The Norman Transcript

Columns

May 4, 2013

Bangladesh factory collapse: beyond mourning and money

NORMAN — Last Thursday, I went to the weekly meeting of Norman Rotary Club with Andy Rieger, the executive editor of the Norman Transcript. He introduced me and Rotarians responded with a waving hands and lovely applause. Just moments after I sat down, the lady sitting beside me asked the distance between the collapsed building of garment factories in Savar, Dhaka and my home.

In fact, we are facing such sympathetic questions almost everywhere here in Norman, Oklahoma. The CNN news scrolled across the digital screen on Gaylord Hall at the University of Oklahoma. We have been noticing ‘Bangladesh’ here everyday. And we are answering as much as we know. Beyond that we have little to do, standing thousands of miles away, but weep silently for the tragic demise of hundreds of lives. What could we meaningfully do even if we were there?

We saw the lack of proper equipment to rescue people from the hall turned hell. It’s true that hundreds of people tried their best to help the trapped and injured. But those acts of big heart are really small in the scale of the catastrophe. So the grief of fallen lives and failed capacity lies over the nation. Reactions on social or mainstream media are saddening. One is the concern about our garment buyers based in Europe and America especially. The second target is the garment owners.

It is absolute that if the garment factory owners don’t improve the wage structure and working environment, instability in production channels and lives risked on thousands of our cheap labor force will prevail. As a result we may have to face more and bigger tragic incidents in the future. And eventually we will lose our garment market abroad, the second remittance earner sector. The thousands of youths, especially females from lower income groups or rural areas, many of whom got the “freedom of choice” due to cash in hand, who are trying to stand on their own feet and ignore some social discriminations, will lose their jobs.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • Congress should close gaps

    Of all of Edward Snowden’s revelations about electronic surveillance by the National Security Agency, the most unsettling was that the government was accumulating vast numbers of records about the telephone calls of American citizens. In ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Border obsession overlooks trade

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry made headlines recently by ordering 1,000 National Guard troops to the border. This bravado comes at a price: $12 million a month. Perry plans to send the bill the federal government. That’s one way to finance your ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Intercession badly needed in this world

    Yesterday was my feast day, or as the Italians call it, my “onomastico.” Since I live in the United States, it went completely unnoticed. If I lived in Italy, however, I would have been showered with cards and phone calls. That’s because ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Porch leap looked muchbigger as a kid

    It’s no secret that porch designs have changed over the years. Drive through new Norman developments and look at the porches. Most only have room for a potted plant and a spot to drop those UPS packages, no place for a porch swing or ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Keeping the war buried

    International outrage over the downing of a Malaysian passenger plane over Ukraine on July 17 does not appear to have affected either the actions of pro-Russia forces in that country or the material support Russia is offering the rebels. ...

    July 26, 2014

  • Gaza’s victims: civilians and peace

    After more than two weeks of fighting between Hamas and Israel, there is no question which side has the upper hand. Thursday’s strike on a U.N.-run school for Palestinian children increased the Palestinian death toll to more than 760. By ...

    July 26, 2014

  • Norman Forward builds momentum

    The quiet campaign to build momentum for a citywide public works project is beginning to attract some attention....

    July 20, 2014

  • Tax those trees out of here

    I read your editorial “Pesky red cedars” in the Norman Transcript of Tuesday, July 15, 2014. I have attended two meetings where the problem of the eastern red cedar trees was discussed. Because of the drought conditions in Oklahoma, we ...

    July 20, 2014

  • Make gun safety a health issue

    Quick, are you more likely to die by a bullet or in a car crash? Common sense would seem to suggest the latter. Cars are everywhere. We are an auto-obsessed nation. To be American is to drive — everywhere. Teenagers itch to get behind the ...

    July 20, 2014

  • They just want to be free ... maybe

    Massoud Barzani, president of Iraq’s semiautonomous Kurdistan region, rattled many cages this month when he announced in parliament that the KRG would be moving ahead soon on a referendum on independence from Iraq. If Kurdistan goes ahead ...

    July 20, 2014