Press Review Thursday 12 August 2010

12th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

The papers ask why there’s no Dutch aid campaign for Pakistan, while Christian Democrats slam the coalition talks. There’s a family row with a former colony, e-mail scams abound and the queen takes the helm.

No Dutch Pakistan aid campaign Pakistan’s floods are big news in the papers today, with the Protestant daily Trouw running a front-page photo of a family waist-deep in water fleeing their village in Punjab.

The paper says the United Nations reckons 460 million dollars is needed just to get people through the next three months. So far, 150 million has come in. The current death toll, at 1,200, may seem ‘modest’ but 10 percent of Pakistanis, 14 million people, have been hit by the disaster.

Most of the papers ask why no nationwide donation campaign has been launched. “At the moment, we’re not likely to collect enough to cover the costs of a major campaign,” the head of the Dutch branch of Oxfam tells de Volkskrant.

The left-of-centre daily explains that one reason for the lack of Dutch generosity is the fact that many people are away and not following the news. They are blissfully unaware of the scale of the tragedy.

An expert points out that the political situation in Pakistan also doesn’t help. “The president is under fire for doing nothing. The Taliban are demanding the government refuse foreign aid. Many people are asking themselves: Will my money get through to those who need it?”

He goes on to argue that Dutch people don’t have much to connect them to Pakistan. “But if the papers run pictures of dying Pakistani children for a week, most Dutch people will take out their wallets.” Time, it seems, for more pictures.

‘Manifesto’ denounces coalition talks The other story on Trouw’s front page covers the launch of a ‘manifesto’ by members of the Christian Democrat party CDA. They are demanding their party leaders halt talks on the formation of a minority government with the conservative VVD, which will need the support of the anti-Islam Freedom Party PVV.

The ideas put forward by the populist PVV make it “a threat to our democratic society” according to the protest letter. It goes on: “The PVV stigmatises an important minority group in our society, making it the scapegoat for more or less all our social problems.”

The 44 Christian Democrats who have signed the letter describe their move as “ a campaign from the grass roots”. They have launched a website to garner support for their cause.

Meanwhile, says the PVV’s stance on Islam is not the only problem facing the minority government coalition negotiations. The VVD and CDA are intent on making huge government spending cuts, set to total 18 billion euros by the end of 2015.

The paper suggests the PVV will have to make enormous concessions on its populist manifesto commitments on health care and social security if it agrees to the cuts. The party will then have a lot of explaining to do to the 1.5 million voters who gave it the biggest gains of any party in the last election.

President or criminal? Today’s inauguration of Desi Bouterse as president of Suriname, a former Dutch colony, gets a lot of coverage in the press. The mass-circulation De Telegraaf doesn’t mince its words. “Drugs baron new Surinamese boss”, reads its headline.

In 1999, Mr Bouterse was given an 11-year prison term in absentia by a Dutch court for drugs trafficking. He also faces prosecution at home for killings carried out while he led Surname’s military regime in the 1980s.

The Netherlands has a sizeable Surinamese community and the coverage has the character of a very unpleasant family row. De Telegraaf sneers that his “unsavoury reputation is playing the new president false”. It says the ceremony is being ignored by world leaders and scoffs that even Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has cancelled at the last minute. picks up on this, explaining that the excuse given was that Mr Chávez was involved in a border dispute with Colombia. However, the paper points out that the problem was sorted out in bilateral talks on Tuesday.

It also reports that, although the Dutch ambassador to Suriname has officially been invited to the inauguration, it is unclear whether he will attend. He has been made to understand by the Surinamese authorities that he is not welcome.

Meanwhile, the new administration glosses over the difficulties: “We’re not anti-Dutch but pro-Suriname. The Netherlands doesn’t really play any part in our policies. We want to strengthen ties with neighbouring countries,” a spokesman explains.

Beware of e-mail scams Today’s AD takes up half its front page to warn its readers of the increasing numbers of e-mail scams around. Apparently, huge numbers of fake e-mails are doing the rounds at the moment. They appear to come from a friend of the recipient and are written in conversational Dutch.

However, readers are told that if they click on a link and then fill in their mobile telephone number, they will start receiving extremely expensive text messages. The link takes them to websites controlling the scams.

Experts tell the paper that the e-mails are becoming more professional. “They are more difficult to distinguish from bona fide messages,” says one. Another thinks the scale of the problem is greater than ever seen before. He explains that computers infected with a virus send the mails on to people on their address lists. “People who click on the message become infected themselves,” he adds.

Queen at the helm No less than three heads of state figure on the front page of today’s De Telgraaf. But, whereas small pictures show Desi Bouterse looking worried and Hugo Chávez making an urgent telephone call, a large photograph shows Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands totally in control.

An enormous Dutch tricolour fluttering impressively in the background, she is seen steering the royal yacht, the Green Dragon. Her majesty was guest of honour at the 75th edition of the annual week-long sailing event held in waters around the city of Sneek in Friesland in the north of the Netherlands.

The loyal daily proudly tells its mass readership that the event, with about 1,000 vessels taking part, is the largest of its kind in Europe. With coalition talks continuing in The Hague, the queen looks relieved to be at the helm of something other than the ship of state.  

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