“Police caught 152 men urinating in public yesterday – the first day of a crackdown by the Calcutta Municipal Corporation. They were freed after paying fines of 20 rupees (HK$3.60). The drive, called Operation Piddle, was launched by city mayor Prasanta Chatterjee in a bid to clean up Calcutta before the religious festival season begins this month.

The arrests were made in the central area. Mr Chatterjee said: ‘Lack of civic sense has turned the entire city into a stinking public urinal.’ He said habitual offenders could be fined 500 rupees and jailed for up to 30 days. ‘The majority of the city’s 10 million commuters prefer to relieve themselves on the roads, although there are . . . lavatories in many areas,’ municipal commissioner Asim Burman said. Most are unfit for use, however, because of poor maintenance.” (South China Morning Post, September 19 1998)

Sounds A Bit “Racist”

Agence France-Presse reports: “The Burmese junta yesterday turned to poetry as its latest weapon in a propaganda offensive against Aung San Suu Kyi. The New Light of Myanmar daily published a poem entitled You Go Home, which plays on the Nobel peace laureate’s long residence in Britain and her marriage to a Briton. The free-verse poem, which did not identify the National League for Democracy leader by name, was translated into English from the original Burmese. ‘You/ Left our land/ Went everywhere/ Loitering/ Rogue,’ it said. She had “Acted blindly/ Got bloated, Listened to/ Alien voice,’ and ‘Returned to whiteland. Bad mood of/ Blind elephant/ Serves no purpose/ Return to your spouse . . . go back/ To him.” Aung San Suu Kyi’s marriage to Briton Michael Aris is frequently cited by the junta as evidence she is not committed to her homeland.” (South China Morning Post, September 30 1998) While the verse is not likely to rival Shakespeare or Pound for quality, it does make one wonder about the double standards of the politically correct who see “racism” as occurring only in Whites.

East Africa Learning How Corruption Hurts Business

East Africa is one of the world’s poorest regions and is also one of the most corrupt. Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania recently ranked among the most corrupt nations from a field of 85 surveyed by corruption watchdogs Transparency International. International businessmen and visitors put Tanzania on a par with Nigeria as the fourth most corrupt country. Kenya shared the 11th spot with Vietnam, while Uganda came in 13th. As a whole, the survey was a gloomy message for the region. While all three governments pay lip service to the battle against graft, analysts say little has been achieved. ‘In Kenya and Tanzania we are just seeing the beginnings of official recognition that this is probably the biggest factor … holding back economic growth,” said Robert Shaw, a director of the Institute of Economic Affairs in Nairobi. Shaw sees Uganda as a separate case with corruption there more confined to the army. … ‘It is so entrenched, particularly in Tanzania and Kenya,’ he said. With per capita income in the region ranging from about $200 a year in Tanzania to around $300 in Kenya, analysts say corruption is placing an unacceptable burden on already impoverished societies. High-profile cases spark investor, donor concern. When at least $100 million disappeared from Kenya’s budget in the early 1990s to pay the Goldenberg International company under a gold and diamond export compensation scheme, high-level corruption was catapulted into the spotlight. Kenya produces little gold and no diamonds. Donors declared themselves fed up with graft. In 1997, with the Goldenberg scandal still unresolved, the International Monetary Fund suspended aid to Kenya, throwing the economy into recession.

Tanzania and Uganda remain donor favourites. Yet, they too have had high-profile corruption scandals. In Tanzania, donors have vigorously attacked the award of a expensive — and, they say, uneconomical — electricity generating contract to Malaysian contractors IPTL. In Uganda, parliament in August suspended the privatization process pending a report on claims it had become riddled with corruption. Military procurement and supply contracts, not transparent for reasons of ‘national security,’ are also described as a fast-growing problem in Uganda by representatives of Transparency International. Tanzania’s ranking a surprise With all the focus on Kenya, many pundits were surprised at Tanzania’s ranking in the survey — the first time it has been included. Brian Cooksey, acting chief executive for the local chapter of Transparency International, says President Benjamin Mkapa has given the issue a high profile since his 1995 election — but so far without results.

‘The president is committed but it doesn’t look as if anyone under him is committed,’ he said. ‘For businessmen investing in Tanzania, there is increasingly a need to pay grease payments to senior officials,’ said Cooksey. ‘In Tanzania it is clear that corruption and bureaucracy create a negative investment environment — they are extremely discouraging factors.’ … Foreign aid may have spurred corruption .The link between poverty and corruption is not a one-way street. It may be no coincidence that some of the world’s poorest, most aid-dependent countries are also among the most corrupt. ‘In my own view, aid has contributed immensely to the problem of corruption,’ said Cooksey. ‘Aid is cheap money, it is easy money, and it is often unaccounted for.’ Donors, Cooksey says, have to take more responsibility for their role in encouraging graft.” (Reuters News Service, October 5, 1998) Many of these chronically corrupt countries remain great aid favourites with Canada. From 1994 to 1996, Canada gave Kenya $106.09-million in aid; $22.84-million to Nigeria, $109.24-million to Tanzania, $55.62-million to Uganda, and $63.17-million to Vietnam. (Canadian International Development Agency Statistical Report on Official Development Assistance, 1995/96, p.35,36,40)

Tidal Wave Aid Diverted to Civil Service Pay Hikes

New Guinea may be just a few decades from being a stone age society of head hunters, but they’ve learned the ways of graft and rip-off quickly. The latest target was a pool of foreign aid rushed by well-meaning Westerners after a recent disastrous tidal wave. Agence France-Presse reports: “The Government has used eight million kina (HK$26.9 million) worth of disaster relief funds donated by aid agencies and foreign countries to give civil servants a pay rise, reports said yesterday. ‘It’s the wrong signal that this country is sending out,’ opposition MP Andrew Baing told Parliament, according to the Post-Courier. ‘The money must be used for disaster.’

A tidal wave struck northern Papua New Guinea in July, killing more than 2,000 people and displacing thousands. It hit as the country was recovering from a drought that left more than one million people close to starvation. Prime Minister Bill Skate admitted the funds were used for purposes other than disaster relief, but accused the opposition of confusing people. … From a 20 million kina relief fund, Mr Skate said 10 million was used for the drought, two million to help the tidal wave survivors, and the remaining eight million to ‘assist people affected by price increases caused by the drought and the economy’. Opposition leader Bernard Narakobi said the Government was “not good at using aid money” and accused Mr Skate of ‘misappropriation’. The Prime Minister had spent the money without cabinet approval, he said. ‘We have no money for the needy [but] we apparently have money to pay those who already have money in their pockets,’ Mr Narakobi said. (South China Morning Post, September 5 1998)

Cultural Views Kill Wildlife

“The Asian demand for aphrodisiacs threatens the survival of sea horses, conservationists say. The captivating creature, believed to be the miniature offspring of the mythical horse that pulled the chariot of Neptune, the Roman god of the sea, is being hunted relentlessly in Sri Lanka’s coastal waters to satisfy the market for its reputed stimulative properties. The vulnerability of sea horses and the threat of their extinction came into focus when two traders, attempting to export several hundred tonnes of the dried creatures, were detained by Customs officials. ‘The sea-horse trade has become so lucrative that these creatures have become one of the most hunted species of fish in our waters,’ said Jagath Gunawardena of the Society for Environmental Education.

China, South Korea, Japan and Indonesia are some of the bigger markets for the fish, which measure about 8cm (3.5 in.) in length. Conservationists say the trade in Sri Lanka is so well organised that sea-horse breeding grounds, mainly off the northwest coast, are in danger of being fished out.” (South China Morning Post, September 11 1998) Gov’t Funds Giveaways but Spurns Hong Kong Vets “Cliff Chadderton of the War Amps [outspoken opponent of the Holocaust Memorial and/or War Museum plan] and a patron of the Hong Kong Veterans Association of Canada … notes that under the Geneva Convention no government can waive the rights of its citizens, and all governments have a duty to protect the rights of their citizens. [He refers to the WWII Hong Kong Vets who endured unimaginable privation and summary execution at the hand of their Japanese captors.] … Brian Mulroney paid some $20,000 compensation to every Japanese-Canadian … while dismissing the ex-PoWs, all of whose lives had been shortened through savage mistreatment. … Of the 2,000 Canadians who survived Japanese mercies, only 361 are still alive. … In light of recently surfaced documents, it turns out that in 1955 Canada joined Britain (and Australia and New Zealand) in keeping secret a clause in the [1951-52] treaty that would have required Japan to pay more fitting compensation … [than the] $1 (raised to $1.50) that they got for every day they endured forced labour and Japanese brutality. Too bad they aren’t Burmese or Swiss. [Japan settled on 10 years worth of goods and services valued at $25,000 for Burma and paid maltreated Swiss nationals the equivalent of $40,000] … [Chadderton] rebuked Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy for his ‘screw you’ attitude to Hong Kong vets in the Commons. He urged Prime Minister Jean Chretien to atone for Canada’s 1955 betrayal and pay to Hong Kong vets what amounts to the same compensation Canada paid the Japanese- Canadians it wrongly interned and treated a lot better than its soldier-citizens were treated by the Japanese.

[According to early estimates, Ottawa will treat Nunavut nationals to an annual stipend of $21,700] In the House, Axworthy reacted to Reform questions about Hong Kong vets rather as Allan Rock and the PM react to hep C victims – with disdain and indifference. … The Hong Kong vets have pursued claims against Japan to the UN Human Rights Commission. Chadderton is upset because Ottawa has impeded rather than helped them and withheld helpful information.” (Toronto Sun, June 9, 1998) Last May, as Japanese Emperor Akihito’s motorcade made its way through the streets of London, more than 1,000 veterans along the route turned their backs on him (an act of contempt for which they would have been executed in the camps). John Stewart, technical advisor for Bridge over the River Kwai “wrote later that the reality of what happened during the construction of the railway was much worse than what was portrayed on the screen. [David] Lean, said Stewart ‘soft-pedalled all the horror bits.’ … [Few people] seem to realize that this bridge was not sabotaged by commandos (led by William Holden in the movie), but rather blown up by U.S. and British bombers. Fewer still realize that the central portion of the bridge was rebuilt, as war reparation, by the Japanese and that, as an act of defiance, the work crew defecated into the forms of the central pilings before the last concrete was poured.” (Globe and Mail, July 18, 1998) Entitlement? Restitution? White supremacy? Good grief. Let’s try to keep things in perspective.

Before We Ship More Aid to North Korea, Consider ..

In an article headlined ” North Korean Leaders Hungry for New Mercedes” David Murphy wrote: “As its people starve, North Korea is trying to buy a fleet of Mercedes cars worth US$20 million (HK$154.8 million). A Daimler-Benz executive who visited the country last month was asked by officials to supply 200 of the latest S500-class Mercedes. Told there would be a delay of several months because of high demand, the officials offered to pay a premium of five per cent for rapid delivery. ‘They wanted the new S class, they didn’t want the old model,’ said the businessman, who was accompanying International Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch on a trip to Pyongyang. Last year, the Government imported 400 status cars including 200 new Mercedes, according to a North Korean expert. He estimated there were between 7,000 and 8,000 Mercedes of various ages in the country, where most people cannot afford a bicycle. ‘They are buying Mercedes every year,’ he said. Daimler-Benz supplies between 700 and 800 shock absorbers to North Korean every year.

A European who travelled to North Korea to witness the recent 50th anniversary of the state described a large car park behind Kim Il-sung Square filled with hundreds of Mercedes – the chauffeur-driven cars of senior Workers’ Party cadres and generals attending the ceremonies. The US$20 million Pyongyang is willing to pay compares with the US$103 million in food aid pledged to the country this year under the banner of United Nations organisations, principally the World Food Programme. (South China Morning Post, October 5 1998)

Genetics, Anyone?

” Six-finger villagers blame gods. People in the small western Indian village of Golida are blaming the gods for a mysterious affliction that has left a quarter of a clan with six or more fingers on each hand. About 75 members of the 300-strong Koli Patel clan have been born with the deformity. Shisabhai Koli Patel, its 70-year old patriarch, believes his children grandchildren and great-grandchildren are victims of a curse put on them by Mataji, a local goddess worshipped by the villagers. He told [a] magazine that the villagers were under the spell of a witch doctor, who himself also had six fingers on each hand. The Koli Patels believe they are the descendants of Latin American Indians who were brought to India hundreds of years ago as slaves. (South China Morning Post, September 21, 1998)

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