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06 July 2008

Comments

Angela Hui

I have a personal experience to share. I am a Rotarian and recently led a team of 24 Interactors (age 16-18) to Seoul. From the experience last week, I felt the sex gender treatment perhaps, could be another issue that has an impact on the development. I am no woman's lib, just looking for a fair ground especially when it comes to servicing the community. Yet, the display of treatment was not too welcoming.

Rob Grool

David, you are ever so right fearing that Korea will be marginalised, but perhaps not in the way you are thinking of. The Hebei Spirit affair (where a Korean-owned crane barge hit a tanker lying at anchor, which subsequently spilled oil and was pilloried for something the ship did not cause. Now the Captain and Chief Officer are held in custody by the Korean authorities despite having been cleared of guilt by the Korean Courts! This smacks of Gitmo Bay-tactics and it does Korea's reputation no good at all. Read the below protest of major shipping organisations against this serious breach of morality in Korea.

brgds,
Rob Grool
Wallem, Hong Kong

Shipping World Protests at Unfair Detention of Seafarers in Korea
Organisations from across the world’s shipping industry today issued a vigorous joint protest at the continuing unjust and unreasonable detention of two merchant ships’ officers from the tanker Hebei Spirit who were recently acquitted by a South Korean court as being innocent of all charges of violating the nation’s ocean pollution law, following last year’s oil spill when a floating crane collided with the Hebei Spirit.
We - the Round Table of international shipping associations (BIMCO, International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), International Shipping Federation (ISF), INTERCARGO and INTERTANKO), the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), the International Group of P&I Clubs (IG), and the Hong Kong Shipowners’ Association - wish to convey to the government and authorities of the Republic of Korea our surprise, disappointment and great concern at the news that Korea’s courts have determined to continue to detain the ship’s officers, despite their acquittal, for possibly as long a year pending further hearings. Such measures appear to be unjustified, unreasonable and in contravention of the men’s rights. We strongly believe that they should be permitted to leave the country.
We remind those responsible for the continued detention of Captain Jasprit Chalwa and Chief Officer Syam Chetan, that the trial determined that another vessel which had been towing the floating crane which struck the anchored tanker was wholly responsible for the incident. Despite this finding they have continued to be detained, notwithstanding their own and their employers’ assurance that, should a further trial take place, they would attend it.
The two officers have been detained in Korea since 7 December and we believe from recent experience in similar cases that such continued unjust detention may well affect the physical and mental health of the two men. This could be avoided by permitting them to return home now to their families until such time as they are needed to assist any further investigation in Korea.
As an industry serving international society, we remain committed to protecting the environment and to the prompt and thorough investigation of accidents at sea. We are committed to bringing to justice those involved in intentional actions that may damage the marine environment.
However, we cannot and will not support the criminalisation of seafarers, nor unjust, unreasonable and unfair treatment that is contrary to the principles agreed to worldwide in the United Nations’ International Maritime Organization (IMO) and International Labour Organization (ILO) Guidelines on the Fair Treatment of Seafarers in the Event of a Maritime Accident.
We appeal to the Government of the Republic of Korea to take the necessary action to ensure that the seafarers are immediately permitted to return to their homes.
Tuesday 22 July, 2008
David Cockroft
General Secretary
ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation)
Andrew Bardot
Executive Officer
IG (International Group of P&I Clubs)
Torben C. Skaanild
Secretary General
BIMCO
Tony Mason
Secretary General
ICS / ISF (International Chamber of Shipping / International Shipping Federation)
Roger Holt
Secretary General
INTERCARGO (International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners)
Dr Peter Swift
Managing Director
INTERTANKO (International Association of Independent Tanker Owners)
Arthur Bowring
Managing Director
Hong Kong Shipowners’ Association

David Eldon

Although I have tended not to comment directly on postings, I think both the issues raised by Rob Grool and Angela Hui point to reinforcing the fact that the external perception of Korea remains unfavourable; not a happy state of affairs. We are not talking about changes in rules and regulations to make Korea more attractive, we are talking mind-set, in a culture where the "punishments and penalties for infringements" are often put in place before a business starts, leaving everyone ultra cautious, and where "tradition", in a predominantly male society is paramount. Changes are definitely being made, but it is slow progress.

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