Rights movement a must to institutionalise democracy

daily star

Speakers tell publication ceremony

Staff Correspondent

Guests hold copies of two books by Dr Badiul Alam Majumder at a publication ceremony at the National Press Club in the city yesterday. From left are Dr Shahdeen Malik, Prof Amirul Islam Chowdhury, Prof Muzaffer Ahmad, ATM Shamsul Huda , Prof Khan Sarwar Murshid, Dr Badiul Alam Majumder and Dr Hameeda Hossain. Photo: STAR

Citizens’ rights movements must be strengthened and spread countrywide to continue political reforms and institutionalise democracy, said eminent citizens yesterday.

People of the country are not politically educated not only because of negligence of the political parties, but also because social activists do not play their due role in this regard, they added.

The observations came at the publication ceremony of two books written by Dr Badiul Alam Majumder, secretary of Shushashoner Janney Nagorik (Shujan), at the National Press Club in the city.

The books titled ‘Democracy, Election and Good Governance’ and ‘Local Government: Past, Present and Future’ were published by Agami Prokashoni.
Shujan President Prof Muzaffer Ahmad said, “We would indirectly blame the political parties for not educating the citizens, but unfortunately our social activists have also not done it.”
Taking this opportunity, vested quarters exploited the democratic rights of citizens, he said, adding: “We don’t want any feudal democracy and that people are confined in symbols in electing their representatives.”

Prof Muzaffer criticised the present government’s role in involving members of parliament (MPs) in the upazila-level local government.
Stating that the quorum is not completed in the parliament because of the MPs’ involvement in other activities, the eminent citizens’ rights activist said, “There is no alternative to strengthening the local government.”
“All conscious citizens must get united to remain vigilant for good governance and democracy,” he added.
Speaking as the chief guest, CEC ATM Shamsul Huda said the EC has done some good works in the recent past by bringing electoral reforms, but this is a continuous process for strong democracy.
“We have completed a phase, but there are many works to be done yet. For example, the peoples’ representatives must come from the grass-roots levels and the parliament members should be constituted of 33 percent women members,” he added.
Appreciating the activities of Shujan, the CEC said the organisation was very helpful in the EC’s reform process.
He further said, “The problem of those who claim themselves elite is that they talk long words, but do not know of the issues in details.”
Prof Amirul Islam Chowdhury, former VC of Jahangirnagar University, criticised the government for not passing the Local Government Commission Ordinance.
Human rights activist Dr Hameeda Hossain said political parties want democracy, but do not take effective steps to truly strengthen democratic institutions and educate people to develop a democratic culture.
The mentality of the political parties to go to power through elections and not really working for democracy must be changed, she added.
Appreciating the role of Shujan, particularly Badiul Alam for writing the books on crucial issues of democracy and good governance, Editor and Publisher of The Daily Star Mahfuz Anam said, “We need more such people for a true change.”
The subjects of the books speak of the knowledge that is very important for the daily life, he said, adding: “We have achievements, but not in line with our immense potential.”
Badiul Alam said, “I wanted that the books would help creating citizens’ activism for democracy and development.”
Noted jurist Dr Shahdeen Malik also spoke at the programme with former chairman of TIB Prof Khan Sarwar Murshid in the chair.

Reference by: The Daily Star, 13 March 2009

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