New Internationalist

Letters

Issue 95

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[image, unknown] LETTERS

[image, unknown] THE CHOSEN FEW[image, unknown]

Cartoon by R. K. Laxman. Mistaken Identity
I cannot understand your motive in printing the letter on page 15 of your November 1980 issue. On the author's own admission, it was intended as a 'spoof'.

You must be aware that the 'writer', Solomon Lazarus, represents someone of Jewish origin.

What possessed you to produce such a feature? It successfully follows the traditions of Nazi propaganda. How can this be reconciled with the stated spirit of your efforts to highlight the problems of all mankind in the developing countries?

I look forward to your comments. Your action must cause considerable annoyance to all fair-minded people and will adversely affect the plausibility of your aims.

Name and address supplied

Australian editor's reply:
New Internationalist's editor from down-under for the November issue is horrified at his gaff - and exonerates Dudley Seers of all blame for the editor's choice of fictitious authorship for the 'development freeloader's' letter. Bob Hawkins, an ingenuous lad who has spent far too long in the South Pacific (consequently having long forgotten anything about anti- or pro-semitism) was merely casting about for a name for a Third World academic with which to sign Dudley Seers' masterpiece. Those familiar with the South Pacific will understand why the editor randomly selected a couple of biblical names. (He certainly did not select them because they were Jewish names.) As a result of strong Christian influence in the Pacific for about a century, biblical names have become the fashion for 'converted' Islanders. Jeremiahs, Solomons, Lazaruses, Davids, Ezekiels and so on are all common given and family names, particularly in the Western Pacific. You'll even find Merry Christmases, Good Fridays and Sinais as Islanders' names. Without reserve, Bob Hawkins apologises to the reader and anyone who has taken offence. But, for the record, he insists: Whatever the religious background of such development freeloaders, the world would be better off without them.

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The Conference Circuit

Presumably the letter from 'Solomon Lazarus' published in your November issue is a construct written to provide an example of the very worst of its type. The implications, in the field of World Development are, however, alarming.

The 'free holiday syndrome' is not unknown in the field of biological-medical research, of which I have some experience:-

'I shall be in Europe in July and I am sure your postgrads will want a seminar on my latest work. I guess your seminar fee is ... etc etc.'

I find it difficult to believe, however, that the most cynical manipulator of the Conference Circuit could write some of the things in the letter you published. If he did, he would never get another invitation!

If people purporting to work for Social Justice; re-distribution of wealth and equality of opportunity write like this and can get away with it without being black-balled from all future conferences, something desperately needs to be done.

I hope that the phenomenon of 'pushing the Conference Circuit' will die the death as a result of your November page 15.

Jacqueline Y Comben
Harrow, Middlesex UK

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[image, unknown] TRANSPORT[image, unknown]

Road Accident
In reference to the Trans-amazonian highway piece, 'From Nothing to Nowhere' (October) your readers should be advised that the photograph purporting to show this highway is actually a view of the Immigrants' highway between Sao Paulo and the port of Santos.

The two roads look nothing alike - one constructed of dirt, gravel and wood, the other of pillars of concrete, spanning steep mountainsides down to the sea.

Was this a simple slip-up, one would like to know, or has the NI slipped into journalistic bad habits?

Jonathan Wight
Sao Paulo Brazil

Editor's note:
Upon checking we discover that a mix-up in photographs occurred and we apologise and thank Mr Wight for bringing this to our attention.

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Person to Person
I am delighted to read that you celebrate yourtenth anniversary. Maybe by the next anniversary you will have learned not to tell us that you have `one-man' editorial offices, and that your readers include 'clergy-men'?

Dr M Daphne Hampson
St Andrews
Fife

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[image, unknown] OTHER ISSUES[image, unknown]

Small Print
It is important to study very carefully the wording of the Brandt Report. It is especially important to notice a key stipulation, on page 192 of the Pan edition: `Host countries in turn should not restrict current transfers such as profits, royalties and dividends and the repatriation of capital, so long as they are on terms which were agreed when the investment was originally approved or subsequently negotiated'. To the writers of the Report, it is apparently irrelevant whether the agreement obtained now is fair, or beneficial to the host country. To them the first priority is evidently the survival of multinational corporations' profits. But of course this give-away stipulation is hidden in amass of humanist rhetoric, designed by the ill-meaning to deceive the well-meaning.

No one has ever yet challenged successfully-and ever openly - the position put forward by Professor Charles Bettelheim in his book India Independent, on pages 368-9, 'underdeveloped' countries have only one means of ensuring a rapid economic development and that is to make a radical change in their social structures . . . private property and profit-seeking must not be allowed to limit the use of the country's resources. Changes must therefore be made towards socialism in the strictest sense of the term'.

W R Podmore
London SW5 UK

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Britain's View?
I wonder how many of your readers know that Britain voted in favour of continuing United Nations recognition of the Pol Pot regime as the legitimate government of Kampuchea? This ignored the suffering and damage inflicted on that country and the implied views of all the thousands in Britain who contributed to relief funds.

Cathy Edwards
Compton, Berkshire UK

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New Year Action
May I take this opportunity to invite your readers to send New Year greetings to the banned and banished as well as the families of political prisoners and detainees in South Africa and Namibia.

For the hundreds of victims of apartheid's unjust laws such greetings are both welcomed and appreciated. Please write to us for a list of names and addresses enclosing a stamped addressed envelope if possible.

Abdul Minty
Anti-Apartheid Movement
89 Charlotte Street,
London WIPD 2DQ

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Cartoon by R. K. Laxman. Whitening the Sepulchre
Your June issue arrived here recently by surface mail and I would like to comment on the letter from Oxfam's Bangladesh Field Director, David Campbell. Campbell rightly states that martial law has been lifted in Bangladesh, but he fails to make it plain what a catastrophe this has proved to be for human rights. The judiciary is now more firmly under the control of the totally corrupt bureaucracy, as a result of the ending of martial law. This tragic development has been repeatedly criticized in the Dacca weekly `New Nation', whose editor and deputy editor are bath lawyers. The First Secretary (Consular) of the Bangladesh Deputy High Commission in Calcutta, Abdul Hamid, has stated that it is now pointless to pursue claims against the Bangladesh Government in the Dacca High Court, due to bureaucratic direction of judicial judgements. I have been seeking access to the court in order to expose an illegal export traffic in Bangladesh children, organised by European adoption organisations and the Bangladesh Directorate of Social Welfare. Under martial law I at least would have been heard.

Campbell's letter is also misleading in that he states the President of Bangladesh, Zia Rahman, was democratically elected. In the May 1977 Presidential referendum 85% of the electorate were reported to have voted - an astounding turnout as compared with the 1970 and 1973 elections (63% and 56% respectively). Of the total votes cast in 1977, 98.88% were reported to have been in favour of President Zia (33,234,752 out of a total of 33,609,869). President Zia said he was surprised by the results. Mashiur Rahman, leader of the National Awami Party, described the results as absurd. But Campbell accepts these fantastic figures as genuine.

Why should Oxfam believe that their own excellent work in Bangladesh can only survive by persistently whitening the Bangladesh sepulchre? My own programmes in Bangladesh were destroyed by the Government, after the assets had been looted by the Directorate of Social Welfare, basically because I was operating alone, without the support of a powerful organisation. So that, in order to expose the adoption racket, I had to accept that I would be deported. But Campbell's position is completely different.

Jack Preger
Calcutta India

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