Written by Diplomatic Correspondent
‘Be a good human being first, leave aside all personal differences, work collectively to take the country forward’-with these heart-touching and inspirational words, Bhutanese Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering has won the hearts of people in Bangladesh.
Dr Lotay Tshering, a leader who by mind and actions is devoted to the welfare of all human beings motivated students, faculty members and others by his speech at a special reception accorded to him by Mymensingh Medical College at its auditorium during his visit to Bangladesh... ...
It is a matter of pride for Bangladesh that the Bhutanese Prime Minister earned his MBBS degree from Mymensingh Medical College. The event of Mymensingh Medical College was focused most as a former student came back to his campus being a Prime Minister.
Bhutanese Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering made a 4-day visit to Bangladesh with the invitation of Bangladesh Prime Minister sheikh Hasina on April 12 to 15. During the visit, Bhutanese Prime Minister held bilateral talks with his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina. Bangladesh and Bhutan signed five agreements on strengthening their cooperation. The Bhutanese Premier called on Bangladesh President Md Abdul Hamid at Bangabhaban and attended a banquet dinner hosted by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Besides, Dr Lotay held meetings with Bangladesh foreign, commerce, health and shipping ministers separately. He also held meetings with the leaders of Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI). The Bhutanese Prime Minister also joined one of the Bangali New Year celebration programs to greet the countrymen in the capital.
A red carpet was rolled out as Bhutanese Prime Minister Lotay Tshering arrived here in Dhaka on April 12. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina welcomed her Bhutanese counterpart at the VVIP terminal of Hazrat Shajalal International Airport. A child presented him a bouquet.
A smartly turned out contingent drawn from Bangladesh Army, Navy and Air Force gave a guard of honor and state salute to the Bhutanese Prime Minister.
After the ceremony, the Bhutanese Prime Minister was taken to the Intercontinental Hotel Dhaka in a ceremonial motorcade where he and his entourage stayed during the visit.
Later in the day, he paid tributes to the Liberation War martyrs at the National Martyrs’ Memorial in Savar and to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman by placing wreaths at his portrait at Bangabandhu Memorial Museum in Dhanmondi. On the first day, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen called on the Bhutanese premier at Hotel Intercontinental. The Bhutanese PM also held a meeting with leaders of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI) in the day.
On April 13, the Bhutanese Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering attend a bilateral meeting with his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
Bangladesh and Bhutan agreed in principle to work on duty- and quota-free access of a number of goods of the two counties to each other’s market for mutual benefits during the meeting.
Bhutan sought duty- and quota-free access of 16 products, while Bangladesh sought that of its 10 items, said Foreign Senior Secretary M Shahidul Haque while briefing reporters after the meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office.
“Bhutan sought the duty-and quota-free access of 16 goods to Bangladesh market. Our Prime Minister said she'll consider it. It's expected that it’ll happen,” he said.
“There were positive discussions on it (the duty- and quota-free access of Bhutanese goods) at the meeting. Our Prime Minister said the duty-and quota-free access of our 10 products will be negotiated. Now, we assume both sides have agreed in principle on it. Now, it has to be worked out at the technical level,” the Foreign Secretary added.
The Foreign Secretary said the two sides put emphasis on strengthening cooperation on trade, business and connectivity.
Shahidul Haque said the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) initiative was also discussed at the meeting.
After the talks, Bangladesh and Bhutan signed five bilateral instruments to enhance cooperation on inland waterways, health, agriculture, tourism sectors and Public Administration Training Centers. The two Prime Ministers witnessed the signing ceremony.
Shipping Secretary Md Abdus Samad and secretary of Ministry of Economic Affairs Dasho Yeshi Wangdi signed the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the operationalization of an MoU on the use of inland waterways for transportation of bilateral trade and transit cargos between the two countries.
The MoU between the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of Bangladesh and Ministry of Health of the Royal Government of Bhutan was signed by Health Division Services Secretary Md Ashadul Islam and Bhutanese Health Secretary Dr Ugen Dophu.
The MoU between Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC) and department of Agriculture of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests of Bhutan was inked by Executive Chairman of BARC Dr Md Kabir Ikramul Haque and Bhutanese Ambassador Sonam Tobden Rabgye.
Rector of Bangladesh Public Administration Training Center and Bhutanese Ambassador Sonam Tobden Rabgye signed the MoU between BPATC and Royal Institute for Management (RIM) while Bang
On the same day, Bhutanese Prime Minister met President Abdul Hamid at Bangabhaban in the evening. He also attended a banquet hosted by the Bangladesh Prime Minister at Hotel Pan Pacific Sonargaon.
On April 14, Bhutanese Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering enthralled the audience of a program greeting them in Bangla on the occasion of Pahela Baishakh, the first day of Bangla New Year.
“On our behalf, I welcome you from my heart on the occasion of the New Year. Have you taken your ‘panta-bhat’ (watery rice)? Bangladesh is my second home. I did my FCPS from Dhaka on completion of my MBBS from Mymensingh Medical College. Actually, I feel excited thinking when I’ll go to Mymensingh,” he said in Bangla.
The Bhutanese Prime Minister along with his wife and Bhutanese Foreign Affairs Minister Tandi Dorji attended the program organized by Shurer Dhara, a leading cultural organization on the premises of Bangabandhu International Conference Centre.
Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen and Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Riva Ganguly Das were also present.
After the Pahela Baishakh event, the Bhutanese Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering took a 30-minute helicopter ride to visit his alma mater Mymensingh Medical College, where the students and faculty received their alumnus with pride.
Just as he began to address the gathering in English, the crowd urged him to speak in Bangla. He did. “If you want to be a good doctor, you have to be a good human being first,” he said.
He shared his memories of his time in the college, where he shared room number 20 with foreign minister, Dr Tandi Dorji for five years. It was in that room where the two, he said, began to think about the wellbeing of the nation. There’s no rift between us during this long period. “He, the foreign minister, made me the Prime Minister,” he said.
Dr Lotay used this analogy to underscore the need to leave aside all personal differences and work collectively to take the country forward.
The Bhutanese Prime Minister turned emotional recalling various memorable incidents of his student life at the medical college.
“I have joined politics without disposing my uniform. I thought about the people of Bhutan and worked for them from 2013 to 2018 even after my party did not make it through,” he said.
As he introduced the other delegates, especially the health secretary, Dr Ugen Dophu, the medical superintendent of JDWNRH Dr Gosar Pemba, Dr Phub Dorji from His Majesty’s kid’s medical unit, all of whom had studied in Bangladesh and few in MMC.
In another classroom, some 30 classmates of Dr Lotay welcomed him for a reunion. “Prime Minister is our friend, we are proud of you,” read the banner. The classmates had brought him a t-shirt to mark the reunion.
Dr Lotay wore the shirt over his gho and sat on the same seat he used to sit for the lectures. “He was a foreign student but never behaved like one,” said one of his classmates
He did not forget to greet the college cleaner, who he knows personally since his time in college.
The Bhutanese Prime Minister had a breakfast with Bhutanese students and citizens living here before leaving Dhaka on April 15 morning.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen and State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Dr Md Enamur Rahman and other dignitaries saw him off at the airport.