brad brace

9/30/2006

Hair Trade Expands into Bangladesh

Filed under: bangladesh,global islands — admin @ 7:54 am

Hair traders from Arakan State have turned to Bangladesh markets to buy hair from local Bangladeshis for cheaper prices since hair has become a rare commodity in Arakan State, following the exporting of several tons of hair to China a few years back, a local trader reports.

“We are now purchasing several tons of hair from local Bangladesh traders with cheaper prices, but the quality is very poor and very different than hair from Burma,” said a hair trader.

In Bangladesh, Arakanese traders can by a kilogram of hair for TK 1,300, and a mung, which is 40 kilograms, for TK 5,200. Strands of hair are TK 2,700 per kilogram and TK 18,000 per mung.

In the hair markets of Rangoon and Mandalay, a viss, or 2.5 kilograms, is 60,000 kyat, while the highest quality hair is priced around 155,000 kyat. After purchase, hair traders from Burma send the hair to the Chinese markets of Yunnan Province.

A source says that in the past, Bangladesh traders had no experience in the hair trade, but they now know the business well – bringing hair from India and selling it to Burmese hair traders. There are now a few Bangladeshi traders involved in the business in the border area of Burma.

Many traders from Burma are buying hair from Bangladesh to export to China, but authorities from both Bangladesh and Burma collect large bribes at border crossings from the hair traders.

One trader said that in Arakan State a few years back, many young women were cutting their hair to sell to traders, but nowadays Arakanese hair is a rare commodity in the state.

“Although there has been no hair trade in Bangladesh before, it is now a lucrative business there, with many traders working in the hair trade,” said a trader.

9/29/2006

Hundreds injured in Bangladesh protest

Filed under: bangladesh,global islands — admin @ 5:58 am

Riot police in Bangladesh have fired rubber bullets and sprayed tear gas at hundreds of demonstrators who attacked government offices in the capital Dhaka.

The demonstrators were protesting against two days of almost constant power outages.

Reports indicated about 200 protesters were injured in the clashes.

The violence broke out in Dhaka’s northern Mirpur district, where nearly a 1000 stone-throwing demonstrators rampaged through the streets.

Some Dhaka residents have been getting just two hours of electricity a day.

Public anger has been heightened because the power cuts have affected devotees trying to offer special evening prayers for the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

9/27/2006

Cinemas in Bangladesh, Pakistan squeezed by Bollywood

Filed under: bangladesh — admin @ 6:25 am

DHAKA/ISLAMABAD –

The traditional family trip to the local cinema has become little more than a nostalgic memory in Bangladesh and Pakistan, where locals prefer to stay home and watch banned Bollywood films on their television sets.

The fall from grace of local movie theatres, which are being converted into shopping malls both in Dhaka and Islamabad, is a testament to politics and piracy in the two traditional Muslim countries that border India from the East and the West.

India’s Hindi-language films, many of them slickly produced song-and-dance extravaganzas, are wildly popular in Pakistan and Bangladesh where Hindi is easily understood.

But they have been banned from the big screen in both countries due to government concern that scenes of actresses being romanced by men and dancing in somewhat revealing costumes might permeate their Muslim cultures in which female modesty is prized and intermingling among the sexes is taboo.

They (Indian films) simply go against our religion, culture and taste, said Abdur Rashid, a political scientist in Bangladesh. If we allow them to be watched freely then these films will pollute our society, he added.

India’s Hindi-language film industry in Mumbai, widely known as Bollywood, churns out hundreds of blockbuster films a year which are wildly popular in India and in neighboring countries where Bollywood stars are household names.

In contrast, the films made by the Bangladeshi and Pakistani movie industries and screened at local cinemas are seen as amateurish and dull compared to glamorous Bollywood.

The Big Screen:

The Kohsar cinema in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, is a lonely place. The city’s last surviving movie theatre — a cavernous 700-seat auditorium — is virtually deserted.

It’s weird sitting here with just 11 people in such a big hall watching the movie, said Jahanzeb, a Pakistani driver who came to the cinema to watch a film with a friend on his day off.

Owner Mohammed Iqbal Mian is waiting for city hall approval to shut the Kohsar down and turn it into a shopping mall.

It’s like a white elephant for me. But since it’s my property and I am not pressed for money, I’m allowing it to go on because it provides employment for my workers, he said.

In Dhaka, housewife Shiri Akhtar’s childhood memories are filled with tragedy, comedy and drama from movies she grew up watching at her local movie cinema.

I almost never missed any new film that came to town, said Akhtar, 35.

But these days, the few cinemas that still operate in Dhaka are largely empty of clientele except for shady characters drawn by illicit screenings of Western films late at night showing banned scenes of couples kissing.

No one with good taste comes to cinema halls now. The young generation of Bangladeshis are increasingly turning to videos and satellite channels, said former cinema owner Abdul Halim.

In the past decade, some 500 cinemas out of an estimated 1,200 in Bangladesh have closed down. The situation is similar in Pakistan where fewer than 200 movie theatres are still operating compared to about 700 three decades ago.

Bangladeshi authorities banned Indian films at movie theatres in 1972, complaining that scenes of women singing and dancing were erotic and violated Islamic and Bengali traditions.

In Pakistan, Indian films were banned following a war between the neighbors in the mid-1960s.

Things got worse when military dictator Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq ushered in an era of Islamic conservatism and movie censorship after seizing power in a 1977 coup.

It was during Haq’s 11-year rule that the pirated film industry took off with smuggled Indian films coming in on video cassettes. These days they are smuggled in on even smaller DVDs.

Pirated Films, Cable TV:

The Pakistani government allowed the screening of Mughal-e-Azam and Taj Mahal, two historical Bollywood films, in an effort to boost cultural ties with India.

But the ban on Indian films in cinemas remains, although they are shown on cable television and pirated copies are easily available.

The biggest joke is that we have had this ban since the 60s but the latest Bollywood and Hollywood hits are freely available on fine-quality pirated prints, said Nadeem Mandviwalla, a cinema operator in Pakistan’s biggest city, Karachi.

The only future for dying movie theatres in both countries might be multiplex cinemas for affluent audiences.

The development of such complexes revived the movie theatre industries in India and Indonesia which went through a decline as audiences stayed away from decaying cinemas, sometimes infested by rats, preferring to stay home and watch TV.

A night out at the movies is popular again in both countries where modern multiplexes have sprung up to pamper movie goers with digital sound, air conditioning and soft, padded chairs.

But steep ticket prices at these complexes mean that a trip to the movies is unaffordable for many of the poor who used to pack the large, squalid cinemas for cheap outings.

As cinemas shut down in Bangladesh and Pakistan, the poor have nowhere to go for affordable entertainment and those that made their livings working in cinemas have no jobs.

The once-rich cinema owners are still rich because they reinvested their money carefully, said Abdul Barek, who used to sell tickets at a movie theatre in Dhaka. [But] I am unemployed and can hardly afford a meal a day.

9/26/2006

Revitalization

Filed under: art,bangladesh,General,global islands — admin @ 6:38 am

A maintaining dynamic provides stability, while a modernizing dynamic forces change. We tend to be satisfied with a view of the world as a theatre of conflict between stability and change. Collecting a congeries of phenomena under the rubric of modernization, we project a future that will be purified in a certain direction. With only the craven desire for stability to overcome, the victory of modernization seems assured, and the world must progress toward the mechanized, the artificial, the commercial, the secular, the individual, and the international. There is, however, an oppositional force of self-conscious resistance on behalf of the bodily, the natural, the creative, the sacred, the collective, and the local. This countervailing force is underestimated because we have not yet learned, as we have with modernization, to gather its disparate signs under one label.
Oppositional actions do not connect directly; they align independently in negative response to modernization, the force also called, depending upon context, progress, development, secularization, industrialization, westernization, or colonialism. The goal is not maintenance; the orientation is progressive, but the dynammic is recursive. The mind scans the past to imagine the future. Consider the popularity of hobbies involving handicraft, the concern for environmental conservation and historic preservation, the profusion of civic festivals, the resurgence of ethnic identity, the escalation of nativism, and nationalism, the institution of reactionary values in politics and education, the convergence of alternative ideology and spiritual yearning in religious revival, the new age cults, in Christianity and Judaism, in Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. In detail it is too much to encompass: The Mahabharata in ninety-three installments on Indian television, mosques destroyed in Bosnia and built in Afghanistan, powpows in Oklahoma, martial arts in Japan, new music in Colombia, glass painting in Poland and Romania, rosemaling in Norway and Wisconsin, political order in Iran, rebellion in Chechnya, separatism in Quebec, fundamentalism in Christianity, the Mao cult in China, Kwanzaa in Philadelphia, the Eid parade in Dhaka city, Saraswati Puja at Jagannath Hall. But take it all together, name it revitalization, and it is a power to balance modernization.

General Strike in Bangladesh

Filed under: bangladesh,global islands — admin @ 6:37 am

DHAKA, Bangladesh — Riot police used batons Thursday to break up hundreds of stone-throwing protesters in the Bangladesh capital, injuring at least 50 people, police and witnesses said.

The clashes occurred in central Dhaka during an opposition-sponsored general strike to demand reforms ahead of next year’s national election.

Police beat back the protesters when they started smashing the few vehicles that were on the streets defying the strike call, according to an Associated Press reporter at the scene.

Police also stopped a procession of lawmakers from the main opposition Awami League party, opposition lawmaker Abdus Shahid told reporters.

Stray clashes were reported in Dhaka’s Dhanmondi, Mirpur, Mohakhali and Gulistan areas where police used batons to disperse the protesters, a Dhaka Metropolitan Police official said on condition of anonymity in line with policy.

The nationwide dawn-to-dusk strike has been sponsored by an alliance of 14 opposition parties, led by former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Most of the injured, including women, were treated at private medical clinics.

Several homemade bombs exploded in parts of Dhaka, the ATN Bangla television reported. No injuries were reported.

Similar protests were also reported in more than 60 cities and towns including in Chittagong, where operations in the country’s main sea port were largely disrupted, port officials said. Chittagong is 216 kilometers (135 miles) southeast of the capital, Dhaka.

The protesters took to the streets despite rains spawned by storms that have killed at least 49 people and left hundreds missing along Bangladesh’s southern coast since Tuesday.

Authorities earlier said that 10,000 police were to be deployed to maintain peace in Dhaka, the capital city of 10 million people, a Dhaka Metropolitan Police statement said.

The strike shut down shops and schools and disrupted traffic in Dhaka. Commuters relied on tricycle rickshaws that strike organizers allowed to operate or on a few state-run buses that defied the protest.

The shutdown came a day after thousands of activists demanding electoral reforms disrupted rail and road transports across the country.

The opposition alliance has launched a campaign of street protests and general strikes to press for its demands, a common opposition tactic in Bangladesh.

The alliance has been demanding the removal of four election commissioners, saying they are biased toward Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s four-party ruling coalition.

The commissioners have denied the allegation and refused to resign.

The alliance also wants to play a role in choosing the head of a caretaker administration that will conduct the elections after Zia constitutionally hands over power Oct. 28.

9/25/2006

Coup leaders reaffirm loyalty to Thai King

Filed under: global islands,thailand — admin @ 7:12 am

BANGKOK — As soon as they had consolidated their power, Thailand’s military coup leaders made a symbolic kowtow to the man who had made it all possible: the country’s 78-year-old monarch.

More than anything else, it was the tacit alliance between the army generals and the long-ruling monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, that allowed the coup plotters to secure their victory last week.

Three days after the tanks rolled into Bangkok, the generals paid homage to the King. In a nationally televised ceremony, the top coup leader, General Sonthi Boonyaratglin, stood before a shrine to the monarch. A royal decree was recited, confirming their alliance, and then the general kneeled and bowed before a portrait of the King.

In exchange for his support, the military has repeatedly signalled its loyalty to the King. Soldiers have tied yellow ribbons — the royal colour — onto their rifles and tanks. The official name of the military junta — the Council for Democratic Reform under Constitutional Monarchy — is a further bow to the dominance of the world’s longest-reigning monarch.

In Bangkok yesterday, the military felt confident enough to withdraw 10 tanks from the Royal Plaza in the city centre, where they had been stationed since the coup. This week, the military will appoint an interim prime minister and finalize a new constitution.

In another gesture of allegiance to the King, the coup leaders threatened Saturday to take “immediate action” against any foreign journalist who writes anything that “may infringe” on the monarchy. The warning was apparently provoked by the military’s displeasure that some foreign reporters have mentioned the King’s role in political matters — a taboo subject.

King Bhumibol, who celebrated an extraordinary 60 years on the throne this spring, has often sided with coups and military regimes in the past. But he is so powerful and so revered that it is illegal and almost unthinkable to criticize him.

Publicity about him is unrelentingly positive. Laudatory reports about his activities are broadcast on every television channel at 8 p.m. every night, often showing Thais prostrating themselves before him. Cinema audiences are required to rise for the royal anthem before every movie, with his image on the screen.

Thailand banned a recent biography of the King by a U.S. journalist because the book was insufficiently respectful. Even the Amazon website’s page about the book is blocked by police censors, with a warning that reads: “Sorry, the website you are accessing has been closed by Royal Thai Police due to inappropriateness such as pornography, gambling or contain any information which is deemed to violate national security.”

The crime of lèse-majesté — insulting the dignity of the monarch — is taken extremely seriously, with violations punishable by up to 15 years in prison. A number of journalists, intellectuals and politicians have been charged with the offence, despite protests from international human-rights groups.

“Many people think the King is a god,” said Thanapol Eawsakul, publisher of a political magazine that saw one of its issues banned because it printed skeptical articles about the monarchy. “It’s not surprising, with the media making so much propaganda for him. Nobody criticizes him.”

Despite the ban, and despite a police attempt to prosecute Mr. Thanapol for “upsetting public order,” the issue about the monarchy sold out and was eventually reprinted with another 6,000 copies, although it was difficult for the publisher to find a printer.

“Many people want to know about the King,” Mr. Thanapol said. “There’s so much gossip, but no real information.”

In a typical village in northern Thailand, a street vendor says she sells about 10 framed portraits of the monarch on market day every week. Hundreds of villagers wear yellow shirts as a symbol of their love for him. “He is like a Buddha — the being that we respect the most,” said Amornrat Chantawit, a 35-year-old egg vendor. “It’s as if we are his children. He is like a father. We have to do what he says.”

A military officer agrees. “We would give our lives to protect the King,” he says. “The King is above everything else.” Even the supporters of Thaksin Shinawatra — the prime minister who was deposed by the coup — are quick to express obedience to the throne.

“Every time Thailand has a crisis, it is the King who will solve the problem,” said Surapong Tovijakchaikoon, a member of Mr. Thaksin’s political party. “Everyone respects the King’s decisions. All Thai people love the King.”

Why countries like Bangladesh remain poor

Filed under: bangladesh,global islands — admin @ 7:05 am

Mahfuz R. Chowdhury
9/25/2006

ACCOMPLISHMENT of economic growth is the single most important goal of every nation. Economic growth refers to the ability of a nation to produce more goods and services and thereby raising the living standard of its people. But as one can see, not all nations of the world have fared well in their endeavours. Over the years some nations have achieved very high standards of living, while many others still continue to languish in poverty. Here is some factual information, which should give a better picture about the prevailing disparity in the world. According to the CIA World Fact Book, the annual per capita income of one-sixth of the world population in 2004 was more than $27,000, while two-thirds of them earned less than $7,000, and the earning of the lowest third hardly amounted to $1,500 per year. Nearly three billion people of the world live on less than $2.0 a day, and approximately one billion of them live on less than $1.0 a day. These one billion people in the lower income group are deprived of even clean drinking water let alone other necessities of life. Now the question is, why does there exist such an inequality?
One easy answer to the question may be the uneven distribution of world resources. Let’s face it, some countries are endowed with more natural resources than others. So logically that would make the people of those countries richer than the rest. But mere possession of resources does not guarantee economic growth. An abundance of natural resources could bring prosperity, but without industrialisation that prosperity would last as long as the resources last. Hence, industrialisation is considered to be the key to economic development because that is the surest way to increase the productive capacity of a nation. A nation’s GDP or per capita income of its people is measured by the market value of all goods and services it produces annually. It thus follows that in order for a nation to attain or retain its economic growth it must manage its resources efficiently and at the same time it must employ them in the modernisation of its production facilities.
The early economic growth achieved by the European and North American countries, for example, was helped by the spread of the industrial revolution that originated in England in the late eighteenth century. Ironically, lack of natural resources was not an impediment to economic growth. A number of countries, notably Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore, were later able to achieve their impressive economic growth by embarking on industrialisation, even though they had no or little natural resources of their own. But unfortunately most of the underdeveloped countries of the world are finding it very hard to come out of their economic doldrums. What’s holding them back? If progress is to depend on a country’s ability to overcome obstacles and to adapt in changing circumstances, then one needs to look into the historical background of these countries to understand the difficulties they face.
The biggest obstruction for these underdeveloped countries is poverty. Other critical challenges they confront, such as illiteracy or ill-health, are mainly attributable to poverty itself. Since success of a country’s industrialisation depends primarily on the education and health of its workers, poverty could be a serious drawback. To put it another way, without having met the basic human requirements of food, clothing and shelter other challenges could not be effectively addressed. The roots of poverty in most underdeveloped countries could be traced to the era of colonial rule. Many years of neglect and oppression by the colonial powers have created such a negative impact in these countries that they find themselves in an extremely serious deadlock from which they find it difficult to escape.
For removing or reducing the impact of poverty in these countries, what is then needed is a revolutionary change both socially and culturally. But the problem is that this kind of change does not come easily in a traditional society where most people are illiterates. To bring about this kind of change it would require great sacrifice and a very intelligent political guidance. Without having achieved such a change, it is not possible for a nation to turn its situation around. In other words, appropriate political changes are required in these countries before their economy could be improved. Those countries, such as India, Malaysia, Brazil and Mexico that have succeeded in making the changes and adopted policies to modernise their production facilities are making progress. But, as evidence clearly points out, quite a number of South Asian, African and Latin American countries, after so many years of political freedom from their colonial rules, have yet to implement such changes. As a result, these countries’ economies remained very depressed and their people seem hopelessly trapped in poverty. Until such time that the political leadership of these countries is prepared to implement the changes necessary, there will be no escape from their current predicament.
Bangladesh, with over 140 million people, is an impoverished country in South Asia and it embodies all of the above characteristics and difficulties of a developing country. What can we learn from the Bangladesh situation? First, let’s consider its historical background. It was once a prosperous region in the Indian sub-continent, and was considered to have a great potential. But then it had to serve as part of a British colony for almost 200 years, during which time it witnessed an enormous drain of its wealth to Britain. After the British left in 1947, it was victimised once again when it chose to join Pakistan. The worsening economic situation that followed compelled some to refer to its Pakistan era as the era of ‘the colony of a colony’. In any case, its people had to fight two wars of independence within a time span of just 24 years – first with the British and second with the Pakistanis.

Why countries like Bangladesh remain poor

Filed under: bangladesh,global islands — admin @ 7:05 am

Mahfuz R. Chowdhury
9/25/2006

ACCOMPLISHMENT of economic growth is the single most important goal of every nation. Economic growth refers to the ability of a nation to produce more goods and services and thereby raising the living standard of its people. But as one can see, not all nations of the world have fared well in their endeavours. Over the years some nations have achieved very high standards of living, while many others still continue to languish in poverty. Here is some factual information, which should give a better picture about the prevailing disparity in the world. According to the CIA World Fact Book, the annual per capita income of one-sixth of the world population in 2004 was more than $27,000, while two-thirds of them earned less than $7,000, and the earning of the lowest third hardly amounted to $1,500 per year. Nearly three billion people of the world live on less than $2.0 a day, and approximately one billion of them live on less than $1.0 a day. These one billion people in the lower income group are deprived of even clean drinking water let alone other necessities of life. Now the question is, why does there exist such an inequality?
One easy answer to the question may be the uneven distribution of world resources. Let’s face it, some countries are endowed with more natural resources than others. So logically that would make the people of those countries richer than the rest. But mere possession of resources does not guarantee economic growth. An abundance of natural resources could bring prosperity, but without industrialisation that prosperity would last as long as the resources last. Hence, industrialisation is considered to be the key to economic development because that is the surest way to increase the productive capacity of a nation. A nation’s GDP or per capita income of its people is measured by the market value of all goods and services it produces annually. It thus follows that in order for a nation to attain or retain its economic growth it must manage its resources efficiently and at the same time it must employ them in the modernisation of its production facilities.
The early economic growth achieved by the European and North American countries, for example, was helped by the spread of the industrial revolution that originated in England in the late eighteenth century. Ironically, lack of natural resources was not an impediment to economic growth. A number of countries, notably Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore, were later able to achieve their impressive economic growth by embarking on industrialisation, even though they had no or little natural resources of their own. But unfortunately most of the underdeveloped countries of the world are finding it very hard to come out of their economic doldrums. What’s holding them back? If progress is to depend on a country’s ability to overcome obstacles and to adapt in changing circumstances, then one needs to look into the historical background of these countries to understand the difficulties they face.
The biggest obstruction for these underdeveloped countries is poverty. Other critical challenges they confront, such as illiteracy or ill-health, are mainly attributable to poverty itself. Since success of a country’s industrialisation depends primarily on the education and health of its workers, poverty could be a serious drawback. To put it another way, without having met the basic human requirements of food, clothing and shelter other challenges could not be effectively addressed. The roots of poverty in most underdeveloped countries could be traced to the era of colonial rule. Many years of neglect and oppression by the colonial powers have created such a negative impact in these countries that they find themselves in an extremely serious deadlock from which they find it difficult to escape.
For removing or reducing the impact of poverty in these countries, what is then needed is a revolutionary change both socially and culturally. But the problem is that this kind of change does not come easily in a traditional society where most people are illiterates. To bring about this kind of change it would require great sacrifice and a very intelligent political guidance. Without having achieved such a change, it is not possible for a nation to turn its situation around. In other words, appropriate political changes are required in these countries before their economy could be improved. Those countries, such as India, Malaysia, Brazil and Mexico that have succeeded in making the changes and adopted policies to modernise their production facilities are making progress. But, as evidence clearly points out, quite a number of South Asian, African and Latin American countries, after so many years of political freedom from their colonial rules, have yet to implement such changes. As a result, these countries’ economies remained very depressed and their people seem hopelessly trapped in poverty. Until such time that the political leadership of these countries is prepared to implement the changes necessary, there will be no escape from their current predicament.
Bangladesh, with over 140 million people, is an impoverished country in South Asia and it embodies all of the above characteristics and difficulties of a developing country. What can we learn from the Bangladesh situation? First, let’s consider its historical background. It was once a prosperous region in the Indian sub-continent, and was considered to have a great potential. But then it had to serve as part of a British colony for almost 200 years, during which time it witnessed an enormous drain of its wealth to Britain. After the British left in 1947, it was victimised once again when it chose to join Pakistan. The worsening economic situation that followed compelled some to refer to its Pakistan era as the era of ‘the colony of a colony’. In any case, its people had to fight two wars of independence within a time span of just 24 years – first with the British and second with the Pakistanis.

Ramadan begins in Bangladesh on Monday

Filed under: bangladesh,global islands — admin @ 7:02 am

Dhaka, Sep 24 — The Muslim fasting month of Ramadan begins on Monday in Bangladesh, it was officially announced here today.
The month begins subject to the sighting of the new moon, which was not seen today in Muslim-majority Bangladesh.

Meanwhile, Hindus in the country are preparing for Durga Puja. Authorities have stepped up security to ensure a peaceful festival.

9/24/2006

3 killed in Cox’s Bazar mud collapse

Filed under: bangladesh,global islands — admin @ 5:47 am

Three children of two families were killed and seven others injured in mudslide, triggered by depression-driven heavy rain in the last three days, at Ramu and offshore island Moheshkhali early Saturday.

The dead were identified as Riazuddin,4, and her sister Rezia Parveen,2, of Shikderpara village in Ramu upazila and Jahedul,5, of Jamaltara village in Moheshkhali upazila.

In Ramu upazila, chunks of mud collapsed on the foothill house of day-labourer Rezaul Karim at about 3am while they were fast asleep, killing his two children.

Rezaul, his wife Monjuara Begum, another son, Mizanur,7, and daughter Shamsurnahar,5, were also injured critically.

The injured were first taken to upazila health complex and later shifted to sadar hospital.

Meanwhile, another incident of mud collapse on the house of Shamsul Alam of Jamaltara village of Moheshkhali island at 2 am killed his son Jahedul on the spot.

Injured Shamsul Alam, his wife Khodeza and their three-year-old daughter were rushed to Moheshkhali hospital.

3 killed in Cox’s Bazar mud collapse

Filed under: bangladesh,global islands — admin @ 5:47 am

Three children of two families were killed and seven others injured in mudslide, triggered by depression-driven heavy rain in the last three days, at Ramu and offshore island Moheshkhali early Saturday.

The dead were identified as Riazuddin,4, and her sister Rezia Parveen,2, of Shikderpara village in Ramu upazila and Jahedul,5, of Jamaltara village in Moheshkhali upazila.

In Ramu upazila, chunks of mud collapsed on the foothill house of day-labourer Rezaul Karim at about 3am while they were fast asleep, killing his two children.

Rezaul, his wife Monjuara Begum, another son, Mizanur,7, and daughter Shamsurnahar,5, were also injured critically.

The injured were first taken to upazila health complex and later shifted to sadar hospital.

Meanwhile, another incident of mud collapse on the house of Shamsul Alam of Jamaltara village of Moheshkhali island at 2 am killed his son Jahedul on the spot.

Injured Shamsul Alam, his wife Khodeza and their three-year-old daughter were rushed to Moheshkhali hospital.

9/23/2006

Forms of corruption in Bangladesh: Measures of control

Filed under: bangladesh,global islands — admin @ 6:18 am

CORRUPTION is talk of the town in Bangladesh now. It is not only a vice in Bangladesh but also in other countries of the world. But there are differences in the forms and results of corruption in different countries. A few specialists on corruption regard it as supportive to development. Corruption may have some positive sides; yet no one likes it.
Experts like Dobby, Boskof and Pindeliton say; “By corruption, we generally mean the behaviour of persons in responsible positions who betray the substantial trust normally assigned to those positions.” Renowned personality of Bangladesh Prof. Dr. Sirajul Islam says, “Corruption is one kind of crime but all crime is not corruption — abuse of power, opportunities, etc., is also related with corruption.”
Corruption is like a contagious disease. Man adopts different ways and policies to get established in life. Everyone tries to dominate in his own field — social or political sector. If there is no definite policy in regulating day to day life, man doesn’t hesitate to adopt any illegal means. Man needs a moral principle to lead his life. Man can gradually establish himself by following that moral principle. If there is no moral principle before a man, it becomes very easy for him to do any illegal thing. To do any unlawful thing that man adopts corrupt ways. Religious faith and moral values can keep a man free from corruption.
Corruption is taking place not only in Bangladesh but also in developed and other non-developed countries of the world. The nature and causes of corruption are almost similar everywhere. But there is difference in its forms in developed and underdeveloped countries. Its negative impact in a developed country is not as bad as it is in a developing one like ours. Ordinary people suffer a lot due to it in developing country like ours. But it is not the same in developed countries.
Corruption has gradually increased in this country after the independence. Politics is one of the notable sectors that corruption has seriously invaded. There is lack of transparency in the activities of political parties of Bangladesh. The condition reminds us one of the proverbs: “A person having no principle enters into politics”. It has become literally true in this country. Corruption is increasing here not only due to lack of transparency but also because of poor practice of democracy within the political parties. Grab power by winning votes on giving false hope to the people is the philosophy of the political parties the use of politics for personal interest by government officials, taking advantage of bad politics to adopt unfair means are the signs of corruption. If this vice has seriously invaded its political arena, the country concerned will never turn into a developed one.
Negligence in administrative jobs, failure to perform the duties properly, receiving bribe and misappropriation of government money are also the signs of corruption. Poor salary of government officials, discrimination in promotion, absence of appreciation for honesty and punishment for misdeeds also help increase in corruption and inefficiency in the administration.
Social corruption is being spread by social organisations. Lack of trust between family members, corruption in educational institutions and involvement in different anti-social activities by social organisations increase social corruption. Social fraternity is being hampered as the social organisations are becoming increasingly corrupt. Religious belief of the people of our country is very high. The Muslims, the Buddhists, the Christians and the Hindus along with some tribes are living together here. So a large number of saints, religious scholars and mosques, temples etc., are there in this country. For this, sometimes religions can be easily misused.
Different unlawful activities in the name of religion are same as anti-social activities. Business in the name of religion, cheating people using the cover of religion, using religion for personal and party interests are among corrupt practices under the garb of religion. To cheat one and use someone in own interests are instances of personal corruption. Receiving money from others in the name of giving jobs or freeing from danger is also corruption at individual level.
There are different reasons behind corruption in Bangladesh.
Shrewdness and corruption were spread by the British who were in our society as the colonialists. This sub-continent was ruled by them for a long period. Before independence of Bangladesh, corruption of the then West Pakistanis in the then East Pakistan helped increase corruption in the society. Corruption is still present in Bangladesh in the spheres of trade and commerce and construction of economic infrastructure and in the inclination to use politics for own interest.
Since independence, most of those who ruled the country were corrupt. The absence of honest, courageous leadership to guide a nation is the major cause of increase in corruption. The youths of the country cannot meaningfully participate in the development of the country for want of honest and dedicated leadership.
The political conditions and infrastructure positions of political parties of Bangladesh help in increasing corruption. Less meritorious people are actively involved in student politics and the quality of national politics has been deteriorating due to less participation of meritorious people in it. As a result, they have become corrupt in spite of leading the society. So corruption-free political parties are essentials for a fair administration.
Corruption has increased in the society due to inappropriate and inadequate application of law. There is no effective step to protest crime. No activities are there to protest and remove corruption in Bangladesh. It is not easy to take action against corrupt government officials. So they are being encouraged towards greater corruption.
One of the reasons for the increase of corruption in our country is that the newspapers and electronic media have failed to perform their duties accurately. Telecast of advertisements of different fake products, which are also put up in other media, helps spread corruption. Sometimes different obscene dramas and films are also shown in the media, which are also stimulate for increased corruption. On the other hand, media do not put up any programme against corruption. Corruption has increased due to a kind of passive positive attitude of media towards corruption.
There is no doubt that corruption is an immense problem. We all should try to control it. To control this spreading vice we may adopt some measures. Responsibility alone does not lie with the government for controlling corruption. Everyone should be conscious about its ill effects. Everyone should take oath that he or she would remain free from corruption.
All the political leaders and workers should promise to lead a corruption-free life. Because, self-correction is the first step for prevention of corruption.
Prevention of corruption should be included in the manifestoes of the political parties and this motto should form part of the a culture in regular activities of all political parties. It should be treated as a social disease. All the parties should try to increase awareness about the need for prevention of corruption by them and among them. Honest and sincere persons should be given the opportunity for providing leadership.
The examples of morality, social service, knowledge and wisdom of corruption-free men and women should be included in the curricula in all phases of education. Corruption is unfair and it is harmful to the society — this learning should be implanted in the mind of students. In this regard, religious education should be given priority.
Corruption-free administration is vital for eradication of corruption. If the administration is not free from this vice, it is not possible to eliminate it from the society. A good administration depends on the honesty and sincerity of the employees. So honest and sincere employees should be appointed to ensure corruption-free government. Effective measures should be taken to prevent their moral erosion. At the same time arrangement should be made to take legal and administrative actions against injustices and corruption to raise a good administration.
To prevent corruption we really need an efficient anti-corruption apparatus. It should be free from political influence and have opportunities to work independently. Officials in this apparatus should be appointed carefully. Otherwise, corruption will increase rather than decrease. Activities of recently formed Anti-Corruption Commission should be upgraded and made more effective. Everyone is disappointed with the limited activities of this body.
There is a proverb: “Necessity knows no law.” If the government employees cannot lead a normal happy life with their income, they may then adopt unfair means. So, wages should be consistent with market prices of daily necessities. If there is no want, people will not try to take shelter of corruption. Suitable remuneration could be an effective measure for control of corruption.
A social movement against corruption should be initiated with the help of all political, social and cultural organisations. Media also could help it by putting up programmes against corruption. This initiative should come from both public and private sectors. Media could play a vital role in this regard. We have seen in the past and at present also that whenever media — particularly Television channels telecast a few series of programmes on any anti-social actively, it can be discouraged and stopped.
An independent law department is essential for the prevention of corruption. Though initiatives have been taken for this, there is no positive result yet. Good governance could be ensured as well as corruption will decrease if those relate to courts and lawyers could perform their duties independently. But they must be honest and sincere in performing their jobs.
Indeed, we could proceed to build up a corruption-free society by utilising some serious research work on corruption by social researcher. For this we need a decision, an oath to the effect that each of us will never do any corruption and would not encourage or help others in doing it.

Forms of corruption in Bangladesh: Measures of control

Filed under: bangladesh,global islands — admin @ 6:18 am

CORRUPTION is talk of the town in Bangladesh now. It is not only a vice in Bangladesh but also in other countries of the world. But there are differences in the forms and results of corruption in different countries. A few specialists on corruption regard it as supportive to development. Corruption may have some positive sides; yet no one likes it.
Experts like Dobby, Boskof and Pindeliton say; “By corruption, we generally mean the behaviour of persons in responsible positions who betray the substantial trust normally assigned to those positions.” Renowned personality of Bangladesh Prof. Dr. Sirajul Islam says, “Corruption is one kind of crime but all crime is not corruption — abuse of power, opportunities, etc., is also related with corruption.”
Corruption is like a contagious disease. Man adopts different ways and policies to get established in life. Everyone tries to dominate in his own field — social or political sector. If there is no definite policy in regulating day to day life, man doesn’t hesitate to adopt any illegal means. Man needs a moral principle to lead his life. Man can gradually establish himself by following that moral principle. If there is no moral principle before a man, it becomes very easy for him to do any illegal thing. To do any unlawful thing that man adopts corrupt ways. Religious faith and moral values can keep a man free from corruption.
Corruption is taking place not only in Bangladesh but also in developed and other non-developed countries of the world. The nature and causes of corruption are almost similar everywhere. But there is difference in its forms in developed and underdeveloped countries. Its negative impact in a developed country is not as bad as it is in a developing one like ours. Ordinary people suffer a lot due to it in developing country like ours. But it is not the same in developed countries.
Corruption has gradually increased in this country after the independence. Politics is one of the notable sectors that corruption has seriously invaded. There is lack of transparency in the activities of political parties of Bangladesh. The condition reminds us one of the proverbs: “A person having no principle enters into politics”. It has become literally true in this country. Corruption is increasing here not only due to lack of transparency but also because of poor practice of democracy within the political parties. Grab power by winning votes on giving false hope to the people is the philosophy of the political parties the use of politics for personal interest by government officials, taking advantage of bad politics to adopt unfair means are the signs of corruption. If this vice has seriously invaded its political arena, the country concerned will never turn into a developed one.
Negligence in administrative jobs, failure to perform the duties properly, receiving bribe and misappropriation of government money are also the signs of corruption. Poor salary of government officials, discrimination in promotion, absence of appreciation for honesty and punishment for misdeeds also help increase in corruption and inefficiency in the administration.
Social corruption is being spread by social organisations. Lack of trust between family members, corruption in educational institutions and involvement in different anti-social activities by social organisations increase social corruption. Social fraternity is being hampered as the social organisations are becoming increasingly corrupt. Religious belief of the people of our country is very high. The Muslims, the Buddhists, the Christians and the Hindus along with some tribes are living together here. So a large number of saints, religious scholars and mosques, temples etc., are there in this country. For this, sometimes religions can be easily misused.
Different unlawful activities in the name of religion are same as anti-social activities. Business in the name of religion, cheating people using the cover of religion, using religion for personal and party interests are among corrupt practices under the garb of religion. To cheat one and use someone in own interests are instances of personal corruption. Receiving money from others in the name of giving jobs or freeing from danger is also corruption at individual level.
There are different reasons behind corruption in Bangladesh.
Shrewdness and corruption were spread by the British who were in our society as the colonialists. This sub-continent was ruled by them for a long period. Before independence of Bangladesh, corruption of the then West Pakistanis in the then East Pakistan helped increase corruption in the society. Corruption is still present in Bangladesh in the spheres of trade and commerce and construction of economic infrastructure and in the inclination to use politics for own interest.
Since independence, most of those who ruled the country were corrupt. The absence of honest, courageous leadership to guide a nation is the major cause of increase in corruption. The youths of the country cannot meaningfully participate in the development of the country for want of honest and dedicated leadership.
The political conditions and infrastructure positions of political parties of Bangladesh help in increasing corruption. Less meritorious people are actively involved in student politics and the quality of national politics has been deteriorating due to less participation of meritorious people in it. As a result, they have become corrupt in spite of leading the society. So corruption-free political parties are essentials for a fair administration.
Corruption has increased in the society due to inappropriate and inadequate application of law. There is no effective step to protest crime. No activities are there to protest and remove corruption in Bangladesh. It is not easy to take action against corrupt government officials. So they are being encouraged towards greater corruption.
One of the reasons for the increase of corruption in our country is that the newspapers and electronic media have failed to perform their duties accurately. Telecast of advertisements of different fake products, which are also put up in other media, helps spread corruption. Sometimes different obscene dramas and films are also shown in the media, which are also stimulate for increased corruption. On the other hand, media do not put up any programme against corruption. Corruption has increased due to a kind of passive positive attitude of media towards corruption.
There is no doubt that corruption is an immense problem. We all should try to control it. To control this spreading vice we may adopt some measures. Responsibility alone does not lie with the government for controlling corruption. Everyone should be conscious about its ill effects. Everyone should take oath that he or she would remain free from corruption.
All the political leaders and workers should promise to lead a corruption-free life. Because, self-correction is the first step for prevention of corruption.
Prevention of corruption should be included in the manifestoes of the political parties and this motto should form part of the a culture in regular activities of all political parties. It should be treated as a social disease. All the parties should try to increase awareness about the need for prevention of corruption by them and among them. Honest and sincere persons should be given the opportunity for providing leadership.
The examples of morality, social service, knowledge and wisdom of corruption-free men and women should be included in the curricula in all phases of education. Corruption is unfair and it is harmful to the society — this learning should be implanted in the mind of students. In this regard, religious education should be given priority.
Corruption-free administration is vital for eradication of corruption. If the administration is not free from this vice, it is not possible to eliminate it from the society. A good administration depends on the honesty and sincerity of the employees. So honest and sincere employees should be appointed to ensure corruption-free government. Effective measures should be taken to prevent their moral erosion. At the same time arrangement should be made to take legal and administrative actions against injustices and corruption to raise a good administration.
To prevent corruption we really need an efficient anti-corruption apparatus. It should be free from political influence and have opportunities to work independently. Officials in this apparatus should be appointed carefully. Otherwise, corruption will increase rather than decrease. Activities of recently formed Anti-Corruption Commission should be upgraded and made more effective. Everyone is disappointed with the limited activities of this body.
There is a proverb: “Necessity knows no law.” If the government employees cannot lead a normal happy life with their income, they may then adopt unfair means. So, wages should be consistent with market prices of daily necessities. If there is no want, people will not try to take shelter of corruption. Suitable remuneration could be an effective measure for control of corruption.
A social movement against corruption should be initiated with the help of all political, social and cultural organisations. Media also could help it by putting up programmes against corruption. This initiative should come from both public and private sectors. Media could play a vital role in this regard. We have seen in the past and at present also that whenever media — particularly Television channels telecast a few series of programmes on any anti-social actively, it can be discouraged and stopped.
An independent law department is essential for the prevention of corruption. Though initiatives have been taken for this, there is no positive result yet. Good governance could be ensured as well as corruption will decrease if those relate to courts and lawyers could perform their duties independently. But they must be honest and sincere in performing their jobs.
Indeed, we could proceed to build up a corruption-free society by utilising some serious research work on corruption by social researcher. For this we need a decision, an oath to the effect that each of us will never do any corruption and would not encourage or help others in doing it.

Sri Lanka: blackouts and blockades

Filed under: global islands,india — admin @ 6:13 am

No respite for internally displaced persons in war-ravaged Sri Lanka

The humanitarian crisis that has emerged due to the conflicts in northeast Sri Lanka has reached a crucial phase. The Sri Lankan government forces have resorted to indiscriminate assaults, targeting civilian areas while, at the same time, blocking relief materials and supplies to internally displaced persons (IDP) and enacting stringent directives for aid agencies.

This twin track strategy has proven to be detrimental to the thousands of civilians affected by the resumption of hostilities between Sri Lankan forces and Liberation of Tamil Tigers Eelam (LTTE) rebels in May 2006.

Another obvious concern for aid agencies is the personal security of aid workers and volunteers in the country, especially after the death of 17 volunteers working for French aid agency Action Against Hunger in early July.

The general perception is that the Colombo administration is openly flaunting international law by using humanitarian services as a weapon of war and by placing many parts of the Northeast under information blackout and essential items blockade.

An estimated 200,000 people, mostly Tamils, have been displaced internally and spread across northeastern Sri Lanka. The World Food Programme (WFP) has placed the number even higher, adding another 40,000 people. After a short respite in the violence in late August, renewed fighting in Trincomalee district has put an end to the return of refugees from areas close to Kanthale and Muttur.

In addition, over 11,000 Tamil refugees have arrived on the shores of southern India since January this year. They alleged that due to harassment by the Sri Lankan navy and military personnel, they could no longer continue with their traditional fishing activities for livelihood. Many of them sold off their fishing boats and nets to pay for the perilous one-hour sea voyage over the Palk Strait from Talai Mannar in Sri Lanka to Rameswaram in India.

At least 10 refugees drowned in May 2005 when their boat capsized off the Indian coast. In addition, many refugees are at the risk of human traffickers who operate obsolete and overcrowded vessels and overcharge for the voyage.

Refugee influx to India lessened during the first quarter of this year, possibly due to peace talks between the rebels and the government, but rose during April and May after offensives unleashed by LTTE on government forces in and around Trincomalee and elsewhere.

Nevertheless, these numbers do not reflect the actual refugee situation that has been aggravated by the ongoing conflict, as being granted permission to visit the areas hosting IDP is difficult for humanitarian agencies.

Indeed, access to food and medicine has been restricted in locations such as Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, Batticaloa and Ampara due to indiscriminate shelling, mortar attacks and mines.

Though freedom of movement inside rebel-held areas is still restricted, there is some respite for the people of the Batticaloa district where significant numbers of IDPs have moved due to the UN agencies, the Red Cross and the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) having access to the most remote areas.

Alarmingly, food and other basic supplies at the disposal of various aid agencies along with local food stocks are depleting fast. Any chance of re-supply is difficult under the present state of affairs. Most of the aid agencies blame the Colombo administration for this deepened humanitarian crisis.

The WFP’s operations have been severely hampered by the restricted opening of the Omanthai crossing into the Vanni, which is a LTTE-controlled area in the north. The agency’s Selvi Sachithanandam told ISN Security Watch that the UN body “plans to provide basic food rations to all 240,000 IDP [in the area] but their high degree of mobility as well as limited humanitarian access presents significant challenges in programming and pre-positioning of food.”

The UN Common Humanitarian Action Plan (CHAP), launched in Geneva in last month, has already appealed for a total of US$37.46 million to provide shelter, emergency supplies and protection for the displaced as part of a joint UN humanitarian action plan for the war ravaged country. The WFP has already delivered 2,583 tons of mixed food commodities to newly displaced people and have pledged more in the coming days.

Hopefully, this will not prove too little and too late for the people caught between the devil and deep sea.

9/21/2006

Art and Life

Filed under: art,bangladesh,global islands — admin @ 7:28 am

Art is the most human of things. Based in the genetic, in the creative intelligence and the nimble body, art is a potential in every individual. Nurtured in social experience, taught, learned, and bent against circumstance, art is a reality in every culture. Always unifying what analysis divides, art is personal and collective, intellectual and sensual, inventive and conventional, material and spiritual, useful and beautiful, a compromise between will and conditions. Art is, given the storms and pains and limited resources, the best that can be done.

Through art, the human complexity comes into the world for consideration. It is here to see. To study art, we need not sneak about like spies or thieves or detectives, wheedling for information or bullying our companions into uncomfortable confessions. We stand with them, letting their work set the agenda for inquiry. We look together at what they have done, using it to discover what they think and intend. Learning to be fascinated by what fascinates them, overcoming our separation in a oneness of interest, we find in art a courteous entry to the life of the creator and the culture of creation. (Henry Glassie: Art and Life in Bangladesh)

25 killed as storm lashes coastal belt

Filed under: bangladesh,global islands — admin @ 6:46 am

500 trawlers sink in Bay; 2,000 fishermen missing; the dead include naval officer

At least 25 people, including a naval officer, were killed while some 2,000 fishermen went missing as around 500 trawlers, boats and a navy patrol ship capsized in the Bay when a violent storm hit the country’s coastal belt Tuesday evening.

According to the officials, the fishing trawlers sank in Dublar Char, Kachikhali, Narkelbaria and Baleshwar of the coastal districts of Bagerhat, Pirojpur, Barisal, Patuakhali, Barguna, Bhola as they were caught in the sudden storm.

Of the dead, the body of a youth was found at Bishkhali of Laldia area in Patharghata, bodies of four fishermen were recovered at the Kuakata beach in Patuakhali, five in Khulna and 15 in Bagerhat.

Our correspondents from different districts and news agency UNB report that hundreds of people thronged the beach and coastal zones yesterday in search of their relatives after the storm ravaged the coastal area. Some 1,500 fishermen were rescued in the southern shores by the coast guards and the navy yesterday.

Some 25 fishermen were also rescued in the Chittagong coast and 39 Navy staff at Mongla.

The disaster occurred as a sudden storm under the influence of a depression lashed at the coastal belt from 7:30pm till 9:00pm at a speed of 100 to 130 kilometres per hour and generated waves as high as 40 feet.

Meanwhile, the normal life in the capital was also hampered due to the continuous drizzle. A fewer number of people were seen in the streets while commuters suffered as the rickshaw-pullers and drivers of CNG three-wheelers and cabs hiked up the fares.

A special met office bulletin said the well marked low in the Bay is likely to intensify further and move in a north-westerly direction. All fishing boats and trawlers over the North Bay have been advised to remain close to the coast and proceed with caution till further notice.

Our Cox’s Bazar correspondent reports: About 600 fishermen with 50 fishing boats from Cox’s Bazar remained missing for two days as the sea turned rough due to a depression in the Bay.

Mojibur Rahman, president of Fishing Boats Owners’ Association of Cox’s Bazar, told The Daily Star that the missing boats went out to the sea on Tuesday. “We are anxious for their safe return,” he added.

Abdul Hamid, owner of one of the lost trawlers, said only four of the 11 men on his boat had made it back home yesterday.

A rescue official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he was hopeful that many of the missing were rescued by other boats or managed to survive by swimming to the small islands that dot the coast.

Mizanur Rahman managed to swim ashore at Cox’s Bazar beach yesterday after his boat sank. “Our boat was being tossed by high waves and it suddenly went down,” Mizan told the Associated Press from his hospital bed. “Only four of us managed to swim ashore.

Meanwhile, Water Development Board sources said about two kilometres of flood control embankment in Maheshkhali Island was washed away by unusual high tides in the last two days.

NAVAL COMMANDER KILLED
Our Khulna correspondent reports: A naval officer was killed when a patrol boat of the Bangladesh Navy ran aground at Akram Point in the Bay of Bengal due to Tuesday’s violent storm in the southern bay.

The body of Lt Commander Feroz Kabir, one of the captains of the BN Shahid Farid, was recovered yesterday noon from the spot by the naval rescue forces. Thirty-nine other crews of the ship were also rescued during the operation aided by a Bangladesh Army helicopter.

According to Bagerhat district administration sources, the vessel was carried away by strong gales and fierce currents when the sudden storm hit the coastal belts of the Sundarbans.

Over 500 fishermen still remained missing as the storm left at least 200 fishing trawlers capsized in the Bay of Bengal along the Sundarbans. Search is on to rescue the ill-fated.

Hundreds of people of the coastal belt, left homeless due to the storm, have taken refuge at the Dublarchar cyclone shelter.

Our Chittagong office reports: Twenty-five fishermen narrowly escaped death in the deep sea on Tuesday evening when a private fishing vessel rescued them after their boat sank due to the storm, some 200 kilometres off Chittagong city.

The rescued feared death of many fishermen as nearly 36 engine boats were in the rough sea at that time.

Captain Abu Taher of Hart Ford-2, which rescued the survivors, however said they did not get any warning from the met office although the sea was rough.

According to the boat owners’ association of the district, the boat carrying the fishermen from Chakoria and Banshkhali capsized in the Bay during the violent storm.

Our Patuakhali correspondent reports: Bodies of five fishermen were recovered in Kuakata coast areas yesterday while at least 1,000 fishermen aboard over 100 fishing trawlers remained missing in the Bay in the last two days. Abdus Salam, president of trawler owners association of Mohipur, confirmed the news.

The Patuakhali district administration, however, in a fax message sent to the higher authorities mentioned that 470 fishermen with 37 trawlers were missing in the Bay.

9/19/2006

Canadian teacher killed in Thailand — Toronto man, 29, and three others die in bomb attacks in restive south

Filed under: global islands,thailand — admin @ 6:15 am

A 29-year-old Canadian schoolteacher who died in a weekend bombing in southern Thailand was a footloose traveller from Toronto who had recently settled into a full-time home.

“He was really happy there and was finally getting into a groove,” said Jessie Lee Daniel’s aunt, Sue Jones. “He loved Thailand.”

Mr. Daniel was one of four people who died in a series of bombings that ripped through a neighbourhood in Hat Yai, southern Thailand’s biggest city, as extremists expanded their attacks beyond traditional targets.

Five bombs exploded simultaneously in tourist spots in the city’s business district, Police Major-General Paitoom Pattanasophon told reporters yesterday, including two at department stores and one at a hotel. Three Thais also died and dozens more people were injured, including several other foreigners.
Mr. Daniel had been teaching at Phol Vidhya School in Hat Yai since arriving in Thailand last November. He was the first Western fatality in an insurgency that has gone on for three years.

Mr. Daniel was an accomplished photographer with a passion for dancing, said Ms. Jones, a resident of Trenton, Ont., with whom Mr. Daniel lived for several years after his mother died in 1995. “He was just like my soulmate,” Ms. Jones said in an interview. “He was such a good kid, so genuine.”

She said that her nephew’s hero was Australian “crocodile hunter” Steve Irwin — killed by a stingray earlier this month — because Mr. Irwin embodied Mr. Daniel’s gregarious, adventuresome spirit.

Mr. Daniel, formerly a factory worker in the Toronto area, discovered a love of teaching once he arrived in Thailand.

“The kids called him ‘Teacher Beckham,’ because he looked a little bit like [English soccer star] David Beckham,” Ms. Jones said.

He had also lived briefly in Costa Rica and California in recent years. “He was especially excited about seeing elephants when he got to Thailand,” his aunt said.

She said Mr. Daniel had a Thai girlfriend and had made many friends. When the explosions took place Saturday night, he was eating in a local restaurant with a friend who had just arrived from Toronto. Mr. Daniel was one of the first to reach the street after the first wave of bombs, Ms. Jones said. At that moment, another bomb exploded, killing him. His remains will be cremated and returned to Canada.

Since a January, 2004, raid on a government weapons depot, more than 1,400 civilians and soldiers have died in a bloody conflict between the Thai army and Muslim separatist insurgents in Thailand’s three southernmost provinces, known as the Red Zone.

Thirty people were injured in explosions at Hat Yai’s airport and a supermarket in April, 2005. The primary targets of all the attacks in the past three years have been have Thai Buddhist teachers and government workers.

More than 80 per cent of the people in the three provinces are Yawi-speaking Muslims, but 90 per cent of government officials are Thai-speaking Buddhists. This has created a linguistic barrier and cultural divide between the authorities and the residents that dates back to the signing of the Anglo-Siamese agreement in 1909, when Thailand annexed the three provinces.

In recent months, more than 100 Thai teachers fearing for their lives have applied for transfers to other provinces. In an effort to halt the exodus, the government is offering weapons training and discount prices on handguns for teachers.

“The school is very well known for English lessons. There are about 10 foreigners teaching there right now,” said former Phol Vidhya student Noon Wandee, 23, who was instructing at a nearby computer shop Saturday night. “I was very scared. I didn’t think this would happen again after the bombing last year.”

The region has seen long periods of martial law and has attracted the attention of international human-rights groups.

9/17/2006

Lightning bolt hits village tea shop in Bangladesh; 6 men killed

Filed under: bangladesh,global islands — admin @ 6:24 am

COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh – A bolt of lightning struck a tea shop killing at least six villagers in southern Bangladesh on Saturday, a hospital doctor said.

Three men died on the spot when lightning hit the straw-and-tin tea stall in Cox’s Bazar, about 295 kilometres south of Dhaka.

Three others died on the way to hospital, hospital official, Dr. Monir Ahmed Chowdhury, said.

9/16/2006

Rameswaram island to become plastic-free

Filed under: global islands,india — admin @ 6:28 am

Ramanathapuram, Sept. 15: Rameswaram island, the famous Hindu pilgrimage centre and home town of President APJ Abdul Kalam, would soon become a plastic-free zone, thanks to the steps being taken by the district administration.

“The district adminstration has resolved to convert the holy island of Rameswaram into a plastic-free zone,” K S Muthusamy, the district collector, said in a statement here today.

The usage of plastic bags and disposables will be banned in the island from October 2, the Gandhi Jayanti day. Instead of plastic, people would be asked to use cloth or paper-made articles.

The decision in this regard had been taken at the Rameswaram town development committee meeting held recently.

The tiny island, situated on the Palk straits and connected to India by a long bridge, attracts thousands of pilgrims and tourists, particularly at the Ramanathaswamy temple.

The Rameswaram Municipality has also been asked to propagate the ban order on plastic material by displaying advertisements for the benfit of tourists.

“Action would be taken against persons who violated the ban order,” the collector said.

9/15/2006

Climate fears for Bangladesh's future

Filed under: bangladesh,global islands — admin @ 7:43 am

Masuma’s home is a bamboo and polythene shack in one of the hundreds of slums colonising every square metre of unbuilt land in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh.

Masuma is an environmental refugee, fleeing from the floods which have always beset her homeland but which are predicted to strike more severely with climate change.

She has found her way to the city from the rural district of Bogra – a low-lying area originally formed from Himalayan silt where the landscape is still being shaped by the mighty Brahmaputra river as it snakes and carves through the soft sandy soil.

“In Bogra we had a straw-made house that was nice. When the flood came there was a big sucking of water and everything went down,” Masuma says.

“Water was rising in the house and my sister left her baby upon the bed. When she came back in, the baby was gone. The baby had been washed away and later on we found the body,” she recalls.

‘Climate refugees’

Masuma’s story is already commonplace in Dhaka, the fastest-growing city in the world. Its infrastructure is creaking under the weight of the new arrivals. Climate change is likely to increase the risks to people like her.

Climate modellers forecast that as the world warms, the monsoon rains in the region will concentrate into a shorter period, causing a cruel combination of more extreme floods and longer periods of drought.

They also forecast that as sea level rises by up to a metre this century (the very top of the forecast range), as many as 30 million Bangladeshis could become climate refugees.

“Climate refugees is a term we are going to hear much more of in the future,” observes Saleem-ul Huq, a fellow at the London-based International Institute of Environment and Development (IIED).

He says many Bangladeshi families escaping floods and droughts have already slipped over the Indian border to swell the shanty towns of Delhi, Bombay and Calcutta.

“The problem is hidden at the moment but it will inevitably come to the fore as climate change forces more and more people out of their homes.

“There will be a high economic cost – and countries that have to bear that cost are likely to be demanding compensation from rich nations for a problem they have not themselves caused,” Mr Huq predicts.

It is a problem that incenses informed politicians in countries like Bangladesh, which are at the sharp end of climate change.

Environment Minister Jafrul Islam Chowdhury demands that rich nations should take responsibility for a problem they have caused.

“I feel angry, because we are suffering for their activities. They are responsible for our losses, for the damage to our economy, the displacement of our people.”

The UK government is taking something of a lead in helping Bangladesh try to cope, by conducting a review aimed at ensuring that its international aid programme takes account of a changing climate.

The Department for International Development (DfID) believes that up to half its aid projects in the country could be compromised by climate change.

Tom Tanner, climate and development fellow at the Institute of Development Studies, Sussex, UK, is in Dhaka reviewing UK aid.

“We estimate that up to 50% of the (British) donor investment in a country like Bangladesh is at risk from the impacts of climate change,” he says.

Shifting sands

DfID is already starting to modify some aid programmes for the poorest of the poor who make their homes on shifting silt islands in the great rivers of Bangladesh.

The islands – known as choars – last on average about 20 years. Then the inhabitants are flooded out, and need to seek new land created elsewhere by the highly-dynamic rivers.

Locals say siltation levels appear to have diminished, so less new land is being created.

We have nothing left, but we have to survive, so we’ve had to build our house from reeds
Pulmala Begum

For Pulmala Begum, who lives on an embankment on the Brahmaputra, rebuilding has become commonplace; but each time she loses more. She has been displaced by flood waters six times.

“We used to have a house and cattle and now we’ve got no land where we can move to. This time we don’t have any money to make another start, or to educate our children,” she laments.

“We have nothing left, but we have to survive, so we’ve had to build our house from reeds.”

The UK government is the biggest donor to Bangladesh, but its current annual aid package of £125m cannot hope to tackle the scale of the challenge now, let alone the problems that will come.

I understand that a review by Sir Nicholas Stern, commissioned by the UK’s prime minister and chancellor to look at the economics of climate change, will conclude that rich nations need to do far more to adapt to the inevitable consequences of climate change.

It will also say developed countries must cut emissions immediately to minimise the effects.

Engineering solutions

Sir Nicholas’ approach is criticised by some economists who argue that as climate change is beyond human control we should continue to maximise economic growth so we will be able to afford to pay for adaptation in the future.

In a recent article for the Spectator magazine, former chancellor Lord Lawson argued: “Far and away the most cost-effective policy for the world to adopt is to identify the most harmful consequences that may flow from global warming and, if they start to occur, to take action to counter them.”

Lord Lawson suggests that a Dutch dyke-building engineer might solve the problems of Bangladesh.

The Stern review is likely to insist that both mitigation and adaptation are necessary, and will argue that economists have under-estimated the costs that climate change will impose and over-estimated the costs of cutting emissions.

The Dutch government itself rejects the optimistic view taken by Lord Lawson. A spokesman for the Dutch Embassy in Bangladesh told BBC News that it would be impossible to protect Bangladesh in the way Holland had been protected.

He said there were 230 rivers, which were much more dynamic than Holland’s rivers, consistently undermining attempts to channel them through the sandy soil.

Mr Huq goes further: “It is ridiculous for people who know nothing about Bangladesh to make pronouncements on how much of it can or cannot be saved.

“Bangladesh is extremely vulnerable, and there is a major moral issue because this is not a problem that people here have caused,” he said.

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