There are any number of countries I am very happy not to be living in and Vietnam is the latest to be added to the list. All governments make mistakes. Criticizing leaders for these shortcomings or mistakes shouldn't land someone a 20-year prison sentence. -- Like a former Vietnamese police officer did by a Blog -- Ta Phong Tan criticized her government's policies in a peaceful and respectful manner. In a series of Blogs she opposed government overspending, advocated for rural citizens, and warned about the danger of too close a relationship with China. In short, she expressed her views as a concerned citizen. For that she faces up to 20 years in jail. The ability to express your thoughts is a fundamental right of all people, not an offense worthy of a lengthy prison sentence, but then living in a communist country it doesn’t do to be a dissident even in a small way.
Not necessarily a communist country only but an ex-communist state like Russia which under Putin seems to be reverting to its bad old ways. I’m quite sure my Blogs would have got me into deepest doodoo in any of these places and others besides.
So the expats hoping to sell their houses and abandon what they believe to be a sinking ship; what will they find when they return to the UK? Apart from the floodtide of foreigners, many living off Britain’s generous benefits especially those with large families – “You’ve got eleven kids? Oh, dear! I’m not surprised you came to the UK. Now where can we put you? I know, there’s a nice four story house in Mayfair worth a couple of million quid, you can have that all found.” Nigerian woman flies into Britain and has a caesarean at a cost of £10000 to the NHS and flies out again more than likely without even a thank you. But you, Mr. and Mrs. Expat, I don’t somehow think you will find social security being quite so generous. You are after all British, you carry a British passport, you were born and bred there and paid your taxes and national insurance all your life but unfortunately you are not a member of an ethnic minority in this colourful multi society so there’s not much we can do for you except let you continue to have your meagre pension which, with inflation, loses its value year after year.
And, that apart, what else will you find taking place since you went away. Well here are some nice juicy little stories in the news about the state of the country that you may or may not enjoy as you prepare your departure. If you are a smoker there will be no more cheap cigarettes. A pack will cost you £7.50 so you best give it up, and no more cheap booze either. No more dining out and having a full delicious meal with drinks at around 12euro a head. Don’t expect to pay peanuts for your water supply as you have done here and here you have got used to your domestic rates being part of your electricity bill so you don’t really notice them that much. You will get a shock at what you might have to pay in good old Blighty. Don’t expect to get away with free television. Here there is a small amount added to the electricity bill as well for the government channels but nothing like the amount the Beeb will require from you.
Rubbish collection –A problem on Crete because it is a smallish island, particularly in the season when the population is augmented by thousands of holiday makers but here we have two collections a week (used to be three) but now it’s two and they will take away any and everything expect extra large items like old fridge’s etcetera for which you can make a special arrangement. But what is rubbish collection like in England now – well, that’s a whole different story, innit? To start with collection is fortnightly, you have different bins and god help you if you use the wrong one, you’re liable to quite a hefty fine and dustmen seem to be a law unto themselves. In Stockport recently they refused to empty black bins insisting they are not allowed to if the lids are open by as much as a quarter of an inch. A spokesman for the local council said that waste had to ‘fit comfortably within the wheeled container’ to be collected. So there you are – no collection for another fortnight which means the waste is sitting there and growing for a whole month, presumably now being held in plastic bags. Is this what the residents pay exorbitant rates for? Evidently it is because, if the lid isn’t on properly, rubbish can spill out and injure the poor workman which brings us neatly to elf and safety. A golf course has banned golf buggies and cafes refuse to heat baby food, the little darlings could burn their mouths I suppose. A woman was banned from wearing flip flops in the office (if she had two left feet she would be banned from wearing flop flops tee-hee!) because they did not have enclosed toes and a supported back. A school tree house had to be located outside school grounds because of health and safety fears. What difference its location made is beyond me but there you are. If the child is going to fall out of the tree it will fall out wherever the bloody tree is situated. Maybe outside the grounds the school can disclaim any responsibility even if it is still a school tree house. Another council stopped a teacher taking pupils to an allotment. Allotments, like erupting volcanoes, are very dangerous places. The list is practically endless and this, my dears, is one of the aspects of modern Britain you will be going back to. And let us not mention the millions councils are taking in parking fines and they want more. The best of British luck as they say.