Published:  04:11 AM, 12 July 2018

Major changes in London mission

Major changes in London mission Saida Muna Tasneem

The Bangladesh High Commission in London is undergoing a major shake-up, much to the relief of the diaspora, who had made repeated complaints about a number of officers and staff serving at 28 Queens Gate.

A highly placed government source told the Asian Age that the shake-up had started after a number of incidents, including the dishonoring of Bangabandhu's photo by opposition activists, drew the attention of the government high-ups.

As part of the shake-up, High Commissioner M. Nazmul Quaunine, who joined the mission in October 2016, has been transferred elsewhere, cutting short his stay, while the current Ambassador to Thailand, Saida Muna Tasneem, will succeed him, the source said. Tasneem, more known as Muna, is also Permanent Represe-ntative of Bangladesh to UNESCAP.

Quaunine, who served as deputy high commissioner in London during the period of BNP rule, was not welcome from the very start with protests by ruling Awami League activists in London and allegations that he hosted a team of an Indonesian Jamaat team. He was posted in Indonesia before coming to London.

Ambassador Muna  Tasneem is known for her success stories, including in her job in Bangkok.One former diplomat said that the change was a breath of fresh air and one could expect results from her.One well-known British-Bangladeshi gave this status on the London mission in the Facebook: 

"Imran A. Chowdhury Frsa That place is a mess .... I called 3 days in a row... the phone rang and rang and rang 17 rings or more each time but no one answered and when I was hanging up at the time someone was kind enough to pick up the receiver but by then I lost my appetite to talk to anyon...

Bangladesh is perhaps the only country in the world where govt officials think they are not paid by taxpayer. And they are not the public servant rather public are their servants. How ironic!!!! How do we change this status quo ? Any idea anyone?"

Bangladesh requires a thoroughly professional mission chief in London, with no bad track record, as it is the single largest bilateral donor for Dhaka with the government laying great emphasis on maintaining the best of relations with Britain. "Frequent changes weaken our diplomacy with Britain and we are made a laughing stock of," said Habi Rahman, a member of the diaspora who works for one of Britain's leading banks.

The diaspora feels that the mission should be headed by a political person who would understand and give the best results, but Foreign Ministry must be instructed to support such a person by the top.

However, members of the Bangladeshi diaspora told the Asian Age they were relieved to hear the news of the major shake-up, but insisted there must be a strong mission chief who would work without fear and favour. "The local staff in the mission also need a change to ensure a proper atmosphere and professional service," Mazharul Islam told this correspondent by telephone yesterday.

The first major change was made soon after the incident of dishonoring Bangabandhu's photo in February this year and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina vented her displeasure during her visit there soon after. Following an Asian Age report, "Diplomat sipped tea as BNP dishonored Bangabandhu," deputy high commissioner Khandker M. Talha was withdrawn, the first such case in recent memory for the foreign ministry.

Two other junior officers from the information and postal cadres have been recently asked to return home following newspaper reports and complaints against them from the diaspora linked graft and misbehaviour.

They are Shireen Akhter and Mohammad Monirul Islam Kabir, who sources in London alleged were trying to cancel or delay their orders to return home despite the fact that Kabir has overstayed by a year and Shireen has been in London for a record seven years. A third officer, A F M Fazle Rabbi, in the consular wing is being investigated for allegedly being rude with a British-Bangladeshi journalist.

M. Zulqar Nain, known as a quiet and polite man, is taking over as the deputy high commissioner in London. He is currently posted in Birmingham as the assistant high commissioner.

Meanwhile, Ashikun Nabi Chowdhury, chief reporter of the national news agency BSS, is all set to join the mission as its new Minister (Press). He was sacked from BSS during the BNP-Jamaat rule between 2001 and 2006. The post remained empty since October, 2017.

Those monitoring the affairs of the ministry strongly feel the Bangladesh missions in Lebanon, Switzerland, China, Morocco and Vietnam must also get a similar shake-up immediately much ahead of the December polls and installation of the interim government which will oversee the voting.

The pro-liberation officers who uphold the spirit of our great Liberation War should be given important positions as there have been allegations that they have been sidelined by turncoats or elements who are known to be pro-Pakistanis, informed sources said. 

They also said diplomats posted in London must be allowed to work in harmony along with those posted from other ministries and also be supported by the diaspora who should extend their support to them in carrying out of their responsibilities. ***



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