Saturday, March 25, 2023

Global signature campaign in favor of an immoral Nobel Peace Laureate: International politics on Bangladesh’s Dr Yunus case?

Recently, 40 global figures wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh expressing their concern over Professor Yunus’ well-being. The letter was published in the Washington Post as an advertisement. A wide range of global personas signed the letter, including former UN General Secretary Ban-Ki Moon, U2 singer Bono, Former US Vice President Al Gore, Actress Sharon Stone, and many more. Citing the achievements of Yunus and Grameen Initiatives, the global figures asked Bangladesh to stop government investigation on these organisations to end the ‘harassment’ of the Noble Laureate.

Against this backdrop, it is worth revisiting the question, is the government merely ‘investigating’ Professor Yunus? Or is it the corruption and irregularities that the state apparatus is investigating into?

The open letter addresses the Prime Minister of Bangladesh directly. Interestingly, the letter came as something other than a statement or through the traditional method of public circulation. The letter was published as an advertisement in the Washington Post. Approximately the five-column advertising costs USD 73000. Due to the advertisement category, the letter is also not endorsed by its publisher, the Washington Post.

However, the letter endorsed that Professor Yunus does not earn any profit from Grameen Phone or Grameen Telecom. Therefore, it is ‘painful’ to watch him being investigated. The letter also directly termed the ongoing investigations against Grameen Social Business Initiatives harassment.

The sensitive minds in the country are bothered by an open letter of 40 eminent personalities of the world to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in which they expressed their “deep concerns for the well-being” of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Muhammad Yunus. The signatories of the letter, instead of publishing it as a statement or sending directly to Sheikh Hasina, published it as a full-page advertisement in the Washington Post on March 7, 2023, spending as much as Tk.78,14,584. Thus, the hidden agenda of the publicity stunt appears to be a smear campaign against the government of Bangladesh. And, you do not have to be a wizard to guess whose wish was whose command.

While raising a baseless allegation that Dr. Yunus is being harassed, the open letter doesn’t provide any evidence exactly how the Nobel laureate is being harassed. The ongoing investigation by Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) of Bangladesh into alleged money laundering allegations against Dr. Ynusu cannot be called harassment. Neither the NBR’s investigation about his tax affairs fall into the category of harassment. The agencies are doing their routine duties, and if someone thinks that they are being harassed, they can seek justice in the appropriate court. Corruption and Irregularities are targeted, not Professor Yunus. There is hardly any news report to justify that Dr. Yunus is being subjected to harassment in Bangladesh, and we wonder what actually happened that he had to launch a global signature campaign and publish it in an international newspaper spending millions of takas.

It can’t be anyone’s intention to disgrace any individual. We do not target individuals; we target systems which are harmful. But at the same time, it is the government’s duty to ensure that none is beyond accountability or rule of law. Therefore, we think that monitoring against tax evasion, money laundering and all other types of crimes should be more thorough. The government is accountable for the well-being of the people and it cannot afford to let someone rob the poor in the guise of philanthropy.

In reality, the status apparatus, including the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and the National Bureau of Revenue (NBR), only do their routine work investigating corruption and irregularities. It is worth mentioning that there is no open investigation against Professor Yunus. The Investigations are against the social business entities he established—for instance, the Grameen Worker’s writ demanding profit-sharing against Grameen Telecom.

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen on Thursday questioned intentions of some people who are talking against Bangladesh and its leader Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, noting that to them “grapes are sour.”

“It does not matter much. It’s unrealistic and not objective,” he told reporters at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs when a reporter sought his comment on an appeal by 40 world leaders regarding Prof Muhammad Yunus.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Hasan Mahmud on Friday said the statement of 40 world leaders about Bangladesh’s one and only Nobel laureate, microcredit pioneer Muhammad Yunus, is an advertisement, not a statement.

“There is a difference between an advertisement and a statement,” Hasan Mahmud explained. “It cannot be called a statement; it is an advertisement. An advertisement in the name of 40 people has been printed in The Washington Post at a cost of crores of money.

Bangladesh’s Dr. Yunus: Story of an immoral Nobel Peace Laureate

Dr Muhammad Yunus, who was once applauded at home and abroad for his efforts to end poverty, has seen a significant decline in his reputation as a result of his controversial role in Bangladesh on several issues, ranging from influencing the World Bank to scrapping the Padma Bridge financing, tax evasion, illegal transfer of donor funds, misuse of power and violating foreign travel regulations. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Prof. Yunus was respected in Bangladesh for receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, even though his organization was the subject of numerous inquiries and accusations due to its shady organizational structure.

The Nobel Peace Prize has frequently caused controversy. There’s almost always controversy around the Peace Prize — in part because it’s so political. Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi is also a Nobel laureate! But what about her contribution to promoting human rights in her country? Thus, there is no logic to compare a Nobel laureate with an angel.

For instance, Dr. Muhammad Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize. He is the only Bangladeshi to have received the prestigious prize, which may have improved perceptions of Bangladesh abroad. He was obviously expected to rest on his achievements and uphold the high regard in which he was regarded by both his countrymen and others. But his pursuit of a few trivial personal interests cost him the prestigious position. Currently, Dr. Yunus is a contentious figure in the nation

Bangladesh desperately needed a bridge over the powerful Padma. The Padma Multipurpose Bridge, which might have a big impact on the GDP expansion of the nation. However, Yunus is accused of doing everything in his power to prevent the building of the “dream bridge” and of succeeding in getting the World Bank to refuse finance for the Padma Bridge project.

In addition, he is accused of illegally moving money from foreign donors to other private organizations and of arbitrarily resolving up to 110 complaints that employees of Grameen Telecom had brought against him. How a man of his stature could descend to such low levels and rebel against the nation for his limited personal benefit is beyond our comprehension. Yunus can now only apologize to the nation’s citizens for the devastation he has done to them.

Nobel laureate economist Dr. Muhammad Yunus. Several financial irregularities and corruption allegations against him are now in the hands of the government. Especially in recent times, unusual transactions for the withdrawal of cases puts Yunus in an embarrassing situation. This Nobel laureate economist is under pressure in recent times.

He played a notorious role during Bangladesh’s military-backed regime in 2007-2008. The quasi-civilian government wanted to oust both of Bangladesh’s largest political parties, the Awami League (AL) and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). Many allege that the western institutions and their local office were behind such conspiracies to establish a puppet regime for their purposes. Amid that murky water, Professor Yunus established his party with the blessing of the then-incumbent government named the ‘Nagorik Shakti Party’. Leaders from both AL and BNP saw his venture as skeptical at that time. Thus, the Professor took an undemocratic decision to side with the incumbent regime against the democratic struggle of Bangladesh.

According to political analysts, if he truly intended to get into politics, he should shed his current mask and declare the formation of a new political party with a clear policy and program to convince the masses. Otherwise, if he continues his current sabotage role against the government of Bangladesh, he will gradually lose his good reputation day by day.

We need to note that the Nobel Prize, which has simply become a modern pseudo-political agenda, can’t save him from national and global condemnation as seen in the case of Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who has shown little interest in protecting the Rohingya, “the world’s most persecuted people”. As a responsible citizen, Dr Younus must comprehend the situation and refrain from any controversy that is against Bangladeshi laws.

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