Govt’s spat with The Economist escalating

Friday, August 12th, 2011





Dhaka, Aug 13 (UNB)- The government’s ongoing spat with The Economist is set to escalate, with the publication of two articles in its latest issue criticising Sheikh Hasina’s handling of the return to democracy through “the fairest poll” in the country’s four-decade history.


The issue dated August 13th, 2011 also contains the second rejoinder issued by the Bangladesh government against the article “Embraceable you”, that appeared in the July 30th 2011 issue of the influential London-based magazine, where the government’s initiatives aimed at improving ties with India over the last two years came in for some harsh criticism.


In its latest issue, The Economist carries an article in its ‘Leaders’ section titled “Reversion to type”, on what it calls the “poisonous politics of Bangladesh”.


According to the article, Sheikh Hasina’s government has overseen the hope of strengthening democratic institutions being dashed, while the fear that she would use its huge mandate for partisan advantage has been “fully borne out”.


The influential London-based weekly magazine reserves special vitriol towards the 15th amendment to the Constitution, bunching it together with the League’s efforts at “crushing the opposition”, and to seemingly “provoke an election boycott”.


The leader also condemns the opposition, saying Khaleda Zia presided over a “brutal kleptocracy” from 2001-06, and characterises the polity in Bangladesh as a “family vendetta disguised as a two-party system”.


The second article titled “In the name of the father” appears as a column in the Asia section of this week’s edition, and continues in The Economist’s recent vein of ridiculing what it calls the “personality cult” being built by Sheikh Hasina around her slain father, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. One consequence of this cult, according to The Economist, is that few institutions are trusted as independent.


The ouster of Muhammad Yunus from Grameen Bank too is not spared, and the “kindest view” of the government as described in the article is of one “clumsy to the point of self-harm”.


Its overall view of the country however, is generally positive in both pieces, pointing out that few of the country’s 160 million citizens are Muslim fundamentalists, economic growth of nearly 7% annually, and in the RMG sector, being home to the world’s third-largest clothing-export industry.

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