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TIB questions Ershad's role as PM's special envoy

  • Published at 11:48 pm May 17th, 2018
TIB press conference Edited 17.05.2018
TIB Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman speaks at a press conference in Dhaka on Thursday, May 17, 2018 Dhaka Tribune

It is not clear what responsibilities the former president of Bangladesh has as the special envoy to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, says the corruption watchdog

Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has questioned how effectively Jatiya Party (JaPa) chief HM Ershad has performed his duties as special envoy to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Speaking at a press briefing on TIB's Parliamentary Watch report yesterday, officials of the corruption watchdog said the government did not clarify – by issuing any gazette or order – as to what Ershad's duties would be as the prime minister's special envoy.

On several occasions, Ershad himself said his duties included representing Bangladesh as a modern, Muslim-dominated democracy promoting its education system, culture, and non-communal image before the world, as well as working to widen Bangladesh's scope of exporting manpower.

As special envoy, he visited China, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Bhutan, and a few other countries, but he was not seen as playing his role as the prime minister's special envoy in any of those country, according to the Parliamentary Watch report. 

“There is no specific information on how much he had succeeded in discharging those duties,” said Dr Iftekharuzzaman, executive director of the TIB. “We tried to collect specific verifiable information, but failed.”

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He further commented that Ershad's attendance at the parliamentary sessions during the current government was low – he was present on 79 days out of the 327 days during the 18 sessions of the current parliament, which puts his attendance at 24%. 

According to the Parliamentary Watch report, even though Ershad has publicly criticized the government on different issues, in parliament he was not similarly vocal. 

The government has paid Tk500,000 per month as well as provided other facilities and special allowances to Ershad as the prime minister's special envoy, the report said. 

The report further said that JaPa as the opposition in parliament has been suffering from an identity crisis and, as the tenure of the current government is about to expire, the crisis is becoming more and more evident. 

It said on several occasions, JaPa leaders alleged at parliament that the ruling party and the people of the country did not consider them the opposition, and they did not get opportunity to speak at parliament.