Yesterday, was the long awaited debate about the whether Oulu can be considered a multicultural centre.
A long time ago, a Social Democrat politician, Liisa Jaakonsaari, had committed to being one of the panelists. The event was scheduled for 18:00 to 20:00 hours. A lot of time and effort was spent by many people, totally voluntarily, to ensure that many ethnic minorities were informed of the event so that they could listen to the panelists and present their questions to matters they were deeply concerned about.
Yesterday afternoon, just a few hours before the event, Liisa Jaakonsaari called the organiser to say that she was going to Helsinki to discuss the formation of the next Finnish Government (or rather to plan a strategy to mould her own future in the Finnish Parliament).
Could she not have told the organisers of that event that she was pre-committed?
She obviously had her reasons for ditching this event. Most probably she did it because she is a typical politician, planning her own personal fortune rather than looking at the issues facing the citizens she claims to represent.
Or, she was a yellow-bellied coward unable to face the hard questions that she knew would be put before her.
The ethnic minorities of Oulu were of least importance to Liisa Jaakonsaari.
Either way you look at this - Liisa Jaakonsaari is cowardly self-serving politician and least of all deserves her place in the Finnish Parliament.
(Although she is Annikki's childhood classmate, it is one person that Annikki has not bothered to re.-establish contact with. I have also personally had an earlier example of this behaviour by this politician when she was the Minister for Labour in the Finnish Government. In one event, an Asia seminar, related to the aid being offered to Vietnam, she had the audacity to question what "benefit" could be gained by Finland offering "aid" to this developing region!)
Chaff Participants Ildikó Hámos and Lauri Gardner, and Moderator,
Main Editorial Writer of the Kaleva newspaper, Markku Heikkilä.
Getting back to the event itself - it was extremely well attended. The quality of the short presentations by CHAFF Participants Lauri Gardner and Ildikó Hámos and Oulu City representative on International Affairs, Anne Rännäli, and the role of the Moderator, Main Editorial Writer of the Oulu newspaper, Kaleva, Markku Heikkilä, were all executed with great dignity.
The questions from the floor were very thought provoking. Many issues troubling the ethnic minorities were aired. There was general consensus as to the fact that the City of Oulu has been only concerned with creating an image rather than doing anything concrete. The City has never had any significant budget, they have not set any example in the employment of ethnic minorities, and the "Vision for 2015" is just a worthless document which is not worth the paper it is written on!
The underlying tone of the questions diplomatically showed that the bureaucracy, judiciary, police and all the official arms of the Oulu "system" are "corrupt" and just as self-serving as Liisa Jaakonsaari!
The gathering was welcomed to the Oulu International School by Eric Mwai and the audience and panelists were thanked by Heikki Mankinen, Chairperson of the Organising Committee.
It was 2 hours very well spent.
Following this, some CHAFF Participants hosted a private party for the panelists and the organisers. Michelle, the owner of the Royal Garden Restaurant, and her partner in business, Nushad, served up a scrumptious Indian meal prepared by their new cook from Ludhiana, Punjab, Dhanpal Singh.
The atmosphere and the food were just unbelievable. Many had never tasted such wonderful Indian food in Oulu. (The most touching comment was one from Ilari Sohlo that this would be the second place in Oulu to get truly Indian food - the first being Annikki's kitchen. Sadly, Annikki's kitchen has not been able, for many years, to be as hospitable as we would like it to be because of her full-time commitment to looking after her aged mother!)
We can now await the opening of the new Indian restaurant in Oulu.
I was able to make the announcement of the Red Herring award the Codenomicon Oy which is headed by CHAFF Participant, CEO Isaac Sundarajan.
On the whole a wonderful evening, CHAFF would like to offer special thanks to the organisers Heikki Mankinen, Eric Mwai, Eija Isoviita, Emilia Frantsi, Maija Polojärvi, Päivi Hirvonen, Paivi Jurvakainen, Päivi Pussinen, Henna Juusola, the organisations, who, along with CHAFF, supported holding this event, the Finnish Red Cross, Amnesty International, the United Nations, the Oulu International School, Oulu Setlementti, Goreme Pizzeria, Pailin Thai Eestaurant, Codenomicon Oy, Raimo Kuismin, Isaac Sundarajan, Hasim Cevirel and Kasim Kocol and the Graphic Designer Kamutaza Tembo.
Above all, if nothing else, we ethic minorities learnt one very important lesson. We certainly know which politician from Oulu is NOT TO BE TRUSTED - Liisa Jaakonsaari!