Wednesday, July 30, 2008

EU has soft power - What does Asean have?

Gwynne Dyer wrote for The Straits Times on July 28 that:

"What got Radovan Karadzic, in the end, was the “soft power” of the EU: The immense attraction of belonging to a continent-wide organisation that really does deliver benefits to its members. It’s a cumbersome organisation and frequently criticised for good reasons, but it offers Serbia a way back into civilised society.The EU is playing hardball: no formal discussions on membership until the other two “most wanted” men, Mladic and Hadzic, are also handed over to The Hague."

Mr Karadzic is linked to the 1995 Bosnian war during which Bosnian Serb troops killed some 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the Srebrenica massacre, and the siege of Sarajevo claimed more than 10,000 lives.

Reflecting upon the role of Asean in this part of the world and what it has done to pressure Mynmar to release Aung San Suu Kyi and its political prisoners, I think we have fared quite miserably.

Asean most certainly does not have that kind of political clout to evoke such a change in the Burmese government's stance. Calls have been made to the regional bloc to do some soul searching, but have quite frequently fallen of deaf ears.

Is Asean a talk shop? Yes, but no one's listening anyway.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

For Starters

Can't figure why I had not thought about this sooner. So many thoughts have come and gone, great discussions had and simply not recorded. So, I thought it would be apt to start my maiden entry with a poem I wrote inspired by a chain of discussions I've had with a very international group of people who have questions about why Singapore is the way it is, and whether people here are really simply just apathetic or too cautious to say what they think.

Democracy for Fools

This is a county built brick on brick,
Covered in gentle smog barely thick.
All in the name of prosperity
We silence our thoughts in exchange for stupidity.

In the quiet of our minds,
We have right to write.
In the public of masses,
We have right to think alike.
But in the name of stability,
Keep them unwritten in the annals of history.

Indeed we are not alone.
Seeds of free thought in fertile fields are sown.
Indeed our numbers are many,
But fear and baggage keeps a nervous tranquility.

But what part of peace are we to pay?
How much of us are we to give away?
So that fools have the right to speak,
While the wise in silence forever retreat?

July, 2008