Good governance for which people cherish, is not possible to accomplish in the existing political reality. Perkiness of an aware citizens group who will be aware to establish and protect their rights i.e will play their role as attentive concierges in the state including all spheres of the society are needed for this. At the same time, they will play their role as pressure groups on the government, the policy makers and the different services providing institutions. SHUJAN is trying this to organize the aware, active, and clamorous citizens. Because, like famous American justice Francis Frankfurter…, SHUJAN also believes on “No other post in the state is as important as citizens”.
On the eve of 2002, dispassionate people’s organization ‘Citizens for Fair Elections (CFE) was formed, through initiative taken by a group of aware citizens of the country targeting establishment of government of the blond people through fair and acceptable election. Later on, a new name ‘SHUJAN’ is given to ‘Citizens for Fair Elections (CFE)’ on 21 December, 2003 with a view not to define its activities in election but also to extend its activities.
After its’ establishment in 2003, the first national convention of SHUJAN was celebrated in 2006. In keeping its continuation, 5th national convention of SHUJAN was celebrated with a hope to establish movement for good governance in Bangladesh through taking brawny oath on 27 December, 2014 at the ‘Institute of Diploma Engineers-Bangladesh’ multipurpose conference hall. About 800 aware, organized and clamorous SHUJAN representatives from all over the country participated in the convention.
The convention was inaugurated graciously with the national anthem at 10.00 am. SHUJAN president M Hafiz Uddin Khan presided over the convention while central coordinator Dilip Kumar Sarker moderated the convention. Dr. Akbar Ali Khan, ex-adviser of caretaker government, Abu Hena and Dr. ATM Shamsul Huda, ex-chief election commissioner, Emaz Uddin Ahmed, ex-vice-chancellor, University of Dhaka, Mahbubur Rahman, president, international chambers of commerce, prominent politician Dr. Enam Ahmed Chowdhury, Asif Nazrul and Robayet Ferdous, University of Dhaka, TV presenter Ashfaqu Kayser, and Barrister Jyotirmoy Barua presented in the convention as guests.
ASM Shajahan, ex-adviser and vice president of caretaker government respectively, Ali Imam Majumder, ex-cabinet secretary and executive member, SHUJAN, Sayed Abul Maksud, Jaforullah Chowdhury, Engineer Musba Alim, Professor Nazma Hasin, and Dr. Jalal Uddin, executive members of SHUJAN participated in the convention.
In his inaugural speech M Hafiz Uddin Khan said, “There prevail laws and rules in the country but no good governance. Political party is must for democratic country. But, instead of democracy, there prevails patriarchy in the country.” “We, SHUJAN, have been moving to establish good governance in Bangladesh for long time resulting building awareness among the people”, he added.
An intolerant democracy is prevailing in Bangladesh and through its modus operandi democracy’s actual characteristics are eroded, former adviser to a caretaker government Dr. Akbar Ali Khan told.
Democracy in Bangladesh is weakening despite the democratic movements of the last three or four decades alongside other mass movements, elections and change in governments, he said. There are many derailments, including in constitutional bodies which are witnessing decay. For instance, power is concentrated at the core and the parliament was losing power, he said. Stressing that democracy cannot be ensured only by replacing one ruling party with another, he pointed out that in the country’s electoral system, a party which got only 40 percent of votes can have 60 percent of the seats in parliament. “153 persons got seats in parliament without any votes being cast in their favour…After assuming power through elections, political parties think they can do whatever they want,” he said. Hartals would become redundant if the country had a system of holding referendums on issues of national interest, he told. For example, whether voters want a caretaker government during elections could be ascertained through holding a referendum, he said, adding that whether a caretaker government was needed was an issue of the voters, not the political parties.
Citing his experience, former chief election commissioner Abu Hena said the service delivery of the public administration has degraded as deputy commissioners now work at the instructions from the lawmakers although they are supposed to work as per the law. “Good governance is necessary for the best government, democracy, democratic country and its people,” he said.
The country is witnessing an elected autocracy in the guise of democracy, said former chief election commissioner ATM Shamsul Huda, adding that the kind of electoral democracy practiced in the country was a reflection of regressive and limited conceptualization of democracy. As a result not even the limited scope of practicing democracy in the existing electoral system is utilized. Not even the benefits of electoral democracy are achieved in the country as the opposition frequently boycotts the parliament, he said. “The 2014 election saw goals scored in an empty field…no party ever benefited from boycotting elections,” said Shamsul. Corruption prevails in every facet of the public sector. “Services for everything starting from birth certificates to death certificates and anything in between require bribes,” he said, adding that for this poor and low-income people suffered the most.
SHUJAN secretary Dr. Badiul Alam Majumdar said political parties should immediately reach a consensus about a poll-time government to ensure that future elections were fair, competitive and participatory. “Judged by what we know from Bangladesh’s history, it cannot be said with certainty that future elections will be free of rigging and the administration, law enforcement agencies and the election commission will be free of partisanship,” he said.
Dhaka University Professor Robayet Ferdous said in the new development paradigm, per-capita income is not the only indicator. Today development means the rule of law, freedom of the judiciary, women’s empowerment which cannot be quantified but are under development.
Former Dhaka University Vice-chancellor Prof Emaz Uddin Ahmed said the people have been passing through a very bad time. It is meaningless to think about development without democracy.
Professor, University of Dhaka, Asif Nazrul told, “Most of the organization conduct their activities in accordance with the existing situation but SHUJAN is exceptional in this regard. SHUJAN is aware and clamor in everywhere against ill practice without taking under consideration who are in power”.
“Neutral people like SHUJAN should play vital role in the present context of democracy because country people desire democracy. Instead of democracy patriarchy prevails everywhere in the country”, said Ashfaqu Kaysar.
In the working session, SHUJAN leaders from all over the country participated in the discussion on the organizational report and proposed national charter. An executive committee comprised of 21 members was formed through the council session. M Hafiz Uddin Khan and Dr. Badiul Alam Majumdar were unanimously elected as president and secretary of SHUJAN for the next two years respectively. The new executive committee expressed their gratefulness to all and sought cordial cooperation from all to run the organizational activities smoothly. The convention came to a happy end through a colourful cultural ceremony.