Hasina´s Family-friends Companions on Foreign Tours: Why should the State bear their Expenses?


by Anisur Rahman *       17 September 2023

“Charity begins at home” is an illuminating proverb that is encouraged everywhere in the world. As it appears now, in Bangladesh, it will soon be replaced by the new proverb “Corruption, nepotism, etc. begin at home”. Because these are being continuously nurtured and practiced by the highest level of the regime. One can just look at the jumbo-size entourages of the self-declared PM when he visits abroad. Nobody knows what official position Sheikh Rehana, Hasina’s younger sister, holds in the government. But she has become almost an obvious face and figure to accompany her sister during her official foreign visits. They do not care that the state, in other words, the people of Bangladesh bear the cost of these visits. Now, PM´s daughter Putul has been added to the list though she has no official position in the government either. It does not end here. Recently Hasina has picked up her nephew Redwan Siddiq Boby, son of her sister Sheikh Rehana. Even some other members of the big dynasty regularly join her entourage.

Only the beneficiaries of the regime who consider that Bangladesh is the family property of the Sheikhs of Gopalganj, will not utter a single word against spending state money immorally on family trips abroad.  Outside the family circle, a few known adulators from the ruling party-patronized media almost always accompany the regime chief during her excursions abroad. People watch the same band members pose outside and inside the plane with similar hilarious moods as if they are at state-sponsored picnic parties. Official visits have become family picnics and pleasure trips for the obedient followers. Some genuine members of the establishment follow the delegation, but their number is very insignificant. And the quality and know-how of some of them are very questionable. One can wonder if the number one person in the foreign ministry could retain his job so long after his idiotic and objectionable remarks and utterances on several occasions.

When “PM” calls a press conference after the foreign trip, the same obedient journalists take the front seats to help her with questions and answers. People doubt these are pre-arranged. PM´s success stories flood the newspapers and TV channels. The regime and the relevant media serve each other. They emit bad oduor but inflate bank accounts. That is how some of them have become owners of TV channels and newspapers.

The government has officially nominated Saima Wazed Putul, daughter of the regime chief to the post of WHO´s regional director for Southeast Asia. During Hasina´s visit to India at the G20 summit, Putul´s case was promoted by Bangladesh though not very distinctly. Many have already raised the question of nepotism from a strictly legal point which our “PM” does not care about. Above all, it is alleged, that an incorrect and false resume` has been sent in support of her candidature. She is not at the level of an expert on autism as she claims to be. There are scores of Bangladeshis who have more expertise on this subject. However, the Hasina-led regime has groomed her in a planned way for several years for such a high position.

Earlier the government gave a lucrative job to Sajeeb Wazed Joy, son of Sheikh Hasina without any public announcement. He has been made IT advisor to the government. Everybody knows that there are scores of highly qualified Bangladeshi IT experts working in world-famous institutions. Many of them are Ph.D. degree holders. They are far more qualified than Joy. They were not given any chance to compete with Sajeeb Wajed for the post. The regime has not disclosed the salary and other remunerations Sajeeb Wazed is getting from the state treasury.  The amount is believed to be astronomical.

Even the relatives outside the core crest are also reaping the fruits of power. One member of this all-powerful family is ruling half of the Capital city.  Another member is in charge of the entire Barisal division. Khulna is run by yet another member. It has become a big tyrannical dynasty.

And all such dynasties remain in power through an evil network of thugs and looters besides some blind adulators and followers. That is why people see thugs everywhere in every sector of the country, be it in banking, industry, commerce, infrastructure, education, or health, – everywhere.   Institutions like the judiciary, and civil service have been destroyed. The dynasty thinks that it can perpetuate its power through these thugs and on repression of the opposition. They are wrong. No autocratic dynasty could survive adopting such means. “Pappa and Baby Doc´Duvalier” dynasty of Haiti is a classic example in this regard.

The fall of the House of Cards of the Hasina regime is a question of time. The whole democratic world is vocal against the tyranny of the Dhaka regime. Gross violations of human rights, abuse of power, etc. have been documented by international media and organizations. Washington has made its position loud and clear. There is no ambiguity. European Union has recently expressed concern about the human rights situation in Bangladesh in a formal resolution. They have pointed out the regime´s repression of opposition and demanded a congenial atmosphere for a free, fair, and inclusive election. Regime´s Traditional Alley India has not hitherto expressed their support for Hasina and Co. If India remains neutral, there is no way the Awami regime can win the coming election with the help of China and Russia which they are banking on. Because Beijing and Moscow do not have that much leverage. Besides China might give lip service to satisfy them but it is unlikely that it will provide logistical support. Normally, they do not directly interfere in other country´s internal affairs.

The fall of the regime is visible and inevitable unless the main external forces side with them actively at the last moment under some behind-the-scenes deals which will be definitely against the interest of the country. But the dethroning of the dynasty is not enough. All the collaborating culprits must be brought to justice – fair justice. Under their patronage and collaboration, the looters and evil circles have looted billions of takas from different sectors, repressed millions of people, jailed thousands of innocent opposition supporters, and activists, and made hundreds of forced disappearances. They are not less responsible for all these misdeeds.

  • Anisur Rahman is a senior Bangladeshi journalist now living in Sweden.