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Rejoinder to Honorable Prime Ministers’ Comments on Professor Muhammad Yunus

Rejoinder to Honorable Prime Ministers’ Comments on Professor Muhammad Yunus

hasina-yunusSeveral newspapers have reported that Honorable Prime Minister made some comments about Nobel Peace Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus on July 11, 2013 during a high level meeting at Ganabhaban with the leadership of her Party, Members of Parliament, and  Ministers. Honorable Prime Minister raised a number of complaints about Professor Muhammad Yunus. The complaints are completely false.

The people of the country have been shocked by the comments of Honorable Prime Minister. We had hoped that the Prime Minister would have disowned the reports in the newspapers, and say that she did not say anything of this kind. But five days have passed, and she has not disowned these reports.  We are therefore compelled to give our rejoinder.

There are important implications of Honorable Prime Minister’s comments for the country and personally for Professor Yunus which create wrong impressions about him in the minds of  people. We are protesting these comments for this reason.

Please find below responses to the Prime Minister’s Allegations from Yunus Centre:

1. Honorable Prime Minister: Professor Yunus is a selfish person, who can do anything for his own sake.

Our Response:  Professor Yunus has worked his entire life for the poor people. He has never worked for his own sake.  He does not personally own any business or enterprise. He does not own a single share of any company.  Professor Yunus has been involved in creating a movement to spread the idea of social business to bring change to the profit-centered world. Does the  Prime Minister of the country that he belongs to suggest that he is a selfish person ? How can Professor Yunusbe called selfish, when the main idea of social business is “selflessness”. Would Honorable Prime Minister give just one example of Professor Yunus’ selfishness? Has he become owner of Grameen Bank? Has he made himself owner of any of the companies that he created? Has he become a rich man by receiving bribes from the more than 100,000 young boys and girls who have been hired in the companies he created? Is he being called selfish for not giving any chunk of shares to anyone from the businesses he created to enable them to make a personal fortune?

2. Honorable Prime Minister: Telenor lobbied for Professor Yunus and has given a huge sum of money to the Clinton Foundation so that they can get him the Nobel Prize.

Our response: Since Honorable Prime Minister has not protested the news published in the newspapers, so we have to take her comments seriously. These comments are damaging for the country. There should be enough evidence to prove these comments, otherwise it will create serious negative impact on our relations with two friendly countries. Through these comments, complaints of serious corruption have been brought by the Prime Minister of Bangladesh against three world known institutions. No one will take this lightly. These three institutions are :

Clinton Foundation,was created by President Clinton, and which he manages himself. His wife Hillary Clinton is also actively involved with this institution.  It is speculated that that she will run for office in the next US Presidential elections. It will not be possible for her to compete in these elections, if it is proved that her institution is involved with corruption. If this cannot be proved, the allegation against these individuals will create a lot of negative reaction towards Bangladesh among their followers.

The second institution is Telenor: This is an institution owned and run  by the Norwegian Government. This allegation of corruption is therefore made against the Norwegian Government.  Norway is our development partner. We have to carefully assess what evidence we have in our hands before bringing such an allegation against them. Otherwise, it will be seen as a negative stance against a friendly country.

The third institution is the Norwegian Nobel Peace Prize Committee: If it can be proved with adequate evidence that the Nobel Peace Prize can be “purchased” through lobbying,  the prize will lose all its credibility in the future.  If the allegation cannot be proved,  it will create a distance in relations between Bangladesh and the Government and people of Norway especially since the Norwegian people take great national pride about the Nobel Peace Prize. Bringing allegations without proof will hurt their feelings very deeply.

3) Honorable Prime Minister:Grameen Bank was formed for lending money to the poor. But this bank diverted funds to Grameen Shakti and other similar personal institutions, which it was not supposed to do.

Our response:  Grameen Bank used the money given by the donor organizations, in compliance with the conditions that they set, and in accordance with Grameen Bank rules and regulations, and always with the approval of Grameen Bank’s Board of Directors.  Professor Yunus did not divert or remove any money to any of his personal institutions. He does not have any personal institutions so there should be no question of diverting the money to personal institutions.

4) Honorable Prime Minister:Professor Yunus even set up Yunus Centre with GrameenBank’s  money, and his brothers and relatives made money from the bank’s associated institutions.

Our response: This allegation is completely false. Grameen Bank has never given any money to Yunus Centre.It is totally unimaginablethat the respected Prime Minister of a country would make a false statement about a respected citizen of that  country. If she cannot prove her comments, then the most respectablething to do would be to withdraw those comments.

Yunus Centre runs entirely on Professor Yunus’s own earnings. He donates to Yunus Centre from his own money. The costs of running  Yunus Centre can be covered through a small part of the money Professor Yunus earns by making speeches each year at different conferences. Every year he makes many speeches and receives a very large amount as honorarium for each speech. The amount he receives from one or two speeches is enough to cover all costs related to running Yunus Centre each year.

Yunus Centre office is located in the Grameen Bank building.  The board of Grameen Bank created a trust named Grameen Nobel Laureate Trust. The Bank leased one of its floors to this Trust for 25 years at no cost. This Trust in turn has leased this floor to Yunus Centre for a nominal amount.  

Professor Yunus has already talked about his brothers before. Two of his brothers live in Dhaka. They are Professor Muhammad Ibrahim and Mr Muhammad Jahangir. Muhammad Jahangir has no connection with any of the Grameen-named companies. Professor Ibrahim is a member of the board of directors of  4 not-for-profit Grameen-named companies, by virtue of his knowledge and experience. Board members of such companies cannot receive any financial benefits; they only participate in the board meetings.

None of Professor Yunus’ other brothers are involved in any way with the Grameen-named institutions. No other relative of Professor Yunus is connected in anyway with institutions carrying the Grameen name. Honorable Prime Minister made false allegations in this respect.

5) Honorable Prime Minister: A powerful country has been backing  ProfessorYunus. The day is not far away when the people of that country will learn all about him and ask their government to withdraw its support for him. When that country turns him away, what will happen to him?

Our response: Professor Yunus does not work on the basis of the support of one or more countries. He does what he thinks is best for the poor people.People in this country love him deeply for the work that he does, people of other countries  love him in the same deep way for the work he does all over the world.

This Government has tried in many ways to make people believe fabricated stories about Professor Yunus, even to the extent of using its Foreign Ministry and its website to circulate false allegations about Professor Yunus  "corruption" and for "ignoring the law of the land". It has succeeded neither in making the people of this country nor the people of other countries believe these stories about Professor Yunus.  The government is spending resources and efforts to prove a citizen of its country as an impostor. But in effect, it is proving itself ridiculous before the world. Instead of bringing respect for Bangladesh, it activities against Professor Yunus are pushing the country away from its position of respect in the world to one of ridicule.

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