Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday said the new election commission will be constituted through a search committee to be formed by the President.
“The President will form a search committee and the election commission will be constituted through this search committee,” she said, replying to a question at a press conference at her official residence Ganobhaban.
The present election commission will complete its five-year tenure in February 2022 and the next commission will arrange the 12th parliamentary election to be held at the end of 2023.
The press conference was arranged to inform the media about the outcomes of her recent visit to the United States for joining the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
BNP and election
Sheikh Hasina said BNP wants to make the next general election controversial knowing that there is no chance for them to win it.
“They know they don’t have any possibility of winning the election. So, their effort is to make it controversial, create confusion among people and harm people by any means,” she said, responding to another question.
The Prime Minister questioned the leadership of BNP saying that one (Khaleda) is convicted for misappropriating the fund of orphans and another (Tarique) is a fugitive convicted for various misdeeds, including the August-21 grenade attack and 10-truck arm-haul cases.
“They know they won’t win. How will a party win? Where is its leadership? One is a convicted for misappropriating the fund of orphans and another is a fugitive as he’s convicted for the August-21 grenade attack and 10-truck arm-haul cases. They are still there in the (party) leadership. If this is the case, under which consideration people would vote for them,” she questioned.
Sheikh Hasina said even these two top leaders will not be able to take part in the election! “They have no belief that they can win the polls.”
Referring to the 2014 general election, she said BNP had made frantic efforts to make it questionable and committed many misdeeds, including arson attacks, to thwart the polls. “Since the election was held (successfully) and then there was stability, it (govt) has made it possible to ensure development of what you’re witnessing today,” she said.
Hasina said BNP had no complaint over the 2008 general election and questioned why they could not win the polls.
The Prime Minister made a pointed reference to some incidents of tortures carried out by BNP men after the 2001 national election.
Mentioning the development activities carried out by her government, Hasina questioned who and why would vote for BNP.
Pointing at the journalists, she said, “Ask who would vote for them. I asked all journalists first to question their conscience: who, why and with what hope will vote for BNP and others.”
The Prime Minister said she had been to the USA to attend the 76th session of the UNGA by an aircraft of Biman Bangladesh Airlines so that Biman gets the money at this tough time caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. ‘It’ll, in fact, strengthen the government’s effort to resume Biman’s flight operation on Dhaka-New York route. I went to the USA by the latest and advanced aircraft, ‘Dreamliner’, of Biman.”
She said her government collected a good number of the latest aircraft for Biman, but many of those remain idle as many routes were suspended due to the Covid pandemic. Besides, it has to count maintenance costs even when they remain idle.
“So, when we decide we’ll go, what is the use of paying money to other airlines,” she said.
Hasina went on saying, “Besides, the aircraft would land in JFK (John F Kennedy Airport, New York), which is also a matter of joy for us. An effort from us is also on (to resume the flight operation on Dhaka-New York Route).”
She said Biman earlier had a landing slot there in the JFK which was closed for corruption and various misdeeds during the BNP regime. “When we procured new aircraft, we made an effort to keep the (landing) slot.”
The government has enacted some new laws in line with international ones in this regard. “Besides, our negotiations are on to resume its operation on the Dhaka-New York route.”
Referring to the new Dreamliner aircraft, the PM said this aircraft can reach New York directly from Dhaka within 14 hours as its operation capacity is some 17 hours.
In reply to another question over frauds by some e-commerce organizations including Evaly and E-orange, she said the government continues to do what’s necessary on its part.
Hasina said investigation continues to find out where they took or deposited the money, and when the investigation will be completed, the government will return it to the people. “Those who swindle people for making money taking advantage of their tough time must be punished.”
She also said the journalists also had the responsibility to find out the fraud companies when things started unfolding. “If you do so, then people will be alert.”
Asked if many Bangladeshi convicted hatching conspiracies, staying in London, Hasina said the homes of many convicted and the children of war crimes convicted are there in England and other countries.
She criticized the attack on British MP Tulip Siddiq saying that she is not only granddaughter of Bangabandhu but also a British MP. “It’s the responsibility of the British government to oversee such matters.”
Rohingya and “business”
The Prime Minister said keeping Rohingya in Bangladesh has apparently become a business for some organisations.
“I’m very sorry to say it seems that keeping refugees has become a business to some organizations. If they (Rohingya) are not here, they (NGO officials) will lose jobs,” she said.
If refugees stay here, some people will be benefited, she said, adding that they don’t have much concentration on their repatriation. “Some (organizations) are sincere and we get good response from them. There’re others who just hear it (about Rohingyas). The problem is here,” Hasina added.
Mentioning that a new generation of displaced Myanmar nationals is also there, she said it seems Rohingyas have no interest (to return to their motherland).
The PM questioned international organisations as to why they are not mounting pressure and do not act for their repatriation as Rohingyas are damaging the environment of the host country.
She voiced concern that Rohingyas are indulging in various misdeeds, including terror acts, women and children trafficking and drug peddling.
Some journalists attended the press conference at Ganobhaban while others were connected from the Prime Minister’s Office through a virtual platform.