Dutch news in brief, Monday 25 August 2008
Find out what’s the latest news in the Netherlands in the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands.25 August 2008
Reasonably well performance at the Olympics
Today’s papers of course focus on the closing of the Beijing Olympics on Sunday. The senior coach of the Dutch Olympic team, Charles van Commenee, best sums up the Dutch reaction to his team’s performance in Beijing: “reasonably satisfied”.
Nrc.next writes that while the Netherlands did not achieve the hoped for place in the top ten of the medals table, it still performed quite well by coming in 12th, with 16 medals, including seven gold.
Trouw quotes Van Commenee as saying that the Netherlands should set its sights higher and aim for fifth place. However, De Telegraaf argues that the coach is alone in his quest to set such high goals and that much more is needed if it wants to win on such a scale instead of simply “participating”.
The country’s most popular newspaper goes on to point out that some members of the Dutch Olympic team had to pay thousands of euros out of their own pockets at the airport in overweight baggage charges for their sports equipment.
New meaning for ‘Chinese takeaway’
Protestant Trouw writes that the Netherlands should aim to host the 2028 Olympics in Amsterdam, 100 years after the 1928 games in the country’s capital.
The newspaper notes that not only did China win more than 50 gold medals, but many players of Chinese origin played for their new home countries. “The Dutch Li Jiao lost to the Chinese Gue Yue, as did the Dutch Li Jie. However, the Dutch Li Jie defeated the Austrian Liu Jia, whilst the Dutch Li Jiao also managed to defeat the Luxembourger Ni Xia Lian…”
Trouw writes that Dutch Sport Minister Jet Bussemaker has announced she plans to invest more money in sport. “However, perhaps for much less money it will be possible to bring Chinese to the Netherlands, give them a passport and teach them the Wilhelmus (the Dutch national anthem). This would give the term ‘Chinese takeaway’ a completely different meaning.”
Slaves of the times
The resignation of GreenLeft MP Wijnand Duyvendak a week and a half ago has led to a debate in the Netherlands about the influence of the spirit of the times on society and people.
Immediately after the publication of Duyvendak’s book ‘Climate Activist in Politics’ – in which he wrote about his political escapades in the 1980s which included a break-in at the Economics Ministry – he was forced to resign.
There was an outcry over his illegal activities. Duyvendak apologised for his past and for the time it took him to repent. He wrote: “But that is the major difference between this era and the era in which I was raised.”
De Volkskrant quotes writer Jan Kuitenbrouwer, who says: “in no other country do the times have such an influence as the Netherlands. . . Everyone conforms. . . Here there’s enormous group pressure. If you walk through the Kalverstraat on Saturday afternoon and see a group of girls you’ll notice that they’re all wearing just about the same.
“However if you walk across the Meir in Antwerp and look at a similar group you’ll see that they’re all dressed differently. . . The media show the way, the rest follows. The Dutch are slaves of the times.”
Sociologist Herman Vuisje says: “If you look at the social-cultural changes of recent decades then the Netherlands looks like a drunken man who’s lurching from side to side. That’s because we’re such damned conformists. We’re not at all as straight as we like to say we are. On sensitive subjects and issues the Dutch are very careful and opportunistic. Then people ape each other’s words… It’s like a polonaise that’s swerving all over the place.”
Cycling now for hip and trendy
Five years ago, people would pay EUR 200 for a pair of sneakers, but would only be willing to pay EUR 25 for a (used and stolen) bicycle. That’s the perception that Dave Deutsch had when he opened his bicycle factory in Amsterdam.
He tells nrc.next that he is now selling bicycles for between EUR 800 and 2000 and has shops in Rotterdam, Berlin, Chicago and Copenhagen.
Deutsch says people are now willing to pay a lot of money for a fashionable new bicycle. He says that cycling used to be something for “poor slobs” but is now thought of as a means of transport for “hip creative people”.
More bicycles than people
The Dutch statistics office reports that the number of bicycles sold last year rose by 80,000 to 1.4 million. Around 85 percent of the population owns a bicycle and there are now 18 million bicycles in the Netherlands, which has just over 16 million people.
In 2007, the Dutch cycled a total of 14.7 billion kilometres, 1.4 billion kilometres more than they did 15 years ago.
Reality TV series run out of idea.
According to a column in De Telegraaf, the makers of reality TV series have a problem. “There is nobody left to stalk. Everyone has had his or her turn.”
Television crews have followed nurses, police, firemen, airport personnel, hotel workers, the rich and famous, bailiffs and on and on. It seems they have completely run out of ideas and in desperation are clutching at any last straws they can find.
At the start of the year the country’s Evangelical broadcasting organisation, EO, announced it would make a series ‘Criminals in Concert’ where prisoners would gather in a choir. However, nothing has been heard about the idea since.
This weekend, the AVRO - a religious, political and member-based public broadcasting organisation - announced it will be airing a new series ‘Scoundrel Seeks a Wife’. This sounds remarkably similar to the already highly popular prime-time Dutch TV show ‘Farmer seeks wife’.
According to the AVRO, in this series prison inmates will be followed “during their difficult search for a new relationship”.
De Telegraaf writes that with the show set in such Big Brother surroundings as a prison, the AVRO hopes to attract a big audience. But the paper also asks: “Who is the scoundrel here?”
[Radio Netherlands / Frank Scimone / Expatica]