Retired civil servant and former adviser to caretaker government M Hafizuddin Khan said that it was now time to create public opinion against ‘VIP culture’, a practice he termed as anti-people and anti-democracy and which is hardly found in any other country.
Halting traffic for VIP movement should be stopped immediately and the government as well as people in general should work together to change this mind-set that allows undue privileges to a certain quarter, said Hafizuddin, who served as secretary to the government and retired as comptroller and auditor general of Bangladesh.
He said the officials holding the rank of joint secretary and above in the civil bureaucracy, were treated as VIP or Very Important Person at the airports, but that too was unacceptable in a democracy.
He said the roads cannot be blocked and ferries cannot be halted for these VIPs that included lawmakers and ministers, since these actions cause sufferings and inconveniences to the public.
About the recent death of schoolboy Titas Ghos, allegedly for halting a ferry for a joint secretary for three hours at Kathalbari ferry terminal in Madaripur, the retired bureaucrat said it could not continue. ‘The ambulance carrying any patient or injured persons cannot be halted for a even moment. The ferry should not have waited for a second for that VIP, keeping the ambulance in waiting,’ he opined.
Recollecting his long career in the government service, he said, he had visited many countries but never had he seen such culture.
‘I was travelling to Khulna from Dhaka. I reached Jashore airport by air. As I was waiting at the airport, some officials approached me and said, “Sir, you are a VIP. Please come to the VIP lounge,”’ he recalled, explaining that it was at this juncture that he felt for the first time in his life he was a VIP as by the time he got promoted to the rank of joint secretary.
Hafizuddin said none was given this type of protocol, except for kings or queens in some countries like Great Britain and Thailand.
‘It has been a common scenario that a peon is kept standing at the gate of a high official and to carry the bag from the car to the office room as if a VIP cannot carry it by himself,’ observed Hafizuddin, also a civil society activist working for combating corruption, establishing good governance and campaigning for political reforms.
He said, although there was a long tradition of giving ‘protocol’ to the VIPs while visiting districts outside the capital, it should be stopped as it created ‘public nuisances.’
People were often heard making comments when they got stuck in bad traffic for ‘VIP movement’, or saw VIPs passing along the wrong side of the road to avoid congestions, he said, adding that the law does not allow such violations.
He, however, said that none, except the president and the prime minister should be given the privilege of the ‘VVIPs’.
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