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Testimonials – What our Readers are saying about us

     Jan-Feb 2010

US-Asean! What’s behind the re-engagement?
Your article (“Inside Out” Nov-Dec ’09) was too polite to point out how desperate the US may be to reclaim its lost influence in the region. Obama-Obama-Obama. The world pinned its hopes on him literally when they pinned the Nobel Prize to his lapel. Southeast Asia is no exception. When Obama made his debut visit to the region in November 2009 at the APEC summit in Singapore, it was the first time in history that a sitting US President sat down with the leaders of Asean. In the last decade US has lost its influence in the region considerably ceding ground to China and its rise as the super power of Asia. Now the US seems to be paying closer attention to Southeast Asia which is the sixth largest export market for the US. Where do the relations go from here? The US is trying new tactics to deal with the entrenched military junta in Myanmar where US sanctions has made no impact so far. The proposed launch of an East Asian bloc (Asean + 6) which will include Asean and its ten member nations plus China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand will mean further reduction in dependence on the west and further decline in US influence and hegemony in Asia and the region. Is it too late and too little for US re-engagement of Asean?

Timothy Marlow

EU-Asean relations: 32 years and still getting closer.
Throwing the spotlight on Germany- Europe’s biggest economy and its role in re-shaping EU-Asean relations (“Spotlight on Germany” Nov-Dec’09) was very timely and insightful, especially after the elections in Germany where Chancellor Merkel came back to power. The west and EU seems obsessed with China and now maybe India. They forget that Southeast Asia and Asean with its almost 600 million people is as large a market as the two neighbouring giants. Germany in the past was a leader is pushing for Asean integration. The EU has been frustrated completely by Asean and its trade negotiators in reaching a Free Trade Agreement with Asean. Looks like both Asean and EU are in no hurry to break the stalemate as they both are busy trying to get out of the economic crisis. The interviews with the top political and business leaders in your special feature seems to indicate the talks could resume. Their views is much the same as their Asian colleagues that EU and Asean , partner for 32 years, should be getting much closer than they are.

Peter Becker
Cologne, Germany

Emerging markets of CEE and Asean-potential for cooperation.
Very recently I came across your magazine ASEAN Affairs the Voice of Southeast Asia in one of the stores in Poland. Southeast Asia is a part of my interest, therefore I was very glad to find such magazine on the market. The stories and the information are very useful for me as there are no publications from Asia reaching us here in Europe. I would like you to consider publishing reports and special features on Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) region which includes these 14 countries, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro and how Asean and Asia can build closer cooperation with this region. The emerging markets of Asia and Europe, I believe would have areas of common interest for both YOURVIEWS region’s development.

Kamila Ciupinska
Warsaw, Poland

Your cover story (Nov-Dec ’09) on His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand was very beautifully done. His Majesty is known the world over as the great and benevolent monarch with few parallels. I wanted to wish His Majesty the very best of health and long life. May Thailand prosper even more under HM’s blessings and guidance. We in Switzerland have closely followed HM The King’s life as it was here that HM went to school and University and we feel honored for that reason even more. Thailand is a favorite vacation destination for us and we love the beautiful country.

Francois Begle
Zurich, Switzerland

     Nov-Dec 2009

Enter the Green Bubble?
Your cover story (“ENTER THE GREEN ERA”, Sep-Oct ’09) is among a long list of stories and cover stories on the subject of the planet supposedly going green. With Obama coming to power the race for green technologies and solutions is one of the hottest topics. Any technology or solution as long as it looks green is exciting and a potential money spinner, a typical Wall Street approach to any idea. With potentially trillions of dollars up for grabs one wonders whether a Green Bubble is the next bubble to be burst. Our planet has been green for a long time even before humans walked the earth. I believe that mother Earth knows how to cleanse itself and to keep its balance intact. We are just another species in the eco-system but we take more credit than we deserve in assuming that we can do damage or repair mother earth beyond human capability. People like Al Gore or Dr Michael Nobel deserve credit for drawing our attention to the “Planet in Crisis”, but they know (as Dr Nobel says in the interview in your cover story) that the age of fossil fuels is not going to end soon and neither will there be a green revolution on a massive scale to have any significant impact. For Wall Street, this is an opportunity as good as any to create a bubble and GOD knows maybe another financial crisis. As long as “Crisis” is being created, that’s their golden opportunity.

Andrei Kasimov
Warsaw, Poland

Green Talk? Where is the Walk?
So much talk of Green and saving the planet (“ENTER THE GREEN ERA”, Sep-Oct ’09). The Chevron’s of the world shamelessly claim in their slick TV commercials how they are using “Human Energy” to create a better planet for all of us. That is sick and disgusting; the ‘Polluters in Chief’’ of the world are lecturing us on the environment. The tokenism in the name of GREEN initiatives from companies who have ruthlessly plundered the planet for decades and amassed fortunes should at least respect the intelligence of their consumers and stop their act of being “Saviors of the Planet”. Very little concrete evidence exists to show that they have seriously invested money or efforts to wean their businesses off fossil fuels and have successfully created alternative/clean energy solutions. For these companies who have only taken from mother nature, the incentive in the form of $170 price of crude oil has been eliminated thankfully to the crisis; and consumers and companies are all happy that we are filling our gas tanks to the full once again. Where is the walk amongst so much of Green talk?

Pietro Di Alberto
Rome, Italy.

Halal Branding Race!
Oil Rich Brunei takes to Halal Branding (“Inside Out”, Sep- Oct’09). From Malaysia to Brunei to Indonesia to even Buddhist Thailand, all are vying to be called the Halal centre/hub of the world. So many trade shows, exhibitions and marketing blitz later, the average person is left confused as to what all these means. It is my simple understanding that Halal is a process that not only applies to meat and poultry products but even to non-vegetarian products such as oils, soaps, cosmetics etc. It is a process in keeping with the Islamic values for consumers from the Islamic faith and even people from other faiths can benefit from. Similarly “Islamic Banking” is another product cum service that is being marketed to high heavens to cater to consumers from the Muslim world. The centre for Islamic finance is London, of all places or that is the claim. Is this another arena that Wall Street is eyeing as well, I wonder. The Islamic faith and its teachings are sacrosanct to its followers and Halal and Islamic Banking should not be treated as mere consumer products and services and marketed like western products. There is a deep and spiritual sentiment attached to these sacred concepts and I find it disheartening that governments in the Islamic world have hopped on to the bandwagon of Halal and Islamic Finance marketing and I hope they keep in mind the sacred thoughts behind these concepts.

Hangga Jamal
Jakarta, Indonesia

Sufficiency Economy- Concept with a Conscience !
Your new feature (“Special Feature” Jul-Aug’09) is very interesting. I have read before articles on the subject but your story gave me new food for thought. His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, the world’s longest reigning monarch has put his Sufficiency Economy Philosophy (SEP) to work for his subjects for over thirty years with outstanding results that the world can only learn from. Especially his Royal projects which has uplifted the lives of millions of rural people is something worth emulating. Because of the stability that a benevolent King can provide, these projects which started small have become the source of so much sustainable development in Thailand and the country has achieved remarkable success by many indicators over the last many decades. SEP’s emphasis on moderation and balance is perhaps what is needed most in these trying times when wanton greed and the winner takes it all philosophy has brought so much grief worldwide.

Umesh Sharma
Mumbai, India

The Dance of the Pariahs !
The voyage of the North Korean ship Kang Nam I to Myanmar (“Beyond Asean” Jul-Aug’09) made for headline news and unnerved Asean. North Korea’s bringing the nuclear game to the doorstep of SE Asia perhaps may be the wake up call for the world powers. That the rogue regime in Myanmar deserves equal condemnation as much as N Korea does even though Myanmar has yet to pose a nuclear threat. The two pariah states have come a long way since Myanmar broke off diplomatic relations in 1983, after North Korean agents bombed the Martyr’s mausoleum in Yangon in an attempt to assassinate the visiting South Korean President, Chun Doo- Hwan. Now their rapport is creating a security quandary for Asean and the US. The military regime has been in power for decades and all the sanctions and rebukes of the west has been ineffective and toothless. Perhaps the west will finally wake up when the tyrannical regime turns nuclear, but then it may have been already too late. The junta has reportedly stashed billions of dollars in Singapore Banks from the sale of fossil fuels to western companies, a nest egg for themselves in case the heat on them goes up.

Daniel Sng

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