Thursday, July 28, 2016

Fear and Timidity in the Pacific - Everyone's Being Bullied

Malaskini on how 1MDB, Najib's other abuses rob new security laws of legitimacy
Our main fear is that the NSC Act will be misused against the opposition and dissenting voices. We are almost certain that, somehow and sometime in the near future, it would lead to this type of abuse in order keep the present government in power. We are almost certain this law will eventually be used to silence government critics by detaining them. 
What is most important and interesting is that the Conference of Rulers in February 2016 had asked Najib's government to refine and review the NSC Act that was submitted to the Rulers for their consent. The Majlis Raja-Raja Melayu is not happy and is worried about the NSC in its present form. However, Najib completely ignored the request and went ahead, gazetting it as law without any amendment. 
Malaysia is already besieged with various controversies and the 1MDB scandal has blown out in a big way, internationally. We fear for our country and our future.Is the NSC really to combat terrorism or is it to strike terror into the hearts and minds of the normal citizens?

19 Indonesian academics kindly ask Jokowi, ASEAN to Grow a Pair on #SouthChinaSea
3. We would like to remind all parties of the importance of ASEAN and its institutions, particularly the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) in Southeast Asia renouncing the threat or use of force, of which all ASEAN members and their partners, including China and the United States, are signatory parties. The TAC has been one of the strategic foundations for all other regional instruments of managing peace and stability in the region, including the ongoing ASEAN-China framework of completing a legally-binding Code of Conduct (CoC) based on the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DoC). 
4. We are cognisant of ASEAN’s dimming lights and growing marginalisation in managing the tension in the South China Sea, which may worsen as the Tribunal’s ruling could inspire less, not more, confidence in the grouping’s centrality. Recent media reports that China has been pressuring ASEAN states to thwart a common regional position has not helped as well. We remain confident, however, in the assessment that, over the long run, ASEAN and its institutions represent the best regional framework to sustain and deepen the strategic space required to peacefully manage tensions as a prerequisite to any peaceful negotiations. 
5. It is our opinion that a reinvigorated Indonesian leadership is the key to ASEAN’s revived centrality in managing the South China Sea. As such, while we support the general sentiment of maintaining peace behind the Indonesian foreign ministry’s response to the ruling, we would like to call on President Joko Widodo to fully support and mobilise the entire foreign policy establishment to play a more proactive, consistent, and productive leadership in ASEAN’s management of the South China Sea issue. As the region continues to undergo a period of strategic flux, especially after the Tribunal’s ruling, there is no better time for Indonesia to demonstrate its commitment to a rules-based order and an ASEAN-led regional architecture.

Civil Beat on Hawaii's Totem Pole Politics:
Christensen talks a good game, although it’s often short on specifics. The lack of detail isn’t surprising given that Christensen is a newcomer to Hawaii politics. He’s never held elected office. University of Hawaii political science professor Colin Moore said Christensen’s lack of experience is his biggest challenge. 
It’s a major obstacle in a Democrat-dominated state where young politicians are expected to pay their dues by running for lower office and waiting their turn until the Democratic establishment gives its blessing. 
Moore said it’s especially hard to win endorsements from labor unions and other influential campaign donors unless candidates can prove that they have what it takes to win an election. At this point, he said it doesn’t appear Christensen has done that. 
“Generally, you need to work your way up,” Moore said. “Unless you are extraordinarily well-funded or well-known, it’s hard to have your first run for public office be for U.S. Senate.”

Eurasianet on Turkey's fulminations over Gulen in Kyrgyzstan:

Ankara’s antagonism to Gülen’s international influence has deep roots, and the Turkish government’s attempt to link the educator with the recent failed coup is intensifying that animosity. But Kyrgyzstan, which is host to at least a dozen Gülen-linked schools and one university, is holding its ground — up to a point.

“In Kyrgyzstan, the [Gülen] gang is very powerful,” said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, during a working trip in the Antalya region on July 24.

If Turkey’s “brother” does not rid itself of links to the Islamic educator, “the way we look at you will be different,” Çavuşoğlu said, referring to Kyrgyzstan.

The remarks created a stir in Kyrgyzstan, which is accustomed to viewing Turkey as a no-strings-attached alternative for diplomatic engagement to Russia and the United States.

The tone in Turkey has shifted markedly in the last few weeks, however. As of July 26, 10,000 purported Gülenists have been arrested and many more judges, government officials and teachers fired. Çavuşoğlu’s rhetoric has been fittingly proactive.

“This terrorist organization has chosen Kyrgyzstan as a base. Its influence has grown so much that its members are part of the country’s leadership. We warned Kyrgyzstan that they are planning to land a blow,” Çavuşoğlu said in comments projecting a future coup in the Central Asian country.

Kyrgyzstan’s Foreign Ministry was nonplussed, castigating Çavuşoğlu on July 25 for raising the Gülen question “in the language of blackmail and ultimatums.”

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