“They keep calling it as eyewash; wait and watch… you’ll see whether it’s eyewash or anything else,” she said posing a question as to why she would go for eyewash.
The Prime Minister made the remarks replying to a question at a press conference arranged at her official residence Ganobhaban on her Azerbaijan tour for attending the 18th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).
Sheikh Hasina said BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia and her son who are among the key corrupt have already got their punishment.
“The two (Khaleda and her son Tarique) among the real key corrupt have already got their punishment,” said the Prime Minister adding that BNP also has more small leaders who are mostly corrupt, involved in arson violence, killing people and many other crimes.
“All will have to face punishment in phases… you’ll have to wait for that. They must get it (punishment). There’s no doubt about it,” she said.
Hasina said she does not extend any favour to her party people in the ongoing anti-corruption drive rather those who are involved in the crime world are being caught.
She said BNP knows it better what the ‘eyewash business’ is as the party had plunged the country into graft making it as its principle.
Replying to another question, the Prime Minister termed BNP a den of corruption and questioned how they can talk too much. “How dare they?”
In response to another question, the Prime Minister said time will say whether the anti-corruption drive would be expanded to catch people elsewhere by not confining it only to her party.
The government is not caging criminals through any selection rather it is netting whoever is found engaged in offences.
“Criminals are criminals. They don’t have any party… nothing else. Whoever commits crimes would be caught.”
Sheikh Hasina said she would not have launched this drive had there any fear in her. “I’m not the one who gets scared… There’s no word like ‘fear’ in my dictionary.”
The PM said she started the purge from home, or else, the media would say she does it to harm her political opponents.
She said BNP founder Ziaur Rahman had opened the door of corruption in the country grabbing power illegally after the killing of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1975.
The BNP chairperson is now in jail being convicted on corruption charges and its acting chairman (Tarique Rahman) is also corrupt.
Cricket & Shakib
In the case of any action by the International Cricket Council (ICC) against Shakib Al Hasan for not reporting a corrupt approach, the Prime Minister said if the ICC takes action, the government has nothing much to do with it.
She, however, said the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) will extend all sorts of cooperation to him.
“If ICC takes action, we’ve nothing much to do….The BCB is with him (Shakib) and will extend all sorts of cooperation to him,” she said.
She said it is right that he made a mistake but he could also realise his mistake. “He (Shakib) should have reported it (Corrupt approach) to the ICC.”
About the strike by Bangladeshi cricketers to press for their 13-point demand, she said she never heard that cricketers go on a strike like this.
Generally, she said, demands were placed first and then strike is called after issuing a notice.
According to media reports, Shakib was kept away from practice ahead of Bangladesh’s India tour at ICC’s instructions.
Two years ago, he reportedly received an offer from a bookie before an international match, which he did not report to the ICC’s Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU).
According to the newspapers, Shakib also confessed about it to the ACSU’s investigating officers recently.
As the onion market still remains overheated, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina termed the crisis temporary, saying there is nothing to worry about it.
“The crisis is temporary. It won’t last for long. There’s nothing to worry,” she said adding that said 55,000 tonnes of onions are entering the country soon.
Foods can be cooked without onion, she said, adding that many items are cooked without onion at her residence, too.
On Monday, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi said 7,000-8,000 tonnes of onion would be brought from Egypt by the first week of November.
Casino & Gambling
Responding to a question regarding Casino and gambling in the country, the Prime Minister said she asked the Home Minister to prepare a policy and select an island where the government can set up gambling facilities.
“If people have the much desire for gambling, I asked the Home Minister to prepare a policy and select an island (for this). We’ll build a gambling island,” she said.
She also mentioned that one can play gambling in that island as much as one can. “We’ll be able to collect some taxes from there… at least we’ll be able to bag that tax.”
Sheikh Hasina said she has nothing to say regarding a remark of Workers’ Party leader Rashed Khan Menon as he said people could not cast their votes in the last general election.
“He’s always like this…we had been doing politics since student life,” she said.
Hasina mentioned that some remarks of Rashed Khan Menon in 1970 before the then general election and during the Mujib-Indira treaty.
“I’ve heard such speeches many times, with this he has done good for you (journalists), at least you got some issues to write,” she said.
The Prime Minister said the 14-party, where the Workers’ Party is a component, sat over the issue and they took their decision.
“Nasim (Mohammad Nasim) bhai, coordinator of the AL led 14-party, asked me whether I’ve any opinion of my own…I told him I’ve nothing to say from my side. I do not want to say anything against anyone, you (14-party) sit and decide what you want to do,” she said.
Hasina also said Menon expressed his sorrow and everything is normal now. “I know for doing politics, I’ve to hear many things. If I remain busy with those then when I will run the state,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina, also the president of ruling AL, said Menon might have forgotten that he also elected in the same election.
“When he questioned about that election then his victory in the election comes under question. I don’t know whether he said those words after realising everything or not,” she said.
Hasina said many people talk about the 2018 election. “I’ve one question. If people did not cast their votes in the election and we do not have public support, the case would have been like the February 15, 1996 election. At that time, we were engaged in movement against the voter-less election and we forced Khaleda Zia to quit.”
She said BNP could wage that kind of movement, but they miserably failed.
In the 2018 election, all the businessmen, professionals and government organisations lent their support to the Awami League, she said.
“I’ll tell you, it was the unprecedented incident in Bangladesh history,” said the Prime Minister.
She went on saying, “Some 3,000-4,000 businessmen lend their support, but it does not mean that all of them belonged to Awami League, but they extended support to AL.”
“Their desire was to see us again in power then, we’re here just to run the county. We don’t collect our commission by opening Hawa Bhaban. We’ve opened the business to all,” she added.
Speaking as the chief guest at a Barisal Town Hall party programme on October 19, Menon, who served at several ministries during the ruling Awami League’s last tenure, said Bangladesh’s voters were deprived of exercising their franchise in the last parliamentary elections.
“I was elected (as a lawmaker) in the last national election. Regardless, I testify that people could not cast their votes in the election,” Menon claimed.
Nusrat Murder Case Trial
Sheikh Hasina said the complexities and quantity of cases have been increased in courts after the independence of judiciary.
She said a problem has appeared in the name of independence of judiciary, raising the backlog of cases to some extent.
Hasina said some cases previously went to the magistrate and disposed from there. “Taking all, they’re unable to tackle it (properly),” she added.
Talking about the verdict of Nusrat killing case where 16 people were awarded capital punishment, she said the verdict came in a quicker time as Nusrat herself was able to record her own statement before her death.
Describing Nusrat as a very brave girl, she said her own statement was very important evidence.
In most of the murder cases, she said, lack of witnesses caused serious trouble. “But in this case, public opinion was there while journalists played a big role through their continuous reporting, I appreciate their efforts…that’s why it has been possible to dispose of the case so quickly.”
She said the government would take necessary measurers so that the cases could be disposed of faster.