Archive for the 'international' Category

06
May
08

Getting the message across

I had originally wanted to blog about the bus hold up at the checkpoint. But this article in the StraitsTimes perked my interest instead.

A NEW school of thought is emerging on what a country needs to grow economically.

And leading it is China, which will use the upcoming Olympics Games as a platform to get across its message on growth, said Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew.

And I thought to myself, “Precisely!”

During the Spielberg resignation, the People’s Republic crackdown on Tibet and the anti-Chinese protests that followed the Olympic torch relay every other news commentary and letters-to-the-editor in the Singapore media was along the lines of don’t-politicise-the-Olympic-games vein.

But you know, I guess is not really about the Games and being apolitical, but about whose politics gets to ride on with the Games. I guess since it is China’s Games, it should be China’s politics and political ideology to permeate the Olympics. And that is what Old Harry is telling us with that statement.

So if it’s Western values of freedom, democracy and basic respect for human dignity, the Olympics should BE APOLITICAL. But when it is about economic growth, peace and stability, it becomes A PLATFORM. That is deconstruction in real life for you.

* * *

I had an unpleasant encounter with a totally unprofessional taxi driver. After getting into his cab, he lingered on hoping to pick up OTHER passangers en route to Permas Jaya. I had to tell him off before he finally got going. Sigh…

01
Mar
08

The press and power

Something I read in the Times resonated a lot.

The stories of overmighty monarchs, overmighty executives, and overmighty prime ministers and chief whips are often told. But there is such a thing as an overmighty mass media too, and it would be a sad day when Commons Speakers felt under constant pressure to satisfy the press.

Though this issue in the UK is far removed from what’s happening here in Malaysia, it worth pondering on the subtle power the press holds-the power to shape public opinion for better or worse.

Link.

17
Feb
08

I, the President.

I read this interview with a tinge of sadness. Like being unable to have the proverbial cake and eat it, you can’t have your political ideals and political position at the same time-at least in Asia.

As I leave he presents me with a clock inscribed “from the President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan”. It seems an inauspicious gift from a man whose time may be up. He shakes my hand. “It will be the saddest day for Pakistan if Benazir’s crooked widower is in power by Monday,” I say. As the President walks away, he looks back. “At least we part on agreement.”

You’ll have to read the entire piece to understand the last paragraph.

It does make me try to draw comparisons between Pakistan and Malaysia. Perhaps even between Badawi and Musharraf. Maybe Badawi also has the same distaste with dealing with the corrupt BN politicians. Maybe he has always wanted to do good on his 2004 election promises, but unable to.

But I don’t think so. Arguably Musharraf is a greater leader than our sleepy-head of a PM. Certainly the President has faced far more security threats in his volatile country than the meek protest of flower carrying children-which Badawi tenderly returned with water cannons, tear gas and an arrogant dismissal.

No, I don’t think there is any room of comparison. Musharraf would make an interesting political science study; Badawi’s legacy will quickly be washed out with his ebbing political tide.

02
Feb
08

This is sick…

If anyone still thinks that ‘one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter’ (think Mahathir) ought to take a hard long look at this news article, and then at themselves.

Baghdad’s fragile peace was shattered yesterday when explosives strapped to two women with Down’s syndrome were detonated by remote control in crowded pet markets, killing at least 91 people in the worst attacks that the capital had experienced for almost a year.

Iraqi and American officials blamed al-Qaeda, and accused the terrorist organisation of plumbing new depths of depravity. Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, said that al-Qaeda’s use of mentally-handicapped women as bombers showed that it had “no political programme here that is acceptable to a civilised society and that this is the most brutal and the most bankrupt of movements”.

After reading news reports like this, fundamentalist and radical are lame adjectives to attach to al-Qaeda. Calling them murderers is simply a compliment.

This is evil.

Pure evil. It isn’t even about winning converts and admirers anymore.  This is simply an ego trip. Damn these people!

18
Jan
08

Flogging a(n almost) dead horse

As we all know, former Indonesian president Suharto’s health is under great duress.

Bed-ridden with failing organs, pneumonia and the looming threat of sepsis (read blood infection), everyone-his doctors especially-has been surprised at his will to live.

Even controversy follows the sick man to his deathbed. I guess MM Lee Kwan Yew best sums up the sentiment that some people have. “Yes, there was corruption. Yes, he gave favours to his family and his friends. But there was real growth and real progress,” Classic karmatic philosophy. And yet, those who have lost loved ones under his regime, the voiceless new nation of East Timor and perhaps those who help bring him down in 1998 might have another view of this matter. In their eyes, they would not even want to dignify his memory with pity-let alone forgiveness.

And then there is the grouchy West who ever insist on having the last say on Suharto’s legacy.

The idea of pursuing old, sick men is unattractive, but the basic deterrence function of such prosecutions largely outweighs’ the drawbacks, Mr Tanter countered. ‘For the ghosts of all the slaughtered and tortured, I’d like to see justice.’

The tragedy of post-colonial South East Asia is that the practicalities of empire demands cruelty. Suharto, in leading one of the most heterogeneous countries in the world, simply sacrificed conscience for “the greater good”. It is easy to look at the Indonesian economic transformation (actually nothing more than rational economic policies that have been fine tuned and honed over the stretch of Western history applied regionally) and demand the accompanying democratic values at the same time. One look at Singapore will contradict this expectation.

Unlike Americans, which Bill Clinton declared confidently to Larry King in an interview on Larry King Live-“are basically fair.”-we who live here, know that the majority are not. Ever susceptible to populism, lesser politicians have exploited it for personal gain. There has been little of ‘real’ nobility in South East Asian politics, Suharto is just another example.

Immediate historical judgments are often biased, but time is a great revealer of truth. We will see how Indonesians themselves choose to remember him.

21
Nov
07

About the previous post

I forgot to put this up, but anyway…

I observed that the fact that the Myanmar junta nonchalantly said, “Sure, we’ll sign…” probably just means that the human rights charter ASEAN so confidently trumpeted about isn’t as hard hitting as it should be.

Or put it in another way, if it didn’t offend Myanmar’s ruling generals, it probably didn’t contain any…’inconvenient truths.”

20
Nov
07

Myanmar and ASEAN

I guess the buzzword about Mynmar is ‘national reconciliation’.

Is the country split? Is there a civil war? Unarmed monks and pro-democracy protesters march peacefully in the streets, one democratically elected leader bound up under house arrest and what is needed is ‘national reconciliation’?

One wonders why ASEAN even bothers.

It is of course unfair to condemn the state of foreign policy in this region. PM Lee Hsien Loong, leading a country of far greater standing than Myanmar has to condescend to PM Thein Sein’s requests and cancel Ibrahim’s briefing. If PM Lee can’t even put his foot down on issues like this, I doubt we could have done a better job.

And with their smiling teeth reflecting their ‘commitment’ to ‘human rights’ in the form of a charter which has been described as ‘landmark’, you can be sure ASEAN is doing a good job of promoting democracy in the region.

Just think about it, hardly any one of the main ASEAN states can truly be deemed democratic. BN and PAP are totally dominant in Malaysia and Singapore respectively, Myanmar and Thailand is military ruled, Brunei is an aristocracy, Philipines even with a heritage of people power movements, just can’t get corruption out of the presidency and well…one could go on. Sure they can sign any charter they want, and sure we can certainly hope they will live up to its high ideals.

No, ASEAN need not bother with talk of national reconciliation. Those are just a bunch of words. Perhaps what ASEAN needs to do is to learn from Myanmar’s junta on how to suppress dissent, murder and torture their own citizens and still get away with it. What’s better, get your neighbors to cry,” Stop!” and silence them with and up pointed finger to their nose.




About me

moogleBorn and bred in KL, Malaysia. Now studying for his Phd in Singapore. Learning to walk one fall at a time.
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