Nov 11, 2012


The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the European Union rather than German, which was the other possibility. As part of the negotiations, the British Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a 5-year phase-in plan that would become known as "Euro-English". In the first year, "s" will replace the soft "c". Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy. The hard "c" will be dropped in favour of "k". This should klear up konfusion, and keyboards kan have one less letter. There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year when the troublesome "ph" will be replaced with "f". This will make words like fotograf 20% shorter. In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible. Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horibl mes of the silent "e" in the languag is disgrasful and it should go away. By the 4th yer people wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing "th" with "z" and "w" with "v". During ze fifz yer, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from vords kontaining "ou" and after ziz fifz yer, ve vil hav a reil sensibl riten styl. Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech oza. Ze drem of a united urop vil finali kum tru. Und efter ze fifz yer, ve vil al be speking German like zey vunted in ze forst plas. If zis mad you smil, pleas pas on to oza pepl...
FROM: Alma Šabotić via Aida Hermione Salketic

I remember asking a Danish gentleman, who was attending an European Union preparatory meeting held in Edinburgh in 1993 about his thoughts on such an integration particularly when most of the parties involved in that process were themselves former colonial powers, as to who colonise who and how they were going to work out their differences? The gentleman smiled and said that is the challenge and was optimistic that something positive will come out of all those efforts. Since then we have seen the European Union with borders removed and currencies replaced with a single currency and people moving freely between countries without the hassel of going through the immigration and visa procedures. 

Now this process has also brought in some attendant problems associated with such fast-paced integration where the erstwhile backyard of Europe is merged with the highly developed first world of Europe. This has created some discomfort in Hague. The recent financial crisis that has plagued Europe is threatening the integration itself. People are wondering the benefit of such a process. Perhaps they may want to compete with US, Russia and China. It is a good thing to bring people together. But integration comes with a price. As it can be seen from the above attempt to make English as the official language of Europe. Integration in one respect is a disintegration in another respect. Integration in terms of language or religion is a disintegration in respect of race and nation. One needs to be clear about the full import of the notion of integration.

Integration if done as part of political expediency or economic exigency will last only to the extend to the limit of such expediency and exigency. The moment political and economic situations change these will be thrown out of the window to reflect the new reality. That is why integration should be carefully embraced and caliberated. For integration to be effective there is a need for flexibility from all parties concerned. If that flexibility in the name of compromise were to be one-sided than that would be unfair. Expecting greater sacrifice from one at the expense of others is suicidal. 

Thus in integrating diverse interests care and caution must be exercised not to infringe the sensitivities of one or the other. They must be united towards a common good and goal. Keeping one community economically powerful and the other politically entrenched will not create a smoother integration. A fair distribution of both the economic and political dividends among the components of a society will ensure effective integration. This fairness will come about if each and everyone realises that one cannot live without the other. When one community holds both the political and economic controls it would lead to suppression and oppression of others who will feel threatened and alienated. That is why integration of any sort must be brought about by accommodating and celebrating the diversity without victimising the less fortunate.

I am curious how European Union will work out the teething problem it is facing in the wake of recent financial crisis. Can they continue to tag along the pooring members like Greece, Portugal, Spain and of course Italy and the less fortunates like Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and others or are they going to build more walls around them dividing the union into Union of the Haves and the Union of the Have Nots. Time alone will tell. 

My concern is how this will influence the proposed Asean Union. Who is the targeted victim of such an union. Here too we are divided in many respect. But one thing that binds us together is that most of us are victims of colonization. We have gone through the pains associated with foreign occupation and atrocities. But as we get our respective independence some of us have grown beyond our capabilities and capacities by becoming proxies for the same colonial interests. There is a need to study the impact of Asean Integration on Muslims and more need to be done to allay the fear of such union. 


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