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AHM Moazzem Hossain

Memoir of an icon revered, feared and obeyed

December 11, 2018 00:00:00

AHM Moazzem Hossain

Once again The Financial Express is celebrating its founding anniversary. As before, it is bringing out its three-part anniversary supplement with write-ups from the country's economists, researchers, academicians and other prominent persons in different fields, apart from in-house contributions. This time the ambience is a bit different. In the course of time the lone financial English daily of the country having its share of influence has passed long 25 years of publication. But sadly, just months before attaining the silver anniversary mark on November 10 last, we lost our father figure, who built up this newspaper bit by bit over the last 25 years. He is AHM Moazzem Hossain, who left this world on August 01 last at the age of 73. May he rest in eternal peace in heaven. His departure has closed a chapter in journalism in this country, where building an institution is not that easy. It requires untiring efforts, devotion and, of course, skill. This is really shocking to recall that this leading light in the economic journalism of Bangladesh is no more among us. What can we say to recall the memories of a man of his stature? How can we describe what he was? No word can suffice to describe the contribution of this trend-setter in Bangladesh's journalism.

His appearance in the realm of journalism was like a godsend. A change-maker like him is not born all the time. A country witnesses gifted professionals like him very occasionally. He was one of the bright stars who shone in their respective areas. We are very fortunate that we could work with him, got the chance to see him so closely and also got his advice and guidance. His integrity, professionalism and hardworking mentality earned him a place in the hearts of his colleagues in the office and also beyond. He was equally revered, feared and obeyed.

After obtaining his post-graduation degree in Economics from Dhaka University in 1968, he joined Habib Bank Limited, Pakistan, as an officer in the Training and Research Department. Later he also served with the Investment and Capital Issues Wing of the Ministry of Finance, Government of Pakistan, Islamabad, as a research official. After that brief stint, he ventured into the realm of journalism where he shone brightly before the cruel death wrested him from us. He started his career in journalism with the now-defunct Bangladesh Observer. That was the stepping stone. Later he served in different media houses before going off the beaten track to found this specialised newspaper which we now work for. Apart from journalism, he sat on the boards of different organisations including banks and other financial institutions.

He visualised the prospects for financial journalism in Bangladesh. He convinced the people around him to extend their all-out support for founding The Financial Express. And eventually it hit stands on November 10 in 1993. It is easier to launch a newspaper but difficult to run it in this country. But he took the challenge to carry on with it and proved his prowess. After it got going, he never needed to look back. He marched on and on as his newspaper did. From morning to midnight he remained busy doing his work and thinking about how better he could enrich his newspaper. It was his passion. He led from the front. He showed his capability in every department-reporting, news editing, insightful editorial writing and also financial management. So it was very easy for him to judge every person on his own merit.

On every occasion of the FE's anniversary supplement, he used to help the supplement team with his thoughtful insights and guidance, apart from his other involvement. He added the finishing touches to the supplement before its going to press. He looked for the remaining errors and corrected them, if any, sharpened the focus and also showed his mastery in use of the language. Now what saddens us most is the reality that he will never be back among us to alert us to the latest news update, correct the last one mistake and give us the much-needed direction.

In running The Financial Express, he followed the 'slow but steady' policy. He remained apolitical and never allowed this newspaper to identify itself with any political camp. He showed how a newspaper can flourish despite its main focus on business journalism, especially in a small country like Bangladesh. The people, who were close to him, called him a workaholic. At the initial stage he used to attend office twice a day-during the day time and later at night. But with the passage of time, at one stage his health was no more permitting him to take this much pressure. Later he started doing office only by day. But back at home he never idled away his time. He was keeping an eye on what was happening in the office. He was available on phone for any policy decision and sometimes he alerted the newsroom to any important development in the political field, business arena or any other area. He stayed up until the midnight to check the soft version of this paper for any error before its publication and then he went to bed. He followed this routine over the years. This attests to how he worked from the morning to midnight. This devotion to journalism brought him to this height. He died as a successful editor of a financial daily, the first of its kind in Bangladesh. From top to bottom, he was a professional editor. He was never in a mood to let a single chance slip that could prove costly for the newspaper.

In Bangladesh we often see newspapers are launched spending a lot of money. Soon after the launch, we also see those run into oblivion or limp with different constraints. The employees lose their jobs or are deprived of their rightful dues. But AHM Moazzem Hossain set the example of how one can build up a newspaper. He could do it, because he had that level of journalistic skill and sincerity. He did what he meant. He judged one by one's skill, not based on any hearsay. It was not possible for anybody to fool him as far as journalism is concerned. He wrote well. He himself was sincere in doing his job and also expected sincerity from others. As mentioned above, he stayed up at home until midnight to do his bit to make the newspaper error-free as much as possible. Thanks to that amount of efforts as an able editor of a financially daily he shot to this pinnacle of fame in economic journalism in Bangladesh.

After the sad demise of this guiding light, a person in the business circle reminisced that whenever there arose any contentious issue, they contacted AHM Moazzem Hossain for his insightful opinion. And he did that part gleefully as he was a keen observer of developments happening both at home and abroad. If one climbs a tree, the higher he reaches, the wider he gets a view of the surrounding area. He was at the top of the tree. We were nowhere near him. He could see everything around him more clearly than we did. So he could give the best decision, best information and best guidance as was reflected in his write-ups, columns and editorial pieces.

He has left us. But his memories are still vivid in our minds. In our imagination, we still can visualise his gait, hear the sound of his voice coming from the room where he spent a large part of his life. When the telephone rings in the newsroom late at night, it takes us back to the days when he called us to give his instructions. It is difficult to believe he is no more with us. Life is like that. He must be watching us from heaven. We seek to seize this opportunity to pay our profound respect to him and pray to the Almighty once again seeking salvation of his departed soul. We also seek his blessings so that we can adhere to his ideals and move forward carrying the baton he handed over to us.

Anisur Rahman is Additional News Editor of The Financial Express.


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