Abdul Muyeed Chowdhury details his involvement with the Bangladeshi civil service, providing insight on civil service reform within the country. In particular, he describes his role in government attempts to restructure administrative agencies through the creation of review committees. Chowdhury talks about how he became chairman of one such committee, called the Muyeed Committee, which sought to assess departments within the government and produce recommendations for reform. He also elaborates upon his roles in the 1993 Nurunnabi Committee and the 2007 Regulatory Reform Commission. Outlining the importance of land in Bangladesh, Chowdhury talks of the problems created in the country by an archaic land management system and describes his frequent attempts to institute modernization in land administration. He is quick to note, moreover, that regardless of how eager governments may be to set up review commissions at the start of their tenure, they often fail to implement reform recommendations. Indeed, electoral politics and party rivalries often prevent committee reports from being fully carried out. Chowdhury further describes the way civil servants are impacted by the tussles between rival parties as different government administrations succeed each other. This leads to a broader discussion of the major challenges facing the civil service and the need for effective reform. Chowdhury concludes with anecdotes from his time as a Fulbright scholar in America, sharing stories from his life that, in his opinion, serve to exemplify the changes needed in the civil service of Bangladesh.
At the time of this interview, Abdul Muyeed Chowdhury was the Chairman and Director of BRACNet, a joint venture ISP, and the owner of Tiger Tours Limited, a tour operating company looking to promote tourism in Bangladesh. A career civil servant for 33 years, Chowdhury joined the Civil Service of Pakistan in 1967 and went on to serve in the Bangladesh civil service upon the country’s independence. He acted as secretary to the Bangladeshi government in various ministries from 1994 to 2000, and served as the managing director and chief executive officer of Biman, the national Bangladesh airline, from 1991 to 1994. Having worked as the director general of the department of land records and surveys in Bangladesh, Chowdhury was also involved in recommending the modernization of land record preparation and management through two reform commissions. In 1989, he was chairman of the Muyeed Committee, and in 2007, as a member of the Regulatory Reforms Commission, he headed a committee that recommended land reform. After his retirement in July 2000, Chowdhury became the executive director of BRAC, a position he retained till 2006. He was also a global councilor for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature from 2004 to 2008. Chowdhury obtained a Bachelor of Arts (Honors) in History in 1964 and a Master of Arts in Modern History from the University of Dhaka in 1965. He also attended the University of Tennessee (Knoxville, USA) for nine months as a Fulbright scholar studying public administration from 1980 to 1981.