I’ve had a hectic summer from a travel perspective. The family decided to take a trip we’ve been meaning to do for many years and eventually we got round to it. The experiences were memorable, in fact, unforgettable. The highlight was releasing baby turtles into the sea and visiting the orangutan sanctuary in Borneo.
I love travel but I always look to use the time to better understand the psyche of the people that reside in the countries visited.
Luckily at each location there was a daily local English newspaper that enabled me to get beneath the surface via some incisive editorials and great investigative journalism.
There’s hardly a visit to my local when I don’t overhear loud grumbles about our country – many people are strongly anti-politics and have little interest in voting because they see all the negatives and ignore the positives that we take for granted in the UK.
• The Singapore Straits Times laboured how there is no effective opposition – they were brave because the ruling PAP party consistently censors the media and impedes opposition to thwart their progress.
• The Borneo Times explained how “over 71 per cent of Malaysia are fine with corruption as long as they benefit from the process. Most remain comfortable with the process that requires bribes for almost every official involvement”.
• The Bangkok Post debated the recent coup in Egypt and decided that the action could be justified. They added that “military force hovers over Thai politics and a military coup is always possible within the next 24 hours”.
• The Moscow Times reported that “the riot police officers that testified against opposition activists were awarded free apartments by the Moscow authorities”.
I came home realising how much we take things for granted. At local level there have been groups seeking to stop the Queens Park Leisure Centre Development and Tesco’s conversion of the Crispin and Somerset pubs. The point is we have the freedom to give our views on any subject and be actively involved in any legal activity we wish. Believe me, most of the rest of the world envies us!
by Howard Borrell