Thursday, November 6, 2008

A US lesson for Bangladesh in positive politics

Political analysts, diplomats, politicians and rights activists said the country's politicians can learn the politics of positive attitude and democratic culture from the US presidential election 2008 to bring about qualitative changes in the society.

Terming Barack Obama's historic win in the election a "victory of tolerance, co-existence and mutual respect", they urged the country's politicians to practise positive politics to make parliament effective with the real intent of serving people.

The Daily Star yesterday discussed Obama's victory with economist Muzaffer Ahmad, politicians Dr Kamal Hossain and Abdur Razzak, political scientists Dr Harunur Rashid and Dilara Chowdhury, former foreign secretary Farooq Chowdhury and former caretaker government adviser Sultana Kamal.

Prof Dilara Choudhury said American voters gave verdict for a change by expressing their unhappiness at unacceptable policies of the administration of incumbent President George W Bush.

"It may be a lesson for our political parties that people may not accept if they take any anti-people policy or go back to the old confrontational political culture," she said, adding that the verdict in the US presidential election teaches tolerance and co-existence.

Barack Obama tried for and succeeded in understanding the feelings of common people, and our politicians and aspirant candidates should also do the same, Prof Dilara said.

Former Dhaka University teacher and Transparency International Bangladesh Chairman Prof Muzaffer Ahmad said acceptance of Obama by American people may not mean accepting all his policies but Obama always listened to the people, especially the dissenting voices.

"What was important in Obama's whole campaign is his consultation with people," Prof Muzaffer said, adding, "From the verdict of the American people, we shall learn that the dissenting voice is more important than the supporting ones."

Eminent jurist and Gono Forum President Dr Kamal Hossain said Obama's victory shows how people from all walks of life can be inspired to bring about qualitative changes in politics.

"Through active participation, people can liberate themselves from unhealthy politics which results from manipulation of the powerful and the corrupt who disempower them and undermine the democratic institutions with the help of money, the media and other instrument of control," said Dr Kamal.

Obama's victory should inspire democratic forces committed to bringing about meaningful changes in the world and, in particular, in Bangladesh where people are engaged in a movement to bring about changes through a credible election free from influence of black money and arms, he added.

Sultana Kamal, executive director of Ain o Salish Kendra, noted that Obama's victory is an honour to different communities of people whose rights remained unrecognised for years.

"His win is a clear verdict for change in the attitude towards the deprived communities. John McCain himself acknowledged that the full citizenship of the African-American people was not established for a long time," the former adviser said.

Besides the liberal image of the Democrats, the anti-war commitment of Obama did a lot for his win, she said, hoping that the new US president will succeed in that commitment.

Former foreign secretary Farooq Chowdhury said people of Bangladesh can learn positive attitude--particularly when someone loses, democratic culture and mutual respect from the US presidential election.

"The Republicans had the slogan 'Country first' while the Democrats had 'Change, yes we can'. We should keep in mind the message of these two slogans as we go into our own elections," he said.

It is only through democracy that we can achieve national solidarity, he added.

Awami League (AL) Presidium member Abdur Razzak said by voting Obama people of the USA have proved that they really want a change. "We hope Barack Obama will bring a change across the world in line with democratic system," he said.

People of Bangladesh also want a change and they want the parliamentary system to be effective, democracy and economy strengthened and the youths be made as a source of human resources, said the AL leader.

"But to bring these changes among others, there is no alternative to holding the election to restore democracy," he added.

Prof Harunur Rashid said, "Like the young generation of the US, our youths are also craving for a positive change in politics, and we hope the politicians will work to meet this expectation moving away from the confrontational politics."

The result of the US presidential election has set a new history of national solidarity and, besides strengthening American democracy, would inspire other democracies, he added.

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