Wednesday, November 18, 2009

“Not knowing” can be a Cause of great Anxiety and Stress for All

I was talking to someone recently, who has a great deal of suffering in his life. Like this person a large part of the lives of those suffering is due to the fact that they do not know how things will work out or whether indeed there is a solution to their problem(s).

By Yemti Harry Ndienla

Couple of weeks ago Mr. Fritz Mbome, and Likowo Ndobedi, took centre stage at The Church of The Holy Spirit, Schaumburg, IIIinois, to declare WHAT THEY KNOW (their love for each other) in front of God Almighty.

Their act (the exchange of vow) was a true demonstration, and guarantee of LOVE acknowledged by God including the men and women who cramped the House of God, and reception ground at Palatine there after.

The issue here is not to surround you with the sensation of this wedding, noted to be one of the best in recent times nor to tell you how profound Mr and Mrs Mbome know or love each other but to give you an idea of the “Power of Knowing”

“Not knowing” can be a cause of great anxiety and stress for all. Often married couples or those in relationships do not know if their spouse really loves them. This doubt can be a cause of great anxiety.

Some children, even as adults do not know if one or both parents ever really loved them. So they carry this burden with them every day of their life.

There is part of our human nature that always needs to know things for definite. We have a need to understand and be in full possession of knowledge in order to be at ease with ourselves, others and our surroundings. This can be a healthy trait in our humanity but at times it can also be a curse (translate as disadvantage) especially in terms of prayer and our spiritual life.

Have you ever heard the expression, “Curiosity killed the cat?” Well, if we stress ourselves too much over the things we don’t know or understand, we can become despondent, negative, desperate and even make ourselves ill. Wanting to know too much can be a dangerous exercise.

In terms of prayer and faith, acceptance that our human knowledge is imperfect and that we will never fully know God via the intellect, is an important step if we are to make any progress in our prayer life. God is a Mystery and we are invited to enter the Mystery not through our head but through our heart.

A very good spiritual book from the Middle Ages is called “The Cloud of Unknowing”. It counsels all of us who pray and especially those who are trying to pray through difficult situations, not to trust knowledge, but to trust the things of the heart.

The anonymous author writes “Knowledge is full of labor, but love is full of rest”.

When we are fretting too much over unknown futures or solutions to problems, let us remember that we can do little to improve our situation by “thinking”. On the other hand, by praying with our heart so as to experience the ever loving presence of God we can find rest.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bribery/Corruption? IMF official given $200.000 cash farewell gift!

Senegal's president admitted that he hosted a special dinner at his palace for a departing International Monetary Fund representative - only to have a top aide erroneously send him off with nearly $200,000 in cash as a goodbye gift.

The Associated Press

President Abdoulaye Wade's admission has prompted the opposition in the West African nation to call for an investigation.

Wade said his top aide gave the cash to IMF country director Alex Segura after a Sept. 25 dinner at the presidential palace marking the end of Segura's three-year term. Wade issued a statement Tuesday in which he said the gift was not a bribe.

A top aide to the president asked if he should give something to Segura as is custom, the statement said.

"The president said yes without specifying the sum, as there was a common practice," the statement said. "The top aide was mistaken about the amount and realized his error later."

Wade did not specify what the proper amount was supposed to be. Nor did Wade say if the Senegalese government had followed a similar practice with other diplomats or foreign officials.

An IMF statement said Segura left the president's house immediately for the airport and only later discovered that the gift was a large sum of U.S. dollars and euros. The IMF said they have returned the money to the Senegalese government.

Wade said he was not attempting to bribe Segura.

"It doesn't make sense to talk about corruption of someone who is leaving permanently without the slightest chance of meeting each other again one day," Wade said.

Wade, the 83-year-old leader of Senegal, has come under increasing criticism for corruption allegations. He recently changed the constitution to alter the length of the presidential term from five to seven years. Last month, he announced that he planned to run for a third term - meaning that he could be in office well into his 90s.

He has dismayed former supporters through ostentatious displays of wealth, including renting numerous suites in a luxury hotel in Switzerland this summer for his annual summer vacation. His Swiss holiday, which one newspaper claimed had cost the government at least $1.6 million, came at the same time that Senegal suffered devastating rains that flooded entire neighborhoods, causing some 264,000 people to lose their homes.

He also has raised eyebrows by giving important portfolios to his son, Karim Wade, who was raised abroad and is not fluent in Wolof, the predominant local language. The elder Wade has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing by his son.

Opposition legislator Imam Mbaye Niang said he will ask parliament to investigate the recent gift.

"Wade has to be taken to court for spending national money illegally," he said. "Unfortunately I am sure that we will not succeed because the opposition is the minority in parliament."

An IMF statement issued late Monday said the Washington-based organization would launch an independent investigation into the matter.

"The president explained that the money was intended as a traditional farewell gift to Mr. Segura in recognition of his contribution to Senegal, and was not in any way intended to influence either Mr. Segura, who was leaving the country permanently, or the IMF," the statement said.

The IMF said that Wade had acknowledged the amount that was provided was a mistake. The bank said Segura informed his successor on the night of his departure and they agreed that Segura would transport the money to his destination, Barcelona.

"With Mr. Segura worried about missing his flight and, concerned that there was no place to leave the money safely in Senegal, he decided to take the money aboard the plane," the statement said.

The IMF said they returned the money to Senegal's ambassador to Spain in early October. Segura has since returned to Washington, the statement said.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ayah The Official Anathema

Before the Yives declared war on the Olitis, (Hon Ayah's tribe), the Yives had destroyed at least nine Oliti houses. They had also killed over five Olitis and cut off and carried away some of the heads. All reports to the Cameroonian authorities were either simply ignored, or the Oliti complainants were instead arrested, detained and only released upon ransoms being paid to the authorities. Assured of support and encouraged by the Cameroonian administrative authorities, the Yives went on to declare war. The Olitis have today paid dearly for only exercising their right of self-defence.

By Hon. Ayah Paul Abine

Not only did the Government of Cameroon put in place all dirty plans to avail itself of the war it had encouraged and sponsored to implicate Ayah; but today, the Olitis have gone for close to two years as refugees without any single item of relief supplies from the Government.
Many are innocent Oliti children who have died from famine; many innocent women, and men.

As the name Ayah is an official anathema in Cameroon today, the same scenario has been going on at Munyenge for over a year now.
The matter is the estate of Ayah Bernard who died intestate in 2004. Upon his demise, the family designated Echin Augustin as the next-of-kin. He followed due process and obtained letters of administration which enabled him to administer the estate uninterrupted until 2008. One Akawish

(Akawish?) Mary Isheli recently teamed up with the chief of Munyenge and his traditional council, Akawish (Akawish?) Linus (her son), Forcha Stephen, Che Johnson (Martin) alias Army-man, and the head of the chief's militia (styled peacekeeping force), and they are repeatedly intermeddling with the administration of the said estate.

For over a year today, the administrator has been prevented from administering the estate. For that long, the gangsters have invaded the estate and carried away cocoa beans worth millions of francs. For that long, the administrator and his workers have been attacked, maimed, stabbed, shot at and tortured without any authority being bothered to restrain the gangsters. We cite here just some of the attacks of the last three months to illustrate the point?

24 July: Workers of the estate are attacked and wounded in their effort to resist an invasion by some thirty thugs organised by the chief and Akawish Mary Isheli, and commanded by Stephen Forche, Che Martin and the head of the chief's militia. Etonong George is wounded in the head by Stephen Forcha and stabbed in the leg by Akawish Linus. Action awaited.

31 August: Echin Augustine, the administrator of the estate, is attacked in his house with sticks by Stephen Forcha, Akawish Linus, Che Johnson and severely wounded in the head. In pursuance of the order of the chief of Munyenge, he is expelled from Munyenge, and he takes refuge at Muyuka.
1 September: In the furtherance of the chief's order, Etonong George is attacked in his house at night with weapons including a firearm which is shot at him. In attempt to cover up, Akawish Mary is dispatched to Muyuka to allege that Echin Augustin had shot at her son. Gendarmes immediately make an ingress into the court to arrest Echin.

The Muyuka State Counsel intervenes on the ground that Echin had been at Muyuka the previous two days and could not have shot at anyone at Munyenge. Action awaited.

5 October: Etela Pascal is severely beaten by Akawish Linus, Stephen Forcha, Che Johnson and a mob. He loses two teeth from the attack. He is presented to the Muyuka Court of First Instance per sedente curiam still covered with blood. Action awaited.
9 October: Akaya Linus Ondafi is beaten unconscious by Akawish Mary Isheli, Akawish Linus, Stephen Forcha, Che Johnson and four others. His entire body, including the face, is riddled with dozens of traumas. Tyres are put round his neck and petrol and matches are sent for in order to burn him alive. This was upon the return of the chief of Munyenge from the Muyuka Gendarmerie Brigade where, on the orders of the Buea Legion Commander, a statement had been recorded from the chief after one year of his banditry.

The Ayahs had to pay such life-threatening price for the simple recording of a statement from an officially protected gangster. Action awaited.
For the past year, we and our counsel have written a dozen petitions or so to the authorities for action and our protection. Those authorities include the Muyuka Divisional Officer, the Muyuka State Counsel, the Procureur General, the Anti-gang Police, the Special Branch Police, the Human Rights Commission etc, with copies sent to human rights bodies, the South West governor, the Minister of Justice, the Presidency of the Republic etc.
We are still waiting for the first concrete action restraining the gangsters even as we remain under sustained attack.

The Muyuka Divisional Officer, on his part, instead got into negotiation with the gangsters to his personal benefit. Barrister Epie can testify that this was apparent when the two of us met the said Divisional Officer in his office on 17 September 2009. Others are waiting for incentives that we do not have.
As of the time of writing these words, none of the attackers has been arrested; much less detained.
We are not in a position to contradict those who reminded the world only recently that Cameroon is in a state of law. But if so Cameroon is, how else can one describe the repeated attacks on the Ayahs with absolute impunity than that the name Ayah is an official anathema.

Can it be said that Munyenge is a state within the State of Cameroon? If the answer is in the negative, how can any other inference be made, in the face of such official blood-curdling indifference to human suffering, than that the Government of Cameroon has some hidden agenda? Whatever the answer, we the victims feel right to be suspicious that there are official schemes and machinations. And that explains why we cannot even avail ourselves of the right of self-defence.

The unanswered questions now are whether a country in a state of law can connive at, let alone, officially encourage the kind of anarchy reigning at Munyenge, and reigning for so long; and then, what next?

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

10 things I’ve confirmed about life based on events in the last few years

Just reached into my vault and pulled up 10 of the most important things I’ve learned in the last few years based on many facts I gathered along the way.

By Hinsley Njila


I have seen so much corruption around the world to now confirm that corruption is neither African nor a precursor to poverty. Corruption is as human as breathing, and discrimination.

- History really does repeat itself.

- The mind is by far the most powerful and valued part of your body.

- Middle class means you are educated enough to know what you want, but not rich enough to be able to afford it.

- You really can fool most of the people most of the time.

- I would never understand why humans lack the will and ability to stamp out poverty, hunger, domestic abuse, provide drinking water for each other etc, which collectively probably cost less than building nuclear bombs and fighting wars.

- Poverty is the worst disease humans have ever known, it probably kills more people a day than all diseases combined kill in a year– every bad thing is worse among poor people.

- Some degree of stupidity cannot be cured by education alone.

- Money and religion are the root of most of the evil or excuses to be evil in many parts of the world. Ironic in my view.

- Consistent and prolonged bad leadership is the central and most significant variable in the equation to determine why some countries are poorer than others.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Obama’s healthcare reforms spark debate in UK

Though the highly “controversial” and much needed health care plan of President Barack Obama, seems to be enjoying committee endorsement at the US senate after a series of tough town hall meetings around the country, critics seems not. Opponents of the Presidents healthcare reforms in the US are directing criticism at other health plans around the world chiefly those in Canada and UK, all in their effort to discredit Obama’s scheme which turn out to be one of his major campaign promises and top domestic policies.

By Yemti Harry Ndienla

“US Critics of the National Health Service (NHS) in UK see it as an overly-bureaucratic "socialised" system which rations care”, The BBC reported. Meanwhile in showing his support to the NHS, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, recently joined thousands of people in a Twitter campaign to defend the health service from US attacks. His wife Sarah, who sent a message of support to the campaign, is also behind the NHS.

Brown’s action came on the hills of increasing debate on the NHS following critic by opponents of President Barack Obama’s health plan in the US. Those in UK claim the NHS is outdated, unfair and should be scrapped. Others believe the UK government had not done enough to defend the NHS from attacks in the US.

Interestingly, a Tory MEP who openly waded into the debate over Barack Obama's health bill after telling a US TV he “wouldn’t wish” the NHS “on anyone”, was highly criticized by those who have great respect for the NHS including Andy Burnham, the country’s Health Secretary, who accused the Tory MEP of being “unpatriotic”. Unpatriotic because the MEP, a British representative actually gave an unfair impression of the National Health Service in a foreign media without representing the views of the vast majority of British people.

Mr. Hannan, made a series of appearances on American television describing the NHS as "60 year mistake" and saying that he "wouldn't wish it on anyone". A statement viewed by many as "insult" to the 1.4m NHS workers.

"We will stand up for the NHS and we will make sure that it is properly represented in the international media. And that is why what Mr Hannan has done disappoints me so much” Andy Burnham told the BBC

Though others ague that Hannan spoke in his personal capacity, his views were backed by fellow Tory MEP Roger Helmer, who told BBC Radio 4's PM programme: "I think Dan has done us a service by raising these issues which need to be looked at. "If 80% of Americans are getting better health care than we are in the UK then we ought to ask why, and we ought to ask how we are going to deliver equally good results."

Tory leader David Cameron, who has vowed to protect health from spending cuts if he comes to power, has been at pains to stress his commitment to the NHS and distance himself from his compatriot - Mr Hannan. Hear him, "The Conservative Party stands four squares behind the NHS,” Adding, "We are the party of the NHS, we back it, we are going to expand it, we have ring-fenced it and said that it will get more money under a Conservative government, and it is our number one mission to improve it."

Whilst scolding Hannan for his damaging statement on NHS, Cameron, noted, "He does have some quite eccentric views about some things, and political parties always include some people who don't toe the party line on one issue or another issue."

On his part Timothy Kirkhope, Leader of the Conservative group in the European Parliament, told the BBC he believes Mr Hannan should be disciplined for his comments about the NHS and that he would be given a "stern talking to" by the party's chief whip Brussels.

Former deputy Prime Minister John Prescott on his part recorded a video message to the American people accusing Mr Hannan of "misrepresentation of the NHS here in Britain".

It should be noted here that US critics of the NHS claim it is an example of an overly-bureaucratic system which rations care and denies treatment to the elderly. But campaign groups and right wing pundits have also attacked it as "socialist", with one TV debate even discussing whether it was a breeding ground for terrorism.

But one British woman said she felt "duped" after becoming the unwitting star of an anti-Obama health campaign. Kate Spall, who appeared in a US free market group's TV commercial opposing Mr Obama's health bill, said her views were misrepresented.

She told BBC Radio 4's The World at one: "Absolutely I was deceived yes because when I then found out the link to the website and it was a huge political machine I was horrified because it was the polar opposite of what I believe in. I absolutely believe in universal health care."

Here are some other facts and figures to carry you through your day

Real median household income remained unchanged in the US between 2003 and 2004 at $44,389, according to a report released by the U.S. Census Bureau. Meanwhile, the nation’s official poverty rate rose from 12.5 percent in 2003 to 12.7 percent in 2004 and very little changes had been made of recent.

The percentage of the nation’s population without health insurance coverage remained stable, at 15.7 percent in 2004. Meanwhile the number of people with health insurance increased by 2.0 million to 245.3 million between 2003 and 2004, and the number without such coverage rose by 800,000 to 45.8 million.

Recent statistics by OECD and WHO hold that about 47.5m Americans are living today without health insurance. The number represents 10.4 % Non-Hispanic whites, 19.5 % Blacks, and 14.8 % Hispanics.

Life expectancy at birth in the US 78.1 years compared to; 81 in France, 79.7 in Singapore, and 79.1 in UK. Meanwhile the US has 6.7 infant mortality per 1000 live births against 4.8 in UK, 3.8 in France, and 2.1 in Singapore. On the contrary the US has one of the highest expenditure on health per capita in the world. The US spends $7.290 against $3.601 in France, $2.992 in UK and $1.228 in Singapore.

Some different Health programmes around the world include the following:

United States - Private system

Private sector funded, with more than half from private sources. Private health insurance available through employer, government or private schemes.

15.3% of population (45.7 million people) do not have health insurance.

Federal government is largest health care insurer - involved in two main schemes, Medicaid and Medicare, each covering about 13% of population.

Medicaid - joint funded federal-state programme for certain low income and needy groups - eg children, disabled.

Medicare - for people 65 years old and above and some younger disabled people and those with permanent kidney failure undergoing dialysis or transplant.

Most doctors are in private practice and paid through combination of charges, discounted fees paid by private health plans, public programmes, and direct patient fees.

In-patient care is provided in public and private hospitals. Hospitals are paid through a combination of charges, per admission, and capitation.

United Kingdom - Universal, tax-funded system

Public sector funded by taxation and some national insurance contributions.

About 11% have private health insurance. Private GP services very small.

Health care free at point of delivery but charges for prescription drugs, ophthalmic services and dental services unless exempt.

Exemptions include children, elderly, and unemployed. About 85% of prescriptions are exempt.

Most walk-in care provided by GP practices but also some walk-in clinics and 24-hour NHS telephone helpline. Free ambulance service and access to accident and emergency. In patient care through GP referral and followcontractual arrangements between health authorities, Primary Care Trusts and the hospital.

Hospitals are semi-autonomous self-governing public trusts.

France - Social insurance system

All legal residents covered by public health insurance funded by compulsory social health insurance contributions from employers and employees with no option to opt out.

Most people have extra private insurance to cover areas that are not eligible for reimbursement by the public health insurance system and many make out of pocket payments to see a doctor.

Patients pay doctor's bills and are reimbursed by sickness insurance funds.

Government regulates contribution rates paid to sickness funds, sets global budgets and salaries for public hospitals.

In-patient care is provided in public and private hospitals (not-for-profit and for-profit). Doctors in public hospitals are salaried whilst those in private hospitals are paid on a fee-for-service basis. Some public hospital doctors are allowed to treat private patients in the hospital. A percentage of the private fee is payable to the hospital.

Most out-patient care is delivered by doctors, dentists and medical auxiliaries working in their own practices.

Singapore - Dual system

Dual system funded by private and public sectors. Public sector provides 80% of hospital care 20% primary care.

Financed by combination of taxes, employee medical benefits, compulsory savings in the form of Medisave, insurance and out-of-pocket payments.

Patients expected to pay part of their medical expenses and to pay more for higher level of service. Government subsidises basic healthcare.

Public sector health services cater for lower income groups who cannot afford private sector charges. In private hospitals and outpatient clinics, patients pay the amount charged by the hospitals and doctors on a fee-for-service basis.

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Cameroon’s Executive, Legislative and Confusion of Powers

When a group of concerned catholic Christians set up the Justice and Peace Commission in the Diocese of Buea in the early nineties, the foundation of the scheme was their firm conviction that justice and peace are inextricably glued together. And truly, the interdependence of Justice and peace makes no allowance for the existence of one without the other.

By Hon. Ayah Paul Abine

That statement is beyond disproof today and tomorrow. Justice automatically anticipates peace, and peace is the inevitable consequence of justice. The collateral dimension is that whoever talks about justice talks about the law.

It can only be so because justice is compelling conformity with the law, and/or sanctioning lawbreakers. Wisdom then is the recognition or, at least, the acceptance that the law is supreme. No-one, for instance, can hold an office without complying, a priori, with the law laying down the conditions for holding that office.

If a member of the security wears a uniform and bears a gun, it is because the law so provides. Conducting oneself to the contrary breaks the law, and is necessarily a breach of peace. It is akin to self-destruction because destroying what makes one what one is destroys what one is.
As self is more often than not the fatal end of impartiality, civilised societies regard the law as almost sacred.

They have used it to organise themselves in three complementary arms of governance that interact with and restrain one another, namely the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary.
The main function of the Legislature is the enactment of laws. The laws so enacted guide the Executive in its conduct of State affairs. And the Judiciary interprets and applies the said laws to ensure observance.

As it is, no one arm does everything: there is division of labour as the economist would describe it. Democratic societies that have stood the test of time are those that have adopted and maintained that neat separation of powers, assuring that each of those three arms of governance has reasonable autonomy.

As a lawmaker and a crusader for peace, one should naturally wish that our system of governance was modeled on that time-tested system of governance. This is essential in that genuine peace means conducting oneself in a manner that leads to and promotes peace; and refraining from perpetrating conduct that disrupts the peace. That can be summarised as being amenable to the law. Such preventive conduct is most salutary as no-one doubts that a taste of the forbidden is a second transgression. Negation is resultant instability and insecurity for all.
Therefore we have stated more than once before that making the President of the Republic head of the Judicial Council and the guarantor of the independence of the Judiciary inevitably undermines the independence of that arm of governance. That is not our concern here though. Our present objective is to opine that saddling lawmakers with executive duties outside their traditional realm of legislating is bringing the Legislature under the authority of the Executive, and thereby weakening it.

Over the years, Cameroonians have heard and read about the President of the Republic being represented at some summit of Heads of State by the President of the National Assembly; and about some new ambassador to Cameroon or some foreign envoy being received by the President of the National Assembly on behalf of the President of the Republic.
The media have similarly informed us several times that the President of the National Assembly was "the personal representative of the President of the Republic" at some funeral or another.
Much as those statements may have sounded normal to the ordinary Cameroonian, someone with legal knowledge should be courageous enough to state that such practices are typically Cameroonian and outside the law.

In our thirst for finding what has favoured the thriving of major democracies in the world, we have searched unsuccessfully for any similar confusion of roles in those democracies. Neither have we chanced upon any enabling local legal instrument that justifies this departure by our system from what is usual in those democracies?

We are making but a statement of fact that appointing the head of one arm of government as "the personal representative" of the head of another arm reduces the appointee to the position of an errand boy. The autonomy of such errand boy of course is eroded, and the doctrine of the separation of powers becomes a mere illusion. It makes no difference that ours is a presidential system. Equally immaterial would be the argument that the one is the head of a party, and the other owes him allegiance as a member. The constitution of a party cannot prevail over the constitution of the nation. Nor can Parliament ever be on the same plane as an organ of a political party, whatever its epithet.

Nobody denies that the Constitution of Cameroon provides for relations between the Executive and the Legislature. But those relations are limited to co-operation in the realm of legislation. It would be important to take note that co-operation and collaboration are not synonymous. The latter connotes subordination; and that is the essential characteristic of an errand boy. Nowhere in the constitutional provisions on relations between the Legislature and the Executive does one find, even by inference, any allowance for collaboration between the two arms of governance.
The head of the Legislature cannot therefore substitute for the head of the Executive in the performance of the latter's executive functions. As a matter of fact, the law prohibits a Member of Parliament from even being on the Board of Directors of a semi-public corporation. This is in contrast with the members of Government who very often add those positions to their ministerial functions. Much less therefore can the head of the Legislature assume executive functions, even of only temporarily.

The Constitution of course provides that the President of the Republic can expressly "delegate some of his powers to the Prime Minister, other members of Government and any other senior administrative officials of the State, within the framework of their respective duties".
Let us hasten to state that the translation is grossly wrong as the version in French does not contain the equivalence of the phrase "and any senior...duties". Even if the translation were accurate, few would argue that the President of the National Assembly in his official capacity is a "senior administrative (official)".

Granted hypothetically that he even was, he would still not receive new ambassadors as that is not "within the framework of (his) duties".
As the President of the National Assembly is neither "the Prime Minister" nor one of the "other members of Government", the President of the Republic is definitely not within the Constitution when he procures him to deputise as the President of the Republic at those summits, conferences and funerals.

The contrary can only be true if some instrument higher than the Constitution of Cameroon has provided to the contrary. But no such instrument have we found.
It is only reasonable and logical then to conclude from the foregoing that the practice of effacing the line of demarcation between the two arms of governance as per those "appointments" is inconsistent with our Constitution. It would therefore not be audacious for one to opine that it was high time the practice was discarded.

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Corruption Thrives Where Poverty Persists

When ever I hear or read about the hue and cry on the fight against corruption, I laugh out my lungs because such song and dance slogan is not only like playing to the gallery but is more like an idle walk in a rowdy park.

By Paddy Awanfor

It is no longer news that our country is among highly rated corrupt Countries in the World as well as being a heavily indebted poor country. Somebody once said that one of his many solutions to end corruption in this country is for Government to put all known billionaires on the stakes and execute them mercilessly and without exception. Fine and good with a 'but'.

I take exception to the generalized clause of 'all billionaires without exception' because such generalisation in my opinion is sweepingly inappropriate since we cannot vouch with any degree of certainty that all billionaires in Cameroon are corrupt and as such, culpable for the stakes.
The fact that we, the majority, are helplessly, hopelessly and wretchedly poor to extremes, should not give rise to hate or envy or jealous for those few that are genuinely rich because to say that all billionaires in Cameroon without exception are corrupt is not only a biased statement overstated but a senseless presumption as well.

What is generally accepted is the fact that all morally minded persons hate riches that are not earned but acquired. Riches that are gotten outside the norms of virtues like honesty and prudence with the fear of God as the guide .In fact, riches that are not earned by dint of hard work but are simply, easily and leisurely acquired through astuteness and "mago mago" tactics like fraught, deceit, stealing, manipulation, 419, internet scams, bribery, etc, etc although the definition of corruption appears to centre mainly on official corruption which entails bribe taking.

An opinion may be probable if it suggests that billionaires who have been investigated on the basis of suspicion, tried and found guilty by the law courts to have acquired their billions corruptly should be made to put their backs on the stakes for execution. Yet, that probability is still debatable as to whether or not the government of this country is ready to reintroduce "firing squads" as methods of combating crimes like official corruption (bribe taking) which is undeniably on the upsurge.

I say so because it is not long that I discussed this issue of "Firing squad" in an article I wrote in The Sunday Eden Vol. 1 No 10 of Sunday 22 February -Sunday 1 March 2009 on page 8 captioned "Rising Crime Wave: The Pros And Cons On Facing The Firing squad".

I hear that social scientists believe that a problem can only be said to have been properly solved if its roots cause(s) has /have been eliminated. This problem of corruption cannot be different from other problems whose root cause (s) must first of all be traced and tackled. Just as one of the main root causes of rising crime wave has been identified to be unemployment, so too, one of the main root causes of corruption, in my opinion, is the excruciating poverty that is tearing our people apart like an affliction if not like a curse.

I know that just as moral purists and sociologists hold that stealing may not necessarily be a function of poverty considering that the very rich still find pleasure in stealing from the public till, one may want to argue also that bribe taking may not necessarily be a function of poverty given that very highly placed public service employees with heavy pay pockets of tax payers money still find pleasure in taking bribes even from the poor.

That logic not withstanding, Cameroonians of today virtually find themselves living in a perpetually poverty -stricken country in the midst of plenty but with little or nothing for the gander. Cameroon is luckily blessed with enormous resources, talented and hard working people but for its serious ailment of a cancerous nature like the siphoning of public funds into private pockets through misappropriation and embezzlement, mismanagement of both human and material resources and above all the stacking of the country's much needed money into foreign banks

The government of this country needs urgent and drastic measures to bail its citizens out of poverty and corruption rather than shamelessly lifting up its head high in pride with little or nothing on the ground to show. Cameroon at 49, has moved from bad to worse degenerating into one of the poorest and most corrupt countries in the world with increase in societal ills.

By the way, from the look of things, it appears as if the Prime Minister, like his predecessors, does not have the necessary statutory state authority to pursue the fight against corruption to its logical end following the removal of the National Anti-Corruption Commission from the Prime Minister's Office to the Presidency of the Republic. Also, it is common knowledge that most of those in government whose duties it is to implement policy directives culpably stand guilty of dirty cupboards full of skeletons.

However, President Biya's courage to sanction the arrest, detention, trial and imprisonment of some of his cronies hitherto considered as "untouchables" has not gone unnoticed. That is, in his vow to personally oversee the effectiveness of the campaign against corruption that has become a dangerous canker on the path of his greater ambitions programme. But, Mr. President could earn more "thumbs up" if he granted his Prime Minister some amount of additional power of state authority that can enable him to discreetly put in place certain state mechanisms that can speed up the retrieval of the country's stolen billions (not by all billionaires) now lying idle in foreign banks because the imprisonment of looters without a corresponding recovery of their booty is a sheer exercise in futility tantamount to an expensive joke.

Paradoxically, even though 80% of our population is believed to be poverty - stricken, Cameroonians have slowly but steadily cultivated a culture of living happily in a decayed environment where poverty appears to be a way of life, where corruption seems to be the purpose of governance, where merit is shun for mediocrity, where morals have been brazenly thrown to the dogs, where those without the guts to steal are looked upon as misfits, where capable and competent people are pushed from pillar to post, where tribalism is the order of the day, where justice is hard to come by, where duty consciousness is no longer any body's business, where the code of life has changed from the survival of the "fittest" to the survival of the fastest, etc, etc.

My last word here is that for government to manifest the seriousness of its intentions and commitment to effectively drive home its policies of good governance, anti-corruption campaign, etc, etc, it must first of all be seen to have strenuously eliminated all facets of poverty before anything else because as I have averred above, corruption thrives only where poverty persists. That is in most cases.

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Brain Seek and Brain Chase: an attempt to complete the story of why highly skilled migrants leave their countries and what can be done about it.

Like many of you reading this article, over the years I’ve read a lot of literature and seen a lot being discussed about ‘Brain Drain’ and ‘Brain Gain’ with regards to the movement of highly skilled migrants around the world. Who gains from whom when highly skilled migrants move from one country to another has been well documented and is not the focus of this article.

By Hinsley Njila

However, I think it’s important to focus on why highly skilled workers move in the first place as a critical piece of this migration debate. Brain Drain and Brain Gain although very smart and descriptive concepts devised by highly paid consultants to define the situation, in my humble opinion do not tell the complete story.

There are very complex reasons why highly skilled migrants would move from one country to another, and while words or catch phrases like those described in this article are an attempt to describe or explain the treatment of migrants, they should not be read as completely describing the problem. Brain Seek and Brain Chase, both phrases that I coined, are attempts to add elements that seek a better understanding of this complex phenomenon at what in my view has been an incomplete debate thus far.

Brain Seekä

For the better part of the last decade, I’ve informally surveyed the so-called highly skilled migrant group in many parts of the world where I’ve been. It occurred to me at some point during this informal experiment as I talked to so many people around the world that all things being equal, most migrants would prefer to practice their trade in their country of birth because of a number of reasons top of which are cultural and political familiarity. So if this is true, although people are leaving their countries in what has been record numbers in recent times, they’d much prefer to be in their countries where they have an emotional connection to the language, people, culture etc. If governments were truly serious about limiting the movements of migrants, this argument offers a clue on what needs to be done.

Developing countries like China, India, now Botswana, Tanzania, Ghana and others have done their research and in more ways that are evident are ‘seeking’ out migrants from their respective countries or other countries who can contribute skills to their development goals. It’s been well documented for instance that in the United States, Chinese embassies maintain lists of Chinese students in highly sought after doctoral fields, and is in constant contact with them to present them with opportunities to go back to China upon graduation by taking advantage of this emotional connection.

Countries with a clear path for the future have begun recruiting talent to help them devise strategies and implement steps on the road map to that goal. Developing countries should be falling over each other for talent around the world. Governments of developing countries should be sending representatives to top Western Universities and paying premium money to recruit top professors that can travel to their countries to teach critical subjects in business, economics, engineering, law, mathematics, and others. This should be in addition to helping their top talent get into these Universities and giving them the opportunity to practice their trade free of government cohesion in their respective countries upon graduation.

It should be worth noting here that private industry in Botswana, China, India, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa among a few smart developing economies have already begun ‘seeking’ talent from among migrants who graduate from western Universities.

Human capital development in my view should be the primary focus for all international aid to developing countries. Experts like Garry Becker of the University of Chicago and Robert Barro of Harvard among others have spent their carriers showing how developing human capital helps lift countries out of poverty.

Brain Chaseä

History books are filled with stories of highly skilled migrants ‘chased’ from their countries by insecure dictators who live in a state of constant paranoia. Who hasn’t read stories of Jews that were chased from Germany by Hitler and the Nazis, and I might add some of who went on to be Nobel Laureates by contributing important scientific discoveries that changed humankind. Had Hitler not ‘chased’ away the Jews, it is possible most of their discoveries would be credited to the Germans. How about Wole Soyinka exiled from Nigeria because of his views; and millions of others for whom dictators have made earning a living in their countries and contributing to social and economic development with their skills nearly impossible.

How is this not a central part of the migration debate, in my opinion truly defies logic., an annual publication by the UN describes in great detail how difficult it is to start a business, pay taxes among other things in some developing countries. When compared with others, it’s no coincidence that some of the countries at the bottom of the ranking are those losing the bulk of their skilled workers to those at the top. I truly believe that as countries carry out reforms that permit highly skilled migrants to easily open businesses, pay taxes, employ workers and achieve their life’s dream, there’ll be less of a need for them to leave their countries for long periods of time.

Travel to countries like Cameroon, Sudan, Chad and others; I recon most of the physicians, accountants, lawyers, and others you talk to would be asking you for the easiest way for them to leave their countries to practice somewhere where it was easier for them to do so. At a time when because of severe economic hardships and millions of people losing their jobs in western countries, sentiments against highly skilled migrants is at an all-time high, to see that people are still willing to come to western countries despite these sentiments to me sends a powerful message about management in their countries.

Anyone who cares about issues of poverty and economic development in developing countries understands that human capital development cannot be ignored as one of the solutions to these very complex problems. To me, educating people who cannot return to their countries of birth and practice their trade because of inept dictators who fail to implement reforms is of very little economic value, just as is not having a future development plan and seeking out talent capable of executing such a plan. I do not claim to completely define the problems with these words that I’ve coined, but I have peeled off another layer to help us understand the complex reasons that explain by people are willing to drop everything they are familiar with and move to sometimes hostile environments to practice the skills they’ve spent a lifetime developing. We should not only focus on ‘Brain Drain ‘and ‘Brain Gain’ which are important, although they focus mainly on the roles played by western countries in the migration debate.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

CONAC and The Comedy Of Errors

A columnist or a writer is like a town crier. We are reminders and we have the advantage of looking back in time. When Mr. Biya appointed his twelve anti-corruption apostles, I wrote I made it clear that we should not expect much from them. One of them collapsed on the day they were slated to be installed and I said it sounded like an ill-omen.

By Ngalle Monono

Time has proven that the Anti-Corruption Commission with French acronym, CONAC, is just another incompetent non-performing organ set up by this government as a means of satisfying foreign donors that we mean business about fighting corruption. It operates only in Yaoundé the capital and does not have a national spread.

The commission not being an independent body with the powers of sanction or prosecution was bound to be another toothless bulldog, barking but clearly unable to bite. The content and composition of the commission was nothing to write home about. Its Achilles Heel is the fact that it can only recommend to the powers that be that such and such should be investigated for having committed a corrupt act. It is not an independent Ombudsman neither is it clothed with a legal personality to actually effect change and bring any corrupt officers directly to book.

Added to these built-in inadequacies, the commission itself is made up of a motley collection of gentlemen without any track record on investigation, interrogation or crime detection. The fight against corruption is not for simpletons and ignoramuses. This is supposed to be a fight against sly and slimy creeps who are bent on hemorrhaging this country and bleeding it to death. They are usually smart and their dealings intricate and their methods labyrinthine. The modus operandi of the corrupt are varied and complicated.

That is all the more reason why the anti-corruption squad should have been made up of Cameroonians of above average intelligence and not the run-off-the-mill gentlemen who now pretend to fight corruption.
The shortcomings of the anti-corruption crew came into sharp focus recently in what has now been termed the maize scandal in the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The old man, Paul Tessa, and his eleven veterans descended on six regions and nineteen divisions to investigate what they claimed was a massive fraud in which FCFA 700 million worth of maize subsidies had been embezzled. They came out with a scathing report in which the Vice Prime Minister, Jean Nkuete, and 48 other Cameroonians were recommended for prosecution. This is where the whole exercise became a comedy of errors. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, in order to facilitate the distribution of the maize subsidies, created what goes under the French acronym of CPSA or Commission Partenaire de Selection des Appuis or in English The Divisional Selection Commission.

This commission receives some money in the course of this exercise which money is meant for the civil society and extension workers.
CONAC imagined that these commissions were Common Initiative Groups which had embezzled maize money.
How come it that it did not strike our gallant anti-corruption warriors as odd that in all the six regions concerned all the Common Initiative Groups concerned had a common name; CPSA?. The truth is that most of those 48 Cameroonians fingered to be corrupt are Divisional Delegates in the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development who did the grunt work by paying the operators on the ground.

In this case, CONAC was merely chasing the shadow and by- passing the real and substantial embezzlers. It is true that CONAC have made some recommendations which may be useful in future but they actually blew this maize affair by a wide margin. Is it this blunder that informed them to appeal to the press to be nationalistic in their pronouncements? Can you imagine how much it would cost the government to pay for twelve men running up and down the country for an exercise in futility?

Our CONAC is a far cry from our friends the Nigerians' Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, which was run by a crack, fearless and highly competent policeman, Mallam Ribadu, who had crooks quaking in their boots and recently had the recommendation of Hillary Clinton.
We shall continue to falter until we learn to put square pegs in square holes.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009


The containment of bestiality in the man is apprehension of the consequences of wrongful conduct. That is what provoked and promoted the development of the reasoning faculty ending up with peaceful community life. The reverse would have been anarchy with “the survival of the fittest” as the unique crude law governing interactions.

By Hon. Ayah Paul Abine

Man has come a long way to discard such ferocious uncertainties of life. Over the ages, positive refinements have added up to consensual social contracts culminating in democracy.

Convinced that it is erroneous to take refuge behind such grotesque propaganda as “advanced democracy” to cut off additives preservative of that fountain of peace, I argued recently in all good faith that granting immunity that places a citizen above the Constitution, the supreme law of the land, could liberate the bestiality in the human being. That particular person could well be reasonable enough to impose self-restraint. But the case may not be true of his successor or even his entourage, especially where the person does not exercise strict oversight. That appears to be the situation with the Cameroonian society of today.

We never can overemphasize that justice is the ultimate guarantor of peace. That palpably explains why the Bible insists that justice will be the final act in the winnowing of mankind on Doomsday. One should not, therefore, hesitate to regret in absolute terms that Cameroonians, claiming to have the confidence of the President of the Republic, are trampling the law underfoot to the extent of showing arrogant contempt even for the decisions of the highest court of the land that the Supreme Court is.

The case in point is the Minister of Culture - Ama Tutu Muna. Her disregard for the Supreme Court’s judgment declaring illegal the “company” she wants to impose on Cameroonian musicians in replacement of the existing legal body is a mark of absolute lawlessness. And the silence of the President of the Republic over her arrogant contempt of court only does bolster her foolhardiness. One must wonder aloud what respect that Minister has even for her late father. If she takes cognizance that her late father was for years the head of the body that enacts laws in Cameroon, and yet she treats with contempt her late father’s works, then of course she is showing contempt even for her father. Nothing can be more dishonourable!

One may not be totally surprised, though. The modern trend on the African Continent is that those in power have placed themselves above the law. In the result, even where legal process has been followed and persons below them have worn elections, the pragmatic outcome has been power-sharing, whereby the winners have accepted positions on the lower rungs of the ladder of power, holding overturned hats for the collection of crumbs from the high tables. Even as “an island of peace”, our country has not been spared by the storm of contempt for the law this time around. Who argues to the contrary?

Is it not in line with the growing trend that Papillon has pleaded the case for the amalgamation of the minister’s “company” which the Supreme Court has declared illegal and the legally existing body? And is his stance not consistent with the Green Tree Agreement? If a judgment of a United Nations’ court can be set aside in favour of an agreement between the parties, and yet that has attracted overwhelming international approbation, how much less the judgment of a local court! And have the power-that-be in Cameroon not told the citizenry time without number that the truth and the good example come from above? Why waste time then arguing the case for the outlandish principle that court judgments are binding on all, and are therefore automatically enforceable?

So forward ever, Madam Minister! After all, Supreme Court c’est quoi?.. But wait a moment! Here is some food for thought for you: will all your children, if any you have, be as powerful as you are so as to dispense with the courts and the law, and yet live in peace? You may wish to accept that that is the guiding principle for parents who love their children, and posterity at large, Madam!

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Of Expensive Holidays And Uncommon Men

The confusion generated by revelations about the holiday transactions of Paul Biya in France and the manner of response of regime insiders only highlighted the sins of hubris, and undermined the decency the sovereign people deserve from their leaders.

By Tazoacha Asonganyi

While he lived, Charles de Gaulle, whom many of our leaders admire and imitate, wrote and lectured about the public persona of a leader. He highlighted the public reality of life as a statesman and the private reality of life as a husband, father and grandfather. Unfortunately for his heirs, modern democratic politics cannot separate the private from the public life of leaders.
The people always want to know all about their leaders in order to gain inspiration from them and place them appropriately in history. The media would be doing a disservice to the people if they raised a curtain between the private lives and the public roles their leaders are called upon to play.

The confusion generated by revelations about the holiday transactions of Paul Biya in France and the manner of response of regime insiders only highlighted the sins of hubris, and undermined the decency the sovereign people deserve from their leaders.

Political communication is always about influencing citizen perceptions, persuading public opinion and desires in a manner conducive to the mission of a regime, and the satisfaction of the desires of the citizens. In a country like ours, the overwhelming desire of the citizen is involvement in the act of nation-building. Promotion of patriotism - love for country - is crucial in mobililising the people to action in the business of nation-building.

Such promotion of patriotism is always greatly helped by signals that are sent and received from the top about corruption, selflessness, use of public funds, management of equality of opportunity, of equity and much more; by the right examples that are set from the top. Fine speeches, pledges and admonitions of all kinds are of no use if these signals from the top are perceived as negative signals.

Nyerere's Case As Narrated By Achebe
Chinua Achebe tells of the patriotic pride Tanzanians felt when news went around Tanzania that their president, Julius Nyerere, after paying his children's school fees at the start of a new school year, proceeded to beg his bankers to give him a few months' grace on the repayment of the mortgage on his personal house.

This can be compared to the type of signal sent by a gigantic house being built near the American Embassy in Yaounde; or the news about the wastage of taxpayers' money in expensive hotels in France! Between Nyerere's Tanzania and Paul Biya's Cameroon that both end up "begging" for development funds, which would enjoy "national prestige"? Who of Nyerere's Tanzanian and Paul Biya's Cameroonian, receiving these contrasting signals from the top is bolstered by patriotic pride to work hard for nation-building?

Inspirational signals are usually greatly influenced by the communication ability of the top; indeed, effective communication is the secret of inspirational leadership. Leaders are supposed to regularly face the people themselves, rather than leave the management of news of their activities to self-seeking subordinates.

It is not for nothing that since Barack Obama got into the White House, he regularly uses town-hall meetings, prime-time press conferences, weekly addresses, media interviews, and online messages and opinions to clarify his policies and keep in touch with the people.
Before Paul Biya's surrogates rush to compare his holiday bills to those of Obama and Sarkozy, they should remember that they belong to completely different leagues, and think about the alienating effects of Paul Biya's deaf-and-dumb-cum-discreet approach to governance that his "biographers" like Boniface Nkobenah and François Mathei present as a source of his "strength"!

When a gossip Website nearly changed the course of history by blowing the top off a Clinton-Lewinsky relationship before investigative journalists finished their work, it became absolutely clear that the communication genie had since got out of the bottle! And it was the power of communication that forced public opinion to tilt in favour of Clinton by imprinting in the minds of Senators that it was a relationship between the president and a consenting adult; the Senators were forced to let go the accused!

This is just an illustration of the fact that communication is no longer about blaming people for what they say; it is about persuading public opinion by the quality of information served to the people: giving convincing information to the people. Paul Biya may be an "uncommon" man; he may be "royalty", hardworking, or have the right to take a rest: but convincing numbers and figures about his holiday in France must be given before we are told that they are "big" because he is an "uncommon" man.

Short of this, our "uncommon" communicators should do the people some good by shutting their traps and keeping their fingers off their keyboards!

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Cameroon: Running After the Media Revolution

It used to be known as the press, then the news media, and now just the media. They all mean the same thing these days! The radio, television, newspapers or the web, are all inanimate things, but they can teach, illuminate and inspire to the extent to which the humans behind them are determined to use them to those ends.

By Tazoacha Asonganyi

Creative programmes like “ça va se savoir”, the Jerry Springer Show, Judge Judy, or Le Tribunal of Sky One Radio are all media programmes in what has become a vast-entertainment-arena-cum-media world. Some of the programmes are animated by those who have never taken a single course in journalism – on the internet, a journalist does not even need to be human; but this is no excuse to get at a programme for frivolous reasons...
New Oaths, New Pacts
With the communication revolution that has humbled even the most ardent dictators and control freaks, it is incredible how easily our new communication boss uses frivolous arguments from people who claim to want freedom from the press, to stifle freedom of the press! The man seems to be all over the place with outdated methods and approaches, urging the media to do only what he wants them to do!
When one considers the many pacts he signed, the many oaths he took and the many declarations he made in honour of freedom of the press while he was in the wilderness, and how easily he has become a turncoat and started signing new pacts, taking new oaths and making new declarations from his new station at “home”, it is difficult to believe anything he says and does!
The vehemence with which he spoke while in the wilderness is the same vehemence with which he speaks his new language so pleasing to his new soul mates!
The communication revolution is the possibility of creating new images through digital-era doctoring, live-from-everywhere satellite television, live-from-everywhere mobile telephone messages transmitted through satellite, the Web, internet and much more. The revolution can contribute to the fight against crime, but if not well managed, it could end in the futility of bad options and worse options. The bad options would be the refusal to do the right thing well, like mismanaging digital national identity cards for selfish ends of winning elections; the worse options, the wish to “control” the malleable mobile phone sector.
Indeed, with the set-up of our mobile phone market, and the extension of the Cameroon network to other countries like Nigeria, Ghana, and others, fighting crime by tracing the origin of calls can be as futile as fighting a translational disease only in one place or one country!
Govt Creating Insecurity for its Enemies?
However many colours the truth may bear, the function of journalists excludes keeping secrets; indeed, a journalist has no right to interpose a blockade between information legitimately acquired and the public they serve. For this, they usually get into trouble with power, and distinguish themselves by the courage and integrity with which they stand up to power. It would be remembered that journalists were on the “enemies” list of Nixon, unearthed during the Watergate hearings; the aim of the Nixon administration was to use government “machinery to screw our political enemies”. Since it is clear that like Nixon, the Cameroon government considers opponents, adversaries and rivals as “enemies”, the question that has not yet got an answer is whether there are appropriate measures – legislation, rules and regulations – to ensure that government does not misuse phone registers to create insecurity for its “enemies”.
Interestingly, the technology that governs mobile phone identification is the same technology that would govern identification of voters. If the government has become so caring about the security of citizens, one expects it to be equally caring about their sovereignty. This belated interest in the power of new technologies for information and communication should lead to a reawakening about the urgent need for a voters’ central database in Cameroon.
The Clock and Dagger Game
Web journalism and mobile phones have extraordinary power to conduct credible opinion polls about any type of issue, including the popularity of individual persons. The cloak-and-dagger game the CPDM is playing within its ranks with motions of support and proclamations of Paul Biya’s candidature for 2011 gives the sorry impression that they think Cameroonians do not believe that he is indeed the President of the CPDM. The macabre exercise seems to have turned into a conduit for those appointed into government to show their gratitude to the man; and for those out of government to announce their desperate presence to the man. In the process, the country’s time is wasted and the image of the country is tarnished more than they usually attribute to the opposition and those in the Diaspora.
People like our new communication boss who suddenly find themselves on the other side of the divide, usually get cynical and indulge in rhetoric based on their misunderstanding of the nature of politics and of man. Overnight, they transform themselves to high priests of their “domains”. This is why our new boss has suddenly forgotten that society – in which journalists are found – can never coincide with its political representation – the government. Journalism is the province of selfless servants of the truth. Government’s attempt to define patriotism as the singing of the praise of the government is foolhardy; so too is the attempt to seek the synthesis of the plural media landscape, that democracy makes impossible.
For journalism to thrive and play its role as the Fourth Estate, government must always remain a news subject, not a news partner! Otherwise, we may be manipulated into confusing freedom of talking with freedom of speech!

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