Shadow parliament : Learning for the real parliamentarians
Here, Sir/Madam MP, take this DVD and see it with your wife/husband tonight, as you relax before the television. The contents might just entertain you!' With these words, the TIB volunteer left a CD with 10 of the prominent parliamentarians of the country. Five of the CD's were stacked away as rubbish for it did not contain names of any well-known movie or film actors-actresses. Of the remaining five, two left it near the computer to be viewed at some later time, while three decided to view it out of pure inquisitiveness. Fortunately, these MPs and their spouse were few of those who did not have anything else to do that night.
So they took a can of popcorn and switched on the television. The first scene reminded them of their own youth, when life was colorful and bright. The kaleidoscopic scene showed a clear bright morning in late November, where young volunteers were setting up the stage for the Anti-Corruption Shadow Parliamentary Debate Competition, to venerate the International Anti-Corruption Day2006. By now some of you must be wondering what would the MPs gain in viewing this event's footage. They will not only gain but in fact learn a lot about how a parliamentary session can successfully proceed with logical reasoning.
The event was exhibited in a large blue and white banner that stretched across the background of the stage. The next scene took the onlookers to the heart of the two-day long program. The debate competition opened with a brief introduction to the background of the event. The overall video footage portrayed the lively, vivacious and interactive session consisting of the speeches rendered by many of the young, talented debaters of our country.
A staggering number of 184 students from across the country had expressed their interest to participate in the event. These students had come from different universities and colleges of the country including Dhaka University (DU), East West University (EWU), North South University (NSU), Jahangirnagar University (JU), Rajshahi University (RU), Viqarunnisa Noon College (VNC), and Stamford University.
The opening ceremony was displayed at the EWU Auditorium. The events of the first day were jointly hosted by EWU and NSU on 29 November 2006. The first round of barowari (public speaking) debate competition was held at both the hosting universities. The debaters were divided into 5 groups. Groups 1, 3, 5 continued their session at EWU while groups 2 and 4 were taken to NSU for the first round.
Thirty participants were selected from the first round (6 from each group), all of whom had to participate in the Shadow Parliamentary Debate Competition to be held the following day. After the first round, the best debaters were also selected to fill-in the positions of the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition of the following day's debate. The closing ceremony of the first day's event was also held at EWU.
Brac Centre Inn was the venue of the next day's session. The debaters made it even more lively and energetic session. The Speaker, Professor Asif Nazrul, chaired the parliament. Each of the 30 parliamentarians got the floor to speak for or against the proposed bill.
Floor crossing is permitted in the real parliaments of any nation, but we rarely see any party members of our country going against their leaders' point of view on a particular proposition.
The uniqueness of this mock parliament was that floor crossing was allowed. A number of parliamentarians expressed their own views and perspectives. This reiterated the fact that democracy is not affected in anyway when such floor crossing takes place in a parliament.
The best 10 debaters were selected for the final round parliamentary debate. The 6 member-Government side consisted of Kazi Teuni Binte Zinnat and Moshfeka Karim of VNC, Taposh Bondhu Das, Manzur-al-Matin and Md. Ziaul Haque Sheikh of DU, and Muksimul Ahsan of JU. The Opposition consisted of Tahmida Khanam of DU, Shaorojit Boral of NSU, Md. Shawkat Hossain of RU, and Abdullah-al-Rezwan of Stamford University. Kazi Teuni Binte Zinnat spoke as the Leader of the House and Prime Minister, while Tahmida Khanam spoke as the Leader of the Opposition. The proposed bill was Establishment of Good Governance and Prevention of Corruption are the main Responsibilities of the National Parliament.
Some mock international delegates were also present to inspect the performance of the Parliament. These delegates actually consisted of various members of the civil society.
Finally the judges were ready with the results and Moshfeka Karim of VNC, was announced the best debater, while Manzur-al-Matin of DU and Kazi Teuni Binte Zinnat of VNC were announced the first and second runners-up respectively.
The panel of guests during the prize giving ceremony consisted of Prof. Muzaffer Ahmad, Trustee Board Chairman, TIB; Prof. Dr. Asif Nazrul, Department of Law, DU; Dr. Arifa Rahman, Dean, Department of Liberal Arts and Social Science, EWU; and Dr. Iftekharuzzaman, Executive Director, TIB.
But hang on, this story just cannot end without due acknowledgement to the members of the Program Management Committee (PMC) from EWU, NSU, Dhaka University Debating Society (DUDS) and Rokeya Bitarka Angan of DU. The media partners of the occasion were The Daily Star, Prothom Alo and Banglavision.
I myself had the opportunity to play a very minor part in the program as a volunteer. I really loved working with everyone involved, especially the people from TIB with their friendly and cooperative attitude. The PMC members of EWU, under the tutelage of the moderator of EWU Debating Club Manzur Alam, gave an indefatigable and tireless effort to make this program a success. The PMC members from EWU were Mehnaz Islam Ferdousi, Salman Hossain, Shara Khan, Zahidul Naim Zakaria and Mahbub Manik. Their roles were more prominent during the first day's schedule held at EWU Auditorium. With their chalked out work-plan they worked diligently.
Now, you must be wondering why I started with trying to hand over the video footage of the debate session to the real MPs of our country. During the closing ceremony the judges commented that the real parliament members might be able to learn from this debate. It was their idea that this activity of sharing the proceedings of the mock parliament with the real parliamentarians may be helpful.
2nd semester student
Department of Pharmacy
East West University, Dhaka