Saturday, May 13, 2006

Double standards

Dean Jorge Bocobo's recent post on the premature and misplaced celebrations on the repatriation of 138 OFWs was food for thought. At first glance, it is cause for joy what cost in the future?

View it as noblesse oblige from the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah to Her Excellency President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, along with all the connotations of a noblesse oblige gesture.

Few newspapers carried the list of offenses for which the Filipinos were jailed in the first place, with the major papers merely saying that they were light offenses.
What constitutes a light offense in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, anyway? Some papers said it ranged from theft to prostitution. A Sun.Star article had this to say:
The "minor offenses" are usually violations against Saudi Arabia's conservative religious laws such as talking in public with a person of the opposite sex with whom one is not married.

Isn't that a little extreme? But it's the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, after all, and visitors must abide by their rules, medieval and oppressive as they might be. Culturally, it's not in our place to judge.

But wait! How different is that from being forced to eat the way Canadians eat, as opposed to eating the way Filipinos eat, i.e., with spoon and fork, when in Canada? (Granted, that isn't the issue anymore, but we are talking about Filipino perceptions following the incident.)

Following the logic that we used in the spoon-and-fork incident, shouldn't Filipinos assert their cultural right to speak with a person of the opposite sex with whom one is not married? After all, we do that on a daily basis here in the Philippines.

Why is it racist cultural repression when a school punishes a boy uses the wrong utensils, but it's not when a country punishes for talking? Granting that the latter is indeed racist cultural repression worthy of condemnation, why has no one raised his voice to condemn it?

Maybe it's because Canada is a western country and Saudi Arabia is an Islamic regime. After all, charges of racism apply only in the west, right? And we non-western cultures have got to stick together.

Maybe it's because they call a person a 'pig' in Canada but in Saudi Arabia they throw them to jail. After all, name-calling is much much worse than several months in prison, right?

Maybe it's because in Canada they have a free press to play up a mother's complaint, whereas in Saudi Arabia, they don't.

Maybe it's because this is the first time the spoon incident happened in Canada, whereas in Saudi Arabia jailing people for talking has been happening for years and years.

Maybe it's because in Canada it had something to do with a spoon....

Maybe...maybe...maybe.... I don't know. Di ko ma-gets kung bakit. Kayo, baka alam niyo.


  1. Saudi Arabia is one of the worst offenders of civil liberties in the world. Wearing a crucifix in Saudi Arabia, for example, is a crime. Mail is often opened and bibles confiscated. The punishment for being gay is death.

    So yes, we must all stand up and decry the despotic government of Saudi Arabia, and their bigoted laws.

    But one thing about the Saudis, they are honest in their bigotry. It is explicit in their laws that if you convert someone to Christianity, you get the death penalty.

    A rational person goes to Saudi Arabia expecting to be punished for talking to a woman who is not your wife. A rational person has no reason to expect to be punished in a western country for eating with the "wrong" utensils.

  2. only has to be honest in his bigotry and is therefore excused for such?

    If you say we must all stand up and decry the despotic government of Saudi Arabia and their bigoted laws, how come no one has? At least, not in the same manner and vehemence as with Canada.

    But the intent of my post was not to question Saudi Arabia, it was to question ourselves. Where has our righteousness and indignation gone?

    And...punished? For talking to a woman who is not your wife? No, sir! A rational person would not go there!

  3. But I am suddenly upset and angry at this Saudi Prisoner release that GMA was just one big self-congratulatory smile over. What is this? The 8th Century? Who is this Prince Abdullah? He who would fling out of his Kingdom, like so many coppers out of a large pot of gold, Filipinos they say violated their laws and have been imprisoned?

    I hear GMA say, the Arab King paid blood money for the release of the prisoners.

    What system of Justice is this that the Philippine President would ACCEPT such a medieval and autocratic gesture?

    Is this not in fact a way for the great Arab potentate floating on Allah’s oil, to say to the little GMA, the tinpot Snowpake Queen of an archipelagic land once ruled by the Empire of the Ottoman: you are still our minor tributary, here take back some of your kin (our headaches, now yours!).

    And is she — are WE — expected to respond in some equal measure to this Prince Abdullah Bullah? Does our DEMOCRACY now have a quid pro quo with the most evil empire on Earth — the one that gave OBL his birth, his demiurge?

    Are we now expected to reply in kind and release Abu Sayyaf prisoners or Muslims that are in OUR jails?

    No sir. This is not generosity from the Arab KIng.

    Could it be a veiled insult? Could it be an invitation to a quid pro quo?
    Now, I know now
    What sort of Thing
    Did make bin Laden!