President M Abdul Hamid on Friday asked Election Commission (EC) to consider enlisting Bangladeshi expatriates in the voter list so that they can cast their votes in any election.
“Consider voting rights of the expatriate Bangladeshis… Take necessary steps so that they can get national identity (NID) cards,” the President said while addressing a function at the Election Commission auditorium at Agargaon here on the occasion of “National Voters’ Day”.
Noting that about one crore people are working abroad and most of them have no NID cards, he pointed out that it (NID) would help the expatriates to get different state facilities, including citizenships in foreign countries.
“The question of voting rights for Bangladeshis, now staying abroad, is getting vigorous . . . Expatriate citizens of 120 countries, including USA, Indonesia and Philippines, are exercising their voting rights,” the President mentioned.
The head of the state sought help of the local representatives, journalists, teachers, civil society members, imams of mosques and imminent personalities in the society to gear up the voter enlistment process.
The EC should continue updating the voter list all the year round and take special programmes in this connection for the people of remote, coastal and hilly areas, Abdul Hamid suggested.
“NID Database has become one of the programmes under the ’Digital Bangladesh’ platform at present,” the President stated.
He lauded different ICT-based initiatives of the EC to ease and modernize its functions, including biometric features and NID database system as the EC’s digitized process is helping scrutinizing the real citizens.
This NID database system is now helping to provide salaries of government’s employees, and pensions, different works under social safety net coverage like allowances for freedom fighters, elderly people and widows, he mentioned.
“I’m very glad to know that Bangladesh is still among the top-ranking countries in the South-East Asia in term of using Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in polls here,” he added.
President Hamid also put emphasis on creating awareness among the voters, saying, “The election will be fairer, the voters will be more aware of their rights.”
Referring to the need of efficient leaderships from the grassroots to the national level, the President said there is no alternative to efficient and qualified leaderships for development and election is a very acceptable system in this regard.
President Hamid urged all, irrespective of party affiliations and opinions, to extend their hands of cooperation to the EC for holding free, fair and creditable elections which is the key assignment of the EC as part of the constitutional obligation.
The National Voters’ Day is being observed for the first time here with the theme “Will be Voter, Will Vote”, he said, hoping that all political parties and socio-cultural organizations would work together to materialize the objective of the day.
“Instead of political blame game, a political culture of peace, amity, empathy and tolerance will be established in society. . . Democracy and development will reach the desired position subsequently,” the President hoped.
Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Anisul Huq, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) KM Nurul Huda, EC Commissioners Mahbub Talukder, Md Rafiqul Islam, Kobita Khanam and Brigadier General (Retd) Shahadot Hossain Chowdhury, EC Secretary Helaluddin Ahmed and secretaries concerned to the President, among others, were present.