ASEAN LEADERS ARE BARKING AT THE WRONG TREE WITH THE WRONG CAUSE AND WRONG OBJECTIVE

ASEAN LEADERS ARE BARKING AT THE WRONG TREE 

WITH THE WRONG CAUSE AND WRONG OBJECTIVE

 

ASEAN leaders are complaining about the convenient way to solve the Rohingya problem.

But for the Rohingyas or Burmese Muslims or Christian Chins/Karens/Kachins and Buddhist Mons/Shans/Burmese etc AND the NLDS  and political opponents and armed rebel groups_

Whether the SPDC would accept them back is not their main concern. What is the consequences after repatriation is their only problem.

Jailed? Tortured? Is the main concern for all but ‘Village arrest’ (for Rohingyas only) is the problem.

No democracy, no Human Rights, no political life, no respect for the Rights of religious minorities and Ethnic minorities is their main concern.

But the lack of development, economic problems back home are the most important fact for all of them.

There is no clear cut line to DEFINE OR CATEGORIZE THEM INTO POLITICAL OR ECONOMIC MIGRANTS. 

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DSAI would become PM before this Christmas

DSAI would become PM before this Christmas

Malaysiakini (AFP), “I’ll be PM in three years”, says Anwar

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim today confidently predicted he would be prime minister within three years, sketching out the first rough timetable for his dramatic political comeback.

“I don’t think we have established a definite clear time-frame when I will take over (as prime minister) but it certainly wouldn’t reach three years … much earlier than that,” the former deputy premier told AFP.

“(But) I am not in a rush,” he added.

anwar ibrahim april 14 kg baru event 150408Anwar, heir-apparent to long-time former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad before being sacked and jailed a decade ago, has emerged as a serious threat to the ruling coalition after the opposition’s strong showing in parliamentary polls.

He became free to run for office again last week, when a five-year ban stemming from his corruption conviction expired, and claims he has the support of enough defectors to topple the government.

The Barisan Nasional coalition has ruled Malaysia for more than half-a-century since the former colony gained independence from Britain but has been rocked by its unprecedented electoral setback in March.

The Pakatan Rakyat opposition alliance claimed more than a third of parliamentary seats and five states in the polls, putting Mahathir’s successor, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, under heavy pressure.

Anwar, 60, pledged more effective governance and to wipe out corruption and promote racial equality, addressing some of the public’s major concerns.

“Our reform programme will certainly be more secure. We will push for a market economy, judicial independence and equality for all Malaysians,” he said.

Ready to cross-over

Anwar also repeated his claim that lawmakers from Sabah and Sarawak states had indicated interest in defecting from the ruling coalition to the opposition. He spoke to AFP at Kuala Lumpur airport on his way to Sabah.

“Lawmakers in the two states in Borneo island have approached me about switching sides, but so far none has declared their intentions publicly,” he said.

Analysts have backed Anwar’s statement he has enough support to rule, saying turmoil in the ruling coalition could hasten an exodus of lawmakers and propel him to power.

Prime Minister Abdullah is facing growing demands to quit, but has defiantly claimed a mandate to rule and refused to discuss a succession plan.

Anwar had previously been expected to re-enter parliament quickly through a by-election in one of the seats held by his PKR party, but says he is in no hurry to act and will instead focus on building up the opposition.

Some 20,000 supporters attended Anwar’s rally last week. The opposition leader was released in 2004 after spending six years in jail.

-AFP 

UPDATE: Dear readers, I had changed the real heading in the various reports esp the AFP’s THREE YEARS to _DSAI would become PM before this Christmas.

This morning I read the news in Star Online_

Thursday April 24, 2008, by By MUGUNTAN VANAR

Anwar: We have the numbers,

however, we’re in no rush to replace Barisan

KOTA KINABALU: The Opposition coalition of Pakatan Rakyat is in a position to form the federal government and it will be done no later than Malaysia Day which falls on Sept 16, claimed Parti Keadilan Rakyat adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Repeating that they have the numbers and were in no rush to replace Barisan Nasional, the former deputy prime minister said yesterday that it would all be in the timing of the announcement.

“God willing, we will be there.

  • If not next month,
  • the following month,
  • then if not June
  • or July, (it will be) on Merdeka (Aug 31)
  • or Malaysia Day.
  • I think we should not go beyond that,”

he told reporters on arrival in Sabah.

As to when exactly the announcement will be made, Anwar said discussions with the Pakatan parties were needed because Umno and Barisan were known to be rough on those intending to move.

“They are using threats and intimidation. I am for example being monitored more closely now,” said Anwar, adding that he would not be discussing with the Barisan MPs interested to move while he was in Sabah and Sarawak.

He said he has his way of discussing with Barisan MPs who have given their commitment to team up with Pakatan.

“My discussions could be done in Singapore, Abu Dhabi and Hong Kong although it might sound like a joke,” added Anwar, who thanked the Barisan MPs for their commitment to cross over. He said Pakatan was ready to take in political parties from Barisan if they subscribed to the Opposition coalition agenda for the country.

On Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman’s claim that all state leaders were loyal to Barisan, Anwar said: “He (Musa) must know that he does not have all the members he claims to hold now. If he wants to know, I can meet him privately and tell him.”

He said Sabah and Sarawak MPs were keeping the Barisan afloat but were saddened that they were not given due recognition by Umno, which was dictating terms from Kuala Lumpur.

Anwar said he was not making offers of any monetary kind or of personal positions for anyone crossing over as claimed by Barisan but was here to assure PKR’s commitment to Sabahans in addressing issues ranging from higher royalty to problems of illegal immigrants.

Anwar later spoke to a gathering at a ceramah held at the Hongkod Koissan cultural hall here and is scheduled to fly to Sarawak today.

 

Use Olympic Games to educate China

Use Olympic Games to educate China

Concerned Netizen in Malaysiakini

I refer to the Malaysiakini article Fire on the roof of the world.

I am quite alarmed at China’s response to protests held in Tibet and surrounding regions. Daily we see protests about it along the Olympic torch run, and I wonder why we don’t hear more protests here in Malaysia. The Olympic games lend an excellent opportunity for the world to pressure China to do better in its treatment of others.

Some say that such a move is politicising the Olympic games when they are only about sport. But I beg to differ as there has always been a political element in the games. That’s why countries fight so hard to host them; so that they can show off their might and economic wealth on the world stage.

That’s why these games mean so much to the Chinese government today. From the moment they were granted the right to host the games, it has been a political issue for them. It’s not really about having a good natured contest between countries.

It’s about showing off economic clout, national power and glory. Good sportsmanship, peace and harmony are a very distant second. It’s China’s coming out party and they don’t want anyone to rain on it.

If China continues to go down the path of repression and violence, I don’t believe I can honestly turn on my television set and watch the games. It would be like taking part in a glamorous party while crowds of people outside are beaten, jailed and tortured.

It simply sickens me that we can go on with these games as if nothing is happening. Which to me is giving China the message that it can continue to have it’s cake (persecuting others or support persecution) and eat it too (world influence and ascendancy).

It’s as though that many countries and athletes in the world are saying that it doesn’t matter how China conducts itself as a nation, we will continue to support them and applaud them. I sincerely hope that heads of state will boycott the opening and closing ceremonies and that athletes will take a stand and not participate in the games.

It’s definitely a sacrifice on their part, but it sends a strong and clear message that human life is valued above fame and glory. If there are other ways to apply pressure, then we should do so. Nothing will change unless there is some pain on the part of the Chinese government. A loss of ‘face’ along with economic pain just might be the catalyst to make a difference in the lives of those who face persecution daily.

I used think it was a mistake that China was given the chance to host the games, now I believe it’s a golden opportunity for world to make a difference. If we miss this opportunity, it frightens me about what things China might demand of or take from the rest of the world as they gain more economic and military might.

I’m not so sure I want a country like China to become a world power if they continue to believe that they don’t have to shoulder any of the responsibilities that come with being a world power. Do we really need another world power with the potential to abuse the rest of the world?

Fire on the roof of the World

Sim Kwang Yang in Malaysiakini

Judging from some public commentaries and private conversations among Malaysians of Chinese ethnic persuasion on the issue of Tibet, more than a few of them have embraced the monolithic narrative of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) hook, line, and sinker.

According to them, the Tibet upheaval is a matter of law and order, a series of riots by criminal elements among the local ethnic Tibetans who have been organised, trained, supervised, and probably funded by the Dalai Lama’s government in exile. In this tale, the Dalai Lama is en evil liar who would stoop so low as to tarnish the image of the Beijing Olympics just to further his cause of independence for Tibet.

This official narrative will also accuse ‘Western media” like the BBC and the CNN of trying to spread lies throughout the world about the PRC and the Tibet issue, in order to give their political masters a leverage over the PRC in all kinds of international negotiations.

Meanwhile, the whole media machinery in the PRC from the official Xinhua News Agency, the People’s Dailies, to the various CCTV stations will bombard the international airwaves with the real “facts” about China and Tibet.

Why many Malaysian Chinese will embrace such an account so uncritically is curious in itself, but that is not my concern for the moment. My central question is this: how are we going to make sense of the Tibet issue at all?

Proud coming-out party

First, we must have a standpoint, a perspective from which we can examine the whole controversy. I suggest we have to forget for the moment that we are members of any ethnic community, and forget that we may have cultural, historical, or even social relation with any nation-state of the world. This would be after the fashion of what John Rawl’s would call his “veil of ignorance”.

When we look at China thus, we find a member of the international community of nation states, fast emerging as the third largest economy of the world, with military strength to match its economic prowess, and with obvious aspiration to become a top-notch superpower of the world. The Beijing Olympic Games is their proud coming-out party.

We also find a one party state with hard totalitarian rule by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) over her 1.2 billion citizens. Like all totalitarian one party states past and present, the ruling party is equated with the government and the state.

Naturally, any criticism of the government or the ruling party is regarded as an act of treason in China. As I write, news has just reached us that the dissident Hu Jia has been sentenced to three and a half years in prison. His crime consists of giving interviews to foreign press and publishing a few articles purportedly criticising the government.

It is an understatement to say that there is little freedom of expression in the PRC. Strict censorship and the ubiquitous secret police are probably the norms.

Patriotic Chinese nationals and their sympathisers in the global Chinese Diasporas may argue that human rights and freedom of speech are not what China needs. They may further posit the view that given the convoluted historical background of modern China, their large territory, and their very complex demographical composition, they need a strong centralised government to hold everything together. The benevolent dictatorship of the CCP is the key to the economic miracle of the PRC in the last three decades.

That may, or may not, be entirely true. It does not seem that this argument can be true for eternity. But I would not get into an argument about this point, yet.

One obvious difficulty with the lack of freedom of expression in China is both immediate and critical on the issue of Tibet though.

Natural fairness

With no alternative or independent media reporting from Tibet, how are we going to verify or falsify the Chinese official version of what has happened in that relatively isolated province sitting on top of the roof of the world?

Unlike passionately patriotic Chinese citizens and their sympathisers throughout the global Chinese Diasporas, people like me around the world cannot take the words of any government in any country on their face value on mere trust alone.

There must also be many people like me who subscribe to some notion of natural fairness. In any quarrel, wither between two neighbours, or between any government and some of their people, the views of both contending parties must be given equal time and equal space in the media. The party accused of wrong doing must then enjoy their natural right for full reply in their self-defence.

That the media is dominated by the ruling BN coalition in Malaysia is the reason why I and my friends in Malaysiakini have been labouring and chiselling away at this bamboo curtain of unfair reporting. If the newly formed Pakatan Rakyat turns out to be as bad as the BN, I am sure we will also criticise them without fear or favour.

In the case of the Tibet crisis, is it not a little strange that we have heard nothing at all from those parties allegedly doing the public protests and the rioting? Is it not strange that even when a group of foreign media organisations were invited to a guided and rigidly orchestrated tour of Tibet recently, monks were still risking their lives to scream for justice for Tibetans in front of foreign cameras?

If you want to find out the other side of the story, you can go to the internet, and simply type “Tibet” on http://www.google.com. There you will find other versions of the Tibet story, especially events leading to the escape into exile of the Dalai Lama in 1959.

On March 12, 1959, when protesters marched through the streets of Lhasa, demanding Tibetan independence from Chinese rule, Chinese troops moved in. According to the Office of Tibet in London, 86,000 Tibetans were killed that day. In the days that followed, thousands of monks were executed or arrested, while many monasteries and temples were destroyed.

The overseas Tibetan websites also give many accounts of the intervening decades since then describing how the mass migration of Han Chinese into Tibet has made the Tibetans a minority in their homeland. They have described how the PRC efforts to assimilate ethnic Tibetans into the Han culture have endangered their ancient religious, social and cultural legacies.

These stories are the other side of the Tibetan coin that we hear so little about. They may or may not be entirely true, but they give us balance in our view of the current situation in Tibet. They raise the question of whether the Tibetan disturbances in recent weeks are riots or rebellions. They raise doubt that perhaps the disturbances there are not merely criminal acts threatening law and order, but courageous acts of political statement.

Much respected

Meanwhile, we have the Dalai Lama declaring that he is not seeking independence of Tibet from Chinese rule. Rather he is hoping for some degree of autonomy. He has repeatedly requested for some kind of dialogue with the Chinese government, but they seem to have brushed aside this proposal with a great show of contempt.

All along, the Dalai Lama has propagated his idea of non-violence in this political impasse. He is much respected outside China. Why, he has been awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, and of all things Western, the Nobel Award is one of the more credible institutions to the non-Chinese world. To paint him as the head of a terrorist organisation may work in the closed society within the PRC, but such demonising propaganda is a little hard for me to swallow.

The ocean of official statements and public opinions issuing forth from Mainland smacks of Cold War rhetoric. Their tone and the argument are coarse, displaying a kind of outdated worldview that borders on the hegemonic.

Lastly, there is this argument about Tibet being the internal affair of China, and the outside world has no business pitting their nose where it does not belong. I am thinking of the holocaust in Germany during WWII. Could the Nazi regime then also make a similar claim, morally?

The hard fact is that we live in an inter-connected world. China is gaining influence on the international stage. The Chinese political-economic juggernaut is spreading its wings to all parts of the developing world, scouring the globe for precious fuel and natural resources to satisfy its ravenous hunger for economic growth.

The PRC is also clamouring for a bigger say in international forum such as the many agencies of the United Nations. With greater prestige and power, comes greater responsibility, to answer to mankind for their handling of the Tibetan dilemma, and a whole host of other issues. Like all other nations on Earth, China cannot claim absolute sovereignty,

China may have looked like a First World nation in her cities like Shanghai and Beijing. But under the veneer of modernity in the coastal developed provinces, China has not yet stepped over the threshold of a Third World nation, if the handling of the Tibet crisis is anything to go by.

YES or NO? The CHOISE is yours, Myanmar voters

 YES or NO?

The CHOISE is yours, Myanmar voters

 

Malaysiakini, The power of choice Yoga Nesadurai

There are many management theories in the market place to help organisations and individuals improve. I would like to introduce a fundamental theory that is very powerful and easy to apply but often overlooked. I am talking about ‘choice’.

Webster defines choice as, ‘a selection, an alternative, the right or power to choose’.

It comes down to a very simple step – to act or not to act on the choice.

 

It represents a verb, an action, thereby giving the chooser the power to choose from a selection or if just two, an alternative.

What it ultimately points to is that the power is with you.

To make a choice, we need options.

There are times when we have no options and therefore the choice is automatic.

But in most cases we do have options available to us and I want to work through the deduction process here.

Evaluating options

Now that we have deduced options, what does evaluating our options involve? :

It requires courage and commitment to act on your choice.

 

This is the ‘locking in’ step in the ‘power of choice’ process.

This is where courage comes in. No matter what the response, I still hold on to my original intent or choice – the courage to stand by my offering and the commitment to follow through with action.

Information or an event is the stimulus that makes us take action. There are various stimuli that present themselves everyday to us. Between the stimulus and our response, lies choice!.

Attitude is our ‘way of being’ or ‘steady state’. Generally, we are all aware of our general attitude towards people and situations. Sometimes due to circumstances, like having a bad day, our attitude could vary from its natural ‘steady state’.

Where information is the stimulus that helps us derive our options, attitude is the component that helps us make the choice from our options. Attitude is therefore an important ingredient in the choices we make. It has a huge impact in making our choice and its consequences.

Making great choices

We have all made unwise choices at some point in our lives.

 

  1. It is sometimes inevitable,
  2. sometimes intentional,
  3. sometimes regrettable
  4. and sometimes transformational.

Inevitable choices are where the alternative is not a viable option. This is a case where an organisation needs to downsize, assuming all other avenues have been explored. In this instance the best thing one can do is to carry this out in the most humane manner with honesty and integrity.

Intentional choices are where you know that the alternative option is the wisest option, yet you intentionally choose the opposite option. In organisations, this is when we may bypass a certain process or person intentionally for various reasons. Or where we circumvent a certain procedure because we have the power and privilege to do so. Corruption is a classic example of the latter

Regrettable choices are where at the point of making the choice you are ‘aware’ of what the wisest choice is, however your steady state or way of being at that moment stops you from acting on it. These are usually choices made when emotions are running high, where you regret your choice as soon as have you made it or regret the choice as the words have left your mouth.

How many of us have been in this situation in the workplace and personal life? The power is still in the chooser’s hands to undo the wrong and recover the situation.

Transformational choices are what we should all be aspiring to achieve. In this instance, we take control and are accountable for making great choices. Accountability means taking responsibility for the choices made.

Even if you have made an unwise choice, you are in control to remedy it or to deal with the consequences. It is a big responsibility to be accountable, but one with many rewards when executed.

Learning to make transformational choices gives us the power to be extraordinary, therefore directly impacting you as an individual and the organisation that you represent.

Choice is an active process. It is the difference between a customer continuing to do business with your organisation versus taking their business elsewhere. Use it wisely.

 

YOGA NESADURAI is founder of O & C Advisory, which focuses on choice as a basis for leadership and organisational development and executive coaching.

 

 

My comments and advice to all the Burmese 

 

Yes the choice is yours_

There is a saying in Burmese that:

  1. If you made a wrong choice in trade (wrong choice of cargo) trip you would lose one trip or one time only.
  2. If you made a wrong choice in choosing the husband, you would lose your whole life. (Because usually Burmese practice monogamy and rarely divorce and have another marriage.)
  3. But I wish to seriously remind all of you by adding another phrase_

If you all vote wrongly in the coming referendum, the future history of our country would be gone to dogs.

Sorry for using the harsh words, proverbial jokes and defamatory jibes applied to the dogs. It may be an insult to the dog-world, who are known to love and loyal to its owners.

But Myanmar Military or Tatmadaw do not love its owner Burmese people and is not loyal to its owner, Myanmar Citizens or Pyi Thu in Burmese. Although the dog would be willing to sacrifice its life for the master Myanmar Tatmadaw is always willing to sacrifice its masters for its selfish greed of power.

Be careful, think twice before voting. This is not just an election, which consequence would for one term of government only.

This is the referendum to rubber-stamp the continuous dominance of military dictatorship in Burma/Myanmar forever…

Daw Suu, 88 Generation Students, NLD, Ethnic Minorities and opposition leaders of all the religions and races had sacrificed a lot: in the jail, tortured, some away from home and country and many had sacrificed their lives.

  •  What are you waiting for?
  • What are you scared of?
  • Are you not willing to make a minor sacrifice for your country, your race, your religion, your family, your relatives and for your future by taking a small risk of voting NO?
  • Don’t be intimidated by threats of the SPDC affiliated thugs.
  • You have shown your courage in 8888 revolution and Saffron Revolution.
  • This courage to vote is nothing when compare to the above revolutions.
  • If all the people or most of the people vote NO, what could they do?
  • Nothing at all!
  • They cannot arrest, torture or shoot and kill million of voters.
  • Just say NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! by voting NO in the coming referendum.

May you kindly allow me to refer back YOGA NESADURAI’s advice.

Please courageously make a Transformational choice by voting NO to transform our country from poor military dictatorship to truely progressive democracy.

Transformational choices are what we should all be aspiring to achieve. In this instance, we take control and are accountable for making great choices. Accountability means taking responsibility for the choices made.

Even if you have made an unwise choice, you are in control to remedy it or to deal with the consequences. It is a big responsibility to be accountable, but one with many rewards when executed.

Learning to make transformational choices gives us the power to be extraordinary, therefore directly impacting you as an individual and the organisation that you represent.

Choice is an active process. It is the difference between a customer continuing to do business with your organisation versus taking their business elsewhere. Use it wisely.

 

 

 

 

Help, not crush, Myanmar Military (to reform)

Help, not crush, Myanmar Military

(to reform)

Malaysiakini news by Soon Li Tsin

Dear Malaysiakini, reporter and Malaysiakini readers, please may all of you kindly allow me to dream as if this event is about Burma, Burmese researcher writing a book on Myanmar Military e.t.c.. I have dreamt about having an interview with DSAI and wrote more than half a dozen of articles on that subject. Please, kindly allow me to continue to dream on . . .

Modified and edited the news, “Author: Help, not crush, Umno” by Soon Li Tsin in the Malaysiakini .

I have edited and adapted to the Myanmar context from the original news article. I hope that Soon Li Tsin and Malaysiakini could understand and forgive us for this. They should even be proud that they could contribute a very good article for the fellow Myanmar/Burmese citizens.

Author and academician Dr Ooi Kee Beng said Myanmar Military should be assisted (to reform) and not crushed in its attempt to reform itself.

Launching his book entitled ‘Lost in Transition: Myanmar under Military Dictatorship’ yesterday, Ooi (photo) expressed concern over the future of Myanmar Military which may resort to fascism.

“Myanmar Military is like (Taiwan’s) Kuomintang (KMT) and other parties in the region who were responsible for independence and a lot of these parties had to reform itself like the KMT – a once dictatorial party is a totally a new party today with the same name.

“It is not given that if Myanmar Military reforms itself, it would reform like how KMT did – meaning liberalize and play the democratic game. Fascism is always close at hand.

“We don’t want that to be encouraged. We should work to not crush Myanmar Military but help it along in its reforming process,” he told the audience.

The book is a compilation of articles written by Ooi – who is a fellow at the Institute of South East Asian studies in Singapore – on SPDC Myanmar Military Junta’s governance in the last twenty years.

It is a follow up to his 2006 book, ‘Era of Transition: Myanmar After General Ne Win’ which analysed Myanmar Military and tests faced by SPDC Junta Senior General Than Shwe after taking over his predecessors General Ne Win and General Saw Maung.

Asked to explain the message in his new book, he said: “It was what I felt when I put the book together at the end of last year, that something very important was lost.

“There was hope that Myanmar could develop itself in a proper manner and we were actually already on the slippery slope and we did not see any force that could stop it,” he described.

Two main challenges

During the panel discussion, Centre for Public Initiatives Director Dr Lim Teck Ghee highlighted two main challenges for Sr General Than Shwe in light of the recent Safron Revolution and the alleged internal feud currently taking place in Myanmar Military.

“One that is most crucial is that he has to battle and isolate the extremists elements within Myanmar Military and its many faceless supporters in the Kyant Phut, Swan Arrshin, ex-Military associations, the civil service and the Myanmar community.

“These are elements that are paved with revenge – launched in a campaign that is sometimes quiet and sometimes quite loud – racial-baiting and incitement,” he explained.

“(The) second challenge is to move firmly and quickly on building a good working relationship with the NLD, Ethnic Minorities, Religious Minorities and together in taking on the scourge of corruption,” he added.

The former World Bank economist noted that Myanmar Military Generals should declare their assets, introduce policy reforms and a merit-based system in order to change the country’s economic performance.

“In theory these they should lead the way to an economic revitalization for Myanmar. The Military and ex-military (U Paine) hold more than 60 per cent of the gross national product (GNP). Investors all over the world place importance on transparency, accountability and efficiency, once they could form an Interim Government with the Daw Aung San Suu Kyi led opposition.” he said.

However he warned that the Myanmar Military can derail the true democratization by using military and its affiliated associations’ machinery, state funding and the civil service to play the “revenge, obstructionist or spoilers game”.

“I’m worried. So far the Myanmar Military has used it’s military apparatus and resources and are bent on punishing the opposition as we’ve seen from the 8888 Revolution, Depayin Massacre and Saffron Revolution to the arresting of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi led NLD leaders, Ethnic Minority leaders, 88 Generation Student leaders, monks and unarmed protesting civilians” he said.

Meanwhile, Ong said he would deliberate on setting up the fair and square, truly democratic election system despite calls from the opposition to boycott it.

Lim was joined by Malaysiakini’s editor-in-chief Steven Gan and Ooi during the panel discussion.

The book launch was officiated by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and was attended by about 8888 people.

Asia Votes for Change

Asia Votes for Change

 

Posted by Raja Petra   

By RUCHIR SHARMA, WALL STREET JOURNAL
Nowhere was this in greater display than in Malaysia’s parliamentary elections. The strong showing of the opposition in the polls stunned Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi and the vote was widely interpreted as a sign of voter disaffection with his United Malays National Organization party, which has dominated Malaysian politics since 1969.

For a region that isn’t exactly a hotbed of democracy, it’s rather remarkable that these days from Kuala Lumpur to Taipei the cocktail conversation seems to revolve only around political change. Prodded by a growing realization that the world is passing them by, voters in many of East Asia’s laggard economies are either throwing out the incumbents or engaging in protest votes against their governments.

Outside of China, economic growth in East Asia over the past few years has barely averaged 5%. That is well below the global emerging market average of 6.5% and a distant cry from the 8% to 9% expansion that was commonplace in many of these countries before the Asian financial crisis in 1997-98. Domestic demand in much of the region has since been rather moribund.

Voters are now demanding change in these countries by backing the more likely pro-growth candidates, as was the case in Taiwan last week with Ma Ying-jeou’s thumping victory and in South Korea last December with the election of Lee Myung-bak. In a similar vein, voters in Thailand and Malaysia are turning back to leaders they associate with better economic times — Thaksin Shinawatra and Anwar Ibrahim.

The trend of anti-incumbency in the region is in stark contrast to the pro-incumbency wave running through the rest of the emerging-market universe. Popularity ratings of governments from Brazil to Turkey are at record highs on the back of booming growth and inflation rates that are well below historical averages.

All of this marks a major role reversal from the previous boom in emerging markets that ended in the mid-’90s. The superstars then were the tigers of East Asia. In development economics classrooms, countries such as Thailand and Malaysia were called paragons: Their high savings rates, industrious work forces and competent management of macroeconomic policy were cited as the signposts of Asia’s dynamism and savvy. In contrast, Eastern Europe was in economic chaos and Latin American economies symbolized decadence. Now the scenario has flipped. The stars of the current emerging market bull run are countries in Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Middle East, many of which are registering robust growth rates that were once commonplace in East Asia.

[Asia Votes for Change]

Following the East Asian financial crisis, countries in much of the region focused on fortifying themselves against any external shock by building up massive foreign exchange reserves and running large current account surpluses. But in doing so, they seem to have forgotten what it takes to be growth stars. Excluding China and India, there has been little new investment in the region since 1997-98. Now there is a growing sense among voters that their governments need to redirect efforts toward jumpstarting the investment cycle and economic growth by ushering in a new set of reforms.

Mr. Ma’s success in Taiwan reflects the continued shift in local sentiment towards the more business-friendly Kuomintang Party — a trend that was first apparent in the January 2008 parliamentary elections, when the KMT won nearly three-fourths of all the seats. The Taiwanese have been increasingly coming around to the view that stronger ties with China offer the island nation the best hope of changing its lackluster growth profile. The message from the ballot box is that voters prefer more pragmatic policies and deeper commercial ties with China rather than the previous ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s confrontationist stance.

In South Korea, the new president needs to get on quickly with implementing his reformist agenda as the Koreans are in no mood to even allow him a honeymoon period. Voter impatience with a sluggish economy is captured in the latest opinion polls, which already show a sharp fall in Mr. Lee’s popularity ratings amid rising doubts over his ability to deliver on the ambitious economic program that was the centerpiece of his campaign. Mr. Lee had claimed that he would usher in policies that would raise Korea’s growth rate to 6% to 7% from the 4% average of the past few years.

In Thailand, a rather remarkable turn of events has taken place in recent months. The Bangkok elite has now reconciled itself to let former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s men run the government after forcing Mr. Thaksin himself out of office nearly two years ago. Hopes are running high that the current administration will execute an economic plan similar to Mr. Thaksin’s policies during the first two years of his term starting in 2001, when there were massive increases in government spending to improve the country’s infrastructure.

The urgency among policymakers to boost Thailand’s flagging growth is evident by the fact that the military leaders had little choice but to accept Mr. Thaksin’s de facto return to power as they had little credibility left with the populace after making a hash of managing the economy in 2006-07. This changed attitude of the authorities in the region defines a new era: the growing acknowledgment of the popular will of the people.

Nowhere was this in greater display than in Malaysia’s parliamentary elections. The strong showing of the opposition in the polls stunned Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi and the vote was widely interpreted as a sign of voter disaffection with his United Malays National Organization party, which has dominated Malaysian politics since 1969. Following the unexpected result, there were fears that the government would not tolerate a smooth handover of power in the states where the opposition won and that it may even allow racial tensions to flare to get a firmer grip on its traditional vote bank of ethnic Malays. There was also much talk of how Mr. Abdullah’s predecessor, Mahatir Mohammed, would have dealt with the electoral setback: if he was in power, he would put the main opposition leader, Mr. Anwar, behind bars again.

Instead, the transition to a more multi-polar Malaysian polity has so far been remarkably seamless and Mr. Abdullah has quickly moved to channel his energies to revitalizing the government with a cabinet makeover as a first step. Issues long considered too sensitive to broach, such as Malaysia’s affirmative action policy, are on the table, with Mr. Anwar calling for a comprehensive review. Many economists blame the New Economic Policy of 1971, which grants special rights to only ethnic Malays, as the main factor that has undermined Malaysia’s competitiveness in today’s globalized world.

Of course, in politics there is always a huge gap between promises and action. Many of the East Asian countries also face long-term structural problems, from the poor quality of human capital to their export-oriented, manufacturing-centric economic model that has outlived its time, particularly with the rise of the larger economies of China and India. Malaysia, for example, hasn’t fully capitalized on strong global growth despite exports exceeding the size of its economy, as it continues to mainly manufacture electronic goods that are now increasingly produced in lower-cost countries, such as China and Vietnam. Meanwhile, the larger and more advanced economies of Korea and Taiwan have been unable to shift to a service sector-oriented model that would have allowed them to grow at a faster rate.

Some of these factors are hard for politicians to fix in the short term and may keep a lid on the growth prospects of the region’s laggard economies for time to come. However, at the margin it has to be good news that voters in these countries are using the democratic system to at least force the political class to step up to the economic challenge.

Mr. Sharma is head of emerging markets at Morgan Stanley Investment Management.

March 27 Myanmar Military day message

  March 27 Myanmar Military day message

Modified and edited the original letter, Arrogance? Never again”, by Tanya  in the Malaysiakini .

I have edited and adapted to the Myanmar context from the original article. I hope that Tanya and Malaysiakini could understand and forgive us for this. They should even be proud that they could contribute a very good article for the fellow Myanmar/Burmese citizens.

The absolute power of the successive ruling Tatmadaw Junta Generals corrupted them absolutely and their hubris led to their downfall.

The military dictators ravaged Myanmar/Burma for over 46 years, taking away our right to free speech, instilling fear, corrupting the country to the core, and depriving us of the wealth of this country by allowing it as largesse for his cronies. The ruling top senior general’s arrogance filtered down to the `little Napoleon generals’ who outdid him in his arrogance in implementing his will.

One of the greatest crime of the Sr General Than Shwe was the crime of ‘commission by omission’. He also let his greedy family enrich themselves at the country’s expense. However, I still do think he is a cut above the diabolical council of Tatmadaw’s crooks.

Cronies sat down and wagged their tails, happy that they got the crumbs from the table.

Dear Senior General, with all the wealth that you have now, and after all these years of your so-called “service to your people and country”, did you manage to buy peace of mind and dignity in your old age?

General Ne Win was the kind of shameless and under-handed leader we have had for over twenty years. He and his band of brigand cabinet ministers rode roughshod over the people, especially the non-Burmese, very often with barely concealed contempt for them, and most often with open contempt. His was the legacy that was continued during the days of the Than Shwe.

I call on all Myanmar/Burmese citizens from today to never, never, ever again tolerate the kind of arrogance we have been subjected to all these years at the hands of these fellows who have been mistakenly thinking they are our lords and masters. From today we will reclaim our birthright, which includes the right to liberty, freedom of expression and equality before the law. And we will remind the despicable autocrats that they have been put in their positions to serve and deliver, as our servants. They will listen when we speak our minds.

Tatmadaw Yebaws or military rank and file have been made pawns in the game played by these heartless; morally bankrupt generals, solely for the purpose of enriching and empowering themselves.

I am saying this from the bottom of my heart: if the Tatmadaw wants to be a strong and respected force that counts on the global stage, if they want their progeny to be a generation of winners, then they don’t need such generals. All they need is to believe in themselves, claim their pride and dignity, and compete on a level playing field with the civilians. I sincerely believe they can do this. Just go for it.

Most crucial at this juncture is that the delicate balance of racial and religious harmony is maintained. Without that everything else will be futile.

The Myanmar Tatmadaw will go all out to turn the Bamas against the other races. They must never succeed in this. Let us not be deceived by the Tatmadaw generals’ lies and start to distrust each other. If we work for the common good, we can ensure that all of us, will prosper. Isn’t that what we all want?

I would like to exhort all Tatmadaw rank and files not to let these evil generals poison your minds against the other minority races and minority religious persons.

If we let those generals win at their game we will all become abject losers. Above all, let us all have generous hearts. Let us not believe in the adage ‘beggar thy neighbour’. On the contrary let us believe in ‘prosper thy neighbour’. Together we will prevail.

Note: Rank and file (Idiom) =

  • Followers,
  • the general membership.

This expression comes from the military, where_

  • a rank denotes soldiers standing side by side in a row,
  • and file refers to soldiers standing behind one another.

The first recorded figurative use of this term was in 1860. 

e.g. This new senator really appeals to the rank and file in the labor unions.