Dutch news in brief, Monday 30 November 2009

30th November 2009, Comments 0 comments

Read the roundup of today's Dutch press from Radio Netherlands.

Wilders pleased with Swiss anti-minaret vote           
Many papers reported on the Swiss anti-minaret referendum.

de Volkskrant reported on a surprising 54  percent who voted for a ban on minarets.

The initiative for the referendum was taken by two right-wing populist parties: the Swiss People’s Party and the Federal Democratic Union. The Swiss Greens hope that the ban will be prevented by the European Human Rights Convention which protects the freedom of religion.

AD reported Dutch Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders called the result “fantastic news” and “a breakthrough as it is the first time a European country has spoken out against Islamisation”.

He planned to ask for a similar referendum in the Netherlands. “The Netherlands has lots of mosques. Dutch people should have the right to say what they think about it. I think the result here will be the same as in Switzerland.”

There are just four minarets in Switzerland, where 400,000 Muslims live among a population of 7.7 million.

The Swiss government is disappointed by the result but said it would respect it.

Minister wants toddlers to attend primary school
AD reported Deputy Education Minister Sharon Dijksma said she wanted toddlers to attend primary school so learning difficulties can be picked up early on.

Dozens of schools have been given the go-ahead to experiment with pre-school classes which would be on a purely voluntary basis.

As of 2015, the head teachers of these “schools of the future” will manage both education and child care.

The deputy minister also wanted sports club trainers to come into the schools to give sports training, so that parents no longer have the burden of picking their children up from school and taking them to sports clubs. In the future, education, child care and sport will be brought together in one location.

However, there is no extra money for these plans. But the minister is convinced that it is possible to organise things differently.

Prince Bernhard comes into more controversy
Prince Bernhard, the late father of Queen Beatrix, has been the subject of much controversy in the Netherlands.

de Volkskrant reported there have been rumours for several years that the Prince planned a coup in the young republic of Indonesia in 1950.

Now journalist Jort Kelder and historian Harry Veenendaal have published a book on the subject which drew the conclusion that the Prince was involved in an attempt to gather arms and commit a coup d’état in the former Dutch colony.

“You cannot rule out that the Prince was involved. His aim was to become viceroy of Indonesia,” they said.

The paper wrote the news was shocking, but can be added to the pile of accusations that cannot be proven. Other authors using the same sources in the past had drawn a different conclusion.

The two authors claimed that “up to now the facts have been swept under a thick palace carpet by the official court biographers.” and wanted to start a discussion on the subject.

The authors have been invited to talk about the book in at least three current affairs programmes on Dutch television Monday evening.

Police chiefs declare additional expenses
Trouw wrote many police chiefs declared their expenses in addition to their fixed expenses for thousands of euros.

When the television programme RTL Nieuws asked to see the expenses of 25 regional corps, it found 16 declared extra expenses such as dinners and renting tuxedos. Some police chiefs were even given compensation for the cost of second homes after moving to a new region.

Generally the salary of a police chief depends of the size of the region where he or she works.

But the television station found that one interim police chief in the relatively small region of Twente earned almost as much as the police chief of Amsterdam which is much bigger.

The Interior Minister Guusje ter Horst said she is “unpleasantly surprised by the news and will speak to the police chiefs.”

Parliamentary parties pointed to the huge cuts looming over the police force.

Christian Democrat MP Coskun Cöruz said: “The minister has to get to the bottom of this, in particular because we were confronted by huge bonuses in the police force last year. Back then they promised improvements.”

The parliament wanted the expenses paid back and new deals to be made with the police chiefs.

Companies say not enough fair trade cacao produced
A “Green Saint” campaign by Oxfam Novib encouraging people to only buy fair trade chocolate looked like it is paying off.

Traditionally, the Dutch give each other a chocolate letter, and other presents on the eve of Saint Nicolas’ Day on  5 December. This year, Oxfam Novib is using an aggressive advertising campaign to put pressure on shops to only stock fair trade chocolate letters.

The name-and-shame campaign singled out companies that have not stocked fair trade chocolate letters.

NRC.next reported that a number of companies have announced they will soon be selling fair trade chocolate, but not because of the Green Saint campaign. The chain stores which plan to stock them in the future, said they were already working on the issue before the campaign.

However, the companies complained Oxfam Novib was creating the impression that all other chocolate produced used child labour or environmentally unfriendly methods, which they disputed.

They also argued not enough fair trade cacao is being produced. Part of the problem is the companies are dealing with small farmers and it takes time to train them on environmentally friendly methods and social working conditions.

A spokesperson for Oxfam Novib said; “It’s a vicious circle, companies have been telling us for years that are working on the problem. But we want to see real commitment.”

Radio Netherlands / Nicola Chadwick / Expatica

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