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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        27  May 2011

Calls for Asians IMF head

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Asean secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan has called on Asian countries to jointly nominate a candidate for the post of managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

As the leading engine of global economic growth, Asia needs to assert itself in the way international institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF operate, Mr. Surin said Thursday. "The time is for Asia to field a candidate and it doesn't have to be an Asian. They could be a member of a Third World country but not the European Union and they surely must not be a North American," said the Asean chief.

Mr. Surin, speaking at the "Future of Asia"conference in Tokyo, said Asia should assert its claim to the position now or it might be too late. "If we don't do anything we will be taken for a ride and next time we will be overlooked," he added.

Various global powers are jockeying for the position. French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde is the latest to make a formal bid for the post vacated by Dominique Strauss-Kahn who quit after being accused of sexually assaulting a hotel maid in New York.

"It does not matter if we win or lose. At least we are going to be making a statement and then next time around they will not take it as the monopoly of Europe," Mr. Surin said.

He said the rising power of Asia means that the region now represents about 42 percent of the contributions to the IMF compared with the nearly 30 percent Europe and the United States each contribute.

Since 1946, a European has always held the post of IMF managing director. Australia's Treasurer Wayne Swan said the new IMF head should be chosen on merit and the convention of selecting only Europeans for the post was outdated.

The call by Mr. Surin to seek an emerging country's pick as the next IMF head has been echoed by others in the region, with India and the Philippines saying that they wanted someone from Asia as candidate for the position.

The resignation of Mr. Strauss-Kahn has opened the door for a number of respected Asians, including Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Singapore's finance minister; Kemal Dervis, a former Turkish economy minister; Montek Singh Ahluwalia, an Indian who has worked for the IMF; and Min Zhu, special adviser to the IMF and former deputy governor of the Bank of China; among others.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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