Alistair’s “Random Rambles” (11)
By Kathy Martin…
Written end March 2014
Last week I learnt of another “but hey, this is Cyprus” situation. Last September, in a laudable effort to improve road safety, the government promulgated that motorcyclists must be given more intensive and up-graded training and examination procedures.
Realising that it would take time to recruit new suitably qualified instructors and examiners, or allow the existing ones to be re-trained and thus gain the relevant qualifications, the act would not come into being for 6 months.
However, now that the 6 months have passed, no aspiring learner motorcyclist can get a “full” licence, even if he or she actually wears a crash helmet! The reason is that (apparently) few of the private driving/riding schools have bothered getting staff with the required qualifications!
Also, (certainly) the relevant government department (Ministry of Roads?) haven’t yet employed examiners with the requisite qualifications! As I said in my first sentence “but hey, this is Cyprus”!
Has anyone noticed that, since (South) Cyprus adopted the Euro, a major geological event appears to have occurred? This earth shaping event has been ignored by most of the cartographers throughout the world, only noticed by the ever alert currency producers of the Euro.
The map on the Euro currency shows a large island just south of mainland Greece. Some may argue or assume that it is the Greek-occupied island of Iraklion, but, if the entire “Euro zone” is to be shown on its currency, is it possible that the island of Cyprus has been dragged to the west along the seabed by some 700 to 1,000 km? Well, it makes sense in my imagination, admittedly a somewhat unusual and unpredictable location!
Noticed that the UK recently had its annual Budget. Don’t panic, turn over the page, or switch off! I won’t mention the content of the budget apart from referring to a message from a message from a friend, who is in the UK at the moment, to the effect that a penny has been taken off the price of a pint of beer! As he said Wow, if this was 1914 instead of 2014, it would have made a real difference to his personal disposable income!
The news that the Budget had happened led me, by, a very tenuous link that I am still trying to fathom, to my right or the ability to vote.
When we emigrated from the UK in 2006 we were given the opportunity to have a postal vote in the UK parliamentary elections. After due consideration, we declined this opportunity. This decision was based on a number of factors; firstly, I believe that anyone and everyone who has the right to vote should exercise that right. Indeed, if I was given the opportunity to vote that voting should be compulsory, I would vote “yes”!
I have never been a life-long “one-party” voter, always preferring to study all of the party manifestoes and vote accordingly. Also, I liked to, if possible, meet and speak to all candidates, or failing that, to see or hear them through “remote” media such as television or radio. Without these facilities, I felt that my vote and, therefore influence, however small, would be inappropriate, as I would neither reap the benefits nor suffer the consequences of an election in an area where I no longer lived!
I have now (finally!) arrived at the start of the “crunch” part of my ramble. For the past 8 years I (and, of course, my wife) have, pottered off to Lefkoşa, on a yearly or latterly bi-annual basis, each with identical copies of a number of documents (except in different names) to obtain residency permits, so that we can continue to live in this wonderful country.
I have absolutely no qualms about this “residency” process, and indeed, strongly feel that in other countries (such as in a “United” Europe), immigrants and non-citizens should prove both their medical and financial health and stability on a regular basis.
My query on our (and of course other resident Ex-pats of all nationalities) lack of suffrage is that we have chosen to live or work here, and we, like Turkish-Cypriot citizens, are subject to the laws, customs, and procedures of the country.
We pay (if applicable) tax on our income, tax on any bank account savings, and, of course, KDV (sales tax) whenever we buy anything! Yet, while the government eagerly accepts the payments that we make for our work or residency permits, it gives nothing in return! Admittedly, the current government has re-introduced the option for long-term residents to gain permanent residency, which we may consider when our current temporary permits expire.
I am not over-concerned at the moment at my inability to vote in local or national political elections, but, (should it ever happen!), the outcome of the promised referendum on the “settlement” proposals will affect all people who live and work here.
Does any reader of this publication have the political influence (or know someone who has)) to allow long-term (say holders of 5 years or so of continuous years) of valid residence or work permits to be allowed to vote in the referendum?
My main source of internet information (Wikipedia) doesn’t have a breakdown of each nationality of residents in the 2011 Kibris census, merely that the total permanent population was just under 295, 000. However, an estimate by the International Crisis Group of 2010 estimated the population was approximately 300,000, made up of “around” 50% Turkish-Cypriots and 50% mainland Turks.
Therefore, if only Turkish-Cypriots are allowed to vote in the referendum, their opinion may not reflect the wishes of all, or even the majority of residents who will be affected by the result!
Returning to the possibility of “full” political suffrage for permanent or long-time residents, I understand that Turkish-Cypriot citizens are reluctant for this to happen as it may change the Turkish-Cypriot way of life! Firstly, please can any Turkish-Cypriot let me know exactly what a Turkish-Cypriot lifestyle entails?
If it means the ability to live in a pavement cafe environment then I am all for it! If, however, it is the ability to be paid by the government (taxpayer!) to be a civil servant in a sinecure position, then it is certainly time for change!
Indeed why is change necessarily a bad thing? When the Ugandan President Idi Amin expelled the (British passport holding) Ugandan Asians (mostly shopkeepers) in the early 1970s he inadvertently revolutionised British shopping after they emigrated to Britain!
When they bought village shops-or general stores, they operated as a family unit, opening very early and closing very late. Unlike their British predecessors or counterparts, they didn’t close on Wednesday afternoons, nor close for the weekend at noon on Saturdays! Therefore, the action of an African despot some 8,000km (5,000miles) away started the 24 hour/7 day a week shopping that is now enjoyed in Britain!
Also, I believe (although I have no concrete evidence) that China’s first communist leader. Chairman Mao Ze-dong altered catering tastes throughout the world! During his “Cultural Revolution” in the late 1940s and early 50s, many non-communists and other “undesirables” must have fled from China. Ending up in various countries those without fluency in the host language and/or without academic or professional qualifications, found their only option was to open a Chinese restaurant and take-away!
As can be seen from the above paragraphs, not all changes are necessarily bad!
I have one more thing to say to people (of any nationality, colour or creed) who are resistant to change; in life, the universe and everything, there is only one constant and that is change! Therefore, change is inevitable!
Since time began, and here it is not relevant as to whether the world and universe were created by Allah, God, or the “Big Bang”, things have changed.
Some of the mountains on earth are being eroded away by wind and weather while others (such as the Himalayas) are increasing in height. In this particular instance it is because the tectonic plate under the Indian sub-continent is trying to travel north, but is being impeded by the Asian continent.
Imagine our current lifestyle and environment, if no changes had been made during the last 100 years. Leaving aside the most destructive war in the history of mankind (WWI), our solar system would have consisted of only 8 planets – Pluto had yet to be discovered. Penicillin had yet to be invented, aircraft travelled at considerably lower speeds than those now easily attained by the most modest saloon car of today. Most people would live, work and die within a 5 mile/8 km radius of their place of birth. Leisure in the form of skiing and bucket and spade holidays that the working and middle classes can now enjoy wouldn’t exist.