Nation this week
The Red Sea Gateway Terminal International (RSGTI), a Saudi-Malaysian company, and Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) signed a concession agreement to manage and operate the Patenga Container Terminal. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and visiting Saudi Investment Minister Khalid A. Al-Falih witnessed the signing ceremony held at the Prime Minister's Office. RSGTI is an international terminal operator representing a partnership between the Red Sea Gateway Terminal of Saudi Arabia and the Malaysian Mining Company.
RSGTI will operate the Patenga Container Terminal for the next 22 years. In May this year in Doha, Saudi Arabia offered to make large scale investment in various sectors of Bangladesh as the country has a stable government and good record of economic growth. The visiting Saudi invest minister and Minister of Economy and Planning Faisal Alibrahim came up with the offer when they jointly called on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina while she was in Doha recently.
The government has decided to award a licence to Starlink, operated by American aerospace company SpaceX, the brainchild of billionaire Elon Musk, in a development that could create some competition in the internet business in Bangladesh. Starlink is a satellite-based internet constellation which provides broadband connections to people in over 60 countries. The decision came at State Minister for Telecom and ICT Zunaid Ahmed Palak's first meeting with the BTRC after he was entrusted with the responsibilities of the Posts and Telecommunications Division following Mustafa Jabbar's resignation from the post.
Starlink's arrival in areas with traditional telecom and cable internet will foster competition, potentially leading to improved service quality and expanded access, according to Palak. It enables connectivity in regions where traditional telecom and cable services struggle to reach, potentially empowering people in remote locations by providing them with high-speed internet, thereby unlocking educational, economic, and communication opportunities.
The government repatriated 398 Bangladeshi irregular migrants from Libya in nine days with the latest group of 145 migrants reaching the country by a chartered flight of Buraq Air on Wednesday (Dec. 6), according to the Foreign Ministry. The irregular migrants were at a detention centre in the North African country and their repatriation was possible following efforts from the Bangladesh Embassy in Tripoli and support from the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), it said in a press release.
On November 28, a group of 143 Bangladeshis were repatriated in a Buraq Air chartered flight while another group of 110 Bangladeshis returned home following the same process on November 30, the release adds. IOM provided Tk 6,500 each to the migrants as "pocket money" and some food. The release says more such Bangladeshi migrants will be repatriated from Libya soon as efforts in this regard are underway. Libya has fallen into a state of lawlessness in the throes of a civil war.
The CIVICUS Monitor has downgraded the civic space in Bangladesh to 'closed' and placed it among the 28 most restricted countries in the world. In a new report released on Wednesday, the Johannesburg-based global watchdog said the downgrade is the result of a massive government crackdown on opposition politicians and independent critics in the run-up to national elections in January 2024. The report - People Power Under Attack 2023 - details civic space conditions in 198 countries and territories. The findings for Bangladesh detail the ruling party's onslaught on all forms of dissent in 2023 ahead of the January vote.
According to the report, the authorities have targeted human rights defenders, journalists, protesters and other critics using intimidation, violence, arrest and torture, while security forces detained thousands of opposition members on fabricated charges. "Our data shows the Sheikh Hasina regime stops at nothing to hold on to power," said Josef Benedict, Asia-Pacific researcher for CIVICUS. "No free and fair elections can take place in the current environment."
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