Rezaul Karim Bablu, an independent lawmaker from Bagura-7, is once again in the eye of the storm after his speech in parliament where he sought the law minister's attention in favour of a proposal that a working man cannot marry a working woman, and vice-versa.
According to the MP, this will solve Bangladesh's unemployment crisis.
This is of course the same MP who said last year that feminists are to blame for the rise of rapes in the country. Explaining his comment, he later said in a media interview that rape is linked to women clad in T-shirts.
Most people, including his colleagues in parliament, as well as netizens reacting to the video of his speech that went viral, appeared to find his latest comments hilarious. But for people who deal with the economic reality of unemployment in this country, his comments are anything but funny.
For starters, his proposal is unconstitutional.
"Subject to any restrictions imposed by law, every citizen possessing such qualifications, if any, as may be prescribed by law in relation to his profession, occupation, trade or business shall have the right to enter upon any lawful profession or occupation, and to conduct any lawful trade or business," reads Article 40 of the Constitution.
Essentially, nobody cannot be barred from entering a profession, least of all because they are married. But more than the parliamentarian's apparent lack of constitutional knowledge, what needs to be considered here is how the parliament could become a place for playful discussion on a serious problem like unemployment.
Tens of thousands in Bangladesh are unemployed. The number is scarier when it comes to the unemployed graduates. In the backdrop of such misery, instead of putting forth practical solutions to the nation, economists say such playful remarks in the parliament are irresponsible.
"Those who speak in the parliament on policy issues should speak thoughtfully," said Dr Sajjad Zohir, Executive Director of the Economic Research Group.
"Although the overall unemployment in Bangladesh is nearly 4%, the graduate unemployment is around 30%. So, nearly one-third of the graduates are unemployed. The graduate female unemployment rate is 48%. This is even scarier"
"As a state, we have lackings in many sectors such as road and infrastructure management, security, taxation etc. While we have a severe lackings in implementing proper policies in such sectors, having such discussions, and that too in a serious place like the parliament, is ridiculous. Such statements can ruin a state's image. I would hope our honourable speaker would take care of these things in the parliament."
Dr Khondaker Golam Moazzem, Research Director at the Centre for Policy Dialogue, said "The constitution ensures the citizens' right to freely choose their profession. This remark in the parliament doesn't have a constitutional basis."
The economist, however, focused on the unemployment crisis of Bangladesh that came through this speech.
"Although the overall unemployment in Bangladesh is nearly 4%, the graduate unemployment is around 30%. So, nearly one-third of the graduates are unemployed. The graduate female unemployment rate is 48%. This is even scarier," said Dr Moazzem.
Dr Moazzem further pointed out that Rezaul Karim's statement was also illogical.
"In a limited job market, to say that depriving a husband or wife of a job reduces unemployment is an outright wrong thing to say. A husband or wife - whoever is missing out on a job - is becoming an unemployed person. So for every job that is created, someone else is becoming unemployed. Unemployment is not reducing, it remains the same," Golam Moazzem said.
The economist said that our job market is limited and the biggest challenge is that we cannot expand our job market.
"Our job market is shaped like a pyramid," said the economist, adding that in the lower end, the unskilled and less educated people can find low-skilled jobs. But when it comes to the middle part of the pyramid, jobs (like administrative work, technical, financial, etc.) are not being created for the educated graduates.
The economists we spoke to said the solution is not in depriving applicants of jobs, rather in expanding the job market.
"Besides the vacancies in the government sector, it is important to create jobs in the private sector, NGOs, enterprises, etc. The MP should instead ask for an increase in government spending, attract investment in the private sector, expand development and investment activities across the nation, and ensure an environment where people can invest safely," Golam Moazzem added.
UNDP lead economist Dr Nazneen Ahmed said the "first condition of employability should be skill. It cannot be based on household count. It should be based on qualification. The government must work for employment for every family member, and leave no one behind."