Public Servant Vs Political Leaders
The public administration officials and the political leaders have once again come face to face in Barisal on last Wednesday. It seems like few people have forgotten their roles, responsibilities and position under the shadow of over-exercising their power and it is really not good for the people as well as the government in total. Though we can offset this incident easily but the consequences can be of long term and can really impact the efficiency of our system.
On Wednesday night, Barisal City Corporation employees went to the residence of Barisal UNO Munibur Rahman to lower a banner hung to mark National Mourning Day. At one stage, the UNO came out and enquired about the matter, leading to an altercation with a staff of the city corporation. During the altercation, some 25-30 people entered the complex and a scuffle broke out between the Ansar personnel and the mob over the issue, triggering a clash. The Ansar members upon the instruction of the UNO opened fire on them, leaving seven injured. On receiving information, police rushed to the spot and baton-charged the crowd to disperse it.
The UNO filed a case naming 28 people including Barisal City Corporation Mayor Serniabat Sadiq Abdullah, who was not present at the scene along with several unnamed others. Another case was lodged by police. The situation did not require shooting as there was no attack on the official residence of Barisal Sadar upazila UNO Wednesday and posters and banners were being removed as part of routine activity of the city corporation staff, claimed Awami League units. The Awami League leaders demanded the removal of Barisal Sadar UNO Munibur Rahman and the release of arrested Awami League activists.
Addressing a press conference in Barishal on Saturday, the mayor said that he became a victim of a ‘conspiracy’ and called for an independent investigation into the attack. Two cases were filed by the city corporation against the UNO and others.
Several other top leaders of the ruling party and top public administration employees have released statements saying that it was a completely separate incident as well as result of miscommunication and will be sort out. On the other hand, BNP, the largest opposition party of the country, marked this incident as proof of inefficiency of the government.
In the light of the current events, Barishal City Corporation Mayor Serniabat Sadiq Abdullah has met officials of the local administration and police on Sunday night. President of Barishal Metropolitan Awami League also attended the nearly two-hour meeting at Divisional Commissioner’s home and said the meeting yielded positive results. The UNO was not present at the meeting though.
Though the ruling party leaders ruled out this incident as an individual incident of miscommunication, the difference between the public service employees and the political leaders had been in discussion for a while now. On 28 June, 2021, ruling Awami League’s senior lawmaker Tofail Ahmed and Jatiya Party MP Kazi Firoz Rashid expressed their frustration and anger over the growing presence of government bureaucrats in various jobs without importance being given to politicians.
Tofail Ahmed is a 7-term MP. He was former minister of commerce and minister of industries, one of the organizers of 1971 Liberation War, veteran student leader and close associate of the father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. He said the authority and job of politicians has faded away today. He also said that according to the warrant of precedence, MPs position is above that of secretaries. Tofail said politicians are elected representatives and they should have a specific standing and jobs and should remain there.
Jatiya Party MP Kazi Firoz Rashid also echoed Tofail Amed’s sentiments on the same day. He said there is no politics in the country today and Tofail Ahmed has pointed out the issue rightly. Firoz said the prime minister spoke to Deputy Commissioners at different programs but MPs in those programs remained at a distance. And after the programs ended, MPs would have to request DCs to talk a little with the prime minister.
We have observed on several instances that the government employees and the political leaders are on different sides, which creates trouble not only for the government but also for the people. Here few things are required to be addressed. First of all, if we like it or not, the government cadre service employees are the public servants. Their job is to serve the people of Bangladesh and that is simple.
Whatever we call it–administrative service, bureaucrat, government employee, cadre service or anything else–they are all public servants. On the other hand, the political leaders are the public representatives. That is, the political leaders are the elected representative of those whom they are to serve. Until and unless, this definition will be embedded in their minds, this difference cannot be ruled out.
Today, the public administration employees have become the face of a nightmare for the people. Institutionalization of corruption in the public sector is completely their contribution. They have become so powerful that, they have completely forgotten their roles and responsibilities. The language used by the Bangladesh Administrative Service Association against the Barisal City Corporation mayor, a public representative, is sheer expression of audacity. If they are not caring about the ruling party leaders today, we can assume that how they treat ordinary people despite taking oath to serve the people of Bangladesh.
The elected political leaders are the representatives of the people and they need to follow through their election or party manifesto. They need to use some influence over the public administration to get different jobs done as they have to answer to their people. But it has become very difficult now.
The elected political leaders and the public servants–both take oath to serve the people of Bangladesh. But due to the difference of these two groups, people are getting hurt the most. Today, an ordinary person has no place to go to find the solution of his problems. The public representatives are becoming inactive. The public administration employees are becoming the protector of corruption, all sorts of crimes and immoral activities in today’s Bangladesh. We often hear that the political leaders are supporting them in committing those crimes. But now they have become so vicious that, they do not care about the political leaders much. This rule of the jungle in our administration will hurt our future very badly for sure.
To become a successful nation, it is important that, everyone carries out their roles and responsibilities properly. Only the good intent and works of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina cannot ensure the development and progress of Bangladesh especially in the face of several economic challenges. Both the public representatives and the public servants need to be bound to their oaths.
Most importantly, we are a democratic nation and the citizens hold the utmost importance in any democracy. We need to protect the rights of the people as well as need to ensure the rule of the people to protect the future of this nation and there is no other way. Though we are in transition right now, we have to reach that goal ultimately.
Every nation has different organs and if all the organs are not performing properly, just like human body, the nation cannot make progress. Hence, it is important that, the public service officials and the political leaders should devote their lives for the welfare of the people keeping aside corruption and abuse of power. They should learn from the examples set by PM Sheikh Hasina, who is devotedly working to take this country at a position of respect. We hope, from all these battles and chaos, people come out as the ultimate winner.
The writer is Chief Editor at Mohammadi News Agency (MNA), Editor at Kishore Bangla and
Chief Patron, Bangabandhu
Shishu Kishore Mela