TV Talk Show Transcription: TV Talk Show

Dhaka Talk Show Discusses Foreign Countries' Concerns Over Polls, Scrutinizes Prevailing Electoral Ambiance in Bangladesh
Summary of 'Ekusher Raat' Talk Show Telecast by Ekushey Television on 28 December 2018
Program: Ekusher Raat
Topic: Foreign Countries' Interests and Concerns Over the National Polls in Bangladesh
Duration: 40 Minutes
Anchor: Sajid Rumel
Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury, Media Adviser to the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina
Mofazzal Karim, Former Secretary and Ambassador
After introducing the discussants, Host Sajid Rumel drew the attention of the viewers and discussants about foreigners' interests and concerns ahead of the upcoming 11th national parliamentary election. The UN, the US, and the UK have called upon all to facilitate a free, fair, credible and peaceful election in Bangladesh, the host said. He further added that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on all stakeholders to ensure an environment free of violence, intimidation, and coercion before, during and after the general election in Bangladesh. US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl R Miller expressed concern over the ongoing election violence across the country saying the opposition are victims of the violence in most of the cases, he added. On top of that, Rumel said, British High Commissioner Allison Blake, on 27 December, paid a courtesy call on Dr. AK Abdul Momen, the candidate of Bangladesh Awami League [BAL] from Sylhet-1 constituency.
Rumel asked Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury for his reflection regarding the UN, the US, and the UK’s interests and concerns over the upcoming polls in Bangladesh.
The upcoming election is an internal affair of Bangladesh, Chowdhury replied. He, however, said that foreign countries' interests over Bangladesh’s national polls are nothing unusual. Chowdhury drew the attention of the host regarding the changes in foreign countries' approach toward the elections in Bangladesh. As Bangladesh is not more a country dependent on foreign aid, the foreign countries cannot intervene in the elections in Bangladesh now, Chowdhury said.
Rumel asked Mofazzal Karim for his reflection regarding foreign countries' interests and concerns over the national polls in Bangladesh.
Karim found nothing unusual in foreign countries' interests regarding Bangladesh’s election. He also said the foreign ambassadors of different countries have been appointed to maintain friendly and stable relations with Bangladesh and it is their duty to observe the political affairs in the country.
Karim, however, said that the concerns expressed by the foreign ambassadors over the electoral ambiance should not be ignored. The US ambassador to Bangladesh raised concerns over the high level of violence during the electoral campaign, he said. Bangladeshi political observers are also fearing further violence ahead of polls, Karim added. Instead of being critical of the foreign countries' observations regarding the poll-time ambiance in Bangladesh, Bangladesh should focus on upgrading its election standard, he said. If the Election Commission can ensure a peaceful and fair electoral ambiance, there would be no fear over the polls, Karim said.
Rumel interrupted and asked is it possible for Bangladesh to take its election standard up to the level of the US and other western countries, even if the country wants.
It is obvious that Bangladesh has no chance of meeting the standard of the US and other western countries in terms of democratic practice, Karim said. He, however, said it is mandatory for a country to show gradual progress in terms of promoting democratic culture and practices. But, he added, instead of making progress Bangladesh appears to be going backward in terms of democratic practices.
Rumel asked Chowdhury for his reflection regarding the electoral violence during the campaign period.
Electoral violence is nothing new in Bangladesh, Chowdhury replied. In the past elections, minority groups became subjected to poll-time violence, he added. As a result, foreign countries are fearing similar scenario ahead of the upcoming polls, he added. He, however, claimed that the current situation is far better than the past poll-time situations. He lauded the incumbent government for maintaining law and order in the country. He further praised Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for ensuring participation of all political parties in the upcoming polls. Chowdhury reminded the chaos and disorder occurred during the past national polls and said the current situation is more peaceful.
Rumel asked Karim for his reflection in this regard.
It is true that the death toll due to the poll-time violence is much lower this time compared to the previous elections, Karim said. He, however, said that the attacks on the opposition camp should not be ignored showing the excuse of the lower number of deaths this time. He said BNP [Bangladesh Nationalist Party] claimed 12,500 activists of BNP and its alliance Jatiya Oikya Front were injured in almost 2,700 incidents of attacks throughout the country in the last three weeks. Thousands of ghost cases have been filed against the opposition activists even after the announcement of the election schedule, he added. In such a situation, there is no scope for being complacent over the current electoral ambiance in the country, Karim said.
The host thanked the discussant for attending the show.
In this concluding remarks, Rumel expressed his desire to see an election with the highest voter turnout, which would reflect the desire of the people.