Feature Img

hasina joyIn early 2009, only days after the Awami League-led alliance returned to power with a thumping majority, a Bangladeshi lobby group organised a seminar in collaboration with Johns Hopkins’s University’s South Asia division here in Washington.

I covered the seminar not so much for its title “Future challenges for Bangladesh”, but mostly out of interest to learn from a young panellist — Sajeeb Ahmed Wazed.

You guessed it right. Yes, he’s the prime minister’s only son, commonly known as Joy. Most of the 50 or so audience also appeared to have turned up to hear from Joy. I do not even recall who the other two panellists were and what they said.

Walter Anderson of the Hopkins, the seminar’s moderator, introduced Sajeeb Wazed as an adviser to the Bangladesh prime minister. Joy spoke for about 15 minutes. He appeared smart, articulate and confident. After the presentation of all three panellists, the floor was opened for Q/A.

I stood up and asked for a clarification of Joy’s identity. “The new government appointed six advisors to the prime minister with the rank and status of a cabinet minister. Nowhere did I see the name of Sajeeb Wazed among the advisers. Could you please clarify when you became an adviser,” I asked.

Joy replied that he was not an adviser to the prime minister but to Sheikh Hasina. When I pointed out that Sheikh Hasina also happened to be the prime minister of Bangladesh, he mumbled.

I then followed up with my actual question. I asked him whether he would publicly say that he would not in any way get involved in running of the government, especially in business dealings as did Tarique and Arafat Rahman, the two sons of former prime minister Khaleda Zia.

“You’re perhaps aware of the ignominious departure of Khaleda Zia largely blamed for her sons’ naked involvement in almost all the major business dealings,” I added.

What Joy said in reply not only puzzled me but also the rest of the audience. “I’ve a Masters degree in Public Administration from Harvard,” he said tersely. But I persisted that I wanted to hear from him an unequivocal reply to my question about whether he would get involved in business dealings.

A moment of discomfort followed. Somewhat perplexed, the Bangladeshi organiser, ostensibly to avoid any further unpleasant question, gestured to the moderator to cut me off. The moderator obliged and gave the floor to another questioner.

The reason what prompted me to relate that episode is the increasing visibility of Joy in Bangladesh affairs in recent months. The readers must have noticed that too. Although he lives in the United States, he often travels to Bangladesh and appears in public forums, especially as the quintessential front man of the government’s much-touted ‘Digital Bangladesh’ programme. (It’s hard to imagine how a country can be digitalised without first ensuring uninterrupted electricity supply and access of the vast majority to the Internet. But that’s another matter). He’s also becoming a permanent fixture in the prime minister’s entourage to official visits overseas.

Again, he does all this in the capacity of an unofficial adviser to the prime minister. In plain words, what it means is that he doesn’t get any salary from the government and is not entitled to any official perks and privileges. That begs a crucial question. What does he do to make a living in the US and how does he pay his mortgage for the million dollar home he owns and other bills.

Well. The answer is murky. I checked with several people who know him and they all said they were unaware of his job in the United States.

According to Fairfax County public records, Joy is the president of Wazed Consulting Inc., located at 3817 Bell Manor Ct, Falls Church, Virginia 22041. He bought the brand new 4-bedroom, 4.5 bath single family home in 2006 for $996,875 dollar. The record also reveals that he bought another home at 4823 Martin Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22312 for $749,000. It was not clear whether he still owned the house.

Even if he has sold the Alexandria house, it costs a lot of money to meet monthly expenses for the home in Falls Church, a wealthy suburb just outside Washington.

And since there’s not much information available about the precise activities of Wazed Consulting, especially what he does as a consultant; who are his clients; and how much money he makes out of the business, it’s perhaps legitimate for the people of Bangladesh to demand a clear answer.

Why? Because Sajeeb is no ordinary Bangladeshi. He’s the prime minister’s only son. And for the sake of Sheikh Hasina’s personal reputation as incorruptible, she must do something immediately to defuse the growing discontent against her government, increasingly being seen as lurching towards disaster.

Let’s not forget that that it was the perception of widespread corruption in the BNP-led government, especially committed by Khaleda Zia’s two sons, which finally led to her ignominious downfall.

I’m not suggesting that Joy is in a race to beat Tarique and Coco. But what is deeply disturbing is that there’s growing perception that he is. And, I’m sure Sheikh Hasina being a politician knows very well that perception could be fatal. She’s also smart enough to see the red flag and hope she’ll do something decisive to turn the tide of anger, even from Awami League supporters, against her family before it’s too late.

—————————

Arshad Mahmud is a senior editor and Washington Correspondent for bdnews24.com.

10 Responses to “The mystique of PM’s son”

  1. Tahera Rashid

    Arshad, you might also want to investigate which consultancy firm brokered the deal with Conoco Phillips in June of 2011.

  2. SK

    The writer has very cleverly tried to hide his true intentions! I have been a very diligent reader of all the daily publications in Bangladesh. I have not seen any news article ever showing Joy as part of any entourage. Also, I was present at the Seminar, yet amazingly, I do not recall your being there or hearing these questions from you. Let’s assume that I am lying and I was not even there (!!!), what kind of a civilized person would ask such a question during a publicly held seminar! The tone of the question clearly suggests that the message was clear: “Joy, are you going to be a thug and a thief like the two sons of the former PM?” In response to a question like that, what would one expect Joy’s answer to be?

    Dear Mr. Mahmud, dare you to answer some questions honestly and candidly:

    1. How long have you been living in the US?
    2. What is your political affiliation (even if you are not involved in politics, which party’s influence bears on you)?
    3. How old are you?
    4. Can you provide any evidence of Joy’s ownership of those 2 houses? Since you are quoting public records, can you publish them for the reader’s sake?
    5. Wasn’t you also against the “caretaker government’ during their rule?

    Any one who lives in the US knows that median price of a house in Virginia area is about $780k. Also, you have very cleverly avoided the fact that Joy is married and his wife works. Since he is not an official public figure and does not have any direct involvement with the BD Govt. (unlike Tareque and Coco), why do you feel that he should disclose his income? To this date, there has been no complaint filed against Wajed Consulting, no fingers have ever been pointed towards Joy’s firm. The amazing thing is, no one even knew (until they read your article (propaganda) what Joy’s firm’s name was!

    It is people like you who are the so called and self proclaimed intellectuals who smell mystery in everything and everywhere and spread rumours. Keep your propaganda machine in your pocket and leave us alone.

    • Dr. R Karim

      Mr. SK,

      Do you have a Linkedin account? If not, please open one and you will see this:

      Sajeeb Wazed
      IT Consultant and Policy Expert
      Washington D.C. Metro AreaInformation Technology and Services
      Current
      Wazed Consulting, Inc.
      …..
      …..
      …..

      Experience

      President
      Wazed Consulting, Inc.
      January 2002 – Present (11 years 7 months)

      So, Mr. SK: Wazed Consulting, Inc. exists from 2002, therefore, Wazed Consulting, Inc. is not the write’s invention.

      According to Linkedin page of Mr. Joy, Wazed Consulting, Inc. has only 1 person working.

      Additionally, Wazed Consulting, Inc. is housed here: https://maps.google.at/maps?q=3817+Bell+Manor+Ct&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hl=de&sa=N&tab=wl

      Wazed Consulting, Inc. which does not seem to have even a website, do you still think Mr. Sajeeb Wazed can live in such a royal house?

      • Dr. R Karim

        Sorry Mr. SK, the above link to the map where Wazed Consulting, Inc. is housed does not work, please use this address and google search to find out the royal palace where Mr. Wazed’s farm is housed. The address is: 3817 Bell Manor Ct, Falls Church, Virginia, USA.

  3. Shah Musa

    The article poses some very timely and legitimate questions

  4. Saif Khan

    The article is timely and has a lot of pertainant concerns about the progeny of the P.M. Unfortunately, the concerned individuals/authortiy does not want anybody to ask these type of question. The fallout is that, over time it explodes and then there remains no way for rectification.

    The state of Bnagladesh is in serious situation. Virtualy, there is no effective oposition, the interest of the country takes a backseat when comes to the interest or interest of a few powerful. A foreign national represents Bangladesh in the UN, economic interests of Bangladesh are overtaken by the inteest of foreign nation. AL and the govt. must act for the interest of its citizen. Otherwise, another political/social catastrophy is in the horizon.
    Once again, Mr. Arshad, thanks for your piece. Keep on doing what you do best. We nedd more like you as a jurnalist, than govt. reporter.

Comments are closed.