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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Saturday, 27 February 2010
Tony Abbott's culture of complaint in the luckiest safest country in the world?
Mood:  hug me
Topic: world


All this griping and choreographed danger and trouble over electrified insulation reminds us of the final speech of the previous sitting week in federal parliament. It's very sobering and perhaps a timely reminder to count our blessings in Australia:

[At pages 69 -70 HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES Thursday, 11 February 2010 in PDF format from here http://www.aph.gov.au/hansard/reps/dailys/dr110210.pdf ]


Ms PARKE (Fremantle) (4.54 pm)—On 13 January

the television news started to penetrate Australias

summer reverie with images of the devastation in Haiti

caused by the earthquake that had occurred in the late

afternoon of the previous daythe anguish on faces of

shocked and terrified survivors, the bodies in the

streets, the injured, the crushed buildings, and aerial

views of the national palace, the cathedral and the

Christopher Hotel, which housed the United Nations

headquarters, all collapsed in ruins.

I talked on Monday in this place about the devastation

suffered by the Haitian people in this disaster.

Again, I offer to the citizens of Haiti my deepest condolences.

This terrible event also resulted in the largest

loss of staff lives in the UNs history. Over a number of

days the news emerged that almost 100 UN staff from

28 countries had perished in the mass of concrete and

rubble. This included four of my friendspeople I had

worked and socialised with in Kosovo and Gaza. In

such difficult places, your friends are your family.

Luiz Carlos da Costa was the deputy head of the UN

stabilisation mission in Haiti. Words can hardly do justice

to this gentleman of the worlda brilliant, warm,

charismatic, soft-spoken Brazilian man who was also,

as described by his wife at his memorial service, dropdead

gorgeous. Like the former Secretary-General

Kofi Annan, Luiz started out in the UN as a messenger

boy and worked his way up over four decades to one of

the highest posts in the UN system. He was responsible

for recruitment in UN peacekeeping for decades and he

signed my own appointment letter when I started with

the UN peacekeeping mission in Kosovo in 1999. Luiz

was known for his professionalism and dedication to

the UN, for his kindness and for his egalitarian treatment

of staff and his fierce loyalty to them. As the secretary-

general said in his condolence statement:

He was a mentor to generations of UN staff His legacy

lives in the thousands that serve under the blue flag in every

corner of the globe.

I remember Luiz once telling me how sad he was at the

death of his fellow countryman Sergio Vieira de Mello

in the Baghdad bombing in 2003. What a devastating

blow to Brazil, the UN and the international community

to have now lost both of these incredible international

civil servants. I worked with Luiz and his assistant

Jerome Yap in Kosovo and later in New York.

Jerome, from the Philippines, steadfastly supported

Luiz over the last 15 yearsaccompanying him to

Kosovo, Liberia and Haiti. Jerome was a happy person

who loved to sing, and he was a member of the UN

choir. I kept in touch with Jerome through Facebook

but my last message to him went unanswered as he too

was tragically killed in Haiti.

Emmanuel Rejouis, from France/Haiti, and Emily

Sanson, from New Zealand, were friends of mine in

Kosovostaying with me and my housemate Matthew

at one stage. They later married and had three beautiful

daughters. After stints in many countries they were

posted to Haiti. Emily was at work at the UN when the

earthquake struck. She ran home to where Emmanuel

was taking care of their daughters, but the building was

collapsed. She found her youngest daughter Alyahna

alive under Emmanuel’s body—he had been sheltering

her when he died. Their other two little daughters did

not survive. Emmanuel was a kind and gentle person

who loved his family and his fellow human beings.

Their daughters Kofi-Jade and Zenzie were beautiful

and sassy children.

Another close friend lost in the Haiti quake was

Jean-Philippe Laberge, a French-Canadian with whom

I worked in Gaza, along with his wife Victoria. I was

on the UNRWA panel that interviewed Jean-Philippe

for the job as an Operations Support Officer in Gaza. I

liked him immediately as he was smart and funny and

laid back, while being completely professional. As his

friends have noted in our condolence letter to Victoria

and his mother Marjolaine: he had a mischievous style,

which masked his essential shyness, and he was one of

the most sensitive and caring persons you could meet

as well as being a thoroughly reliable colleague and a

true leader, making the right decisions in difficult and

dangerous situations, as was often the case in Gaza.

The nicest New Years Eve I ever experienced was a

few years ago at a party Jean-Philippe and Victoria

held in Montreal. Many of the Gaza friends were together

againsuch a lot of champagne, such beautiful

memories. In one of those strange coincidences, Jean-

Philippes memorial service is happening now in Montreal

as I speak and my thoughts are certainly with him

and his family, especially Victoria and their two young


To all of my UN friends who are gone, it was a

privilege to have known and worked alongside you. As

one mourner put it:

You thought only of bringing good to the world


represented all that is best about the human race … Marcel

Proust thought that people who have passed away remain

with us through our memories of them. “It is as though,” he

wrote, “they have gone abroad”.

So, then, Luiz, Jean-Philippe, Jerome and Emmanuel,

you and your fallen colleagues have gone abroad to

join Dag Hammarskjold, Sergio Vieira de Mello, Count


Folke Bernadotte, Iain Hook, Jean-Selim Kanaan and

many other UN soldiers for peace. But our memories

of you will remain strongly with us and will fortify us

in carrying on your work to restore dignity to the lives

of the worlds most vulnerable. In the immortal words

of Wordsworth:

What though the radiance which was once so bright

Be now for ever taken from my sight,

Though nothing can bring back the hour

Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;

We will grieve not, rather find

Strength in what remains behind.

Posted by editor at 11:25 AM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 27 February 2010 11:32 AM EADT

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