding, she herself visited various Islands in Chattogram and helped the distressed people.

The prime minister said, “When I told the parliament that thousands of people died in the cyclone, at that time, the then Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia replied so many people didn’t die, as it was supposed.”

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State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Dr Md Enamur Rahman and its Secretary Md Kamrul Hasan, spoke at the function.

On behalf of the prime minister, Dr Enamur Rahman handed over awards to 83 CPB volunteers for their contribution to disaster risk management.

A video documentary on the disaster risk reduction activities was screened at the function.

The International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction is being observed since 1989, after a call by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) for a day to promote a global culture of risk awareness and disaster reduction. In 2009, the UNGA officially designated 13 October as the date to commemorate the day.

The 2022 edition focuses on “Early warning and early action for all”.

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Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh is a disaster prone country due to its geographical location and the country used to face flood, cyclone, water-logging and salinity alongside the manmade disasters like arson attacks.
 
She said Bangladesh would certainly advance towards prosperity confronting all natural and manmade disasters as her government has been working to achieve the target.
 
The Prime Minister said Bangladesh will march ahead facing the troubles stemming from the Russia-Ukraine war, sanctions and counter sanctions.
 
As part of the move, she said, her government has already started working on the implementation of the Mujib Jolabayu Sammriddhi Parikalpana Dasak-2030 (Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan Decade-2030) following the footsteps of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
 
“This plan is not only climate centric rather for transforming Bangladesh into a developed and prosperous country,” she said and vowed to make the programme a grand success.

In this connection, she said Bangladesh has formulated a 100-year-long Delta Plan-2100 aimed at protecting the country from the adverse impact of climate change.
 
She said six hot spots have been identified across the country considering the level of disasters alongside taking a National Disaster Management Plan 2021-25 to reduce disaster risks, response to disasters and post-disaster rehabilitation and development.
 
 The premier said her government has been working to revive canals, beels and water-bodies across the country alongside dredging the rivers to increase the capacity of holding waters.
 
Due to the dredging of the rivers, she said, transportation of goods and passengers will be easier while many areas will be saved from being flooded.
 
Giving a brief description about her government’s measures to tackle the adverse impact of climate change, she said the government has formed a climate trust fund with own financing.
 
“We are very aware of climate change. It will not be wise to be dependent on others over the issue and we formed a trust fund with our own financing,” she said.
 
The Prime Minister asked all concerned to make sure that the environment of Bangladesh would not be hampered, saying that the Awami League has started planting trees across the country for three months from first Ashar, the third month of Benali Year, since 1985 to protect the environment.
 
She said early warning is vital to reduce disaster risks, adding that Bangabandhu had trained 45,000 volunteers through then Red Cross (now Red Crescent) so they can inform people prior to disasters and take them to cyclone centres.

 The premier said her government has also taken various measures that included launching Bangabandhu Satellite-1 to the orbit, opening radios, televisions and telecom services to the private sector and giving training to hundreds of CPB volunteers to spread disaster related information following the footprints of Bangabandhu.
 
Referring to the 1997 cyclone during the period of her government, she said they could save lives of the people following the early warning system.
 
The Prime Minister said Bangladesh is one of the worst affected countries likewise the small island and Himalayan ones though it has no contribution to the adverse impact of climate change.
 
She said the developed countries which contributed to the adverse impact of climate change have given the promises of giving enough money to compensate for their wrongdoing, but their promises are mostly unfulfilled.
 
The premier, however, sees hope due to signing of the Paris Agreement.

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Politics

Vast majority of Bangladeshis want good relations with neighbours: FM tells South Asia Correspondents

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Foreign Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud has said the vast majority of the people of Bangladesh now understand that it should have good relations with neighbours – for its own prosperity as well as that of the region.

He said his party (Bangladesh Awami League) is painted as a ‘pro-Indian’ party but AL is a pro-Bangladeshi party.

“There are anti-Indian elements. We specifically see this issue during elections. But the anti-Indian sentiment is gradually diminishing in Bangladesh,” he told the members of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of South Asia during an interaction in New Delhi on February 9.

The Foreign Minister said the tablet or capsule of blaming Awami League as a pro-India party does not work anymore like the past.

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“Today, the vast majority of the people understand that for the prosperity of Bangladesh and the region, neighbours should have good relations,” he said while responding to a question.

Asked about balancing relations, the Foreign Minister said Bangladesh-India relationship is not comparable to any other relations.

“Bangladesh’s relations with India are bonded by blood and shared sacrifice during the War of Liberation in 1971,” Hasan said.

He said although China is not Bangladesh’s immediate neighbor but it is a neighbor and a development partner of Bangladesh.

The Foreign Minister said they face a lot of challenges due to the wave of fake news. He said this is a problem even in Europe and shared how fake news was spread during Covid-19.

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He mentioned that this is an area where all need to work together. “We can work together to fight against fake news.”

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Last national election was open for all AL members for sake of democracy: PM Hasina

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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday (9 Februay) said if she did not allow her party members to take part in last month’s election as independent candidates the democracy of the country would have been snatched away.

“If the election was not open for all (AL members), then not only the election would have been stained, the democracy of the country would have been hijacked too,” she said.

The prime minister was delivering her introductory speech at the extended meeting of Awami League at her official residence Ganabhaban.

This election was important to maintain the country’s status as a developing country, she said.

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“We should not forget the election manifesto that we announced before the election to retain this achievement. Every year during the budget formulation we follow the election manifesto,” she said.

Hasina, also the chief of ruling Awami League, said that her party has also opened the upcoming upazila elections for all her party members to make it participatory.

“It will also be scrutinised how much work has been done for the common people in the last 15 years while in power, and who could not deliver. Through it we will see who is accepted by the people,” she said.

She issued warning against any sort of confrontation in the upcoming local government elections.

“We do not want any kind of confrontation. Stern actions will be taken against the individuals responsible for it no matter who they are,” she said.

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Claiming that the 12th parliamentary election was free, fair and impartial, Hasina said that those who want to dispute the election, they must give clear evidence.

She said that elections have been held in many developed countries of the world, but these are yet to be accepted by their opponents.

“Even the post-election violence has resulted in murders. But the election in Bangladesh was very fair. Public administration, the armed forces, law and order enforcement and all those involved in the election have performed their duties impartially,” she claimed

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Political crisis nearing climax: Rizvi

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The BNP today said the country’s long-standing political crisis is now nearing its climax as people are taking to the streets risking their lives to resist a one-sided election.

“The chief election commissioner surrendered to Sheikh Hasina instead of protecting the interests of the people and taking proper steps to ensure a free, fair, and participatory election,” Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, senior joint secretary general of the party, said in a virtual press conference.

The BNP leader alleged that the EC announced the schedule for the next election ignoring the continuous movement for free and fair elections.

Rizvi also alleged that the commission announced the election schedule on the instruction of the government, ignoring the appeals of the country’s civil society, the international community, and foreign diplomats.

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“When the CEC announced the schedule, he should have also mentioned the time of voting, whether it will be at night, or during the daytime, or early morning.”

The BNP leader said the government has established a regime where those who demand free and fair elections are being attacked.

He said their ongoing movement to restore the power and rights of the people will be a warning for all the autocrats.

Rizvi said the BNP leaders and activists are being arrested indiscriminately. “If they [law enforcers] can’t detain them, they are arresting their fathers, fathers-in-law, younger brothers, and even women in the house.”

He said law enforcers arrested more than 12,900 leaders and activists in 289 cases across the country since October 28.

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