Risingbd Desk: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today urged the media to discard a negative frame of mind in general about the government and expected journalists to portray positively whatever is done for the country's betterment.
"There is a misconception that the media would not sustain unless it take a negative stance against the government but (but) we have to come out of that 'mental sickness'," she said opening the biennial council of newsmen's apex Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ).
Sheikh Hasina added: "We don't want your favour but the media must focus on the truth (and) if anything we have done for the country, it should be published properly, not in the interest of myself or our party, but in the interest of the country."
Speaking at the function on the Jatiya Press Club premises the premier said a fortnightly government review of newspaper and electronic media reports suggested that those mostly contained negative news as far as the government or the ruling party was concerned.
"The media should always play a role to brighten the country's image . . . let people know about the government programmes for peoples welfare and build public confidence to take forward the country," she said.
Sheikh Hasina, who is also the Awami League's president, regretted that since she was entrusted with the Awami League's stewardship 37 years ago she never got much cooperation from the press.
"Other than few exceptions I had to proceed amidst adversity and negative criticism from media . . . but it did not cause my headache as I knew what I'm doing," she said.
Sheikh Hasina added that she "firmly believe if I remain on the path of truth and honesty it will certainly yield good results".
Sheikh Hasina said a section of newspapers even did not want to publish the atrocities of BNP-Jammat after 2001 election when Awami League workers and religious minorities were exposed to unrestrained torture and intimidation.
She, however, thanked the journalists who stood beside her and gathered courage to make public the situation at that time.
The premier was particularly critical of two newspapers, which she preferred not to name, for imprudent journalism and said the Gonobhaban does not subscribe the papers.
"These (particular) newspapers carry no value to me as my works will demonstrate what I'm doing for the people," she said.
The premier expressed her hope that the people could realize perfectly the differences between the Awami League and other regimes taking into account the performance of her governments during 1996-2001 and 2001-2006 tenures.
Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu, PM's media affairs advisor Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury, State Minister for Information Tarana Halim joined the function as special guests while BFUJ president Monjurul Ahsan Bubul was in the chair. BFUJ Secretary General Omar Faruque conducted the opening session when presidents of ten district units of the federation also spoke while their general secretaries jointly presented a crest to the premier.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh was no more a nation of beggars as her government always emphasised on development of the people at grassroots that reached the per capita income to US$ 1,752 and economic growth rate to 7.65 percent.
She urged journalists to focus at least on the development of the people and the projects implemented for their welfare.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh must not remain dependent on others and as a victorious nation "it will live in amongst world comity keeping its head high".
Quoting from the speech of Bangabandhu, which he delivered at the first AGM of Dhaka Union of Journalists on July 16, 1972, the prime minister said democracy and journalism have their distinctive policy.
"(And) many problems can be solved if we work keeping the policies in mind," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had taken steps to ensure the freedom of journalists within six months of independence which they never enjoyed before.
"Journalists are enjoying the same freedom as Awami League is in power . . . the media people should recall the suffocating situation during the regime of parties other than the Awami League," as her government pursued a policy of non-interference on media.
She said many journalists were killed and tortured in the past while the incumbent government would not allow repetition of those incidents.
She said Bangladesh must sustain its success as a role model of development being imbued with its Liberation War spirit as her government spearheaded its development campaign with specific short, medium and long term plans and "never work on ad-hoc basis".
The premier said after successful implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) the government now focused on the SDG targets with a firm resolve to build Bangladesh as a developed nation by 2041.
She said the government was now formulating the development plan for 2021- 2041 by now preparing its first draft.
Sheikh Hasina sought enhanced journalists stake in formulating and implementing the government's development programmes alongside their dissemination.
The prime minister said she stepped into country's politics on this day in 37 years ago to change the fate of the distressed people of the country. "Overwhelming peoples support coupled with untiring assistance of a section of media enabled me to bring the country to the present stage," she said.
About the demands of journalists including the new wage board for the Prime Minister said many demands were fulfilled before those were even raised and "so far I am in the office, I would do it" adding that she already asked the information minister to declare the dearness allowance for journalist under the ninth wage.
Sheikh Hasina said the Awami League government opened the electronic media to the private sector aimed at creating job opportunities for youths providing license to 44 private TV channels and out of them 35 were now in operation.
Simultaneously, she said, the government gave accreditation to over 700 newspapers in the last seven years as it wanted to create more employment opportunities in the mass media.
She said her government has enacted Right to Information Act which is playing a great role in ensure press freedom in the country.
Sheikh Hasina brushed aside claims of a section of people that the media lacked freedom in the country saying the Bangladesh media never enjoyed such liberty ever before what they were enjoying now.
Clarifying her government stand to enact the Digital Security Act and a policy for online media the premier said such legislation was crucial for press freedom alongside security of families, children and common people.
"The Digital Security Act is not a threat to objective journalism," she said adding that no media was harassed during the regime of Awami League."
On the other hand, the premier said, her government for the first time in the country framed a policy for extending journalists financial assistance, allowances and grants.
She said with a lump sum government seed money Bangladesh Journalists Welfare Trust was constituted under her initiative while "we hoped media owners to contribute but only few of them came up with their assistance to the fund".
The premier reiterated her call to media owners to make their contribution to the trust fund to provide financial supports to newsmen during their needs.
Sheikh Hasina said the draft of the Mass media Workers Services Condition Act was prepared and expected to be passed soon in parliament.
She said her government took into account the journalists accommodation issue and as a single professional group they got highest number of residential plots and now arrangements were made so the newsmen and artistes could buy flats on higher purchase basis.
The premier said her government constituted the Wage Board for an enhanced pay structure for journalists its award would be announced despite owners' intention to delay it.
Sheikh Hasina said works were underway to frame a Broadcasting Commission Act under the Broadcasting Policy-2014 to bring the electronic media under a legal framework.
She said Bangladesh launched its first geostationary communication satellite- Bangabandhu Satellite-I expecting it to benefit most the journalists.
risingbd/Dhaka/May 17, 2018/Saif/AI