Friday, November 13, 2009

Shhh. Keep it secret.

An interesting and strongly worded lead editorial in Gulf News today from none other than the Editor in Chief which shows a mindset I thought was on the way out.

In it he lambasts the Japanese Consul General for saying what is already common knowledge, that "Dubai companies are late on their dues to Japanese companies."

He says the CG is out of line, accuses him of violating diplomatic norms and goes as far as saying: "I urge the UAE Government to strongly condemn his stance, and summon him and his boss, the ambassador, to protest against his reckless behaviour, and perhaps the UAE should declare him persona non grata."

Ironically, it was a government-controlled paper, The National, which published the CG's remarks.

I saw no comparable editorial rant when the Financial Times ran a story about the UK's Secretary of State for Business: "Lord Mandelson has raised concerns about the failure of developers in the United Arab Emirates to pay British contractors, and has sought reassurances from local rulers that financial commitments will be honoured." No demand then that Lord M be declared persona non grata.

It leads me to suspect that the reason behind this rant was that the story appeared locally.

Local exposure goes against the old thinking of keeping the UAE population in the dark if anything unwanted is said or happens. Pointless. Those days are long gone. In the age of the internet we know what's happening, but that mindset hasn't kept up with the information age.

It really is a ferocious attack on the CG.

"Does Mr Otsuka work as a Consul General of Japan, or as an official spokesman for these Japanese companies? Perhaps the companies appointed him as their official representative and forgot to tell us.

Did the companies concerned give him a mandate to speak on their behalf, or was it just an individual effort by someone who obviously took all the wrong turns?

Personally, I don’t want to believe that the Consul General works secretly as an adviser to a Japanese company, or as a paid lawyer, which would propel him to embarrass his embassy and country. But I think the diplomat was betrayed by his ill-advised, undiplomatic comments and stuck his nose into something that is not his business. seems the Japanese Consul General, through his strange comment, has joined the orchestra that has been playing all the negative tunes against Dubai, especially in some sections of the Western media"

Actually, the reality is that dilomats and business are inextricably linked. Embassies are involved in promoting and helping their countries' companies as much as they are in issuing visas and attending cocktail parties.

Even royal families promote their countries' exports. Britain's Queen visits a country and a huge business group travels with her. Her son Prince Andrew, Duke of York, is the United Kingdom's Special Representative for International Trade and Investment.

So it's a bit rich saying that a CG is out of line and exceeding his brief, which the editorial sneeringly refers to as: ... his job, which I believe is to issue entry visas."

He also says: "So far, we have not heard from the companies on whose behalf the Consul General volunteered to speak - in the process, shooting himself in the foot."

We have.

The report in The National included a quote from the GM of Mitsubish Heavy Industries saying that MHI was awaiting payments on major contracts with Dubai companies.

A decade into the 21st century, with all the strides the UAE and Dubai have made in moving on from archaic thinking, I really am surprised at the mindset and at the ferociousness of the criticism.

You can read the editorial here. What do you think?


Staring at My Useless Diploma said...

Ugh, terrible "journalism."

I added a comment, though I highly doubt it'll get published. I rated the article with 1 star as well, although that seems to have disappeared too!

Ah, Gulf News.. have you no shame at all?

Seabee said...

Yes, well into the afternoon and there are no comments and no votes on the article, even from those who did comment and vote. Maybe the internet is running slowly over at GN.

Media Junkie said...

seems like someone's throwing a bit of a tantrum....

Dubai Information said...

i just commented myself, very slow however. server issues perhaps?

Seabee said...

This morning there are still no votes and it's 'closed for comments'

Rose in Dubai said...

Utterly idiotic editorial! I read it in total disbelief that anyone in such a high position could be so completely out of touch with reality. Bizarre.

Anonymous said...

What an unbelievably stupid incompetant comment by the GN "Editor in Chief"

He critisises the CG for interfering "when his job is to grant entry visas" (Incorrect as the CG is responisbile for the promotion and well being of Japanese interests) and then as the "editor in chief" of a news paper he says "So far, we have not heard from the companies on whose behalf the Consul General volunteered to speak " (why would "he have heard", he is a editor of a crap news paper)

So much for impartial reporting, obviously his sponsor is the Dubai Government

unJane said...

Is there a chance that this editorial was written to 'let the cat out of the bag'? While I have heard of many other companies being owed money by the Dubai govt owned entities, I did not know that there were Japanese companies involved. Or is this an unrealistic level of sophistication for GN?

Seabee said...

unJane: I did not know that there were Japanese companies involved

Money is owed and the clients are demanding discounts to pay their long-overdue invoices. That's across the board so companies from many countries will be affected, there's no exemption for a company because it's from a particular country.

unJane said...

Seabee - I mean I didn't know there were that many (or even any) Japanese companies doing business here. I do know that businesses are being asked to take a percentage - some as little as 5% - and be happy with it. It's criminal but I am sure there will be no repercussions. It's great to own your own country.

Seabee said...

unJane, yes, Japanese companies do huge business here, in just about every industry. We have companies from all over the world here because it's a big market for them with good profits - in the past. Late payments and discounts are obviously hitting that in recent times. Thirty percent seems to be a fairly normal discount being demanded for payment of invoices.