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Our global village under stress

Our global village has come under severe stress in recent times due to various disasters, some defying human comprehension.

On March 8, 2014, a Malaysian Airlines' Flight MH370 with 239 passengers and crew on board from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing mysteriously vanished in a manner that has baffled aviation experts.  Till today, no clue as to what happened to the aircraft and its passengers has been found even though the most modern and sophisticated gadgets had been deployed in the multinational search.

The loss of the aircraft was subdued when on April 16, 2014, a South Korean ferry, The Sewol, sank while on a voyage to an island, killing over 280 persons, mostly high school students on an excursion.

The tragedy forced the resignation of the prime minister and the arrest of the captain and three other crew members of the ferry who are being charged with manslaughter.

Asia, which seems to be caught in these disasters, suffered another one when on May 13, 2014 an explosion in a mine caused the death of 301 lives.

Africa seems to be battling its own version of disasters in Nigeria where the Islamic militant group, Boko Haram, kidnapped 234 female schoolchildren in April whose whereabouts and fate are not known even after the intervention of the US and crack units from other countries.

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These events have come to world attention, including those of us on this part of the planet, because of the human suffering and psychological trauma they have inflicted on millions of people globally.

There are other equally important things happening which in our moments of pain and agony may pass without critical notice.  On May 8, 2014, Silvio Berlusconi, the former Italian Prime Minister began his community service after he was convicted of tax fraud in November, 2013 and sentenced to a four-year prison term.

His sentence was commuted to four hours' work a week with elderly dementia patients because of his age.  Berlusconi had to surrender his passport and his movement within Italy is severely restricted.  He is also to observe a curfew in his palatial mansion near Milan.

The former prime minister had also been convicted of paying for sex with an underage prostitute and abusing his powers, which brought him lifetime ban from public office.

Berlusconi on November 27, 2013 lost his seat in the Italian Senate after his conviction for tax fraud.  Those who know Berlusconi would admit that he was a high profile politician, who, for over 20 years, dominated Italian politics, apart from his success as a business tycoon and a media mogul.

This same month, May 13, 2014, to be precise, former Israeli prime minister  Ehud Olmert was also jailed six years for bribery by a court in Israel.  The judge also fined him an equivalent of US$289,000 and ordered the seizure of some of his assets.

Olmert was convicted in March over a real estates deal which took place while he was the mayor of Jerusalem.

In far away Thailand, the prime minister,  Yingluck Shinawatra, was ousted earlier this month by a constitutional court which found her guilty of abuse of power.  She was accused of replacing the country's security chief with her own relative.  As you read this piece, Thailand has come under martial law because of the confusion arising out of the court's decision.

These decisions are of great importance to those of us here on the other side of the planet not necessarily because of the humiliation and loss of power those involved have suffered but more because of the fact that national laws and the national interest must always remain supreme.

In convicting Ehud Olmert, who was prime minister of Israel from 2006 to 2009, Judge David Rozen had this to say: "People who receive bribes give rise to a feeling of disgust and cause the public to despise the state's institutions.  The taker of bribes is like a traitor who betrays the public trust without which a proper public service cannot be maintained."

These are decisions that must guide us and give us a clue as to why we are perpetually groping in the dark, while others are always on the move.

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