x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

North Koreans deserve better

Readers' letters also comment on segregation in Israel, technology in schools, a self-indulgent author and toy weapons.

North Koreans appeared genuinely saddened by the death of their former leader, Kim Jong-il. But the real tragedy, one reader contends, will be if the next government doesn't learn from the mistakes of
North Koreans appeared genuinely saddened by the death of their former leader, Kim Jong-il. But the real tragedy, one reader contends, will be if the next government doesn't learn from the mistakes of "Dear Leader". (AP Photo)

The front page story ( Life and legacy of a dictator, December 20) demonstrates the difference in perception of the death of a country's leader by its own citizens and by the people around the world.

I was totally shocked as I read in The National and watched on television that thousands of North Koreans were marching on the capital's landmarks to mourn their leader's death, crying and beating the ground with their fists.

From the outside, we heard about the terrible famine that struck the country and killed hundreds of thousands of people in the mid 1990s. And we heard about the corruption in the healthcare system, social services and economy during the reign of Kim Jong-il. While his people suffered he gorged himself on cognac and sushi, and drove around in Cadillacs, Lincolns and even Cessna airplanes.

It is beyond comprehension that the entire population of North Korea was starving. While he railed against Western imperialism and his servants travelled Europe with bags full of cash, taking advantage of banking secrecy and slack trade regulations, the North Koreans suffered.

I am depressed that North Koreans live in a bubble of unreality and remain closed off to the outside world, watched by an army of informers. Maybe the younger Kim, the new leader, will be more reform-minded, proving that the time for dictators has passed.

Gaye Caglayan, Dubai

Bus segregation is latest division

This refers to Gender-segregated bus row highlights divisions of secular and ultra-Orthodox Israel (December 21).

If it's not segregation against non-Jews, it's segregation against their own. The pariah state knows no ethical, moral bounds within which to live in peace.

Rayed Darwish, Abu Dhabi

This story questions why the demand for segregation of the sexes by ultra-Orthodox Jewish men has triggered a national debate.

There have been attacks in the past by ultra-Orthodox Jewish men on women and on buildings such as Al Noor mosque in the Palestinian village of Burqa that drew public comment even from Prime Minister Netanyahu, who deplored gender segregation.

Nonetheless, I believe small political parties often exert exaggerated influence over a political system which produces undefined coalition governments in Israel, and these governments accommodate ultra-Orthodox religious communities.

Ali Sedat Budak, Abu Dhabi

Technology is vital to education

I'm not totally against the ban on technology in classrooms (Sharjah reinforces school tech ban, December 20).

I am however against the misunderstanding of the role modern technology is playing in our lives. Students today are different from the students of a generation ago. As such, this ban will likely be lifted when academic officials and leaders in the government education sector realise that they cannot pursue the desired level of competency without employing modern technology in the classroom.

At the same time Sharjah schools are banning the use of technology, many schools in the US and Europe are giving iPads to students as a teaching and learning tool.

Walid Alieldin, Sharjah

Disappointed by egotistical author

This is in reference to the review Sanctuary: love among the (new) ruins (December 1 ). It is an interesting book which I've just recently read. But it is also so self-indulgent it beggars belief.

I know of writers who refused to review this book in the art press. That's due to the cringe-inducing self-regard of the writer setting up the main character as having a writing style that the woman can't help falling for, and knowingly depicted in a way Dillon knows must reflect back on what he perceives to be his own writing style.

Any good editor should have reined this tendency in. Too bad Dillon couldn't do so himself. From the other work of his I have read I can see that he can be a good writer, but only when his ego is put to the side.

John Anderson, Abu Dhabi

Toy weapons should be banned

I appreciate past discussions by the authorities to crack down on the sale of sharp weapons. But more needs to be done.

When I visited Sharjah's Roll Square recently I saw all types of toy weapons on sale, including different types of daggers.

During the Eid holiday I came across children playing with these types of toys, pretending to stab and kill each other.

I appeal to the authorities to stop the import and sale of toy weapons and violent video games to protect children from developing criminal behaviour and to help instil discipline in future generations.

K V Shamsudheen, Sharjah