February 12, 2007

On The AL MOU Scrapping and Reading Things Closely

One of the hot news items in the last couple of days has beenAL's scrapping of the MOU with Khelafat-e-Majlis. Defending the MOU required AL to twist itself into pretzels/jilapis (the most prominent recent example, of course, being Sajeeb Joy Wazed's blog post on this matter, which numerous commenters, such as many on Drishtipat blog, justly critiqued). Now the MOU has been scrapped.

Mr. Wazed writes (at the end of an otherwise good post that has some interesting thoughts about corruption that I hope to reflect some time) about the scrapping of the MOU today (see bottom of that post):

"Finally, I hope the cancellation of our much maligned MOU demonstrates that the AL is willing to listen and respond to criticism and suggestions. As I said, welcome to the 21st century Awami League!"

BUT if you look at the newspaper reports, the actual scrapping has exactly NOTHING to do with listening to and responding to criticism. NOTHING!

Daily Star quotes AL Acting Secretary Obaidul Quader:

"We had made some deals and agreements with some parties as part of our election strategy centring the January 22 poll. Since the election was cancelled, those deals and agreements have automatically been cancelled.... "

Daily Star continues:

Quader, who spoke as an AL spokesman yesterday, however said the political
unity among the components of the grand alliance will continue.

"But all the written deals or agreements and seat sharing with all the parties have been cancelled," said the AL leader adding that they will think afresh about signing deals or reaching agreements with the grand alliance partners in a new situation when a fresh schedule for the upcoming parliamentary polls will be announced.

Asked whether they will sign the MoU again with BKM, the AL leader brushed aside the possibility and said they have not thought of it yet. As the election was cancelled, their strategies will change in the new situation, he said.

AL presidium member Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim also said, "Since there is no election, there is no agreement or MoU with any party."

So if the newspaper reports are to be believed, then the rationale for there being no MoU is not because AL has necessarily changed its mind about the matter (and Mr. Quader leaves the possibility of the MoU tantalizingly open), but because since there are no elections up ahead and the MoU was about the elections, the MoU is ipso facto null and void. If Mr. Quader and Mr. Selim are to be believed, this is not about "listening and responding to criticism" at all!

Yet, Mr. Wazed tells us that it is about listening and responding to criticism. As J. Caesar pleaded, "Et tu Brute?" Or should it be, "Welcome to the 21st Century Awami League indeed! Just as confusing as it has been for some time to even those who would give it the benefit of the doubt. And, perhaps, just as confused as it has been as well..."

Yes, welcome to the 21st century AL indeed... Say it isn't so, Sajeeb bhai! I really want this new transparency thing to work for you, and for all of us.

[Another quibble, to round off this post. I am a little disturbed by Daily Star's headline about the scrapping of the MoU. "AL Scraps MoU with Bigots". Now, it is likely the case that Khilafat-e-Majlis (KM) are bigots, but that's a normative term rather than a objective, descriptive one of the type one expects on the reporting pages of Bangladesh's largest English newspaper run by a sophisticated and experienced team. It's entirely appropriate to have KM be described as bigots in the op-ed or editorial pages. But to have a news account be headlined that way seems to me to be a breach of journalistic standards. Contrast again with the more objective language of the young'uns at New Age. Zafar Sobhan, e chithi pabe kina jani na, but seriously, you guys can do better...]


Rezwan said...

Great analysis! I agree with you about the language of the Daily Star. Why don't you drop your points in the comment box of Joy's respective blogpost?

Probashi said...

Come on Adda-fication. There has to be a face saving way for them to retreat.