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Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

17 March 2020

Excellency Mr. Md. Nazmul Quaunine, Ambassador of Bangladesh to the Kingdom of Thailand and Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the UNESCAP,
Mr. Dusit Manapan, Director General, Department of Southasian, Middle East and African Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kingdom of Thailand,
Mr. Shigeru Aoyagi, Regional Director of the UNESCO, Bangkok
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to be with you to celebrate the 100th Birth Anniversary of the Father of the Nation of Bangladesh Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. I am delighted to be part of this event at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok.

In today’s uncertain and challenging times, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s vision continues to be relevant around the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. His people-centred policies were focused on ensuring equal opportunities and inclusive development for all. His tireless activism epitomized the principles of advancing social inclusion, empowerment and justice, while putting strong emphasis on strengthening international cooperation.

As we celebrate Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib’s contribution to the context of 21st century Asia and the Pacific, there is a unique opportunity to draw on lessons from his illustrious life in two specific issues: fostering inclusive development and reaffirming commitment to international cooperation.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

Over the past five decades, by following his pragmatic leadership, vision and guidance, Bangladesh has achieved remarkable progress in accelerating inclusive development — a unique experiment to understanding the policies and drivers of socio-economic development— that can be followed by developing countries around the world.

Notably, Bangladesh’s impressive inclusive economic growth, above 7% for over past decade, which has significantly contributed in reducing extreme poverty. In particular, the extreme poverty, based on the international poverty line of $1.90 (using PPP exchange rate) a day, reduced from 44.2 percent in 1991 to 14.8 percent in 2016/17. Moreover, life expectancy has markedly increased, child and maternal mortality declined sharply, women’s empowerment increased, digital connectivity expanded markedly, and social harmony achieved.

This continued progress has enabled Bangladesh to meet the criteria for graduation from Least Developed Country (LDC) status in March 2018. If, as expected, Bangladesh meets the criteria again in 2021 by its 50th birthday, it will be recommended for graduation in 2024 by the United Nations General Assembly.

As Bangladesh’s involvement in region has grown, so too has its contribution to the United Nations and ESCAP. Where international cooperation is concerned, Bangladesh’s leadership in promoting regional cooperation on oceans and the concept of the blue economy has been laudable since the adoption of resolution in 2016. In this regard, I look forward to Bangladesh’s continued engagement and leadership in the upcoming 2020 Commission session on promoting oceans related regional cooperation and sustainable development in our region.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

Last year in December, I had the honour and privilege to be received by Her Excellency Ms. Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister and daughter of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib in Dhaka.

I fondly remember that during our conversation, the Prime Minister highlighted the importance of finding solutions to common challenges through regional and subregional cooperation on areas of strategic priorities on regional connectivity, technology, and blue economy.

With the marking of this special event, I fully recognize that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s vision of inclusive development and international cooperation continues to resonate across all the policy and planning pillars in Bangladesh.

Today, as we celebrate the 100th Birth Anniversary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, let me quote part of his statement delivered at the UN General Assembly

in 1974: “I should like to conclude by reaffirming my faith in the indomitable spirit of man-in the capacity of the people to achieve the impossible and to overcome insurmountable odds.”

Today, as we are all uniting to fight against the global health emergencies, and other development and transboundary concerns in our region, Bangabandhu’s optimism and faith in humanity is the only option to find solution, and to collectively support the realization of long lasting peace and prosperity of our citizens.

Thank you very much!

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