Hello, and welcome to those who have joined up since our last newsletter.
First of all, sorry we’ve been away for some time. Part of the problem has been that our automated email sending process hasn’t been working properly. We’ve been working with our new hosting providers to fix the problem, and it should be sorted out now.
The other thing that’s kept us busy has been our first trip to Penang. As bad luck – or bad planning – would have it, the trip coincided with Diwali and Eid-ul-Fitr (or Hari Raya, as the Malaysians call it). However, there was still plenty of opportunity to do some sightseeing, take some photos, and review some restaurants and bars. So if you’re thinking of visiting, you can find out something about George Town, Penang’s capital, here:
British Expat: Penang articles
Meanwhile, the latest session of Parliament in the UK has just opened, with several controversial new measures in the Queen’s Speech. The Government’s promised to allow universities to charge students “top-up” fees of up to £3,000 for their tuition, above and beyond the £1,000 tuition fee they already have to pay. A large number of Labour MPs have already said they intend to vote against the Bill when it’s introduced. A planned measure to prevent abuse of the political asylum process includes provision to stop benefits to failed applicants who refuse a free flight home – but also means that the children of any such applicants could be taken into care. Child welfare experts have already warned that this could breach the Human Rights Act. And plans for a national ID card scheme look likely to go ahead, although with no firm date for making cards compulsory set as yet.
Personally, I don’t have a problem with the idea of an ID card, if it’s properly run – with safeguards as to who may have access to the information held on the central database and under what terms. Indeed, some have argued that if the scheme were broadened in scope to include electronic identities on the Internet, it could cut down substantially on fraud, spam and adults in children’s chatrooms. But I am worried that the scheme’s being rushed into, on the basis of a dubious political argument that it’s needed to fight terrorism (its impact will be negligible), and at substantial cost (£3bn initially, and the figure looks likely to rise). So I hope that, whatever scheme eventually makes it into Parliament, there’s a good deal more public debate before a system’s finally adopted.
Just a couple of suggestions if you have a little time to spare:
To find out more about the debate on ID cards, here are a couple of links you can try:
[Obsolete links removed]
Or if you’re not in the mood for hard news, try something that’s still newsy but not necessarily up to BBC standards of journalism:
Some strange search terms which led people to visit British Expat recently:
Till next time…
British Expat Magazine
“The law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets or steal bread.”
– Anatole France, author (1844-1924)
A tourist climbed out of his car in London. He said to a man standing on the footpath, “Listen, I’m going to be only a couple of minutes. Would you watch my car while I run into this shop?”
“What?” retorted the man loftily. “Do you realise that I am a Member of Parliament?”
“No,” the tourist said, “I didn’t realise that. But it’s all right. I’ll trust you anyway.”
Kay has been an expat for 25 years. She set up the British Expat website more than 15 years ago, whilst living in London and missing the expat life. These days she spends much of her time lugging computers and cameras around the world. (Dave gets to deal with all the really heavy stuff.)