RNW Press Review, Wednesday 14 May 2008

14th May 2008, Comments 0 comments

Catch the news in brief from the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands.

14 May 2008

Results of asylum seekers announced
Today's newspapers report about the results of the general pardon for asylum seekers agreed by the Dutch cabinet in 2007.

On Tuesday, Deputy Justice Minister Nebahat Albayrak informed parliament that 26,800 former asylum seekers had benefited from the amnesty.

De Volkskrant writes that 3,500 people who do not meet the terms of the amnesty must leave the country and that Albayrak found it "encouraging" that 180 of them had already left.

The paper reports that the Christian Democrats and the conservative opposition party VVD find the number of illegal immigrants who have left far too few. According to Christian Democratic MP Wim van der Camp "All of the 3,500 people who do not come into consideration for the amnesty should leave The Netherlands as soon as possible."

Deputy justice minister under attack
In an editorial entitled “Shocking”, the mass-circulation newspaper De Telegraaf criticises the policies of the deputy justice minister.

According to the editorial: "Of the 5,900 people to whom this left-wing cabinet didn’t grant a residence permit under the terms of the general amnesty extended to 26,800 rejected asylum seekers, Ms Albayrak has so far only managed to expel 180 from our country; 700 of them have since gone underground…A few weeks ago Ms Albayrak caused a scandal by not preventively detaining more than 300 illegal Chinese, who then disappeared."

Verdonk should apologise for wrong prediction of asylum seekers
However the Protestant newspaper Trouw takes a very different view. In an editorial entitled “Verdonk was completely mistaken with her scare mongering”, the newspaper calls on former immigration minister Rita Verdonk to apologise.

Trouw writes that the 26,800 people who benefited from the amnesty were only 800 more than the original estimate.

"This result is in sharp contrast to the expectations of former minister Rita Verdonk, who said that up to 200,000 asylum seekers might apply for the amnesty.
This prediction was not very realistic and in retrospect can be described as scare mongering. The same applies to the warnings of Verdonk and the former Christian Democratic and VVD coalition partners that a general pardon would be tantamount to an invitation to foreigners to move to The Netherlands. No such thing has happened.

It would be a sign of common decency if Verdonk, whose ambitions in Dutch politics are not insignificant, to admit to her mistake…The issue is no small matter, but one which in recent years has had a strong influence on the climate towards foreigners in our country. This climate has become strongly polarised and has seriously damaged the Netherlands' image as a hospitable and tolerant land."

The Netherlands is fifth largest arms exporter
The free newspaper Sp!ts writes that the Netherlands is the world’s fifth largest exporter of weapons, behind the United States, Russia, Germany and France.

According to Dutch researcher Frank Slijper of the Campaign against the Arms Trade, The Netherlands exports EUR 750 million worth of weapons every year. Much of the material is second-hand. For instance, Chile has bought more than EUR 500 million worth of second-hand tanks, frigates and F16 jet fighters.

Slijper says The Netherlands also specialises in naval exports.  Several years ago Damen Shipyards sold four warships worth between EUR 700 million and EUR 1 billion to Indonesia. Morocco has ordered frigates worth hundreds of millions of euros from De Schelde shipyard in Vlissingen.

Passengers confused about which buses go on strike
AD reports that 13,000 bus drivers are striking on Wednesday and Thursday for higher wages. The drivers on strike work for regional bus companies - drivers in cities with their own transport services aren't striking. "Nor are drivers with a different collective labour agreement. And there are also drivers who are not taking part in the strike." According to AD, this means that: "Passengers are very confused as to who is striking and who isn’t."  

Politicians escape from boring receptions
Trouw describes how politicians sometimes manage to get away from boring receptions. One memorable occasion was a reception at the Dutch embassy in the Surinamese capital Paramaribo, where the guests began to wonder what had happened to the Dutch guest of honour, Rick van der Ploeg.

The deputy minister had climbed over the embassy wall, where a taxi was waiting on the other side - reportedly because he wanted to see an exotic flower called the fayalobi.

However, according to rumours the escape car was organised by a Dutch MP who is an authority on Surinam's nightlife.

[Radio Netherlands / Frank Scimone / Expatica]

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