I came to know about the death news of AHM Moazzem Hossain, the Founding Editor of The Financial Express, when I was staying in Bangkok for the treatment of my wife. The news took me aback. I could not believe it for a while. I started realising only after some time that when everyone of our generation was going one after another, his death was also normal. For a moment, I was also thinking as to when my call will be coming. Moazzem Bhai was someone senior to me by two years. Like me, he also studied Economics at the University of Dhaka.
As we know, Moazzem Bhai opted for journalism as a career. He could stick to his choice of career and in fact lived in it until his death. I first came to know about Moazzem Bhai when he was with The Daily Star at its initial stage. He was working as a Joint Editor of the economic page of the newspaper with journalist Reazuddin Ahmed working as Editor of the page. But for some reasons or other, which I never wanted to know, both Moazzem Bhai and Reaz Bhai withdrew themselves from the newspaper only after a few months. They joined, I should rather say they founded, another English language daily named The Telegraph under the ownership of Inquilab.
As far as I can remember, Reaz Bhai was the Editor and Moazzem Bhai his deputy in The Telegraph. But as always, there was no easy way available to run an English daily. Accordingly, The Telegraph also failed to have a prolonged life. At one stage after a year or so, the newspaper was declared closed by the owner. But these two journalists were determined to do something and at the end they came out successful in doing something on their own - this time Reaz Bhai joined as the founding Chief Editor of yet another English daily, The Financial Express, with Moazzem Bhai being the Founding Editor of the newspaper. Reaz Bhai later went on to launch another English daily, The News Today.
But The FE managed to draw more attention of the people compared to other English newspapers because of its very nature and content. The newspaper turned out to be a non-political, purely finance and economy-related one and got an army of ready readers for it. Soon after, we started noticing that The FE was the daily newspaper on the tables of bankers, stock brokers, stock investors and anyone having interest in the Bangladesh economy. Initially, although I wished from the core of my heart that the newspaper gains ground, but I was a bit hesitant about its success thinking that this newspaper may also meet the fate of other English dailies that were published with much fanfare, but eventually closed down afterwards.
However, that did not happen in the case of The Financial Express thanks to the stewardship of Moazzem Bhai and it became a must read newspaper for many within a few years. Personally, I did never leave my residence in the morning without reading this newspaper. This newspaper was the first to introduce yellow pages for financial news, which was later followed by other newspapers in Bangladesh. Some industrialists and businessmen, who came forward with a sense of sincerity and almost with a non-profit motive, helped this newspaper come into being. Moazzem Bhai was the mainstay and lifeline of the paper. He brought other journalists having interest and skill in the area to come together in the FE. When we see the FE today, we see that many people have got a space and a forum to express their views about issues pertaining to economy, business and all other financial issues.
Moazzem Bhai was a hard-working and devoted in, journalist. Whenever I visited the office of The FE, I found him engrossed and devoted to, doing what he liked most -- going through or editing somebody's write-up, or writing something himself. I visited his office last time a year ago and found him deeply engaged in the work on his table. He raised his head only when I said as-salamu a'laikum. Three months back, I found him along with his wife in front of the departmental store Agora. He was entering the shop, perhaps, to buy some essentials. He gladly introduced me to his wife saying that I was a stock market expert and Professor of Economics. I felt really humbled by the way he introduced me.
On many other occasions, I met Moazzem Bhai during the television talk-shows. He was always gentle and courteous to me as he was with others as always. Today, Moazzem Bhai is no more with us, tomorrow it will be the turn of somebody else from our generation to go. That is the way things will be going and we have to accept it. Another accomplished journalist who worked for long in The FE was Rahman Jahangir, who also said good bye to us for the hereafter only a few months back. Rahman was my classmate. His death also came as something painful to me. Zafar Ahmed Chowdhury, an ex-bureaucrat and writer, also said goodbye from this world. Zafar was like a student to me. He was also an accomplished person in his area of expertise.
We pray for the salvation of the departed souls of the trio including Moazzem Bhai.
Abu Ahmed is Professor of Economics, University of Dhaka.
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