What did you do to help the victims and survivors of the Asian Tsunami? Did you help to raise money. Did you don your jogging bottoms and wheeze your way through a sponsored run? Did you sit in bathtub full of maggots for twenty-fours hours? Did you gladly humiliate yourself by joining in with a charity sing-a-thon? Did you run around like headless chicken collecting cuddly toys, blankets and unwanted packs of paracetamol?
Or maybe you just plunged your hand generously into your own pocket, scooped out a chunk of change and handed it over with the (understandably) sincere intentions of doing just a little to help ease the plight of the unfortunate victims of that catastrophe.
If you did any of those things, well, you have certainly provided relief to some quarters:
Oxfam has had to pay £550,000 in customs duty to the Sri Lankan government for importing 25 four-wheel-drive vehicles to help victims of the tsunami, The Daily Telegraph has learned.
The sum was levied by customs in Colombo which have refused to grant tax exemptions to non-governmental organisations working to repair damage caused by the giant Boxing Day wave.
The Indian-made Mahindra vehicles, essential to negotiate damaged roads and rough tracks, remained stuck in port at Colombo for almost a month as officials completed the small mountain of paperwork required to release them. Customs charged £2,750 “demurrage” for every day they stood idle.
So there we have it, good people. Kindly Westerners care more about the sodden, bedraggled, impoverished masses of Sri Lanka than their own government which has made a priority of cutting off its own pound (or several hundred thousands of pounds) of flesh first. And this is only the stuff that is being reported. Try to imagine, if you can, the graft and pilfering that is going on underneath the radar.
As for Oxfam, I can spare no words of comfort. Their incessant mewling about ‘fair trade’ means putting even more power and looted wealth into the hands of the kind of third-world government spivs who have just royally shafted them. I doubt very much if they will learn anything useful from this object lesson. These people seldom do.
If I had suggested, in the days following the disaster, that all those munificent donations were going to be stolen then the comments section of this blog would have experienced a mini-tsunami of its own as a wave of furious readers flooded in to inform me that I had “reached new lows”. Too cynical? There is no such thing as ‘too cynical’. Allow me to put the record straight: every penny of that relief fund is eventually going to worm its way into the pockets of state officials and professional Western poverty-mongers.
The Emperor was always naked but now he’s running around flashing his genitals as well.