New Internationalist

Briefly…

Issue 178

new internationalist
issue 178 - December 1987

BRIEFLY...

VIETNAM

No angels
What's happened to all those 're-education' camps, set up by the National Liberation Forces of Vietnam after the downfall of the US-sponsored Saigon administration? Well, about 90,000 people have been re-educated since they were started in 1975. Now it appears they have mostly done their business.

Following the release of 6,685 inmates in September, including the former Vice Premier and Defence Minister of the Saigon puppet government and high-ranking military officers, Vietnam claims that fewer than 1,000 political prisoners remain. Hanoi Radio reports that they are still inside 'because they stubbornly refuse to mend their ways'.

From Far Eastern Economic Review, 8 Oct 1987

PHILIPPINES

Marcos corruption
A Japanese general under siege during World War Two hides a treasure in gold and jewels in the Philippines. Soon after the war, a Filipino of modest means discovers the cache and claims it for his own. A work of fiction? Not at all. It is the explanation of Ferdinand Marcos for all his wealth. The former President, deposed during last year's popular uprising, says that he discovered 'part, if not all' of the legendary treasure looted from all over South-East Asia by General Tomoyuki Yamashita, and that it was 'sold legitimately' at a time when there were no controls on gold sales.

Now in a seaside villa in Honolulu, luxurious by most standards but a far cry from the Malacanang Palace in Manila (his former residence), Marcos complains that he is denied access to his money. 'I am living on charity,' he laments.

From Asia week, Hong Kong

NORTH KOREA

The Princess Diana stamp collection

Princess Diana's communist stamp
North Korea and the administration of Kim Il Sung are difficult to understand at the best of times. But the ways of their philatelic designers are truly incomprehensible. Who can explain their extraordinary faithfulness to the British royal family? They issued lots of commemorative issues when Prince William was born in 1982, featuring photos of the proud mother, father and sibling, Now they have a series of four stamps featuring the growth of Diana through cute little girl, pouting adolescent to fully developed Sloane Ranger. Is this the real world?

From Far Eastern Economic Review, 8 October 1987.

AUSTRALIA

Whose party?
A proposal from Prime Minister Bob Hawke that white Australians should acknowledge past injustices to Aborigines before the start of the Government's bicentennial celebrations next year, has brought a mixed response. Speaking initially of a treaty, Bob Hawke later modified this, talking of a compact that would be legally binding. However Aborigines want nothing less than a full treaty written into the constitution which recognises that they had ownership of Australia prior to the arrival of the Europeans. Hawke's unexpected offer is probably prompted by fear of embarrassment during the celebrations if the appalling state of the Aborigines becomes exposed by the world's media

Their party
If someone burnt down your home, murdered your family, raped the women as well.
Then put on a party and asked you to come. Would you be partners in this?
Well that's what happened in '88 - nearly two hundred years ago. And that party is not long off.
So don't sell our souls for the white man's gold. Let him eat alone.

Norm Newlin

Example: according to the Committee to defend Black Rights in Australia, more Aborigines have been killed in Australian jails over the last two years than blacks in South African police custody. At least 31 have died. Yet the Government refuses to set up a Royal Commission to inquire into these fatalities.

One thing is sure about Bob Hawke's offer, it could be expensive. For it will bring massive claims for compensation by the Aborigines. And the whole idea will be strongly resisted by the mining companies and business interests which until now have had such a sweetheart relationship with the current Hawke administration.

From Panos briefs. 'TheirParty' is from The 1988 Rig Red Diary - Land is Life. The Diary has been edited by the Bicentennial Protest group in Sydney in consultation with Aboriginat organisations throughout Australia. Pocket size, paperback. illustrated throughout, Aus$9.95.

MASCULINITY

Absent fathers
Japanese men are proud of their reputation for hard work and the majority desist from taking even their meagre two-week-a-year vacation. But there is a price; little Japanese children pay dearly because of their invisible father. Recent surveys of 1,000 children in the US, West Germany and Japan looked at their relationships with their fathers. In the two Western nations about 80 per cent of the children said they really liked their fathers. In Japan the figure was 40 per cent. Five per cent said they actually disliked their fathers - more than twice the proportion in the other two countries.

This is understandable. For Japanese fathers spend so much time contributing to the economic miracle that 28 per cent of the children say their dads never take them for walks or join them in games. Comparatively only eight per cent of German children said the same and less than three per cent in the US.

Inseparable from a father's job is the accompanying drinking and socializing, Japanese white-collar workers routinely drink with their workmates five or six nights a week even if they do not particularly want to do so. Given these professional demands, the average father can only find about 36 minutes a day for his children.

Saddest of all is the time when fathers retire. Their children have left home without knowing their father. And the men have spent so little time there they have no idea what to do. Wives, meanwhile, have built lives without a place for absentee husbands. The popular Japanese slang that the women use for their retired husbands is sodai gami, or giant garbage.

From Sydney Morning Herald, reported in World Press Review, Vol. 34/No 10 1987

CHILDREN

Making a killing
Toy guns are a $200 million a year market for American toy makers, with about 75 per cent of the sales devoted to fake military weapons including look-alike Uzi machine guns and M-16 rifles. Such toys can turn deadly, whether they are used in hold-ups where they can draw defensive fire by police or robbery victims or in straightforward stick-em-up incidents with police who might mistake the joke.

Daisy Manufacturing, the leading maker of toy military guns will now add bright orange markings to its fake firearms to reduce such risks. The police still are not happy. One fear crooks will paint similar markings on real guns, leading officers to hesitate before shooting if they see the orange. And that hesitation could be fatal.

From Time magazine, 7 September 1987

'The persons who compose the Independent classes are Dependent upon two things: first upon the industry of their fellow creatures; second, upon injustice which enables them to command it.'

John Gray (1799 - 1883), Lecture on Human Happiness, 1825.

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