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ROAD TO RECONCILIATION
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AseanAffairs Magazine September - October 2010
CONTENT • BEYOND ASEAN 
• ASEAN BAZAAR • ASEAN TALK
ASEAN AVIATION • INSIDE OUT
• ASEAN ENERGY • OPINION
• ASEAN TRAVELLER • SAVE OUR PLANET MALYSIA

Thai Prime Minister
Abhisit Vejjajiva

Four months on in the reconciliation process Asean Affairs examines the progress and shortcomings of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s plan to bridge

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VIETNAM DEPRECIATES CURRENCY

Vietnam’s economy is on the move.


     Following monthlong increases in the value of the U.S. dollar on the black market, Vietnam devalued the value of the dong, its currency, on August 18, in an effort to curb the country’s trade deficit. The devaluation was the second this year and the fourth since December 2008. The central bank’s daily exchange rate has declined 11 percent in 20 months.

During the first eight months of 2010, Vietnam’s trade deficit hit US$8.16 billion, an increase of US$3 billion over the same period last year. Vietnam’s businesses accounted for US$ 30.3 billion of the imports, an increase of 13.2 percent, while foreigninvested firms imported US$22.37 billion worth of imports, a 43.6 percent increase. Vietnam is currently ranked 59th in the World Economic Forum (WEF) Competitiveness Report but that still is a dramatic improvement from where the country was in 2009-2010, when it was ranked 75th. Major problems plaguing development in Vietnam, according to the WEF, include access to financing, inflation, policy instability and a poorly educated workforce.

Vietnam’s exports continue to do well led by garments, followed by computers and electronics, then wood and wooden furniture. With the recent increase in wages in China, Vietnam may benefit by relocation of some garment producers.................


This was the scene in Manila as police attacked the bus containing the hostages.
BUS ORDEAL GIVES AQUINO A ROCKY START
   On August 23 in Manila, a disgruntled senior police inspector hijacked a tourist bus filled with tourists from Hong Kong. The response by the Philippine police played out before an international television audience and caused eight of the Hong Kong tourists plus another victim to be killed.

In a subsequent media briefing on September 9, Aquino admitted that he should have taken a more active role in the negotiations but trusted his police officials to handle the situation.

Aquino said the hostage crisis should lead to reforms in crisis management protocols and the training of police forces assigned to handle such situations. He added that officials responsible for the failed hostage rescue would be fired as soon as an official panel finishes its investigation into the crisis..............


MYANMAR’S NON-ELECTION
    Just before the next issue of Asean Affairs appears, the first election in Myanmar since 1990 will have taken place on November 7. The results of that 1990 election were nullified by the military when Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy, won an overwhelming victory.

A constitution approved in a disputed 2008 referendum stipulates Myanmar will be run by an elected civilian government, but key ministries such as justice, defence and the interior will be under the control of the military, which will also be granted a quarter of the 440 seats in parliament.

In preparation, Myanmar’s defence minister and other top generals resigned their junta and military posts to contest the upcoming polls as civilians, officials said. No announcement has been made about who can or cannot run. At least 44 parties have registered with the Election Commission. Civil society organizations (CSO) in Myanmar are joining pre-election activity in the military-ruled country that may signal changes in the political scene.................

Myanmar (Burma) was once more prospesperous than its neighbors, but its people have suffered under military role.

CAMBODIA MAY BECOME ASIAN TIGER  

Port improvement is on tap for Sihanoukville

    One of the trailing Asean economies is beginning to attract attention following the lead of UBS when it described Cambodian manufacturing as a “mini-tiger.”

Jonathan Anderson at UBS Hong Kong said that Cambodia’s manufacturing base had significantly benefited from globalization during the last decade. Cambodian manufacturing has more than quadrupled in the last decade, but it still is less than 15 percent of gross domestic product.

Here are some other pertinent facts: Cambodia’s tourism is up more than 13 percent during the first seven months of 2010. Cambodia’s restored railway is to have full access to Sihanoukville’s port thanks to the US$141 million restoration of 690 kilometers of tracks, jointly funded by the Asian development Bank and AusAID..............



 

 


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