A countries development is often considered as being advanced if the economic sector is sophisticated and successful on the long-run. Cambodia is still considered to be a developing country as earlier events in history were dominated by regional economic crises, political infighting and civil violence. This had a major influence on the country’s economic development; as stated by Economy Watch, tourism and foreign investments faced major setbacks due to the crises in the late 90´s. The challenge for Cambodia now is to achieve sustained economic long-term growth, by keeping productivity high and exploit new resources that can benefit the country.
The global recession in 2008 had a major impact on Cambodia´s economy as the per capita income is lower compared to neighboring countries. Further a demographic change over the last decades resulted in a majority of the population being under the age of 21, which means that there is a negative imbalance and the level of education is extremely low. But it also has to be stated that Cambodia made incredible progress over the course of the last two decades. As remarked by the Worldbank, Cambodia has made great progress with regard to peace and stability, healthcare and economic growth despite the challenges. However, Cambodia´s economy is dependent on primary products, which means being too focused on few industry sectors that make the country vulnerable to negative developments in those one-sided areas. Further the rice sector in Cambodia faces productivity and infrastructure problems that keep them from reaching their full potential in production. Read the rest of this entry »
There is an unusual sight that can be found if someone was to enter any cathedral nowadays, at the time of the mid-term elections, somewhere on the Philippines. The eye is caught by huge red and black banners asking the faithful Catholic community to choose between “Team Life” and “Team Death”. It was Bishop Vicente Navarra of Bacolod City in the central Philippines who coined the terms. The Catholic priest says the very soul of the nation would be at stake since a birth-control law was passed last year making it possible for the population to receive state subsidized contraceptives.
Condemned by the Catholic Church: Contraceptives and sex education
The issue at hand has is that in the past the church has through the Catholic teachings and a great impact on political decision making prevented thus far a law lake this. Bishop Navarra said that birth control was only the beginning and divorce, euthanasia, abortion and homosexual marriages will follow. Any politician who voted for the reproductive health legislation in the Philippines, known as the RH bill, was put on the list of “Team Death” by the church and every one voted against it belongs to “Team Life”. In fact the church has before 2012 successfully for a decade prevented the government from passing such a law. Read the rest of this entry »
Cambodia has experienced dreadful human rights records over the course of the last thirty years. The worst period was between 1975 and 1979 under the Communist Party of Kampuchea, the “Khmer Rouge”, who carried out crimes against humanity on a scale that left more than one quarter of the population dead. According to Craig Etcheson of the Equipa Nizkor, an international organization working for the respect and promotion of human rights in different topics and areas, the situation has improved markedly in Cambodia after the overthrow of the Khmer Rouge regime. However, although the Cambodian government has ratified 13 human rights instruments and the Constitution has incorporated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the impact of the 70’s still remains visible. Unfortunately, improvement has been unsteady and relative and a wide range of human rights abuses are often committed by State personnel. In November 2012 Cambodia signed the “ASEAN Human Rights Declaration”, which caused many concerns to human rights groups worldwide. The declaration seems to be incomplete since it misses out fundamental human rights. Read the rest of this entry »
In about a month it will be known what the Malaysian population put on these papers.
The time has come that the government of Malaysia has dissolved the parliament and new elections are expected be held in the end of April, according to The Guardian. What makes this year’s election interesting is that for the first time since Malaysia’s independency from the United Kingdom in 1957, the opposition has a real chance to win. The coalition nowadays known as the National Front won every election in the country’s history so far. But it seems as if the opposition has gained much more support over the past years. An example is a student from the University of Malay, quoted in an article in the Deutsche Welle: “I want change! I want a better future for me and my generation!” Read the rest of this entry »
On March 5, Venezuelan Vice President Nicholas Maduro announced that President Hugo Chavez, nicknamed “the phoenix”, died at the age of 58, as a result of cancer.
Chavez has been considered a “brave innovator” by many citizens in the country, especially the people at the lower end of society. He argued that Venezuela had to follow its own characteristic way for development, neither the “unrealistic” communism, nor the “savage” capitalism. In other words, in the wave of globalization, Chavez’s plan for Venezuela was that it should cooperate with other counties properly, but also ensure the Venezuelan own national characteristics would not be influenced by outsiders. Read the rest of this entry »
Vice president of China, Xi Jinping is set to be the new leader of the People’s Republic of China.
After China’s Communist Congress meeting in Beijing on 6th March, Mr. Xi Jinping, formerly China’s vice president, took over from Hu Jintao as president of China, he is set to be a new generation of leader in China. As the new president of the People’s Republic of China, Xi recently stated several essential points regarding the new government’s reform policies in terms of economic development, anti-corruption, diplomatic policies in relation to US and other Asian countries such as Japan and the Philippines. Read the rest of this entry »
President Barack Obama is visiting Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia from November 18 to 20. The re-elected President, missionary for democracy, is arriving to the ASEAN member states in Bangkok on November 18. For Thailand, this is the latest visit of the President of the United States since President Bush’s arrival in 2008.
President Obama arriving at Donmuang Airport in Bangkok on November 18
As Thailand’s nation is exited to welcome the President of the United States to its capital, Mr. Obama is scheduled to discuss bilateral and multilateral issues and hold talks with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, visit the Wat Pho Royal Monastery and attend a royal audience with King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
“The visit by the US president will help reaffirm Thailand’s position in the international arena”, Thailand’s Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said in the Bangkok Post’s article “Obama prepares to make historic trip to Myanmar” on November 11. After all, the United States of America and Thailand can look back on 180 years of common international relations.
President Obama’s visit to Thailand does not last longer than 18 hours. Seen from the US’s side of view though, the visit is a “gesture of friendship to a long-standing partner and major non-NATO ally”, ABC News states in its article “Obama, on Asia Trip, First Pays Visit to Thailand” on November 17.
A State visit in Asia, two weeks after the elections – could there be another motivation for Obama’s appearance in Asia?
While Thailand is one of the America’s oldest allies in Asia and has been a stop for American commanders in chief since the mid-1960s, no U.S. president has ever visited Cambodia or Myanmar.
Excitement of Myanmar’s citizens for the President of the United States
The visit draws attention to the country’s shift to democracy and highlights what Mr. Obama’s administration regards as a marquee foreign policy achievement.
President Obama’s travel to Myanmar stands in spotlight during his visit to Asia. As the country is emerging from five decades of ruinous military rule, Myanmar’s government has announced the visit of the President of the United States with “warm welcomes”.
On November 19, President Obama will meet up with President Thein Sein, and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. President Obama is also intended to speak to civil society, to encourage Myanmar’s ongoing democratic transition. “President Thein Sein fully believes that the trip of President Obama will push the momentum of the process of democratic reform”, Government spokesman Maj Zaw Htay was cited by Bangkok Post.
Not so long ago, and earlier in his governmental period, President Obama suspended the long-standing sanctions on Myanmar, to reward the country for political prisoner releases and Mrs. Suu Kyi’s election to parliament.
“If Burma can continue to succeed in a democratic transition, then that can potentially send a powerful message regionally and around the world…that if countries do take the right decisions, we have to be there with incentives,” national deputy security adviser Ben Rhodes was cited of ABC News on November 17. Since the lifting of the American sanctions, international cooperation’s have begun to vie for a share of an expected economic boom in the long-isolated and highly profitable nation. Especially American companies, such as Coca Cola, are on the hunt for a new profitable domestic market. In the meantime, the United States has appointed a full ambassador for Myanmar, to visualize their influence.
With his travel to Cambodia on November 20, President Obama will meet with leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Phnom Penh. ASEAN is an association of ten member states, with a GDP of approximately US$ 2 trillion in 2011, an economically profitable and growing trading partner, for both not member states, China and the United States.
China though is still the economic leader and the driving force in Asia, and therefore direct competitor to the United States’ economy and trade, on a global level.
“Main core for the United States will be to reaffirm US engagement as an Asia-Pacific power in regional affairs”, a former international economics adviser to Mr. Obama said in the Bangkok Post.
According to ABC News and CNBC, “President Obama seeks to recalibrate U.S. economic and security commitments to counter China’s influence (in Asia)”. As the United States happens to be Thailand’s third biggest trading partner behind China and Japan, “becoming a counterweight to China in the region is a keystone of Obama’s so-called pivot to the Asia-Pacific region”. The articles were published on November 17 and 18.
The reason for President Obamas appearance in Asia is therefore less to congratulate Myanmar’s political reforms for democracy, but more to increase influence and renew the trading agreements with both states, Thailand and Myanmar, to shrink influence of China.
As “the Obama administration regards the political changes in Myanmar as one that could dilute the influence of China, in a country that has a strategic location between South Asia and Southeast Asia. Both regions of growing economic importance.”
China’s top legislator Wu Bangguo has been visiting Myanmar on September 12. Let’s see when China will send another deputy to Myanmar next, to strengthen influence on the country after Obama’s visit.
The tragedy of Vorayuth Yoovidhya, an heir of the Red Bull creator, has been all over the news. The 27-year old grandson was accused of killing a police officer in a road accident, and leaving the crime scene absconding.
Vorayuth Yoovidhya and his Ferrari FF after the accident in Bangkok
According to the Bangkok Posts article “Inquiry finds cop was rammed from behind”, published on the 6th September 2012, a forensic investigation has found out that the police officer was hit on his motorbike by Yoovidhya’s Ferrari from the rear. The body of the police men hit the windshield before falling on the road and the car dragged the motorbike for about 100 meters.
The police caught Yoovidhya later, by following the trail of oil of his Ferrari back to his family’s mansion in a wealthy neighborhood of Bangkok. He has been arrested for “causing death by reckless driving and escaping arrest by the police”. Charges could carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail. Yet, it is not clearly stated whether his behavior was influenced by drunk-driving or not. Nonetheless, Yoovidhya has been released for 500.000 Baht (12.500EUR) on bail. Yoovidhya’s family is one of the richest in Thailand. “As long as you are rich and powerful, you can get away with everything,” the 40-year-old Ubonwan Weeyanond was cited by the BBC News. “I do not believe in Thai justice, it only is a privilege for the rich, not for poor people.” Banner headlines like Yoovidhyas and responds of the population displays Thailand’s ongoing struggles with corruption. Read the rest of this entry »
“A dictatorship is evil and a democracy is the highest form of civilized government!” Something like that most people would say if asked to compare the two. But is that really true and aren’t there any disadvantages of a democracy or advantages of a dictatorship respectively?
The Acropolis in Athen, Greece. Athen is known as the cradle of democracy (594 B.C.)
Democracy has been defined as the government of the people, for the people, by the people (Lincoln, 1863). Such a government is formed through elections in which the adult citizens of a county cast vote to elect their representatives. Thus, in a way, the government is ruled by the citizens of the country. A dictatorship in contrast is that form of government in which there is centralization of power. All power rests in the hands of one single individual or within a single party. The people have no or only very limited say in the matters of government.
In order to evaluate a governmental form one should first think about the question what a government is for and what attributes can be used to assess its usefulness. What comes to mind first is that a government is actually not more than a tool to facilitate the will and to stand in for the rights of the people, thus the power should be with the people, e.g. in terms of freedom, liberty, equality and opportunities. In this respect the democracy is obviously the better system, because if the people are not in consent with the government, they can raise their voices through various platforms, such as the media, and make changes as drastic as new elections for a new government. However, success or failure of a democracy depends on the voter. If the voters are educated and enlightened, then only will they vote to elect capable men. If they are ignorant they will vote for undesirable persons. So a democracy must not lead to the best government and further minorities are in danger to be leaved out. In a dictatorship, however, the attempt to facilitate the will and to stand in for the rights of the people is even more in question, as the people in a dictatorship are expected just to follow and never to question.
Never the less in two other categories to evaluate a governmental form the democracy has to admit defeat against dictatorship. When it comes to stability of the government the dictatorship is ahead as there is no other alternative to the government in a dictatorship, combined with the people having no rights to choose their leaders, problems such as re-elections or people revolting against the government do seldom arise, if however then often this leads to violence as recent history proofed (Arab Spring). The next category in which a dictatorship is truly superior to democracy is efficiency. The decision-making process in a dictatorship lies with just one or a small group of people, thus not much time is wasted in debating over passing regulations, making amendments in law or coming to decisions in case of an emergency.
Considering these advantages dictatorship has quite some arguments to be better as a democracy, however, only if applied by the right group or person for a short period time or during special circumstances, e.g. during war. Nonetheless I guess most readers will share my personal preference of democracy as the more desirable goal of a government as it values the principles of human rights to a larger extent.
The Economist Intelligence Unit Democracy index map for 2011, with greener colors representing more democratic countries. Countries in dark red are clearly authoritarian (note: Burma has changed since 2011).
The Economist Intelligence Unit Democracy index map for 2011, with greener colors representing more democratic countries. Countries in dark red are clearly authoritarian (Burma has changed since 2011).
Now it is official, Vladimir Putin was elected for the third time as President of Russia. Putin III. After two consecutive terms as President from 2000 to 2008 and a four years term as Prime Minister from 2008 to 2012 he is back to lead Russia for another six years. With this result he is effectively 18 years in power and worked his way around the constitution which entails that one can only be for two consecutive terms in power and that in the light of that no one really doubts that Dmitry Medvedev, president from 2008 till today, was more than just a placeholder for Putin.