2009 Web Specials

Asean member states have failed to acknowledge the root cause of Rohingya rights violations, namely the systemic discrimination faced by the Rohingya inside Myanmar. As long as this systemic persecution is not sufficiently addressed through viable policy initiatives by Asean states, the number of asylum seekers will continue to escalate, says Caram Asia.

Malaysia will have its sixth prime minister on April 3, 2009 in the person of Najib Abdul Razak, the new President of the United Malays National Organisation (Umno). But what sort of Malaysia can one expect under Najib? He is after all the son of the highly revered Tun Abdul Razak, who steered Malaysia through its troubled racial divisions and delivered ‘development’ to a fledging Malay-run democratic state – the only one of its kind in the world.  Will history repeat itself and will son, like father, take the country to greater heights? Johan Saravanamuttu  has his doubts.

Faced with an economic crisis of gargantuan proportions, we are a nation in denial and unable to address the realities of the world face-to-face. Running to the bomoh and hiding behind the rhetoric of racial exclusivism are the same thing: A pathetic attempt to escape from the real issues that may make or break this nation, writes Farish Noor.

More than 1,000 representatives of civil society groups from the Asean region came together in Bangkok in February to express their desire and commitment to work towards a people-centred Asean Community that promotes justice and human rights.

We, the undersigned organisations, wish to express our support for the development of a regional solution to the plight of the Rohingya that is founded upon a respect for their rights and draws upon the support of the international community.  However, we are concerned that while regional solutions have been discussed, including at the recent Asean summit, some of the proposals suggested to date and some of the recent actions towards the Rohingya are in violation of their rights.

While we all celebrate the wonderfully diverse and colourful plural world we live in today, let us not fall too much for the special effects: cultural diversity and pluralism are sociological realities but they are also backed up by very real power differentials that can spell negative consequences for women and minorities in particular, observes Farish A Noor. A celebration of pluralism does not necessarily mean the tacit acceptance of the injustices that accompany such differences too.

There is a shrinking group of free people, people who believe in a context with everyone’s equal worth. This group still dreams about a society where everyone is included and for this, one is prepared to struggle, says Mats Svensson.