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Migrant workers crisis: Zafrullah advises PM to go to Saudi Arabia

  • Published at 07:57 pm October 6th, 2020
Gonoshasthaya Kendra founder Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury
Gonoshasthaya Kendra founder Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury Dhaka Tribune

He proposed this in speaking of the ongoing migrant workers crisis at Gonoshasthaya Nagar Hospital in Dhaka on Tuesday

Gonoshasthaya Kendra founder Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury advised Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to travel to Saudi Arabia to secure the jobs and dignity of migrant workers and to clear the way for them to return to work.

He proposed this, speaking about the ongoing migrant workers crisis at Gonoshasthaya Nagar Hospital in Dhaka on Tuesday.

Zafrullah said: “The country's ongoing development projects, implementation of the government's road map, and various mega projects, wouldn’t have been possible without the money sent by migrant workers. Migrants are the architects of Bangladesh, and they are the key to all of these developments." 

“Migrant workers who returned to Bangladesh need to be able to return to the respective countries they work in, and they need tickets. I feel sad when I see the police attacking those who are seeking tickets. It is her [The PM's] duty to manage hotels and accommodation for those who came to Dhaka from different parts of the country for air tickets,” he added.  

“Our prime minister should go to Saudi Arabia instead of sitting in her house. She is the only female Muslim leader of the Muslim world. She should meet with the Saudi king,” he said.

Zafrullah also suggested the prime minister take with her, a Hafez who can speak Arabic, and an Islamic scholar who will be able to make the Saudi king understand the current situation of migrant workers during her visit.

“Around 2,200,000 to 2,800,000 Bangladeshis work in Saudi Arabia. There are as many as 15 million family members in the households of these migrants. Their livelihoods depend on the wellbeing of those working abroad,” he said.

Indicating Bangladesh's support for the Saudi-led military alliance, Zafrullah said: “We have to, politely, make the Saudi king understand that these 15 million people are working for him.”

“During the Rohingya influx, I told you [PM] to go to China to come up with a solution to the Rohingya issue, as we need China by our side. 

"Now I am telling you to go to Saudi Arabia. Conversations over the telephone are less effective than face to face meetings,” Dr Zafrullah said, adding: "The Saudi king will respect you [PM] to maintain ties as you [PM] are the sole female leader of the Muslim world. The solution [to the migrant issue] will come within a week if you go to Saudi Arabia."

'Good advice is tough for you to get'

Dr Zafrullah said: “It is tough for you [PM] to get any good advice as you are not surrounded by politicians but intelligence officials, by people of India's Research and Analysis Wing [RAW], and bureaucrats.

“The government has many flaws. Do you [journalists] see Amir Hossain Amu, Tofail Ahmed, and Matia Chowdhury, with the prime minister? You see all those are bureaucrats around her,” he added.

“Bureaucrats only tell you [PM] what you like to hear. Bureaucrats want to become senior secretaries. Later they want to be the chairmen of different commissions. The goal of bureaucrats is to satisfy the prime minister, not the country,” he said. 

“Be enlightened, come out from the darkness,” he said to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. 

Talking about the foreign ministry and foreign policy, Dr Zafrullah said: “Officials like to sit in air conditioned rooms, suited and booted. They have to go to the desert. 

“Tell the officials of the embassy to learn good behavior. Tell them to keep their services open round the clock.”