We have had our local elections here, just in time for the national parliament to go on a two month summer recess! The electorate has demonstrated, by voting into office many “independent” candidates, that it has become frustrated and disillusioned with the ”mainstream” political parties and their policies. Let us hope that the sitting parliamentarians, after enjoying their summer break, remember that they are where they are because the electorate put them there, they do not have a “divine right” to be in parliament. I know that this is an Islamic country, but one day “a pig might fly”!
At the same time, the electorate (70% turnout shows an unusually high level of interest) were asked if they approved of the 21 (twenty-one) changes to the constitution that had been agreed by parliament on 12th June. Why was this question asked? Will the national government now retract its agreement on the constitutional amendments that have already been agreed on? There were only 2 (two) options - yes or no! How can a question or survey involving a total of 21 items be reduced to a simple “yes” or “no”? I presume that almost everyone on the voters roll approved of some of the constitutional amendments. Why wasn’t there a list of the 21 amendments with “agree” or “disagree” boxes next to them? This would surely have been more informative to the government and political analysts alike. But hey, this is Cyprus!
One thing that I personally, have become frustrated and disillusioned with in three, yes, three, national governments, is their apparent callous disregard to the safety, health and wellbeing of all road users in Kibris. I say this because it appears that after, at least, two years on the statute books, only recently the law has been amended to allow police to issue “on the spot” penalties to motorcyclists who do not wear a crash helmet, or motorists who do not wear a seat belt, or more importantly, do not “buckle up” their children!
Until this amendment is ratified by President Eroğlu, hopefully within a few days, offenders must (still) be processed through the courts. To waste the court’s time and resources on cases where the defendant is blatantly guilty is, in itself, surely a “criminal” offence! However, in two years, three successive governments have failed to “rubber stamp” the streamlining of police procedures. Admittedly, the first government, that of Irsen Kuçuk was undergoing the ignominious experience of being voted out of office for incompetence, but neither the “caretaker” government under the excellent Dr Sibel Siber, nor the existing coalition government have spent much time on this matter.
Come on, politicians, seatbelts and crash helmets are not political footballs; they are life-saving devices. The motion should have been proposed long ago and, as there is no political capital to be made out of obstructing it, should have been accepted unanimously, total time taken – 5 minutes! Surely the saving of lives, or at least minimising injuries and thereby easing the strain on emergency and medical services should have been a high priority! Politicians, you should have woken up, and, electorate you should have lobbied your members of parliament. Failure to have taken action at the earliest opportunity has meant that some people have literally bled to death on the roads!
There has been a report that a murder suspect has committed suicide in Lefkoşa police headquarters by falling down a stairwell. As the murder victim was a policeman, the question quivering on many cynics’ lips is “did he fall, or was he pushed”? Without implying any similarities, Steve Biko also “committed suicide” while being interrogated by BOSS in 1977 in a police headquarters building.
The location was Pretoria, South Africa. BOSS was the Bureau of State Security, rather like Britain’s MI6 BOSS was responsible for the nation’s internal security and operated outside “normal” law, including habeas corpus. Steve Biko was a political activist in the ANC (Africa National Congress). According to the press release, during “routine” questioning, Steve calmly rose from his seat, went to the window, which he opened, and travelled 15 meters. Unfortunately as the window was on the fourth floor, the distance was a rapid vertical descent! Obviously, this topic has not been mentioned over recent years, but when the report was published, none of my circle of friends (including the pro-apartheid ones) believed the “suicide” story!
While I was leafing through a book the other day, I chanced upon a picture of the mythological she-wolf suckling the twin boys Romulus and Remus. Having only remembered (I was told when I was probably 5 years old) that the Italian capital city, Rome, is named after Romulus I wondered why it wasn’t called Reme!
The answer is “as old as the hills”, certainly as old as the “Cain and Abel” story in the Bible - sibling rivalry! Both brothers wanted to found a city, but Remus wanted it to be on the Aventine hill, while Romulus favoured the Palatine hill.
To ensure that his plan was the accepted one, Romulus simply killed Remus, resulting (in mythology) that Rome was founded on the Palatine hill! As demonstrated in
history, Rome became a powerful city, but Romulus wasn’t allowed to live out his natural life. After many years in power he became too autocratic and power-crazy and was killed by his underlings. Does this mental condition of megalomania remind you of other figures, Napoleon, Hitler, Idi Amin, Margaret Thatcher and Recep Erdoĝan?
Incidentally, having mentioned Cain and Abel a few paragraphs above, can any Christian theologian answer a couple of questions? According to the Bible, God created the world, and then Adam and Eve who parented Cain and Abel. After killing Abel, Cain toddled off to somewhere else and there “took himself a wife”. Where did she come from? Who created her? How do people who believe in the Bible reconcile themselves with this?
The above questions are not (necessarily) rhetorical. Should any reader have the answer, or want to offer any alternate point of view to any of my rambles, the “letter to the editor” section is the perfect forum!
Let’s get back to cities and their founders. Cities usually develop from settlements that, by accident or design sit on the cross-roads of trading routes, a source of wealth (coal, gold etc) or have natural harbour facilities. However, if Roman mythology is in fact, well, fact, Rome was possibly the first “purpose-built” city!
Since then, there have been other purpose-built cities, especially capital ones. In Brazil, the new city Brasilia was built in an area of the country that was more accessible to the nation than Rio de Janeiro that is very much in the south! When the Federation of Australian states was formed in the late 19th century the two most populous and wealthy cities (Sidney and Melbourne) vied to be the capital city. However, to avoid any spiteful one-upmanship, it was decided that the Federal government would be located in a brand new purpose built city. Therefore Canberra was created!
Regrettably, my knowledge of Asian and Eastern history is insufficient to comment on such cities in that part of the world. However, in the West, I believe that the closest parallel to Romulus and Rome is the American post-War of Independence president George Washington and Washington D.C. (District of Columbia). The District of Columbia is a political creation made in order that the purpose-built capital city is not in any state of the United States of America! George Washington, himself, was tasked with deciding where the exact location of the city and “district” would be on the river Potomac.
Some months, ago our DVD player broke down. When we moved into our village some 6 years ago, one of our Turkish Cypriot friends, Kerime, told us of a cheap electrical shop that was (almost) on the way to the new harbour from the Freedom Roundabout in Girne. It sells a wide variety of “white” and “brown” goods, at (literally) half the price of those shops that are on the “high” street. We have used the shop (Ucuzcu) rather frequently over the years. Unfortunately (for us) none of the staff – they all seem to be members (at various ages) of the same family - speak English, but by using our dictionary and phrase book have made our requirements known, even though (on occasions) our words, grammar or syntax or pronunciation have caused gales of laughter!
Anyway, to get back to the new DVD player, it didn’t have “SCART” connections, but the three white, red and yellow “AV” jack plugs and leads. I set the player up, inserted a disc and prepared to enjoy. However, on the soundtrack the actors sounded as if they were scuba divers! I started to unplug the connections. To my amazement, when I took out the red jack plug, the soundtrack became perfectly lucid! Using the remote control all the functions worked, volume went up or down, there wasn’t a problem with either the fast forward or reverse facility, so for about 6 months our DVD player has been working perfectly on just two (the yellow and white) of the three leads that were supplied with it. If it wasn’t for the fact that we have a Japanese DVD player and a Turkish television, I would just smile, shrug my shoulders, show my up-turned palms and say “but hey, this is Cyprus”!
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