Grassroot workers risking their lives to send help to people: Speakers at Beyond the Pandemic’s 4th episode

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Published on June 3, 2020
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Speakers of the latest episode of Beyond The Pandemic agrees that while fighting this COVID-19 crisis, distressed and low-income people are getting help as the grass root workers of Bangladesh Awami League are risking their lives.

Bangladesh Awami League’s special webinar titled Beyond the Pandemic was broadcasted live on 2nd June which is the fourth episode since 15th May. Hosted as usual by HPM’s Special Assistant Barrister Shah Ali Farhad, speakers of the latest episode were Awami League’s Joint General Secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif MP, Organizing Secretary S M Kamal Hossain, State Minister of Foreign Affairs Md. Shahriar Alam MP, Dr. Syeda Zakia Nur Lipi, and Bangladesh Federal Journalist Union’s Vice President Syed Ishtiaq Reza. This episode’s discussion point was ‘Role of Public Representatives during COVID-19 Crisis’.

Mahbubul Alam Hanif MP said, "Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been proactive since the breakout of COVID-19 in Bangladesh as she announced several directives for public representatives, doctors and countrymen. These directives were the result of numerous discussions with policy-making bodies of the government. To contain the spreading of the virus she announced a general holiday across the country and provided food and monetary assistance to more than 60 million people. Her party men also joined hand in this endeavour as many of the public representatives and leaders initiated self-funded relief program in their localities".

Answering to a question on how Awami League is dealing with the local representatives who are found to be involved in relief embezzlement, party’s Organizing Secretary S M Kamal Hossain said, among 61579 elected public representatives only 71 were found embezzling with allocated relief supplies which makes only 0.13 percent. Despite the very small percentage, Awami Leagues did not let the issue slide and took actions from the government and the party as well.

Journalist Ishtiaq Reza said, "Mass media has two major purposes to serve during this crisis. First one is to deliver true and right messages and the second is to find out the accurate information from the pile of rumours. He also said, the reactions of negative news sometimes trumps the positivity of an action which the local representatives should keep in mind".

State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md. Shahriar Alam said, "Many of the public representatives has been distributing relief with their own funds. The rumours surrounding the relief embezzlements could have hampered the initiative. The MPs, Upazilla Chairmans even grassroots leaders who have stepped forward during this crisis to help people selflessly could lose the inspiration". He said, "The grassroot workers are risking their lives when they are distributing relief among thousands of people almost every day. They have helped to realize Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina directives to stand beside people in this crisis".

Dr. Syeda Zakia Nur Lipi MP said, “Many recipients have said to us that they have never seen any relief drive so organized what they are seeing now”. She also said, “Prime Minister is strengthening the health sector to fight this crisis. Government has appointed 2000 doctors in fastest time ever. 5054 nurses have also been appointed and 2000 more doctor will be appointed. Also, a process to employ 12 thousand medical technicians has been finalized”. Bangladesh is the only country to do so, she added.