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Asean Affairs  03 January 2011

Asean jaw droppers of 2010

By  David Swartzentruber

AseanAffairs     03 January 2011

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Asean jaw droppers of 2010

1.    Thailand recorded GDP growth of 9.1 percent during the second quarter of 2010, the same period when red shirt protests paralyzed a small but important section of downtown Bangkok and the rest of the world thought the country was falling apart.

2.    At the end of the year at the last formal meeting of Asean, Indonesia floated the ideas that the start of the Asean Economic Community be moved up from January 2015 and that Asean should consider a single currency.

3.    Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen,, told the United Nations Secretary General while he was visiting Phnom Penh that he would not allow any more Khmer Rouge war crimes trials after the second one that’s now under way.
No one apparently told the PM that the trials are supposed to be free of political interference.

4.    As Laos dams the mighty Mekong River there are questions about the impact of erosion and changed currents on fisheries and farming, and about compensation for the loss of homes and livelihoods. Even if those issues are resolved, Ms. Aviva Imhof, campaigns director of the International Rivers Network, a private monitoring group that opposes dams said, "You can't pretend that this project is not in Laos" — a country of just six million people that has never encountered an enterprise of that scope.

5.    The Allah controversy that resulted in the bombing of Christian churches across Malaysia has called into question the country's moderate Muslim and the UMNO has so far come out on the short end of the controversy.

6.    On 21 December, the United Nations General Assembly voted to restore “sexual orientation” to a resolution condemning extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender persons. A total of 93 countries voted in favor of the reinsertion of the phrase, while 55 were against and 27, including Thailand, abstained, despite the fact that Thailand is chair of the UN Human Rights Council.

7.    The Singapore economy grew by 14.7 per cent in 2010 and the government is concerned about the gap between rich and poor.

8.    Vietnamese enterprises invested US$3 billion into 25 countries and territories in 2010, according the Ministry of Planning and Investment's Foreign Investment Agency. Venezuela attracted the largest share of Vietnamese investment with $1.83 billion. It was followed by Cambodia with over $387 million and Laos with $132 million.

9.    The Philippine government has hired banks to sell global peso bonds with maturities of up to 25 years, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima told reporters on Monday. In September 2010, the Philippines sold $1 billion of global peso bonds in Asia's first global local-currency debt issue.

Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr

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