Cyprus Mail
Opinion Tales from the Coffeeshop

Tales from the Coffeeshop: Fair play at the English School

Workers' rights protected at the English School

By Patroclos

BASH-PATRIOTISM and personal interest have always walked hand in hand in Kyproulla. So much so, scientists would do well to investigate whether there is a special chromosome or combination of chromosomes which ensures that these character traits go together.

This came to mind the other day when I heard that the members of the board of the English School, the big majority of whom, have impeccable bash-patriotic credentials, had decided that their kids would be given a place in the school even if they flunked the entrance exam.

This would be done in a rather elegant way. When the kid of a board member did not get adequate marks in the entrance exam, the kid and parent would be informed of this and if the kid still wanted to go to the school he would be accepted.

The bash-patriots on the board supported this rather corrupt practice, which made a bit of a mockery of the meritocratic selection process the school likes to boast about. To be fair this unequal treatment is not a new thing. The kids of teachers’ working at the school have been enjoying this privilege for many years.

Even if they score zero in the entrance exam their place is guaranteed, while some unfortunate kid that scored higher marks would be excluded. Of course, the special treatment of teachers’ kids is a workers’ conquest that must be respected.

THE BOARD also discussed a proposal, made by the bash-patriotic, Chairperson Magda Nicholson, for a 50 per cent discount on the tuition fees (about €7,500 per annum) for the kids of board members. This is another workers’ conquest, enjoyed by the highly-paid teachers of the school.

However, after a heated debate, the bash-patriotic board members were persuaded by the few sensible, non-bash members that approving such a privilege for themselves would invite a lot negative publicity, especially at a time when the school is facing big financial problems.

Common sense may have prevailed in this case but there cannot be much hope for a school run by a board primarily concerned with doing favours for its members. Then again, English School board members are entitled to enjoy some benefit in kind, in exchange for their bash-patriotism and selfless service to the country.

IN THE OLD days, the English School gave scholarships to smart kids from poor families that could not afford the tuition fees. This may still be done today, but the teachers’ conquests have turned things upside down.

It is now possible for a kid of below average intelligence to fail the entrance exam, but get a place at the school and be entitled to a 50 per cent discount on tuition fees because his or her parent is a teacher at the school. This could be called a scholarship for low intelligence, perfectly in keeping with our society’s egalitarian, Akelite values.

In order to protect the high standard of living of the school’s teachers, the board has been considering increasing the tuition fees, something which is certain to go down well with cash-strapped parents. This reinforces the long-held view of our establishment that most Cypriots think like Akelites, including extreme, right-wing bash-patriots.

CHIEF of Police Michalis Papageorgiou was unceremoniously sacked by Prez Nik on Thursday, a day after the neo-fascist thugs of ELAM broke into a Limassol building in which Mehmet Ali Talat was to give a speech and caused havoc.

There were only nine cops providing security for the event, which allowed the Elamite mob to force its way into the building and intimidate people; they also took a Turkish Cypriot’s photographer’s camera and fired a flare. It was nothing drastic, although the police compounded their failure by not arresting any of the thugs.

The next day, questioned on a radio show, the Chief, inadvertently, confirmed the accusations of ineffectiveness and incompetence by saying that he had left his subordinates to deal with the Talat event because he had gone to bed at 5.30am, having spent the previous nights touring police stations, and had not gone into work when he woke up.

What a shame that Papageorgiou, described as the only completely honest and incorruptible cop in the force by a government insider, turned out to be so hopeless at his job. This is not to suggest his successor is corrupt or dishonest. He was chosen because he was not working in the force, but in the PoliceAcademy.

PAPAGEORGIOU’S problem was that he would only have got a place at the English School if his dad was a member of the board or a teacher at the school.

His intelligence was not his strongest quality and it showed after his sacking when he was touring the radio and TV stations, moaning about his treatment, censuring the leadership of the minister of justice and threatening to take the Republic to court here and in Europe for his unfair dismissal.

He was unfortunate he did not fall under the authority of the ECB, which, as a matter of principle, blocks the dismissal of independent state officials, no matter how incompetent they prove to be. If he did, he may have received a golden handshake of a few hundred grand from the state and a letter of thanks from Nik for the fine job he had done.

But without the backing of the ECB he got nothing, except a mean letter from Nik telling him how bad he was at his job.

EVERYONE turned against the Elamites. Even Yiorkos Lillikas’ party, which is only marginally to the left of ELAM, condemned their actions defending the right of Talat, affectionately described by Phil as a former ‘occupation leader’, to express his views.

There was an element of hypocrisy in the condemnations by the bash-patriots, because the Elamites have similar views to them on the Cyprob. Their only sin was that they acted on their anti-Turkish feelings instead of confining themselves to brave words like their bash-patriotic fellow travellers.

Nobody told them that our struggle against occupation can only be waged by words.

OUR ESTABLISHMENT felt honoured that the Bank of Cyprus board responded to last week’s report about the board meeting in Moscow, even though it was not an official response, but anonymous comments made to Phil and Tass news agency last Wednesday.

The anonymous source claimed that the members of the board had gone to Moscow to see for themselves the prospects of Uniastrum Bank, in which BoC has an 80 per cent shareholding and to be given a presentation by the bank’s management.

They would obviously gain a much better understanding of Uniastrum’s prospects by reading documents about its performance in a board-room in Moscow than in a board-room in Strovolos.

It did not occur to the happy bunny chairman of the board that he could have asked the management of the bank to give the presentation in Kyproulla as then Uniastrum would have paid the bill for air-fares and hotels and not the bailed in depositors of the BoC.

THE ANONYMOUS source of the board resorted to a bit of misinformation about the trip. For instance, Phil’s report on Wednesday referred to a two-day trip to Moscow.

How could it be two days, when the directors left on Tuesday and were to have been given a presentation by Uniastrum on Friday? If my arithmetic is correct this would make it a four-day trip if they dashed to the airport immediately after the presentation and five days if they returned yesterday. Phil also wrote that there were six Russian directors on the board, but unless Marios Kalochoritis is a Russian with a Greek name there are five.

Phil also wrote the following: “The assurances by Cypriot directors that the cost of going to Russia is lower in relation to the cost of the Russian directors coming to Cyprus, failed to dampen the reactions.”

How is it possible that the cost of five Russian directors coming to Cyprus for a one-day board meeting and staying in a hotel for two nights could be less than 11 Cypriot directors (including secretary) flying to Moscow and staying in super-plush hotel for four nights with their wives?

The wives, according to Phil’s unnamed sources that are so bad at arithmetic, were paying their own expenses, but which expenses we were not told?

SOME LIGHT was shed on the issue on the Cyprus Mail website, by someone calling him/herself Nik Nak and claiming to be a BoC employee. Nik Nak wrote that the directors were travelling economy and “any spouses travelling with them are of course paying their own expenses.” This was rather vague because it was unclear whether, apart from the air-fare, the spouses would also be contributing to the hotel and restaurant bills.

My question is why Nik Nak, who also defended the happy bunny’s decision to block the hiring of a spokesperson, did not use his or her real name in the post, as this would have enhanced his or her career prospects. Instead 200 employees can now go to the chairman, claiming they were Nik Nak and demanding promotion for standing up for him.

MANY OF our illustrious leaders were alarmed to hear the thinly-veiled threats made by Mother Russia’s ambassador, Stanislav Osadchiy, who said in an interview on Mega TV last week Moscow was disappointed with our government’s decision to side with the EU on the issue of Crimea.

Osadchiy, sounding like the governor of Russian satellite issuing friendly advice to the errant locals, warned that if there were more sanctions it would have negative effects on the Cyprus economy as “our businessmen would pull out their capital and repatriate their activities.”

Brave freedom fighters like Omirou and Lillikas started trembling with fear, urging the government to do everything in its power to appease Mother Russia and safeguard our “valuable ties”. The legislature even passed a resolution on Thursday urging the government to refrain from any actions which may “upset relations between the Republic and the Russian Federation”.

Omirou even issued a statement explaining why we should be bending over for Mother Russia, but there is no space to go into the utter nonsense he wrote this week. For now I will just express my bitter disappointment with Omirou for showing such cowardice. What has happened to the proud and defiant man who publicly stood up to Barrack Obama (we still remember his courageous, “how dare Mr Obama” speech)?

THE FUND set up by our public-spirited deputies in January to finance social cohesion and create jobs has not been very successful. Depending exclusively on voluntary contributions, it has so far collected a big zero. You would have expected the deputies who came up with this bright idea and voted it through to have put their money where their mouths were and contributed at least five euros each just to get the fund going. But it appears the expertise of our socially sensitive and caring deputies is taking rather than giving.

AT LONG last, on Thursday, the House Institutions Committee issued the findings of its investigation into the banking collapse which its chairman Demetris Syllouris had been promising would reveal all about the wheeler dealing, the links between banks and politicians, the dubious decisions of top bankers etc.

The report revealed nothing. It mentioned all the loans of politicians that had been written off by the banks without mentioning any names. This did not stop Syllouris from taking the moral high ground and making self-righteous sermons in the media about how he had exposed corruption and the suspect links between banks and politicians.

Names were not revealed because this could undermine the criminal investigations being carried out by the Attorney General. Another reason could be that one of the people who had a substantial investment loan written off by a bank was Mrs Syllouris.

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