The government on Sunday finally removed Abdul Latif Saiddique from the post of Telecommunications and Information Technology Minister, putting an iron strap on his "bad" mouth that uttered offensive, indecent and senseless remarks at all and sundry including cabinet colleague and lately against the holy Hajj, Prophert Muhammad (SM) and Tablig Jamaat.
Speaking at a private programme recently at New York's Jackson Heights, Siddique said Hajj was an unnecessary wastage of time and money - that he said the holy Prophet had introduced to keep his Arab followers sublime and that Tablig is also a useless ritual. Such utterances outraged Muslims in Bangladesh and Bangladeshis living abroad who all demanded he should be punished and taken to task.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who was attending the U.N. General Assembly in NY then, quietly took note of Siddique's audacious, derogatory and demeaning remarks. Even before reaching Dhaka on return, she told reporters at the Sylhet International Airport that the errant minister would be shown exit from both the cabinet and the ruling party - actions that she had already set in motion. In line with that, President Abdul Hamid on Sunday axed Siddique of his ministerial position -- as per Sheikh Hasina's bold and pragmatic decision.
Now, the Central Working Committee of Awami League, the top policy making body of the ruling party, of which Sheiklh Hasina is President, would likely pull the axe again on Siddique by ridding him of his party post as a senior Presidium member. Whether he would be sackerd from the AL primary membership of lose his parliament membership is still uncertain.
There is no denying that "corrupt, inept and cunning" Siddique had always been a sore to the party as well as the Prime Minister. Yet, she tolerated him for long, probably considering his age and experience, that eventually proved futile. Siddique, still abroad probably in the U.S. or U.K, sought to use the PM's name and fame trying to resurrect him from both possible government and public wrath. He said Sheikh Hasina appointed him minister and he would only listen to her - holding out an impression that that whatever he did or spoke had an endorsement or tacit support from the PM.
Buit that notion was proved wrong and his intentions were found malicious. So, enough is enough, the government and PM felt. Meanwhile, Sheikh Hasina never backtracked from what she was going to do and executed her plan without mercy or hesitation. Now, is it likely that back home Siddique will face police and court? Or just she would choose to stay abroad for an unspecified period of time? That, however, remains to be seen.
The actions against Siddique, we believe, served a stern warming to other government ministers who indulge in corruption and wrongdoings through abuse of their official authority. The cabinet has many bad performers and self seekers who often had been frowned upon at by the Prime Minister but they probably would not correct themselves. They should also be brought under the scanner - like the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) did in case of Siddique during his berth twice in Sheikjh Hasina's cabinet. No "dare devil or scarecrow" should be spared from law and justice - something the PM had many times stated that she would ensure for the sake of democracy, good governance and welfare of the state and the people.
Her decisions and actions over the years have proved beyond doubt that she is firm, decisive and demonstrates ample courage. Her statesmanship has been praised profusely by global leaders, Bangladesh's development partners and the U.N. officials.
Also on Sunday, the "notorious" AL lawmaker from Cox's Bazar, Abdur Rahman Bodi, walked into jail for corruption investigated and proved by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC). A local court denied Bodi bail and sent him to jail.
Bodi is also known as a mafia lord controlling smuggling of drugs, especially Yaba, and other pricy items across the borders with Myanmar and may be to other destinations, local sources said.
From the action against Bodi, we can assume that the ACC is not a "toothless tiger" that was often alleged and it can "growl and prowl" at anyone. ACC is an independent constitutional body and we expect it would properly investigate and bring to law all people like Bodi in the administration and politics, without fear or favour.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has many times assured the ACC of its independence and authority and also asked it to deal with criminals under all shades ruthlessly. Similarly, law enforcing agencies should ensure they do their duties keeping in mind the interest of the country, reputation of the government and to satisfy people's urge for justice.