Thursday, May 31, 2007
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.
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
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Monday, May 28, 2007
- 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 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
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).
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Friday, May 25, 2007
Thursday, May 24, 2007
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.
In its communique, the PIA also confirmed that November 2 and December 24 would be special public holidays, as per Proclamation 1211.
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).
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
Analysis: This new day is expected to be simply observed, perhaps with an annual ceremony, but will not affect business life and schools.
Monday, May 21, 2007
Saturday, May 19, 2007
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.
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.
Friday, May 18, 2007
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.
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
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
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.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
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.
Monday, May 14, 2007
Update: See our June 16 follow-up post.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
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
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.
- 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.
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.
Friday, May 11, 2007
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.
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.