Bangladesh’s Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu says political partisanship in the professional bodies affect democratic values of a society.
“There may be differences in opinions, but partisanship creates divisions. This affects profession,” he said in reference to the divisions in some journalist bodies, including in Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ) and Dhaka Union of Journalists (DUJ).
These journalist organisations have sharp divisions in line with the major political parties – Awami League and BNP.
Such partisanship is not only present in the journalist associations, but also other professional bodies, including those of the physicians, lawyers and university teachers.
“These divisions are heart-rending,” Hasanul Haq Inu said as he addressed Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU) Best Reporting (DRU) Award 2017 ceremony in the DRU auditorium in Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka November 26.
Freedom of media is essential for flourishing of democracy, he said, urging the journalists to work in unison to protect democracy in Bangladesh where democracy has been restored in 1991 after a 15-year military rule since 1975.
In 1975, the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his family members were killed in an army coup, which changed the political landscape in the South Asian country that was born with the principle of secularism, democracy and equality through a bloody war against Pakistan in 1971.
The 1972 Constitution provides guarantee to the freedom of expression, but media often faces challenges not only from the authorities, but also from the extremist forces.
Hasanul Haq Inu said media and democracy are two sides of a coin and if media, the fourth pillar of the state, is affected, other pillars are also affected.
The minister assured journalists the government will soon form the ninth wage board, which the journalists have been demanding for long in response to rise in living cost.
Inu said the owners of the newspapers had been unwilling in regard to formation of the ninth wage board, but lately moved away from that stance. As soon as owner representatives are nominated for the wage board, the government will make the announcement.
The board will finalise the new wage arrangement by early September next year, he said.
DRU President Sakhawat Hossain Badsha, DRU Best Reporting Award 2017 Jury Board Chairman journalist Shajahan Sardar and DRU General Secretary Morsalin Nomani also spoke.
Recipients of the award
Inam Ahmed and Shakhawat Liton – diplomacy, The Daily Star
Porimol Palma, The Daily Star,
Helemul Alam, The Daily Star
Mohammad Al-Masum Molla, The Daily Star
Rozina Islam, Prothom Alo
Masud Alam, Prothom Alo
Mehedi Hasan, Nayadiganta
Ibrahim Hossain, Dhaka Tribune
Kazi Hafiz, Kaler Kantha
Azizur Rahman Ripon, The Financial Express
Abu Saleh Roni, Samakal
Kawser Rahman, Janakantha
M Mamun Hossain, Manab Kantha
Mariam Moni Shenjuti, Bhorer Kagoj
Shipan Habib, Jugantar
Sajida Islam Parul, Samakal
Faruque Ahmed Mehedi, Channel 24
Badruddoza Babu, Maasranga
Parvez Nadir Reza, Ekattor TV
MM Islam Moidul, NTV
Shafiqul Islam Shiplu, SATV
Mahbubul Alam Lablu, Independent TV
Masudur Rahman, Channel 24
Hasan Javed, NTV
Serajul Islam Siraj, Banglanews24.com
Rafiqul Islam Mantu, risingbd.com
Sayeed Shipan, jagonews24.com
Ahrar Hossain, BBC