Tribute by Sir Frank Peters
It’s hard to believe that Wednesday, June 6, 2018, marks the fourth death anniversary of Mahbubul Alam. Sometimes I find it hard to accept he’s dead, his spirit has such strength and vibrant colours.It’s a universal fact that people die all the time. It’s a natural event, and it’s something we must get used to however deep the pain and grief we suffer, but few people leave an indelible impression on human hearts, as Mahbubul did on many.
Take a casual stroll through the newsrooms of most national newspapers in Dhaka and there’s at least one member of the noble profession who’s worked with him and who remembers him with great admiration and fondness. I doubt if a bad word has been said or justifiably could be said about him.
Mahbubul was a rare specimen of a man. To describe him merely as a gentleman would deprive him of accolades and platitudes he so richly deserves, and, in so doing, generate a shameful miscarriage of justice.
Gentleman? – That he definitely was.
Professional? – Undoubtedly.
Mahbubul was a consummate gentleman and a consummate professional who walked tallest among the tallest.
His eloquent career was peppered with success and compassion throughout. While he may not have been standing on street corners shaking tin cans collecting for this or that charity, reliable and dependable Mahbubul was always there behind the scenes giving support in editorial content while delivering news of the plight to the nation.
The former editor of The Independent newspaper was also former caretaker government adviser. A position he cherished, not for his own personal benefit, but it gave him the opportunity to make a valuable contribution to his beloved homeland.
Mahbubul was never far from a pen, tattered notepad and Imperial typewriter since leaving school. He began his successful career in journalism in 1957 with the Associated Press and spiralled upwards ever since, landing him the prestigious and coveted position of Editor of the Independent, which he held for 18-years until his death.
Added to his list of achievements he was one-time editor of The New Nation and weekly Dialogue and led the Newspaper Owners’ Association of Bangladesh (NOAB) as its president until his death. He was also a former managing director and Chief Editor of state-run news agency Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS).
The veteran journalist worked as minister (press) at the Bangladesh missions in Washington DC and London and represented Bangladesh as the Ambassador to Bhutan.
Mahbubul was 76 when he left us for greener pastures, but not before he made an indelible mark in the newspaper industry and in the hearts of man. He was a man who was easy to like, no warming-up lead-time required. Despite his lofty position and his never-enough-minutes-in-the-da y hectic schedule, he was always approachable, not just by me, but seemingly anyone.
In the 20-odd-years I’ve known him, he’s always displayed a certain interest – curiosity
if you prefer – for all around him and that applied to people and to events. He had the gift of making people feel special. It’s no wonder people warmed to him instantly and no surprise he isn’t and won’t be forgotten.
(Sir Frank Peters is a former newspaper and magazine publisher and editor, an award-winning writer, royal goodwill ambassador, humanitarian, and a foreign friend of Bangladesh.)