Bangabandhu was far ahead of his time: Ban Ki-moon

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Published on March 16, 2021
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Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was a “rare” leader and was also “far ahead of his time” as a champion of human rights, social and economic equality and environment, Former Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon said on Monday.

He was recollecting his memory as he was a young South Korean diplomat in-charge of Bangladesh desk after the 1971 liberation war, and was actively engaged in drafting documents to establish diplomatic ties with new Bangladesh.

The foreign ministry connected him virtually at the fourth episode of the ongoing lecture series of Bangabandhu marking the birth centenary of the Father of the Nation.

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam and South Korean Ambassador in Dhaka Lee Jang-keun also spoke at the event.

“I still can remember the signing ceremony of the two countries' bilateral relations,” Ban Ki-moon said, referring to the Dec 1973 event when he was posted in New Delhi with the concurrent duty to Bangladesh as a junior diplomat.

“My very own fountain pen was used to sign the document,” he said, adding that he kept that as a “very personal souvenir” of him.

“I also long admired the guiding leadership and eternal legacy of Bangabandhu,” he said, “Bangabandhu will always be remembered as the father of modern Bangladesh.”

“This is clearly evident to me when I was a young diplomat in the 1970s. Indeed, Bangabandhu was a further-thinking man and a rare leader who had a far-reaching vision to help ensure a bright future for the young nation of Bangladesh.

“As a champion of human rights, social and economic equality and environment, he was also far ahead of his time,” he said, adding that Bangabandhu was “central” in empowering Bangladeshi people to fight for their linguistic and cultural rights as well as their yearning for freedom and self-rule.

“Bangabandhu’s influence and legacy extended far beyond the border of Bangladesh helping to inspire other anti-colonial and independent movements,” he said.

“He was also early proponents and practitioners of inclusive diplomats,” said the former UN chief, adding that his post-war recovery plan helped millions of millions of people come out of poverty.

Based on his vision, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is working and Bangladesh has emerged as one of the fast moving countries among the developing countries, he said.

South Korean Ambassador Lee Jang-keun in his speech said Ban Ki-moon played a “very crucial” role in the course of establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries in early 1970s.

“He drafted many documents and reports on the turbulent situation in Bangladesh at that time.”

The two countries formally established diplomatic relations on 18 December 1973.

“Now after fifty years, Ban Ki-moon is still serving as a crucial linkage between Korea and Bangladesh as we are all witnessing today,” the ambassador said.

“As a country that shares a history of achieving independence through tireless fights and efforts of our forefathers, we wholeheartedly join this celebration,” he said referring to the Mujib Barsha and golden jubilee celebrations of the country.

“Korea is very happy and proud to have been close friend and partner with Bangladesh during the past five decades. Now, as Bangladesh is taking a bold step towards the next centenary inspired by the legacy of Bangabandhu, Korea will continue to support Bangladesh in its journey for realising Bangabandhu’s dream and vision for an independent, prosperous and democratic Bangladesh. Korea will stand firmly with Bangladesh throughout the journey.”