Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has appeared at a press briefing this afternoon from her official residence Ganabhaban, marking the official recommendation of the United Nations to graduate Bangladesh from least developing country to a developping one.
She elaborately discussed various contemporary issues, including the Digital Security Act and the recent protests, on the occasion. Here is the crucial part of the session.
Q: This is Kibria Chowdhury from Daily Jatiya Arthonitee. Honorable Prime Minister, as you stated at the beginning of your statement, when the entire world was anxious over the Coronavirus pandemic and it was reported that many people will be infected with the virus in Bangladesh, you saved the nation magically.
What was the magic actually? The nation wants to know which magic made it possible. Thank you PM.
A: See, this is not about any magic. Everyone got frightened seeing the worldwide spread of coronavirus. I'm really grateful to the people of my country. Whenever we took any step and urged them to follow, they complied with the calls and followed the hygiene rules.
In the economic arena, we have announced stimulus packages and provided financial aid so that our countrymen do not go through any hardship. We have made early arrangements for buying vaccine.
All, including law enforcement agencies, army, navy, air force, BGB, Ansar VDP, Police, have done good job in tackling the situation.
At the same time, people associated with my party, including Chhatra League, Jubo Leage, Shecchasebok Leage, have worked well. They took relief items to people's door step.
That is why, it was not magic of mine, instead it was the magic of Bangladeshi people. My responsibility was to stand beside them. It all about sincerity and sense of responsibility. Thank you.
Qestion: Bangladesh has been recommended to be graduated from a least developed country to a developing one. For this achievement, your leadership deserves acclamation. You will hopefully continue to play the role.
What about your plan for the upcoming 2024 election? Will you participate in it?
The second issue is you are admired on the world stage for sheltering Rohingya people. But your government is being criticized for assaulting the journalists and writers under the Digital Security Act. We want to hear about it from you.
Answer: You have placed many questions at the same time.
Time will tell if I will participate in the election or not. But our graduation from LDC status, maintaining the position and the possible challenges are more important this time. We are now preparing to face the challenges and continue to do so. We will do what is necessary to face the challenge. I think, you got many of your questions answered.
Apart from this, we have sheltered Rohingyas on humanitarian ground. We took the memories of 1971 into our consideration. My younger sister Rehana had asked me that you feed 16 crore people, why cannot you feed these people too? Actually her words had empowered me.
At the same time, we are arranging accommodations for the rural people who have long been lying neglected in remote areas. This is the promise of Mujib Borsho. We will ensure a living place for each of the countrymen.
Q: Your government is widely criticised over the assaults on writers. We want to hear from you about the Digital Security Act.
A: When we have built a digital Bangladesh, it is also our responsibility to ensure digital security.
We have to serve this responsibility so that no one deviates from the right track, engages in anti-social activities, militancy or criminal activities.
I don't want to talk more about this issue today. But I will say that those who are criticizing now will continue to do so in future. You may have noticed who are criticizing most. Do they comprehend the reality? They are not doing so.
I am now 75. I have been taking to street (for political purpose) since my school life. I know them and their talks very well.
Someone's death is certainly unexpected. But disrupting the peace by making it an issue is also unexpected.
In Bangladesh, four national leaders were killed inside the prison. No such incident has taken place now. Many aligned with those who were behind the killings.
Q: This is Shykh Seraj. We have noticed that you kept the country running since the very first day of Covid-19 pandemic. We can say proudly that we have not faced any hardship during Covid-19 pandemic thanks to right decision at right time by you.
You have also declared stimulus packages. But the announced packages have not been fully distributed in the CMSME sector.
A: We have declared stimulus packages as per estimation. If people fail to take the benefit, it is up to them.
The readymade garments sector has been provided with TK10,000 crore under stimulus, though the package was for TK5,000 crore.
This is not an issue to estimate, we have to focus on the aftermath.
We distribute loans among farmers without any security money. So they do not need any stimulus loan. Besides, my party members lend hands to the farmers to harvest crops.
From the beginning of the pandemic, I have said that we have to produce foods and ensure our security.
Q: Bangladesh's graduation from LDC is certainly a matter of proud for us. As much as Bangladesh is advancing, it is facing more blow. Al Jazeera has aired a report that deemed as conspiracy against the country by the government. But we have not heard your opinion about it. Would you like to say anything in this regard?
A: I have nothing to add on this issue as it really does not matter what a channel shows the public. The public knows the real truth and will justify it.
One more thing should be mentioned is that the killers of the Father of Nation were freed on indemnity. They received government jobs and run in elections. What do you think about these people?
After assuming power, I held the killers of my parents on trial. The Father of the Nation started to try the war criminals. But Ziaur Rahamn made them free. I have hold them on trial again.
We see some interactions in the arena of politics. Here, ultra-leftists align with ultra-rightist organizations on some specific grounds.
Please try to remember the situation in 2004-2008. Even after we had come to power by winning the election, some unexpected events were staged. I just want to know what exactly our fault is.
Is it an easy job to take the country ahead tacking that haphazard situation? But we have done it. Bangladesh has now received international recognition. We have to retain the trend.
Q: A writer died in jail during detention under the Digital Security Act and there may be misuse of the law. The nation should hear from you about this. Apart from this, I want to know when will you take the Covid-19 vaccine?
A: 'Misuse of law' is actually a matter of perspective. I think the laws will run at their own pace. If you do not commit a crime you will not be punished.
I will definitely take Covid-19 vaccine but first I want to ensure that the maximum number of people be vaccinated in the country. I will take the vaccine after a significant number of people have been vaccinated against the disease because my own dose too can save a life.