Thursday, April 9, 2015

No Monkey Business

Saudi Arabia don’t give a hang about women’s rights. And in the process, four  monkeys have to put their travel plans on hold.
 
It is all because of a speech that wasn't even delivered and yet, it managed to cause a falling-out between the country and Sweden.
 
On March 09, 2015, the latter's Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom (left) had complained that Saudi Arabia had blocked her planned speech on democracy and women’s rights at an Arab League meeting in Cairo, Egypt.
 
Undeterred, Wallstrom posted online a copy of the said speech. In the wide-ranging speech she highlighted Sweden's commitment to international human rights. And she advocated the benefits of democratic progress, and called for members to "focus attention on women's rights." She also described freedom of religion and expression as "fundamental rights".
 
Saudi Arabia were understandably unhappy and Riyadh lashed out at Wallstrom, describing the speech as "offensive" and a “flagrant interference" in their internal affairs.
 
In a tit for tat, Sweden ended a weapons deal between the two countries. The ultra-conservative kingdom retaliated by recalling their ambassador Ibrahim bin Saad Al-Ibrahim from Stockholm.
 
And still, the diplomatic tiff persisted.
 
This time, Swedish media reported that Saudi Arabia refused to accept four pygmy marmosets (Cebuella pygmaea) at Skansen zoo in Stockholm that were destined for a Riyadh zoo.
 
Zoo boss Jonas Wahlstrom said "They didn't want the monkeys anymore because of the political situation".
 
"It's a little comical. I'll just have to wait until they grant visas to Swedish businessmen again. Maybe monkeys will get visas then too," continued Wahlstrom, which was quoted by Radio Sweden.
 
Meanwhile, the tiny Amazonian primates (above) will just have to wait before they could travel to Saudi Arabia.
 
On Tuesday, I was on Level 6, Block 3A in KL Sentral’s Plaza Sentral to be at the Allianz Toastmasters meeting. I gamely took up two roles – as Humor Master and General Evaluator. Overall, it was a good meeting and I was even voted Best Table Topics speaker. My score for this meeting: 7 over 10.
 









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