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PAGE 6 THE HIMALAYAN TIMES, WEDNESDAY, JUNE 30, 2004
T I M E S
Need to define national interests
AJIT N S THAPA
• LETTERS Stop being modest
Bamadev Gautam seems to be very angry at the decision of the CPN-UML leadership that is likely to send new faces with “clean image” to join the Deuba cabinet. By calling his fellow comrades incompetent and inexperienced, he showed his immature temerity recently. Does he mean to say that experience is an innate quality? Does he want to pose only himself as the sole competent leader? A person’s performance cannot be foretold without observing him or her at the job. And for it, new faces are to be entrusted with the job. For instance, he got chance to hold the portfolio of the Home Ministry and gathered experience. The public will never forget what he did when he was the Minister and the public knows how efficient he was! The CPN-UML’s decision is wise. Like a disciplined member of a party, Gautam too should abide by it. He should understand that self-praise is no recommendation. Bishnu Sharma, Kathmandu
Dangers of Himalayan proportions
T O D AY
That action is best, which procures the greatest happiness for the greatest numbers. — Francis Hutcheson
To a new dawn
he Coalition Provisional Authority on Monday transferred sovereignty to the Iraqi people, two days ahead of the scheduled date, to pre-empt possible sabotage by the insurgents fighting the US-led occupation forces. L Paul Bremer, the American governor of Iraq, has left for home. It is indeed a good piece of news but it does not tell the whole story. The change of date, the secret ceremony, the tightest possible security around the 20-minute simple ceremony — all this gives a glimpse of the fragile security situation in Iraq. Bremer’s departure does not connote America leaving. He has left behind 160,000 US-led troops, who enjoy special privileges. He has also left behind fear and chaos created by the invasion of Iraq, a tattered economy and a people in dire need of basic supplies. No doubt, it is a limited form of sovereignty and Iraqis hope it is the beginning of their independence. Given the magnitude of the tasks facing the unelected interim government, with Ayad Allawi as the new prime minister and Sheikh Ghazi Ajil al-Yawar as the new president, it is doubtful whether it would be able to bring the situation under control and steer Iraq out of the chaos to a new dawn, to be represented by the new elected establishment on the basis of a constitution approved by the Iraqis themselves. Now, the new government will have to learn the complex art of politics and governance under the heavy shadow of the Americans. Fears have also arisen over what some have dubbed as authoritarian tendencies of the new rulers. The new Iraqi provisional government is hardly a big achievement against the background of the looting that followed US occupation, the disbanding of the Iraqi army and police that have led to a dangerous spiral of crime, the failure to rebuild the country, the continued vast American military presence and the uncertainty surrounding the elections. Restoring law and order is the top immediate task facing the government, but it is truly a tall order. Money is a problem too. Oil exports which account for 97 per cent of the Iraqi government’s daily operating revenue stands well below what Iraq exported under Saddam, and production is subject to sabotage. Reconstruction needs are dire, but only 10 per cent of foreign aid committed has arrived. Now that Iraq has an indigenous government it may find it easier to call for help. An overwhelming task for the new government is to forge a national consensus on the future of Iraq. However, the provisional government will find it hard to make big reforms as it lacks the popular mandate. In the final analysis, Iraq deserves all the support and help, including that of the UN, in its efforts to make a transition to peace, stability and a representative government free of alien control.
dditional health workers have been deployed in the Bhutanese refugee camps in Jhapa and Morang districts following an outbreak of viral flu. Several refugees have died so far and the Amda Hospital at Damak is chock a bloc with those suffering from the disease. Health centres in the camps offer services round the clock and around 250 refugees are reporting for treatment each day. The congested state of the camps renders the residents extremely susceptible to this highly contagious flu. Till date, strict sanitary measures introduced by the agencies looking after the refugees had prevented major epidemics from breaking out after the initial bout of cholera in the early nineties had threatened the refugee population. But despite all the efforts, the camps are still a soft target to a range of communicable diseases like diarrhoea, dysentery, cholera and viral fevers, to mention just a few. Given the intensity with which the disease is spreading in the camps, the risk of it reaching epidemic proportions cannot be ruled out. Also on line of the flu fire are the Nepalis living adjacent to the refugee camps who frequently come in contact with each other. It is vital that the flu in the camps is fought at different levels through prompt treatment, sanitary measures, and imposition of temporary quarantine. But these measures need to be put in place in the peripheral areas outside the camps also to prevent it from infecting the locals. Pitiful as the living condition of the refugees is, malnutrition, abject poverty and lack of easy access to essential services constantly conspire against anything good for the health of this lot. This is more so in the simmering summers. Add to it the frustration of an uncertain future and their predicament becomes all too clear. The refugee problem has remained in Nepal’s backburner ever since a group of refugees had a commiseration with the Bhutanese verification authorities last year. It has been one and a half decade since the refugee camps were first established in Nepal. The refugees then hoped that they would be repatriated within a short span of time. Those refugees born in Nepal are growing totally ignorant of their Bhutanese heritage. They are also now talking about the need for Nepal to officially internationalise the issue. While those in the camps have loudly expressed their desire to return to their homeland, nothing concrete, however is being done at the moment to actually try and convince the Bhutanese authorities about accepting them back. Nepal must seriously consider finding a solution to the refugee problem. If internationalisation of the problem, as the refugees reckon, is the answer to this long-standing stalemate, so be it.
he genesis of the constituent assembly to frame Nepal’s Constitution dates back to 2007 BS after King Tribhuvan, triumphant on his return from exile in India and grateful to the people for helping him to overthrow the 104year-old autocratic Rana regime, declared that the people would henceforth live freely in a democratic regime guided by a Republican Constitution framed by the people’s own representatives. In a country still gripped by feudalism and a political leadership squabbling within themselves for partisan and personal gains, King Tribhuvan and his ambitious successors managed to renege on their promise and decided to keep sovereignty and state executive authority in their own hands. The leaders, weary of the wrangling with the Crown on this issue, decided to adopt the Constitution given by King Mahendra, in which he had kept emergency powers to himself. Using this executive authority, King Mahendra dismissed the elected government of B P Koirala and ushered in a highly centralised and elitist regime called Panchayat democracy, which lasted a full 30 years. King Birendra wisely relented to the demands of the 1990 people’s revolution to restore democracy and formed a committee comprising representatives of the political parties and the palace to recommend a new Constitution. Thus, a new Constitution has been in place since November 1990, which has four basic tenets: people’s sovereignty, multiparty democracy, parliamentary system and guarantee of basic human rights. Since October 4, 2002, when the King dismissed PM Deuba for failing to hold elections and assumed executive authority upon himself, the nation had been locked up in a triangular power conflict — the palace attempting to consolidate authority, the parties desperately seeking to find a place for themselves by putting pressure on the King to relinquish power and hand it over to the people’s representatives and the Maoists seeking to establish a republican totalitarian state with the power of the gun. This scenario has been changed after the King appointed Deuba as PM under Article 127. The NC (D), which had also taken to the streets withdrew its protest and even the CPNUML, the largest party in the five party anti-regression alliance, accepting that the King’s action had been a partial correction of regression, decided to dissociate itself from the coalition and to join the government headed by Deuba. The remaining four parties have deemed Deuba’s appointment as a continuation of regression and have decided to carry on their agitation. While appointing Deuba, the palace assigned him with three important tasks: to form
Issue of the constituent assembly is not whether it is desirable but this is the only option of solving crisis
an all-party government, to reach a peace settlement with the Maoists and to commence holding of elections by mid-April 2005. Such is the relationship between the remaining fourparty coalition and the King that even the mention of such desirable national objectives causes a negative reaction of “interference by the King” from them. Today, almost 80 per cent of the country is under the Maoist control and their influence seems to grow by the day. The army too, along with other security forces, have now been engaged in battling the Maoists for over three years. During this time, the security forces have done a creditable job of containing their onslaughts and mayhem. However, the forces have not been able to make pre-emptive strikes and break the backs of the insurgents to force them to come to the negotiating table. It is clear that neither side can achieve a decisive military victory in the current battle mode. The nation is going through the most excruciating time. The current conflict has caused incalculable damage to the nation’s health, its psyche and its future. There is an urgent need to restore peace and start the process of national regeneration. Under these circumstances, it is important that we, as a nation, define what our genuine national interests are. In this process, we are currently engaged in an animated debate over the issue of constituent assembly. Notwithstanding the fact that this is also a Maoist demand, a large section feel that, as this is both a democratic and potential problem solving step, the nation should go for it. Others feel that in the present context only the groups with the guns will gain by such an exercise. However, this view fails to appreciate that with adequate preparation and support from the UN and proper agreement between the state and the Maoists, it is possible to hold free and fair elections. Thus the real issue of the constituent assembly is not whether it is desirable or fraught with dangers, but that, this is the only viable option of solving today’s national crisis. Therefore, we should be more concerned about whether it can be conducted freely and fairly and whether it can achieve permanent peace and provide the nation much needed respite. This issue could, however, be perplexing to the King, who might feel threatened of being “voted out” of his traditional roots. It is the job of supporters of constitutional monarchy to assure the King of their unflinching support to enable him to take this historic decision. The present government should take proactive measures to bring the Maoists to the negotiating table and organise a political conference, including them, to chart out a road map for this beleaguered nation without further ado. Thapa is a Mahasamati member, NC (D)
The girls recently rescued from an Indian circus team have said that they were sent to join the circus by their own relatives. Their families are poor and in turn dependent only on their income. Though the girls are taking safe haven at Maiti Nepal’s office in Nepalgunj at present, they will be handed over to their respective families soon. Some of the girls have said that if they do not get good jobs in the country, there will be no option left for them but to go back to the same work. This reflects that they are worried about the economic condition of their families. Thus, the government and all the concerned organisations should provide them with a means of earning a good source of income. And the girls should be sent to school so that they could learn skills for a better future. Instead of going to school, they are bearing the burden of their families. If the girls were from well-to-do background, they would never had to bear such a burden at a tender age. The government should launch poverty alleviation programmes to uplift the down trodden and education should be ensured to all. Ramesh Neupane, Mahankal
early a month has passed since the lone ranger from the Far West who, according to his die-hard supporters, took a dare devil dive from a cliff and swam across the mighty Karnali to avoid arrest in the heydays of panchayat, was anointed prime minister with virtually the same mandate handed to his two post-October 4 predecessors. The only difference this time around is the royal palace concession, in black and white, telling the man on the hot seat that he enjoys executive power under Article 35 of the Constitution. The ranger is still lonely, and there is no indication that his loneliness is terminating anytime soon, given the new demands of the potential partners in government and more ominously, the spate of political shenanigans that are surfacing with amazing frequency, every sunset. Sher Bahadur Deuba has never been a decisive man. Some say he plays his cards too close to the chest because he has to. For some strange reasons he never, throughout his political career, held enough aces up his sleeve — to force an issue. Nonetheless, he tries. His two living political gurus, K P Bhattarai and G P Koirala, who are refusing to call it a day seem still to be controlling his mindset. If from the former he has inherited vacillation as a political virtue, from the latter he has borrowed inconsistency as an art of self-deception. Bad habits are like a comfortable bed, easy to get into, but hard to get out. Dear Mr Deuba: Get out of it all, and be what you are supposed to be — a leader. For, whatever you may be facing now in terms of government formation, CMP etc. is most certainly not as critical as the issue of what kind of leadership (in terms of quality and consequence) that you can provide to the nation.
This is no time for indecision, nor is it the time for making promises that cannot be fulfilled. Since yours is going to be an administration replete with divergent posturing loaded as it always has been with personal/ parochial overtones, the journey is not going to be all that smooth and challenge-free. Everybody knows the country is passing through an unprecedented phase but that, aside from the threats of disintegration, also offers opportunities the country never had. The indispensibility of turning these opportunities into modern-day development realities cannot be over-emphasised. The national needs are quite simply basic in nature. The only stumbling block, as it were, is the inability to reason together and agree to a giveand-take modus vivendi. Inflexibility, a by-product of egoism, for the most part originates from sheer ignorance and the refusal to accept other people's right to live in dignity. As the prime minister of a sovereign nation, Deuba does not have much of a choice unless he expects to be pronounced 'incompetent' once again. He has to perform and prove that he means business. The best place to start is his own party. Questions are already being asked: If he cannot crush the ambitions of his NCD cronies vying for high-paying jobs, it will not be unfair to question his bona fides to lead and govern a country that is not only in dire straits but on the brink of being declared a failed State. Any further delay in announcing cabinet expansion and getting on with the designated jobs is fraught with dangers of Himalayan proportions — of 'regression' revisited, authoritarianism, one-party dictatorship and loss of national identity. The situation is as bad as it can be. Just for the heck of it, let's hear what Josh Billings has to say: Life consists not in holding good cards but playing those you hold well.
A friend’s worth
friend of mine had once remarked, “You are worth more than two times yourself in gold.” In a flash, I perceived: was that a mere compliment for fixing his work or was that a penny of a thought to carry me to an overwhelming stairway? I managed a shy smile. No matter what I was inclined to, it definitely evoked an avalanche of feelings. However, I lately realised that was what, a friend of mine would do, at times. With the likes of him, life runs to the fullest; he was the one with whom I was learning to live. I know, no matter where I’d step, there would be someone to whom I would lean upon. No matter who he was, where he lived, or what he did for that matter, memories always bring him to me. And they are very much here to stay. Those times that I have spent with him always linger
Confucianism — I
rigin: The roots of Confucianism long predate the birth of Confucius himself. They lie in the teachings of the ancient Chinese scholar class (ju), who performed the rituals of the official cult of nature worship and ancestor reverence. They made offerings to a host of nature deities, including Heaven and Earth, as well as to the royal ancestors. Confucius always claimed to be an interpreter of these ancient scholars, not an innovator. He deliberated deeply on the meaning of tradition and was committed to parts of the past in shaping the future. Life of Confucius: The early family circumstances of K’ung Fu Tzu are not known, but he was certainly educated, and so was probably not among the poorest members of society. In later years, Tzu is known to have married and had children, and he appears to have been ambitious for political success, using his position to promote peace and good government. Being unable to realise this ideal in his own state, he, together with a number of his disciples, wandered for 13 years among other states, seeking opportunities to carry out his policies. He never actually managed this but was highly successful in training young men for their own political careers, kindling in his students as enthusiasm for literature, history and philosophy, and turning them into his devoted and dedicated disciples. K’ung died at the age of 73. Confucius considered himself a philosopher and teacher of ethics, rather than a religious leader, and asserted the importance of moral laws. His concern was for social and political stability, which he taught could only be achieved by perfecting both social and individual life. — Religions of the World
fresh in my mind. A resting arm at times, an opposition sometimes and a bearer of my anguish is how I describe him. From music to studies, from playing to freaking out late night, it has always been a pleasure to go down the lines with him. But there are numerous twists and turns in the lives of both of us. The greatest thing is to believe in oneself, to believe in one’s life. While I was cherishing the company, then came the time to depart. It’s true that you never know the value of anything until after it heads for the window. And I know what his worth was now. So far away now that he is, I can still feel his presence so close. As time did us apart, I never was able to deny what was in store for me and that is true for everyone walking under this sun. Again, it is time, which separates us from our dear ones just as it brings us togeth-
er again. It’s time that rekindles the feelings buried inside all of us. It is also time that makes us forget what is to be forgotten, for better or worse. The best part is the meeting part, when it occurs; it’s the time to relish. Good riddance those awry days! The talks of yesteryears, the good old days, the experience of new things and the talks that fail to cease. It is heavenly feeling when the hidden moments are kicked alive, some told, some untold, some remembered, some forgotten — all memories relived. But these are the thoughts every mind will carry. The memories that are miles apart come so near, so rejuvenating. Again, the rain and the shine alter and it is time that stands in between us. It is again time that bids us an adieu. And something crosses my mind. It’s the joy of walking down, under the same sky. It’s the joy of remaining alive.
Almost all urban areas in the country, including the capital city, seem to be unable to manage the waste because of rapid urbanisation and haphazard settlements. Though the municipalities are supposed to look after new settlements in their respective areas, they seem to be irresponsible and inept. Because of the negligence of such agencies, people have been compelled to live in an unhealthy environment. People pay tax for good service, but the municipalities have not been able to deliver. There was no problem related to garbage in Chitwan some years ago. People used to live in a hygienic environment within the periphery of the Municipality. However, things have totally changed now. Be it the main market at Narayangarh or residential areas like Bharatpur that fall under the Municipality, one can see garbage scattered all over the place. It is because the Municipality does not have a proper system of solid waste management. The foul smell from the heap of decaying garbage annoys all mostly during summer. People are unable to walk through the roads and streets as well. The condition becomes more horrible in rainy season. There is always a fear of outburst of an epidemic among the people. It is high time the authorities concerned heed to people’s suffering. The Municipality should be responsible to the public in imparting services for whom it has been designed. Ambika Pandey, Chitwan
Letters to this column should be addressed to Letters C/o Edit Page Editor, The Himalayan Times, Post Box 11651, APCA House, Baidya Khana Road, Kathmandu, Nepal email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Fax 0977-1-4771959
Journalism for job, publication for profit
KESHAV P KOIRALA
• IN OTHER WORDS pressing needs. NATO summit Afghanistan’s NATO’s European members
he media business has flourished in the country following the restoration of democracy in 1990. Since then the government’s monopoly in the field of information has been dented and the “journalism only for political motives” — that used to be carried on against the government earlier — transformed into “professionalism.” Moreover, the guarantee of media freedom by the Constitution has given birth to a number of media Houses, both in print and electronic sectors. Many loopholes and misdemeanours, however, have been noticed in this business. One key question that has often been raised is whether the Nepali media is really exercising the newfound freedom. The political changes in 1990 appeared as a talisman for professional
journalism. Following the constitutional norms, every citizen has the right to express his or her views. If one gets a licence for the publication of a newspaper, it cannot be seized. Anticipating that these provisions can be fertile soil for a profitable business, investors have been lured to put money in this field and finally the corporate culture has made a beginning in the media business. The business interest in the field of information, however, has given rise to many questions regarding the investors’ honesty in disseminating information. Is there not any bias while they provide information to the public? However, if self-censorship restricts the freedom within the media, the owners and journalists of the media manufacture any information or news, distort facts or otherwise affect individuals and organisations unfairly, do such practices
come within media ethics? People get information from the media and it backs their right to know. The government too reiterates its commitment to this right. However, the media can easily deceive the audience. By deliberately providing or withholding certain news for ulterior motives, the media people may be misinforming the public, thus violating the fundamentals of their profession. There may be some impediments to easy and healthy flow of information from media to the public, for example, the editors’ prejudice and the publishers’ bias. If the news collected by the reporter is dumped only because of the editor’s personal prejudice, what can the poor reporter do? This will only violate the people’s right to know. Except for quitting the job, there is no alternative left for the reporter. And does it not re-
strict freedom within the media? And if someone wishes to challenge such dishonesty, there is no provision in the prevailing laws to give the aggrieved party justice. Journalism only for job and publication only for profit may not ensure the people’s right to know. In this context, speaking at the First National Free Media Conference Nepal on “Freedom of Press and Media Laws” recently held in Lalitpur, journalist Gokul Pokhrel pointed out the need of the Right to Information Act. Though the conference identified 31 laws related to the media freedom for amendment, the modification of the existing laws is not sufficient in dealing with such discrepancies. Though there is a code of conduct for the media people, no one is obliged to follow it. This calls for strong legal measures to take account of these offences.
ATO cannot afford the luxury of a purely ceremonial summit meeting in Istanbul on Monday. Its most important current operation — leading the international peacekeeping force in Afghanistan — is in serious trouble, short of troops and unable to fulfil its mission. Before NATO took command of the Afghanistan force last August, the force’s mandate was limited to Kabul. In October, the Security Council authorised the force to expand operations throughout Afghanistan. This should have been a chance for NATO to demonstrate its military relevance in the post-cold war world. Yet so far, NATO’s performance has failed to meet
have contributed well under 5,000 troops to Afghanistan. The US, Britain and, most recently, Karzai have called for NATO to step up its efforts. Protecting the September elections is one reason for doing so and to keep Afghanistan from falling back into a collection of local fiefs in which groups like Al Qaeda and the Taliban can again take root. NATO members have a right to complain that the US has short-changed Afghanistan of American troops. But US mistakes do not excuse NATO’s poor performance. Securing a shattered Afghanistan is in the direct interest of the entire Atlantic alliance. Its leaders need to face up to their responsibilities. — The New York Times
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