Friday, 29 May 2015

FIFA - fo-fum, I smell the ...........

Remember the Giant's song in the fairy tale "Jack and the Beanstalk" ?

Fee-fi-fo-fum,
I smell the blood of an Englishman.
Be he alive , or be he dead,
I'll grind his bones to make my bread.

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I'm sick and tired of the never-ending news in the print and electronic media - especially Channel 4 and ITV3 - revealing the financial shenanigans in FIFA .  As if there's no other significant news and grief affecting the world to report on.

Corruption in the world of sports is no gob-smacking issue.  FIFA has been the subject of scrutiny for years - though they seem to have a teflon-like skin.    And it's not so different to the powers-that-be turning a blind eye to other scandals and depravities, both financial and moral.

For instance, crimes like paedophilia have been swept under the carpet for yonks.  In the Catholic Church paedophiles have been tucked away and protected by the establishment for decades; and what about the 4,000 infants buried in unmarked and unconsecrated graves in a septic tank within the grounds of a home for unwed mothers run by Catholic nuns from 1925-1961?

 See:         http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/ireland-mass-graves-government-may-launch-inquiry-into-800-children-found-in-septic-tank-9487946.html

Just yesterday, there came another revelation of institutional child sex abuse going back decades - this time in the Methodist Church.

See:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-32909444

Besides, secular institutions and non-religious characters are also capable of  "crimes of moral destruction"- especially in the entertainment media - Jimmy Saville, Rolf Harris, Gary Glitter, Dave Lee Travis, the list goes on.  Such perfidy has also touched those who were elected representatives and defenders of democracy in the British Houses of Parliament.  Names like Cyril Smith, Rhodes Boyson, and Leon Brittan have cropped up again and again, together with stories of cover-ups by their Parliamentary peers, and the wider establishment.

Here in my home patch in Leicester there's the case of the Labour MP for Leicester West, Lord Greville Janner.

Decades ago, Leicester folks knew "it was a matter of office gossip that he liked boys, or young men in their mid-20s".

Lord Greville Janner of Braunstone

Here's an outline of  Lord Janner's "crime that will not speak its name".

From Mail Online 26 April 2015
Twenty two offences, nine victims.   But Lord Greville Janner's dementia got him off the hook.   Well, here's a comment in one of the newspaper reports regarding Janner's disability to be charged in court for sex offences .......



Read more in : http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/greville-janner-how-mps-rallied-to-defence-of-a-man-unfairly-put-through-hell-by-a-wicked-slur-10183177.html


Maybe Leicester needs an American style  FBI and State Department sponsored investigation???

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And now we have the most recent knave of moral transgression - FIFA - as exposed by the FBI .

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Here are four titillations to be considered.

1.  President Vladimir Putin argues that the criminal inquiry is aimed at ousting Sepp Blatter.... as punishment for continuing to support Russia as host for the 2018 World Cup.

2.  Why is the US policing  soccer,  ooops football?


Qatar beat US to the 2022 bid for the World Cup

Read : http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-32889845

 According to a BBC report: "The pantheon of world soccer  [ooops, that word again]  has a new hero".    And who is it?     It's US Attorney General Loretta Lynch.


Attorney General Loretta Lynch

Read:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-32912118


3.  Working in conjunction with US is Switzerland.   Switzerland has abandoned her banking secrecy provisions (now undertaken by Singapore and Hong Kong instead) and is no longer a heaven for tax evasion and money laundering; in addition, the Swiss Parliament recently classified heads of sporting associations as "politically exposed persons".     The Swiss now launch an investigation into Fifa over its "financial irregularities".   ("Traditionally," said The BBC, " Fifa has been subject to the vaguest legislation, its book-keeping standards needing to be no more rigorous than those of the village ski club" ).            

All well and good.     But ....what about that doyen of international banking, HSBC?  A report in February 2015 (in The Guardian) revealed how the Swiss failed to  supervise or control HSBC Swiss from hiding large sums of money paid in by drug runners, "politically exposed persons" like political figures and their relatives involved in corruption, money laundering, blood diamond trading, corrupt military sales and also the looters from the former Soviet Union.

Read : http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/feb/08/hsbc-files-expose-swiss-bank-clients-dodge-taxes-hide-millions?CMP=share_btn_tw

And as for the fourth titillation:


4.  According to Jason Ditz, "Already we're seeing a dramatic shift in focus for the FIFA conference, and the planned vote on suspending Israel for the mistreatment of Palestinians seems almost certain to be delayed".

Read : http://news.antiwar.com/2015/05/28/timely-us-arrests-against-fifa-may-delay-israel-vote


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Predictable Postscript:

Heard the news an hour ago that Sepp Blatter was re-elected.  It does help when every country, however tiny or poor are given one vote each - just like USA or UK or Australia.

Also, as predicted, Israel was not kicked out of  FIFA.



Have a fragrant weekend.  I hope to go out and smell the roses.









  

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Damned if you do, damned if you don't - Malaysia's dilemma.

The spectacle of  'boat-people' stranded in the Andaman Sea brought on a sense of deja vu from 40 years ago.

In 1975, the Viet Cong defeat of the Americans led to an exodus of South Vietnamese 'collaborators' and 'sympathizers' to the United  States - initially mainly the well-educated and wealthy Vietnamese - totalling about 125,000.

The second wave began in 1978.   These were the 'boat people' , who were poorer and not as well-educated as the first wave.  They were mainly Vietnam's Chinese, 'long distrusted by the native Vietnamese'.  They were under pressure  because they had to leave their urban homes to go into the rural 'new economic zones' as labourers - and they feared being drafted into the army.  When China attacked Vietnam in 1979, the pressure got even stronger.  The Government imposed 'exit permits' costing about $3000 for those who chose to leave.  But there were many others, both Chinese and Vietnamese, who left sans exit permits because they could not bear the food shortages and living under Communist rule.    [The same scenario if the Malayan Communist Party had 'won' in Malaya?]  

On that journey thousands died as a result of water and food shortages, of drownings and attacks from pirates.  The survivors landed in Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Hong Kong. 

Malaysia bore the brunt, because the Peninsula was the boat people's 'first line of  approach'. The east coast states of Trengganu, Kelantan and Pahang, - the poorest states of the Peninsula -  were deluged by flotillas of 'boat-people' landing on their shores. The boat people were coming at the rate of 65,000 a month.    While Thailand was able to send Cambodian refugees escaping Pol Pot's regime back into their homeland,  Malaysia had no such option, she had no common land border with Vietnam or Cambodia.  


The boat people who first landed in 1978 created a 'crisis problem' of 20 years for Malaysia. Malaysia was designated as a 'nation of first asylum',  Refugee camps for Vietnamese and Cambodians were set up in Pulau Bidong  (with 42,000).   "By the time Bidong was closed as a refugee camp on 30 October 1991, about 250,000 Vietnamese had passed through or resided in the camp "  (Wikipedia). Other camps were located at Sungai Besi (1975-1996) and Pulau Tengah.  On the departure of the refugees in 1981, Pulau Tengah, - endowed with beautiful reefs and where leatherback turtles lay their eggs - was declared a marine park.

According to Bram Steen, UNHCR Malaysia, 240,000 Vietnamese refugees from Malaysia had been resettled in third countries and  9,000 others opted to return to Vietnam'.

Check : http://www.unhcr.org/43141e9d4.html

While Malaysia was stretching over backwards to provide transit camps for the refugees, she also co-operated with the UNHCR to facilitate their repatriation to third countries like USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, UK and even Israel.  This task took nearly 20 years.  It was not smooth sailing for Malaysia. The bouquets went to the receiving Western countries.  The brickbats were reserved for Malaysia - and especially from Australia.  The latter even made a movie to castigate Malaysia's attitude towards the boat people.  I refer to the movie Turtle Beach (1992).
From Wikipedia
       
From Wikipedia


I suppose those who were just  "twinkles in their fathers' eyes" during that period  know little or nowt about the social and political problems that Malaysia had to deal with in being the "nation of first asylum" -  including the self- righteous and hypocritical whining of the British and Australians.


When people  opt to migrate, to leave their homeland for another,  two factors are involved - "push" and "pull".     One could say that Chinese immigration from 150 years ago into Malaya and Singapore was based on the the push factor of escaping poverty and the aftermath of wars in China. Unlike present day refugees from Afghanistan, African states south of the Sahara, Iraq and Syria, immigrants from China had an easier rite of entry.  They were needed and welcomed by the British Imperial authority who enabled and encouraged them to start a new life in the Semenanjung and Singapore with the option of returning home whenever they felt like doing so.


Zhonghandi - The late Mr Lee Kuan Yew's ancestral home in Guangdong Province built by his great-grandfather Li Muwen in 1884 with money he had earned in Singapore.
Read : http://www.straitstimes.com/news/singapore/more-singapore-stories/story/ancestral-home-be-turned-tourist-spot-20150326
From Malayan Reader Book 3 - a scene from the 1920s to 1940s.
Because of the positive and profitable experience of life in the Malay Peninsula, the pull  factor further encouraged the migration from China

From Story of Malaya and her Neighbours by Philip Nazareth


The moral is obvious.     Malaya - and Malaysia - have an honourable history of taking in migrants.   Which brings us to the most recent case of "boat people" on Malaysian shores.   In this case, a clear demarcation must be made between economic migrants from Bangla Desh ("pull") and political refugees from Myanmar ("push"). According to a UNHCR statement on 17 May, only 400 of the 1,000 boat people who landed in Langkawi waters  were Rohingya refugees.  The status of the Rohingyas as political refugees is clear cut.  Boat people from Bangla Desh, however, are a very different matter.  If they want to work in Malaysia or Thailand or Indonesia they, unlike the Rohingyas, have the facility and the means to apply through the proper channels like many of their kinsmen in Malaysia.

According to an article in The Australian (11 May 2011) :  "The Rohingya ....  are the second largest group from Burma to flee to Malaysia.  Denied full citizenship, education and travel rights in their native state, where they are routinely harried and harassed, there is little they can do to improve their lot bar leaving their homes for an unsure reception elsewhere.
Refugees International claimed ..... the Rohingya were one of the most persecuted groups in the world.  At least 200,000 have fled from Burma to neighbouring Bangla Desh, where only about one-tenth are recognised as refugees by Bangladesh's government and where most live in squalor.

What are Malaysia's options?  Malaysia is  already  'home' to more than 90,000 refugees and asylum seekers, mostly the mistreated Christian Chins and the even more persecuted Muslim Rohingyas. There are the others like those from Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and Sri Lanka. Besides these numbers, there are an estimated (a conservative one) 1.5 million people who are "undocumented migrants" mainly labourers from Indonesia.

Most certainly, those stranded on board their boats must be given food and water and medical treatment.   As for landing .... well, that is the nub of the matter - as Australia knows only too well ....


Furthermore : "The Canberra government, which is determined to prevent asylum-seekers from arriving on its shores by boat after a hazardous journey across the Indian Ocean, has warned the protestors they will never be allowed to live in Australia.         Peter Dutton the new Australian Immigration Minister reiterated that there would be 'no softening of Australian policy', that the government maintains 'absolute resolve' that such refugees would 'never arrive in Australia'.

Read :http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/australasia/refugees-detained-in-papua-new-guinea-and-desperate-to-reach-australia-resort-to-hunger-strikes-and-selfharm-9985687.html

For Malaysia, then, it is a double damnation: damned if you do, damned if you don't.   The Malaysian dilemma needs to be analysed in terms of the larger context, of the global displacement of people by wars, poverty and extremism.




Malaysia only needs to observe how the Christian-Caucasian founts of human rights deal with the problem.     Our bleeding heart defenders of human rights - always so quick to follow Western strictures against Malaysia - could learn a little from European, Australian and North American policy and resolutions with regard to migrants - and especially the boat people problem.  They cannot expect Malaysia to be "whiter than white', so to speak.

BUT, there is one stark difference between the plight of the Mediterranean boat people and the one in Southeast Asia.  The former is almost entirely the making of the western world  - the political and economic breakdown of the African states, the War on Terror in the Muslim Middle East and  the pursuit of the Arab Spring in Libya.  It's a case of "the chickens coming home to roost".  However, the main perpetrator of this chaos, the USA has somehow been cushioned from facing culpability.

In the case of the Rohingyas,  Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia bear no responsibility.  The crisis is entirely the creation of Myanmar's extremist political and religious policy.  Those crusaders for elections and a government based on human rights in Myanmar, celebrities like Aung San Suu Kyi should be persuaded to now turn their liberal intentions to stopping the persecution of the Rohingyas.


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POST SCRIPT :  (after my posting) referring to Aung San Suu Kyi



Take a look at : http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/27/aung-san-suu-kyi-is-turning-a-blind-eye-to-human-rights-in-the-name-of-politics

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As for El Dorado Europe, now facing daily the problem of poor and desperate people crossing the Mediterranean in their thousands trying to get in, is it any surprise that they are now turning to their kinsmen from down under for a solution? ....

One brain wave and trend setter from Australia

Another brain wave, this time from the European Union.

In the past week or so, the print and electronic media in UK have been giving a lot of publicity to the boat-people in the Andaman Sea, as they have with the situation in the Mediterranean.  But embedded in it is a touch of giving Malaysia a 'ticking off ' - almost a re-hash of the criticisms made by Malaysia's human rights brigade.

As a matter of interest, Christian Chins from Myanmar who are stuck in a "ghetto of sorts in Kuala Lumpur's Imbi district" can draw hope from the success of their fellow-Christian Myanmar refugees, the Karens. They (170 Karens ) are happily settled in a small town ( population 2,300) in Victoria (Australia) where they contribute $41m benefit to the local economy working at a local poultry producer Luv-a-Duck.

Australia has this warning for immigrant hopefuls from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Syria etc.


But there's hope for a select group of people.

From Reuters 7 August 2014



And the British Government (ever ready to learn from Australia?) has just announced exactly the same policy.
                                              *              *             *            *            *

Forty years ago, when Malaysia had to provide refugee camps for Vietnamese boat people, they fought and got the assurance from western countries that these refugees will be repatriated to third countries and/or return to Vietnam.  The Myanmar government have denied any responsibility.  It is obvious that 'third party' countries that are richer than Malaysia will not offer asylum to the Rohingyas.  They are all suffering from 'compassion fatigue' - they just have too much "collateral damage" to deal with - and the EC is well on the way to turning itself into Fortress Europe.

Above all, Malaysia still  has to sort out their present problem of over 1.5 million refugees, asylum seekers and  illegal migrant workers!!

Let the experts deal with the solution - people like Lilianne Fan (a Bangkok- based expert on humanitarian and conflict issues in Asia, research associate at the humanitarian policy group of the UK's Overseas Development Institute), Charles Santiago (Chair of Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights, a coalition of lawmakers advocating for fundamental rights in Southeast Asia), David Mane (Executive Director of the Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre, Australia and principal solicitor and migration agent) and Jeff Labowitz ( Chief of mission, International Organisation for Migration, Thailand).  See :  http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/15/how-to-solve-asian-migrant-boats-crisis-expert-views-rohingya

Whatever suggestions are made by these experts and other pontificators;  some people, some organisations, some countries will have to put their money where their mouth is.


  




Friday, 8 May 2015

A-voting we will go, a-voting we will go .....

Just returned from doing my duty as a PR in the spouse's motherland.

The sky was  grey all day .......



....... not a good omen for getting a strong, gung-ho, no-nonsense government.

I did not do too well either at the polling station because I made a blunder .......

video


.............  trying to take a photo when the camera was set for movie mode.


This election is a three-in-one - you vote for your City Councillors, the City Mayor and your Member of Parliament.  The most important is the election of your MP - in this case -  for Leicester South.

PS.  Don't be confused by the 'Hadji' in the Conservative candidate's name.  He's of Greek-Cypriot origin - he's not a Muslim.



Of course the big boys (and girl as in SNP's Nicola Sturgeon) have been hogging our news on radio and TV - most of the time slinging mud at each other, telling porky pies and making promises they will not and cannot keep.

From "The Independent"

In this land which is reputed to be the 'Mother of all Parliaments',  and an important fount of democracy, the populace have no faith in, and no truck with, politicians and political parties.  The prediction is for a  'hung' Parliament because the big  Political Parties are equally trusted and mistrusted.

So what's so wonderful about Democracy?

For Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), democracy is  "Government of the people, by the people, for the people".  It begs the question - which people?  The establishment in USA did not take long to indict and put on trial the "Boston Bomber".  What about the perpetrators of these "mistakes'  made by the forces of law and order in the USA?



For Britain's greatest war hero, Sir Winston Churchill  (1874-1965) :  " No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise.  Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time".

To quote the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew when he was the opposition leader  in 1955  " But we either believe in democracy or we do not.  If we do , then, we must say categorically without qualification, that no restraint from the any (sic)democratic processes, either than by the ordinary law of the land, should be allowed ..................  If you believe that men should be free, then, they should have the right of free association, of free speech, of free publication."  (From Lee Kuan Yew Watch)

Then in 1997, in The Man and His Ideas, 1997,  " You're talking about Rwanda or Bangla Desh, or Cambodia, or the Philippines.  They've got democracy, according to Freedom House.  But have you got a civilized life to lead?  People want economic development first and foremost.  The leaders may talk something else.  You take a poll of any people.  What is it they want?  The right to write an editorial as you like?  They want homes, medicine, jobs, schools."   (From Lee Kuan Yew Watch)

Unfortunately the first three countries mentioned above have not had a good stock of advantages to capitalise upon, like Singapore.  Unlike Singapore, they have been battered by long periods of bloody wars and and they did not inherit a substantial economic legacy like that bequeathed upon Singapore from UK, the island's former rulers.

In UK the  practice of democracy does include a modicum of 'civilized life' and "the right to write an editorial as you like."

But the provision of "bread' alone is not enough.  An overall provision of a good life as in UK and Singapore does not bode well if there's  increasing inequality between the rich and the poor.

In Singapore, 11.4% of the population are millionaires - the highest concentration of millionaires in the world.  But , while the bottom 10% of the population had a monthly income of SGD1,400: those at the top 10% had an income of SGD23,684.
 See  :   http://www.cnbc.com/id/42891768


In UK, according to a May 2014 report, the top 10% own 44% of household wealth, and five rich families in the country have the same wealth as 12 million people.
See :  http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/oct/28/rich-poor-divide-harming-britain-poll

So, what is an Election for?

Milliband (Labour) says  "Britain only succeeds when all its working people succeed."  Cameron (Conservative) declares  "The choice is clear. You can vote for a stable economy, or financial ruin."  As for Clegg (Liberal Democrat) he promises this platitude, "We will bring a heart to a Tory Government."

For AsH and spouse, who have a stake in this country, who pay our Income Tax and Council Tax, who are buffetted by the rising cost of water and electricity and gas and TV Licence and enduring the grief of living with 'new' (and very inconsiderate) East European immigrants as neighbours - who do we vote for?  Our choice is determined  by "who do we not vote for?"  That's not much of a choice, is it?




Have a good laugh .  The Election madness is over - for the next five years.