Ministers who grabbed public attention in 2019

A number of ministers either drew public attention or came under fire hitting headlines in 2019 for various reasons, including onion price hike, fatal train crash or unprecedented dengue outbreak.

Some of them are Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, Health Minister Zahid Malik, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, and Railways Minister Md Nurul Islam Sujan.

Tipu Munshi

Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi came under fire following the abnormal price hike of onion in October-November amid an export ban of India. During the period, onion price went up by Tk 40-50 to over Tk 100 a kilogram within a few days.

Amid the skyrocketing onion price, Tipu Munshi announced that the price would come down within two weeks but it went up further to Tk 200 to 250 per kg.

On November 18, Commerce Secretary Md Jafar Uddin at a press conference assured that they would import onion from Egypt, Turkey, China and several other countries. But the price did not come down and that sparked huge criticisms against the minister. Even some quarters demanded his resignation.

Later in December, the price came down by Tk 100 to 110 per kilogram with the arrival of locally-produced onion in the market.

Obaidul Quader

Awami League General Secretary and also Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, who fell seriously ill due to cardiac problem in March, returned to his work after about two and a half months' treatment in a Singapore hospital.

Quader was admitted to the Coronary Care Unit (CCU) of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) as he fell sick on March 3. Doctors conducted an angiogram and found three blockages in his coronary arteries.

Renowned Indian cardiologist Dr Devi Shetty came to examine Quader upon a request of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Shetty had examined him and suggested taking him to Singapore for better treatment.

On March 4, he was admitted to Mount Elizabeth Hospital where Quader successfully underwent a bypass surgery on March 20. He was released from hospital on April 5 and returned home on May 15.

Mozammel Haque

Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque faced huge public criticisms after publishing a list of 10,789 Razakars who collaborated with the Pakistani occupation forces during the War of Liberation in 1971.

The official list triggered public outrage as the names of several freedom fighters were on it. Later, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina directed all concerned to correct the list and publish a fresh one.

On December 17, Mozammel at a press conference expressed sorrow for the 'unintentional' errors in the list of Razakars, adding that the names of freedom fighters and pro-independence people will be dropped from the list after scrutiny.

On December 18, the minister said they withheld the list and removed it from the ministry website.

Nurul Islam Sujan

Railways Minister Md Nurul Islam Sujan also faced criticisms after the fatal train crash at Mandbagh of Brahmanbaria that left 16 people dead and over 100 others injured.

It took eight hours to restore rail communications after the deadly collision between Dhaka-bound Turna Nishita Express from Chattogram and Chattogram-bound Udayan Express.

On November 12, a loco master of Turnanishitha train and two other staff of Bangladesh Railway were suspended following the tragic accident.

Zahid Maleque

Health Minister Zahid Maleque came in the limelight for his 'controversial' foreign tour during the country's worst-ever dengue outbreak that so far claimed lives over 148.

The parliamentary standing committee on government assurance also questioned Health Minister Zahid Maleque about his tour.

Committee Chairman Md Ali Ashraf and member Moin Uddin Khan Badal, also expressed annoyance over the minister's tour.

Confusions mounted as the health ministry officials did not say anything specific about his tour.

On July 28, the minister went to Malaysia with his family. It was scheduled that he would return on August 4. Following the criticism, he cut his tour short and returned home on July 31.

Source: United News of Bangladesh