Statue of Buddha in Ayutthaya, the former capital of Thailand
The quote above is derived from one of the most famous men in history- Buddha. Buddhists believe that nothing in the world is fixed or permanent; instead a change is always possible and not necessarily something negative.
Buddhism is about 2,500 years old according to BBC- Religion (2009). It is based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, known as the Buddha, who aimed to find the key to human happiness. Buddhism is perceived as religion by some people whereas others perceive it as a philosophy. It teaches that every life on earth is interconnected. Additionally, it is concerned with personal spiritual development and the deep insight in the nature of life. Unlike other religions, Buddhists do not believe in a God. The enlightenment of a Buddhist can be reached through meditation, the development of morality and wisdom (BBC Religion, 2009). The four noble truths that were taught by Buddha are the basis of meditation: Read the rest of this entry »
“We hope this will be the beginning of a new era.”- Aung San Suu Kyi about the by- elections
Aung San Suu Kyi- The Lady- 22 years under house arrest
April 1st – a milestone in the history of Myanmar (Burma). Aung San Suu Kyi, the pro- democratic leader of the National league for Democracy party (NLD) and a significant women in Myanmar, won approximately 99% of the votes in the by- elections of Myanmar according to Bangkok Post (2012). 45 mandates were assigned in the by-elections and the NDL claims to have at least 43 seats. It is the first time in history that Aung San Suu Kyi had won a seat in the parliament after a turbulent past. Besides, she spent almost 22 years under house arrest imposed by the previous military junta (If you want to read more about her have a look here). The official results of the elections will be announced within this week.
In 1948, Burma became independent from the British thanks to Aung San, the father of Aung San Suu Kyi, who fought for Burma’s independence. A constitutional period followed but a military coup changed the political system in 1962 and a military government started to rule Myanmar. After civil unrest and a military crackdown in 1988, the government agreed on democratic elections in 1990. In the same year Aung San Suu Kyi gave her first political speech.
Aung San Suu Kyi speaks to her supporters after the by-elections
In 1990, the NLD won the elections, but the victory was not recognized by the government. They declared the elections as invalid thus the military regime continued suppressing the population and arresting political activists. The protests persisted the years afterwards and reached their peak in 2007, resulting in another military crackdown. As a result, pro regime members started to create a new constitution planning elections for 2010 while still ruling under martial law without the permission of free debates. Two years ago, in 2010, the military appointed head of the Union Solidarity and Development Party, Thein Sein, as prime minister. Furthermore, the next general elections will take place in 2015.
Considering the history, the reasons for civil unrest were the disregard of human rights by the military regime such as the lack of freedom of speech. Furthermore, political prisoners were tortured, demonstrators were killed and people were sexually abused. Consequently, the military ruled in their own interest without regard to the securities and benefits for the population. An example for a lack of support was reflected after the natural disaster in 2008 when a cyclone hit Burma. The government refused to provide support for the population and blocked initially international aid and assistance after the catastrophic destruction.
The political situation changed last year, when the military junta handed the power to a civil government, because of the increasing protests of the population against the regime. Several reforms were implemented by the new government, such as, the release of political prisoners and activists who were arrested because they spoke out against the political system. Further reforms are planned in order to move into a more democratic direction. It is assumed that the new civil government aimed to let Aung San Suu Kyi win the by- elections, in order to be perceived as democratic by the international community. This leads to the overall goal to release Western sanctions in order to start trading with the West and become economically more powerful in the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations). Even the ASEAN members demanded a lifting of Western sanctions in Myanmar according to Channel New Asia (2012).
This time, the election process appeared to be more transparent compared to 1990 when it was not allowed for journalists and foreign observers to witness the polls. This year election observers were sent by ASEAN to monitor the election process. Nevertheless, the elections were not perceived as fair by some citizens who claimed that their names were missing on the voting list according to BBC News (2012). Moreover, some irregularities were detected and wax was discovered on the ballot papers over the check box of the NPD – possibly to be able to rub of the vote in the end to falsify the election result. This raises the question if the ballot papers were manipulated and if the election results might not reflect the real outcome.
How does the future of the next generation look like? A child in the with the flag in the colors of the NLD
After such a long ruling period of the military it remains unclear if the current parliament can be perceived as completely new and democratic. It is a positive development that Aung San Suu Kyi enters the parliament for the first time with her democratic party. However, it is not certain in how far the military is still ruling in the background and influencing politics in their own interests.The Telegraph even describes the military as still being “firmly in control” (2012). Consequently, the civilian government that accepted power last year might be a “smoke screen” for the previous rulers to hide behind and to let the international community perceive Myanmar as democratic. The military appointees maintain still one quarter of the parliamentary seats and consequently have the power to influence the government in their own interests.
It is questionable if the NPD can bring a change in Myanmar but at least the victory of the by- elections can be seen as a positive starting point in a democratic direction. Perhaps it is a destiny that “The Lady”, daughter of the independence leader Aung San, receives the chance to make a difference in Myanmar. She has the opportunity to fight against the violation of human rights and to introduce democracy in a country that was oppressed by the government for over five centuries. Perhaps she will ascend the throne in 2015 when the next general elections take place.
“Maoist rebels free Italian hostage as goodwill gesture; 2 still held” (Washington Times, 25th of March)
“A landmine explosion in the western Indian state of Maharashtra has killed at least 15 policemen, officials say” (BBC, 27th of March)
Areas in which the Maoists are operating
Since two weeks, international newspapers are publishing numerous articles about the Maoists in India. What is the reason for this high news coverage about this insurgency group in India? The awareness for this subject increased when two Italian men were taken hostage on March 14 by the Indian Maoists. Both of them, a 54 year old travel entrepreneur who has been living in India for more than ten years and a 61 year old tourist, were wandering through the East Indian jungle in the state Odisha (Orissa) when they were caught by Maoists.
The fight between Maoists and the Indian national paramilitary started in the 1960s. The Maoist rebels are in control of a large area in India also referred to as the “red corridor” ranging from northeast to central India. They fight against the Indian government with the objective to achieve communism and more rights for the rural poor and tribal people in India. Read the rest of this entry »
Why is it crucial to conduct census around the world? The answer to this question is rather simple when looking at the demographic and socio economic changes in each country. Countries are constantly developing, changing and growing. Therefore it is a necessity for governments to predict these changes in order to plan beforehand and to be prepared for alterations. The overall intention of collecting population data is to plan home construction, infrastructure and the building of schools, retirement homes, hospitals etc.
More people in India possess a mobile phone than a toilet
Besides, some government makes use of census data in order to calculate the budget of certain areas such as in Germany where the budget of the federal states is based on the inhabitants in this area. In the economic field censuses are important to calculate the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for instance since this is calculated on the basis of the amount of people. Finally, censuses can give information about the poverty, the progress over the years of a country and the living standards as the recent census of India reveals.
The Indian census results from 2011 were published last week and were extensively discussed by several newspapers worldwide. The most striking fact is that more Indian people are in the possession of a mobile phone than a toilet.
The survey outcome is divided into rural and urban areas and can be accessed via the official website of the census (see: here), released by the government of India. It represents the economic growth of India on the one hand, especially in the cities, and the unequal distribution of wealth on the other hand, particularly with regard to the countryside. Cause of this occurrence is the migration of citizens from rural areas into the bigger cities such as Bangalore. Read the rest of this entry »
“Gender equality must become a lived reality” (Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of UN Women)
The statement above was made by the Excecutive Director of UN Women, Michelle Bachelet. UN Women is an entity of the United Nations which was founded in 2010 by the General Assembly with the aim to increase gender equality and to increase empowerment of women in the world. The quote on top highlights the gap between gender equality as a human right in theory and the actual implementation of equality in practice. Read the rest of this entry »
Two weeks ago, on Tuesday, the 28th of February a pedophilic network was shut down by the Thai police. The website that was detected contained pornographic images of children younger than eight. Besides, suggestions about how to best access children in Thailand were discussed between the users. The owner of the website which was called Khon Rak Dekh (“Love children”) is now target of the investigation. This is only one of the few evidences that there is a market for prostitution in Thailand. Consequently, there is an urgent need to monitor this kind of websites and adopt measurements against people publishing such pornographic material. Shutting down pornographic webpages is a first step in the right direction and the responsibility of governments. However, this incident shows an increasing need to fight against prostitution and child exploitation. This is not only the responsibility of the government in Thailand but also of the tourism industry to take preventive action. Read the rest of this entry »
A smouldering trade war between the European Union and other countries like China, Russia and the U.S. threatens the airline industry. Since January 2012, the European Union, in an effort to reduce the impact of aviation on climate change, has focused on the implementation of the European Trading Scheme. This means all airlines using European airspace or landing at European destinations will need to limit carbon emission or trade in emission allowances. Unfortunately, not everyone approves of this approach.
The European Trading Scheme (ETS) based on the “cap and trade” principle was launched in 2005 to help fight climate change. The “cap” refers to the free emission allowances companies receive which limits the greenhouse gases the companies, factories and power plants may generate. The ETS is aimed at ensuring that all companies, which since January 2012 includes airlines both domestic and foreign on all flights crossing European airspace, do not produce more emissions than their allowances permit. At the end of each year, all companies’ allowances must cover the emissions generated, otherwise a fine is imposed. Read the rest of this entry »
A village chief was shot in Narathiwat six days ago, a soldier that was responsible to protect teachers in Yala was injured by a bomb explosion three days ago and a hospital director was killed in Pattani yesterday…
Pattani: No scruples- a Buddhist teacher was shot by Muslim insurgents in 2010
Looking at the Thai news, one can notice that almost every day people are being killed or injured due to terrorist attacks in South Thailand. Federal Foreign Offices around the world warn tourists to visit these areas because of mortal danger. The questions that remain are: Why does this happen and why is nobody able to stop the violence? Read the rest of this entry »
“The struggle for democracy and human rights in Burma is a struggle for life and dignity. It is a struggle that encompasses our political, social and economic aspirations.” (Aung San Suu Kyi)
Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi was born in Myanmar (also known as Burma), in 1945. She is known for receiving the human rights price presented by the European Parliament in 1990– one year later she was awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize by the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
Aung San Suu Kyi is the daughter of General Aung San, an independence fighter who was killed when Suu Kyi was two years old. In 1969, she went to India as her mother was assigned to be the ambassador of Burma in Delhi. As a result, Aung San Suu Kyi completed her high school in New Delhi. Doing her philosophy, economics and politics studies at Oxford University, United Kingdom, in 1967, Aung San Suu Kyi had the best possible qualifications to bring a change in her home country Burma. She met her future husband academic Michael Aris in Oxford with whom she has two children. Besides, she worked as an assistant secretary for the United Nations in New York and became a Research Officer in the Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1972. As if this wouldn’t be enough, Aung San Suu Kyi constantly tried to gain more knowledge by joining Oriental and African Studies in London in 1987. Read the rest of this entry »
The Maldives- a group of islands located in the Indian Ocean, the Southeast of Asia. The water is clear, the sun is shining- a paradise for tourists. However, currently the nice atmosphere is overshadowed by the political situation which is full of tensions and changes due to an attempted coup and the resignation of the Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed.
Maumoon Abdul Gayoom
In the past, the Maldives were governed by the autocratic president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, founder of the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), for 30 years. Gayoom used to be Asians longest ruling president posessing unlimited power and authority and reigning as a dictator. It is assumed that he is responsible for the attempted coup. He had to give up his post in 2008 due to the election of Mohamed Nasheed, president of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), and could not deal with his defeat. Since this event he constantly tried to interfere the work of the present government with intimidation delegates, corruption allegations and vote buying. This led to mutual accusations of the political parties as well as political instability. Read the rest of this entry »