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Rumi Ahmed
18 July, 2010. USA

Updated: Amar Desh online version again available.

Article 39 of the Constitution of Bangladesh:

39. Freedom of thought and conscience, and of speech.
(1) Freedom or thought and conscience is guaranteed.
(2) Subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interests of the security of
the State, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality, or in relation
to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence-
(a) the right of every citizen of freedom of speech and expression; and freedom of the
press, are guaranteed.

Bangladesh Supreme Court just struck down the Awami League government’s ban on popular newspaper Amar Desh. Amar Desh online version is now available.

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Based on precedence of two previous cases concerning Daily Ittefaq and Daily Banglar Bani, this verdict was very straightforward and expected. Accordingly High court verdict came with very clear judgment and an appeal by the government was a very shameful and surprising act. Esp when the government itself declared that Government had nothing to do with the ban, it was done by the district administrator of Dhaka.  And more shameful and less surprising was the act of the chamber judge of Supreme Court, Justice S K Sinha. Without letting any hearing to be allowed, he simply stayed the judgment of High court.

It is shameful because the chamber judge just violated his oath to uphold Bangladesh Constitution by allowing a Newspaper to remain closed illegally. It is not surprising considering the precedences in which  the court of the Chamber Judge is being used more frequently by the government to stall high court verdicts unfavorable to the Government.

More interestingly a case in pending in the Supreme Court in this regard. A contempt of court case was filed against Amar Desh editor Mr. Mahmudur Rahman  because Amar Desh quoted a senior lawyer of the supreme court, suggesting the same allegation against the chamber bench. In the report Daily Amar Desh quoted senior most lawyer of Supreme court and ex justice Mr TH Khan as saying, ” Chamber Judge means a stay of high court order”.

And yet more interesting was the fact that Mr Mahmudur Rahman is now ‘shown arrested’ in a case of anti corruption Commission for not submitting wealth report. In a recent spate of Supreme Court verdicts,  all acts of anti corruption commission were deemed illegal. Persons convicted by ACC are all set free and many of them are in important positions of current government. Even our current prime Minister challenged the wealth submission order of ACC, never submitted her wealth report and fought a lengthy court battle.

Sometimes, acts of the government, its law enforcement apparatus and the attorney General’s office seems bizarre. Yet again, more bizarre is the silence of the collective conscience of the country, our columnists-our editors-our TV anchors, regarding this total mindless acts of our government.

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Rumi Ahmed is a Bangladeshi blogger contributing from United States.

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Moinuddin Naser
14 January, 2010, New York

India has become desperate to capture the Bangladesh’s telecommunication system and to build up a fibre optic network by using the Cox’s Bazar submarine cable to connect India’s seven sisters in the Northeast India. In this connection the Indian Telecom companies Bharti Airtel and Reliance Communications have already submitted a joint proposal to Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC). Thaindia news, a web based news media reported about the development centring the Bangladesh’s communication system.

Bangladesh’s defence network

Experts opined that if India has to depend on Bangladesh regarding maintaining communication with its north eastern provinces, why it had turned down the proposal of sub-regional cooperation as was mooted by the Awami League government in the year 1996. Experts now opine that if it happens so, India will be able to control Bangladesh’s communication system, including the defence network fully. Even the military establishments of Bangladesh will be nothing but an extension of the Indian eastern command.

Apart from the proposal of fibre optic network, Bharti Airtel is about to complete a deal to buy 70 per cent share of Bangladesh’s Warid Telecom for a reported $900 million from Abu Dhabi Group. While Bharti and Reliance are rivals to each other in the Indian domestic market they have joined hands while bidding for fibre optics network in Bangladesh.

Before getting Transit – Corridor through Bangladesh for easier communication with the isolated North-Eastern Provinces (Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Monipur, Mizoram, Arunachal and Nagaland), India wants to build up the fibre-optic network, by using the existing submarine lending cable of Bangladesh, the backbone of the Bangladesh’s international communication. The cable again is frequently disrupted, sometimes due to theft of cable and sometime for technical reasons. However Bharti and Reliance have offered Bangladesh access to the alternative submarine cable in exchange of the permission to build up fibre optic network.

The seven north eastern states now get telecom services through VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) at a high price.

Cox’s Bazar: Disruption likely

A BTRC official confirmed the report and said that as per the proposal Bangladesh could use the companies’ undersea cable network as an alternative to lone submarine cable SEA-ME-WE-4. The existing optical fibre line connects Dhaka to the south-eastern Cox’s Bazar’s submarine cable landing station. It serves as the backbone of international communication, while satellite services act as backup with limited bandwidth.

Experts opined that if India is allowed to build up fibre optic network in Bangladesh that will surely disrupt the Bangladesh’s communication with outside world. It is not feasible before launching its own satellite by Bangladesh.

Meanwhile Bangladesh plans to join 50 other countries, including South Asian neighbours India and Pakistan, to ramp up its communications network by launching a satellite.

The cost of the programme will be between $150 million and $200 million according to Post and Telecommunications Minister Raziuddin Ahmed Raju. Bangladesh has started talking to different countries including the US, Japan and China, to help launch own satellite by Bangladesh.

Reuters’ report

Bharti Airtel has almost finalized a deal with the Abu Dhabi group to buy 70m percent of Bangladesh’s Warid Telecom. The total deal will cost $900 million while the initial investment will be $300 million. Reuters reported from India that Bharti declined to make any comment, but its share has gone up by 2.8 per cent while Abu Dhabi Group Chief Commercial Officer Ali Tahir said that they expect to seal the deal by mid-January 2010. But he did not disclose the sale price.

Bharti targeted this small deal with Abu Dhabi Group to buy Bangladesh’s share when the company failed to materialise its $24 billion merger with South Africa’s MTN. South Africa showed its reluctance to allow a flagship corporate to lose its national character.

Warid is the Bangladesh’s fourth-biggest telecom company. As per the contemplated deal, Abu Dhabi Group will retain 30 per cent share, said the report quoting the source of the selling firm. The sale proceed is likely to help Dubai, which has been crunched recently.

Reuters report said: UAE-based Abu Dhabi Group, a consortium of investors that includes members of the royal family of Abu Dhabi, sought approval from Bangladesh’s telecoms regulator for the sale on December 13, according to the regulator’s chairman, Zia Ahmed.

The deal is set against a backdrop of this week’s announcement that oil-rich Abu Dhabi will provide $10 billion to Dubai in order to help its neighbour meet its debt obligations.

Bharti’s expansion would give the Indian phone leader access to Bangladesh’s rapidly growing mobile sector at a time when it is locked in an intense price war in India with rivals Reliance Communications. For the Abu Dhabi Group, the deal will enable it to focus on other telecoms markets where it can have a bigger market share, Tahir said.

No comment from Bharti

Bharti said on Wednesday it was evaluating international opportunities, but declined to comment on plans to buy Warid. Bharti initially plans an investment of $300 million. He said a written proposal by Abu Dhabi Group did not pin a full value on the deal. A section of newspapers in Bangladesh had reported the final deal could be worth $900 million, citing Warid officials.

“The dynamics of the Bangladesh market are similar to those in India, where Bharti has proven itself,” said Phani Sekhar, fund manager at Angel Broking, which holds Bharti shares, in Mumbai Stock market.

Warid Telecom also operates in Pakistan, Uganda and the Congo. Singapore Telecommunications bought a 30 percent stake in Warid’s Pakistan business for $758 million in 2007 from the Abu Dhabi Group. Warid’s operations in Pakistan, India’s neighbour and political rival, are not part of the Bharti deal. At the end of October, Warid had 2.79 million subscribers – far fewer than Grameenphone whose majority share is owned by Norway’s Telenor.

Bharti, which has more than 100 million subscribers in India, is looking to replicate its staggering growth at home in other emerging markets, where scale is vital, many customers are poor and rural, and penetration rates are low but rising fast. Indian mobile operators are locked in an intense tariff war that has raised concerns about profitability. The price war is aimed at grabbing new users as new firms enter the market.

Bangladesh’s mobile sector has grown rapidly, with subscriber numbers reaching more than 51 million at the end of October from 200,000 in 2001, helped by low penetration levels, competitive tariffs and steady economic growth. Analysts predict the number of subscribers could top 70 million by 2011, nearly half the country’s population of 150 million.

The news came two-and-a-half months after talks between Bharti and MTN Group to create the world’s third-largest mobile operator collapsed for the second time in just over a year on South Africa’s reluctance to allow a flagship corporate to lose its national character.

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Moinuddin Naser is a Bangladeshi writer, contributes in the Weekly Holiday from New York.

Rumi Ahmed
USA

The recent controversy on Chevron deal and the follow up political rumblings surrounding the PM’s son and her energy advisor on one side and Amar Desh editor on the other side has captivated nation’s attention for the last few weeks. While we debate how freedom of speech is being used to trash political opponents, or how political thuggery is trying to gag free speech, the very important issue of a specific corruption allegation is getting crowded out.

Let’s keep Mr Sajib Wajed or Mr Mahmudur Rahman out of the issue. Mahmudur rahman is making full use of the victimhood, and his showmanship on this issue is ugly. And Mr Wajed is also dragged in this issue unnecessarily or prematurely. It is an unfortunate fact of life for the children of politicians of Bangladesh and beyond that they are always under close scrutiny and often victim of rampant character assassination attempts.

However, leaving these individuals aside, we are still left with a specific corruption allegation that has merit enough to demand further discussion and scrutiny. Amar Desh reports a specific corruption report with copies of leaked official correspondence.

The specifics of the corruption allegation are self revealing. A $52 million job was allocated to Chevron without required transparency that includes a tender process. And while protesting the report, PM’s energy advisor repeatedly misrepresented facts. While he said there was no bid in three tenders, the fact is that the Government cancelled earlier lowest bid from Korean Company Hyundai only to award the job to Chevron. He also lied about his agenda for the US trip.

Instead of relying on Amar Desh, let’s turn to the premiere newspaper of Bangladesh, the Daily Star. The Daily Star printed at least seven reports on this specific issue. (Interestingly, while Amar Desh report is based on government documents, the Daily Star series report, as usual, is based on unnamed sources. But let’s leave this aside, as no one would accuse the Daily Star of partisan hatred of the current government, or Mr Mahfuz Anam, its editor, of ugly showmanship.

On April 11 2009, the Daily Star warned that

a compressor station for gas distribution pipeline was being planned to be awarded to Chevron which would “… unduly give Chevron the authority to control major chunk of the country’s gas distribution system. This will definitely create a number of serious legal complications over the authority and ownership of the compressor station and the distribution pipeline” .

Another follow up report published on June 21 2009 quotes,

a gas transmission expert: “Even if we accept the idea of pumping PSC investment in compressor, I say Muchai gets no priority for a compressor station now. Because of high volume of gas produced by Chevron, the gas pressure at Muchai and onwards is 1024 pressure per inch (PSI). This pressure will stay for a couple of years at this point. But we need a compressor at Ashuganj where the pressure drops to 700-800psi. A number of new plants are being set up close to the Ashuganj pipeline system. Then why prioritise Muchai now?”

The same report also quotes another official: “Petrobangla’s extreme reliance on foreign investment in the gas sector has already created a precarious situation for the national exchequer. The cost of gas is now very high because foreign companies are producing more gas than the national companies which have been denied adequate funds for their healthy growth”.

On August 02 2009, based on undisclosed sources, a piece reports that:

…Petrobangla continues to hammer hurriedly awarding US oil company Chevron the contract for an over-priced gas compressor station project in the Gas Transmission Company Ltd (GTCL) system through a questionable process by totally sidelining a host of technical and financial questions raised by a GTCL consultant.”

The report also quotes a GTCL consultant: “Chevron has not yet submitted its detailed technical and price proposals for Muchai station. An energy ministry approval would actually give Chevron a go-ahead without scrutinising what the GTCL is buying.”

According to Daily Star’s sources the report raised the following important points,

  • The cost-recoverable Chevron’s Muchai station’s actual cost would be much higher than $ 52.7 m because this cost does not include two years’ operation and maintenance cost or that of spare parts.
  • The sources also raised questions whether Petrobangla could bypass the cabinet’s approval for imposing a cost of $ 52.7 m for a GTCL project outside a PSC area just by making an interpretation of a PSC clause in favour of it.
  • GTCL sources questions were also raised in the report “… where is the mechanism to see if it is a fair price? Where is the competition and transparency?”
  • Petrobangla’s move to award the deal to Chevron raises further questions because the GTCL board headed by the Petrobangla chairman in May had cancelled a GTCL tender to award contract to Korean company Hyundai to install three compressors with Asian Development Board (ADB) funding.
  • “Gas supply through this pipeline can be increased by 50- 60 million cubic feet a day (mmcfd) by augmenting production in these fields, even without installing compressor,” says a pipeline expert. “By installing compressor, the pipeline will be able to increase only 9 mmcfd gas.”
  • The above were also stated in the report of an independent consultant hired by the ADB.
  • It was also mentioned that PetroBangla improperly cancelled Hyundai’s initial bid.

Then another report on August 30 announces that: “The PMO sought the project files and explanation following a report in The Daily Star revealing this fact.” The report continues: “As the prime minister sought explanation from Petrobangla chairman why he was so eager to award US company Chevron a $52.7 million contract to install a gas compressor station over the Gas Transmission Company Ltd (GTCL) system by cancelling an open tender, the chairman gave a smoky response last week…..While seeking the energy ministry’s approval late last month for allowing installation of Chevron’s compressor station over GTCL system, Muktadir ( PatroBangla Chairman) concealed the fact that Chevron had not clarified the 16 technical questions. …Petrobangla’s move to award the deal to Chevron poses serious questions because the GTCL board headed by the Petrobangla chairman cancelled in May the GTCL tender to award Korean company Hyundai a contract to install three compressors under an Asian Development Bank (ADB) fund.”

Something must have transpired during the time when the file was in PM’s office. Either PM and her advisors took an executive decision to go for the Chevron contract bypassing the cabinet purchase commitee ( On the ground that it was advance of block 12 PSC money) to expedite the process or Chevron must have made an offer to the advisor which he could not refuse.

The follow up report on this issue on September 09 states that:

“The prime minister yesterday approved a Petrobangla proposal to award a $ 52.7 million contract to US company Chevron to install a gas compressor station to improve gas flow pressure in the Gas Transmission Company Ltd (GTCL) system under a Production Sharing Contract (PSC).”

Even in this report it is suggested that : “The approval was given amid a number of contradictions, including that the GTCL is not a party to the PSC and that earlier the Petrobangla chairman had a GTCL tender for the compressor cancelled to award the deal to Chevron. He has been pursuing Chevron to install the compressor station at Muchai on GTCL’s pipeline. Petrobangla’s move to award the deal to Chevron raises serious questions because the GTCL board headed by the Petrobangla chairman in May had cancelled the GTCL tender to award contract to Korean company Hyundai to install three compressors under the ADB funding.” According to the report, ” This project would also be a unique example where a PSC operator like Chevron would hold a stake in a national gas transmission system without any clear legal framework to support it, experts noted. This is also an unsolicited deal.”

According to another report on 27 October:

”No sooner had the government changed Petrobangla chairman earlier this month than Petrobangla raised questions whether installing a costly gas compressor station for Gas Transmission Company Ltd (GTCL) by US company Chevron has any justification. “

Quoting a PetroBangla official, this report asks: “with the recent increase of gas supply from different gas fields of Chevron, the flow pressure has already reached 1050 PSIG. Therefore, why should Chevron be allowed to install such a costly device and get that money out of gas production and sales from block 12?” .

The report again stresses that: “It is a sharp contrast to Petrobangla’s earlier position. Its past chairman M Muktadir Ali had cancelled an open tender of the GTCL for the same project; and strongly recommended awarding the job to Chevron under a Production Sharing Contract (PSC) for block 12. But the GTCL is not a party to the PSC, thereby leaving a lot of legal issues for the future.”

The report adds that:

“…Chevron’s compressor station project cost is actually $12 million higher than the cost proposed by Hyundai at Muchai point in the GTCL tender that was cancelled… This is also an unsolicited deal that is also the first of its kind in the public sector gas transmission system, which should be a monopoly of the GTCL.

According to Daily Star’s sources, PM’s approval of the Chevron contract made many related official very uncomfortable. It reports: “… following the PM’s approval of Chevron’s project, Petrobangla invited GTCL’s experts several times to attend Petrobangla-Chevron Joint Management Committee (JMC) meeting on setting up the compressor station. But these officials declined saying that they did not want to be part of the controversy.“

Although the same reporter reporting all these loved to connect all the vices that took place during BNP’s 2001-2006 rule to PM’s son Tarique Rahman, this time, suddenly he becomes mum. No further investigation why sudden change in mind of PM office, why so much push for Chevron!

There is enough here to demand an investigation. This is not about Sajeeb Wajed or Mahmudur Rahman. This is much bigger than these individuals. And we do the nation a huge disservice by clouding the message here.

* * * * *

Rumi Ahmed is a Bangladeshi blogger from United Sates.

Also published in In the Middle of Nowhere.

Sikder Haseeb Khan

Imagine that you’re sitting on the throne of Bangladesh’s politics. You are ruling with emergency powers, but dissent is swelling. You are in the midst of an economic crisis. You are threatened by powerful shadowy figures in your own security and intelligence apparatus. Your previous international patrons now uncomfortable. You need an exit, preferably an honorable one.

So you want to hold elections. But a fully free and fair election will almost certainly result in an outcome that you have reason to distrust, for it may return to power many popular politicians that your administration has persecuted severely. So what do you do in this tense situation?

The answer: engineer the elections—but do so carefully, without raising too many alarm bells. Ensure that voting goes smoothly on election day, without hijacking of ballot boxes, prevention of voters from casting ballots, or any such crude tactics that would be obvious to an observer. In other words, engineer it, not rig it. Here’s how…

Bar dissenters

The first step that the regime has taken: prevent feisty politicians from running in the election. Convicting politicians in quick trials—whatever the charges—will come in handy: declare them ineligible for holding public office. Then government would then intensify an “anti-corruption drive” prior to the candidate registration date in order to bar the local political activists that it doesn’t like.

Field proponents

At the same time, the regime has to leave enough of Awami League and BNP outside the legal net so that the parties themselves can participate in the election. It will continue hand-picking “reformist” politicians or possible turncoats, and intimidate or otherwise persuade them to compete. It will support selective campaigns from both security and funding standpoints. As a recent report by the International Crisis Group noted, “the army is preparing a countrywide list of its own ‘clean’ candidates to contest the 2008 polls.”

Whether or not these candidates will represent a King’s Party or an existing political platform doesn’t matter. What matters is that mostly pro-regime candidates will be allowed to compete.

Shape the grassroots

Then the regime has to ensure that the party rank and file do not rebel. It has already arrested thousands of activists all over the country to prevent dissent, and intimidated thousands others to conform. The government is also trying to bar parties from having students’, teachers’, and workers’ organizations, which usually house most of the activists. In this altered playing field, the government wants to hold local elections first, under either a state of emergency or very limited openings, to ensure that its supporters are able to infiltrate the grassroots level prior to a national election.

Since parliamentary candidates have to rely on grassroots leaders to carry their campaigns, shaping the grassroots will help ensure that parliamentary candidates are forced toe a pro-regime line.

And local elections are not going to be monitored as much by international observers, so the field will be set to stage ‘upsets’. After all, this unrepresentative government claims that it’s only doing what the ‘people’ presumably want.

Control the cities

Another area that the regime has been trying to bolster is its support base among the urban civil society elite. Its attempt to get Dr. Yunus to lead this effort failed. Many of its other supporters among the urban elite are unappealing and unelectable in the perspective of the majority of voters. So, to the extent possible, it is redefining the boundaries of constituencies to give urban areas a greater share. This increases its chance to increase regime loyalists at least in the metropolitan areas. Holding non-party municipal elections is part of this plan.Increase authorityThe final ingredient is to increase the power of electoral authorities to arbitrarily declare results void. The Election Commission has been doing exactly the same. It is about to “empower it to cancel the candidature of any parliamentary contender for gross violation of electoral laws and declare vacant the seat of an elected lawmaker for giving false information in the account of the election expenses” (New Age, 29 April 2008). And who’s going to determine this violation? The Commission of course. Given this government’s woeful record, you can wave due process bye-bye in any such decision.Satisfaction guaranteedSo voila! Now hold national elections, and at the end of the day, you have engineered a nice exit strategy by making sure only your friends are elected. No violence, no ballot box hijacking, and a lot of claps from foreign observers.

* * * * *

Sikder Haseeb Khan is a Bangladeshi author. This story has also been published in The Progressive Bangladesh.

Sunita Paul
September 29, 2008. New Delhi.

Couple of months back, I wrote an article, which was published in American Chronicle, Global Politician, Daily People’s View [in Bangladesh], Weekly Blitz [Bangladesh] and other newspapers and sites around the world. Subsequently, Mr. Kalyan Barooah, correspondent of The Assam Tribune published a report quoting some of the excerpts of my article. Later, another journalist in Assam, Nava Thakuria wrote a report for Newstrack titled ‘ULFA money in Bangladesh media’, where he categorically mentioned how people in the questioned newspaper and media group named Daily Star tried to ignore his questions and the editor was not available for comments, with the excuse of being in abroad.

But, lately I saw a response from Mahfuz Anam, editor of Daily Star [the media empire built with ULFA money], which should be definitely attended for the sake of upholding the truth against lies. I am going to give my clarifications on some of the points raised by Anam, which surely is his attempt to save the face of this media group from the attention of anti-terror organizations around the world, as ULFA is a notorious terror group in North-Eastern part of India.

Let me first quote the entire response of Mahfuz Anam for my reader’s reference. He wrote, “Your correspondent admits he based his write-up on a piece in the Internet portal called Global Politician written by one Sunita Paul titled “When the media turns into evil”. Should a journalist write a report purely based on an Internet piece without verifying anything himself. Your correspondent made no attempt to contact us for our comments nor did he do any research on his own to find out the veracity of the Internet piece.

Your reporter writes, “it (meaning ULFA) partly owns or used to own Transcom Media publisher of the prestigious Bengali daily Prothom Alo, English daily The Daily Star besides two periodicals.” The simple fact is that there is no media house called Transcom Media. The Daily Star is owned by Mediaworld, which is a registered private limited company and has six shareholders who have been the directors of the company from the outset. Prothom Alo is owned by another company called “Mediastar” with few of the same owners as Mediaworld.

Mr Kalyan Barooah selectively quotes Sunita Paul, without verifying the facts, that Latifur Rahman, one of the owners of The Star and Prothom Alo became bankrupt in the nineties when Anup Chetia gave him a “few million dollars to reorganise his collapsed business”. These are deliberate canard and outright lies. Mr Latifur Rahman was and is one of the most respected businessmen of the country and has been elected, starting from the nineties, numerous times as the president of the most prestigious business chamber of the country, namely the MCCI (Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry), a post to which he has been recently re-elected.

Transcom, as a company, was not started, as your reporter quotes Sunita Paul, in the nineties but has been in business since early seventies, after Bangladesh was born. Again, it was not Latifur Rahman who brought me to the Star, as claimed by your reporter quoting Paul’s piece. I am one of the founding directors of the company and was the founder Executive Editor of the paper at the start and became editor at the untimely death of SM Ali within less than three years of the birth of the paper.

About the writer of the Internet portal piece, Sunita Paul, suffice it to say that Paul never contacted me or any of my administrative staff while writing the story to ascertain facts about our company and its finances. To the best of my knowledge she did not talk to any senior staff or any of the other directors of the paper, or any of the other persons who could have given her some facts about The Daily Star and Prothom Alo.”

So, now it is my turn to give clarifications to the points raised by the editor of the ULFA funded newspaper.

Mahfuz Anam said, Latifur Rahman [founder of the media empire] was never bankrupt. But, I have extensively checked with various sources in Dhaka and it was clearly revealed that an industrial project named W. Rahman Jute Mills, which is located at Bangladesh’s Chandpur area was amongt the top listed load defaulting enterprises in Bangladesh and Latifur Rahman was a defaulter and was even attacked by the workers of his factory for non payment of salary, before he could manage ULFA money. Latifur Rahman’s wife is the first cousin sister of Anup Chetia [there is no word from Anam on this point].

Anam writes in his response “The simple fact is that there is no media house called Transcom Media. The Daily Star is owned by Mediaworld, which is a registered private limited company and has six shareholders who have been the directors of the company from the outset. Prothom Alo is owned by another company called “Mediastar” with few of the same owners as Mediaworld.”

But, after investigation, everyone will discover that, Transcom is the owner of all these newspapers including Daily Star when they will log on to http://www.transcombd.com and click for ‘MEDIA.’

In the Transcom website, it is clearly mentioned that “In recent years Transcom has emerged as an increasingly significant media house in Bangladesh.”

So, why Anam is shy in accepting the fact that Transcom owns all these newspapers? Just because, he too knows that the back ground story of money in Transcom was from ULFA?

Anam wrote “Transcom, as a company, was not started, as your reporter quotes Sunita Paul, in the nineties but has been in business since early seventies, after Bangladesh was born.”

Again a clean lie! If anyone will log on to the link http://www.transcombd.com and will read the ‘A brief look at history’, they will see that the company claims it to have been establsihed in 1885 as tea plantors. But, wherefrom Mahfuz got the fact of Trancom’s journey from 1970? The tea garden business is something else, like W Rahman Jute Mills as I already mentioned. Transcom became known in Bangladesh when it got the sole distributorship of Nestle products in 90s. Before that, the family was struggling with losing businesses of teas garden, jute mills etc. Latifur Rahman’s name is listed by the present rulers in Bangladesh as a suspected corrupt man, as his source of income and fund is extremely dubious.

Anam did not say a single word about Aina Broadcast Services [ABC], which is a FM band radio station, that Transcom Group bought with huge amount of money from another newspaper owner. Such dealings were mediated by Daily Star man who is now the press secretary to the Chief Avdisor of the millitary controlled government in Bangladesh. Daily Star group is continuing to influence the government in salvaging Latifur Rahman from being arrested and tried for series of financial irregularities. It was even reported in the press that, Transcom was importing unknown goods in various containers with false declaration of being milk product or electronic equipment. According to several sources, illegal supply of weapons were also conducted by Transcom under the garb of business commodity for years.

It may be mentioned here that, after getting fund from ULFA, Latifur Rahman opened several accounts with foreign banks. He managed franchisee of KFC and Pizza Hut with each US$ 1 million plus. According to investigations, no permission were ever sought from Bangladesh Central Bank for such huge transfer of money. It is learnt that the money were wire transferred to KFC and Pizza Hut from Latifur’s overseas bank accounts.

* * * * *

Sunita Paul is an Indian writer, columnist, political analyst and regular contributor of American Chronicle, The Global Politician and The Asian Tribune.

[Considering the difficulties of Bangla fonts, the article have been presented in three segments one after one, each as gif image. After the article bellow the heading will start loading, you can simply start to read and the article load will complete as you will go ahead -Editor]

Mahmudur Rahman
6 September, 2008. Dhaka.


Mahmudur Rahman is the former Chairman of Bangladesh Government’s Board of Investment and formerly the Adviser of Fuel to the cabinet.

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