Panaji: NRIs can participate in democracy in the true sense only after they are allowed to vote in grassroots elections of representative bodies like panchayat and municipalities, Congress Goa unit president Luizinho Faleiro said on Monday.
Faleiro’s statement came at a time when the union law ministry was examining a legal proposal submitted to it by the Election Commission to allow Non-Resident Indians to vote in the state and general elections by proxy voting and using e-ballot facilities.
“Only by participation in grassroots elections like the ones to panchayat bodies and municipalities can NRIs be truly assimilated in the electoral process of our country,” Faleiro told a press conference here.
Faleiro, a member of the Congress Working Committee, his party’s highest decision-making body, also said the party was in the process of filing a public interest litigation to enable NRI Goans to vote in local elections.
He said there were around 2.5 lakh NRI Goans residing in the Gulf region and another approximately 2.5 lakh NRIs from the state who were settled across the globe, mostly in Canada, Portugal, England, France and some African countries.
Addition of these NRI votes to the existing 10 lakh-odd existing vote base in Goa would change the manner in which politics, governance and elections are conducted, he said.
“The NRIs in many ways are more aware of what’s happening in the state than we are and are more eager for things to change for the better,” Faleiro said. (IANS)
The Trump administration announced Wednesday it will restrict visas for Cambodians “undermining democracy” in the Southeast Asian nation following the dissolution of the main opposition party and a crackdown on independent media.
The State Department said it was a direct response to “anti-democratic actions” by the Cambodian government but did not disclose which individuals would be affected. It said visa records are confidential under U.S. law.
Spokeswoman Heather Nauert called on the Cambodian government to reinstate the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, which was dissolved by Supreme Court order last month, and free its leader Kem Sokha, imprisoned since September. She also urged Cambodia to allow civil society and media to operate freely.
Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has held power for more than three decades, has sought to neutralize political opponents and silence critics ahead of national elections next year. Kem Sokha has been charged with trying to topple the government with U.S. support, which Washington has said is a baseless accusation.
Nauert said Cambodia’s actions run counter to the Paris Peace Agreements of 1991. The United States and 18 other governments signed the accords, which ushered in democracy after the genocidal rule of the Khmer Rouge regime in the late 1970s, then occupation by Vietnam and civil war.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will restrict entry into the United States of “those individuals involved in undermining democracy in Cambodia,” Nauert said in a statement, adding that in certain circumstances, family members of those individuals will also be subject to visa restrictions. The department cited a provision of U.S. immigration law under which individuals can be denied entry if the secretary determines it would have “adverse foreign policy consequences.”
The White House has already terminated U.S. support of Cambodia’s national election committee, saying last month that the July 2018 vote “will not be legitimate, free or fair.”
“We will continue to monitor the situation and take additional steps as necessary, while maintaining our close and enduring ties with the people of Cambodia,” Nauert said.
Monovithya Kem, an opposition spokeswoman currently in the U.S., welcomed the visa restrictions and called for targeted financial sanctions on senior officials in Hun Sen’s government. Kem, who is the daughter of Kem Sokha, urged the U.S., Japan, Australia and the European Union to coordinate responses to the “crisis” in Cambodia and help win her father’s freedom.
Like many prominent opposition figures, Kem has fled Cambodia as she fears arrest.
Hun Sen has been in office since 1985 and has held a tight grip on power since ousting a co-prime minister in a bloody 1997 coup.
In recent months, the government has intensified restrictions on civil society groups and independent media outlets. In September, it shut down the English-language Cambodia Daily. Authorities have shuttered radio stations that aired programming from U.S.-funded Radio Free Asia and Voice of America, whose reports they allege are biased.
The government also expelled the U.S. National Democratic Institute, which helped train political parties and election monitors, accusing it of colluding with its opponents.
Hun Sen has moved Cambodia closer to China in recent years and become increasingly critical of Washington. However, he’s been complimentary of President Donald Trump.
Speaking at Asian leaders’ summit attended by Trump last month, Hun Sen praised the U.S. leader for non-interference in affairs of other nations, but complained the U.S. Embassy in Cambodia was not adhering to the policy. (VOA)
Goa has the potential to become the Venice of the East if it taps its intricate network of inland waterways for commuting, suggests Rajiv Somani, chairman and managing director of Drishti Marine, promoter of the state’s first private ferry service.
Somani, whose agency also operates a private lifeguard service along Goa’s coastline, said that the ferry service also adds to the range of offerings, in terms of “things to do” in Goa.
“The only model really close to this is the one in Venice where one can travel through waterways all the time,” Somani told IANS in an interview.
“The ferry service is more of a leisure experience. The picturesque ferry service adds to the range of offerings in terms of things to do in Goa for the hundreds and thousands of tourists who visit the state. Additionally, it also acts as a premium transit service for tourists and local residents.
“We are only targeting less than five percent of the population arriving at the airport. We understand that there are people willing to pay the fee for the trip,” he said, adding that the service would begin later this month when the tourism season begins to peak in the coastal state.
The daily ferry service will function with the help of two 40-seater, high-speed catamarans, which will ferry commuters between designated pick-up points like the state capital Panaji, heritage centres like Old Goa, beaches like Baga, Aguada and Sinquerim and the Dabolim airport.
The Airport Ferry Terminal is located at Baina beach, Vasco da Gama, and is approximately five kilometres from the Goa airport in Dabolim. A free shuttle service will be available between the ferry terminal and the airport for the convenience of passengers arriving at the airport.
Fares for the ferry service range from Rs 100 for a ride between Old Goa and Panaji to Rs 800 for a trip between the Airport Ferry Terminal (AFT) at Baina and Panaji.
The ferry will operate from 22 temporary jetties spread across the state, including tourism vantage points.”
In Phase 1 and 2 we are looking at a mix of about 22 jetties. Of these, 11 are existing jetties and 11 will be floating jetties which will be constructed by us. The present government jetties exist at Panaji, Old Goa, Chapora and Sinquerim, among other places,” he said.
Asked if the service would be competing with the state’s aggressive taxi lobby, which has been combative vis-a-vis introduction of alternative modes of mass transport, Somani said: “We are not competing with the taxi operators. One thing we were always clear about: We will not do anything which is competition to the local community”.
Somani also said that ferry services had immense potential in Goa, which is crisscrossed with waterways.
“Goa has an excellent network of waterways; what’s needed is the right kind of infrastructure. One doesn’t need to erect concrete jetties everywhere; a floating jetty like the one we are currently building in Baina works just as effectively,” he said, adding that the ferry would help better water-related experiences for visitors. (IANS)
CHENNAI: Confirming his political plunge, actor Kamal Haasan on Sunday said the first step will be the launch of a mobile software app on November 7 – his 63rd birthday – that will enable him to be in touch with the fans and as well as enable book-keeping.
At a function to mark the 39th anniversary of his fan/welfare club, he said his political plunge by starting a political party is confirmed.
Kamal Haasan said the political party launch will happen in a calm manner and the launch of the mobile app is the first step on November 7.
He said his fans would contribute funds for the political party and the mobile app will facilitate keeping proper accounts of funds collected.
According to him, there is no shame in stretching out one’s hands for the welfare of the people and if only the rich pay their taxes properly, the country would be on the right path.
Kamal said November 7 is a day not to cut a cake and celebrate but a day to cut canals, obliquely referring to the flooding of several localities in the city due to recent rains.
The actor added natural disasters do not differentiate between rich and poor and all should be ready to take preventive measures then acting after the loss of dear ones.
According to him, suppression has become part of politics and it is not important how many people are threatening you, but what is important is what you are going to do.
Kamal Haasan said he is ready to take a beating but he is not a “mridangam” (a percussion instrument) to get hit again and again.(IANS)