Former Awami League minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith's death yesterday at the age of 88 will leave the country short of not only a highly successful politician, but an intellectual, bureaucrat and colourful personality.
On January 6, 2009, Muhith took oath as the finance minister of Bangladesh after the Awami League won the 2008 election, and served in the finance ministry for 10 years in a row. As finance minister, he announced a total of 12 national budgets, more than any other minister in Bangladesh.
Credited as one of the driving forces behind the recent mega projects the ruling government has become known for, Muhith retired from his government and political positions after the December 2018 national elections.
Here is a timeline of the venerated politician's life:
Born to an influential political family on 25 January. His father Abu Ahmad Abdul Hafiz was the founder of Sylhet district Muslim League. His mother, Syeda Shahar Banu, would later become one of the leading women in the Bengali language movement.
Passed matriculation exam from Sylhet Government Pilot High School.
Secured first place in his Intermediate examination from Sylhet MC College.
Participated in the Language Movement.
Stood first class first in BA (Hons) in English Literature at the University of Dhaka.
Passed his Masters with credit from the same university.
Joined Pakistan's civil service.
While in service to the government, studied at the University of Oxford from 1957 to 1958.
Completed a Master of Public Administration at Harvard University.
Authored the first official report on discrimination between East and West Pakistan.
The first diplomat of the Pakistan embassy in Washington to defect to Bangladesh during the War of Liberation.
Appointed secretary of planning in January.
Acted as the alternative executive director for the India-Bangladesh-Sri Lanka group at the World Bank, when Bangladesh first became a member of the organisation.
Appointed secretary of the External Resources Division of the Finance and Planning Ministry in May.
Took self-retirement from service and started a career as a specialist in economics and development at the Ford Foundation and at The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
Became finance and planning minister under the HM Ershad government. Left after a year and started to work as a specialist for different institutions of the World Bank and the United Nations.
Became a Visiting Fellow with Princeton University.
Founding president of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon.
Joined Dr Kamal Hossain's Gono Forum party.
Joined the Awami League. Ran and lost in the October national election from Sylhet-1 seat.
Became a member of the Awami League's Advisory Council.
Won election as an Awami League candidate from the Sylhet-1 seat. Became finance minister under the Sheikh Hasina government.
Won national election from the Sylhet-1 seat uncontested. Was made finance minister again.
Awarded the highest civil award Swadhinata Padak (Independence Award) for his contribution to the Liberation War and record of public service.
Published memoir 'Smritimoy Kormojibon' that records his take on his six decades of government service and other works.
Retired from politics.
Was diagnosed with coronavirus in July.
As his health deteriorated, he was admitted to United Hospital in Dhaka, where he died on 30 April.
He was content
A K Abdul Momen, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and brother of Abul Maal Abdul Muhith
He (Muhith) had been saying lately that he was content with what he achieved and had in his life. He told us (family members) that he had retired from all of his work and we now should bear the baton that he passed onto us. He said he wanted to depart.
In fact, for the last few days, he appeared to be ready to leave this world. During this time, he was excited and expressed his desire to visit Sylhet. His wish will now be fulfilled. His body will be buried in Sylhet.
He played a role in getting Bangabandhu safely back
Zafrullah Chowdhury, Gonoshasthaya Kendra trustee
Former finance minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith was among the valiant people who contributed to the independence of Bangladesh.
Freedom fighters fought the Independence War 1971 under three fronts: freedom fighters who did not take refuge in India, the guerrilla fighters who took training from India and the expatriates under the leadership of Abu Sayeed Chowdhury who mobilised a diplomatic war for the emerging Bangladesh.
Muhith was then stationed in Washington and worked for Bangladesh. Bangabandhu was able to come back to the country alive because of the role played by expatriates like him.
After the emergence of Bangladesh, he contributed to our nation building. When he was serving as the finance minister, he encouraged charity. He exempted charity money from income tax.
His work will live on
AHM Mustafa Kamal, Finance Minister
Even though the former finance minister is not with us physically, his work will live on forever.
He always tried to be good to people. His smile is so [genuine], no one can replicate that smile. I can earnestly say that he was a good person. From the top to the bottom [he was a good person].
He has done a lot for this nation and for this country. I believe he will forever live among us.
His greatest contribution is reducing poverty
Sheikh Fazle Fahim, Former FBCCI president
Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina launched the election manifesto Rupkapla-21 in 2008, outlining a developed country by 2041 and a middle-income country by 2021 and a digital Bangladesh. For developing the industrial ecosystem, a staggering $600 billion investment is needed. It also includes a multimodal connectivity, tariff and non-tariff policy support. If you see the latest budgets, the corporate tax has been slashed and individual tax has been brought down.
[Muhith's] most important contribution was bringing down the poverty rate from 46% to 21 %. We are now moving towards bringing it further down to a single-digit of 9% under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina.
Muhith sir …worked tirelessly not just for 10 years [in his role as the finance minister], but he had been working since when Sheikh Hasina was the opposition leader. Muhith Shaheb was one of her team members then.
This is a great loss for our nation.