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The government should not amend the constitution ‘in haste, without building consensus’.

Edit Date:7/26/2010 12:00:00 AM

July 26: The principal architect of Bangladesh’s 1972 constitution, Kamal Hossain, has said that the government should not amend the constitution ‘in haste, without building consensus’. ‘The constitution is sacred. The government should not add anything to the constitution suddenly without unanimity,’ said Hossain. Public opinion should be taken to incorporate their wishes in the constitution and to reach a national consensus on amending the sacred document, said Dr Kamal Hossain, one of the principal authors of the Constitution of Bangladesh. “It is not a matter to be done in haste. The 5th Amendment was done in a hurry under martial law ordinance which the people didn’t want so the High Court in its historic verdict in 2005 cancelled it,” he said in Chittagong on Saturday July 24th. “We should be delighted that the court verdicts are ridding the constitution of controversial matters,” he said. The eminent jurist was talking to journalists after attending an advocacy workshop on “Improving City Governance and Private Sector Development” at Hotel Agrabad. Asked about the government initiative to form a parliamentary committee in this regard, Dr Kamal said, “Formation of a committee by the government should not get so much importance or create controversy. It should not be considered as a party outlook.” Regarding BNP’s stance on the issue, Dr Kamal said, “I will politely appeal that as a major political party BNP should take it as a national issue and should play proper role in this regard.” International Business Forum of Bangladesh organised the workshop in association with USAID and Progati. Transparency International Bangladesh Chairman M Hafizuddin Khan, Chittagong City Corporation Mayor M Manjur Alam, BNP Vice-Chairman Abdullah Al Noman and Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industries Senior Vice-President MA Salam were special guests at the workshop in which newly-elected ward councillors and business leaders participated. While presenting the keynote paper at the workshop, IBFB Research Director ABM Mafizur Rahman suggested reforms in the city corporation regulations and autonomy for all city corporations. Dr Kamal urged the public representatives to listen to the needs of the citizens. Hafizuddin Khan observed that the local government bodies including city corporations lack proper transparency. Mayor Manjur Alam spoke for city corporations’ working with different utility service providers, like Wasa, PDB, PWD, in a coordinated manner for smooth development of cities. BNP’s reaction on constitution changes The main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) did not nominate a lawmaker on the 15-member committee announced earlier this week, citing procedural reasons and calling the exercise ‘a conspiracy’. BNP standing committee member Moudud Ahmed Saturday said his party would join the parliamentary special committee for review of the constitution if the panel was recast with equal number of members from the treasury and opposition benches. The BNP has 31 seats in the 345-member house that includes 45 seats reserved for women. Moudud castigated the way the ruling party chief whip and not parliament secretariat had sent a letter to the BNP asking it to nominate a representative for the committee. ‘A single member on the committee can do little,’ he was quoted as saying by New Age. Moudud said he found ‘no rationale’ for going back to the constitution as many years had already passed since it was adopted in 1972 and the amendments were brought to it ‘to meet the requirements of the time’. ‘Even the prime minister herself is against restoring the 1972 constitution as she has already said that ‘Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim’ will not be removed from the constitution and the religion-based parties will not be banned. ‘How could the constitution be secular with Islam as the state religion and Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim remaining in its preamble,’ he asked. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced the committee with overwhelming representation for the teasury benches that have more than two-thirds of parliamentary strength, leaving a seat vacant for the BNP. The exercise is aimed at undoing the radical changes brought about when the country was governed by military-led governments. source: savebd

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