Sunday, March 04, 2012

Yunus regrets offer to be nominated as World Bank chief

President Obama confer prestigious award to Prof. Muhammad Yunus in 2010
SALEEM SAMAD

NOBEL LAUREATE Professor Muhammad Yunus on Friday quietly turned down the nomination offer for the position of World Bank chief, after Bangladesh prime minister requested European Parliament delegation to nominate micro-finance pioneer.

A visionary for banking for the rural poor, specially empowerment of women, Yunus declined to take the helms of affairs of the multi-lateral bank, based in Washington DC. Instead he said he wish to dedicate his life for social business.

The country’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina proposed Yunus name last month to a delegation of visiting European parliamentarians in capital Dhaka, saying he was respected for his pioneering role in poverty alleviation.

In a statement on Friday, Yunus while thanking Hasina said he never thought of taking up the top job of the bank or any other such multilateral institutions. He said he was a regular critic of the World Bank for its policies and programs.

The move surprised many, as Hasina last year fired the 70-year-old Yunus, the founder of Grameen Bank on mandatory retirement age dispute. She (Hasina) in December 2010 also accused him of “sucking blood from the poor.”

The microfinance pioneer said he hoped that Hasina’s proposal that he take over at the World Bank would “make clear that the impressions she previously had about me and Grameen Bank no longer exist”.

The Washington-based anti-poverty lender, Robert Zoellick, the incumbent president of the World Bank, will step down at the end of his five-year term on June 30.

Earlier in 1995 U.S. President Bill Clinton invited him to his Oval Office and “asked whether I had any interest in this”. In 2005 ex-Bangladesh Prime Minister Khaleda Zia wanted to nominate him for UN Secretary General’s post. In each proposal he had regretted the offer with thanks.

Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow, is Bangladesh based award winning investigative reporter. He specializes on Islamic militancy, forced migration, good governance, press freedom and elective democracy. He was detained and tortured in 2002 and later expelled from Bangladesh in 2004 for whistle-blowing on the safe sanctuary offered to the Jihadists who fled during Anglo-US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Ending his life in exile in Canada he has recently returned home after six years. He could be reached at saleemsamad@hotmail.com