Dutch news in brief, Monday 17 November 2008
Find out what’s the latest news in the Netherlands in the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands.17 November 2008
Authorities pose bizarre demands on businessmen
"Crazy, new regulations are driving businessmen around the bend," is one of the comments in today's front page lead in De Telegraaf. The newspaper writes that: "The mandatory policy of only purchasing sustainable items threatens to become smothered in a maze of regulations."
De Telegraaf reports that by 2010, around EUR 40 billion in government orders must be entirely "sustainable".
However, the Christian Democrats fear that they (the authorities) are going too far. MP for the governing Christian Democrats, Liesbeth Spies, says: "For example, publishers and scientific periodicals are asked questions such as what kind of ink is used. And to make sure that the car which delivers the periodicals to The Hague tanks diesel, or perhaps gas."
The spokesman of the Dutch federation of Small and Medium-Sized Businesses, André Vermeulen, confirms that the authorities posed "bizarre demands". "In the near future, if architects have an appointment they will be required to travel by public transport. If they arrive in their convertible or sports car, they won't be welcome."
Ex-minister drank too much tea with migrants
De Volkskrant reports on a debate in the Moroccan capital Rabat on the Dutch media and their coverage of Dutch citizens of Moroccan origin.
The Moroccan scoundrels and Dutch contempt debate, which is organised by Radio Netherlands Worldwide, coincides with the launching of its new Arabic-language radio station Huna Amsterdam, dealt with stereotypes in the media.
"Headlines from De Telegraaf are projected on the wall of a hall in the Moroccan capital Rabat. The general drift: Moroccans are no good. Laughter is heard every time a headline is translated into Arabic."
The Dutch-Moroccan director of the Arabic-language news station Al-Jazeera in Rabat, Hassan Rachidi, tells the audience he knows why former integration minister Ella Vogelaar was forced to step down last week.
"Because she spent too much time drinking tea with migrants. She was an advocate of dialogue."
Rachidi says many Dutch newspapers and politicians are biased in the way they select their information. "We don't only have drug dealers and thieves. We also have engineers, doctors and football players. There is a Moroccan elite. But the right-wing parties in the Netherlands do not always consider this elite as part of society."
However, Mohammed Abdulrahman of the Arabic-language department of Radio Netherlands Worldwide disagrees. "In the Netherlands there is a somewhat negative tendency when it comes to Moroccans, but it is not that exaggerated. And Vogelaar wasn't only fired for drinking too much tea."
The return of the ashtray in pubs
Trouw reports that there is growing opposition to a law which banned smoking in restaurants and pubs as of the 1 July 2008.
The paper writes how one pub owner in Den Bosch followed the ban for four months, only to see his turnover drop by EUR 1,300 a week. Afraid that he would soon go out of business he put the ashtrays back on the tables. "Customers are taking their mobile telephones out to inform their friends.’You can smoke again at Hans and Thea's.' It's heart-warming."
Last Friday a number of pub owners in Den Bosch called for massive resistance to the smoking ban. All pub and restaurant owners in Den Bosch will hold an emergency meeting this evening to discuss the ban.
Koninklijke Horeca Nederlands (KHN), a federation which represents restaurants, cafes and pubs, has protested against the increasing resistance to the ban. It says that pub owners who abide by the law are losing customers. KHN says that the government should either enforce the ban or repeal it.
Health Minister Ab Klink has announced that he will soon take harsher measures to enforce the ban. A total of 481 fines of EUR 300 were handed out as of 11 November. At the moment the Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority has 200 inspectors who perform checks on pubs and restaurants to ensure they are enforcing the ban.
A green goodbye to consumerism
Trouw writes about the new book by Femke Halsema, leader of the GreenLeft party, which goes on sale on Monday, 'Happiness! Leaving Hyper-Consumerism, Haste and Boorishness Behind Us.
In an interview with the paper, the author says: "My book is an answer to the credit crisis, which is the result of our hyper-consumerism: as a society we endlessly consume more and more and more."
When asked why, given the small number of seats her party has in parliament, society does not seem to be as concerned as she is, Halsema replies: "Perhaps I'm ahead of my time. Although I slowly see change. Such as Barack Obama, who wants to invest in the collapsing car industry, but also demands sustainable production. The French President Sarkozy has given Nobel Prize winners Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya Sen the task of giving society's well-being a central place. In Great Britain so-called happiness economists have direct access to the Brown government ... If we want to avoid another crisis, then we must reform our economy."
"We live in a money culture - think of the bonuses. The underlying competition is very hard ... However, if you ask people at the end of their lives what they are most proud of, few say: 'That I became stinking rich.'"
Dutch expatriates in Germany miss local snacks
The Dutch villa refugees - which is the term used to denote Dutch expatriates who have bought houses across the border in Germany because of the high housing prices in the Netherlands - miss Dutch snacks such as the croquette.
De Telegraaf writes that 200 Dutch expatriates living in Germany were asked what they missed the most about the Netherlands. Twenty-one percent missed their family, 18 percent missed absolutely nothing at all and 13 percent missed Dutch snacks. High on the list were frikadellen (a fried minced-meat sausage) and croquettes. Two percent missed the "typical Dutch complaining about the weather".
[Radio Netherlands / Frank Scimone / Expatica]