Turks welcome ‘Ottoman grandson’ Boris Johnson as British leader

The former London mayor is the great-grandson of the Ottoman Empire’s last interior minister, Ali Kemal, and his ancestry has been a source of pride for many Turks. (AFP)
Updated 24 July 2019

Turks welcome ‘Ottoman grandson’ Boris Johnson as British leader

  • Boris s the great-grandson of the Ottoman Empire’s last interior minister, Ali Kemal
  • Like Johnson, his great-grandfather was a journalist who went into government

ISTANBUL: Turkey celebrated incoming British prime minister Boris Johnson’s Turkish heritage on Wednesday, with politicians and media proclaiming that the “Ottoman grandson” could strengthen ties between two countries on Europe’s fringes.
The former London mayor is the great-grandson of the Ottoman Empire’s last interior minister, Ali Kemal, and his ancestry has been a source of pride for many Turks.
Despite his sometimes disparaging remarks about Turkey, including a crude limerick about President Tayyip Erdogan and demands in 2016 that Britain veto Turkey’s accession to the European Union, Johnson is affectionately referred to as “Boris the Turk” by some Turkish media.
“Ottoman grandson becomes prime minister,” read a front-page headline of the opposition newspaper Sozcu. “For England, a prime minister with roots in Cankiri,” it said, referring to Kemal’s home province in central Turkey.
Like Johnson, his great-grandfather was a journalist who went into government, a move that proved ill-fated. In the final days of the Ottoman Empire, Kemal was captured and lynched by nationalists fighting to establish the Turkish state.
Erdogan congratulated Johnson on Twitter, adding that ties between Turkey and the United Kingdom were set to improve. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also congratulated him, sharing a video of Turkish reporters asking Johnson about his roots in Cankiri during a 2016 visit to Ankara.
Demiroren News Agency quoted a resident of Cankiri’s Kalfat village as saying it was an honor that someone from their village had become prime minister, adding that Johnson owed his distinctive mop of blond hair to his Turkish forefathers.
“They call his ancestors from this house ‘Blond Boys’. Boris Johnson’s blondness comes from this lineage,” Mustafa Bal said.


Singapore baggage handler jailed for swapping luggage tags

Updated 12 November 2019

Singapore baggage handler jailed for swapping luggage tags

  • Bags belonged to passengers transiting through Changi and using Singapore Airlines and its regional wing SilkAir
  • Changi handled nearly 65.6 million passengers last year

SINGAPORE: A Singaporean baggage handler has been jailed for 20 days for swapping tags on nearly 300 suitcases at the city-state’s airport, causing them to end up at wrong destinations around the world.
Tay Boon Keh, 66, had pleaded guilty to charges of swapping the tags on 286 bags at Changi Airport, one of the world’s busiest hubs.
He made the swaps between November 2016 and February 2017 out of “frustration and anger” after his request for additional staff at his work section was ignored, a district court heard.
Suitcases originally bound for various parts of the world, including Perth, Manila, Frankfurt, London and San Francisco, were affected, according to court documents.
The bags belonged to passengers transiting through Changi and using Singapore Airlines and its regional wing SilkAir.
Tay was suffering from major depressive disorder when he committed the offenses, the court heard.
But state prosecutors said evidence presented at a hearing showed his condition “did not contribute significantly to his commission of the offenses” as he continued to have control over his actions.
Prosecutor Thiam Jia Min said the swapping could have caused “potentially, even serious or fatal, consequences” as some passengers could have been left without medications.
Changi handled nearly 65.6 million passengers last year.