We have to change our mindset first and make room for the new generation
Born in April, 1971 to Mohamad Abdul Malek and Kamrun Malek, Wahid Malek, Managing Editor of Danik Azadi is a renowned third generation entrepreneur. His Father, is the Editor of Danik Azadi and his mother is the President of the Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Chittagong. He is the grandson of Eng. Mohammad Abdul Khaleque. (1898-1962) who founded Kohinoor Library in 1930, Kohinoor Electric Press in 1932, Shaptahik Kohinoor in 1950 and Dainik Azadi in 5th September 1960. “Kadte ashini, fanhasir dabi niye eshechi” was the first poem written in commemoration of the killings on the 21st February, 1952 and was published from Kohinoor Electric Press on 23rd February 1952.
Wahid Malek is the Director-International Business Forum of Bangladesh, Chittagong Chapter; Past executive Committee member, Chittagong Club Limited; Member, Bhatiyari Golf and Country Club; Member, Chittagong Boat Club.
Wahid Malek comes from a family, which has always been an ardent aficionado of education, innovation and culture. His grandfather, Mohammad Abdul Khaleque was the first muslim engineer in this region. He joined the PK Sen Power Company. Later when Power Development Board (PDB) was established, he became the Chief Engineer. He founded Kohinoor Electric press. He is the one who connected the press with the power line during a time when all; presses were manual. Hailing from Raujan in the Chittagong district, Wahid’s father was also a man of letter, who was the worthy torchbearer of Azadi, the visionary editor. The visionary newsmen had a very different approach for distribution: he engaged local beggars in the process; the money earned by them selling the newspaper was deposited in a community fund and later was utilized for their welfare. This method of empowering the jobless underprivileged people was much lauded.
Wahid Malek is grateful to his parents for the upbringing they provided. “Studying at the Saint Placid school was the best time of my life; it instilled not only a secular mindset but also showed me the advantage of cultural diversity since we had Muslim, Hindu, Christian and Buddhist students from different religions, castes and creeds.” Pointing towards the long cultural heritage, Wahid explains that the city is a melting pot of different culture and traditions. “You will get people with both liberal and conservative mindsets.”
Regarding the Azadi’s glorious seven-decade journey, Wahid said, “It is the first newspaper of independant Bangladesh that came out early in the morning of 17th December, 1971. Time and again, it has gained huge popularity and we are indebted to the locals for showering their trust and love for this publication.”
According to Wahid, regional connectivity is the buzzword, which eventually will usher a lot more initiatives to rev up trade and business in Chittagong. “In the intricate world of interconnected exchange of goods and services, collaboration with the right partner is essential and this trend of reaching out to neighbors for better understanding and trade promotion is quiet promising,” he states. However, he thinks the change has to come from inside to leverage the benefit of greater collaboration between different businesses. “Enterprises can ensure proper growth if they become more professional, for which they need to embrace corporate management skills just like they do abroad. Only one or two groups have patronized corporate management but others are still reluctant. Innovation is the key to success in a world dependent on technology, which is yet to be understood by many local businesses which are ardent followers of old school formulas of doing business as usual. The next generation is not only highly educated but also empowered digitally and we must work to pave the paths to prosperity for them.” Wahid believes sooner or later our economy will become freer and challenges will be aplenty; if we are not prudent enough, we will be entrapped into the cliché of the past and that can be disastrous for existing enterprises. In this connection, he lamented over the issue of delayed modernization of the Chittagong port, which has recently celebrated its 128th birthday. “The port is yet to provide its best due to lack of time-appropriate policy and implementations. Yangon is nearby and has seen huge development with the help of Chinese enterprises. We have to take a leaf out of their books.”
Bathed by the Bay of Bengal, Chittagong is a sacred city with fertile lands and hills. The people living here are generous and renowned for their hospitality. To take it to the next stage of development, this city needs a master plan which can unlock the potential and bring the much-required changes. “For this, we need to change our mindset at first,” Wahid urged. “Be it readymade garments, tourism, education or cultural diversity, the city has so much to offer to its people as well as the national exchequer,” Wahid beams with optimism. “We hope the present authority will realize the possibilities and come up with dynamic strategies to turn Chittagong into a goldmine for Bangladesh’ economy.”