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Paush 15, 1421 Rabiul Awal 6, 1436 Regd No DA 6238 Vol 2, No 265






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11 | OP-ED

12 | SPORT



How not to carry out a rescue

State minister defends government rescuers n Ashif Islam Shaon

Shahjahanpur Railway Colonoy when he was playing nearby. His lifeless body was retrieved around 23 hours later by a group of volunteers after the Fire Service had called off the rescue operation. The well was around 500 feet deep, but the boy did not fall to the bottom right away, said a firefighter seeking anonymity. “Halfway through the depth, there

The state minister for home defended the government rescuers who failed to rescue Jihad even after a 23-hour hectic effort. However, shortly after they called off the search operation a group of untrained volunteers pulled Jihad out of the deep well using an improvised devise. “They can’t be blamed for the failure. They tried hard till the end and by the grace of almighty Jihad’s body could be recovered,” State Minister for Home Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said yesterday. He came up with this remark when people from different walks of life were criticising the government rescuers and the state minister for their failure. The failure had also created a hype all around especially on the social media demanding the home minister quit his post admitting failure. “After working several hours the fire fighters realised that they did not have enough experience to rescue a victim in such conditions. This type of incident has never happened in the country.” The Fire Service has sought cooperation from other organisations and people from different government organisations worked to their capacity,” the minister said. “It was we who first asked the rescuers to use a catcher. This system had been applied two to three times since 10am (Saturday) but failed to yield any result.”



Firefighters made every decision wrong as time ran out for Jihad Jamil Khan and n Mohammad Faisal Mahmud A lack of coordination among rescuers and an absence of proper training and equipment to conduct an operation of such kind led to Jihad’s death, professionals have concluded. Dhaka’s Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (Wasa) has a borehole camera which it uses to inspect the depths of narrow water supply or sewerage shafts in the ground. The camera was brought to the Shahjahanpur Railway Colony in the city yesterday when firefighters were trying to pull up the four-year-old from deep inside the abandoned well dug nearly a year ago for pumping out underground water. Little Jihad had fallen into the well around 3:30pm on Friday, and the Fire Service began the rescue operation half an hour or so later. Professionals said firefighters should not have pulled up the submersible filter and the pipe attached to it or done anything else at all without

BNP-led nationwide dawn-to-dusk hartal today n Tribune Report A woman and her two children received burn injuries in the capital’s Mirpur area yesterday as alleged supporters of today’s hartal set fire to the CNG-run auto-rickshaw they were riding. Shamun Nahar, 55, was going to Mirpur with her son Tazibul Haque, 23, a student of Jahangirnagar University, and daughter Anika. The family were on the way to a relative’s place after their appointments at a Shantinagar pathology centre. Miscreants on two rickshaws hurled a petrol bomb at the CNG around 8pm, said witnesses. They had also exploded a few crude bombs to create panic and impede their path. The BNP-led 20-party alliance called a countrywide dawn-to-dusk strike for today, protesting the bar against their rally in Gazipur and demanding that all detained BNP leaders and activists be released. The strike, starts at 6am and ends at 6pm. In a separate incident, a bus was set ablaze at Purana Paltan in the capital yesterday evening around 6:30pm. Two firefighting units doused the blaze. Morshed Alam, officer-in-charge of Paltan police station, said there was no reported injury in the incident.  PAGE 2 COLUMN 1

knowing Jihad’s actual position inside the well. Sending the borehole camera down the well and knowing where Jihad actually should have been the first priority, they said, adding that it was particularly important also because Jihad was alive for a while. The filter and the pipe were removed around 7:30pm and the camera could not be sent down before midnight. Quamrul Islam, a professor of mechanical engineering at Buet, told the Dhaka Tribune: “In such a situation, the priority should have been knowing the exact depth of the well and checking its structure. If the depth could not be ascertained, the next thing to be done was to know the exact position of the kid by sending down the borehole camera before doing anything else.” Experts from the LGRD Ministry and Dhaka Wasa also took part in the operation. They had formally called off the operation around 2:50pm on Saturday, saying they did not find any trace of a human being inside the 16-inch wide pipeline.  PAGE 2 COLUMN 1

Monir Hossain, uncle of four-year old Jihad who died after falling inside a several-hundred-feet well in the capital’s Shahjahanpur on Saturday, breaks into tears while carrying his nephew’s body for burial to his home Shariatpur yesterday DHAKA TRIBUNE

Autopsy says Jihad drowned n Mohammad Jamil Khan Four-year-old Jihad, who was trapped and killed inside an abandoned water pipe in the capital on Saturday, drowned and also suffered a head injury, a forensic report has concluded. A three-member forensic team led by Professor Dr Habibuzzaman Chowdhury, head of the Dhaka Medical College forensic department, conducted the autopsy yesterday morning.

China proposes FTA with Bangladesh n Tribune Report China has proposed signing a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Bangladesh to promote trade between the two countries and reduce trade-gap tilted against Bangladesh. The proposal was made at the bilateral talks between the two countries at the Foreign Ministry yesterday. “China wants to start negotiation on FTA. We will explore the proposal,” Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque

The Chinese side indicated that they are considering a big investment in the economic zone told reporters after meeting his visiting Chinese counterpart Wang Yi. He said no decision was made yet whether Bangladesh would start the negotiation right now. During the three-hour talks, Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali led the 19-member Bangladesh side and Wang Yi the 13-member China team.

The talks mainly covered various bilateral issues, including expansion of bilateral trade and business, connectivity, especially in road and railway sectors, expanding cooperation in energy and industrial sectors and celebration of 40 years of Dhaka-Beijing diplomatic relations. The two foreign ministers also reviewed the progress of some memorandums of understanding and letters of exchange inked during the official visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to China in June this year. Shahidul Haque said the Chinese side expressed satisfaction over the process of establishing an exclusive economic zone for Chinese investors. “They think there will be a solid decision next year on the matter, and hoped that it will take off,” said the foreign secretary. He said the Chinese side indicated that they are considering a big investment in the economic zone. Shahidul said Bangladesh proposed rail and road connectivity through Chittgaong-Cox’s Bazar-Myanmar-Kunming. “Our foreign minister proposed it, and the Chinese side initially responded positively, especially on the road connectivity,” he added.  PAGE 2 COLUMN 6


6 | Nation

Thousands of migratory birds are flocking to Baikka Beel at Srimangal upazila in Moulvibazar.

2 | News

Despite government statistics claiming that the country was now exporting manpower to 160 countries, a recent study has claimed that the actual number of manpower destination was only 13-14.

3 | News

Employees of railway are illegally renting out their allotted flats to outsiders for earning some easy money, thanks to lax monitoring and inaction of the authorities.

9 | World

15 | Entertainment

8 | World

13 | Sport

Nato formally ended its war in Afghanistan yesterday after 13 years of conflict that have left the country in the grip of worsening insurgent violence.

Air crews began lifting passengers off a burning ferry adrift in the Adriatic Sea yesterday, racing to rescue as many of the hundreds trapped on board as possible before nightfall.

4 | News

The parliamentary watchdog on railway yesterday decided to free all railway lands and other properties from illegal occupiers.

‘Mor Thengari’ alias My Bicycle, the first feature film entirely made in Chakma language, was premièred at the 13th Dhaka Short and Independent Film Festival.

Not content with four titles in 2014, including his second Champions League, Cristiano Ronaldo is determined to make next year an even bigger success.

5 | News

Part of the DIT Road from the Malibagh level crossing to Padma-Surma Cinema Hall remains largely unusable for almost two months.

Dr Habib told the Dhaka Tribune: “We have found injury marks outside and inside Jihad’s head. Those injuries also affected him, but he actually drowned after falling into water inside the pipe.” “We suspect that the boy died within a couple of hours after falling into the pipe,” he said. Around 3:30pm on Friday, Jihad fell through the open abandoned well in the middle of a playground inside the




Monday, December 29, 2014

Weak diplomacy blamed for limited labour market n Adil Sakhawat Despite government statistics claiming that the country was now exporting manpower to 160 countries, a recent study has claimed that the actual number of manpower destination was as low as only 13 to 14 countries. The figures were found in a study titled “International Labour Migration from Bangladesh 2014: Achievement & Challenges,” carried out by Dhaka University-affiliated research group Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU). It also showed that migration from the country was still limited to the already established markets.

The most popular overseas employment destinations were Oman and Qatar, while around 84% manpower was exported to Middle East New labour markets were not being explored while the existing markets were not being expanded because of poor labour diplomacy, said Dr Tasneem Siddiqui, chair of RMMRU, in a press conference to unveil the study. “Sometimes I go to attend many international seminars, meetings where I have to speak as expert on migration issues. But unfortunately I never found our diplomats to talk with the stakeholders who are present in those programmes... But countries like Sri Lanka, Philippines’ diplomats arrange separate meetings with those stakeholders to strengthen their migrant markets further. Our diplomats attend those programmes only for two to three hours, or sometimes for the first phase of the daylong programmes. “Really for this weak diplomacy, we lose our potential manpower market by which we can achieve 10% remittance

easily to become a country of middle income,” Tasneem added. The RMMRU study showed that compared to last year, migration rate increased only 1% this year, which was 32% less than in 2012. The highest overseas employment took place in 2008 when over 850,000 people migrated; this year the number of migrants was 411,000; in 2013 it was 409,253; in 2012 it was 607,798. The most popular overseas employment destinations were Oman and Qatar, while around 84% of all the manpower was exported to Middle East countries. Export to Saudi Arabia and UAE saw no significant progress, with the countries taking in 2.62% and 1.10% of total Bangladeshi migrants respectively. The rate of women migrants, however, increased during 2014. Figures from the RMMRU showed that as of November this year, 67,583 or 17.70% of the total migrants were women; last year, women made up only 13.78% of all migrants in the country. Bangladesh currently ranks seventh among remittance-receiving countries, drawing in $14.5bn from overseas workers as of December 19 – a figure which is 5.3% higher than last year. The RMMRU observed that most of this remittance came in from the well-established markets, while remittance from the newer markets were being smuggled in. The research group also observed that no case has been filed so far under the new migration law since it was passed 16 months ago. “We had submitted a draft to the government before passing the migration act where we recommended many things to prevent illegal migration; but when the act was enacted, we found many inequalities which pave way for the miscreants to get released from charges,” RMMRU Chair Tasneem said. The country’s image was at risk of being tarnished as illegal brokers were now using cargo vessels to send women workers abroad through new illegal routes in Chittagong, she added. l

Chinese foreign minister stresses on talks n Mohammad Al-Masum Molla

Miscreants set fire to a bus in the capital's Paltan intersection yesterday evening ahead of BNP led 20-party alliance’s nationwide shutdown today DHAKA TRIBUNE

AL: Country will reject hartal n Abu Hayat Mahmud The Awami League yesterday said the people would reject BNP’s hartal today, and the ruling party would politically resist the hartal as well. In an emergency meeting of the party’s Dhaka city unit at its Bangabandhi Avenue office yesterday afternoon, leaders and activists of the party and its student wing and other associated organisations were instructed to remain alert during the hartal to “prevent anarchy in the capital.” Speaking at the meeting, Awami League’s Dhaka city unit Joint General Secretary and Food Minister Quamrul Islam said: “If BNP tries to create violence and anarchy in the name of the illegal hartal, all its leaders involved in the violence will meet the same fate as Goyeshwar and Alal.” BNP Standing Committee member Goyeshwar Chandra Roy and the party’s youth affiliate Juba Dal President Moazzam Hossain Alal were arrested on charges of attempted murder of Awami League lawmaker Chhabi

Biswas in the December 24 clash between Awami League and BNP activists in the capital’s Bakshibazar area. Each was placed on a three-day remand. Quamrul said: “BNP has started hatching a new conspiracy in the name of movement. Will people take to the streets answering Khaleda Zia’s call? Even BNP activists did not take to the streets during hartal in Gazipur.” In the evening, the 14-party alliance’s central committee leaders held a meeting at the political office of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in Dhanmondi.

Jan 5 rally rescheduled

The rally on January 5 planned by Awami-League-led 14-party alliance has been rescheduled the next day, and the venue has been changed from Suhrawardy Udyan to the Central Shaheed Minar, Nasim said at a press conference following the Dhanmondi meeting yesterday. “The BNP-Jamaat alliance wants to create violence by organising a counter programme on January 5,” he said. l

Visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has stressed on talks among the major political parties in Bangladesh to resolve misunderstandings and divisions, a BNP leader told reporters yesterday. “China believes political stability and negotiation are very crucial among the major parties to keep the continuation of economic development,” BNP Vice-Chairman Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury quoted Wang Yi as saying after the latter’s meeting with BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia at her Gulshan residence. The Chinese delegation invited Khaleda to send a delegation to their country, said the BNP leader, who was present at the meeting. BNP acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, Standing Committee members Lt Gen (retd) Mahbubur Rahman, Dr Abdul Moyeen Khan, Nazrul Islam Khan, and Khaleda’s advisers were also present. l

Police brawl with New Age journos in alleged raid attempt n Tribune Report Hot words were exchanged yesterday between journalists of the English-language daily newspaper New Age and officials of Tejgaon police station at the newspaper’s offices, in what newsmen are calling an attempt at forced entry. Reporters of the national English daily claim some 20 police officials attempted to force their way into the newspaper office around 8:30pm, without any prior notice or warrant. They said law enforcers forced their way past the reception area and into the paper’s newsroom when several journalists including Deputy Editor Farid Ahmed stopped them and asked to see identification. Police officials told them they had come to search the office and were under Tejgaon Industrial Area police station officer-in-charge Md Salahuddin, journalists who were present said. The newsmen asked to know the reason for the search and asked to see

the search warrant. But the law enforcement officials reportedly misbehaved with the reporters, saying they did not need to produce a search warrant, according to New Age staff. The police video-taped the reporters and then left the office premises after nearly 20 minutes, the newsmen said. Asked about the incident, Officerin-Charge of Tejgaon police station Md Salahuddin told the Dhaka Tribune that the incident was a “misunderstanding.” He denies his personnel entered the building and claims the exchange of words took place outside. “Our personnel went to the New Age office on getting information that Jamaat-Shibir men were gathering near building number 30 [the newspaper office]. When they tried to enter the area, the New Age’s journalists came out and spoke to us with hot tempers,” he said. “I believe if they just listened to us clearly, no misunderstanding would have taken place,” he added. l

BNP-led nationwide hartal

Autopsy says Jihad drowned  PAGE 1 COLUMN 5

was a submersible water filtre, 5 inch in diametre, which was held from the surface with a 2-inch diametre pipe. That filtre acted like a platform to which Jihad was clinging. “But when the thinner pipe and the filtre were being removed around 7:30pm to make some space inside the well, the filtre ceased to be steady. Jihad could not balance himself on the wobbly pump anymore, he fell into the water a few feet below and drowned,” said a firefighter who took part in the operation, requesting anonymity. However, this explanation does not correspondent with the forensic report according to which Jihad should have drowned sometime around 5:30pm. According to a source from the DMC morgue, Jihad’s shoulders – the widest part of his body – were around 7.5 inches wide. So, as the Dhaka Tribune understands, there are chances that the lit-

tle boy might not have clung to the filtre at all and fell into the water right away. After autopsy, Jihad’s body was taken to his village home in Gosharhat of Neparpara in Shariyatpur district for burial. Earlier, his uncle Monir Hossain received the body from the Dhaka Medical College morgue. Meanwhile, Jihad’s father Nasiruddin Fakir filed a case with the Shahjahanpur police station against the owner of AR Traders – the contractor who installed the pump in the Shahjahanpur Railway Colony – and a railway official charging them of negligence in duty. The accused are Abdus Salam, 57, owner of AR Traders; and Jahangir Alam, senior sub assistant engineer of Bangladesh Railway. Mehedi Hasan, OC of the Shahjahanpur police station, said: “We have already started investigation and the responsible ones will be put behind bars shortly.” l

State minister defends



ed building up hopes, banking on us,” Dhrubo wrote in the long note. Saying no credit goes to them, he also wrote: “We have no idea who pulled up Jihad in the end...No matter who did it, there is no way we can say the device they used was designed by us...As far as I have understood from news reports, it was entirely an effort by the local people. So, if someone deserves the credit, it must be those people.” The Dhaka Tribune has learned that the technicians from Icon never stopped working on the catcher although the firefighters’ boss had told them to. It was eventually with that catcher that the volunteers retrieved Jihad’s body. Buet professor Quamrul suggested that an electronic equipment called a “hinge” could have been used. It is a remote-controlled device that has a human-mouth-like chamber than can go down depths and shovel a human body into it. Fire Service DG Brig Gen Khan, talking to the Dhaka Tribune yesterday, refused to accept this as a failure of his men. “We do not have the training and equipment to conduct such an operation...Although, some volunteers rescued the boy, we have worked together since the beginning and did not refuse anyone who wanted to join in... We even permitted two students when they said they were from Buet and

wanted to help,” he said. Asked why they had called off the operation, the Fire Service DG said: “It is true that we suspended the rescue operation, but it meant that we only stopped looking for a human body because Wasa’s borehole camera did not give us anything. Our search for Jihad’s body was still on and we were planning to pump out all the water from the well. “Moreover, this was a totally unforeseen case not only for Bangladesh, I can strongly debate that such an incident has never happened in the entire sub-continent before...We have the experience of bringing out a human body from a manhole, but this case is so strange. It was so tiny in size and it was so deep.” He also said: “We have already made a decision to launch a project to provide training and purchase fitting equipment to conduct an operation in such a confined space.” When contacted, Wasa Managing Director Taqseem A Khan told the Dhaka Tribune: “We have the equipment to pull out a motor or other machines from a depth of 300-foot or 600-foot using hooks; but we have no equipment to pull out a human. “I think such accidents can be prevented by sealing off abandoned pipelines,” he suggested, claiming that no pipelines under Wasa’s authority are left open anywhere. l

The bus was set on fire at the Purana Paltan intersection while it was carrying secretariat staff. Some youths set the fire to the bus. Morshed Alam further said some miscreants had blasted a number of crude bombs on the road in front of Gazi Bhaban – near the BNP Headquarters – at Nayapaltan around 5pm. No one was injured and the miscreants had fled before police arrived. In two other incidents, crude bombs were set off on Dhaka University campus after dusk. At Shibbari, pickets injured Reena Chowdhury, 28, and Sathi Akhter, 20, by throwing crude bombs. A rickshaw-puller named Harunur Rashid was injured near the TSC in another incident.

Today’s hartal

This is the second hartal enforced by the alliance since the January 5 elections boycotted by the BNP and affiliate political parties.

The alliance was scheduled to hold a public rally on December 27 demanding fresh elections under a non-partisan government. The rally was barred as section 144 was imposed in Gazipur to avoid possible unrest as the Chhatra League also announced a rally at the same venue on the same day, protesting BNP Senior Vice-Chairman Tarique Rahman’s indecent remarks on Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. In protest, the alliance called a hartal in Gazipur for Saturday and demonstrations across the country. On Saturday, BNP acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir announced a fresh hartal across the country. Border Guard Bangladesh officials said BGB men had been deployed in major cities, including the capital, to maintain law and order, and they would remain posted until the further notice. Meanwhile, Dhaka Sarak Paribahan Malik Samity announced that it would continue regular service ignoring the strike. l

How not to carry out a rescue  PAGE 1 COLUMN 2

Just 10 minutes later, a few volunteers retrieved Jihad’s body with an improvised mechanical “catcher.” Confusion prevailed as to whether or not any expert from the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) were consulted. Buet Registrar Dr AKM Masud confirmed that the firefighters never officially sought any assistance from them and no team of experts went there. He said two of their students went there on their own. When contacted, Prof Dr Md Ehsan, head of Buet’s mechanical engineering department, told the Dhaka Tribune: “Nobody sought our assistance. But we held a meeting with two of our senior teachers – Prof Dr Quamrul Islam and Prof Dr Rashid Sarker – and decided to go there on our own. But when the firefighters said there was nobody inside the well, we held back our decision.” According to a note posted on Facebook by Tanvir Arafat Dhrubo, a student of mechanical engineering at Buet, he along with another student from his department named Imtiaz went to the spot around 10pm on Friday after seeing the news on television. They took with them the primary sketch of an improvised “catcher” and showed it to Brig Gen Ali Ahmed Khan, director general of Fire Service and

Civil Defence. Ali Ahmed advised them to give it to a construction firm named Icon which, he said, had offered voluntary engineering services if needed. Dhrubo and Imtiaz then took the design to Icon’s Aftabnagar workshop and a catcher was developed there. When the catcher was brought to the spot, it was found to be too big for the diameter of the well. So, they took it back to the workshop for mending. Around 3am on Saturday – nearly 12 hours after Jihad had fallen into the well – the two Buet students came back to the colony and informed the Fire Service DG that they had given another design to Icon technicians. The DG, however, told them to stop their work because firefighters, even though they used the borehole camera, had not been able to trace any human being inside the well. The two students then waited for another hour or so and left the area because there was nothing they could do. “I am writing this note to clear some confusions. Two of us went there with the sketch all right, but we were not authorised by Buet. But some media started referring to us as a ‘team of experts from Buet.’ We clearly said several times that we went there on our own out of a sense of responsibility; nobody sent us. But because the media presented us wrongly, people start-

The director general of Fire Service was present there. When the efforts failed, he [DG-Fire] perhaps thought the child could not be found,” said the home boss. Jihad fell into the 16-inch diameter shaft, around 40 yards from his house in the capital’s Shahjahanpur, while playing with other children on Friday afternoon. Fire service personnel employed various techniques, one after another, to pull him out, but failed. The rescue drive continued for 23 hours. The volunteers claimed the body was pulled from a depth of more than 256 feet. Around ten minutes after the fire service called off its search on Saturday afternoon, the volunteers using a simple tool pulled the four-year-old boy out of the shaft. But the home minister early Saturday had said there was nobody in the shaft after a Wasa camera failed to locate the boy. After his remark police picked up Jihad’s father Nasiruddin Fakir from the spot and took him in for questioning. They detained him for 12 agonising hours at Shahjahanpur Police Station and Nasir was allegedly mentally tortured there. He was released after the locals recovered Jihad. The state minister claimed they were in doubt whether the boy had fallen in the boreholes when Wasa camera could not locate him in almost 12 hours after the incident. He claimed, he did not ask the rescuers to stop the operation. “After I had left the scene they had worked for more than one hour. Earlier, the Fire Service said they could not see more than 270 feet while the pipe was around 400 feet deep. Some solid substances were barring the view. I asked them to remove the substances and that needed some attachments. The Fire Service was working on it,” he said. “It is not true they worked loosely. However, we will look into the matter further,” he said. He also said the government would equip the Fire Service with technology to work in such situations in the future. The Director General of Fire Service Brig Gen Ali Ahmed Khan did not admit failure but claimed they had “some lackings”: “We had no lacking in seriousness and cordiality, but in technology. We worked with whatever equip-

ment we had in hand.” “We have no sophisticated camera of our own. We had to depend on the Wasa camera which was not a “search vision” one. Besides, some objects which were thrown into the well before putting the camera were obstructing the view,” he defended. The DG however, praised the youths who finally could pull Jihad out. Asked if the government will compensate the family members of Jihad, the home boss said, they will think about that. ‘Nasir was not picked up with any ill motive’ Claiming Nasir Fakir was not harassed by police yesterday chief of Bangladesh police said they picked him up only for questioning about his son Jihad’s whereabouts in a cordial manner. “Nasir was taken into custody with the honest intention to unravel the mystery. He was not tortured…being a human being none can do so at that moment,” said IGP Hassan Mahmud Khandker. He, however, said they would look into the matter to find out if any torture was inflicted on him. He made the comment after attending a meeting of National Committee on Militancy Resistance and Prevention at the Home Ministry in the capital yesterday. The home minister who was present there said there was no bad intention in it and if any unpleasant incident had taken place in this connection, it is regrettable. l

China proposes  PAGE 1 COLUMN 3

On Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor, the Chinese side appreciated Bangladesh’s leadership role, said the foreign secretary. Responding to a question, the foreign secretary said China reiterated its interest in building a deep-sea port but Bangladesh is still considering all the proposals and new locations are in the discussion, too. He said Bangladesh proposed hosting the Foreign Office Consultation next year. Apart from trade, investment and infrastructure development issues, people-to-people contact, cooperation in defence, maritime, energy, agriculture, climate change and in international forums were also discussed in the meeting. l



Monday, December 29, 2014

BNP: Public will resist AL rallies if it impedes BNP’s n Tribune Report


Flats rented to outsiders illegally Mamun and n Shohel Mohammad Jamil Khan Officials and staff of Bangladesh Railway are illegally renting out their allotted flats to outsiders in a bid to getting easy money, thanks to lax monitoring and inaction of the authorities concerned. Visiting the colony recently, these correspondents hardly found any railway staff living there. Most of them are outsiders, living in apparently a sorry state. Mainly the inhabitants of the A, B and C type buildings rent out their flats. The A-type flats consist of two bedrooms and one living room, while the B and C types have three large rooms. It was also found that three separate families were residing in the A-type flats. The big rooms are charged Tk5,000 each, while the small ones, usually given to bachelors, are available for a monthly rent of Tk3,000. The flats are allotted based on the employees’ job statuses. The A-type flats are mainly allotted to Grade-4 employees, B-type buildings to Grade-3 officials, C-type to senior third grade and second grade officials while the D-type buildings to Grade-1 officials. According to railway officials, there are 300 flats in the colony, of which 50 were allotted to Grade-1 officials. The condition of the A-type flats is horrifying. Visiting random 15 flats, most of them were found to be very old, with plaster falling off the ceilings. The power and gas supply is also irregular in the buildings, the inhabitants claim. Most of the drains in the colony premises have no cover. It is a risk to a stranger visiting the area at night as there are chances that the person may fall into one of them. The streets are also in a dilapidated condition. A Grade-4 staff of the colony, requesting anonymity, told the Dhaka Tribune that he lives outside the colony with the family since there is “no congenial environment.” “The government declared the colony as a residential one. But the railway

authorities are indifferent over the presence of a big market in the middle of the colony,” he said. About irregularities in the colony’s management, he said had the authorities been cautious, Jihad would not have fallen into the well of an abandoned water pump, which had no cover at the time of the incident. The railway authorities have been setting up the pump for the last couple of years but could not complete it due to negligence, locals said. Ahmed Ullah Shia, chief engineer of Bangladesh Railway, said work to build the pump started this year. “The contractor company responsible for building the pump has already invested a lot of money. In the first well they did not get good quality water, so they left it and started digging another,” he cited as reasons behind the delay. No railway officials were found in the B-type buildings, condition of which are a little better than the A-type ones. The main inhabitants rent out these flats for Tk15,000 per month, while Tk20,000 is the rent for the C-type buildings. Asked about reason behind staying in the colony, a tenant named Md Hossain said even though the rent was high, the colony was close to the commercial hub Motijheel. “I know it is illegal, but I need it.” When contacted, Abdul Hai, managing director of Employees’ Welfare Trust of Bangladesh Railway, admitted that it was illegal to rent out flats to others or use them for commercial purposes, as per the rules. “If the allegations of renting out flats are proved, the allotments will be cancelled and legal action will be taken against them,” he told the Dhaka Tribune adding that they had learnt about some allegations. “We served notices several times to stop such malpractices,” he added. Asked about taking legal action, General Manager (east) Mozammel Haque said they would take legal measures against the officials and staff for using their flats commercially. l

BNP said yesterday it expects the public to resist Awami League’s political events if it impedes BNP’s upcoming rallies in the capital. The statement came a day after Awami League threatened that BNP will not be allowed to hold the rallies planned to be held on January 3 and 5. “Hanif said if BNP Senior Vice Chairman Tarique Rahman does not withdraw his statement, then BNP will not be allowed to hold any rally in the country. We want to emphasise that if BNP’s rally is barred then, the Awami

‘As the government fears being ousted from the office, it is following the age-old tactic of repression and suppression’ The ecological catastrophe continues as the oil spill has already blackened the shoreline of Passur River threatening trees, plankton, and vast populations of small fishes and dolphins. The photo was taken on Friday, 18 days after a tanker carrying around 75,000 gallons of oil partly sank in the Sundarbans’ Sela River and soon spread over Passur River SYED ZAKIR HOSSAIN

Watchdog suggests job cuts for a profitable Biman n Muhammad Zahidul Islam A parliamentary body has recommended that Biman Bangladesh Airline cuts its manpower to a reasonable level in order to make the national flag carrier a profitable venture within a short time. After going through a 2008-09 audit report by the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General, the Public Accounts Committee of parliament said Biman needs to trim its manpower within three months. Sources said Biman lost around Tk50 crore in 2008-09 fiscal year because of its oversized staff numbers.

Tribunal issues suo moto order against Prothom Alo, NY Times n Tribune Report The International Crimes Tribunal 2 has said it found prima facie evidence on a news item published in the daily Prothom Alo and an editorial published in The New York Times, adding that “the news item and the editorial in question seem to have been based on misconception and exceeding limit of recognised norms.” Justice Obaidul Hassan, chairman of the tribunal, and Justice Md Shahinur Islam came up with the opinion yesterday in a suo moto order. The tribunal also asked the Prothom Alo editor to submit by December 31 the full text of a statement where 50 eminent personalities expressed concern over the punishment of journalist David Bergman for contempt of court. The tribunal registrar and spokesman, Mustafizur Rahman, briefed the media about the order yesterday afternoon. Based on a statement, the Bangla daily on December 20 published a report titled “50 people express concern

GK Gaus sent to jail in Kibria murder case n Our Correspondent, Habiganj A court in Habiganj yesterday sent municipal Mayor GK Gaus to prison after rejecting his bail petition in former finance minister Shah AMS Kibria killing case. Senior Judicial Magistrate Rokeya Akhter gave the order. Defence counsel Manjur Uddin Ahmed Shahin alleged that gaus, also BNP general secretary of Habiganj district unit, had been implicated in the case to prevent him from contesting polls. They would file a bail petition with the High Court. After coming out of the courtroom, Gaus claimed that he had been sent to prison in a false case. “I am a victim of the illegal government’s wrath. The case is politically motivated but I will be cleared of the charges because the people of Habiganj love me,” he said. Shortly afterwards, BNP supporters clashed with police, leaving at least 20 people, including a police officer, injured. l

over Bergman’s punishment.” On December 23, The New York Times also published an editorial titled “Muzzling Speech in Bangladesh” where it criticised the conviction. The tribunal said: “Further necessary order will be passed on analogous examination of the statement published in the daily Prothom Alo and the editorial published in The New York Times.” In the order, the tribunal said: “The news speaks of a ‘statement’ made by 50 citizens expressing view and criticism on the order punishing David Bergman on contempt charge. The news item prima facie shows that the ‘statement’ expresses concern about the freedom of expression of journalist, researcher and analyst on the issue of ‘death figure in 1971.’ Presumably the signatories are in impression that the contemnor has been punished for making criticism on ‘death figure in 1971.’” The tribunal also said: “...In order to dispel misconception and since the tribunal is obliged to protect its jurisdiction and authority, we indispensably

need to know whether the statement has been made in the interest of public and on the basis of which analysis the signatories have made such statement.” On its editorial, The New York Times said the court was “wrong” in its contempt order and said it should overturn Bergman’s sentence and conviction. The tribunal said: “We fail to understand how a daily newspaper of international repute asks a court of law of a sovereign country by saying - ‘it should immediately overturn Mr Bergman’s sentence.’” The tribunal initiated contempt proceeding against Bergman, editor (special reports) of daily New Age, in April after the court found “prima facie elements of contempt” in his three write-ups posted in his personal blog in November 2011 and January 2013. In December, the tribunal 2 found him guilty of contempt. The tribunal sentenced him to “imprisonment till rising of the court” and fined him Tk5,000 for demeaning the court authority through his two other articles. l

Alal on 3-day remand, hospitalised later n Md Sanaul Islam Tipu A Dhaka court yesterday placed Jubo Dal President Syed Moazzem Hossain Alal on a three-day remand in a case lodged over the recent clash in Bakshibazar. But he was taken to Dhaka Medical College Hospital around 7:30pm as he suddenly fell ill while being interrogated. Alal’s personal secretary Jahangir Hossain said the Jubo Dal leader was trembling when police were quizzing him. Police later took him to the hospital, he said. Earlier in the day, Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Ali Masud Sheikh passed the remand order after Mohammad Ilias, officer-in-charge of Chawkbazar police station and also the investigating officer in the case, produced Alal before the court with a 10day remand request. According to the plea, Alal needed to be in custody in order to know the motive of the attack on police, Ilias said


But Alal told the court he was not present at the scene. He said he had been released from prison ten days ago in another case and the High Court ordered his release. Alal also pleaded for bail, saying that he was a hypertension patient and had also been diagnosed with cardiovascular problems. Alal’s counsel Md Sanaullah Miah filed a bail petition which was rejected by court. The Jubo Dal chief was detained at his Lalmatia residence in the capital around 11:15pm on Saturday. On December 24, Md Delower Hossain, sub-inspector of Chawkbazar police station, lodged a case against a total of 76 BNP activists in connection with the clash in Bakshibazar on December 24. A fierce clash had broken out between the BNP and Chhatra League activists outside the Bakshibazar makeshift court just before BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia was about to appear before it in two graft cases. l

“Every carrier at an international level makes a profit but Biman cannot do it despite the massive support it enjoys from the government, and the committee has expressed its dissatisfaction,” said Dr Md Rustum Ali Faraji, a committee member. Talking to the Dhaka Tribune after a committee meeting yesterday, he said: “The committee has recommended that within three months Biman has to calculate a number for their own interest.” In 2007, the then caretaker government recommended that Biman reduces its manpower from 6,837 to 3,400 employees through a self-retirement scheme. However, Biman did not follow

the recommendation for fear of hampering the airline’s day-to-day activities. The audit report also found that many of the Biman recruits did not even have any education certificates. The committee recommended punishment met to the officers who were responsible for these recruitments. The Public Accounts Committee also recommended collecting Tk2.21 crore which Biman had lost by paying the insurance premium for aircrafts which did not have engines. Committee Chairman Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir was present at the meeting, among other members. l

league will not be able to hold any rally in the country smoothly as well; people will resist it,” Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, joint secretary general of the party, said yesterday while speaking to reporters. Rizvi was referring to comments made Satuday by Mahabub-ul-Alam Hanif where he said time has come to think whether Khaleda Zia will be allowed to hold rally, if Tarique Rahman does not seek apology and withdraw his remarks on Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Speaking further, Rizvi criticised the government for arresting Jubo Dal President Syed Moazzem Hossain Alal. “The government says it does not fear anything, and they are in relaxed mood. Then why are such countrywide, wholesale arrests being made?” The BNP leader said as the government fears being ousted from the office, it is following the age-old tactic of repression and suppression. Regarding the death of the child, Jihad, Rizvi said government high-officials made misleading statements, and the rescue operation was merely eyewash. l




Monday, December 29, 2014

JS body: Zero tolerance for illegal railway land occupiers n Tarek Mahmud, Chittagong

The parliamentary standing committee on the Ministry of Railway yesterday decided to free all railway lands and other properties from the hands of illegal occupiers. They also discussed many development plans during their meeting at the Central Railway Building (CRB) in the city, said Chairman of the committee ABM Fazle Karim Chowdhury. Although this is the seventh meeting of the committee, it is the first in the port city. “We have zero tolerance on this and whosoever will be evicted from the railway lands,’ he said, adding that railway signboards would be set up on the reclaimed lands. ‘We are making the list of illegal railway land grabbers, including railway officials. Legal action would be taken against them. Nobody would be spared,” he said. Chairman Fazle Karim said there was also a plan to set up a medical

college hospital, super market and a five star hotel on the railway lands. Bangladesh Railway (BR) will be getting a new colour very soon while a common colour would be used in trains. The colour was yet to be finalised, he said. Railway Minister Md Mazibul Hoque said Laksham-Chinki Astana Double Railway could be inaugurated by the prime minister next month as the remodeling work of the Chittagong Railway Station and some other stations were now in the final stages. He also said the ministry would purchase 120 coaches with Indian financing and 150 coaches with ADB financing to add them to the railway fleet within the next six months. Besides, 46 locomotive engines would be added to the railway while tenders for 70 locomotive engines were already floated, he said; adding that a400 -coach purchase from Malaysia was also in the railway department’s pipeline.

The minister pointed out that 41 development projects were now going on under this government and said BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia instigated the Jamaat-Shibir to destroy the crore railway properties, a sector which they did not develop. “Tarique, staying in London, is delivering false, indecent and derogatory comments about the father of the nation which had created factions in the BNP itself,” he said. Railway track expansion from Chittagong to Cox’s Bazar, Bay link road near Chittagong Port, Demu Train Service in Nazirhat of Hathazari upazila in Chittagong and some other issues were discussed at the meeting. Earlier, the committee visited the diesel and the carriage and wagon workshops in the Pahartoli area. The minister, after visiting the establishments, said all workers were not present at the factory. The relevant departments would be asked

the reason for their absence. He said they had visited the factories to gear up the work speed of the factories and to ensure better contribution from the staff and officials. “We found some problems, some limitations and some weak points. We will discuss the matters, and take up measures to run the factories properly in future without any problems,” he said. Parliamentary standing committee chief Fazle Karim said they would also see how the factories could be run in a better way. “We are also thinking how to utilize the existing assets in a way better than at present,” he added. Committee members Muslem Uddin, Shirajul Islam Mollah, Mohammad Noman, Yeasin Ali, Ministry Secretary Mansur Ali, BR Directorate General Tofazzal Hossain and BR (East) General Manager Mozammel Hoque were also present at the meeting. l

Dhaka South City Corporation yesterday demolishes makeshift flower shops illegally built on the footpath along Shahbagh in the capital


Int’l civil engineering Detained DU admission seekers get bail conference ends Shahbagh police, led by Proctor tablishments of the university by n DU Correspondent at Cuet Dr Mohammad Amzad Ali, arrested throwing brick chips at them. Thus

n Our Correspondent, Chittagong

The 2nd International Conference on Advances in Civil Engineering ended at Chittagong University Engineering and Technology (Cuet) yesterday. The university’s civil engineering department organised the conference where engineers and scientists from 12 countries, including Bangladesh, India, and Japan, participated. At the concluding ceremony, Cuet Vice-Chancellor Professor Jahangir Alam spoke as chief guest, while ProVC Prof Mohammed Rafikul Alam and faculty Dean Prof Swapan Kumar Palit were present as special guests. Department Head Prof Md Rabiul Alam, Indian researcher Prof Braj Bhushan Pandey, and Buet’s Prof Md Mazharul Haque spoke at the ceremony as well. A total of 163 research articles were presented at the three-day conference. l

Infant’s body recovered, mother arrested

n Tribune Report

The body of a one-day-old infant was found by the capital’s Pallabi police yesterday at around 8.20am. Sub-Inspector Rakibul told the Dhaka Tribune: “We found the body in a dustbin in front of Aslam hotel at Block-A, Avenue 1 in Mirpur 10. The locals got hold of the infant’s mother while she was trying to leave the baby in the dustbin.” Later, the body was sent to the Dhaka Medical College Hospital for post-mortem and the mother was arrested. “We sent the mother to court on the same day,” he added. l

A Dhaka court yesterday granted bail to the 16 students, who were detained on December 21 when they attempted to meet with the Dhaka University’s (DU) vice-chancellor seeking a second opportunity for admission. Metropolitan Magistrate Rejaul Karim granted the bail and ordered the submission of the case’s probe report by January 26. The students were arrested when they gathered to protest the new rule by the DU authorities to allow admission seekers to appear in the admission test only once. They had gathered in front of the Raju Sculpture on the DU campus before going to meet the vice-chancellor around 10am on December 21, as per their schedule.

eight of them from in front of the sculpture, four from the TSC area and seven from Suhrawardy Udyan. Three of the protesters were later released, but police kept the 16 others detained and delivered them to court. The next day, DU Chief Security Officer SM Kamrul Ahsan filed the case with the Shahbagh police station on the university’s behalf. According to the First Information Report (FIR), “outsiders claiming to be students illegally gathered at the TSC and Dhaka university administrative building areas with sticks and brick chips, and vandalised the main gate of the administrative building and one collapsible gate by knocking and hitting at it. They also vandalised different es-

they caused an extensive damage of around Tk5 lakh.” However, students, teachers and the security guards at the university said the detained students had not been part of any kind of vandalism as stated at the FIR. Anup Kormokar, a student at the university who was at the TSC area that day, told the Dhaka Tribune that over 100 police members had been deployed in the area, and they arrested the students after they gathered there. When Chief Security Officer Kamrul was asked which establishments had been vandalised, he could not answer. When contacted, Proctor Amzad Ali said his office had not given any order to file the case against the protesters. l

Chhatra League men beat up JCD activist at BAU n BAU Correspondent Activists of Bangladesh Chhatra League severely beat up a Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal loyalist yesterday at Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU) in Mymensingh. The victim, Mijanur Rahman Shopnil, is a second-year engineering student at the university, and is known to be loyal to Chhatra Dal’s BAU unit Organising Secretary Shohrab Hossain Sujon, who allegedly recently made a derogatory comment about Chhatra League on Facebook about the Bakshibazar clash. In response, Chhatra League’s BAU unit Joint Secretary Monirul Hasan Polash threatened Sujon through Facebook.

Witnesses said some 15 to 20 Chhatra League activists led by Humayun Kabir Akanda, Ferdous Alam Janis and Opi swooped on Shopnil in front of the engineering faculty building around 2:30pm, when he was going to class. Passers-by later took him to the university healthcare centre in a critical condition, from where he was referred to Mymensingh Medical College Hospital. Following Shopnil’s assault, Sujon said they would avenge the attack. However, Chhatra League’s BAU unit President Mursheduzzaman Khan Babu denied the allegation. He claimed: “Some of our activists only slapped Shopnil for his leader’s derogatory comments.”l

Doridro-Charity Foundation distributes blankets

n Tribune Report With the cold wave tightening its grip, Doridro-Charity Foundation, a welfare organisation for poor, distributed 500 blankets among the helpless at on Satail Government Primary School premises in Manda. The foundation’s president Md Mahbubur Rahman Shaheen, executive committee members Kazi Rashidul Mubarak and Abdullah-al-Mamun attended the programme. l

Ctg drug lord remanded n Our Correspondent, Chittagong A Chittagong court yesterday remanded six persons including top drug lord Jahedul Islam alias Alo in connection with cases filed by the Halishahar police. Chittagong Metropolitan Magistrate Syed Masfikul Islam passed the remand order after the accused were produced before his court, said Assistant Commissioner (AC) (prosecution) Nirmolendu Bikash Chakrabarty of the Chittagong Metropolitan Police. Alo was on a two-day remand in a case under the Arms Act, and a three-day remand in another case under the Drug Act, said the AC. Six of his associates too, were arrested on the same day, and they too were on a

three-day remand. Earlier on Saturday, Deputy Assistant Director of RAB-7 (Chittagong Zone) Rafiqul Islam filed two cases with Halishahar police station in connection with arms and drug recovery. Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) arrested Alo and his five associates from Halishahar area in Chittagong and Gazipur with two lakh yaba pills, an imported pistol, a magazine, and three rounds of bullets on December 26. They also recovered 37 mobile sets, 20 SIM cards, one video camera, three laptops, two cameras, various modern equipments to smuggle yaba, a Toyota car and eight cheque books of various banks at that time. l



Sewage, wastewater still flow on DIT Road n Abu Hayat Mahmud

Officials of the company told us they were not responsible for fixing the sewers. They also said we should remain grateful to them for repairing the drains

12,000 people to clean the country on December 31 n Tribune Report More than 12,000 volunteers and environment activists will take part in a country-wide cleaning programme “Deshtake Porishkar Kori (Let Us Clean the Country)” on December 31 initiated by Paribartan Chai, a social organisation. The organisation’s Chairman Fida Haque revealed the information at a press conference at the National Press Club yesterday. She also announced that they would be repeating the event every year on the same day. “We have been observing the activity ‘Let Us Clean the Country’ since the beginning of this year. But we will celebrate Dec 31 as the day to clean the country every year,” she said. Fida said 60 percent of the wastes in the rivers come from the industries adding: “It could be easily controlled if the government take proper steps.” “Even the city corporations dump wastes directly in the rivers,” she blamed. The press conference was also addressed by architect Mobasher Hossain, Iqbal Habib, urban planner Salma A Shafi and several others. l



Dhaka Chittagong Rajshahi Rangpur Khulna Barisal Sylhet Cox’s Bazar

14 19 12 11 12 15 12 21


28.8ºC Teknaf

7.7ºC Chuadanga

Source: Accuweather/UNB

PRAYER TIMES Fajr Sunrise Zohr Asr Magrib Esha

5:20am 6:39am 12:00am 3:45pm 5:20pm 6:41 pm SourceL

15 houses gutted in Gazipur n Our Correspondent, Gazipur A fire gutted 15 houses in Gazipur’s Sreepur upazila yesterday causing a damage of around Tk80 lakh. The 15 houses located in Abdar village under the Telihati union belonged to a farmer named Nur-e-Alam Siddiqui who had rented them to 15 families. The fire broke out in one house yesterday around 12pm and soon spread to the others. Locals doused the flames after an effort of three-hours. Workers of local Saad Sun Garments used to reside in these houses lost their valuables totalling to an amount of around Tk80 lakh. They suspected that the fire might have originated from an electric short circuit. The damage could have been curbed had the fire fighters arrived earlier at the spot, claimed the tenants of the houses. Sreepur Maona Fire Service and Civil Defence Station Officer Tasharob Hossain denied the allegation, saying that they were informed of the incident almost an hour after the fire had broken out. The teams had reached the spot as soon as they were informed. l

Part of the DIT Road from the Malibagh level crossing to Padma-Surma Cinema Hall remains largely unusable for almost two months as the manholes have overflowed. It has become a nightmare for locals to use the dilapidated road as sewage and wastewater flow over it. Even motorists find it difficult to drive on the road, and the Dhaka Wasa authorities are yet to fix the sewers under the road that remain in a bad condition.

Dhaka Wasa and Dhaka South City Corporation are responsible for managing the sewerage pipes in the area. Locals have resented the indifference of officials to fix the problem. Mohammad Ripon, who owns a drug store in the area, said a construction firm repaired roadside drains in the area a few days ago but the sewers remain were not. The construction company is Toma Constructions, the contractor of Moghbazar-Mouchak flyover. “Officials of the company told us they were not responsible for fixing the sewers. They also said we should remain grateful to them for repairing the drains,” Ripon said. The Local Government Engineering Department repaired the road about three months ago but its condition remains as bad as before.


Monday, December 29, 2014

Fire guts bus in Ctg n Our Correspondent, Chittagong

Within a few days into the so-called repair work done by the Dhaka South City Corporation, the road connecting the capital's Malibagh and Mouchak has gone to rack and ruin. Water and muck leaking out of sewers have left the road hardly usable for commuters. The photo was taken yesterday ABU HAYAT MAHMUD Shahdat, a bus driver, said the road was literally filled with potholes. “The sewage containing many waste materials and the wastewater have made it a risky route to ply,” he said.

Dhaka Wasa Managing Director Taqseem A Khan could not be reached for comment over the phone yesterday. But he told the Dhaka Tribune in early December he would ask Wasa of-

ficials to take steps to fix the road. He also said working on problems in the sewerage would be prioritised. Dhaka South City Corporation Chief Executive Officer Ansar Ali Khan told

the Dhaka Tribune he was not aware of the matter. “I will direct officials concerned to look into the problem and take necessary steps soon,” he said. l

A passenger bus caught fire in the Chittagong city’s Baizid area yesterday morning. However, no causality was reported in this connection, said fire brigade sources. Fire Service and Civil Defence officials said the fire originated from ‘burning waste’ at around 6:30am. “The vehicle broke down on the road and the driver and the helper were trying to fix the problem when the fire started,” the official said. On receiving information fire fighters of Baizid fire station rushed to the spot with one unit and doused the blaze after an hour. l

Pahari Chhatra Parishad: Government Midnight launch creating communal conflict in CHT collision with 1,500 n passengers aboard Our Correspondent, Khagrachhari

The government, using the “divide and rule” policy, was trying to create tension in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) in order to evict the indigenous people, said members of Pahari Chhatra Parishad (PCP) at a protest rally in Manikchhari yesterday. PCP, the student wing of United Peoples Democratic Front (UPDF) along with theManikchhari unit of Democratic Youth Forum, organised the rally yesterday condemning the recent attacks in the Bogachari area under Naniachar upazila of Rangamati. They said the mayhem carried by Bangali settlers in Rangamati’s Naniachar village on the National Victory Day was a result of the impunity that the settlers had enjoyed since April, 2011, when a clash between Bangalis and indigenous people took place in

Ramgarh and Manikchhari in the CHT. The speakers claimed that the government was using the Bangali settlers to carry out the vandalism, arson attacks and a range of criminal activities in the CHT to evict the indigenous populace from the hills. They strongly demanded exemplary punishment to the Bangali settlers who ravaged Bogachhari and called for immediate trial of Nizam for his alleged involvement in the rape and murder of minor indigenous girl Umaching Marma in Kaptai on December 15. They also demanded punishment to Badshah Miya who allegedly raped another minor schoolgirl in Taindong area this month. Ziko Tripura, convener of Democratic Youth Front Khagrachhari branch, Amol Tripura from PCP and Hill Women’s Federation member Antie Chakma too, spoke among others. The present government was giving

false hopes of implementing the decade old CHT Peace Accord as part of its conspiracy to wipe put the existence of the indigenous populace, the speakers said. They also said that most part of their land in Manikchhari was now under the occupation of Bangali settlers. If the trend continues, the hills would become void of indigenous people in next few years, they said. They called everyone to remain alert and united against the government’s moves to create communal conflicts in the hills. Thousands of men and women participated in the protest rally brought out from the Jamtola area in Manikchhari. Locals and the officials who took part in the rally demanded security and compensation for those affected in the attacks on indigenous people’s homes, shops and places of worship in Bogacchari on December 16. l

UPDF celebrates 16th founding anniversary in Chittagong Correspondent, n Our Khagrachhari The United Peoples Democratic Front (UPDF) observed its 16th founding anniversary in Chittagong yesterday. A discussion titled, “Mass protest against eviction and role of UPDF” was held as part of the celebration. Speakers said if UPDF was not founded after the surrender of JSS ( Jana Samhati Samiti) in 1997, then the

movement in CHT would have lost track long ago. Lands would have been grabbed indiscriminately in Manikchhari, Dighinala, Sajek, Ramgarh, Guimara and the Naniachar areas. It is UPDF that is still battling against the oppression of the government, army and Bangali settlers, they said. The leaders of the organisation placed a five-point demand before the government including compensating

the victims of the recent attacks in Naniachar. Ziko Tripura, convener of Democratic Youth Front Khagrachhari branch chaired the session in presence of labour leader Arpon Chakma, central leader of Democratic Youth Forum Asming Marma, and Pahari Chhatra Parishad leader Sunayan Chakma, among others. Democratic Youth Front Chittagong unit President Bijor Chakma conducted the discussion. l

n Our Correspondent, Barisal Two launches collided in the Meghna river near Chandpur with more than 1,500 passengers and crew on board at midnight yesterday. Government-owned MV Bangali hit privately owned MV Tipu 7 around 12:30am, leaving part of its first floor in a severely damaged condition, said launch operators. MV Bangali was plying on the Morelganj-Barisal-Dhaka route and MV Tipu 7 on the Dhaka-Barisal route, they said. Both the vessels however again set out for their destinations with the panicked passengers aboard early in the morning, they added. Barisal Nagarik Samaj Member Secretary Mizanur Rahman said it was the third accident on the river routes within a week. It does not bode well for the future unless water vessels do not move carefully along the routes, he said, urging the government to take necessary steps regarding this matter. After visiting MV Tipu-7 at Barisal port yesterday, it was found that the four-six feet steel-made railing of the launch had got broken in the accident. Cabin passengers of MV Tipu 7, Miraj Hosen, Shahanara Begum, said they were awakened with a sudden jolt as the launch faced hit the other vesssel. They said they started crying for help, assuming that the bottom of the water vessel had cracked in mid river. The damaged launch supervisor Md Jasim Uddin said they had filed a general diary with the river traffic police

station about this incident. Government-owned MV Bangali Master Md Masud said they were repeating signals and blowing whistles again and again. Yet, MV Tipu 7 was in front of the launch, causing a collision, he said, adding that the damage could have been worse, but was avoided by reversing the vessel, Masud said.

Cabin passengers of MV Tipu 7, Miraj Hosen, Shahanara Begum, said they were awakened with a sudden jolt as the launch faced hit the other vesssel MA Sundarban 7 Supervisor yesterday alleged that their vessel, which plies along, was anchored at the Barisal port on Friday morning, when MV Bangali hit it, damaging the back of the vessel. He said they officially informed the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC) of this damage. BIWTC Assistant General Manager at the Barisal Station Gopal Chandra said they did not get any formal complaint about any launch collision or strike. However, these allegations would be investigated. Deputy Director (river safety and traffic) at the BIWTC Barisal office Abul Bashar Majumdar said such accidents were taking place due to dense fog since rivers routes were not easily seen during navigation. l

UP chairman accused of harassing schoolgirl n Our Correspondent, Comilla A union council chairman was accused of harassing a schoolgirl sexually at Debidwar upazila in Comilla district yesterday. The accused was identified as Khorshed Alam, chairman of Gunai Nagar union council in the upazila. The mother of the girl said she along with her daughter, a class nine student, went to physician in the morning. While she was returning home, the chairman came to them and called the girl for going with him by rickshaw. At one stage, he took the girl in the rickshaw and reached a house of one Sabuj

in the area. He confined her in a room of the house and raped her repeatedly leaving critically injured. Later, the girl managed to phone her mother when the chairman went to bathroom. The mother disclosed the incident to locals and they went to Kotwali Model police station asking help. When the police were trying to rescue the girl, the chairman fled the scene and the girl reached home with the help of Sabuj. When contacted, the chairman denied the allegation. OC Shamsuzzaman said a case was filed in this connection while the girl was sent to hospital for medical test. l

Police fire teargas shells and rubber bullets at BNP supporters as they gathered in Rajshahi’s Bhuban Mohan Park area yesterday in support of today’s hartal AZAHAR UDDIN




Monday, December 29, 2014

Migratory birds flocking to Baikka Beel A new species of spotted duck has been found here for a few days Correspondent, n Our Moulavibazar Thousands of migratory birds are flocking to Baikka Beel at Srimangal upazila in Moulvibazar. They have started arriving in the beel since the winter set in two to three weeks ago, said Mirash Mia, manager of the beel, which was declared a sanctuary for birds and fishes in 2003. A new species of spotted duck has been found here for a few days, he said, naming it ‘Daagi Raj Hansh’ in the colloquial language. There is no bird hunting in the beel territory but locals catch birds by setting up traps in the paddy fields, the manager said. There are 17 beels, including the Baikka beel, in the Hail haor. Once upon a time, the haor itself used to host 175 species of birds in the winter season, but the number has drastically fallen because of the hunting and many other adverse conditions. Non-government organisation Climate Regional Ecosystem Livelihood activist Moniruzzaman Chowdhury however said the number of the guest birds is higher this year than last year. “The number may keep increasing in future if this place can be kept safe for the birds all the year round.” l

The sky got almost blanketed by the migratory flying birds as the thousands flocking to Baikka Beel at Srimangal upazila in Moulvibazar this winter season

Corruption corrodes Narsingdi land offices n Our Correspondent, Narsingdi

Land offices in Narsingdi have become hotbeds of corruption and anomaly as officials do not process files without bribes. The picture is the same in all the land offices in six upazilas and 71 unions. There is a municipal land office but corruption and bribery are rampant there as well, compounding the woes of land owners. The situation has turned so grave that brokers working with the connivance of land officials can make fake ownership papers if given money and the details of a land. Even real land owners face harassment when approaching land officials for legal purposes. Tk245 is the official land registration fee but officials do not process such documents if at least Tk5,000 is not paid in bribes. What is worse is the overt accept-

ance of bribes by land officials but they continue to enjoy impunity. It is the candid villagers who are bearing the brunt of irregularities. A source claims more than Tk20 lakh is paid in bribes in a land office every month. Everyone from peons to the assistant commissioner (land) in an office gets a slice of the pie. Requesting anonymity, a man who came to the land office in Narsingdi Sadar said even the walls of the office take bribes. Bribes have enabled many land officials to own huge land properties, both legally and illegally, in many areas of the district. Bribery is also prevalent in the land ownership record, widely known as porcha, office. A group of brokers who collude with officials in the porcha office take a large sum of money from people coming to collect porchas. Those who want to collect por-

chas reluctantly bribe brokers in order to avoid troubles and delay. A soimuhuri porcha application, if Tk12 is paid in court fee, has to be processed within 15 days while it is seven days for applications submitted with a court fee of Tk22, but the time limit is hardly maintained. Halim Mia, a resident of Raipura upazila, said it takes at least a month, or more than that sometimes, to collect a soimuhuri porcha. “Besides, you have to spend Tk600-700 to get it, but anyone approaching brokers can have it within 24 hours,” he said. Another resident of the upazila Barik Mia said he faced harassment while collecting his porcha. “Officials at the e-service centre of the deputy commissioner’s office made unnecessarily delays as I wanted to have the porcha by only paying the official fee,” he said.

Namiz Uddin, who came from a char area, said there was no system to collect porchas when anyone is in urgent need of one. “Apart from that, there is no way to correct a porcha if it contain mistakes. In such a case, a fresh application is needed which of course involves the awful delay,” he added. Additional Deputy Commissioner (revenue) of Narsingdi Md Kamal Hossain said CCTV cameras had been installed in the land offices in six upazilas with the aim of identifying exchange of bribes. He said 12 land officials faced disciplinary actions and another two were fired after allegations against them were proved in the last fiscal year. “A total of eight officials so far have been sued by the land office this year,” he said. Actions are taken against any official if a complaint is lodged, Kamal added. l

Snatchers shoot youth dead n Our Correspondent, Gazipur A young man was shot dead by muggers at Konabari in the district yesterday morning. The dead was identified as Roman, 38, an employee of Konabari union Awami League office. He hailed from Mymensingh district. The union AL joint general secretary M Solaiman said Roman came under attack around11am near a Bkash shop on the Konabari-Kashimpur road. He went there to send money somewhere through Bkash account. The muggers snatched away money from Roman after shooting him, leaving him dead on the spot. l

Munda women perform traditional dance in front of a rally brought out by the community’s platform Jagke Uthok Munda at Kazihata, Rajshahi on the occasion of their fourth national council. Writer Hasan Azizul Haque, local lawmaker Fazle Hossain Badsha and a number of Munda leaders from India attended the rally AZAHAR UDDIN

NEWS IN BRIEF Boy dies as meat gets stuck in throat

Mobile court convicts hemp traders

A boy died through suffocation after a piece of meat got stuck in his throat at Jhumjhumpur in Jessore district on Saturday night. The deceased was identified as Al Amin,12, son of Kalam Molla, a resident of the village. The deceased’s father Kalam said Al Amin fell sick with suffocation after a piece of meat got stuck in his throat while he was having dinner at night. He was rushed to Jessore Medical College Hospital aroundt 1pm where he died later. – Our Correspondent, Jessore

A mobile court yesterday convicted two persons and awarded one year rigorous imprisonment to each for trading hemp near Shariatullah Bazar area of the town. According to official sources, on the basis of secret information gathered by Rapid Action Battalion, a mobile court led by Executive Magistrate Mondip Ghorai carried a drive in the area. The mobile court was assisted by Major Mojammel, Company Commander of RAB-8 along with his troupe. The RAB men caught one Nirob Mia,20 son of Kalam Mollah and Bachchu Bepary son of Modon Bepary for selling the drug to the consumers. – Our Correspondent, Faridpur

Ten BNP men arrested Police in separate drives on Saturday night arrested 10 local leaders and activists of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) from different upazilas in Jessore district on apprehension that they could carry out violence during the countrywide today’s hartal. Enamul Haque, officer-in-charge of Jessore Kotwali Police Station, said they were arrested from their houses at night as the crackdown continued across the district. Police arrested three people from different points of Sadar upazila, four from Manirampur, two from Chowgachha and one from Jhikargachha upazila of the district. – Our Correspondent, Jessore

Drug peddler held Members of the Rapid Action Battalion in a drive arrested a woman drug peddler with 6-kg hemp from Badeswari village under Chatak upazila yesterday. The arrested woman was Razia Begum, 45, wife of late Fazal Karim of the village. On a tip-off, a team of the elite force conducted the drive in the area and arrested Razia with the hemp, RAB sources said. Later, the RAB handed over her to police. – Our Correspondent, Sunamganj

One killed in AL factional clash n Our Correspondent, Jhenidah A man was killed and 15 others were injured when two fractions of the ruling Awami League locked in a clash at Gopalpur village under Shailkupa upazila in Jhenidah over establishing supremacy. The deceased was identified as Kuddus Hossain,25, son of Abdur Rahim of the village. Police said an altercation ensued between two groups of the ruling party one led by Awami League-backed union parishad chairman Mafiz Uddin and another by local leader of the party Faruk Hossain-- at about 12:30 pm over a kulkhwani programme at one Aslam Hossain’s house. At one stage of the altercation, men of both the groups attacked each other with sticks and local weapons, leaving Kuddus Hossain, supporter of the chairman, dead on the spot. On information, police recovered the body and sent it to Jhenidah Sadar Hospital morgue for autopsy. l


Tension over sand lifting in Meghna n Our Correspondent, Munshiganj A violent clash is anticipated in the Meghna River area of Munshiganj as two rival groups are trying to take control of the sandpits. Armed with weapons, they both are competing to collect token money from the sand-carrying vessels. Munshiganj district administration served notice to both the groups to avoid conflict and keep peace in the area. Contractor of Ms Bijoy Enterprise Md Afsar Uddin Bhuiyan alleged that Chadni Traders of Gajaria sandpit had been lifting sand from his area by force. “As per the regulation, we can collect token money from vessels only near the sandpit. But they took position with weapons at the entry point of the river and have been collecting money. They are also forcing the vessel to unload sand within their territory,” he claimed. However, contractor of Chadni Traders Chand Mia refuted the allegations and said that he was lifting sand from his designated area only. “I have a 400 acre area as per the lease. I am lifting sand within my boundary only. And the allegations of weapons and forcefully collecting money are absolutely baseless,” he said. When contacted, SI of Munshiganj Sadar police station Md Nazrul Islam said: “The situation in the river area is calm now. We have increased our patrolling and kept the area under surveillance.” Munshiganj Deputy Commissioner Md Saiful Hasan Badol said the two contractors had been served notice and their lease would be cancelled if the allegations were found to be true. l


Long Form


Monday, December 29, 2014

‘Nowhere remains untouched by the piratical incursions of capital’

Garga Chatterjee speaks to Jeremy Seabrook, the author of The song of the shirt, a historical and contemporary exploration of the spun cloth from Murshidabad to Dhaka via Lancashire and the people’s lives and dreams lost and gained through centuries DT: Your book, “The Song of the Shirt,” is a story of “cheap clothes across continents and centuries.” Bengal is the central focus of the story. Why Bengal? JS: Why Bengal? Bengal was the centre of the making of traditional exquisite fabrics, which were so much in demand in Britain that in the 18th century laws were passed prohibiting the use of them. As everyone knows, the East India Company sourced many of its purchases from Bengal, until the rise of machine-made cotton goods in Manchester; at which time Britain destroyed the weaving industry in order to make way for cheap and inferior apparel from Lancashire. The industry in Britain began its decline early in the 20th century, and virtually vanished by the end of the century; by which time Bengal – at least Bangladesh – had once more become the centre of a global garments industry, exporting to Britain and the West its cheap clothing. There is a sad symmetry in the circular dance of fabrics through time, and the workers caught up in production and then discarded when their function is no longer profitable.

It is often under-appreciated how closely intertwined the dwindling fortunes of Bengal is related to the accumulation of capital in Britain. To what extent did

Rescue workers and volunteers look for trapped garment workers in the collapsed Rana Plaza building in Savar, in April 2013

Bengal finance the Empire’s glory? I was especially struck by your imagery of Bengal being a rupture through which money oozed out. There is no doubt that the wealth of Bengal was a major contributor to the increased living-standard of Britain: great houses were built out of the fortunes which servants of the East India Company made there; and India paid Britain for the privilege of being colonised and exploited (“home charges” some of the tribute was called!) Kolkata – at least 19th century Calcutta – gives the impression of a city worn away by the passage of wealth through it: even the buildings have been eroded by the invisible friction of time and money; while the old imperial structures, many now derelict, are forlorn monuments to a vanished opulence – a wealth of which the people of Bengal enjoyed not even a rumour.

To what extent are the lives of garment workers in Dhaka today and those of garment workers in Lancashire comparable, when accounting for technological differences/amenities available in different times? Both the workers of contemporary Bangladesh and of 19th century Lancashire were tethered to the machinery of the age, and work, not according

to the rhythms of normal human activity, but according to the dictates of the machines on which their labour depends. Both came from a wasting rural hinterland, an impoverished country life, from which migration into the jerry-built slums of Lancashire or into the burning tin huts and dilapidated rooming-houses of Dhaka appears as a kind of deliverance. Small freedoms are indeed attained from the constraints of a narrow village life, but at the same time, harsh working and living conditions, and wages that run in vain after soaring prices, make a mockery of the freedoms associated with the city.

How was your experience during these visits to the places where you document rural to urban migration in Bangladesh and life in Dhaka garment factories? How have you seen the scene change even through the time of your research? The chief characteristic of change has been the intensification of production in Dhaka over the past 25 years. What had started as a fairly small-scale activity has become the major foreign exchange earner of the country. It is the sheer intensity of labour and quantity of goods produced that shocks and amazes. There is no doubt that certain freedoms have been won by the young

women who have left home; but many are the principal earner of extended families, while enormous numbers of people in Bangladesh are dependent upon “remittances” of one kind or another. Have working and living conditions improved? There is great variation, according to employers and the pressures now being brought to bear by foreign companies aware of their image; this must make at least some marginal difference, but the intensity of competition – globally – means that if employers treat their workers with any great consideration for their humanity, they risk being put out of business by less scrupulous producers. There is a real problem here – one that can only be properly answered by the establishment of free and truly independent trade unions and the self-protection of the workers themselves.

After the Rana plaza disaster, there was some hue and cry about safety and other issues. Now all that seems to have died down. Can Bangladesh or any other nation by itself afford an increase in safety standards, if no compromises are made in terms of profit margin? That is the whole point of globalisation: “competitive advantage” is the name of the game. As long as people –

Book review: The Song of the Shirt n Garga Chatterjee To realise that West Bengal is but the smaller part of Bengal and that the bigger part of Bengal (East Bengal/Bangladesh) is a real entity, I had to wait for my American sojourn. Here, in moments of loneliness when I turned to Bengal, I typically turned to those who were not ashamed of their Bangaliness. These were the people from East Bengal. In USA, I was first exposed to a peculiar phenomenon – how cheap apparel (especially T-shirts) was, so much so that many were given out for free at various events. Being a freebie-lover, I soon owned many, many T-shirts – more than I would ever wear in my life. I had actually bought only a few of them. I repeatedly encountered a familiar word “Bangladesh” in the unfamiliar setting of the manufacturing tag of these

T-shirts. Like popular newspapers that receive absolutely not advertisements, something about the “cheapness” of these shirts didn’t add up. Someone, somewhere was paying the price. It turned out that the price was being paid now in Dhaka, but has been paid in the past by many labourers in many locations. This was the continuing story of labour exploitatio.n, evisceration of rural life, rural to urban migration and the control of every aspect of the lives of millions of labourers ultimately by people whose faces they will never see and forces which are hard to pin down to a specific nation or institution. Jeremy Seabrook’s “The Song of the Shirt” is a book that tells that past, present and the future of the “Made in Bangladesh” story, specifically the story of Bengal’s garment industry and its

It is indeed a book about how did Bengal and Britain come to be the way they are, and much more – all accomplished in the inimitable journalistic style of a veteran master

now-defunct colonial manufacturing counterpart of Lancashire. He provides a magisterial review of Bengal’s famed pre-colonial handloom industry, its forcible decline that was engineered by the East India Company actions and policies, the lives of labour ghettos in Lancashire of yore and today’s Dhaka. The famous Bangla film “Pather Panchali” by Satyajit Ray was translated as the “Song of the Road.” The similarity of the book title is hard not to notice. But what follows is a dirge set among the expendable lives in a globalisation boomtown. While Britain had colonies, Bangladesh doesn’t. Hence, Seabrook’s musings about a future Dhaka that might share some of Lancashire’s post-industrial prosperous fate lacks reason. Seabrook has situated his book largely in Dhaka of the present, the capital of the present-day People’s Republic of Bangladesh, but also in various locations in the past which were key players in the story of cotton and the “song of the shirt,” including Lancashire, Kolkata, Manchester, Barisal, Mumbai and Murshidabad. He draws a multi-century story of Bengal’s bleeding, oozing out riches into the White world and the worlds of their local compradors. This is a book that is more than the plight of garment industry workers. It is more than a critique of present consumer culture. It is indeed a book about how did Bengal and Britain come to be the way they are, and much more – all accom-

plished in the inimitable journalistic style of a veteran master. There is extensive material here that may be made into a documentary or a travelling exhibition. I hope they are made. This book will make you look at your wardrobe in a whole new way. Get the book before you buy your next T-shirt. l Jeremy Seabrook’s other notable books include “The No-nonsense Guide to World Poverty,” “Consuming Cultures: Globalization and Local Lives,” and “People Without History: India’s Muslim Ghettos.”


I have found in Dhaka and Kolkata so many echoes of the experience of poor people in Britain; and I find in the people, not strangers or “foreigners” but kindred of those with whom I grew up in an industrial town in Britain in the mid-20th century

both producers and consumers – think that profit margins are more important than human lives, such tragedies will recur. There are active consumer movements in the West, many NGOs working for more humane conditions of life and labour; everything really depends upon the situation where people have to live and work – who can monitor these, if not the people themselves?

away to some more profitable shore, if any can be found. The story is that mutability is the only certainty in the unstable culture we have created. Fair trade is, of course, a vastly different concept from free trade – which is neither free nor fair, but rigged perpetually on the side of the global possessing classes: demand is imperious and instantaneous, supply is submissive and responsive.

Britain had the empire. Probably the post-industrial urbanscape of today’s Britain wouldn’t have been possible without a captive colonial labour, raw material source and market. What are the options for Bangladesh and India, given that the unstated great-dream is that we will all become America one day?

If you come back to themes around Bengal in many of your works, Kolkata and Dhaka, especially its underclass, figures strongly in your writings. What is this fascination with this land? How and when did it come about? Why do you find it interesting?

The idea that India and Bangladesh have reached a stage of development which the West went through a few generations ago is disingenuous. The question is whether Bangladesh or India can actually support the life-style associated with Europe or America, without overwhelming an increasingly threatened and fragile resource-base of the planet? If they can, by that time, what extravagant predations will the West have made upon the earth? How can indefinite and infinite economic growth on a finite planet occur without catastrophe? Not necessarily apocalyptic catastrophe, but creeping global warming, rising sea-levels, pollution of the oceans, air and soil, whereby the rich retire to fortified communities, and a majority of the world’s people engage in an increasingly savage struggle to survive. The threat of “global warming” – vast and menacing though it is – is only one aspect of the multiple disorders of a global system which behaves as though it can transcend the biosphere on which all human systems ultimately depend. Yet who is going to craft a vision of a more equitable sufficiency out of the extravagances and excess of the existing global model?

What if any, is the moral of this story? Will the song of the shirt end? Can there be fair-trade? If there is a moral, it is that nowhere remains untouched by the piratical incursions of capital; and although Bangladesh may be clothing the world today, if it becomes cheaper to move elsewhere, the whole show could fly

I have found in Dhaka and Kolkata so many echoes of the experience of poor people in Britain; and I find in the people, not strangers or “foreigners” but kindred of those with whom I grew up in an industrial town in Britain in the mid-20th century. Part of the fascination comes from the fact that the rich of Britain extracted wealth, from which the workers of Britain were excluded as much as the peasants of Bengal. It is the sameness of things: poor people are always poor in the same way; and it is with these that I am, and ever have been, concerned. l




Monday, December 29, 2014

Hundreds trapped as ferry burns in heavy seas off Greece n Reuters, Athens Air crews began lifting passengers off a burning ferry adrift in the Adriatic Sea yesterday, racing to rescue as many of the hundreds trapped on board as possible before nightfall as storms hampered seaborne operations. Helicopters were taking passengers off the Italian-flagged Norman Atlantic in pairs and transferring them to a nearby vessel, officials said. There were no confirmed reports of casualties and differing accounts of how many people had been rescued from the ferry, which was carrying almost 500 passengers and crew when it sent a distress signal early on Sunday after fire broke out on its lower deck. Greek authorities said 131 people were clear of the danger zone while an official said 150 had managed to get off the ship aboard a rescue boat. Each air transfer was taking around 15 minutes per helicopter, according to a Greek defence ministry official. Another official said two Italian and two Greek helicopters were involved in the rescue. Coastguard spokesman Nikos Lagkadianos said the heavy rain that was hampering the rescue had helped contain the fire although the ship was still burning. Two tugboats were present, one of which had managed to approach the ship to try to extinguish the blaze. Greek Shipping Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis said the very bad weather, with winds of up to 55 miles (88 kilometres) per hour earlier, made the operation extremely difficult. “We are doing everything we can to save those on board and no one, no one will be left helpless in this tough situation,” he told reporters. “It is one of the most complicated rescue operations that we have ever done.”

Coastguard officials said the Norman Atlantic, which was also carrying more than 200 vehicles, was 44 nautical miles northwest of the island of Corfu when it radioed for help. It was travelling from Patras in western Greece to the Italian city of Ancona. Lagkadianos said 56 people had been successfully transferred from the rescue boat, on which 150 people had escaped to the container ship Spirit of Piraeus.

International rescue effort

Command of the operation was transferred to Italy after the ship drifted out of Greek waters but officials were coordinating closely and an Albanian coastguard vessel was also taking part. A coastguard official said nearby passenger and container ships had attempted to form a ring around the burning vessel to try to form a windbreak to allow small rescue boats to approach, but the rough seas made the manoeuvre difficult. Officials said there were 478 passengers and crew on the Norman Atlantic, of whom 268 were Greek, while a foreign ministry official said there were also passengers from countries including Germany, Italy, Austria, Turkey, France and the Netherlands. Many appeared to be truck drivers. The fire broke out in the lower deck garage of the vessel but there were differing accounts of when it started. Initial reports said the fire began at around 6.00 a.m. local time (0400 GMT) but Italian officials put the time at 4.30 a.m. The Norman Atlantic is a 26,900-tonne, roll-on roll-off ferry chartered by Greek ferry company ANEK. According to marine traffic data, it was built in 2009 and previously operated in Italy. ANEK said in a statement it was cooperating with rescue authorities. l

Photo taken on August 16, 2011 shows an AirAsia Airbus passenger plane landing at Hong Kong’s international airport. Malaysian airline AirAsia said a search and rescue operation was underway on December 28, 2014 for flight QZ8501, an Airbus A320-200, which went missing en route from Indonesia to Singapore AFP

Airbus says missing AirAsia plane was delivered in 2008 n Reuters, Paris The AirAsia aircraft that went missing yesterday on its way to Singapore from Surabaya in Indonesia was delivered to its operator in 2008 and had recorded 23,000 flight hours on 13,600 flights, manufacturer Airbus said in a statement. Indonesia AirAsia Flight QZ8501, an Airbus 320-200 with 162 people aboard, lost contact with Jakarta air traffic control at 6:17 a.m. (6.17 p.m. ET), officials said. The pilots had asked to change course to avoid bad weather. More than 6,000 A320-200s are in service with over 300 operators. They are designed to be used intensively on short routes and are favoured, along

Russia must influence separatists to end crisis, says Merkel n Reuters, Berlin German Chancellor Angela Merkel appealed to the Russian government yesterday to use its influence on separatists in eastern Ukraine to implement a ceasefire plan agreed in Minsk in Sep-

tember aimed at ending the conflict. Planned talks involving Russia, Ukraine and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe to further the ceasefire arrangements have not yet taken place. “(Merkel said) A stabilisation of the

situation can only come if the agreed contact lines are finally implemented,” said a spokeswoman in a statement. “She appealed to the Russian government to use its influence on the separatists to this end,” said the spokeswoman. l

Mystery surrounds US-Cuba prisoner swap n Reuters

The man who shot Pope John Paul II in May 1981, speaks during a press conference in Istanbul, Turkey on November 26 AP

John Paul II gunman lays flowers at Vatican tomb n AP, Vatican City The Turkish gunman who shot and wounded John Paul II in 1981 laid white flowers Saturday on the saint’s tomb in St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican officials said. The surprise visit by Mehmet Ali Agca, believed to be his first time in the Vatican since the assassination attempt, lasted a few minutes, a Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Ciro Benedettini, said. As with other flowers left by visitors to the tomb, the blossoms were later removed by basilica workers. Benedettini said there are no legal matters pending against Agca in the Vatican and he was free to visit. Agca’s trip came on the 31st anniversary of his meeting with the pope. John Paul, who forgave his attacker, visited Agca in a Rome prison on Dec. 27, 1983, and later intervened to gain Agca’s release in 2000. Agca was extradited to

Turkey For the 1979 killing of a Turkish journalist and he completed a 10-year sentence there in 2010. When Agca was apprehended after shooting the pontiff in St. Peter’s Square during a public audience, the Turk said he acted alone. Later he suggested Bulgaria and the Soviet secret services masterminded the attack on the Polish-born pontiff, whose championing of the Polish Solidarity labor movement alarmed Moscow. Twice, Italian juries acquitted three Bulgarians and three Turks of alleged roles in the shooting. Agca has often given contradictory accounts and has claimed to be a Messiah. Italian TV ran a brief video of the tomb visit, apparently filmed by an Italian journalist accompanying Agca in the basilica. The Turk is heard to mumble, “A thousand thanks, saint,” and “Long live Jesus Christ.” He also said: “Today I have come because on Dec. 27, 1983, I met the pope.” l

Cuba’s most prominent dissidents say they have been kept in the dark by US officials over a list of 53 political prisoners who will be released from jail as part of a deal to end decades of hostility between the United States and Cuba. For years, dissident leaders have told the United States which opponents of Cuba’s communist government were being jailed or harassed, but they say they were not consulted when the list of prisoners to be freed was drawn up or even told who is on it. The lack of information has stoked concern and frustration among the dissidents, who worry that the secret list is flawed and that genuine political prisoners who should be on it will be left to languish. “We’re concerned because we don’t agree with the silence, because we have a right to know who they are. Who are they?” said Berta Soler, leader of the Ladies in White dissident group, which marches in Havana yesterdays to demand the release of prisoners. “There are not just 53 political prisoners, there are more, and we are concerned that the US list might have common criminals on it,” she told Reuters in Havana. US officials have so far been tightlipped about how the list of 53 was assembled and who was consulted inside Cuba. It also is not clear if some prisoners were kept off the list because the Cuban government refused to release them. A US official said on Saturday that Washington had asked Cuba to release a specific group of people jailed on charges related to their political activities, but declined to answer further questions. l

with the competing Boeing 737, by the low-cost airlines that run such routes. The A320-200 is a twin-engine single-aisle aircraft seating up to 180 passengers in a single-class configuration. The first A320 entered service in March 1988. Airbus provided no other details regarding the incident or the aircraft. Aviation safety sources say aircraft of this type typically have a heavy maintenance check every 18-24 months. The manufacturer said it would provide full assistance to the investigation, and to the French authority BEA which gets involved in such events because Airbus is France-based. A BEA spokeswoman said it was in touch with Indonesian authorities

to see what assistance it could offer in the search and rescue, but had no further comment. The aircraft’s engines were made by French-American venture CFM International, co-owned by General Electric and Safran , meaning the National Transportation Safety Board could also be accredited to take part in any investigation. The Washington-based NTSB was not available for immediate comment. By default, the country where the plane is registered - Indonesia takes charge of the investigation if the plane has crashed on its territory or in international waters, but it can also delegate the investigation to a third country. l

Missing AirAsia flight had asked to fly higher to avoid cloud n Reuters, Jakarta An Indonesia AirAsia flight went missing yesterday about half way between its origin of Surabaya in Indonesia and its destination of Singapore, an Indonesian transport official said. The aircraft was between the Indonesian port of Tanjung Pandan and the town of Pontianak, in West Kalimantan on Borneo island, when it went missing, Joko Muryo Atmodjo, air transportation director at the Transport Ministry, told a news conference. The aircraft had been flying at 32,000 feet and had asked to fly at 38,000 feet to avoid clouds, he said. l



Monday, December 29, 2014


Afghan police lead insurgent fight at high cost n AP, Kabul

International Security Assistance Force soldiers carry flags during a ceremony marking the end of ISAF’s combat mission in Afghanistan at ISAF headquarters in Kabul yesterday


Insurgency boils as Nato ends Afghan war n AFP Nato formally ended its war in Afghanistan yesterday, holding a low-key ceremony in Kabul after 13 years of conflict that have left the country in the grip of worsening insurgent violence. The event was arranged in secret due to the threat of Taliban strikes in the Afghan capital, which has been hit by repeated suicide bombings and gun attacks over recent years. “Together ... we have lifted the Afghan people out of the darkness of despair and given them hope for the future,” Nato commander US General John Campbell told assembled soldiers. “You’ve made Afghanistan stronger and our countries safer.” On January 1, the US-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) combat mission, which has suffered 3,485 military deaths since 2001, will be replaced by a Nato “training and support” mission. US General John Campbell, com-

Sri Lanka’s largest Muslim party leaves government

n AP, Colombo

Sri Lanka’s largest Muslim political party yesterday defected from President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s camp to support the opposition candidate in next month’s presidential election. With Sunday’s announcement Sri Lanka Muslim Congress became the latest partner of Rajapaksa’s ruling coalition to withdraw support, dealing a major blow to his campaign for a third term in office, with more than 20 lawmakers and ministers already defecting to the opposition. Party leader and Justice Minister Rauf Hakeem also resigned from the Cabinet. Ameer Faaiz, an official of the party that represents minority Muslims in overwhelmingly Buddhist Sri Lanka, cited the Rajapaksa administration’s “intolerance toward religious minorities” and disagreement with his style of rule. l

562 ceasefire violations in JK

n Agencies

Over 550 incidents of ceasefire violations by Pakistan occurred this year, the highest since the truce came into force in 2003, with the Indo-Pak border witnessing the worst such escalation during August to October which left 13 people, including 2 security personnel dead, and thousands displaced. Jammu and Kashmir’s Line of Control (LoC) and International Border (IB) this year witnessed 562 violations, with increased shelling, firing, Border Action Team (BAT) and sniper attacks on civilian areas and forward posts by the Pakistani troops. l

Delhi records coldest day

n Agencies

Delhi yesterday recorded the lowest temperature of the season with the mercury dipping to 2.6 degrees Celsius, five notches below normal, with dense fog affecting 55 flights and about 70 trains. l

mander of Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), salutes during the change of mission ceremony in Kabul, on December 28, 2014. (Reuters photo) About 12,500 foreign troops staying in Afghanistan will not be involved in direct fighting, but will assist the Afghan army and police in their battle against the Taliban, who ruled from 1996 until 2001. When numbers peaked in 2011, about 130,000 troops from 50 nations were part of the Nato military alliance. “I hope you take great pride in the positive impact you’ve made and will continue to make upon the Afghan people,” Campbell said in a speech released by Isaf on Twitter as live broadcasts were banned for security reasons. Campbell folded up the Isaf flag and unveiled the flag of the new mission, named Resolute Support. Sunday’s ceremony — held in a sports hall at Nato headquarters —

completed the gradual handover of responsiblity to the 350,000-strong Afghan forces, who have been in charge of nationwide security since last year. But recent bloodshed has undermined claims that the insurgency is weakening and has highlighted fears that the international intervention has failed as Afghanistan faces spiralling violence. The United Nations says that civilian casualties hit a record high in 2014, jumping by 19% with 3,188 civilians killed by the end of November. Afghan’s police and army have also suffered a grim death toll, with fatalities soaring to more than 4,600 in the first 10 months of 2014 — far higher than all Isaf deaths since 2001. “The US and Nato mission was an absolute failure as today’s ceremony shows,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP. “They are fleeing from Afghanistan. They have not reached their goals in

defeating the Afghan mujahideen.” US and Afghan commanders insist the national security forces can hold the line against the Taliban despite concerns of a repeat of Iraq, where an American-trained army virtually collapsed in the face of a jihadist onslaught. “Our sons and daughters of ANSF (Afghan National Security Forces) are in the lead, fighting to protect security interests. God willing, they will prevail,” national security adviser Mohmmad Hanif Atmar said at the ceremony. Since 2001, billions of dollars of aid have been spent in Afghanistan on new schools, hospitals, roads and promoting women’s rights, but corruption has been endemic and progress limited even in the cities. This year’s presidential election, which was meant to be the keystone legacy of the development effort, was marred by fraud and a prolonged stand-off between the two poll rivals that fanned further unrest. l

‘100% Hindu’ vision for India n Times of India

This month, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, India’s powerful, male-only Hindu nationalist outfit, finally played a card it has long held in its hand. It announced an intensive conversion programme to recover its “lost property” in India, feeding the dream of its cadre and allied organisations of an India that is nothing less than “100 per cent Hindu.” The RSS has visibly grown in power and ambition in the seven months since the arrival of a new government — unsurprisingly, as it counts among its past members the current prime minister, Narendra Modi, as well as many old and new chief ministers in the states. With this carefully calculated provocation under a regime sympathetic to its ideology, the non-governmental organisation is seeking victories in many arenas. In the realm of law, the RSS wants the passage of a stringent nationwide bill that would ban religious conversions. In the public sphere, it has arrogated the right to pronounce not just on the future of minorities in India but that of India’s Hindu majority as well. In the war of the religions, it seeks to spread the news that there is now a Hindu fundamentalism eager to goad and trump well-established Christian and Islamic fundamentals in India and around the world. And among its own vast cadre, it has generated the sense that it, much more than the government of the day or the diverse institutions of civil society and business, holds the keys to India’s future. But let’s consider conversion as a recurring question in Indian history, one that reveals the tensions between a religious society and a secular state, between conservative and liberal adherents of a religion, between majorities and minorities in a multicultural milieu, and between religions that have a history of proselytising and those that don’t. The RSS’s new emphasis on conversion actually represents an about-face for the organisation, which has for decades condemned missionary activity by Muslims and Christians in India. In so doing, the RSS often points out that Hinduism suffers because it has historically

never been a proselytising religion (its identity is partly based on being born into a pre-existing caste order). Therefore, if religion were to become a sort of free market in a multi-faith country such as India, Hinduism could only stand to lose followers, not gain any. As a Hindu, I have some sympathy with this viewpoint. Missionary activity has always seemed to me unacceptably crude and arrogant, not only in its conviction that there is a single truth that must be propagated, but also in its contempt for two of the forces that most strongly influence religious belief: the accident of birth in a certain religion, which is then followed by many years of socialisation into its worldview. To be sure, I respect an individual’s freedom not only to practise his or her faith but also to change it, as allowed in India by the constitution. But shouldn’t this follow from a person’s own dissatisfaction or personal struggle, not as an outcome of the outreach work or material inducements of an organised religion? I even find myself in sympathy with Mahatma Gandhi’s unusual idea that it’s best that a person rule out the option of changing his religion and instead live through his or her quarrels with it (as Gandhi very vividly did). So if the RSS’s new and crude campaign were aimed at simply drawing attention to the absence of a level playing field in India on the issue of conversion, as well as to generate the necessary debate leading to the passage of such a bill, I could see the point of it. But in truth, even if such a bill were passed, the RSS would insist that it would nevertheless not be bound by the bill’s terms. That’s because the present aggressive campaign of the RSS is, in its own eyes, not about conversion but about reversion: the return, after many generations, of Christians and Muslims whose forefathers were once Hindu but were converted during India’s centuries under Islamic and colonial rule. What the RSS seeks, then, is a new disequilibrium in which no other religious organisation would have the right to convert people. No wonder it salivates at the prospect of a future

India in which, by generating a consensus against the missionary activity of other religions, it can engineer a society that’s 100 per cent Hindu. And we shouldn’t lose sight of the even more slippery and sinister part of the RSS’s sinister agenda: the simultaneous conversion of a few hundred million people from Hinduism to Hindutva, the rancorous, intellectually and morally impoverished version of Hinduism that the RSS propagates. This is a dour doctrine that — like other religious fundamentals — makes no distinction between myth and history, science and religious belief, and often comes close to caricature. It believes that Hinduism is a thought system perfect from its very origins, that all the problems of modernity and history were foreseen by Hindu sages 2,000 years ago, that all modern scientific achievement was prefigured in Hindu thought, that Indians of all faiths are “culturally Hindu,” that India’s four-fifths Hindu majority is under threat from minorities, and that all Hindus should fall in line with a singular interpretation of Hindu tradition controlled by a central authority. That body would be — surprise, surprise — the RSS. What’s the view of the Modi government on all of this? In the firestorm that has erupted around the conversion issue, one man’s refusal to comment has come to seem as meaningful as any argument: Prime Minister Modi, who in recent months has taken his message of development and an economically resurgent India to many parts of the world, has remained shamefully silent. (As usual, his friends in the media have found inventive ways of coming to his defence.) Perhaps this non-gesture reflects Modi’s divided allegiance between the oaths and responsibilities of his present post and the convictions and prejudices of his often murky past. But there’s no getting past the truth that the evasion by this allegedly firm and decisive leader — the holder of the largest majority in India’s parliament in three decades — of the conversion debate holds profound implications for the freedom and future of all of India’s 1.2 billion people. l

When brothers Amir and Mosha Jan joined Afghanistan’s police two years ago they believed that their patriotic duty was more important than obeying their father, who did not want his only sons joining the ranks of a police force on the front lines of the war against the Taliban. The father’s worst fears came true earlier this year, when gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire on the two brothers as they patrolled the streets of the one-time Taliban capital Kandahar. “Two Taliban on a motorcycle started firing at us,” Amir, 25, said. “My brother was shot dead on the spot.” Mosha was 23 years old. As US and international combat troops leave Afghanistan after more than 13 years fighting the Taliban, Afghan policemen are dying in record numbers as they perform dangerous tasks usually reserved for the military, according to the head of the European-funded mission to train the police force. Afghanistan’s war is as hot as it has been since the US-led invasion following the Sept. 11 attacks overthrew the Taliban. The international combat mission ends on Dec. 31, leaving the Afghan security forces in charge after leading the fight since the middle of last year. Some 5,000 members of Afghanistan’s security forces — army, police and armed rural defense units — have died this year fighting the Taliban, according to Karl Ake Roghe, the outgoing head of EUPOL, the European Union Police Mission in Afghanistan. “The police have lost something like 3,200 this year, so most of the casualties belong to the Afghan National Police,” Roghe, who has led the mission for two and a half years, told The Associated Press. By comparison, some 3,500 foreign forces, including at least 2,210 American soldiers, have been killed in the 13 years since the war began. “This is the main problem for Afghanistan - how they are dividing the responsibilities for fighting the insurgency. This should be a task for the Afghan National Army, not the police. Currently it belongs to the police and the main part of the fight is done by the police,” he said. Gen. Joseph Anderson, second in command of the Nato combat mission until it officially ended earlier this month, described the Afghan

losses as “unsustainable.” Afghanistan has 157,000 police in a force created, trained and funded by the European Union. Almost every day, Afghan authorities report the deaths of policemen in Taliban assaults on checkpoints around rural towns and on the outskirts of larger cities. The police receive little backup from the army and do not have air support, medical evacuation or dedicated hospitals that could help reduce deaths, Roghe said. “They are doing this totally alone and of course they are not properly equipped for this task,” he said. Amir and his brother were aware of the dangers when they joined the police force, “but we thought if we don’t stand up for our country then who will?” he said. “I lost my brother. I am proud of him for sacrificing his life for this country, I hope I can do the same,” said Amir, who has since left the police and joined the army. “I know the government is doing less for the police (than for the army) but I don’t want to blame them because they are also not in a good position.” Many in the impoverished country join the police out of desperation. A policeman earns $200 a month, and the family continues to receive that amount if he is killed in the line of duty, as well as a one-time compensation payment of three times that amount. Officers get around $300 a month. But it’s an increasingly risky gambit. As international forces have left, they have taken with them air support — helicopters and jets — that allowed ground troops to take the fight to the Taliban. In response, the insurgents have swept into populated areas, where the police are ill-equipped to repel them and where women and children are increasingly caught in the crossfire. Roghe said the deterioration in security since the Afghans took the lead had been expected and will continue for some years. “ISAF drawing down and the Afghans more exposed — this will create some space for the insurgency,” he said. Nevertheless, he said the force was sustainable. “We don’t see that they are going to be overrun, we don’t think we will see here in Afghanistan what we have seen in Iraq,” he said, referring to the lightning advance of the Islamic State extremist group across much of northern and western Iraq earlier this year. l




Monday, December 29, 2014


First things first

Be heard Write to Dhaka Tribune FR Tower, 8/C Panthapath, Sukrabad, Dhaka-1207 Email Send us your Op-Ed articles: Join our Facebook community:


he tragic news of a four-year-old boy, Jihad, falling down and then drowning in an abandoned and unsealed deep tubewell in the Shahjahanpur Railway colony, is widely known throughout the nation by now. While most of the attention has focused on the shambolic rescue operations, it is equally important to focus on how the catastrophe could have occurred in the first place. As much as we need to improve our disaster preparedness, we also need to do more to ensure that avoidable disasters are indeed avoided. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as they say. Many questions still linger as to why an abandoned deep tube-well was left unsealed in the first place. Whatever the reasons, the overarching answer points to gross negligence being exhibited by the authorities concerned – which in this case would be the railway authorities. Various contractors and firms, hired by the railway officials, were reported to have used the deep well for the purposes of drawing water out of it, and then employing flimsy, makeshift techniques to cover the gaping hole, such as using a stone, or even worse, a polythene sheet. This is entirely unacceptable, and the officials of the contractors in question should be brought to book swiftly by the administration. Nothing can be done to bring Jihad back to his grieving family, but conducting a proper investigation into this incident and preventing further lives being lost due to the callousness of a few may give them some much-needed solace.

As much as we need to improve our disaster preparedness, we also need to ensure that avoidable disasters are indeed avoided

Let’s not backslide into political chaos


onday’s hartal could easily have been avoided if the Gazipur administration had given permission for the rally planned by the BNP. It is a right of opposition parties to be able to hold peaceful rallies and demonstrations, a right that is guaranteed by the constitution. Thwarting non-violent events planned by the opposition is not democratic behaviour on the part of the ruling party. If indeed the BNP obtained permission to stage rallies and followed the correct procedures, they should not have been denied the space to protest, as long as it is done in a peaceful manner. Equally important is that the opposition avoid taking the path of violence and destruction as a reactionary response. However, the government has a role to play in facilitating that, and cracking down on all opposition activities with BCL backed up by law enforcement does not bode well to that end. But here we are and, once again, both BNP and AL have appeared to ignore the interests of the ordinary people, whom they claim to represent. Citizens value democratic freedoms, but they also dislike hartals, which scare away foreign (and local) investors, harm their job prospects, interrupt their children’s education, and put their lives at risk, as they try to go about their work and their business during hartals. The nation has enjoyed a modicum of stability for the majority of this year. We urge both the administration and the opposition to respect and retain that stability going into the year 2015.

If indeed the BNP obtained permission to stage rallies and followed the correct procedures, they should not have been denied the space to protest

The most profound change in history?

December 18 Imagine having a Fukushima in Bangladesh. Mr Kahn Game over, fellas. Climate change is real. But sometimes no one listens.

Breadbitten Mr Kahn: Indeed.

shottikar bangalee Terrific piece. Pretty much all of the author’s articles on climate change are to the point, and never boring. It is indeed alarming to note that climate change issues are tied to the recent catastrophic “accident” in the Sundarbans.

sattar “If Japan can have Fukushima, Bangladesh can have a Rampal accident or a Rooppur meltdown.”

Seira By the time our leaders start thinking progressively, it will be too late.

Seira Mr Kahn: More so in this country. Exhibit A: Shahjahan Khan.

How to solve: Each number in our CODE-CRACKER grid represents a different letter of the alphabet. For example, today 20 represents S so fill S every time the figure 20 appears. You have two letters in the control grid to start you off. Enter them in the appropriate squares in the main grid, then use your knowledge of words to work out which letters go in the missing squares. Some letters of the alphabet may not be used. As you get the letters, fill in the other squares with the same number in the main grid, and the control grid. Check off the list of alphabetical letters as you identify them. ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

SUDOKU Tarique faces arrest warrant for ‘razakar’ remark

A new line was crossed December 19

December 19

How to solve: Fill in the blank spaces with the numbers 1 – 9. Every row, column and 3 x 3 box must contain all nine digits with no number repeating.

Nazmul Khair So far, history says it was the first demand, but history also said that we did not start the movement for independence from the beginning. If one looks back, then it can also be said that Major Zia was the government employee of then Pakistan, and a true servant of Pakistan till 1971. It’s better to stop saying such garbage, such lies, and make a new Bangladesh. Wali Rahman “Tarique said Sheikh Mujib never wanted an independent Bangladesh, but a combined Pakistan.” SMR wanted to be the PM of all of Pakistan.

Construction mishaps in the Sundarbans December 20

Karl Hungus It is truly a sad reminder of how some people can cross the line that divides human beings and savages. This is not the way a year should be sent off. SR So horrendous and loathsome! How could the Talibans behave like that? We ought to raise our voice against them and banish them from this earth. Lisa I do hope that the darkest places in hell are reserved for the monsters who deliberately killed these children, one by one, and also for those who are indifferent towards this incident. Tariq It should be the national priority for Pakistan to ensure that such an incident never occurs again.

PB “A recent photo taken from inside the Sundarbans shows a shed for visitors being erected at Jamtola, in the Kotka area. Such concrete structures, according to experts, will obstruct the free movement of wildlife. However, the Forest Department continues with the construction work.” And this is how our genius #forestofficials are killing the #Sundarbans!

BTRC: 350 million minutes of daily calls unmonitored December 18

Billjobs “JS body advises fresh tender for telecommunication monitoring system.” And that’s a bad thing why, exactly?


No papers, no rights? December 18

bangalee Going off to a foreign country to work is scary enough, even when things are alright. The nightmares these people face, after taking the plunge, is the stuff of horror novels.

CROSSWORD ACROSS 1 Gem (4) 5 Game of skill (5) 9 Part of the eye (6) 10 Sharp blow (3) 11 Minute particle (4) 12 Freight boat (5) 14 Himalayan kingdom (5) 16 Region (4) 19 Wise man (4) 21 Whole sum (5) 24 Flowed back (5) 27 Tumbled (4) 29 Zodiac sign (3) 30 Slowly (mus) (6) 31 Heavenly bodies (5) 32 Water grass (4)

DOWN 1 Spoken (4) 2 Favourite (3) 3 Makes up for (6) 4 Fruit (4) 5 Floor show (7) 6 Do wrong (3) 7 Droop (3) 8 Kind of wheat (5) 13 Beverage (3) 15 Eastern temples (7) 17 Assert without proof (6) 18 Staggers (5) 20 Consumed (3) 22 At a distance (4) 23 Trudge (4) 25 Wager (3) 26 Non-venomous snake (3) 28 Falsehood (3)

SE The migrant workers should be provided with proper documents so that they don’t face any problems while working abroad. Zero-Agenda There really is no excuse for the horrendous abuse migrant workers (both from our country and others) face at the hands of their employers.

A children’s history of the Liberation War December 18

rose This is indeed a good article on the freedom fighters of the Liberation War.


Global retailers: $50bn RMG export target achievable December 19


Farhad Faisal The export goal set by BGMEA, to essentially double the current amount to $50bn by 2021, can be achieved if its members are able and enlightened enough to carry out and institutionalise all the major reforms that have been discussed thoroughly at the Dhaka Apparel Summit 2014. This alone can earn the trust of the millions of workers, working in their thousands of factories, that they are partners in a win-win enterprise. This can even galvanise the entire sector to a new global height.

Burning that fuel December 18

KH The author has chalked out some interesting suggestions here. I never realised the BPC’s indifference had reached a point where they feel certain losses are allowable.





Monday, December 29, 2014


Congratulations BTV n Rabiul Islam


We deserve a safer city















Death traps of Dhaka


n Towheed Feroze s the nation watched with bated breath the activities around an abandoned well in Dhaka’s Shahjahanpur to recover the four-yearold boy Jihad, the first thing that struck millions was why such a tunnel was left without a security lid. But in a city where death lurks in every possible corner, asking that question makes little sense. Take this for instance. Within the Dhaka University area, there are several road dividers, especially the one in front of Jagannath Hall, which starts abruptly from the middle of the road without any proper sign for vehicles using the road. In the dense winter fog, the divider is obscured, leaving the road user dependent either on his luck or a very (read superhuman) sharp eye. The divider has been there for some time. There have been plenty of accidents, including young motorcycle riders tripping over the edge and getting injured, yet no proper signboard in fluorescent colours was set there to warn the road users. The same goes for the intersection of three roads near the Dhaka Medical College – Shaheed Minar entrance. Three roads, from Chankharpul, Doyel intersection, and TSC meet here, but there aren’t proper signs to warn the road users. As efforts were underway to rescue baby Jihad from the deep well, an array of potential life-threatening situations existing around the city came rushing. Take the main islands dividing most roads within Dhaka. Some islands are actually raised platforms

on underground sewerage lines, and while there are lids on top after certain intervals, some of the covers are often absent, even in the affluent areas. Unless you know of potential danger ahead, a painful shock will greet you. For some odd reason, there are vertical steel bars on some islands, rising from the bottom, which are not noticed at first glance. Any pedestrian wanting to cross the road may miss it and trip over on the main road.

Now that we know for certainty it was the local people who actually managed to bring out the body of Jihad with their handmade, makeshift catcher, the question is if the fire brigade has any equipment at all to save people caught or stuck in very narrow areas. Another thing which is troubling is the vociferous declaration of the authorities that there was nobody down in the tunnel after their so-called

Instead of finding faults, let’s all unite to identify the safety issues within the city that need to be addressed

Now, let’s talk about the over-bridges. The basic rule is to make footbridges user friendly. Most stairs of the bridges in the city are slippery, while the distance between two stairs is too high for senior citizens to negotiate comfortably. As for special facilities for people with physical constraints, there are none. Coming back to the whole rescue operation, it appeared that the efforts were sometimes overshadowed by too many curious people trying to take a peek. Emergency rules state that if there is a sink-hole or an opening where someone has fallen, a demarcated area needs to be secured first within which serious rescue efforts, not pontificating, will be permitted. What we saw in Shahjahanpur was a voyeuristic public curiosity show.

“highly sophisticated” camera failed to detect a human form. Of course, after the boy was found by the locals, the tune changed. Rescue team leaders from the government’s side are saying that they did not abandon the search or call it off. Whatever the case, bickering about who did what and who failed to act on time won’t bring back the boy to life; nor will it solve the countless safety hazards that plague this city. Every year we hear that someone has fallen from an under-construction building which did not have safety railings or a safety net. Moreover, there are countless freak accidents where people using the streets fall into open ditches or pot holes. The core notion that each and every public utility must have safety precau-

tions is missing from common urban knowledge. Hence, we do not see fire extinguishers at restaurants, rubber tubes near ponds, or basic warning signs indicating depth of water at different times of the year. Since large field areas of the city are used for weddings, religious gatherings, convocations, or rallies, countless holes – created from planting bamboo poles to support marquees – are left unattended, creating huge risk for children playing football or cricket. Also, construction materials like rods are kept in the open without protection. Just placing four to five cardboard boxes on both sides of the rods can easily reduce the danger, though this common sense is missing. And, the less said about low-lying electric wires the better. It’s most unfortunate that Jihad could not be rescued alive, but let us not allow this sudden end of life pass by and be overtaken by exploding crackers and unrestrained euphoria of 31st night. Instead of finding faults, let’s all unite to identify the safety issues within the city that need to be addressed. The fire brigade can take the initiative with the help of ward commissioners. I mean ward commissioners do exist, right? The thing is these people only come out before the city corporation elections, and hence one often forgets that they exist. The word Jihad means to wage war, so why not launch a campaign against the existing accident traps? Certainly, this will be a noble New Year’s resolution worth following up for the government. l

aven’t you watched Meena? You should respect your sister for what she does for our family” – I know that sentence has not only been uttered in my family but thousands of other families in Bangladesh as well. How deeply the cartoon has changed and improved our views on women’s rights is astonishing! When pictures of scenes from The Adventures of Sindbad, Alif Laila, MacGyver, Robin Hood, and Hercules pop up on our Facebook walls, we instantly become nostalgic. The screenshots immediately recharge our memories. We go back to the days when we used to huddle up and sit down before a 14-inch black and white television to watch our favorite shows. We used to walk miles to watch television back then, but we don’t remember the troubles we faced. We only reminisce about the wonder, the fascination, the joy, the thrill! Bangladesh Television (BTV) made all that possible. BTV started its broadcast on December 25, 1964 as Pakistan Television, being renamed Bangladesh Television after the nation’s independence. Bangladeshis had to wait until 1980 to be able to watch BTV on their colour screens, and then it went global and reached people overseas in 2004. The channel now transmits its programs through a centre, a sub-centre, and 14 relay stations covering about 97% of the country’s population. Thanks to BTV, we have memories of the Bangladesh Cricket team’s glorious victory against Pakistan in 1999. BTV has been constantly showing our national team’s international matches live. Through BTV, Bangladesh Cricket team members reached the heart of every Bangladeshi cricket lovers. Because of BTV, every year Bangladesh has found its talented youths. Before the dawn of any corporate talent shows, BTV opened its doors for hundreds of young talented Bangladeshis with its program Notun Kuri (a national cultural talent hunt show). Each Friday used to be the day when we had to sit with the family and the neighbours to watch the weekly movie. During commercial breaks, our parents and neighbours would open up their bags of dialogues. It was not too long ago when someone had to go out and move the bamboo pole on which the tv antenna was fixed to

Towheed Feroze is a journalist currently working in the development sector.

catch the satellite signals. The Friday neighbours would again arrive during nights after the news in Bangla at 8 0’ clock. Such social engagement had profoundly influenced us. We may not have realised how BTV had helped us bond with our neighbours and families. This is sadly noticeable today as most of us rarely care to watch television with our families. And as for neighbours, none of us even bother.

Each Friday used to be the day when we had to sit with the family to watch the weekly movie

After watching each episode of Ittyadi (a popular magazine show hosted by Hanif Sanket), everyone used to realise about the oddities around them in society. We seemed to start noticing things that we had never considered before. Though we passed the hours with laughter, and sometimes sadness, we always knew that we had learned something, and we were inspired to do something. Fazle Lohani’s Jodi Kichu Mone Na Koren, Rezaul Karim Siddique and Shykh Seraj’s Mati O Manush, are programs for which this generation feels proud. We can never forget Bohubrihi, Kothao Keu Nei, Shongshoptok, Aj Robibar – the television dramas which are embedded in our souls. BTV has always been telecasting programs for the betterment of all Bangladeshis. Educational programs for children such as Meena and Sisimpur, drama series that highlight gender inequalities, maternal health issues, and raise public awareness regarding child marriage, have been helping Bangladesh in its growth and development. On December 25, 2014, Bangladesh Television is observed its golden jubilee. We hope BTV will always be with us, delivering such entertainment and information to the mainstream, uninterrupted by any political forces. l Rabiul Islam is a freelance contributor.


No need to issue clandestine threats n Khawaza Main Uddin


he Internet has offered a comfort zone to those who are willing to hide their identity for expressing uncensored views. Hurling abusive words at others by sending an email, giving feedback, or posting comments online is not a problem either, to an anonymous individual. Criminals, terrorists, extremists, and revolutionaries alike have found a platform in a laptop computer or a smartphone to carry out their respective “activities” from a safe location in Faridpur, Kandahar, or London. Enthusiasts of information and communications technology (ICT) would, however, say how the Internet has given voice to the voiceless, breaking barriers of discriminatory polarisation in many societies. It presents an alternative to conventional media, in case genuine stories are not brought to public attention or if citizens are not allowed to speak out. Hillary Clinton, during her visit to Dhaka as US Secretary of State in 2012, expressed her faith in an information

revolution – information of corruption could not be hidden anymore, as a common citizen could easily upload any secret information by using a mere mobile phone. She may be right, but who cares about such moral precepts? Even if strong opinions and dissents are ventilated through social media, they may not have enough impact on politics and governance when the human beings in key positions are neither democratic nor free from corrupt practices. Former minister Abdul Latif Siddiqui might regret not trying to ban the media and thus stop Bangladeshi people from knowing about the derogatory remarks he made in New York. On the flip side, the practice of being anonymous while disclosing certain information, often breaches the privacy of an individual or even a family, threatening the lives of teenage girls in certain cases. Falsehood is also a practice sometimes. So, has this technological revolution provided us with more freedom, and has it empowered the masses? ICT has, at least, strengthened the

hands of the powerful people and the state. Security agencies in most countries are privileged to have acquired and ensured the use of the most sophisticated technologies, and on many occasions they are used to suppress opposing voices and sometimes even common citizens.

hawkish leaders in the likes of George W Bush, Vladimir Putin, Ariel Sharon, and Tony Blair in their foreign policy and Sheikh Hasina in her domestic policy. Insurgencies have flared up simultaneously. Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak was overthrown by the first wave of

Has this technological revolution provided us with more freedom, and has it empowered the masses?

Extrajudicial killing is the case in point in today’s Bangladesh. Law enforcers are equipped not only with technology but also freehand (immunity) to abduct and kill almost a hundred people, after the one-sided ballot on January 5. The increasing use of ICT since the late 90s has coincided with the rise of

the Arab Spring only to see the subsequent abortion of democracy there. Mullah Omar of Afghanistan’s Taliban regime, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, and Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi were removed from power with foreign interventions, but civil war has become the inevitable fate for those

nations. The armed revolt against Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad has made the entire region a breeding ground for militant ideologues. All the warring parties – the establishments and the insurgents – do possess one common weapon in the form of the Internet, to pursue their respective goals – retaining hegemony or changing the world around them forever. The state, be it the most powerful or a relatively weaker one, was about to lose its colonial era grip on the citizens because of the uprising of people through the liberation of many countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. But, screening emails or tapping mobile phones by the agents of the state and a database of citizens have revitalised the coercive government machinery. Call records are used to trace and pursue an accused or arrest a politician, yet, common people are being deprived of having their phone sets and computers be protected from thieves and cheats. Rather, in a nexus between the fortune-seeking business entities and the corrupt rulers, it’s the privacy of

the people in general that is at stake more than ever before. Therefore, ordinary Facebook or even email users somehow fail to understand that they are not anonymous, but instead are hostage to knowledge, technology, and the monetary power of those who hold and control it and maybe even hack into it. What might have been considered the power of the people has actually turned into an “anti-people” instrument of the state. Now, neither state nor the dissidents need to issue any threats to rival parties and potential adversaries from remote places when they can do it via the Internet. At one stage, the physical presence and acts that the cadres of Boko Haram, RSS, etc, need to show, no longer remain elusive. The lack of privacy and the expression of refined thinking on the net may make society increasingly restless and hostile in the coming days. l Khawaza Main Uddin is Executive Editor at ICE Business Times.


DHAKA TRIBUNE Monday, December 29, 2014

13 Atletico close

to sealing Torres deal

14 Rahane, Kohli

build record partnership

14 Pakistan’s Ajmal

pulls out of World Cup squad


Did you know? Manchester United yesterday named an unchanged XI for the first time in 85 Premier League games (since November 2012)

Chief selector Faruk terms himself lucky Former national captain to select his second World Cup squad

n Minhaz Uddin Khan The upcoming 2015 ICC World Cup in Australia-New Zealand will be the second time national chief selector Faruk Ahmed will be responsible for picking the final squad. The first instance of Faruk forming the Bangladesh squad for a World Cup was back in 2007. On that occasion, the Tigers had a great time under his stewardship. In the first round, Bangladesh recorded a memorable win against neighbours India before trouncing powerhouse South Africa in the Super Eights. With the January 7 deadline for the announcement of the 15-man squad looming large, Faruk yesterday labeled himself extremely lucky to be selecting the Tigers’ World Cup squad once again. “It is a big opportunity as the chairman of the selection committee,” said Faruk yesterday. “Some do not get the chance to pick one World Cup squad in their tenure so definitely I am lucky. The work is always exciting. “However, this selection is not different from any other time. We have to keep in mind the tournament, conditions and opposition. The focus of the whole world is on the World Cup so this is a good chance to showcase Bangladesh cricket’s progress in the last four years,” he said. Back in 2007, the former captain was largely responsible for blooding young cricketers like Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim and Shakib al Hasan. The gamble paid off rich dividends as the young guns perfomed beyond expectations. Faruk explained that his move back then was a calculative risk. “I personally feel that rather than giving everyone a surprise, I take a calculative risk. I will expect a performance from the player. And at the same time I want to make sure that he is not burdened by expectations,” he said.

“Back in 2007, I did not expect them to do so well in the first game against India. But, I feel that our thought process was correct because they emerged from that tournament. I cannot be right all the time but if I apply logic to make a team, chances of being successful are higher,” he added. The 15-member Bangladesh squad for the World Cup is likely to be announced on January 4 or 5. Faruk informed that the current scenario is totally different to that of 2007. “These are two different situations. When I selected the team for the 2007 World Cup, we had limited options. The team were in their earlier stages in world cricket and our domestic structure had not developed that much,” he said. “It was a policy to focus our attention on the age-group sides. It was a gamble and it was not just Mushfiqur Rahim who was new. Tamim Iqbal was raw and Shakib al Hasan had just played for six months in international cricket. All three are now established players in the team and the other boys are also matured,” he added. Alongside talking about the recent success over Zimbabwe at home in a bilateral series, Faruk also revealed their plans ahead of the global showpiece event. “Bangladesh’s wins over Zimbabwe came at an important time. But, I feel the two-week training camp in Brisbane plus the two warm-up games are going to be vital to get used to the conditions and get into a winning habit,” he said. “It happened in 1999 when we beat Essex in one of the warm-up games. Same thing happened in 2007 when we beat New Zealand in the warm-up game and prepared well in matches against Canada and Ireland. If we can do it well, despite the conditions in New Zealand and Australia, we will have a chance to give a good account of ourselves,” he concluded. l

Muktijoddha Sangsad’s new Italian coach Flavio Raffo sharing a light moment with Enamul Haque and Maruf Ahmed (R) at the Army Museum ground yesterday

Muktis’ new Italian coach wants to prove himself n Raihan Mahmood The new Italian coach of Muktijoddha Sangsad Krira Chakra, Flavio Raffo, wanted commitment, discipline and a good positional sense in a lively and humourous introductory session with his charges at the Army Museum ground yesterday. A product of the AS Roma academy, Raffo played for Roma Juniors in 198586 and 1987-88 before going on to feature for a number of Serie B teams till the end of the 1998-99 season. He started his coaching career in 2008 with Pomezia, a regional club in

Rome. The 42-year old tactician also managed Academics Atsika in Madagascar, Sports Africa in Ivory Coast and Al Ittihad in Salalah, Oman. His latest team, Al Ittihad, were relegated from the premier league last year. It is mentionable that the Uefa professional license holder won the Madagascar Premier Division with Atsika in 2010. Yesterday, Raffo was seen laughing and joking and appeared full of energy. The Italian coach presented a realistic target to his players. “Position in football is all-important for me. I want my players to be the best in their positions. I was a player and I know the

n Shishir Hoque The 12-member committee formed by National Sports Council (NSC), in a bid to bridge the gap between District Football Association (DFA) and District Sports Association (DSA), is all set to propose to provide fields to the DFA for the last four months of the year. A meeting of the committee, led by convenor and NSC’s director of sports Narayan Chandra Devnath, was held yesterday where they outlined a procedure of proposal to the NSC for making football run regularly and smoothly at the root levels. Representatives of District Sports


Rock-solid Lloris curbs United’s title surge n

Manchester United’s efforts to force their way into the Premier League title race faltered as they were held to a 0-0 draw at Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday. An outstanding display by Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris together with wasteful United finishing meant Louis van van Gaal’s side were denied an eighth victory in nine games. Had United claimed three points, they would have increased the pressure on top two Chelsea and Manchester City. Instead they were left to reflect on a missed opportunity, but Spurs, who finished the game strongly, also had cause

feelings of the players. If you feel that you are not comfortbale with your position and you may do better in other position please feel free to express. We will find a solution.” He said light-heartedly that many defenders have the thirst of scoring goals but ultimately it helps the opposition as many empty spaces are created. “I don’t like risky approaches. All I want to see is a stable team (he runs to show how a defender gasps for breath while trying to return after an overlap). The players will have to rely on teamwork.” Raffo also expects a friendly atmo-

sphere in his team. “Think of me as an elder brother. Don’t hesitate to reveal any problems. We will make the perfect team-spirit In Sha Allah (learnt during his stay in Oman).” As far as his coaching stint in Bangladesh is concerned, the Italian coach said gaining experience is the goal of every football coach. “I have been in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. I have heard about Bangladesh football. I want to go through the football in this part of the world and prove myself. I love attacking football and my favourite formations are 4-3-3 and 3-4-3. Let’s hope for the best.” l

Committee prepares proposal to end DFA, DSA conflict

Manchester United's Dutch striker Robin van Persie tries to control the ball as Tottenham Hotspur's French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris attempts to block during their English Premier League match at White Hart Lane in London yesterday

AFP, London


for regret after failing to enhance their own challenge for a top-four finish. Van Gaal’s decision to name an unchanged side for the first time since he took charge at Old Trafford was a clear indication of the manager’s growing satisfaction with his team’s efforts after some good recent results. Results, however, have told only part of the story, with United having failed to convince on occasion. Their defensive struggles, which have allowed goalkeeper David de Gea to shine, gave Tottenham grounds for pre-match optimism, particularly with Harry Kane in such good form. The 21-year-old striker had scored

in his four previous appearances and quickly demonstrated he was capable of unsettling United’s back three of Phil Jones, Paddy McNair and Jonny Evans. An excellent threaded pass from the recalled Andros Townsend almost allowed Kane to get in behind the visitors’ back-line, but McNair was alert enough to smother the danger. That, though, proved to be a rare example of the home side’s attacking threat as United assumed control to the extent that Tottenham would have been out of the game before half-time had it not been for Lloris.   With Antonio Valancia and Ashley Young finding space on the flanks and

Juan Mata and Wayne Rooney buzzing around in midfield, United repeatedly opened up a route to Lloris’s goal, but neither Rademal Falcao nor Robin van Persie could find a finishing touch. Mata came closest to breaking the deadlock with a 22nd-minute free-kick that struck the post and when the ball bounced towards the goal-line, Vlad Chiriches hacked it away from the feet of Falcao and Van Persie. Falcao saw an angled shot parried by Lloris, moments before the Spurs goalkeeper snuffed out an opportunity for Van Persie after the striker had deftly brought down Michael Carrick’s chipped pass.l

Association (DSA) present during the meeting also nodded to the proposal which will see a respective District Football Association (DFA) get posses-

BFF president and vice president were present during the meeting sion of their district ground from September to December to run the district football league. Alongside, the proposal also includes a purse of Tk500,000 to be presented to the DFAs every year to run their football activities.

BFF president Kazi Salahuddin, vice president Badal Roy and Shamsul Haque Chowdhury from the football federation were present during the meeting. The decision to form this committee was taken on May 29 this year in order to settle the issues between DSA and DFA. DSA is the only association affiliated to NSC while the DFAs were formed according to the direction given by world football’s governing body Fifa in 2008. Most of the local venues are allocated only for DSA which made the BFF request the NSC to provide the venues for three to four months each year for holding football tournaments.l

Kruif due on Jan 3? n Shishir Hoque

Dutch coach Lodewijk de Kruif is likely to arrive in Dhaka on January 3 to take the charge of the Bangladesh national team as temporary head coach for the upcoming Bangabandhu Gold Cup. The Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF), however, was not able to confirm the arrival date but were ‘positive’ about the Dutch taking up the job for one month. “We are very positive about Kruif. He is on the top of our priority list for the head coach role of the national team. We will hopefully come to a final decision by December 31,” said BFF general secretary Abu Nayeem Shohag yesterday. It was also learnt, Kruif is on his toes

to the proposal and is waiting for the final confirmation from the BFF while another source revealed Kruif will come on January 3, but not as a head coach. The BFF will first sit in a meeting with the Dutchman and confirm the terms and conditions before reappointing him as the head coach. Earlier on December 20, BFF president Kazi Salahuddin hinted the return of Kruif after the federation failed to find a new foreign coach before Bangabandhu Gold Cup. Kruif, who was sacked from the job earlier this year, also kept regular contact with the BFF officials and always looked for an opportunity to get back his old position in the Bangladesh football.l



Monday, December 29, 2014



Victory Day Karate starts Wednesday Marcel Victory Day Karate Championship will get underway at the Shaheed Suhrawordi indoor stadium in Mirpur on Wednesday. A total of 400 participants from 50 teams across the country will take part in the two-day long event that will feature 60 weight categories. –Tribune Desk

Atletico close to sealing Torres deal n Reuters, Madrid

National men’s handball begins Chapainawabganj, Rajshahi, Bangladesh Police, Bangladesh Ansar, Jessore, Panchagar, Patuakhali, Chittagong, Gopalganj, Gaibandha, Sunamganj, Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) and Mymensingh posted victories on the inaugural day of the Exim Bank 24th National Men’s Handball Championship yesterday. Minister for Youth and Sports Biren Sikder inaugurated the tournament as chief guest at the M Mansur Ali National Handball Stadium while secretary of National Sports Council (NSC) Shibnath Roy was present as special guest. –Tribune Desk

Spurs’ double-winning defender Henry dies

Tottenham Hotspur’s double-winning defender Ron Henry has died at the age of 80. “We extend our condolences to his family at this sad time,” the Premier League club said on their website ( on Saturday. Henry, who won one cap for England, was a member of the Spurs side that won the league and FA Cup double in 1961. The left back also played in the team that beat Burnley in the 1962 FA Cup final and featured when Spurs overcame Atletico Madrid in the 1963 European Cup Winners’ Cup final. –Reuters

George Weah wins seat in Liberia’s Senate Former world soccer player of the year George Weah has won a seat in Liberia’s Senate to represent the capital, defeating the son of the president and boosting his political fortunes ahead of a presidential election in 2017. Weah won the Montserrado County seat that includes the capital Monrovia with 78 percent of the vote, defeating Robert Sirleaf, the son of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia’s National Elections Commission said late on Saturday. Weah, leader of the country’s largest opposition party, the Congress for Democratic Change, lost the 2005 presidential election to Sirleaf and lost again in 2011 when he was a vice presidential candidate. He is expected to stand again in 2017. – Reuters

An elephant runs to kick a ball while playing a football match during an ‘Elephant Festival’ event at Sauraha in Chitwan yesterday. Elephants and ‘mahouts,’ or elephant riders, from Chitwan are participating in the festival, which involves elephant races, elephants playing an exhibition football match and taking part in various other sporting activities REUTERS

Rampant Ronaldo looking to improve on outstanding 2014 n Reuters, Madrid Not content with four titles in 2014, including his second Champions League, prolific Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo is determined to make next year an even bigger success. Ronaldo netted 51 goals in 47 appearances last season, setting a record of 17 goals for one edition of Europe’s elite club competition, as Real secured a record-extending 10th continental crown and the King’s Cup. The Portugal captain continued where he left off in 2014-15 as the world’s richest club by income claimed the European Super Cup and Club World Cup and he has amassed an incredible 32 goals in 25 games in all competitions.

His haul of 25 in 14 La Liga matches is a Spanish record and he looks set to smash the biggest total for a season in Spain’s top flight of 50 scored by Lionel Messi in 2011-12. “It would be a dream if 2015 was like 2014 or even better,” Ronaldo said in an interview published in sports daily As on Saturday. “It is possible to do it because Madrid is always a candidate to win the competitions it is playing in,” added the 29-year-old. “We have a team spirit that can help us win the most titles possible and we will fight to the death to get them.” Ronaldo attributed much of Real’s recent success to the arrival of coach Carlo Ancelotti, who replaced the divisive Jose Mourinho at the end of the

Brathwaite, Samuels lead WI reply n Reuters, Port Elizabeth

Platini pushes ‘white card’ idea again UEFA president Michel Platini on Sunday reiterated his desire to introduce a ‘white card’ that would lead to a player being sin-binned. The 59-year-old Frenchman first presented his concept in October only to be met by fierce opposition from football’s world governing body (FIFA) president Sepp Blatter. However Platini was sticking to his guns at the 9th edition of the Dubai International Sports Conference. “The white card is a new initiative. It is related to the behaviour of football players. Play-acting, criticism on the field, these are not accepted by people who love the game. “Yellow cards will still exist too but it might be interesting to have another card. “This white card would send off a player for a few minutes, maybe five or 10. –AFP

DAY’S WATCH Ten Cricket 2:30PM South Africa v West Indies 2nd Test, Day 4

Star Sports 1 6:00AM (Tuesday) Australia v India 3rd Test, Day 5

Star Sports 2 9:20AM Ranji Trophy Bengal v Mumbai

Star Sports 4 3:45PM T20 Big Bash League Sydney Sixers v Perth Scorchers 2:00AM English Premier League Liverpool v Swansea City

2012-13 season. Italian Ancelotti immediately ended Real’s 12-year wait for their 10th European title and using the club’s millions has built a formidable side that is top of La Liga and one of the favourites to repeat their Champions League success this term. “The coach has a lot of importance,” Ronaldo told As. “He is a great trainer and a great person and we are all delighted with him. “Together we are a united family which will try to improve on the successes of 2014.” Ronaldo will find out whether he has won a third FIFA World Player of the Year award, and his second in a row, on Jan. 12 when he is up against Argentina captain Messi and Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.l

Atletico Madrid are close to sealing a deal for Spain forward Fernando Torres to return to his boyhood club, assistant coach German Burgos said on Saturday. Later in the day, Torres’ parent club Chelsea announced that the player’s loan switch to AC Milan would become permanent next month but Spanish media reports said that was simply a formality ahead of another loan move to Atletico being finalised on Sunday. Italy winger Alessio Cerci will switch from the Spanish capital to Milan as part of the deal, which will run until the end of the 2015-16 season, according to the reports. Torres, 30, joined Milan on a twoyear loan in August but has yet to rediscover his form and has only managed one goal in 10 Serie A appearances. “It is on the verge of completion and we are waiting for things to firm up,” said Burgos of the agreement for the striker to rejoin Atletico. “He will be a very important reinforcement for the second half of the season,” Diego Simeone’s number two told Spanish media. “We will get the best out of him...and he knows where he is coming to.” Cerci said on his Facebook page that he had not yet signed for another team. “I am an Atletico Madrid player and together with the club I am considering the best solution for both,” he added. “I think that is right and normal.” A World Cup and double European Championship winner with Spain, Torres joined Atletico at the age of 11. Known as ‘El Nino’ (The Kid), he made his first-team debut as a 17-yearold in 2001 when Madrid’s second club were in the econd division. When he left for Liverpool in July 2007 he pledged to return and is no doubt hoping a second stint at Atletico will help resurrect a career that has largely been a disappointment since he joined Chelsea in January 2011. “The striker moved to the San Siro on a two-year loan deal in August and on Jan. 5 he will complete a permanent transfer to the Serie A side,” the Stamford Bridge club said in a statement on Saturday.l

West Indian batsman Marlon Samuels lifts his bat after reaching a half century during the third day of their second Test against South Africa in Port Elizabeth yesterday AFP

Half-centuries from Kraigg Brathwaite and Marlon Samuels steered a battling West Indies to 147 for two at the close on day three of the second test against South Africa on Sunday. The tourists went through the final session at St George's Park, brought to an early finish by bad light, without losing a wicket as Brathwaite continued his excellent 2014 unbeaten on 65. He has put on 92 for the third wicket with the more aggressive Samuels (60) after West Indies had been rocked by two wickets in as many balls just before the tea break. They have moved the side closer to South Africa's first innings score of 417 for eight declared and will be confident of getting the additional 71 runs needed to avoid the follow-on.

Right-hander Brathwaite, 22, has scored 660 test runs this year at an average of 82.50 to showcase his rich potential. Along with the more experienced Samuels, he displayed admirable application and patience, the only real scare for the pair a leg before wicket decision from Australian umpire Paul Reiffel that went against Samuels but was overturned on review for height. That was off Morne Morkel, the pick of the South African bowlers in the innings after he dismissed Devon Smith (22) and Leon Johnson (0) in successive balls with the West Indies score on 55. After striking Smith a sickening blow on the helmet, Morkel claimed his wicket -- caught at first slip by Hashim Amla, while Johnson flashed at a ball that showed a hint of reverse-swing and was snapped up by Faf du Plessis at third slip for a golden duck.

But that was the last wicket for South Africa on the third day, which had started an hour late due to a wet outfield and was played for the most part in overcast conditions. Morkel's figures of two for 24 do not tell the story of the fierceness of his spells, or the immaculate line he bowled and movement he generated with the ball. Earlier, Dale Steyn bludgeoned his second test 50, and the fastest ever in Port Elizabeth, off 26 balls as he led the Proteas quickly past 400. The world's best fast bowler was eventually dismissed two balls later for 58 in a sparkling innings that included five huge sixes. South Africa won the first test in Pretoria by an innings and 220 runs, with the third and final match to start in Cape Town on Friday. l

Chelsea, Man City suffer festive slumps n AFP, London Leaders Chelsea and second-place Manchester City both succumbed to post-Christmas hangovers on Sunday as they dropped points in the Premier League title race. Chelsea drew 1-1 at Southampton, presenting City with a chance to close to within a point of the summit, but the champions fluffed their lines by blowing a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 at home to second-bottom Burnley. The results preserved the status quo at the summit, where Chelsea lead City by three points ahead of the New Year's Day programme. Chelsea fell behind in the 17th minute at fourth-place Southampton when Dusan Tadic freed Sadio Mane, who coolly headed the ball away from John Terry before lobbing Thibaut Courtois. Eden Hazard equalised in first-half injury time, scampering onto Cesc Fabregas's pass down the left wing and cut-

ting inside two defenders before firing home with his right foot. But despite sending on Willian, Didier Drogba and Loic Remy in the second half, Jose Mourinho's side were unable


Aston Villa




Sunderland Leicester Mahrez 32

Manchester City


Silva 23, Fernandinho 33

QPR Southampton

0-0 1-1

Mane 17

Burnley Boyd 47, Barnes 81

Crystal Palace Chelsea Hazard 45+1


West Brom



Man United

West Ham



Stoke Diouf 51, 66

Kouyate 54

Cazorla 41-pen, Welbeck 44

to find a winner, two days on from their classy 2-0 win over West Ham United. The closest they came was a shot from Hazard that flashed wide, while Fabregas was contentiously booked for diving when he went down in the Southampton box after apparently being caught by 19-year-old Matthew Targett. At the Etihad Stadium, David Silva put City ahead in the 23rd minute and Samir Nasri teed up Fernandinho to crash home a stunning second goal from the edge of the box 10 minutes later. But Burnley replied through George Boyd early in the second half, the Scottish forward tapping in a cross from Danny Ings, before Ashley Barnes slammed in an equaliser from 15 yards with nine minutes to play. With United, Spurs and Southampton dropping points, Arsenal capitalised by leapfrogging West Ham into fifth place with a 2-1 victory at Upton Park. Santi Cazorla put Arsenal in front

with a 41st-minute penalty and three minutes later Danny Welbeck prodded in Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's cross to make it 2-0. Cheikhou Kouyate headed in for West Ham early in the second half, but Arsene Wenger's side survived a late onslaught to record a win that took them level on points with Southampton. Elsewhere, Crystal Palace began life without sacked manager Neil Warnock by drawing 0-0 at Queens Park Rangers, which kept the Selhurst Park club in the bottom three. Bottom team Leicester City gave their chances of avoiding relegation a shot in the arm by winning 1-0 at Hull City, with Riyad Mahrez's 32nd-minute strike leaving his side three points from safety. Senegalese striker Mame Biram Diouf scored twice as Stoke City beat West Bromwich Albion 2-0, while Fabian Delph was sent off as Aston Villa drew 0-0 at home to Sunderland. l

Burnley midfielder George Boyd celebrates against Manchester City during their English Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester yesterday AFP




Monday, December 29, 2014

Rahane, Kohli build record partnership n Reuters, Melbourne India batsmen Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane struck inspired centuries during a record fourth-wicket partnership at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday to help India claw their way back into the third Test against Australia on day three. The pair united at 147-3 in the morning and were finally separated at 409-4 after tea, having creamed 262 runs off Australia’s hapless bowlers before spinner Nathan Lyon had Rahane trapped lbw for 147. Kohli pushed on to 169 before he was caught behind, his third century of the series driving India to 462-8 at stumps, only 68 runs behind Australia’s mammoth first innings 530.

AUSvIND, DAY 3 Australia 1st innings 530 (Smith 192, Harris 74; Shami 4-138) India 1st innings (Overnight 108 for 1) M Vijay  c Marsh b Watson      S Dhawan  c Smith b Harris      C Pujara  c Haddin b Harris    V Kohli   c Haddin b Johnson   A Rahane   lbw b Lyon          L Rahul   c Hazlewood b Lyon     M Dhoni   c Haddin b Harris     R Ashwin c and b Harris         M Shami   not out                Extras (lb1, w1)                 



68 28 25 169 147 3 11 0 9 2

135 51 71 272 171 8 23 4 23

Total (8 wickets; 126.2 overs)


Fall of wickets 1-55 (Dhawan), 2-108 (Pujara), 3-147 (Vijay), 4-409 (Rahane), 5-415 (Rahul), 6-430 (Dhoni), 7-434 (Ashwin), 8-462 (Kohli) Bowling Johnson 29.2-5-133-1, Harris 25-7-69-4 (1w), Hazlewood 25-6-75-0, Watson 16-365-1, Lyon 29-3-108-2, Smith 2-0-11-0

Mohammed Shami was left on nine not out and though India will almost certainly concede a first innings deficit, Kohli and Rahane’s gallant stand was another defiant response from a team that has fought hard all series only to trail 2-0. Australia hit back late in the session after Rahane fell, with lion-hearted paceman Ryan Harris capturing two wickets to finish the day with a hardearned 4-69 after belting a career-high 74 with the bat on day two. Haddin notched his 250th dismissal with a brilliant, lunging catch to remove Cheteshwar Pujara on the second ball of the day and the 37-year-old finished the day with another terrific dive to remove Kohli. Australia, however, rued two dropped catches after lunch that could have ended Kohli and Rahane’s stand much earlier. Lyon spilled the simplest of catches off his own bowling to reprieve Rahane on 70, while Shane Watson grounded a sharp chance at first slip to grant Kohli a life before tea. The pair duly punished them, lashing 39 boundaries between them on a warm, sunny day. Main strike bowler Mitchell Johnson came in for special punishment, leaching 27 runs in two overs after tea, his short-pitched assault arrogantly dismissed. Rahane was out lbw trying to sweep Lyon, though replays suggested the middle order batsman may have been unlucky. Lokesh Rahul had a forgettable three on debut, dropped on his seventh delivery by substitute fielder Peter Siddle after an unsightly slog, then caught top-edging the next ball from Lyon at backward square leg after another appalling stroke. Dhoni made a streaky 11 before edging Harris to Haddin, and the bulky paceman did well to catch Ashwin off his own bowling soon after. l

Kohli raises tension with Australia with off-field bluster n Reuters, Melbourne

Indian batsman Virat Kohli (C) and Ajinkya Rahane exchange heated words with Australia fast bowler Mitchell Johnson on the third day of their third Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground yesterday AFP

Experienced Whatmore expected to be named new Zimbabwe coach n Cricinfo Dav Whatmore is expected to be appointed as Zimbabwe’s coach ahead of the 2015 World Cup, replacing Stephen Mangongo who was sacked from the position earlier in December after a five-month tenure. The support staff will also include a new batting coach, who is yet to be named, and Douglas Hondo as bowling coach, with an extension to Whatmore’s deal due to be negotiated after the World Cup. A Zimbabwe Cricket release stated that Whatmore is “arriving in Harare this evening, for his interview tomorrow”. The new coach’s primary task will be to ensure Zimbabwe have a better tournament than they did in 2011, where they only managed to beat the Associates in their group and lost heavily against the other Full Members. ESPNcricinfo also understands that ZC is in talks with Canada to play a series of fifty-over matches ahead of the World Cup. Whatmore has previously been in charge of Asian sides Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Under

Whatmore, Sri Lanka won the 1996 World Cup and Pakistan claimed the 2012 Asia Cup. During the 2007 World Cup, Whatmore led Bangladesh to victories over India and South Africa, helping the team reach the Super Eights. Since 2000, Zimbabwe have lurched from one crisis to another - most notably a six-year self-imposed exile from the longest format. After their Test comeback in 2011, they have enjoyed limited success including wins over Bangladesh and Pakistan, and an ODI victory over Australia, but they have continued to struggle away from home. Zimbabwe were blanked 8-0 on their recent tour of Bangladesh, in which they lost all three Tests and all five ODIs - a result that led to Mangongo’s sacking. They have only been on two other tours in the last three years, to New Zealand and West Indies, and lost every match in all formats on both those visits. Their domestic game, meanwhile, has been marred by strikes over non-payment of salaries, and the financial situation still remains unstable.l

Pakistan’s Ajmal pulls out of World Cup squad

Virat Kohli blasted a brilliant 169 to help India claw back into the third Test on Sunday and was still firing missiles at the Australian team well after the close of play on day three. The flamboyant batsman has not taken a backward step on the tour, compiling three defiant centuries and fighting fire with fire in the face of Australia’s verbal pot-shots. He was dismissed by Mitchell Johnson to finish play at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, but subjected the paceman to his worst day in the field in years, smashing him to the fence in three consecutive balls in one over. Having driven India from a position of some peril in the morning to 462-8 at stumps, a tough-talking Kohli raised the stakes again for the rest of the series, saying he respected only “some” of the hosts’ players. “They were calling me a spoilt brat,” Kohli told reporters. “I said ‘maybe that’s the way I am - I know you guys hate me and I like that’. “I don’t mind having a chat on the field and it worked in my favour, I guess. “I like playing against Australia because it’s really hard for them to stay calm. “I don’t mind an argument on the field. It really excites me and brings the best out of me, so they don’t seem to be learning the lesson.” When Kohli strayed from his crease, Johnson raised the tension by flinging a shot at the stumps that struck the batsman in the back. Kohli winced but got back to his feet and after smashing Johnson for four, strode up to the 33-year-old to express his displeasure. Kohli leaped for joy when he notched his ton, blowing a kiss off his bat to his glamorous girlfriend and Bollywood actress Anushka Sharma watching in the stand. After a lofted off-drive for four off Johnson, he blew two kisses at the bowler. l

n Reuters, Karachi

Serbian Uros Matic to play for Macedonia n Reuters, Skopje

Suspended Pakistan off-spinner Saeed Ajmal has withdrawn from the World Cup squad because he has no chance of getting his action cleared before the tournament. Pakistan Cricket Board officials met on Saturday and decided that all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez, who is also suspended from bowling in international cricket, will travel to Chennai, India for a test. “If Hafeez clears the informal test than we will apply to the International Cricket Council to hold his official test for his bowling action to be cleared,” the PCB said in a statement. The 37-year-old Ajmal, who was named in the preliminary squad, will continue remedial work on his action and play domestic cricket until he has satisfied himself he can take the ICC test. “Ajmal withdrew himself,” PCB Chairman Shaharyar Khan told reporters. “We didn’t want to take a risk with Ajmal’s career because latest reports suggested his elbow extension was not still within the 15 degrees allowed by the ICC despite all the remedial work

Uros Matic, the brother of Chelsea and Serbia midfielder Nemanja, is set to play for Macedonia, the Balkan nation’s FA president Ilco Georgioski said on Saturday. The 24-year old attacking midfielder, who played seven games for Serbia’s Under-19s, visited the Macedonian football association headquarters and posed with the national team’s number nine shirt alongside Georgioski. “Matic drew our attention with good performances for (Dutch first division side) NAC Breda and will be a welcome bonus to the squad,” Georgioski told the Macedonian FA’s website (www. “He will be available to join us as soon as the paperwork of changing his sports passport is completed and we are looking forward to having him in the national team.” Macedonia are fourth in Euro 2016 qualifying Group C with three points from four games, nine adrift of leaders Slovakia and six behind Spain and Ukraine. They play their next game at home to Belarus on March 27. l

on his action. “We were aware that if he took the official ICC test in a bid to make the World Cup squad and failed it he could be suspended from playing for one to two years and that would mean the end of his career,” Khan said. Ajmal, Pakistan’s top spinner and wicket taker in all formats of the game for the last three years, was suspended from bowling in September after failing the ICC test. Hafeez was banned last month. l

Karunaratne ton delays Kiwis victory push

NZvSL, DAY 3 New Zealand 1st innings 441 (B. McCullum 195, J. Neesham 85, K. Williamson 54; A. Mathews 3-39, S. Lakmal 3-90)

n Reuters

Sri Lanka 1st innings 138 (A. Mathews 50; T. Boult 3-25, N. Wagner 3-60) Sri Lanka 2nd innings (Overnight 84-0) D Karunaratne b Boult             K Silva c Watling b Southee        K Sangakkara c Watling b Boult      L Thirimanne c Watling b Neesham   A Mathews not out                    N Dickwella c Neesham b Boult T Kaushal not out                    Extras (lb19, nb1)                  



152 33 1 25 53 4 5 20

363 106 16 124 108 22 12

Total (5 wickets, 125 overs)      


Fall of wickets 1-85 (Silva), 2-94 (Sangakkara), 3-181 (Thirimanne), 4-277 (Karunaratne), 5-287 (Dickwella) Bowling Boult 30-8-62-3, Southee 25-5-54-1, Wagner 27-6-67-0 (1nb), Craig 34-10-670, Neesham 7-2-20-1, McCullum 1-0-3-0, Williamson 1-0-1-0

Sri Lanka’s Dimuth Karunaratne celebrates scoring his century against New Zealand during their first Test in Christchurch yesterday

Dimuth Karunaratne thwarted a tiring New Zealand bowling attack to score his maiden Test century on Sunday before Trent Boult snapped up two late wickets to leave the hosts well positioned to wrap up the first Test on the fourth day. Sri Lanka ended the third day’s play at Hagley Oval in Christchurch on 293 for five, still 10 runs away from making New Zealand bat again after they had been asked to follow on by Brendon McCullum when they were dismissed for 138. Karunaratne, who had resumed on 49, scored 152 from 363 balls before he was bowled by Boult with a beautiful delivery that nipped away off the seam with about 30 minutes remaining in the day’s play. The opener, whose previous best score was 85, was ably supported in an 87-run partnership with Lahiru Thiri-

manne and then added 96 runs with Angelo Mathews before he was dismissed. Boult then had Niroshan Dickwella (4) caught in the slips with less than three overs remaining to give the hosts hope they will be able to wrap the game up early on the fourth day and take a 1-0 lead in the two-match series. Sri Lanka captain Mathews, who ended the day on 53 not out, is the last recognised batsman and while wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene is still a lower-order threat, the tail will be exposed with the fall of one more wicket. Night watchman Tharindu Kaushal was on five, though he looked increasingly fragile against a fired up Boult and Southee, while offspinner Mark Craig was getting some big turn and bounce out of the footmarks with the old ball. “I think we bowled well throughout the day,” Southee said. “Another day and we could have had them seven or eight down.l



Monday, December 29, 2014

My Bicycle – the first feature film in Chakma language


30 Days of Night HBO, 11:25pm

After an Alaskan town is plunged into darkness for a month, it is attacked by a bloodthirsty gang of vampires. Tummy Time restaurant in Gulshan

n Entertainment Desk “Mor Thengari” alternatively called My Bicycle, the first feature film entirely made in Chakma language, was premièred at the 13th Dhaka Short and Independent Film Festival in the first week of December. Centred around the life of the indigenous people, particularly the Chakma community, the film is directed by Aung Rakhaine. Though the director belongs to the Rakhaine community, he believes that “it’s necessary to focus on the Chakma community as they

struggled more than any other indigenous groups of the country.” Developed over ten years, the film was produced by Pandolipi Karkhana, which managed to find 30 financiers. The shooting began in 2012. The story of the film revolves around an indigenous man named Komol who returns to his native village after a futile effort to live in a city. Komol decides to never go back as he was fired from his job without getting paid for five months. As a means of earning livelihood, he comes up with the idea of using his bicycle, the only possession

he acquired while in the city, to ferry passengers and goods. However, Komol’s struggle takes a new turn as local people start to extort from him. When he refuses, they break his bicycle. Though no professional actors were involved in the film, Komol Moni Chakma’s portrayal of the lead character and Indira Chakma’s role as his wife Devi were highly appreciated by the audience and the critics. Entirely shot in Rangamati and Bandarban, the 63-minute-long independent film depicts exquisite beauty of the Chittagong Hill Tracts. l

Dancer Bipasha Kobir sets the stage on fire with her popular item songs at the award ceremony of Bangladesh Cine Journalist Association at BFDC on Saturday. The appearance of Dhallywood superstars Shakib Khan and Apu Biswas was another highlight of the event

We remember some of the great actors, singers, celebs and artists that left us in 2014.

Feroza Begum

Robin Williams Actor Robin Williams, who won an Oscar for his role in “Good Will Hunting” committed suicide on August 11. He was 63.

Khalil Ullah Khan

Comedy legend Joan Rivers died at the age of 81 on September 4.

Life time award-winning actor Khalil Ullah Khan died on December 7 of heart ailments at the age of 80.

Qayyum Chowdhury The artist fell sick while delivering his speech on the fourth-day of Bengal Music Festival 2014 and died on November 30. He was 82 years old.

British singer Joe Cocker, died on December 22 of lung cancer in Colorado. He was 70.

Suchitra Sen

Fashion designer and girlfriend of rocker Mick Jagger L’Wren Scott committed suicide on March 17. She was 49.

Bob Hoskins David Ryall English character actor David Ryall who died on Christmas Day aged 79.

In 1933 New York, an overly ambitious movie producer coerces his cast and hired ship crew to travel to mysterious Skull Island, where they encounter Kong, a giant ape who is immediately smitten with leading lady Ann Darrow. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo HBO Define, 11:55pm

Journalist Mikael Blomkvist is aided in his search for a woman who has been missing for forty years by Lisbeth Salander, a young computer hacker. where people can enjoy quality time with quality food. Personally, I can set up meetings and connect with people from my professional arena at the restaurant,” Apurbo said. He added: “Tummy Time is reasonable, with prices ranging from Tk100-1500. The menu offers steak, Mexican food, continental fare, pasta, BBQ and other items.” Tummy Time is located at AB Center, House 18, CWS, South Avenue Gulshan 1 and Abedin Tower, 35 Kemal Ataturk Avenue, Banani. l

Snakes on a Plane WB, 11:30pm

An FBI agent takes on a plane full of deadly and poisonous snakes, deliberately released to kill a witness being flown from Honolulu to Los Angeles to testify against a mob boss.

FARHAN AKHTAR’s lyrical tribute to Peshawar attack victims n Entertainment Desk Weeks after hundreds of innocent kids were massacred in Peshawar school attack in Pakistan, Bollywood actor Farhan Akhtar pens down a touching poem titled Childhood Lost In Peshawar for Hindustan Times, as his ode to the victims. The brutal Peshawar school attack, that left around 140 dead, has left the entire world in a state of shock. The Pakistani Taliban ruthlessly killed students in the Army Public School complex in Peshawar, on December 16. The attackers went on a rampage, shooting school children in the head and chest from point blank range. The deadly face of terror left everyone, be it common man or celebrities, mourning, as they expressed their grief for those who lost their loved ones. l

Katie Holmes: I don’t think I’ve ever moved past ‘Dawson’s Creek’ n Entertainment Desk

L’Wren Scott

Suchitra Sen died on January 17 due to a heart attack. She was 82.

A popular face on the small screen, Apurbo, who is also making a name in Dhallywood with “Gangster Return,” has inaugurated his second franchise, Tummy Time Restaurant, in Gulshan. Talking to the Dhaka Tribune, the actor said: “As a person I love food and am a cook myself. I prefer food made with great care and precision. In fact, food is a form of art. Take for instance our ‘Messy Burger,’ based on my own recipe. Although it looks messy, it is filling as well. I hope people will enjoy the food.” Asked what Tummy Time means, the actor said: “It is a buzz word. When people are hungry and it is time to eat, we welcome them to enjoy their time in our restaurant.” “In Dhaka, there are many restaurants. Restaurants demand a proper set-up and interior. If I, along with my three partners have succeeded in making a proper plan, I am sure this business will flourish. We have another branch in Banani which is only for deliveries and it is doing well,” the actor-entrepreneur said. “Besides maintaining the quality of the food, the owners of a restaurant have to provide a nice interior

UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and actress Emma Watson is reportedly going topless in the new drama “Regression,” says London’s The Sun. The gritty movie which co-stars Meryl Streep and Ethan Hawke, tells the story of a father arrested for sexually abusing his daughter played by Watson. The 24-year-old actress has deliberately been choosing roles to move away from her iconic “Harry Potter” character, the brainy Hermione, including starring in the Biblical saga “Noah” and “The Bling Ring.” She appeared in all eight “Harry Potter” films starting in 2001. The franchise earned her worldwide fame, accolades and millions of dollars. She also graduated from Brown University with a degree in English Literature. l

Joan Rivers

Joe Cocker

n Shadma Malik

EMMA WATSON will appear topless in next movie n Entertainment Desk


Nazrul Sangeet legend Feroza Begum died on September 9. Feroza had been suffering from old age complications. She was in her late 80s.

APURBO’s new restaurant Tummy Time is, well, apurbo

King Kong Star Movies, 4pm

The actor career ranged from “Mona Lisa” to “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” died on April 29, aged 71, after a bout of pneumonia.

Looks like Katie Holmes is still just as hung up on “Dawson’s Creek.” The 36-year-old actress, who rose to fame playing Joey Potter on the beloved WB series, isn’t shy about showing her love for the show in a new interview with ELLE Canada. “I don’t know if I have moved past it, but I don’t really care,” she says candidly. “I had a ball doing it, and it’s really nice to be a part of something that did affect people.” She also credits the show with the career successes of her costars James Van Der Beek, Michelle Williams and Joshua Jackson. “It created a lot of opportunities for all of us,” she says. But could this mean there’s a possible “Dawson’s Creek” reunion in the works? But although Katie herself has said she’s game for a reunion between the still good-looking cast, for now, she’s concentrating on her directorial debut “All We Had,” which is based on the Annie Weatherwax novel. Katie will also star in the film, which is described as a mother-daughter drama. “There aren’t as many movies being made, period, so the challenge is to create projects for yourself,” she tells Elle. “Sometimes offers are flying in, and sometimes they’re not.” Katie recently revealed her adorable daughter Suri’s Christmas list this year during an interview with Ellen DeGeneres, which turned out to be very detailed. l

‘Birangona – Women of War’ by the Komola Collective was staged yesterday at the Red Shift Coffee Lounge



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Monday, December 29, 2014

Jihad’s death prompts govt to upgrade Fire Service n Kayes Sohel The government has made a move to take up a Tk198.77 crore project to upgrade the Fire Service and Civil Defence Department. The move came two days after the failure of the department to rescue fouryear old Jihad trapped down in a nearly-500ft abandoned well. The failure drew wide critcism from people who were watching live rescue operation on private television channels. The project titled Modernisation of Fire Service and Civil Defence is expected to be placed at the Executive Committee of National Economic Council meeting to be held today with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair. With the support of public fund the project will be completed by June 2017, according to the project proposal. The project was supposed to be placed eight months back after the project evaluation committee recommended modernisation of the Fire Service and Civil Defence in April last. “The Jihad’s unfortunate incident prompted the government to take up the project,” said an official at the Planning Ministry.

HC moved for compensation to Jihad’s family n Tribune Report Two writ petitions were filed with the High Court yesterday seeking its directives to the government to give adequate compensation to the family of Jihad, 4, who was found dead inside a well at Shajahanpur in the capital on Saturday. Of the petitions, one was filed by Children’s Charity Bangladesh Foundation (CCBF), a rights organisation, and another by Supreme Court lawyer Syed Mayeenul Huq. The petitioners also sought appropriate legal actions against the officials, whose negligence resulted in the tragic death of the child. The CCBF urged the court to issue a rule upon the authorities to explain why they should not be directed to give Tk30 lakh in damages to the family for their gross negligence, violation of human rights and the right to life guaranteed by the constitution. It prayed to the court to seek explanation from the government as to why it should not be directed to file a murder case against the director general of Fire Service and Civil Defence and its director of operation and maintenance, director-general of Bangladesh Railway and managing director of Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (Wasa) for their alleged negligence and failure over the Jihad incident. Supreme Court lawyer Syed Mayeenul Huq in his petition appealed to the court to order the government to form a high-power expert committee with local volunteers to probe the reasons behind the failure of the officials to rescue Jihad. He prayed to the court to ask the government to take appropriate legal steps against the police officials, who had detained Jihad’s father Nasir at Shahjahanpur police station for around 12 hours. l

According to the proposal, three excavators (60-ton capacity each), one crane for rescue operation, four turntable ladders (sophisticated vehicle with fire fighting equipment), five emergency tenders (modernised vehicle equipped with rescue operation materials), four water tenders, four special water tenders (with 11000 liter container), 12 towing vehicles (special vehicle used in fire fighting and rescue) and other necessary equipment will be procured. Currently, there is no sophisticated equipment to carry out rescue operation like Jihad incident and earthquake, according to the project proposal. Volunteers recovered the body of little Jihad just 10 minutes after 23-hour long rescue operation was called off by the civil fire service on Saturday afternoon. Jihad allegedly fell inside the 16-inch diameter shaft, around 40 yards from his house in the capital’s Shahjahanpur Railway Colony at about 4pm on Friday while playing with other children. Soon after the body was retrieved, angry locals of the colony vandalised a police outpost near the spot and totally demolished a makeshift house made by the contractor company who built the pipeline where Jihad had fallen into. l

An utter disrespect towards traffic rules has created this chaos in front of the Tejgaon level crossings in the capital yesterday where vehicles and pedestrians carelessly cross the barriers that are lying without any warning sign or guard. There have been many instances in past where such indifference has led to deadly accidents in the city MAINOOR ISLAM MANIK

Documentary on Jamaat-Hefazat, militancy released n Tribune Report A documentary portraying the conflict between secular humanism and ideology of Shariah-based statehood in Bangladesh, particularly the activities of Jamaat-e-Islami and Hefazat-e-Islam in the name of religion, was released yesterday. It shows how the religious minorities especially the Hindus and Buddhists were attacked by the fundamentalists’ groups like Jamaat at different times and the inability of the victims and witnesses to seek justice. The 43-minute-long documentary “Whither Bangladesh” is directed by Shahriar Kabir, the president of Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee, and produced by South Asian People’s Union against Fundamentalism and Communalism. During its release at the Women’s Voluntary Association (WVA) auditorium in the capital’s Dhanmondi, Shahriar said: “Due to lack of modern law,

proper justice could not be ensured for the victims’ families. Traditional laws cannot ensure protection of the witnesses. On the other hand, taking advantage of such loopholes, Jamaat is still trying to attack the minority people with a view to evicting them from the country.” He proposed that an action programme is planned to fight terrorism perpetrated in the name of Islam and uphold the spirit of secular democracy. The documentary also depicts elaborately the “propaganda” unleashed by Hefazat-Jamaat-BNP claiming that thousands of Islami scholars were murdered in the dead of night after the May 5 rally last year using “doctored photographs.” Citing media reports, the documentary states that no more than 40 people were killed during and after the rally and the police crackdown while some of the victims were members of the police force. The Nirmul Committee formed a

Members of Forum for Secular Bangladesh and Trial of War Criminals of 1971 address a discussion titled ‘Whither Bangladesh’ at WVA Auditorium yesterday RAJIB DHAR

people’s inquiry commission to investigate the incident. The commission also prepared a “White Paper.” The documentary, made based on the “White Paper,” also includes related developments of year 2014, and statements of family members of those who were killed on May 5. Some of them alleged that their near and dear ones were forced to attend Jamaat-Hefazat programmes. The documentary also contains interviews of a number of noted academicians, journalists, lawyers, cultural activists, police officers and Islamic scholars. The event was presided over by journalist Kamal Lohani, also an adviser to the Nirmul Committee, when Bangladesh Mahila Parishad President Ayesha Khanam and 1971 martyr’s wife Shyamoli Nasrin Chowdhury were present. Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu said: “The risk of communal attacks and militancy in the country has not decreased yet. If we want democracy then we have to say goodbye to any kind of militancy.” State Minister for Home Affairs Asaduzzaman Khan said: “There is no village in the country without 5-10 madrasas. We the people do not know what is happening in those madrasas... which are inviting a great danger for the nation. They do not follow the government’s syllabus.” He said: “We have learned from intelligence reports that many of the receivers of fund released by Islami Bank do not exist. We are working to stop funding for militants.” The government is working to modernise and update the curricula of the Madrasa Education Board, and inserting writings against militancy and terrorism. l

Search halted for missing AirAsia plane as night falls n AFP, Jakarta

Indonesia suspended until first light the search for an AirAsia plane that went missing Sunday in the Java Sea with 162 people on board after the crew requested a change of flight plan due to stormy weather. The Airbus A320-200 disappeared en route from Surabaya in Indonesia’s east Java to Singapore, in the third crisis for a Malaysian carrier this year. Around 11 hours later, the search halted with no sign of the plane and was set to resume at 7am Monday – or even earlier if the weather allows, Indonesian transport ministry official Hadi Mustofa told AFP. AirAsia said 155 of those on board Flight QZ8501 were Indonesians, with three South Koreans and one person each from Singapore, Malaysia, Britain and France. The Frenchman was the co-pilot.

With hard details few and far between, panicked relatives gathered at Singapore’s Changi airport and in Surabaya hundreds of Indonesians thronged the terminal. Air traffic controllers lost contact with the twin-engine aircraft around an hour after it left Surabaya’s Juanda international airport at about 5:20am (2220 GMT Saturday). No signal was received from it. Indonesian transport ministry official Djoko Murjatmodjo told a press conference Indonesia had deployed seven aircraft, four navy ships and six boats from the search and rescue agency. But Murjatmodjo said the transport ministry had also asked the army to carry out ground searches, including in mountainous areas. He said three ships and three planes from Malaysia would join the search Monday. A Singaporean C130 plane joined Sunday’s operation, and two

Singaporean planes would be deployed Monday with Australia also offering help.

Massive shock

The aircraft was operated by AirAsia Indonesia, a unit of Malaysian-based AirAsia which dominates Southeast Asia’s booming low-cost airline market. AirAsia’s flamboyant boss Tony Fernandes, a former record industry executive who acquired the then-failing airline in 2001, arrived in Surabaya, where most of the passengers are from. “Obviously this is a massive shock to us and we are devastated by what has happened. It’s unbelievable,” he told a press conference. “We don’t want to speculate. We don’t know what’s happened yet so we’ll wait for the accident investigation... Our concern right now is for the relatives and the next of kin.” Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo said his nation was “praying for the

safety” of those onboard. But the air industry has been blighted by poor safety standards in an area that also experiences extreme weather. AirAsia, which has never suffered a fatal accident, said the missing jet last underwent maintenance on November 16. Climbing to dodge large rain clouds is a standard procedure for aircraft in these conditions. “What happens after that is a question mark,” according to Indonesian-based aviation analyst Dudi Sudibyo. The plane’s disappearance comes at the end of a disastrous year for Malaysian aviation. Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared on a regular flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March with 239 passengers and crew, and in July, MH17 was shot down over troubled Ukraine killing all 298 on board. l

‘In my heart, I was sure the boy was there’

From left, Faruk, Rahul and Moon, three strangers who brought up Jihad’s body from the depth of 258 feet with their catcher-like device SYED ZAKIR HOSSN

n Ahmed Zayeef They live in different parts of the city. They do not know each other. But humanity and conscience brought them to the edge of an abandoned well on Friday night. Using a catcher-like device the three strangers built together, they brought up from a depth of 258 feet the body of four-year-old Jihad who had been trapped and later died in an abandoned well in the capital’s Shahjahanpur Railway Colony. Some 23 hours after the boy had fallen into the nearly 500-foot deep well, car businessman Shafiqul Islam Faruk, private sector employee Shah Md Abdullah Al Moon and engineering student Shujan Das Rahul, were able to do what the fire service had failed to do. Jihad had fallen into the well at 3:30pm on Friday. After attempting to rescue the boy for nearly a whole day, the fire service called of its rescue operation around 2:40pm on Saturday and announced that they had not detected any trace of human life in the well shaft. But the three men, part of a massive community volunteer effort, did not give up. The trio, who had spent the morning working out the details of their rescue device in cooperation with fire fighters, were using the third iteration of the device which had first been tried out around 9:30 in the morning. Minutes after the announcement that the rescue had been called off, the volunteers scooped Jihad’s body out of the chilly slush at 3pm on Saturday. It was too late. Throughout the operation, several groups of volunteers worked alongside the fire service to figure out a way to extricate the stricken child from the narrow shaft. The three volunteers had started to construct their catcher-like device around 8am on Saturday morning. Shafiqul Islam Faruk, who had attended a short course on motor vehicles in Germany in 1990, went to the site of the rescue operation around midnight on Friday after seeing the news on the television. He had built a catcher from scratch at home in Bashundhara residential area and rushed to the site.

“Hundreds of people had gathered. I wanted to show my idea to the firemen but failed, despite several attempts, to get in touch with any of them. Then, I joined rescue effort myself,” he said. Shah Md Abdullah Al Moon, an electrical engineering student of Rangpur polytechnic who lives in Rampura, got to the rescue site around the same time after watching the news. “When I heard they were repeatedly failing to rescue the boy, something began to work inside me. I felt I had to go there, to see if I could do something. I rushed over to see how I could help the rescue effort,” Al Moon said. Shujan Das Rahul, a mechanical engineering student of the Institute of Engineers Bangladesh, went to the Shahjahanpur Railway Colony with two room mates from his Monipuripara mess. His room mates later left because of the cold weather. But Rahul stayed on. “When I heard the fire service say their camera showed there was nothing inside the well shaft, I did not believe it. In my heart, I was sure the boy was there,” he told the Dhaka Tribune. The three volunteers had been helping fire service rescuers since midnight. “We were talking with each other from time to time and helping the rescuers. We were discussing how best to build a catcher,” said Moon. “We did not have any preconceived ideas. We were just sorting through the problems that rescuers were having with the catcher they were using,” said Rahul. At one point we agreed with each other to build one ourselves. “Using iron rods and a camera borrowed from another man, Anwar, we started to construct a catcher,” Faruk said. “Everyone around us was convinced that the floating waste inside the shaft was the lowest layer of the well. But we decided to make a catcher which could go deeper than the slush. We had a strong belief that the boy was trapped under the waste,” Rahul said. “Everyone is now talking about us. But I am not happy. We failed to rescue the boy,” said Rahul, the two others nodding in agreement. “When I held the boy in my arms, I knew he was dead. I was overwhelmed with sorrow,” Moon said. l

Editor: Zafar Sobhan, Published and Printed by Kazi Anis Ahmed on behalf of 2A Media Limited at Dainik Shakaler Khabar Publications Limited, 153/7, Tejgaon Industrial Area, Dhaka-1208. Editorial, News & Commercial Office: FR Tower, 8/C Panthapath, Shukrabad, Dhaka 1207. Phone: 9132093-94, Advertising: 9132155, Circulation: 9132282, Fax: News-9132192, e-mail:,, Website:

B3 Oil prices and Saudi diplomacy

B4 China’s trade growth seen falling short of target in 2014


Central bank staff may get 5-10% more salaries than civil servants Showkat Kallol and Jebun n Asif Nesa Alo Bangladesh Bank will formulate a separate pay scale for its employees once the national pay scale is implemented, said Governor Atiur Rahman. He said the raise of salaries will be 10% of civil servants’ salaries and there will also be 16 grades like as the national pay structure. “We have already discussed the matter at the board of directors meeting on Wednesday,” Atiur Rahman told Dhaka Tribune yesterday. According to him, the hike to be proposed could be low if it is prepared right now. He said finance secretary told the board that he was yet to go through National Pay Scale report and so it would take some time to execute a separate pay scale for BB. “So we will place separate pay scale proposal to the board after that (implementation of national pay scale),” said Atiur. Governor argued that the central bank is a profitable organisation and the governor can provide a separate pay scale for the bank. He also said: “To attract meritorious students, we must raise salaries.” Currently, Bangladesh Bank employees receive five yearly bonuses in addition to salaries. In its report recently, the National Pay and Services Commission (NPSC) also realised the necessity of a separate pay structure for the central bank staff as the bank’s own wealth and financial strength is sufficient to maintain the hike. In November last year, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina approved a separate pay scale for the state-owned banks, but it could not be implemented because of legal complications. The argument was that the central

Call termination rate cut fetches govt over $22m loss n Muhammad Zahidul Islam

A man walks past the Bangladesh Bank headquarters in Dhaka bank is an autonomous organisation and cannot be brought under a same pay structure with state-owned banks, bringing forth the issue of a separate pay scale for BB. In this circumstance and competitiveness with private banks, the parliamentary body on finance ministry recently recommended making two separate pay scales – one for the central bank and other for the four stateowned banks. In the proposal that the PM had signed last year, there were 11 salary grades; the proposed basic pay for the lowest grade was Tk6,000 and Tk55,000 for the highest grade. Currently, the state-owned banks

and financial institutions get their salaries under the existing 20-grade pay scale for government servants. The NPSC coined a 16-grade pay scale for government employees in the report that it had recently submitted to the government, recommending Tk80,000 as the highest basic pay. The private commercial banks all have their own salary structures, under which, a top official of one of these banks can get up to Tk14 lakh per month. The commission recommended that the BB board of directors can implement a separate pay scale by taking permission from Finance Division. But the number of grades should not be higher or lower than the 16-grade pro-


posed by the commission. The NPSC report says the staff of the central bank need a separate pay scale because their activities are directly related with the movement of the country’s economy and also because they work with global financial institutions. Another reason is that the central bank employees of some of the neighbouring countries get more than what their counterparts here in Bangladesh get, the commission says. BB and the four state-owned banks have 61,000 employees in total. Of them 4,958 work for BB, 23,363 for Sonali Bank, 15,146 for Janata Bank, 13,558 for Agrani and Rupali has 4,293 employees. l

FBCCI calls for hartal withdrawal n Tribune Report

Four state banks reschedule loan of Tk10,000 crore

The Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry yesterday called upon the BNP-led 20-party alliance to withdraw hartal called for today considering political stability which is necessary for the country’s economic progress. In a press release, the apex trade body said business community of the country will thwart any evil attempt to destabilise the economy by creating anarchy in the name of political programmes and they will take to the streets, if necessary. It noted that the hartal announced by the 20-party alliance will greatly affect the daily activities of the citizens, hinder production and disrupt transportation of goods. The hartal will create obstacles for the Muslim devotees to arrive at Biswa Ijtema in the capital, added the press statement. Observing that the country has managed to recoup the damages done by the outbreak of violence before the January 5 parliamentary election, the FBCCI said the return of hartal will obliterate the country’s economic progress. l

n Jebun Nesa Alo The country’s four state-owned banks have rescheduled their loans of around Tk10,000 crore in 10 months from December 2013 to September this year, without receiving required down payments in most cases. During the period Sonali, Janata, Agrani and Rupali banks rescheduled loans 10 times over the previous years, taking advantage of relaxed loan rescheduling policy formulated by the Bangladesh Bank in December last year. The four banks rescheduled loans of Tk1,326 crore in 2012 and Tk1,900 crore in 2011, according to BB data. The huge rescheduling failed to prop up the banks’ profit as cash recovery was very poor. Bangladesh Bank has allowed all types of loan rescheduling for banking sector with only 5% down payment. Moreover, in most cases, the down payments were waived for rescheduling loans for big groups, said a senior executive of the central bank. The net loss of Sonali Bank stood at Tk532 crore in September quarter while its profit was Tk358 crore in De-

cember quarter last year. The net profit of Janata Bank dropped to Tk140 crore in September quarter from Tk955 crore in December quarter last year followed by Agrani Bank to Tk277 crore from Tk904 crore and Rupali Bank to Tk25 crore from Tk40 crore, according to the quarterly report of the banks. Bangladesh Bank has relaxed its loan rescheduling policy as a strategy to help the banks cut their default loan rates. Though the relaxed loan policy continued till June, it has since been allowing banks to reschedule loans, taking the advantage. The banks started regularising default loans aggressively under the relaxed policy from December last year. Of the four banks, Sonali Bank disbursed loans of above Tk2,700 crore, Rupali Bank above Tk3,300 crore, Janata Bank above Tk2,000 crore and Agrani Bank above Tk1,500 crore during December 2013 to September this year. The banks failed to keep their default loan rate at tolerable level. The default loan rate of Sonali Bank rose to 37.65% in September from 34.53% in

December last year followed by Janata Bank to 14.8% from 12.29% and Agrani Bank to 21% from19.7%. Only the default loan of Rupali Bank declined to 15% from 17%, thanks to the rescheduling of highest amount of loans by the bank. The bankers recently sought from the Bangladesh Bank a further relaxed policy to bring down their default loan rate to single digit by the end of December. The central bank suggested them to take the advantage on case-by-case basis for big groups, taking its consent. The Bangladesh Bank also suggested the banks to write off their bad loans by declaring minimum dividend at the year end. Sonali, Janata and Agrani had written off their loans of over Tk700 crore from December last year to September this year. Bangladesh Bank recently proposed the banks to reduce their bad loans by writing off, but they did not agree with the proposal as the writing off requires 100% provision which will put pressure on profit and the directors of banks will be loser, said a senior executive of Bangladesh Bank. l

The government has lost around $22.43 million in last two and half months, after slashing the international incoming call termination rate and rearranging revenue sharing structure, according to BTRC statistics. Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission earlier asked the government to reduce the call termination rate, claiming that the rate cut will fetch more profit. The government slashed the international incoming call termination rate to 1.5 cent per minute from 3 cent on September 18 for a six-month interim period following Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s approval. The reduction of termination rate led to rise in total incoming calls through legal channels, but the government, mobile and landphone (ANS) operators kept incurring losses along with interconnection exchange operators while International Gateway (IGW) Operators were making more money. In comparison with the last five months’ legal call numbers from July to November the Dhaka Tribune found

calculation in its recommendation at that time, but now it refrains from making any comment on the loss issue. Asked, BTRC Chairman Sunil Kanti Bose said their main plan was to establish a legal channel for call termination and in this case they are successful. “We made report on earnings assumption. Though it did not work, we are optimistic that more calls will terminate through legal channel,” BTRC Secretary Md Sarwar Alam said, quoting Sunil. “At the same time I can say establishing truth in this sector is also a success.” Most incoming international calls lastly reach cellphone numbers, and according to the revenue-sharing structure, ANS operators are getting 22.5% of 1.5 cent for per minute call which was earlier 20% of 3 cent. BTRC statistics said ANS operator’s earned $27.9 million in first two and half months and their revenues decreased in second half to $25.18 million despite increase in their share and total call volume. Two top market leader operators – Grameenphone and Robi – have al-


July to mid-September

Mid-September to November

Total call termination

4,650 million minute

7,460 million minute

BTRC revenue sharing & earning

51.75% ($72m)

40% ($45m)

ANS revenue sharing & earning

20% ($28m)

22.5% ($25m)

IGW revenue sharing & earning

13.25% ($18m)

20% ($22m)

ICX revenue sharing & earning

15% ($21m)

17.5% ($20m)

the loss scenario. Earlier, from revenue-sharing structure, BTRC got 51.75% which was reduced to 40%. The new order helped increase IGW’s revenue share from 13.25% to 20%. For ICX the revenue-share fixed at 17.5% from 15% and for ANS at 22.5% from 20%. According to the statistics from July 1 to September 18, there were 4.65 billion minutes calls terminated through the legal channels, the market price of which was $139.5 million and the per-minute termination rate was 3 cent at that time. From September 19 to the end of November, the total legal incoming calls increased more than 7.46 billion minutes while their market price came down to only $111.9 million at the rate of 1.5 cent. According to the available statistics, BTRC earned $72.19 million in two and half months just before introduction of new termination rate, but after activation of the new rate and amendment to the revenue-sharing structure the earning came down to $44.76 million in next two and half months. On an average BTRC had been earning between Tk1,800 crore to Tk1,900 crore every year over the last couple of years. The telecom watchdog in its recommendation claimed that the earning would be Tk2,012.72 crore. The regulator also presented a data

ready expressed their concern that the new structure led to fall in their income. Recently in the third quarter report declaration, Grameenphone’s then CEO Vivek Sood said: “It will affect them severely.” Robi’s CEO Supun Weerasinghe has also expressed his concern over it at a press conference recently. IGW operator’s earlier earned $18.48 million in July to first half of September maintaining 13.25% revenue share rate, which increased to 20% and their revenue came to $22.38 million from second half of September to November. “Most international incoming calls are now terminating through legal channels which is a success and I think revenue issue shouldn’t be the priority,” AKM Shamsuddoha, president of IGW Operators Forum, also owner of an IGW, Global Voice Telecom Limited, told the Dhaka Tribune recently. ICX operators are also deprived of good earnings because of the new regulation, but as most of them own IGWs, they are not concerned about their less amount of income. The earnings of ICX operators were $20.93 million and $19.58 million before and after the new rate and revenue-sharing structure. In the meantime, IGW operators also demand a retrospective effect of the rate cut and revenue sharing from July 1. They have taken the matter to the court for a settlement. l

REHAB fair bags Tk400cr n Tribune Reporter A five-day “Winter Fair-2014” of the Real Estate & Housing Association of Bangladesh (REHAB) concluded in the capital yesterday, bagging spot orders worth around Tk397 crore from plots and flats. The closing ceremony of the fair, which was inaugurated on December 24 at Bangabandhu International Conference Center (BICC), will be held tomorrow at the same venue at 6:30pm. The closing ceremony will be followed by a cultural evening. State Minister for Home Affairs Asaduzzaman Khan

will attend the ceremony as chief gust while Rajuk Chairman GM Joynal Abedin Bhuiyan will join the function as special guest. During the fair, the participants sold 374 flats and 412 plots of Tk397 crore, according to a REHAB statement issued yesterday. Apart from the sales, visitors also pledged to buy plots, flats and commercial space worth Tk521 crore. A total of 152 companies participated at the five-day “Winter Fair-2014.” Presence of good number of visitors at the fair raised new hopes among the sector people, the statement said. l

A five-day REHAB fair concludes in the capital yesterday






DSEX hits one month low amid political worries

DSE key features December 28, 2014

Traded Issues


n Tribune Report

Issue Gain (Avg. Price Basis)


Issue Loss (Avg. Price Basis)


Turnover (Million Taka)

Stocks declined for the third session in a row amid volatility yesterday with benchmark index DSEX falling to nearly one-month low. The market opened the week on sour note as most investors remained inactive in the wake of growing political worries.

Growing political conflict is the new addition to dampen mood of investors who already faced difficulty in adaptation to new trading system The benchmark DSEX lost 22 points or 0.5% to close at 4,801 – its lowest since November 30 this year. The Shariah index DSES witnessed fractional losses of 0.8 points to 1,137. The comprising blue chips DS30 ended at 1,779, shedding 7 points or 0.5%. Chittagong Stock Exchange (CSE) Selective Categories Index, CSCX, was dowm 74 points to 8,945. As risk-averse investors were reluctant to put funds on stocks, turnover slumped to Tk156 crore, which was 18.3% lower over the previous session and lowest since December 11 this year.

Weekly capital market highlights DSE Broad Index : DSE - 30 Index : CSE All Share Index: CSE - 30 Index : CSE Selected Index : DSE LOSER Company

Closing (% Change)

Shampur Sugar -Z Savar Refractories-Z Stylecraft -A Meghna PET Ind. -Z Meghna Con. Milk -B Northern Jute -Z Shahjibazar Power-N Beximco Syn.-Z SAIF Powertec-N Prime Textile -A

-8.16 -7.20 -6.17 -5.00 -4.71 -4.70 -4.28 -4.03 -3.95 -3.91


Closing (% Change)

Nitol Insurance -A National Polymer -A Standard Ceramic -A NCCBL Mutual Fund-1-A Sandhani Life -A Rahima Food -Z Mithun Knitting -A Padma Islami Life*-N Shahjibazar Power-N Prime Textile -A

-9.84 -9.80 -8.88 -8.20 -7.90 -6.80 -6.46 -5.96 -5.40 -5.00


(-) 0.46%


(-) 0.41%


(-) 0.71%


(-) 0.74%


(-) 0.88%

Average (% Change) -8.65 9.09 -12.59 -6.10 -4.95 5.82 -3.55 -2.26 -2.62 -4.06 Average (% Change) -5.51 -9.79 -8.88 -6.89 -7.90 -5.79 -5.57 -5.78 -1.47 -5.06


ClosingAvg. 8.98 60.00 874.07 5.70 8.07 333.33 219.04 12.13 61.43 17.24

ClosingAvg. 28.82 68.99 39.00 5.68 57.10 37.42 65.22 37.98 511.28 17.09


Bank NBFI Investment Engineering Food & Allied Fuel & Power Jute Textile Pharma & Chemical Paper & Packaging Service Leather Ceramic Cement Information Technology General Insurance Life Insurance Telecom Travel & Leisure Miscellaneous Debenture

DSE Million Taka 147.31 123.49 36.11 161.36 50.48 300.27 1.00 130.51 190.09 8.09 89.99 7.21 11.46 109.98 42.66 13.64 38.62 47.80 12.92 44.46 0.00

DHIGH 9.20 51.00 872.00 5.70 8.50 301.00 231.00 12.60 63.70 17.60


27.50 69.00 39.00 5.60 57.10 37.00 65.20 37.90 213.70 17.10

29.10 69.00 39.00 5.70 57.10 38.10 65.30 38.00 226.00 17.10


Unchanged Issue (Avg. Price Basis)


Market Capital Equity (Billion. Tk.)


Market Capital Equity (Billion US$)


CSE key features December 28, 2014 Turnover (Million Taka)


Turnover (Volume)


Number of Contract


Traded Issues


Issue Gain (Avg. Price Basis)


Issue Loss (Avg. Price Basis)


Unchanged Issue (Avg. Price Basis)


Market Capital Equity (Billion. Tk.)


Market Capital Equity (Billion US$)


Turnover in Million

DLOW 8.90 49.60 871.00 5.70 7.90 300.00 214.00 11.70 60.20 17.10

Latest EPS

0.119 0.003 0.118 0.006 0.327 0.002 8.894 1.219 37.024 0.749

-52.72 -0.44 44.98 -0.44 -4.32 1.00 9.00 0.08 2.36 1.04

Turnover in Million

DLOW 27.50 68.90 39.00 5.60 57.10 37.00 64.00 37.90 212.00 17.00

% change 9.40 7.88 2.30 10.29 3.22 19.16 0.06 8.33 12.13 5.74 0.46 0.73 7.02 2.72 0.87 2.46 3.05 0.82 2.84 0.00

Million Taka 10.71 5.70 3.38 16.68 4.05 17.74 15.20 11.22 4.62 9.58 3.70 2.17 8.90 2.28 0.76 1.19 5.10 4.49 9.36 0.02


% change 7.83 4.17 2.47 12.19 2.96 12.96 0.00 11.11 8.20 3.38 7.00 2.71 1.59 6.51 1.66 0.56 0.87 3.72 3.28 6.84 0.01

Latest EPS

0.158 0.125 0.009 0.051 0.003 0.064 0.009 0.017 0.241 0.050

Million Taka 158.02 129.19 39.49 178.03 54.53 318.01 1.00 145.71 201.31 12.71 99.57 10.92 13.63 118.88 44.93 14.41 39.81 52.89 17.40 53.82 0.02

BD Fixed Income MF-A 7th ICB M F-A EBL NRB M.F.-A BD. Thai Alum -B Standard Ceramic -A Prime Islami Life -A SummitAlliancePort.-A Anwar Galvanizing-B R. N. Spinning-Z Takaful Islami Insu-A

Closing (% Change) 5.88 5.55 4.26 3.96 3.96 3.93 3.74 3.47 2.63 2.36


2.79 2.76 0.60 0.43 2.12 -0.80 3.40 1.10 9.00 1.04

Latest PE -ve -ve 19.4 -ve -ve 333.3 24.3 151.6 26.0 16.6


Company Hakkani P& Paper -B Anwar Galvanizing-B Aziz PipesZ MBL 1st M. F.-A SummitAlliancePort.-A BD. Thai Alum -B Samorita Hospital -A R. N. Spinning-Z Phoenix Fin. 1st MF-A AIBL 1st Is. M. F.-A

Closing (% Change) 9.77 5.96 5.05 4.76 4.13 3.97 2.92 2.58 2.33 2.22

Average (% Change) 3.20 19.63 4.06 1.47 7.33 2.00 1.65 0.08 2.32 2.32 Average (% Change) 9.84 3.36 4.82 2.56 2.50 3.01 1.58 3.16 1.38 1.78

ClosingAvg. 7.09 97.00 4.87 46.15 42.00 67.46 81.56 37.66 26.93 26.00

ClosingAvg. 33.70 38.16 22.85 4.40 81.94 46.53 81.00 27.45 4.40 4.57

Closing 7.20 97.00 4.90 47.20 42.00 68.70 83.30 38.80 27.30 26.00

Closing 33.70 39.10 22.90 4.40 83.20 47.10 81.00 27.80 4.40 4.60

DHIGH 7.20 97.00 5.00 47.50 42.00 69.70 83.60 39.90 27.90 27.00

DHIGH 33.70 39.50 22.90 4.40 83.90 47.50 81.00 28.30 4.40 4.60

DLOW 6.10 97.00 4.70 45.30 42.00 65.00 78.90 36.60 26.30 25.60

DLOW 33.70 36.80 22.80 4.40 78.10 45.20 81.00 26.20 4.40 4.50

Turnover in Million 0.036 0.018 2.517 29.535 0.000 3.947 48.177 3.317 5.909 0.383

Turnover in Million 0.001 0.121 0.023 0.001 5.123 2.031 0.031 1.593 0.002 0.003

Latest EPS 0.48 8.52 0.64 1.09 0.60 4.95 0.88 0.84 2.19 1.43

Latest EPS 0.64 0.84 -0.37 0.18 0.88 1.09 2.32 2.19 0.84 -0.08

Latest PE 14.8 11.4 7.6 42.3 70.0 13.6 92.7 44.8 12.3 18.2

Latest PE 52.7 45.4 -ve 24.4 93.1 42.7 34.9 12.5 5.2 -ve

News, analysis and recent disclosures CITYBANK: The Company has informed that the Board of Directors of the Company has approved the revaluation of Land and Buildings as follows: Land revalued from carrying amount of Tk. 345.35 crore to Tk. 423.24 crore and Buildings revalued from carrying amount of Tk. 181.58 crore to Tk. 205.65 crore. SINOBANGLA: Credit Rating Information and Services Limited (CRISL) has rated the Company as A- in the long term and ST-3 in the short term along with a stable outlook based on audited financial statements of the Company up to October 31, 2013, unaudited financials up to July 31, 2014 as well as other relevant quantitative as well as qualitative information up to the date of rating declaration. GP: Credit Rating Agency of Bangladesh Limited (CRAB) has announced the entity rating (surveillance) of the Company as AAA with a stable outlook based on unaudited financial statements up to September 30, 2014, audited financial statements up to December 31, 2013, bank liability position as on October 31, 2014 and other relevant quantitative as well as qualitative information up to the date of rating declaration.

IPO Subscription: Shasha Denims Limited subscription date 14 to 21 December 2014, NRB upto 30 December 2014. @ taka 10, face value taka 35 and market lot 200. Zaheen Spinning Limited subscription date 28 December 2014 to 05 January 2015, NRB upto 13 January 2015. @ taka 10, face value taka 10 and market lot 500. Right Share: ICB: Subscription period for rights issue will be from 07.12.2014 to 30.12.2014. Record date for entitlement of rights share: 09.09.2014. FIRSTSBANK Subscription period for rights issue will be from 07.12.2014 to 28.12.2014. Record date for entitlement of rights share: 20.11.2014. Dividend/AGM ECABLES: 10% cash, AGM: 26.02.2015, Record Date: 05.01.2015. HFL: 10% cash and 10% stock, AGM: 30.12.2014, Record Date: 22.12.2014. SONALIANSH: 10% cash AGM: 30.12.2014, Record Date: 21.12.2014. MPETROLEUM: 95% cash and 10% stock, AGM: 16.01.2015, Record date: 04.12.2014. JAMUNAOIL: 90% cash and 10% stock, AGM: 07.02.2015, Record date: 11.12.2014. KBPPWBIL: 10% stock, AGM: 29.12.2014, Record Date: 08.12.2014. PRIMELIFE: 10% cash and 15% stock

dividend, AGM: 24.12.2014, Record Date: 20.11.2014. PADMAOIL: 100% cash, AGM: 14.02.2015, Record date: 22.12.2014. EASTRNLUB: 30% cash, AGM: 17.01.2015, Record Date: 25.11.2014. SAMORITA: 20% cash and 10% stock dividend, AGM: 07.01.2015, Record Date: 19.11.2014. POWERGRID: 10% cash, AGM: 17.01.2015, Record Date: 25.11.2014. SPCL: 25% cash and 5% stock dividend, AGM: 29.01.2015, Record Date: 27.11.2014. ANWARGALV: 7.50% cash dividend to the general shareholders, AGM: 12.01.2015, Record Date: 13.11.2014. METROSPIN: 5% stock dividend, AGM: 30.12.2014, Record Date: 17.11.2014. FINEFOODS: No dividend, Date, 28.12.14. Record Date: 24.11.2014. SAVAREFR: No dividend, AGM: 24.01.2015, Record Date: 23.12.2014. FEKDIL: 5% cash and 15% stock, AGM: 29.11.2014, Record Date: 06.11.2014. ZAHINTEX: 10% stock, AGM: 29.12.2014, Record Date: 05.11.2014. STANCERAM: 10% cash dividend for the Public Shareholders only, AGM: 28.12.2014, Record Date: 05.11.2014.

Latest PE 10.3 25.0 65.0 13.2 26.9 -ve 19.2 34.5 56.8 16.4

Benchmark index snapped on the opening day of the week as DSEX closed, hitting the 4,800 mark because of concern over political conflicts and profit booking in the bank and financial stocks


▼ ▼ ▲ ▼ ▼

9.00 50.30 871.00 5.70 8.10 300.20 216.90 11.90 60.80 17.20



Number of Contract

Fuel and power was the most active sector of the day, making up more than 19% of total turnover. “Growing political conflict is the new addition to dampen mood of investors who already faced difficulty in adaptation to new trading system,” said a market player. Almost all the sectors closed in red during the session. Among the major sectors, bank was the biggest loser declining 0.8%. other sectors including engineering, food and allied, fuel and power closed lower. Cement posted the highest return of 0.8%. Highlight of the day was rejuvenated interest in mutual funds, as four mutual funds occupied among top ten gainers. Share prices of more than 70% issues declined as out of 305 issues traded, 219 declined, 59 advanced and 27 remained unchanged at DSE. IDLC Investments said market continued to slip down for the last three consecutive sessions while turnover hit nine sessions’ bottom amid investors’ ‘wait and see’ mood. Lanka Bangla Securities said benchmark index snapped on the opening day of the week as DSEX closed, hitting the 4,800 mark because of concern over political conflicts and profit booking in the bank and financial stocks. “Probably investors were predicting one more round of volatility in the political arena as evidenced by two weeks’ low market turnover,” it said. It said investors were reluctant to bring new funds in the market. l



Turnover (Volume)

Monday, December 29, 2014


% change 9.27 7.58 2.32 10.45 3.20 18.66 0.06 8.55 11.81 0.75 5.84 0.64 0.80 6.98 2.64 0.85 2.34 3.10 1.02 3.16 0.00

Prepared exclusively for Dhaka Tribune by Business Information Automation Service Line (BIASL), on the basis of information collected from daily stock quotations and audited reports of the listed companies. High level of caution has been taken to collect and present the above information and data. The publisher will not take any responsibility if any body uses this information and data for his/her investment decision. For any query please email to or call 01552153562 or go to

LafargeS Cement-Z MJL BD Ltd.-A Square Pharma -A SummitAlliancePort.-A DESCO Ltd. -A Titas Gas TDCLA Grameenphone-A Beximco Pharma -A SAIF Powertec-N Padma Oil Co. -A

BD. Thai Alum -B Agni Systems -A Quasem Drycells -A BEXIMCO Ltd. -A Brac Bank -A Alltex Industries -Z

CSE TURNOVER LEADERS Company LafargeS Cement-Z BEXIMCO Ltd. -A MJL BD Ltd.-A SummitAlliancePort.-A DESCO Ltd. -A SAIF Powertec-N Grameenphone-A Hamid Fabrics -N WesternMarine -N Square Pharma -A

Khan Brothers-N UNITED AIR-A The Peninsula CTG.-N Appollo Ispat CL -N BD. Thai Alum -B

VolumeShares 717,676 568,347 232,632 590,666 680,762 552,554 114,128 640,929 602,668 133,667

Value in Million 86.81 68.87 59.22 48.18 46.35 43.63 40.91 38.03 37.02 34.28

% of TotalTurnover 5.54 4.39 3.78 3.07 2.96 2.78 2.61 2.43 2.36 2.19


Value in Million

% of TotalTurnover

639,966 864,516 349,633 680,559 629,255 4,845,000

60,428 166,438 43,196 62,527 67,829 70,571 10,678 95,927 66,393 11,188

73,109 251,319 82,368 104,165 43,662

29.54 27.69 25.48 24.29 23.30 113.67

7.31 5.96 5.27 5.12 4.53 4.34 3.83 3.49 3.43 2.86

2.44 2.24 2.16 2.06 2.03

1.88 1.77 1.63 1.55 1.49 1.51

5.86 4.78 4.22 4.11 3.63 3.48 3.07 2.79 2.75 2.29

1.96 1.79 1.73 1.65 1.63

ClosingP 121.10 122.40 257.20 83.30 68.80 78.60 357.80 59.00 60.80 247.20

47.20 31.80 73.90 35.50 36.90 22.90


121.10 35.60 122.40 83.20 70.00 60.60 357.30 36.00 51.60 255.90

32.90 8.90 26.10 19.70 47.10

Change % 1.34 1.83 0.90 3.74 1.62 -2.00 -0.67 -2.48 -3.95 -0.04

3.96 -2.75 0.14 -2.47 -2.12 4.09

Change %

1.59 -1.93 2.09 4.13 3.55 -3.96 -0.86 -2.17 -1.53 0.08

-2.66 0.00 -0.38 -1.50 3.97

ClosingY 119.50 120.20 254.90 80.30 67.70 80.20 360.20 60.50 63.30 247.30

45.40 32.70 73.80 36.40 37.70 22.00


119.20 36.30 119.90 79.90 67.60 63.10 360.40 36.80 52.40 255.70

33.80 8.90 26.20 20.00 45.30

DHIGH 122.00 122.90 263.00 83.60 69.30 80.30 362.50 60.60 63.70 260.00

47.50 32.90 74.80 36.50 37.70 24.20

DLOW 119.40 118.70 253.40 78.90 65.70 78.30 356.50 58.80 60.20 245.10

45.30 31.50 70.40 35.20 36.70 20.50



122.40 36.40 123.90 83.90 70.00 64.00 362.80 37.20 52.70 257.70

119.60 35.50 118.40 78.10 65.60 60.40 356.00 35.90 51.30 254.00

34.60 9.00 26.80 20.00 47.50

32.60 8.80 26.00 19.60 45.20

AvgPrice 120.97 121.18 254.57 81.56 68.08 78.95 358.43 59.33 61.43 256.47

46.15 32.03 72.88 35.69 37.03 23.46


120.96 35.82 122.03 81.94 66.82 61.57 358.98 36.33 51.65 255.23

33.44 8.91 26.19 19.81 46.53



Monday, December 29, 2014


Oil prices and Saudi diplomacy n John Kemp Saudi Arabia sets oil market policy purely on an economic basis, no less and no more, the kingdom’s oil minister reiterated in a broad-ranging interview with the newspaper Al-Hayat. Ali al-Naimi rejected “conspiracy theories” that Saudi Arabia was using oil as a diplomatic weapon against Iran, Russia or any other country, calling such beliefs a misunderstanding, tendentious and a fantasy without foundation. Naimi was countering widespread suggestions in the Western media and think tanks that the kingdom had deliberately caused the price of oil to collapse in order to weaken its adversaries in Syria, Iraq and Iran. But is there really any evidence to suggest the kingdom’s top policymakers have deliberately sought lower oil prices? Or has Saudi Arabia simply responded to events beyond its control by selecting the most sensible strategy from a range of unappealing options? We will never know the answer for certain. Saudi oil policy is set by the minister alone in consultation with the king and a tiny group of senior princes. Access to those discussions is severely limited. Those who know tend not to talk, and those who talk tend not to know. Nonetheless, there are good reasons to doubt the kingdom is wielding the oil weapon as part of some grand “geopolitical strategy” either on its own or in conjunction with the United States. In his newspaper interview, Naimi blamed falling oil prices on the global economic slowdown, rising production from outside OPEC, the spread of misinformation, and speculators. Certainly those factors (sluggish demand, rising non-OPEC supply, and behavioural reactions in financialised commodity markets) can provide a plausible explanation for the nearhalving of oil prices since June. There is no need to invoke a conspiracy theory about a secret plan to damage Iran and

Russia to explain recent price history. Some conspiracists respond by suggesting that while Saudi Arabia may not have triggered the price slide, it has done nothing to prevent it. But there is nothing Saudi Arabia could have done to keep prices near $100 a barrel in the medium term. As Naimi explained, if Saudi Arabia had cut production, it would simply have encouraged more output from higher-cost producers in the United States, Brazil and elsewhere. The kingdom would have lost market share without gaining an enduring improvement in price. If lower oil prices provide a diplomatic benefit to Saudi Arabia and the United States by intensifying economic pressure on hostile states such as Iran, Russia and Venezuela, that has been a

side benefit, not the principal policy objective. Saudi Arabia’s only rational response to rising shale oil supplies and stagnating demand for crude was to allow prices to fall to curb shale investment and buy back some of the demand growth that had been lost. To read a conspiracy into recent events is both unnecessary and entirely unproven. Proponents of the “oil as a diplomatic weapon” theory have not cited a single piece of direct evidence. In the circumstances, there is no reason to doubt the Saudi oil minister’s own explanation. In the past, I have criticised Saudi policymakers for not communicating their strategy more clearly, creating an information vacuum into which outsiders have projected their own views.

Naimi’s extensive comments and press interviews over the last few days appear designed to eliminate that vacuum and state clearly for the record how the kingdom expects oil markets and its policy to unfold and why. There is no reason to doubt him.

Political factors

Energy is power (with apologies to physicists). Control of energy supplies confers enormous power on the nations that wield it. Access to oil supplies played a critical role in Germany’s and Japan’s military and diplomatic strategies during World War Two. In 1973, the US Department of Defense actually developed plans for a Rapid Deployment Force to seize Saudi Arabia’s oil fields to break an embargo as a way of pressuring the kingdom.

There is no doubt that diplomatic factors have sometimes played a role in Saudi oil policy. King Faisal openly employed oil as a “political instrument” in the form of said embargo in 1973 in an (unsuccessful) attempt to change U.S. policy towards Israel. In the 1980s, King Fahd reportedly ordered extra oil sales to pay for an arms deal with Britain. More recently, Saudi Arabia stepped in to make up the threatened shortfall in supplies during the first and second USIraq wars. And there seems to have been some sort of understanding between Riyadh and Washington to increase Saudi production to fill the gap left by Iranian exports as a result of sanctions. But political intervention in oil policy has been the exception rather than the norm over the last 40 years. In general, Saudi Arabia sells as much oil as it can for the highest price that it can, given sales by rival producers and the state of the markets. That hasn’t stopped outsiders trying to project their own agendas onto Saudi policy. In March 1986, in the midst of a similar meltdown in the oil market, the conservative New York Times columnist William Safire published a famous opinion article titled “Reading Yamani’s Mind”. “My strategy is to produce and produce until the low prices bankrupt Iran,” Safire imagined Zaki Yamani, Saudi Arabia’s then-minister of oil, saying. “My orders from the royal family could not be more clear: at all costs, break Iran. With our very survival at stake, we are willing to suffer these falling prices because we know we are starving Iran’s war machine.” Questioned about it later by his biographer Jeffrey Robinson, Yamani denied he had tried such a strategy and ascribed it to “journalistic wishful thinking” and Safire’s own political motives for advocating a hawkish line on Iran (“Yamani: the inside story”, 1988). In retrospect, it is clear the 1986 price collapse was a disaster for the

kingdom, pushing it to the verge of bankruptcy, and cost Yamani his job. The idea it was all part of some grand geopolitical scheme to harm Iran is a neoconservative fantasy. Yet much the same armchair strategising is now being used to impute deliberate policy motives to the current collapse in oil prices, and it is no more plausible than before. Big shifts in oil prices sometimes have significant economic, political, diplomatic and military consequences. Russian economist Yegor Gaidar has argued the collapse in oil prices in the mid-1980s was responsible for the dissolution of the Soviet Union (“The Soviet collapse: grain and oil”, 2007). But no serious analyst argues the oil price collapse of 1985-86 was deliberately engineered by Saudi Arabia, the United States or anyone else to bring down the USSR. It occurred because the high prices of the late 1970s and early 1980s had stimulated a huge increase in nonOPEC supplies and massive fuel conservation in the advanced economies. More or less the same thing has happened as a result of the big rise in real oil prices between 2002 and 2012. Now the delayed response from supply and demand has caused the cycle to turn again. Conspiracy theories are neither necessary nor helpful in trying to understand recent events in the oil market. Not necessary, because they add nothing to explanations for why prices have fallen. And not helpful, because they imply Saudi Arabia could rationally have pursued a different policy. There are times when history is made through secret backroom deals among the great and powerful. But most of the time it unfolds on its own as a result of mistakes, miscalculations, accidents and unforeseen events which catch senior policymakers as much by surprise as the rest of us. l John Kemp is a Reuters market analyst.

Gold rises in thin trade; eyes second straight weekly drop

ECB’s Weidmann: German 2015 growth may be better than expected

n Reuters, Singapore

n Reuters, Berlin

Gold gained 1% in thin post-Christmas trading on Friday as the dollar slipped against a basket of major currencies, but the metal was headed for a second straight weekly drop, underscoring the bearishness in the market. Spot gold gained 1% to $1,186.05 an ounce by 0711 GMT, moving away from a three-week low of $1,170.17 hit earlier in the week. Liquidity was thin as key markets in the region such as Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore were closed on Friday. The UK market will remain closed, although New York will be open. “The weaker dollar probably attracted some bids but volumes are really low and this rally might not last once every-

one is back from the holidays,” said a precious metals trader in Singapore. The dollar index was 0.1% lower after climbing to a near nine-year peak earlier this week. “Physical demand is light because people have closed their books for the year, so I don’t see that supporting prices either,” the trader said. Premiums in Singapore have dropped to between 80 cents and $1 an ounce over the global benchmark, from about $1.50 two weeks ago, traders said. “Trading volumes between Christmas and the New Year can be notoriously thin. In a low-volume climate, bullion prices can move sharply in either direction on even light investor purchases or sales,” HSBC analysts had said in a note this week.

Despite Friday’s gain, the metal has lost about 1% for the week. Bullion lost ground after data showed the US economy grew in the third quarter at its quickest pace in 11 years. Other data showed initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped for the fourth straight week. Strong data decreases gold’s appeal as a safe-haven asset and increases expectations of an interest rate hike in the United States. A higher dollar makes gold more expensive for holders of other currencies. An increase in rates is also seen to dull demand for non-interest-bearing bullion. Among other precious metals, silver was on track for a second straight weekly decline, while palladium and platinum were headed for weekly gains. l

Growth in Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, could be better than expected next year and the situation in Europe is not as bad as many people think, the president of Germany’s Bundesbank told a newspaper on Sunday. In an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, Jens Weidmann, a member of the European Central Bank’s Governing Council, also reiterated his opposition to ECB plans to buy sovereign bonds. The ECB is watching carefully how a recent drop in oil prices will affect euro zone inflation, far below its target of just below 2%, and standing ready to do more to keep the region from slipping into deflation.

“As things are at the moment and if oil prices remain this low, inflation will be lower than expected, but growth will be better,” Weidmann was quoted as saying. The Bundesbank this month halved its growth forecast for Germany to 1% for next year. It also cut its prediction for 2014 growth to 1.4% from 1.9% in June. “The situation in Europe isn’t as bad as some people believe,” added Weidmann. Having largely exhausted its policy toolkit with the key interest rate at a record lows of 0.05%, broad-based purchases of sovereign bonds - also known as quantitative easing (QE) - are seen as the ECB’s last resort to revive the economy.

But some ECB policymakers have reservations. Weidmann is the most vocal opponent of such a step in the 24-member Governing Council, concerned the central bank could end up bankrolling troubled euro zone governments and lose sight of its mandate to keep prices stable. “(With low oil prices) An economic stimulus program has been handed to us, why should we add to that with monetary policy?” said Weidmann, adding that pressure from financial markets should not determine the ECB’s moves on buying up sovereign bonds. “I am irritated by one question dominating the recent public debate: when will you finally buy?” said Weidmann. l


BRAC Bank has recently signed an agreement with Midland Bank Limited for executing Xpress Money remittance transactions from all its outlets as sub agents. The bank’s DMD, Mohammad Mamdudur Rashid and Md Ahsan-uz-Zaman, MD & CEO of Midland Bank Limited signed the agreement

Gold bars are stacked at a safe deposit room of the ProAurum gold house in Munich REUTERS

Germany plans electric car motorway charging stations n Reuters, Berlin Germany plans to expand the network of charging stations for electric cars across the country to help boost lackluster demand, a Transport Ministry paper seen by Reuters showed. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government wants to bring 1 million batterypowered vehicles onto the roads of Europe’s largest economy by the end of the decade. But high vehicle costs and drivers’ concerns about infrastructure and limited battery range have held back sales in Germany to just 24,000 models out of a market of about 3 million cars, according to government data. Germany currently only has about 100 quick service charging points for

electric cars, allowing drivers to recharge batteries in less than an hour, and about 4,800 charging stations running on alternating current, according to the Transport Ministry. “We will set up quick service charging stations along the motorways across Germany,” Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt was quoted by regional newspaper Passauer Neue Presse as saying in an interview published on Saturday. The Transport Ministry paper said German motorway services operator Tank & Rast GmbH was due to set up quick service charging stations and parking spots at its 400 sites by 2017. The Berlin-based government will shoulder some of the costs of installing cables and related construction projects, the document showed. l

Marcel has recently opened its exclusive showroom at Rambabu Road in Mymensingh. The company’s brand ambassador, Amin Khan inaugurated the showroom at the presence its executive director (PR and media), Md Humayun Kabir

Tallu Spinning Mills Limited has recently held its 25th annual general meeting in Mymensingh, presided over by its director, Md Rafiqul Haque

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates has recently celebrated the departure of its inaugural Airbus A380 flight at Abu Dhabi International Airport. Eng Ahmad Al Haddabi, chief operations officer of Abu Dhabi Airports attended the ribboncutting ceremony

Mithun Knitting and Dyeing (CEPZ) Limited has recently held its 23rd annual general meeting in Mymensingh, presided over by its director, Md Rafiqul Haque



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Monday, December 29, 2014

China’s trade growth seen falling short of target in 2014 n Reuters, Shanghai China’s trade will grow 3.5% in 2014, implying the country will fall short of a current 7.5% official growth target, according to a report on the Ministry of Commerce’s website that was subsequently revised to remove the numbers. The initial version of the report published on the website on Saturday, which quoted Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng, was replaced with a new version that had identical wording but with all the numbers and percentages removed. The Commerce Ministry did not answer calls requesting comment on the reason for the change. China’s trade figures have repeatedly fallen short of expectations in the second half of this year, providing more evidence that China’s economy may be facing a sharper slowdown. Foreign direct investment will amount to $120bn for the year, the ear-

lier version of Ministry of Commerce report said, in line with official forecasts. The earlier version of the report also said outward non-financial investment from China could also come in around the same level. That would mark the first time outward flows have pulled even with inward investment flows in China, and would imply a major surge in outward investment in December given that the current accumulated level stands slightly below $90bn. The earlier version of the report also predicted that retail sales growth would come in at 12% for 2014, in line with the current average growth rate. In a separate report, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences predicted that real estate prices in Chinese cities would continue to slide in 2015, with third- and fourth-tier cities hit hardest. But it said the market would have a soft landing as local governments take action to provide further policy support to the market. l

Trucks loaded with cargo containers are seen at Ningbo Zhoushan Port

Ruble fall creates turbulence for Russian airlines n AFP, Moscow

Their international competitors may be cheering tumbling oil prices, but the collapse in the ruble has meant major financial turbulence for Russian airlines who have expenses in foreign currencies. The ruble has slumped by 40% this year against the dollar and euro, mostly due to crude oil prices falling by half in the past six months as Russia’s economy is heavily dependent upon oil exports. As jet fuel accounts for upwards of a quarter of the cost for flights, most airlines are set to see a boost to earnings. Russian airlines also stand to benefit, but that is expected to pale in comparison to the double whammy resulting from the drop in the value of the ruble. First, traffic on their most profitable international routes has dropped as Russians stopped travelling as their purchasing power has been eroded, not to mention ticket prices being jacked up twice by 10%. Second, the airlines have considerable costs in foreign currencies - mostly aircraft leases - which have nearly doubled in ruble terms as the currency has slumped.

According to Deutsche Bank, Russia’s leading airline Aeroflot earns 90 percent of its revenue in rubles while 60% of its costs are in foreign currencies. “The situation is very serious,” said Oleg Panteleyev, the editor-in-chief of the specialist website AviaPort. “The result is obvious: as a drop in traffic is inevitable, they must return planes to lessors, reduce foreign currency costs and lower the number of planes and flights,” he told AFP. With traffic rising by 15 to 20% annually in recent years, Russian airlines have leased and ordered new planes from Airbus and Boeing to retire their ageing fleet of gas-guzzling Russian aircraft. Uncertainty has hovered for weeks over the third-largest Russian airline, Utair. Unable to repay some of its debts, Alfa Bank has been trying in court to seize its aircraft. Then this past week doubts began to surface about the finances of number two airline Transaero, which boasts a fleet of more than 100 mostly Boeing aircraft. TASS news agency reported that it had appealed to the government for help to avoid having to suspend flights.

Holiday connections

Even if Transaero denounced the report as an attempt to destabilise it by competitors, the possibility of thousands of Russian tourists stranded abroad as happened this past summer when a number of travel agencies went bust was enough to prod the government into quick action. Anxious to show it was moving to contain the effects of the currency crisis, the government promised to help airlines by subsidising domestic routes and providing loan guarantees to ensure airlines had access to funds. On Wednesday Transaero was granted a loan guarantee of 9bn rubles (140m euros, $170m). The same day Alfa Bank said it was temporarily suspending, “at the request of the government”, its legal action against Utair in order to avoid disruptions to flights during the upcoming holidays. The government has a clear shortterm goal, according to Panteleyev: “the airlines must transport all the passengers over the holidays”. Russia nearly shuts down at the beginning of the year as most people take holiday between the New Year and the Russian Orthodox Christmas, celebrat-

ed this year on Thursday January 7. Panteleyev said “obtaining loans is indispensable ... to pay for jet fuel, airport fees and salaries, but it isn’t sufficient to survive.” With the Russian central bank expecting the country’s economy to contract by nearly 5 percent if oil prices remain at current levels and for there to be no recovery before 2017, there won’t be an easy out for airlines.

Complete upheaval

Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich warned airlines that the government aid would not help unless they optimised their fleet and routes and cut costs. Their owners would also have to pump money into them, he said. Alexei Khazbiyev, a transportation specialist with the magazine Expert, also sees dark clouds ahead for Russian airlines. “Next year, the traffic on international flights will continue to drop and the airlines will reduce their number of flights,” he said. Khazbiyev estimated that a majority of Russian airlines will lose money and several smaller regional companies may go bust, as happened in 2008-2009. l


Toshiba CEO says will consider overseas locations for chip plant n Reuters, Tokyo Toshiba Corp will decide during the next business year from April on where to build an additional memory chip plant and will consider overseas locations for the facility, Chief Executive Hisao Tanaka said on Friday. Less than four months after opening a NAND flash memory chip fabrication plant in Yokkaichi, western Japan, Tanaka told Reuters in an interview that demand is outstripping capacity and the Japanese conglomerate must expand production. NAND memory chips are used in smartphones and other electronic devices. “Samsung already has a factory in China, in Xian, and Hynix has one, too,” Tanaka said. Pressed on whether China would be the best overseas location, he added: “But Samsung has a plant in the United

States, as well.” Toshiba will aim to begin production at the new facility around 2017, he said, adding that domestic locations would also be an option. For the company’s nuclear power plant business, Tanaka said India could be an option if he could be convinced of the workability of a proposed insurance pool backed by the government to indemnify global nuclear suppliers against liability in the case of a nuclear accident. The company’s healthcare department aims to reach the 1tn yen ($8.3bn) milestone in revenue in 2017 partly through acquisitions, although M&A on the scale of hundreds of billions of yen would be necessary to achieve that goal, Tanaka said. “Our strong suits are diagnostics, treatment, and such, but (M&A deals) would most likely be in MRIs and CT scans, or the area of disease prevention.” l

China challenges India’s polished diamond throne

Sony’s PlayStation ‘gradually coming back’

n Reuters, New Delhi

n AFP, Washington

India’s long-held position as the world’s top diamond polisher is being challenged by soaring output from China, compelling the south Asian country to seek help from ally and top rough diamond supplier Russia to defend its market share. India has traditionally relied on the middlemen in trading hubs of Antwerp, Tel Aviv and Dubai for its supply of rough diamonds, which mainly come from Russia or Africa. Most of the world’s diamond output is sent to India for cutting and polishing before being retailed around the world. But China has managed to break the established trade route by getting diamonds directly from African mines in which Chinese companies have a stake. This has boosted the value of China’s net exports of polished diamonds by 72% in the past five years to $8.9 billion. While India’s exports, supplied by firms such as Asian Star, Gitanjali Gems Ltd and Venus Jewel, rose 49% to $14bn over that time, shipments have seen a sharp drop this year. “China’s active procurement of rough supply from African countries was reducing the supply available to Indian manufacturers,” said Sandeep Varia, an executive of Indian industry body Assocham. “Many units across the country had to lay off workers due to losses.” As a result, China’s share of the global polished diamond market has tripled to 17% in the past decade, according to data from the United Nations. India’s share has fluctuated between 19 and 31%.

Sony was still struggling Saturday to fully restore its online PlayStation system, three days after the Christmas day hack that also hit Microsoft’s Xbox, reporting that services were “gradually coming back.” Meanwhile, Xbox was up and running except for three of its applications, following an allegedly coordinated attack that sent both companies scrambling. PlayStation, whose support homepage reported that the system was still offline, tweeted Saturday that “PS4, PS3, and Vita network services are gradually coming back online - thanks for your patience.” A new Twitter user going by the name “Lizard Squad” took credit for the disruption, claiming it had the “nation on strings.” The name is the same used by a group of hackers that has targeted Sony in the past, though it was not possible to verify the Twitter account’s authenticity. The account did not return requests for comment and only became active Wednesday. Sony had earlier this month been hit by a sophisticated hacking attack that stole massive amounts of data from its servers. The US has blamed North Korea for the attack, with the reclusive state furious at the release of Sony film “The Interview,” which parodies leader Kim Jong-Un. After initially canceling the film’s December 25 release, Sony backtracked and brought it out to a small number of US theaters. The film was also made available on-

A supervisor checks the shape of a polished diamond inside the diamond processing unit at Surat, in Gujarat REUTERS

Bring in russia

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who comes from Gujarat where the polishing industry is centred, has answered calls to bolster the diamond sector by convincing Russia to sell rough diamonds directly to India. During President Vladimir Putin’s visit to New Delhi this month, Russia’s state-run diamond monopoly Alrosa signed a dozen deals to increase direct rough diamond deliveries to India that would help reduce the cut taken by middlemen in the secretive precious gems trade. The direct deals would also reduce risks linked to Western sanctions imposed over Russia’s annexation of Crimea, while Modi is additionally seeking arrangements that would allow Russian jewellery makers to send

rough diamonds to India and re-import polished stones duty-free. But to compete effectively with China, India will also need to streamline its tax and import rules, industry sources said. “China is not going to displace India as the leading diamond polishing hub any time soon, but India needs to reform its archaic tax rules to make the Indian diamond polishing industry more attractive for foreign miners,” said Martin Rapaport, chairman of diamond and jewellery service firm Rapaport Group. India is looking to build a special notified zone where companies can import rough diamonds on a consignment basis and re-export unsold ones, mirroring China’s investor-friendly trading zones that avoid complicated export and import taxes. l

line - including through the Xbox console and, soon, the PlayStation. However, analysts said a direct connection with the Sony Pictures attack was unlikely, and that the latest hack was probably the work of fame-seeking amateurs.

'The timing suggests that this is an attack that we can put in the category of adolescents who are looking for a bit of glory' “The timing suggests that this is an attack that we can put in the category of adolescents who are looking for a bit of glory,” said Pierre Samson of the European Circle Security and Information Systems. “There is a very small probability that there was a direct link with the attack on Sony Pictures. You can order an attack to online services fairly easily with few resources.” He said thousands of similar hacks


are launched daily, although they are not always effective.

Gamers vent

Though a direct connection between “The Interview” and the service disruptions could not be confirmed, some gamers were convinced a link exists. “I blame that darn movie ‘The Interview,’” wrote a user going by as2009man on a PlayStation community forum message board. “It’s the gift that keeps on giving.” Another poster to the same forum said he was getting fed up with the game world’s vulnerability to repeated denial of service attacks. “A DDos attack is like a semi (truck) driver intentionally jackknifing his rig on a busy interstate and shutting down traffic for a few hours,” said a gamer writing under the name shadoefax. Game users also took to Twitter to vent their frustration. “After this christmas, #lizardsquad is forever on the naughty list,” one frustrated gamer fumed. A major cyber attack on PlayStation in 2011 saw personal details from 77 million customers stolen, preventing customers from playing online and forcing Sony to disable the network for more than three weeks. l

29 dec, 2014  
29 dec, 2014