Country doesn’t need only development, but also ‘accountability, rule of law’: David Cameron

MAMOSA Report — Former prime minister of the United Kingdom David Cameron on Thursday said having benefits of democracy without giving a damn to accountability and rule of law is the autocratic way of doing things.

Bangladesh’s growth has been over 6.5 per cent for the past years, a “shining example of progress but it has challenges ahead,” pointed out Cameron at a discussion forum in capital Dhaka.

“There is an argument going on that you can make short-cuts… You can have all the benefits of democracy, have elections every few years, but give up all difficult things, and don’t worry about accountability, don’t worry about rule of law… but those are the building blocks of a democracy… have the democracy, but have autocratic way of doing things,” the British politician highlighted, while addressing a select group of audience at a hotel in the capital.

Political leaders, civil society members, business leaders, university teachers and journalists who attended the ‘Global Challenges in 2017’ program asked few questions which the former Prime Minister (who quit on Brexit), candidly responded with frank observations, reported Prothom Alo.

In his speech, he went on to say, “The country does not need only development, but also need high quality democracy. Some people argue this is the way yo get things done. But this is completely wrong. It’s the quality of democracy. Not just the election, but the rule of law, human rights, civil rights, and access to justice… these are the things that make countries strong.”

“Absence of those leads to bad governance, he added. “It is also bad for business. We have this debate all over the world. All over the world we are facing this challenge… and we should discuss it, debate it openly here in Bangladesh,” Cameron said.

Terming corruption the second biggest challenge, the former UK PM said no country is immune to this malice.

“We need to make sure that politicians all over the world serve the nation and the people, not for themselves. The idea of having little bit of corruption is wrong. It is a cancer that can destroy faith on our politics,” said the British politician.

Cameron, who quit as prime minister in 2016 after the country voted to leave the European Union bringing an abrupt end to his six-year premiership, termed fighting extremism the third biggest challenge.

“The challenge we must face together is Islamic extremists that threaten all our countries. We have to defeat terrorism. Some people endorse not only the violence, but they also endorse that we cannot live together, work together, and succeed together.

“This is not only a military struggle. It is not just a struggle against terrorists. It is actually an ideological struggle that is affecting the religion of Islam, which is actually a religion of peace.

“It is not to say that it’s a clash of civilizations, but a clash within civilization. We need to take the side of the moderate majority and fight, and defeat terrorism. It is a fight where some people are trying to drive.

“We have to have security. We need to have intels and military, but the biggest struggle is to win people over, with a vision of what free, open, tolerant and democratic society can deliver.

“This is the whole thing… People having a voice and having a future believe in [that] I can achieve. It is an ideological struggle that we are engaged in. I believe we can win.

“Your country Bangladesh and my country Britain, have demonstrated that if we combine open economies, open society, and democratic politics, we can create a society where people want to live,” said Cameron.

In response to a question from the audience, Cameron said, “In the name of terrorism, we should not give up rule of law, democracy and human rights.

“I am not saying that you cannot make changes in law. We did change our laws to make it easier to confront terrorism, but when we did that we were cautious that people have access to justice. These are most precious rights. We must recognize that,” the former British Prime Minister added.

Cameron, who is on a personal visit to Dhaka, also met with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her official residence on Thursday.

The British politician offered training for Bangladeshi workers on managerial skills, design and entrepreneurship.

Appreciating Bangladesh’s success in socioeconomic development under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s leadership, Cameron said: “Bangladesh is nearing the achievement of a middle-income country status.”

Hasina said Bangladesh is giving emphasis on strengthening connectivity with neighboring countries and mentioned the China-backed BBIN and BCIM-EC initiatives in this regard.

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