Image credit: Noel Reynolds
Hugh Jorgensen reflects on Asian Century fever. In Singapore. Over a melon juice with his grandfather.
A certain kind of Australian will jump at the chance to tell you that visiting Singapore does not qualify as an ‘authentic’ Asian experience (as compared to getting baked on some ‘glorious’ poverty-stricken patch of mine-laden beachhead in Burma). Although this is true in a sense, it is only because reducing the sprawling landmass of Asia, home to over four billion people, to any single ‘authentic’ locale or uniform brand of cultural, political or economic philosophy, is patently ridiculous. Read more
Image credit: iamdabe
Isuru Devendra makes the case for an all-liberal Australian trade approach in this 21st Asian Century
In the early part of the 21st century we have undoubtedly witnessed a significant shift in the balance within the global economy. The rise of China and India has been prolific, along with the significant growth experienced across the entire Asian region. As the President of the Asian Development Bank put it, “the centre of economic gravity appears to be shifting toward Asia”. Read more
Muilin Cherdjareewatananun explores the evolution of Thailand’s coloured shirts movement and considers ways forward for the country’s tired democracy
The word “Thailand” is directly translated in Thai as “land of peace, freedom, and independence”. Indeed Thailand has relished its independence since the height of colonisation, when neighbours such as Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, and Malaysia were still occupied and ruled by Western countries. Yet at age 80, having weathered 18 military coups and the ongoing turbulence of constant constitutional reforms, Thailand’s democracy is showing signs of ageing. Core democratic institutions are waning, not because of foreign invasions, but rather at the will of Thailand’s own agents in colours. By airport closures and the shutting down of Bangkok’s Radjaprasong business district from 2008 to 2010, the yellow and red shirts crippled more than just Thailand’s tourism industry. Read more
Jayson McNamara recalls the Myanmar of just yesterday and cautions against an overly optimistic approach to democracy-dawns in the Asian Century.
Rangoon, October 2007. Late one evening, inside a semi-clandestine kiosk, a frightened Australian woman thrusts herself into the corner, wrapping her arms around her legs, shaking, and sliding downwards in the hope she might disappear into the store’s most invisible crevice. She had been venturing home in the dark, well aware of the ire of the streets of Myanmar during its ‘Saffron Revolution’ of 2007. At a corner she turned to witness the massacre of three monks. She recalls several gunshots, and then silence. Hours later, the owners of a small kiosk found the woman hiding in what was the lower level of their apartment. She is taken to her home where, soon after, she packs her belongings and plans to leave the country. Read more
Rebecca Morehouse explores the seedy underbelly of human trafficking.
Asia is without doubt leading an international order power shift in historically unique terms. As international relations academic David Lundberg hypothesises, “the principal arenas of global major power competition in the 21st century will be economic, not military.” Notwithstanding these economic strides, parallels in social progress have not always eventuated. Indeed, with the limelight on profits first, social considerations have arguably been secondary in policy-making, and at times disappeared from view altogether. One example of this imbalance is human trafficking. Read more
Image credit: Grant
Alice Brabazon reflects on her recent trip to WorldMUN 2012 in Vancouver, where she participated in a simulation of the Paris Peace Accords. Alice represented the United States as Henry Cabot Lodge, chief US negotiator, and later as Donald Rumsfeld, US Secretary of Defense.
The Accords, held in Paris between 1968 and 1971, were established with the goal of ending the conflict in Vietnam, by drafting the terms of a ceasefire and a long-term peace plan. Present at the negotiating table were representatives from the United States of America, the Republic of Vietnam, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, the National Liberation Front and, for the Vancouver simulation, a group of advisors from the Soviet Union. Read more
Fisheries Minister of the Maldives signing the 350 declaration during the underwater cabinet meeting. Image credit: 350.org
Alana Valero delves into the very political topic of climate refugees.
The challenge posed by climate change is one that is pressing and international in scope. According to the Environmental Justice Foundation currently there are 20 million people classified as climate refugees, and climate change may force nearly 150 million climate refugees to move by 2050. Read more
Jack Greig, who recently spent time in the United States, writes about the year that was, American decline, and examines the role of the proverbial new kids on the bloc: Brazil, India, China and Russia, and South Africa.
“The World has never been as divided as it is now, what with religious wars, genocides, a lack of respect for the planet, economic crises, depression, poverty, with everyone wanting instant solutions to at least some of the world’s problems or their own.” Paulo Coelho’s summation of the past decade is bleak, but he isn’t too far off. Read more
Image: Moritz Siebert
Stuart Wilkinson turns a critical eye to the trade in Bluefin Tuna, the most hunted fish on the planet, and discovers that illegal fishing is big money. Unfortunately, the waters of war torn Libya have proven no exception.
There is a low hum of anticipation in the Tsukiji market as the crowd eagerly awaits the next bid. Restless punters murmur to one another, speculating on the quality of the product. The auctioneer’s gavel comes down hard on the block, splitting the crisp morning air. One fish has just sold for 60,000 US dollars and, for the locals, it’s business as usual.
Image credit: CIMMYT, The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center
David Murray takes a critical look at the issue of food security and the role of the private sector.
In the corridors of humanitarian organisations worldwide, there exists an oft-quoted proverb: If you give a man a fish you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime. Despite the cliché, this sentiment has gathered increasing traction through today’s development policies aimed at harnessing global food security. Read more