Dutch news in brief, Thursday 3 December 2009
Read the roundup of today's Dutch press from Radio Netherlands.Council of State: pension plan will lead to intergenerational tensions
The Cabinet's decision to raise the pensionable age to 66 by 2020 and 67 by 2025 has generated numerous column inches over the last few weeks and two papers on the opposite ends of the political spectrum focus on Wednesday's release of the long-awaited advice by the Council of State on the pensions bill.
According to de Volkskrant, the Council said the government should introduce the changes "in more phases and faster," and the plans "fail to recognise the urgency of the situation".
The changes were introduced in order to help combat the current financial crisis but will not deliver any financial benefits until 2020 and the Council said "the nine-year wait is far too long".
De Telegraaf said the Council of State has warned the pension plan will lead to "inter-generational tensions," adding "younger generations will be unfairly saddled with the costs".
Although the Council is in favour of raising the pensionable age, it said, "The Cabinet has failed to explain why people over the age of 55 have been exempted".
Is singing the national anthem a new form of nationalism?
Trouw reported Tuesday's Cabinet decision to require all immigrants to learn the Wilhelmus - the Dutch national anthem - and asked whether this is "a moral duty or new nationalism".
The paper noted that schoolchildren are not required to learn the national anthem despite the fact that Dutch history and the origins of the Dutch state are part of the national curriculum.
An Amsterdam school director told the paper "this is my eighth school and none of my students have ever been required to learn the national anthem. Why should they learn it? What on earth for?"
However, the director of a primary school in a village in Overijssel said: "It's a moral duty to learn the Wilhelmus," adding that her students are taught it from the very first day of school.
The director of the Institute of Migration and Ethnic Studies in Amsterdam said: "Government demands on immigrants are tougher and also underhand, it's a form of new nationalism".
Cheap Christmas lights can be dangerous
De Telegraaf reported a European Commission investigation in five EU countries has revealed that 30 percent of the electric Christmas lights sold in the Netherlands - and four other EU states - are dangerous.
The investigation evaluated 196 sets of electric decorations of different prices and found that 30 percent were very dangerous and a further 40 percent were just slightly dangerous. The populist paper warned: "Use can lead to electric shocks and fire".
AD chimed in with "one in three sets of electric lights are dangerous and advises consumers to turn the lights off when they leave the house or when they go to bed".
Ministers request turn down request to preserve St Nicolas' mitre
De Telegraaf reported: "Cabinet: there's no steamboat in the Bible" and that Culture Minister Ronald Plasterk and Interior Minister Guusje ter Horst do not plan to bow to a Christian Democrat request that the traditional Christian character and symbols of St Nicolas be preserved.
The Christian Democrats made the request in response to the decision by several municipal governments to dispense with the cross on St Nicolas' mitre "out of respect for the diverse ethnic and religious composition in the municipality".
According to the traditional story, St Nicolas arrives in the Netherlands by a steamboat. He’s accompanied by a whole lot of Moors - known as Black Pete - who punish naughty children. The holy man then hops on his grey horse and dispenses presents and little ginger biscuits to all and sundry.
However, Ministers Plasterk and Ter Horst from the Labour Party said the Sinterklaas holiday is only partially Christian: "The Cabinet was unable to find Black Pete, grey horses, steamboats or ginger biscuits in the Bible".
Radio Netherlands / Jacqueline Carver / Expatica