Misuse of labour, anti-graft laws could dissuade FDI: Miller on Dr Yunus

US State Department spokesperson Matthew MillerAFP file photo

The issue of trial at a Dhaka court in a case filed against Nobel laureate economist Dr Muhammad Yunus on charges of money laundering was raised in the daily briefing at the State Department of the US Tuesday.

State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller briefed the media about this in Washington.

Miller said, “The perceived misuse of labour and anti-corruption laws could raise questions about rule of law and dissuade foreign direct investment.”

Nobel laureate Dr Muhammad Yunus had to appear before a Dhaka court on Sunday. At that time, he had to stand inside an iron cage that was being used for the accused. He described the incident as “the pinnacle of his cursed life”.

A journalist asked Miller, Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus on Sunday entered the dark and iron cage-like enclosure of the accused inside the courtroom and said he was at the worst point of his cursed life.

Similarly, millions of Bangladeshis are on – at the worst point of their cursed lives due to the absence of democracy, rule of law – and massive corruption.

We have seen you impose some sanctions and visa restrictions (on the) immediate past-army chief and police chief. Do you think this is enough to hold the regime accountable after the sham election held on 7 January last, or will you consider more actions to show solidarity with the democracy-loving people of Bangladesh, as you promised before?

The State Department spokesperson said, “So we continue to closely monitor developments in the case against Dr. Yunus. We have expressed our concern that these cases may represent a misuse of Bangladesh’s labour laws to harass and intimidate Dr. Yunus.”

In a note of warning, Matthew Miller said, “We also worry that the perceived misuse of labour and anti-corruption laws could raise questions about rule of law and dissuade foreign direct investment.”

He further said, “We will continue to encourage the Bangladeshi Government to ensure a fair and transparent legal process for Dr. Yunus as the appeals process continues, but I don’t have any actions to preview.”

Another newsperson drew Miller’s attention to an allegation Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina recently raised.

He said, “Bangladesh ruling Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina recently claimed a white man offered her that she can stay in power without any pressure if she allows a foreign country to establish an airbase. She also mentioned that there is a conspiracy to turn Bangladesh into another East Timor and make a Christian country taking a part of Bangladesh and Myanmar, forming a base in the Bay of Bengal. Is Sheikh Hasina shooting too many arrows towards the US as you are asking for free, fair, and credible elections and rule of law and anti-corruption?”

Miller answered, “I’m not exactly sure who those comments refer to, but if it is in fact the United States, I’ll just say that they’re not accurate.”