Bangladesh has opened up its doors for the Rohingya when other countries did not, ICT Affairs Adviser to the Prime Minister Sajeeb Wazed Joy has said.
“When rich countries are not standing by the side of the people of their neighbouring country, we, despite being a small one, have opened up our doors. We came forward to help them and we did not ask anyone for anything,” he said on Saturday.
“We did not take support from anyone. We said that if we can feed 170 million people, feeding 10 million more will not be a problem,” said Joy, referring to his mother Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s statement made in September after she visited a Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar.
As of October 20, nearly 590,000 Rohingya have entered Bangladesh while fleeing brutal persecution in the Rakhine state of Myanmar since late August, according to UNHCR.
Joy’s remarks came when he was addressing the award giving ceremony of Joy Bangla Youth Award 2017 at the Sheikh Hasina National Youth Complex in Savar, on the outskirts of Dhaka, on Saturday.
Bangla Tribune was a media partner of the event organised by the Centre for Research and Information (CRI).
He said the young people were taking the nation forward and engaging to solve the country’s problems with never before seen enthusiasm. “Youths are working through different means around the country. We wanted to spread their dreams among more people. That is why we established Young Bangla. We have found those youths who are working for the country.”
“Young Bangla has made the country’s youths more confident and encouraged them to work for the country’s development. Their works have inspired me too.”
Joy also urged the youths to keep the spirit of the independence inside and never forget it, and pass it onto the next generation. “If they have the spirit of independence, they will have more confidence.”
Talking about Bangladesh’s situation after the assassination of his grandfather Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1975, Joy said the country had gone backwards after Bangabandhu was killed.
“People who were against independence came to power after the assassination of the father of the nation. These people had made Bangladesh familiar as a country of beggars to the world.
“There are also some members of the civil society who went abroad, took photos, and brought funding in the name of NGOs. This was their business. Have they done anything for the country’s people with disabilities? Have they trained girls to play football? They only laundered the money abroad.”
Pointing out on Bangladesh was moving forward economically, Joy said: “Even a few years ago, Bangladesh was called a failed state. We were compared with Pakistan, while Bangladesh became known as a militant state.”
“But now, Bangladesh is among the Next Eleven economies.”
Joy urged the government and private organisations to come forward to support the youth more.
Thirty organisations from across the country have won the Joy Bangla Youth Award 2017, for their outstanding contributions to promoting youth employability, ending violence against women and promoting education.
The awardees were separated into the categories of community development, culture, and sport.
Joy said these youths, who have made significant contribution in the country’s development even from the remotest of places they are from, were the leaders of tomorrow in their own right.
‘We can, and we will’
Explaining why Bangladesh was not developed like Malaysia, the prime minister’s son said: “The party that made Malaysia independent was in power for four/five terms. That is why they became a developing country. But Awami League has been in power for only 16 of the 46 years Bangladesh has been independent.
“However, we have been in power for eight consecutive years and see how much the country has developed within this period,” added the prime minister’s ICT adviser.
Addressing Saturday’s programme, Joy also said no one had imagined that Bangladesh would be able to build the Padma Bridge with its own resources.
“The World Bank did not think we will be able to do it. They conspired against us, thinking we will give up and beg for their help. But what they did not realise was that the people who fought a war and won their independence will never bow down to anyone,” he stated.
“We can do it, and we will do it.”
Joy heavily criticised the attempts to distort the country’s history of independence too.
“Khaleda Zia had even said that the number of martyrs was not three million. The chance to spread false information should never be given in this country again. Please do not allow this kind of people chances to spread the false information,” he urged.
“Because a nation cannot make progress if it forgets the people who gave their lives for the country.”
He also said that Bangladesh was making significant economic progress. “Our country was poor earlier, but now it has become a middle-income country. If Awami League stays in power for 10-15 more years, then Bangladesh will become a developed country.”
Parts of this article were published on Bangla Tribune