Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina set for UNGA speech on September 30
28 September 2015, Nirapad News: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is set to address the UN General Assembly on September 30 as she drew a global spotlight receiving the UN’s Champion of the Earth award when influential foreign monitors say, in domestic front, majority people are happy with her as the premier.
Officials familiar with her draft speech said issues of global security, governance, women empowerment, poverty, migrant workers, climate change and the Millennium Development Goals would largely feature her address to the global community from the UN podium.
Sheikh Hasina’s UN speech this year comes amid expanded international acknowledgement of her leadership which was widely highlighted as influential British newspaper the Guardian carried a series of reports in the past one week, saying most people in Bangladesh were happy with her in the driving seat.
“The country (Bangladesh) is a millennium development goals success story. Now its prime minister (Sheikh Hasina) is aiming high with the SDGs – but (she) says donors must play their part,” the newspaper said in its September 27 online issue, ahead of her UNGA address.
In another report it published on September 23, the British daily commented “with the economy growing annually at about 6 percent, with living standards rising for most from an admittedly low base, and with the country relatively stable compared to the upheavals of the past, most Bangladeshis appear content to have Hasina in charge”.
The Guardian acknowledgements came three weeks after the US-based IRI (International Republican Institute) revealed a survey report of theirs saying, “the ruling Awami League government gained support among a majority of Bangladeshi respondents”.
“The (IRI) poll results also indicated positive public feelings about Bangladesh’s current economic position and optimism about both the respondents’ and the country’s economic futures,” the US research group said.
The British newspaper, which also extensively interviewed Sheikh Hasina for its reports, outlined Bangladesh success under her premiership saying “she is credited internationally with helping Bangladesh achieve key UN anti-poverty and development goals and appears to enjoy a high level of domestic support”.
The Guardian described Sheikh Hasina as “Bangladesh’s formidable, long-serving head of government” while in her interview with its journalists Simon Tissdal and Anna Ridout she said “my job is to assist the common people. I do politics for the people, not for me”.
“People are enjoying democracy now. What people want is their basic needs. So I’m trying to help people ensure their basic need, that means food security, healthcare, education, and job opportunity and a better life,” the Bangladesh premier said.
She said by 2021 Bangladesh would be a middle-income country and by 2041, it would be a developed country and “all the democratic institutions are working and people are satisfied and people are enjoying it”.
“The Guardian reports speak the mind of the Western world and our Prime Minister should be credited for taking Bangladesh forward as the newspaper has reported,” foreign relation analyst and press minister of Bangladesh High Commission in London Nadeem Qadir told BSS by telephone.
He added: “Western world now want to see political stability and economic growth in Bangladesh, an emerging economic power, and they support the prime minister for her leadership”.
Internationally, the Guardian wrote, Sheikh Hasina “seems to have the tacit support of the US and Britain, which recognise the importance of a rising power with an important textile industry”.
“They (UK and US) just seem to be hoping there will be a better election in 2019 . . . Sheikh Hasina’s importance as a partner for the west in fighting Islamist extremism trumped their concerns about the democratic deficit,” the newspaper said referring to of a “western official”, who spoke preferring anonymity.
The daily found India and China also to be simultaneously “supportive of the government, and both are seeking to increase their business and investment stake in the country”.
The Guardian also took a critical look into Bangladesh’s internal politics noting that BNP stayed off the 2014 election and instead launched sometimes violent demonstrations and nationwide strikes along with “its controversial Islamist party ally, Jamaat-e-Islami” to try to force new elections “so far to no avail”.
It recalled that BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia “refused, in furious tones” the talks’ proposal when Sheikh Hasina called her up before the polls and offered her ministries “in an interim, joint administration as a way of overcoming BNP suspicions” over the polls.
Robert Watkins, a senior UN official based in Dhaka, told the newspaper that he did not foresee further political trouble in Bangladesh saying “I don’t think there will be an explosion”.
“As long as the economy is improving, as long as people can come to Dhaka and get a job, as long as the government keeps people busy and fed, they will be less concerned about democracy . . . getting on with life is more important,” he said.
The daily found several of Sheikh Hasina’s political critics to be her reluctant admirers and citing an example it wrote “despite his misgivings, the Daily Star Editor Mahfuz Anam, like other critics, expressed grudging admiration for Hasina. . .”
“She is popular in the country, the army is under her thumb, development is a success story . . . Hasina is first. No equals,” the newspaper quoted Anam as saying.
In an apparent reference to prolonged military rule in Bangladesh, the Guardian also pointed out the current army role as a leading global peacekeeper under political rule.
“The military’s top echelon supports her (Sheikh Hasina), the top guys were all appointed by her,” it said quoting an anonymous former general.