Maswood Alam Khan from Maryland, USA
A high-level committee has already been formed to probe into why the stocks did crash so heavily and also to find out who were the negligent and who the real culprits were. The committee will submit its report within two months. Then what? Will the report be published in the media? Will there be a suggestion in the report on what should be done to avoid recurrence of such a tragedy? Will the report be only an account full of verbosities and short of substances as most of such reports were in the past? Will the chairman of the committee Khandker Ibrahim Khaled, widely known as a man of character and integrity, ultimately be able to show his mettle defying all the pressures from all the quarters?
Let us assume the committee report rightly identified the causes and the culprits. Then what? Will the losers regain their money lost? Will the grabbers regurgitate all the money they snatched from the market and already swallowed? Will the unemployed who knitted a cocoon of dreams for a source of earning and entered the share market only to make two ends meet, not necessarily out of insatiable greed, ever redeem their dreams that got evaporated into smoke? The answers based on past sour experiences may verily be negative.
There were, there are and there will always be market manipulators in every market and in every country in the world who know how to hoodwink the gullible investors into chasing a mirage. These manipulators are big boys. They always reign supreme in both commerce and politics. Nobody dares even having an eye contact with them from a safe distance, let alone touching them in close proximity.
Everybody knows there were some vested quarters who hiding themselves behind smokescreens did destabilize our share market and trapped the small investors in an artificially overheated bazaar. The tools like inflating the IPO price, book building etc., that the manipulators used are also known to all of us. The committee may also identify those nasty games of the syndicated few.
But it would be difficult to catch those culprits by their collars as there are laws with pores big enough for them to escape through. These big boys have long and muscled hands to reach the unreachable and to do the undoable. In a country where adulterators of medicines and baby foods go unscathed, where criminals charged with smoking gun evidence are set free, manipulators in the stock market should not find it an uphill job to get off scot-free because they are powerful, because they know how to kill the signs of evidence.
Still, we must appreciate the timely steps taken by the finance ministry at least to assure the public that the government will try their best to bring the culprits into book. A little such assurance may serve at least as an anesthesia for the sufferers to forget their pains for a while.
It is, however, imprudent to assume that the finance minister was responsible for this crisis and it is preposterous for one to demand his resignation.
We should rather appreciate the frank gesture of Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith in admitting that he, along with the share market regulator, had made some mistakes in handling the market. Mr. Muhith did not make a blunder by delivering such a statement. His candid admission does not mean that he did confess a crime. Even if his candid admission is construed as a confession of committing a blunder, does such a confession make him liable for all the plights the shareholders have now been suffering? Absolutely not!
We have a tendency always to interpret a saying in its negative perspective and an incident in its darkest colour. We enjoy viewing only the black shade of a ‘black & white’ photograph and making a cartoon of it without presenting the photograph itself and the readers and viewers also dance looking at the cartoon without having to dig dip into the true story.
I remember two news reports and the tumultuous reactions about two statements made by two former ministers: one was the finance minister and the other was the home minister. The former finance minister, an excellent personality of character, integrity and wisdom, said: “People should take vegetables like cauliflowers, cabbages etc., instead of taking too much carbohydrate like rice”. And the former home minister on hearing the death of a child in a shooting said: “Allah has taken the baby away; it was His wish!” Did the finance minister mean that the government would not do anything about escalating price of rice? Did the home minister mean that no action would be taken against the criminal who did kill the baby?
As to Finance Minister Mr. Muhith’s admission of his and his colleagues’ mistakes, we should evaluate the spirit of his saying so. The finance minister by saying that it was his mistake rather showed his magnanimity of shouldering an avoidable responsibility. He did never advise the people to invest all their savings to plunk down in the share market without self-judgment, did he? Neither did he ask his subordinates to do something that would trigger the unthinkable volatility of the market. He is a policy-maker. And we have to see whether sitting in his chair he could foresee the outcome of a decision he took that created the crisis.
The present finance minister is an elderly personality and he has a nice style of delivering his speech that influences the audience. So was the former finance minister, who suggested us to take cauliflowers profusely, who had an avuncular style while he would deliver a speech or speak to journalists. The former home minister who termed the death of a child as the wish of the Providence was also elegiac in his style. We should learn how to honour these elderly people who serve the nation at their twilight years. We must empathize with their situations, their age, their predicaments while criticizing any of their behavioral aspects or any of their gaffes.
Yes, now that it has been proven that our people are basically hyperemotional and smells of quick money make our mouths water the policy-makers may now sit and think about enforcing some strictures like imposing the limit of money one, given his or her background and financial capacity, can invest in shares just as a welfare measure though such governing stricture does not go with the spirit of the free market. But to leash back the emotional investors what else the government could do? We should not hesitate to take some stern measures that may even be an infringement of people’s financial liberty. What, however, is most needed is creating employment opportunities for the youths who finding no other alternatives did risk their money, mostly borrowed from their guardians, in the volatility of the share market.
The writer can be reached at e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org