Thursday, May 31, 2007

Bermuda Declares June 5 Public Holiday

Sources: The Bermuda Sun, our post of yesterday and Bermuda public holidays. The date for the funeral of Dame Lois Browne-Evans has been set for next Tuesday, June 5, 2007. As announced in our post of yesterday, the occasion will be marked with a one-off public holiday in Bermuda.

Russia's Oulianovsk Region Offers 4x4s To Women Who Give Birth On National Day

Sources: Agence France-Presse and Russia Public holidays. Women in the Volga region of Oulianovsk, who already have a child, and who give birth on June 12, Russia's next National Day public holiday, will receive a brand-new 4x4, compliments of the region's governor. Women who give birth to their first child, on that same public holiday, will receive other prizes, such as fridges and TV sets. This is part of a trend in Russia where various levels of government try to stem the decline in population that began in 1991. At the national level, women who give birth to a second child get a support package worth around 9000 US dollars.

For the First Time, Malaysia Will Celebrate Gawai Nationally on June 1

Sources: Sarawak Electronic Government, The Daily Express, and Malaysia public holidays. Chief Minister, Datuk Musa Haji Aman, announced that the Government had declared the festivity of Perayaan Hari Gawai Dayak (Friday June 1, 2007) as a public holiday for the whole country, for the first time ever (previously it was only celebrated in the state of Sarawak).

Nepal Faces June 1 Nationwide Shutdown

Sources: India e-News and Nepal public holidays. An umbrella of nearly 60 communities, which were the first settlers of Nepal, have called for a countrywide shutdown, tomorrow, on Friday June 1, 2007. A senior Maoist minister, Dev Gurung, who is local development minister and comes from an indigenous community, is said to be supporting the strike in principle, as well as the Maoist organisation of Ethnic Groups, which also announced it would support the shutdown.

Bulgaria May Declare June 11 Public Holiday

Sources: Novinite News Agency and Bulgaria public holidays. Sofia Mayor, Boyko Borissov, sent a letter to the Bulgarian Prime Minister, Sergey Stanishev, asking him to declare the Monday, June 11, 2007, a non-working day, to coincide with the heightened security measures that will effectively close down downtown Sofia, on the occasion of the visit of US President, George W. Bush. It is still not know whether the Prime Minister will accept the proposal, but we are actively monitoring further developments.

UPDATE (Novinite, June 8) It has been officially and definitely confirmed that Monday, June 11, 2007, will be a regular working day in Bulgaria, including in the capital, Sofia. (Novinite, June 2): Bulgaria's cabinet rejected Borissov's plea at its session on Thursday, but Sofia's mayor, Boyko Borissov, remained hopeful, after meeting with Interior Minister Rumen Petkov.

Indonesia Announces 2008 Public Holidays List

Sources: The Jakarta Post and Indonesia public holidays. Yesterday, coordinating Minister for the People's Welfare, Aburizal Bakrie, announced the national holidays and joint leave days for 2008. The 2008 decree on holidays and joint leave stipulates those religious holidays that cannot be moved, 14 national holidays and six days of joint leave. These joint leave days will be used to create long weekends.

Analysis: This announcement does not affect most of the 2008 Indonesia public holidays that we have predicted and supplied to our professional clients, many years in advance. The only holidays whose dates may be modified are the Muslim ones (as always) and the date for Nyepi and Waisak. In addition some extended weekend holidays will be added to bridge the gap between holidays falling on a Tuesday or Thursday and the nearest weekend.

Update: Over the weekend, Q++ Studio registered users will automatically receive an update which includes the 7, one-off, bridge holidays declared by the Indonesian government for 2008 only.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Bermuda Will Declare Public Holiday on Day of Lois Browne-Evans' Funeral

Sources: Bermuda Sun and Bermuda public holidays. Following the overnight death of Lois Browne-Evans, Bermuda Premier, Dr. Ewart Brown, announced earlier this afternoon (European time) that government flags would be flying at half-mast and later in the day, he announced that the day of her funeral will be a public holiday (presumably later this week, although no date has been announced yet).

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Australia: Sydney's APEC Disturbances Will Extend to September 6 and 10

Sources: ABC News and Australia public holidays. In our news story of September 12, 2006, we reported that Friday September 7, 2007, would be a one-off public holiday in the Sydney area to coincide with the first day of the APEC 3-day meeting. It now seems that disturbances for Sydney residents will extend to either side of the APEC meeting, as President Bush will meet the leaders of China and Russia before APEC, and will then remain in Sydney for further talks after the summit.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Bhutan Declares May 28 Public Holiday for Second Practice Elections

Sources: Kuensel and Bhutan public holidays. As reported in our news story of May 2, 2007, the second round of "mock practice elections" will be held today, Monday, May 28, 2007, a day which has been declared a national public holiday with all government, corporate and private establishments closed for the day. The Ministry of trade and Industry also issued a notification that all shops and businesses should not operate on poll day.

Malawi Declares a One-Month Mourning Period

Sources: Reuters South Africa and Malawi public holidays. A one-month national mourning period was declared, following the death of Malawi's first lady, Ethel wa Mutharika, earlier today.

Weekly Review - May 27, 2007

This series of weekly posts summarizes the worldwide public holidays news highlights of the past week, and presents our analysis of general trends, identifying important announcements that we feel can be expected in the upcoming weeks.

Three of the weekdays of the past week were marked by major public holidays in multiple countries.
  • Monday, May 21, 2007, was interesting because, although a public holiday in 11 countries, spread over 3 continents, the actual public holiday being celebrated was never the same in more than 2 countries. In fact the 2 holidays that were each observed in 2 different countries, are quite interesting by themselves. On this recent Monday, Venezuela and Colombia both celebrated Ascension Day, which everywhere else in the world is celebrated on a Thursday. In addition 2 countries, Canada and Belize, celebrated the Queen's Birthday, a holiday that exists in many countries, but almost always follows a different recurrence rule.

  • Thursday, May 24, 2007, was also a mix of different public holidays, occurring on the same date, though 2 of these were one-off public holidays, and both were slightly odd. In Namibia, civil servants got the afternoon off to "prepare" for the next day's Africa Day public holiday. And in Syria, a public holiday was declared so that civil servants, students and members of the security services could attend spontaneous rallies organized to endure that this Sunday's presidential referendum topped the previous score of above 99%.

  • Friday, May 25, 2007, was mainly celebrated in Africa, as the Africa Day public holiday.
In addition to the holidays that happened this past week, there were protracted discussions in both France and Switzerland about upcoming public holidays.
  • In Switzerland, most of the week was spent discussing whether or not the August 1st, National Day public holiday would be celebrated on the legendary Grütli meadows (our news item of May 24). In the end it seems that the event will not be held in 2007, although last minute changes are possible.
  • In France, discussions all revolved around what, if anything, would happen to the Whit Monday public holiday, cancelled as of 2005, following the elderly death toll during the 2003 summer heat wave. This was much ado about nothing, as the position of the government had been clear for months, but in a country where one is always pestered with call to show solidarity, it seems that most were eager to avoid losing a single day off to help the elderly. Nice lesson in solidarity.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Solomon Islands to Hold State Funeral Later in the Week

Sources: Solomon Star News and Solomon Islands public holidays. The Solomon Islands will hold a state funeral later this week to honour one of its statesman, Sir Lloyd Maepeza Gina, who passed away over the weekend. This death occurred almost at the time the Solomon islands was mourning the passing of another of its statesman, the late Bartholomew Ulufaalu.

Analysis: This is going to be the third state funeral, this year, in the Solomon Islands. Traditionally, such events, in most Pacific island states, tend to be followed by the declaration of a public holiday on the day of the funeral, but as of tonight (Sunday night), nothing had been announced. But one should recall that Monday, May 28, is already a public holiday in the Solomon Islands, so that any announcement may not occur until Tuesday, local time, or Monday night, European time. We will continue to monitor further announcements.

Update: Early Monday morning, European time, we contacted our sources in the Solomon Islands, who informed us that the date of the State funeral for Sir Lloyd Maepeza Gina had been set for tomorrow, Tuesday, May 29, 2007, but that this would not be a public holiday in the Solomon Islands (ie. all businesses and government agencies will function normally).

India's Himachal Pradesh State Declares June 30 Public Holiday For Civil Servants

Sources: Department of Information & Public Relations, Himachal Pradesh and India public holidays. The Himachal Pradesh State Government has declared Saturday, June 30, 2007, a Gazetted holiday on account of Sant Guru Kabir Jayanti for all employees working in Government Offices, Boards, Corporations, and Educational Institutions.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Nigeria Declares Additional Inauguration Public Holiday for May 28

Sources: Panapress and Nigeria public holidays. Late Friday, the federal government of Nigeria declared an additional, one-off, public holiday, for Monday, May 28, 2007, on the occasion of the inauguration of the President-elect, Umaru Musa Yar'Adua. Note that the next day, Tuesday, May 29, is the annual Democracy Day public holiday.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Anguilla New Public Holiday Downgraded To School Holiday

Sources: The Anguillian and Anguilla public holidays. The recent motion in the House of Assembly by opposition member, Edison Baird, calling for a public holiday to be instituted in honour of Revolutionary Leader, James Ronald Webster, was defeated. Instead, an annual School Holiday has been approved to occur annually on the March 2, birthday of James Ronald Webster. On this date, or the corresponding appointed date, all schools will be closed in Anguilla, beginning in 2008.

Uganda Declares Annual May 24 Public Holiday In Buganda Region

Sources: The Daily Monitor and Uganda public holidays. Speaking yesterday, at the commemoration of the 41st anniversary of the Uganda Army attack on Lubiri, the Minister in charge for Heritage, Royal Tombs, Tourism and Cooperatives, Mr Arthur Bagunywa, announced that the Kabaka of Buganda, Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II, had declared that, henceforth, May 24 would be a public holiday in Buganda (the largest of the traditional kingdoms in present-day Uganda).

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Switzerland's 2007 National Day Public Holiday Loses Its Legendary Venue

Sources: Le Temps and Switzerland public holidays. After weeks of discussions and attempts at reaching a solution, the Commission du Grütli announced, earlier today that, in 2007, there would be no celebration of Switzerland's National Day public holiday on the legendary Plaine du Grütli.

Analysis: This is highly significant for the Swiss, as legend has it, it is at the Plaine du Grütli that an oath of eternal union was sworn between the cantons of Uri, Schwytz and Unterwald, leading to the, very much real, Confederate Treaty of 1291, regarded as the founding moment of Switzerland. Due to the significance of this annual event, it is possible that a last minute solution might yet be found, before Switzerland's National Day public holiday, on August 1st. We will continue to monitor further developments.

Namibia Declares Today A Half-Day Public Holiday For Civil Servants

Sources: The Namibian and Namibia public holidays. In a circular from Prime Minister Nahas Angula, sent out to all public servants, President Hifikepunye Pohamba declared a half-day public holiday, for this afternoon, Thursday May 24, beginning at 13:00, for all civil servants, to let them prepare for tomorrow's Africa Day public holiday.

Philippines Confirms Special Public Holidays on June 11, November 2 and December 24

Sources: Philippine Information Agency and Philippines public holidays. Earlier today, responding to a recent influx of telephone enquiries, the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) confirmed that June 11 is included in the 2007 Special Holidays Calendar which President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (PGMA) issued through Proclamation No. 1211 (see our news report of January 19, 2007). The PIA thus confirmed that Tuesday, June 12, would be regular working day nationwide, although all activities and celebrations in observance of Independence Day shall remain to be observed on June 12, 2007.

In its communique, the PIA also confirmed that November 2 and December 24 would be special public holidays, as per Proclamation 1211.

Taiwan Not Rejecting October 25 Public Holiday Suggestion

Sources: Taipei Times and Taiwan public holidays. President Chen Shui-bian recently reacted cautiously to, while not dismissing it offhand, the suggestion that Taiwan declare October 25 as a new public holiday.

Analysis: Recall that October 25, 1971, is the date on which Taiwan was essentially forced out of the United Nations, following accords reached between China's Chairman Mao Zedong and US President Richard Nixon. The status of Taiwan, even its official name, is a very dangerous topic for any Taiwanese politician, as China has always stated that it was ready to go to war if democracy got out of hand in Taiwan (specifically, if a referendum about independence, a sure winner, was ever held).

France's Whitmonday Public Holiday Observance To Remain As Is

Sources: L'Express and France public holidays. The newly formed center-right government has confirmed that there would be no change to the observance of the Whitmonday (Lundi de Pentecôte) public holiday in France.

Analysis: Officially, the rules are quite complex, and open to interpretation, but a good rule of thumb is that civil servants will have the day off, while the private sector will have to work on that day. Note that, in France, as far as public holidays are concerned, one should generally treat as being part of the public sector, large para-public companies, who used to be part of the public sector, such as banks, the utility companies (EDF-GDF), the telecoms, the railways, and the airlines. In particular, the SNCF (French State Railways) has announced that it will continue to apply public holiday schedules to Whitmonday.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Montenegro Changes Independence Day Public Holiday From June 3 to May 21

Sources: Radio Free Europe and Montenegro public holidays. Last Thursday, in a surprise, last-minute move, the parliament of Montenegro, voted to make May 21 the Independence Day public holiday, although Montenegro only formally declared its independence from Serbia on June 3, 2006.

Malaysia's Sarawak State Declares Public Holiday on June 4

Sources: Bernama and Malaysia public holidays. Earlier today, Sarawak's Chief Minister's Department, announced that Monday, June 4, 2007, had been gazetted as an additional public holiday, in the State of Sarawak, due to the overlapping public holidays of Gawai Dayak and the Yang di-Pertuan Agong's birthday. The Gawai Dayak on June 1 and 2 is the annual rice-harvesting festival celebrated by the Dayak community, and a public holiday in Sarawak State only, while the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong's birthday is on on June 2, and is a federal public holiday.

India: General Strike Today in Punjab's Ludhiana

Sources: Ludhiana Newsline and India public holidays. A bandh has been declared for today, Tuesday, May 22, 2007, in Ludhiana, the largest city in the State of Punjab. Government services will operate, but the private sector will essentially be shut-down for the day.

Oman Considering Friday-Saturday Weekends

Sources: Al Watan and Oman public holidays. There has been recent speculation that the government of Oman is planning to change the official weekend, from the current Thursday/Friday to Friday/Saturday, effective on January 1, 2008. Other reports would indicate that this would be limited to the petroleum industry. We will continue to monitor, and report on, further developments.

Chile to Observe August 30 as Missing Detainee Day

Sources: Full text of President Bachelet's speech and Chile public holidays. In a speech before the National Congress, yesterday, Chilean President, Michelle Bachelet, announced the observance of August 30 as the Día Nacional del Detenido Desaparecido (national day of the missing detainee).

Analysis: This new day is expected to be simply observed, perhaps with an annual ceremony, but will not affect business life and schools.

Lebanon Declares May 22 National Day of Mourning

Sources: Libnanews and Lebanon public holidays. Late last night, we started receiving reports that Tuesday, May 22, 2007, would be declared a National Day of Mourning in commemoration of the martyrs fallen in the recent violence. We will continue to monitor these reports, as soon as the observance of this day of mourning (working day off, or not) is ascertained.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Vanuatu Declares Public Holiday Following Death Of Bishop Visi

Sources: Radio New Zealand International and Vanuatu public holidays. Earlier this morning, a public holiday has been declared in Vanuatu for today, Monday, May 21, 2007, following the sudden death of Catholic Bishop, Michel Visi, on Sunday morning (yesterday).

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Weekly Review - May 19, 2007

This review of worldwide public holiday news, is a weekly summary the highlights of the past week's worldwide public holidays announcements, which also presents our take on general trends and identifies important announcements that we believe can be expected in the coming weeks.

This past week's worldwide public holidays news were dominated by election- and tragedy-related events.
  • Samoa: Although it happened late on Friday, May 11, the news of the death of Samoa's King, Malietoa Tanumafili II, one of the world's longest reigning monarchs, only started filtering into the news media early Sunday morning. The announcement of a 2-day public holiday (Thursday-Friday May 17-18) to mourn his passing away was made on Tuesday.
  • Pakistan: Late Sunday night, May 13, and following Saturday's previous one-off public holiday and riots, the government of Pakistan's Sindh Province, announced a day of mourning/public holiday for Monday, May 14, 2007. Unfortunately, far from calming tempers, it led to even worse violence on Monday and the ensuing days.
  • Nigeria: Not surprisingly, after the tinkering of public holidays that occurred just before last April's elections, the 2 main trade unions have called for a national strike to coincide with the upcoming, May 29, Democracy Day public holiday.
  • Algeria: As was rumoured in our report of January, a public holiday was declared in Algeria to stimulate participation in the May 17 parliamentary elections. Unfortunately, participation in these elections remained quite low, at about 30%.

Looking forward, the past week provided us with a few tidbits.

  • Ghana: After many years of uncertainty, the Ministry of the Interior finally confirmed that Africa Union Day (May 25) was a statutory holiday for all, throughout Ghana.
  • Sudan: The Sudanese First Vice President and president of Southern Sudan government, Salva Kiir Mayadrit, declared that he would introduce legislation to make May 16 a public holiday in the Sudan. However, as the proposed name of that public holiday is SPLA Day, and the SPLA is inextricably linked to the genocide of the black southern populations of the Sudan, one can imagine (hope?) that international events will prevent the occurrence of that public holiday's first occurrence in 2008.
  • Luxembourg: Following the dithering of Belgium, concerning what to do about the fact that the Ascension Day public holiday, and the May Day public holiday occur on the same date in 2008, people in neighboring Luxembourg have begun to wonder what would happen in Luxembourg in 2008. As we reported on May 15, it would seem that, legally, the situation is very different in Luxembourg, although, politically, the same remedy (a day in lieu on Friday May 2, 2008) may be required.
  • Fiji: Former Vice-President, Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi, called for the creation of a new annual public holiday (probably on May 14) to commemorate the arrival of the first East Indian migrants, from India, 128 years ago.

Ghana's May 25 Africa Union Public Holiday To Be Observed Nationwide

Sources: Ghana's Ministry of the Interior and Ghana public holidays. Late in the week, in a statement signed by the Minister, Mr Albert Kan Dappah, Ghana's Ministry of the Interior reminded the public that, Friday, May 25 is Africa Union Day and a statutory public holiday to be observed throughout the country.

Analysis: This is an important statement, as the extent of the observance of Africa Day in Ghana, in the past, was always unclear, with the government and banks observing it, but the private sector being left to decide on a case-by-case basis.

Nigeria's May 29 Public Holiday To Be Marred By National Strike

Sources: Business Day (Nigeria) and Nigeria public holidays. The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and trade Union Congress (TUC) have called for a two-day strike on Monday and Tuesday, May 28-29, 2007, to protest against alleged widespread vote-rigging in last month’s elections. The second day of that strike will coincide with the May 29 "Democracy Day" Nigerian public holiday.

Friday, May 18, 2007

India's Himachal Pradesh Government Declares May 23 Public Holiday in State Capital

Sources: New Kerala and India public holidays. Earlier today, the Himachal Pradesh State Government declared a public holiday on Wednesday May 23, 2007, to coincide with the municipal elections in its State capital, the Shimla Municipal Corporation (SMC). Employees working in government offices, boards, corporations, educational institutions and industrial establishments, within the SMC area, will remain closed on that day due to polling.

Cameroon Declares May 18 National Mourning Day

Sources: CRTV and Cameroon public holidays. CRTV, Cameroon's national radio, reported that late last night, Cameroon President, Paul Biya, decreed May 18 the day of national mourning in memory of the victims of the Kenya Airways flight which crashed on May 5 in Mbanga Pongo, near Douala. On the mourning day, the national flag will be at half-mast. Gatherings and other forms of worships will also be organized throughout the country.

Analysis: No mention was made that the day would be a day off-work. Note, also, that Sunday, May 20, is Cameroon's National Day.

Sudan To Declare May 16 Annual Public Holiday In South Sudan

Sources: The Sudan Tribune and Sudan public holidays. The Sudanese First Vice President and president of Southern Sudan government, Salva Kiir Mayadrit, declared that he would introduce legislation to make May 16, henceforth, an official national day to be annually celebrated throughout South Sudan, Blue Nile, Abyei and Nuba Mountains.

Analysis: As this announcement was made on the 24th anniversary of the SPLM/SPLA (Sudan People’s Liberation Movement ), and would tentatively be called “SPLA Day”, the fulfilment of that announcement very much depends on the continued good fortunes of the Sudanese government.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Algeria Declares Public Holiday To Coincide With Today's Parliamentary Elections

Sources: Middle East Times and Algeria public holidays. As mentioned last year in our notes about today's elections in Algeria, today, Thursday May 17, 2007, has been declared a one-off public holiday to facilitate participation in the parliamentary elections.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Fiji Former Vice-President Calls For New Public Holiday

Sources: The Fiji Times and Fiji public holidays. Former Vice-President, Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi, has called for the creation of new a public holiday to commemorate the arrival of the Girmitiyas from India 128 years ago.

Analysis: The creation of this new public holiday, to mark the arrival of the first East Indian migrants, if it came to pass would be in line with the similar public holidays already established in Guyana (May 5) and in Trinidad and Tobago (May 30), but it would be the first such declared public holiday in the Pacific. No specific date has yet been proposed for such a new public holiday in Fiji, but May 14, the anniversary of the 1879 landing of the first indentured servants at Levuka would seem fitting.

Namibia School Term Delayed Due To Africa Day Public Holiday

Sources: The Namibian and Namibia public holidays. Due to the Africa Day public holiday, on Friday May 25, 2007, state schools will only reopen on Monday May 28, instead of Tuesday May 22.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Luxembourg Not Required To Compensate Double Public Holiday In 2008

Sources: Frontaliers and Luxembourg public holidays. According to an analysis by Jean-Luc Putz, avocat à la cour au barreau de Luxembourg, and posted on the website, the issue of the Ascension Day 2008 public holiday conflicting with the May Day 2008 public holiday, does not, per se, call for any reaction on the part of the Luxembourg government, as was the case in neighboring Belgium (our post of April 24).

In his analysis, Maître Putz points out three way in which the situation is very different in Luxembourg, as compared to Belgium, and that would indicate that no extra day in lieu should be given:
  • In Luxembourg's legislation, the public holidays are listed, but there is no mention of their total number in a given calendar year.
  • In Luxembourg's legislation, public holidays are specifically meant to be used to allow workers to participate in religious and/or social ceremonies. But neither Ascension Day nor May Day celebrations are likely to move, so workers would not be deprived of their right to attend the ceremonies listed in the law, even if no day in lieu is given.
  • Finally, while a public holiday can be decreed by the executive branch of government in Belgium, in Luxembourg, a law has to be passed.
Of course, the above legal arguments are fine, but politics being what it is, the Luxembourg government may yet decide to declare a day in lieu, probably on May 2, 2008, as was done in Belgium. We will continue to monitor further developments.

Samoa Declares May 17-18 One-Off Public Holidays

Sources: Matangi Tonga, our post of May 13, and Samoa public holidays. Following the death of King, and Samoan High Chief, Malietoa Tanumafili II, on May 11, the Samoan Government has declared Thursday and Friday, May 17 and 18, 2007, to be public holiday for the king's official funeral and burial, while flags have been lowered to half-mast across the country.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Chile Prepares for First Year Without Corpus Christi

Sources: La Prensa Austral and Chile public holidays. Although the law replacing Corpus Christi with the Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen (July 16) was passed and signed into law almost 6 months ago (see our post of December 13, 2006, and our post of January 11, 2007), the Chilean media have only recently begun to make note of it, with many people still confused as to the reality of the change.

Israel Considering Making Fridays Normal Working Days

Sources: Arouts Sheva, Israel Hasbara Committee and Israel public holidays. The Knesset, Israel's Parliament, is about to give a first reading to a bill presented by Zevouloun Orlev, leader of the National Religious Party parliamentary group, that would make Sundays additional days off work, in exchange for the resumption of Fridays as normal working days. In addition, the number of allowed infractions to the Saturday Sabbath, would be increased, particularly in public transports, to allow non-practicing Israelis to better take advantage of their weekly day off.

Update: See our June 16 follow-up post.

Pakistan's Sindh Province Announces May 14 Mourning and Public Holiday

Sources: Pakistan Times and Pakistan public holidays. In an official statement released in Karachi, late last night, following Saturday's riots, the government of Pakistan's second largest province, Sindh Province, announced a day of mourning in the province today, Monday, May 14, 2007, which has also been declared a province-wide public holiday. The provincial government also declared a 30-day ban on all processions, demonstrations, public rallies, carrying of weapons and holding of public meetings and gatherings at any place except marriage and funeral gatherings.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Samoa's King Dies

Sources: International Herald Tribune and Samoa public holidays. King Malietoa Tanumafili II, one of the world's longest reigning monarchs, passed away at a hospital in Samoa, on Friday night, May 11.

Analysis: No announcement has been made yet, about a period of mourning, but one can certainly be expected to be declared in the coming days. Whether this mourning period is declared a non-working day, remains to be seen. For the long term, however, as there are no Samoa public holidays specifically linked to the King (as there are, for example, in neighboring Tonga), we do not expect any change to Samoa public holidays for 2008 and beyond.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Weekly Review - May 12, 2007

This post is part of of a series of weekly posts that summarize the highlights of the past week, give our analysis of general trends, and identifies important announcements that we feel can be expected in the upcoming weeks.

This past week was another relatively quiet one, as far a worldwide public holidays news is concerned. It was marked by the tail end of the May Day Golden Week in China, the results of the second round of the presidential elections in France, and the end of World War 2 public holidays in most of Europe, either on Tuesday May 8, or Wednesday May 9. Some of the highlights:

  • China: The week was filled with reactions to the recent Golden Week public holiday of May 1 to May 7. For those interested in the future of these extended public holidays in China, we have posted a detailed status report on China's Golden Week public holidays, earlier today.
  • Brazil: After weeks of back and forth between the senate and the assembly, it had seemed that the issue of the status of May 11, the date of the canonization of Frey Galvão, had been settled once and for all (as a non-holiday homage). And yet, at the eleventh hour, on the evening of the 9th of May, the senate, decided to vote the original motion making May 11, 2007 a full public holiday in Brazil.
  • France: The center-right presidential candidate, Nicolas Sarkozy, won the second round of the French presidential elections, thus making it highly unlikely that the Whit Monday public holiday, abolished in 2005, would be re-instated, as the socialist had promised to do if they won the presidential elections.
  • Germany: A major poll in Germany showed that an overwhelming majority of Germans did not think it was a good idea to remove of one of Germany's public holidays, to help fund State pension plans.
  • Malawi: As the week ended, the May 14 new annual public holiday in honour of of the country’s first president Ngwazi Kamuzu Banda, which had passed unanimously during the last sitting of Parliament, had not yet been signed into law by the executive.
  • Thailand held its annual Royal Ploughing Ceremony, during which the sacred oxes predicted that the upcoming crop year would be plentiful. However, at around the same time, Cambodia also held a Royal Ploughing Ceremony, whose conclusions were quite different.
A few stories came to the fore this past week, relating to possible future changes of public holidays:

  • Ghana is expected to declare a lieu day on Monday July 2, as compensation for the July 1st public holiday occurring on a Sunday in 2007.
  • Wallis and Futuna will observe a six month mourning period, before replacing the recently deceased king Tomasi Kulimoetoke. As that mourning period will end around Christmas, it is conceivable that a one-off public holiday may be declared in December 2007.
  • Papua New Guinea will soon be holding election, a potential cause for a one-off public holiday in that country.
  • Saipan (also known as the Northern Mariana Islands) introduced legislation that proposes unpaid holidays to replace the biweekly austerity holidays beginning this October. If the bill is enacted it would essentially mean that most government services would be shut down every other Friday.

We will report on these and other stories as they develop.

Ecuador Updates Status of May 24 and October 12 Public Holidays

Sources: El Comercio, El Universo, our post of April 7, and Ecuador public holidays.

Regular readers of this blog will recall that the Ecuador government has recently confirmed the Executive Decree 2369 of January 12, 2007, which enshrines the moving, in 2007, of the public holiday of the Battle of Pichincha to Friday May 25, and of the public holiday for the Independence of Guayaquil to Friday October 12, leaving May 24 and October 9, 2007, as normal working days.

However, late yesterday, the Ecuador government has announced that, although the compulsory time off work (descanso obligatorio) associated with these 2 public holidays would still be moved to Friday May 25 and Friday October 12, as per Executive Decree 2369, the government had decided that all civic, educational and military celebrations associated with the commemoration of these 2 public holidays would occur on the corresponding fixed dates, that is to say on Thursday, May 24, and Tuesday October 9.

Analysis: What this likely means is that, in addition to the public holidays to be observed on May 25 and October 12, 2007, government services and agencies can be assumed to be functioning on a public holiday schedule, on both May 24 and October 9, 2007.

Pakistan's Sindh Province Declares May 12 a Public Holiday

Sources: Dawn e-Paper and Pakistan public holidays. After repeated requests by the Karachi police for the State Government to declare today a public holiday, the State Government, late last night, finally declared today, Saturday, May 12, 2007, a public holiday in the Province of Sindh (one of Pakistan's 4 provinces). This is is in the context of the planned visit by the country's suspended chief justice to hold a rally with his supporters in Karachi.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Status Report on China's Golden Weeks Public Holidays

Once again, and as announced in our post of April 11, China recently extended its 3-day May Day public holiday, for 2007, to an extended 7-day period, from May 1 to May 7, 2007. These full weeks of public holidays, resulting from completing each of China's three, 3-day, public holidays (Chinese New Year, May Day, and National Day) into full weeks of public holidays, are called "Golden Weeks", and are meant to stimulate domestic spending, through increased travel. As such, the future of Golden Weeks is the object of much semi-official debate in the Chinese media, in particular in the days that lead up to, and follow each occurrence of a Golden Week. In this status report, we review the Chinese news media commentary related to this most recent Golden Week to try to anticipate on the future of this practice.

Background on Golden Weeks Public Holidays in China

Golden Weeks were first initiated on the occasion of the 1999 National Day public holiday (officially set for October 1 to October 3, annually). At the time, the Chinese government felt that it was a way to stimulate the domestic economy to counterbalance the dependence of the Chinese economy on the outside world, be it from exports of Chinese produced goods, or the import of foreign goods to satisfy China's growing number of affluent city-dwellers. It was felt that these week-long public holidays would encourage people who often were working far from their families to travel back to visit those families. As such, most reports, indicate that the process has been an economic success.

However, with the passing of each Golden Week public holiday, there are voices in the Chinese news media, to decry them and suggest alternatives. Some of the criticism is that it leads to a lower work ethic, as the additional 2 days that people are supposed to work, ahead of each the Golden Week, in compensation, are not always taken, particularly in the white-collar and government sectors. Some of the criticisms are that it creates a logistic nightmare as 100-200 million Chinese all go on holidays at the same time. Others decry that traditional Chinese festivals (such as Tomb Sweeping Day and The Mid-Autumn Festival) are being ignored in favor of mammoth holidays that have little to do with Chinese tradition.

As the Chinese media is not known for propagating views contrary to the wishes of the ruling Communist Party, it is assumed that the contradictory debate seen in the Chinese media is a way for the Chinese government to send trial balloons about possible changes and gauge possible reactions.

Commentary Leading to this Most Recent Golden Week

In a sense, the recent May Day public holiday (May 1-7, 2007), was the first Golden Week since last October, as the Golden Week observed for Chinese New Year (in February this year) is rarely criticized and, if anything, most commentary call for it to be extended, if only to include Chinese New Year's Eve. Therefore, we have a running stream of commentary about Golden Weeks stretching from October 2006 to the end of April 2007 to consider.

  • Last October's Golden Week was not even over that already, on October 3, 2006, the State Council, China's Cabinet, was already discussing the future of Golden Weeks. Apart from the unlikely addition of more Golden Weeks, this news item is one of the first to mention the addition of more traditional Chinese festivals as new public holidays.
  • In December 2006, the Golden Weeks for 2007 were announced, along with their corresponding compensation working days.
  • A few days before the 2007 Chinese New Year Golden Week, and despite calls to the contrary, the General Office of the State Council confirmed that the upcoming Golden Week would begin, as usual, on the date of the public holiday, and that therefore, the eve of Chinese New Year would be a normal working day. However, almost immediately after that Golden Week, the National People's Congress was asked to consider making Lunar New Year's Eve a public holiday.
  • At the beginning of March 2007, the National Development and Reform Commission, China's top planning body, issued a draft on modifying public holidays, whereby Golden Weeks might be reduced to introduce more traditional Chinese festival public holidays.
  • On March 20, 2006, we reported that the CAAC (General Administration of Civil Aviation of China ) had announced that a total of 42 chartered flights from Taiwan to China would be organized by 11 different airlines to correspond to the upcoming Chingming traditional festival (in China) and public holiday (in Taiwan). This was quite noteworthy, as whatever one might think about the spontaneousness of media reports, it is clear that the approval for the CAAC's important civil aviation schedule change could only have come from the highest levels of the Communist Party.
  • Finally, at the end of April, we reported that, for the first time, a high-ranking Chinese official had stated that the Chinese government would not be opposed to Hong Kong replacing one of its Christian public holidays with a public holiday to honour the Birthday of Confucius. As this would be a nice, limited test-run, from which the Chinese government could learn, it was viewed as an important announcement concerning the possibility of eventually adding more traditional public holidays in China itself.

So, as we neared the May Day public holiday, we had many reasons to think that changes to Golden Weeks were being considered, but as each report, draft, plan or announcement, came from a different body or agency, the government was leaving itself officially uncommitted.

Commentary Since this Most Recent Golden Week

As happened after the October 2006 Golden Week, this past week, the Chinese media was immediately filled with commentary, proposals, counter-proposals, and statistics on the Golden Week that had just finished (May 1-7). Some of the highlights of these were:

  • Without any surprise, there were reports of the chaos of about 180 million people all traveling at the same time, but the government swiftly announced that this was not reason, in itself, to reconsider Golden Weeks.
  • Part of the reason given was the achieved economic goal of boosting domestic spending, although there were also reports that some of the extra spending was due to consumer goods purchasing (possibly of foreign products) rather than domestic service-oriented travel.
  • On the topic of internal tourism, though, one bright spot for the Chinese government, in its quest for the full assimilation of Tibet, were reports of the large increase in tourism into Tibet, notably due to the new Qinghai-Lhassa high-altitude train line inaugurated last summer. One of these reports went to great lengths to describe the benefits of this influx of tourism to Tibet, including the repair of old and dangerous steps in monasteries, and the possibility for monks to work in the tourism trade to supplement their income. This influx of Han tourism to Tibet, although statistically small on the scale of the Chinese economy, is important for the Chinese government's Tibet policy, and it coincided with one of the strongest recent statements made by a government spokesman, against the Dalai Lama. In that statement, published in the South American edition of the People's Daily, on the day of the Pope's visit to Brazil for the canonization of Frey Galvão, the Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Jiang Yu, asserted that the decades of action and words by the Dalai Lama had proved him to be a secessionist activist rather than the religious leader he claims to be.
  • One statement, by Zhang Xiqin, the deputy director of the National Tourism Administration of China, raised the possibility of staggering the Golden Weeks public holidays, in a manner akin to what many European countries do for school holidays. In other another statement, Zhang Xiqin again evoked the possibility of linking the Golden Weeks to more traditional festivals, but remained firmly committed to the principle of Golden Weeks.
Outlook on the Future of Golden Week Public Holidays

Based on the above, it seems certain that the already announced October 2007, Golden Week will proceed as announced in December 2006. As mentioned in our post about the possible swap, in Hong Kong, of a Christian public holiday for the Birthday of Confucius, the earliest occurrence of a Confucius Birthday public holiday in Hong Kong would be in September 2008; which would give time to the Chinese government to analyze its acceptance and benefits before announcing the 2009 Golden Week public holidays, in the late fall of 2008. We would therefore expect Golden Weeks to proceed as usual in 2008, with the first possible changes announced at the end of 2008 for 2009.

Ghana Expected to Declare One-Off Public Holiday on July 2

Sources: The Statesman, The Bank of Ghana, and Ghana public holidays. In a recent comment to Ghana's, The Statesman newspaper, Benjamin Amoah, of the Bank of Ghana Monetary Policy Committee, has disclosed that since July 1 falls on a Sunday and is Ghana’s Republic Day, the Government was likely to make the following day, Monday July 2, 2007, a public holiday.

Brazil Makes This May 11 a Full Public Holiday

Sources: Brazilian Senate, our latest post on the topic and Brazil public holidays. After many weeks of tribulations, law 696/07, making May 11, 2007, a full public holiday, was finally approved in its final version in the Brazilian senate, late Wednesday night, creating an annually commemorated feast named "Dia de Santo Antônio de Sant'Anna Galvão", which exceptionally, this year, on Friday May 11, 2007, will be a full national public holiday (feriado nacional).