President approves Digital Security Act
President Abdul Hamid on October 8 signed the Digital Security Bill into law amid widespread criticism that it curbs freedom of speech and expression and media freedom guaranteed by the constitution. Termed draconian at home and abroad, the bill was passed in parliament on September 19, ignoring concerns of journalists and rights defenders and keeping a harsh provision that allows police officials to search or arrest anyone without a warrant. The bill was sent to the president on October 4 with a number of local and international bodies requesting him to send it back to the House. TIB, ARTICLE 19, RTI Forum, Amnesty International, Ain o Salish Kendra and Human Rights Forum were among the organisations.
Claim Over St Martin's: Myanmar ambassador summoned
Myanmar has come up with another false claim showing Bangladesh's St Martin's Island as part of its territory, prompting Dhaka to lodge a strong protest. The government on October 6 summoned Myanmar Ambassador in Dhaka U Lwin Oo and strongly protested the incident. Rear Admiral (retd) M Khurshed Alam, maritime affairs secretary at the foreign ministry, summoned the Myanmar envoy to his office in the afternoon and handed over a strongly worded protest note to him. St Martin's Island was part of British-India when Myanmar got separated in 1937. This means it was part of India, an official told UNB. “A clear line was drawn in between.”
Khaleda taken to BSMMU
BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia was shifted to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) from Dhaka's Old Central Jail for treatment on October 6 in line with a High Court order. The BSMMU authorities formed a five-member medical board to assess her health condition. Khaleda, 73, has been suffering from problems in the knees and other ailments for long, according to government doctors who treated her since she landed in jail on February 8 in a corruption case. Her personal doctors who met her in jail said she suffered a “mild stroke” on June 5. Her admission at the BSMMU comes two days after the HC ordered the government to immediately take the BNP chief to the public health facility.
Quota circular issued amid protests
The government on October 4 issued a circular abolishing the quota system for class-I and class-II jobs in the civil service amid demonstrations for reinstating quota for the freedom fighters' descendants and indigenous communities. The public administration ministry issued the circular with immediate effect. According to the circular, the recruitment from grade-9 (class-I) and grade-10 to 13 (class-II) at all government departments, autonomous or semi-autonomous institutions, and various corporations will be based solely on merit. The government documents now mention "grade" instead of "class" while referring to the tiers in public service. Meanwhile, Chairman of Bangladesh Public Service Commission Muhammed Sadique said recruitment through the 40th BCS would be done based on merit, reports UNB.