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Asia

Thailand's official religion is not Buddhism but 'Monarchy'

For more on Thailand, click HERE.

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

December 5, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- As far as the Thai ruling class is concerned, the official religion of the country, which they are forever trying to ram down our throats, is not Buddhism but “Monarchy”.

For historical and philosophical reasons Buddhism has not been the main authoritarian tool of the Thai ruling class. Kings and military dictators were always wary of building up rivals if they promoted the power of the monks. Since the late 1950s the military sought to control the monks and make sure that they were mainly apolitical. This is unlike in Burma or Laos, where the Buddhist monks were politicised by the nationalist movements.

Thai Buddhism is also a religion based on the actions of private individuals who try to amass merit. Thai monks do not usually give public sermons in order to control the beliefs of the population. Buddhism is also practiced in a manner which is strongly laced with animistic beliefs in spirits and ancient superstitions or it is mixed with Hinduism.

Malaysia: 'Thailand's dictator is NOT welcome! Democracy NOW for Thailand!'

Joint statement by the Socialist Party of Malaysia and others (see below)

Links international journal of Socialist Renewal

December 1, 2014 -- We, the undersigned organisations, condemn the Najib-led Malaysian government for receiving the official visit of military coup leader from Thailand, Prayuth Chan-ocha. The reception for Prayuth is an act that recognises and lends legitimacy to the illegal government in Thailand that grabbed power through a military coup and the suppression of democracy since May this year.

Prayuth Chan-ocha came into power last May, when he staged a military coup against a democratically elected government. Martial law was declared, activists and dissidents were arrested and harassed by the coup apparatus, an undemocratic interim constitution was introduced, and Prayuth appointed himself as the prime minister of Thailand without popular approval through democratic elections. Freedom of expression has been suppressed by the repressive National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) led by Prayuth.

Philippines: Successful Asian Socialism Conference; Bonifacio Day in Manila (video)

By Reihana Mohideen, Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) international desk

December 2, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- A very successful Asian Socialism Conference was held in the Philippines, November 28-29, followed by a rally on November 30. Around 350 delegates participated in the conference, well exceeding our target of 250 leaders who had registered prior to the conference. A contingent of around 3000 rallied and marched on November 30 to mark Bonficacio National Hero's Day.The conference was organised by the Partido Lakas ng Masa (Party of the Labouring Masses, PLM).

A strong feature of the conference was the participation of women leaders of the Philippine Socialist Feminist movement.The conference brought together the socialist feminists, revolutionary LGBT activists, with a strong contingent of socialist workers, intellectuals from the University of the Philippines, urban poor leaders and out-of-school youth, and students from high schools and campus.

'Dialogue' or Tamil self-determination: a response to Michael Cooke

Tamil refugees.

By Chris Slee

October 27, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Michael Cooke's article "Election Monitoring in Lanka"[1] contains a lot of useful information on the history and politics of Sri Lanka, including topics ranging from the burning of the Jaffna library by Sri Lankan police in 1981 to the murder of journalists, the repression of trade unionists and the instigation of anti-Muslim riots under the current government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

However the article has some serious flaws. In particular, Cooke does not deal adequately with the national question in Sri Lanka.

The article is largely based on three visits that Cooke made to Sri Lanka, including two periods as an election monitor (in 2001 and 2005). It is also informed by his extensive knowledge of Sri Lankan history, much of it gained through the research he did for his excellent biography of Lionel Bopage.[2]

Cooke's work as an election monitor gave him a unique vantage point from which to observe Sri Lankan politics. But it was not always easy to find out the truth. Cooke admits that he is not sure who committed some of the acts of violence that he observed.

Thailand: Elections postponed, anti-reformists show their true colours

For more on Thailand, click HERE.

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

October 18, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- While the dictator Prayut (or Prayuth) Chan-ocha (pictured above) was huddled with the Chinese and Japanese representatives in Italy, he had previously told reporters not to “speculate” when elections would be held again in Thailand. Many analysts are predicting that elections will not take place at least until 2016, thus rubbishing the initial promises of the junta to hold elections next year.

Meanwhile a panel of anti-reformist junta lackeys were pontificating about the legacy of the 14th October 1973 uprising against the military and how this would “influence” the present anti-reform process.

This academic meeting was not banned by the junta, unlike pro-democracy seminars.

Review: Behind China's wildcat strike wave

Insurgency Trap: Labor Politics in Postsocialist China
By Eli Friedman
Cornell University Press/ILR Press, 2014.

By Jane Slaughter

October 15, 2014 -- Labor Notes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- China is the world centre of wildcat strikes—given that no strike in China is officially allowed under the law. The government doesn’t issue statistics, but one source found 1171 strikes and worker protests from June 2011 through 2013.

Tamils: Former LTTE de facto state -- a resident’s view

LTTE fighters.

For more on the Tamil struggle, click HERE.

By Chris Slee, Melbourne

October 16, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Ragu, a Tamil man now living in Australia, spent 16 years living in areas under the control of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The LTTE was formed in 1972 by young people angry at decades of discrimination and repression against the Tamil people by successive racist Sri Lankan governments. It fought for an independent Tamil homeland in the north and east of the island of Sri Lanka. After small-scale armed clashes in the late 1970s, full-scale war began in 1983. The LTTE was defeated in 2009.

Ragu spoke to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal about his experiences living in LTTE-controlled areas.

* * *

Election monitoring in Lanka

Weapons captured from the LTTE stand on display in front of Sri Lankan sources.

They were a kind of solution.
What does all this sudden uneasiness mean
And this confusion? (How grave their faces have become!)
Why are the streets and squares rapidly emptying,
And why is everyone going back home, so lost in thought?
Because it is night and the barbarians have not come;
And some men have arrived from the frontiers
And they say that the barbarians don’t exist any longer.
And now what will become of us without barbarians?
They were a kind of solution.
They were a kind of solution.
-- Constantine Cavafy[1]

By Michael Cooke

Two cheers for marriage equality

By Colin Wilson

October 10, 2014 -- rs21, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- This week has seen a striking victory for US campaigners for LGBT equality. On Monday, October 6, the Supreme Court decided not to hear appeals from five states that sought to uphold bans on same-sex marriage. This is the end of the road for opponents of marriage equality in states as conservative as Utah, where over half the population are Mormons, and where marriage licences were issued to jubilant same-sex couples from Monday.

Six further states are covered by the same courts that heard the now-defeated appeals. The implication is that same-sex marriage will become legal there too. Judges also ruled on October 7 in favour of same-sex marriage in Idaho and Nevada: the ordained Elvis impersonators of Las Vegas’s wedding chapels began practising their new lines.

Accusing Hong Kong activists of being tools of US policy is ignorant and dangerous

The mass protests demanding democratic election of Hong Kong's chief executive are not the creation of US agencies

The mass protests demanding democratic election of Hong Kong's chief executive are not the creation of US agencies.

For more on Hong Kong, click HERE. For more on China, click HERE.

By Dave Lindorff

October 10, 2014 -- This Can't Be Happening -- A number of progressive and left-leaning writers  have jumped on a report by Wikileaks that the neocon-dominated National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and various other US-government linked organisations with a history of subversion and sowing discord abroad are operating in Hong Kong and on that basis are making the leap of “logic” that the democracy protests in Hong Kong must therefore be a creation of US policy makers.

India: 100,000 marchers in Kolkata say: ‘Hok kolorob’ (Let there be uproar!)

More on India. For more on feminism click HERE.

By Tithi Bhattacharya

October 1, 2014 -- ZNet, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- On September 20, 100,000 people marched in Kolkata [formerly Calcutta], India, against police violence and for gender justice. I have known the city all my life and have not known of a demonstration of that size since the 1960s.

The march was against a massive police crack-down on a peaceful student protest on Jadavpur University campus, one of the leading universities in the state. The students were sitting-in at their vice-chancellor’s office, refusing to let him go, until he promised an independent enquiry commission into a case of sexual assault on campus. Their rallying cry was hok kolorob, or let there be uproar.

The sheer size of the march, 100,000 people, ought to force us to remember that the people of Kolkata, the capital city of the state of West Bengal, had just voted in a shiny new government after 34 years of entrenched Stalinist rule steeped in corruption and violence.

Eyewitness Hong Kong: The 'Umbrella Revolution' unfurls

By Sean Starrs

October 1, 2014 -- The Bullet (Socialist Project, Canada), posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The largest student demonstrations and occupations in Hong Kong's history are unfurling in what is increasingly being called the “Umbrella Revolution”, in reference to the sea of umbrellas being used as cover against both pepper-spraying riot police and the rays of the sun.

It began as a Hong Kong-wide class boycott on September 22, with around 10,000 university and college students congregating on the Chinese University of Hong Kong campus for speeches and lectures on civil disobedience. Moving across town to a sit-in on September 24 in front of the main Hong Kong government buildings in the district of Admiralty, by the night of September 29 it had morphed into an unprecedented occupation of four major districts in Hong Kong involving at least 80,000 people, predominantly students.

Asia: ASEAN integration and its impact on labour

September 14, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Presented by Sonny Melencio, chairperson of the Party of the Labouring Masses (PLM), to the assembly of the Union Presidents Against Contractualization, Century Park Hotel, Manila, September 10, 2014.

* * *

1. There are many regional agreements in Asia-Pacific that impact on regional economic integration and trade policies. One of these agreements centered on the integration of ASEAN economies in Southeast Asia composed of the ten countries of Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), and Vietnam.

Pakistan: A ‘soft’ military coup?

"The issue of election rigging is just a cover for Imran Khan. His real motives include covert opposition to the military operation against Tehreek-e-Taliban, opposition to the PMLN’s attempt to put Musharraf on trial and to cover-up the performance of the Khayber Pukhtoon Khawa provincial government."

By Farooq Tariq

August 30, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Claims and counter claims by Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek Insaaf (PTI), Mullah Tahir Qadri’s Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) and the governing party of Pakistan, the Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN), of who contacted the army chief first for “mediation” or “facilitation” have puzzled the vast majority of people in Pakistan.

Kavita Krishnan: Re-imagining India

For more on India, click HERE.

By Kavita Krishnan

August 21, 2014 -- Outlook, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- We revolutionaries, who seek to transform society, spend a lot of time re-imagining the world we live in. That does not mean we live in a fool’s paradise. It means that we dream dreams that can be achieved.

We don’t wish on a star. Our wishes, we know, won’t be granted by any gods. The beauty of our dreams lies in the fact that they’re made up of human imagination and human will, and can be shaped and brought to life by human will.  

When our imaginations are cramped, our realities too are likely to be the same. When an idea comes to life in our imagination, it is the first step towards bringing it to life in our real world. 

The other thing about our dreams is that we aren’t solitary dreamers. We don’t dream our dreams isolated from others. Our dreams are not a private indulgence or a private solace. These dreams are born in the collective minds of fellow fighters. We dream together, as we fight struggles together. And when others are able to see and share our dreams, the dreams acquire a life beyond our own personal lives.

Thailand: Supremo Prayut appoints himself prime minister

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

August 21, 2014 -- Ugly Truth Thailand -- The self-appointment of dictator of Thailand, Prayut Chan-ocha, as prime minister, by his hand-picked military parliament, was an unsurprising non-event. Prayut did not even bother to attend and the so-called “vote” was unanimous.

Prayut has set himself up as Thailand’s “Supremo”, placing himself in charge of all important posts. This harks back to the dark old days of the military dictatorships in the 1960s and 1970s. As acclaimed writer Wat Wanyangkoon has said: “The junta is detritus left over from the Cold War.”

Prayut’s junta is both brutal and stupid. It is brutal in its crackdown on pro-democracy activists, the use of lèse-majesté to jail its opponents, and the use of violence against detainees. It is stupid in its attempts to create an image that the coup has created “peace and happiness” among citizens. Prayut also loves to strut around barking orders in a pathetic quest to appear like some outdated “strongman”.

Indonesia: Jokowi wins presidency, but can he bring real reform?

Joko Widodo, or “Jokowi” as he is popularly known.

Click HERE for more on Indonesia.

Vannessa Hearman will be the guest speaker at a Green Left Weekly forum in Sydney on August 5, which will discuss what the election means for the struggle for democracy in Australia's largest neighbour. More details here:
https://www.facebook.com/events/262466660619770/

By Peter Boyle

Indonesia: 'Prabowo’s defeat will keep open democratic space'; Jokowi's 'unprecedented' presidential bid

Presidential candidate Joko “Jokowi” Widodo speaks to a crowd of tens of thousands.

 


Dr Vannessa Hearman will be the guest speaker at a Green Left Weekly forum in Sydney on August 5, which will discuss what the election means for the struggle for democracy in Australia's largest neighbour. More details here.

By Peter Boyle

July 11, 2014 -- Green Left Weekly -- The official results of the July 9 Indonesian presidential elections are not expected till at least July 22, but many private “quick count” surveys and exit polls have proclaimed a winner.

Most of these unofficial polls have declared that former Jakarta governor Joko Widodo (popularly known as Jokowi) has defeated his sole challenger — sacked Suharto dictatorship general Prabowo Subianto by a margin of up to 4%.

According to the CSIS-Cyrus quick count, Jokowi and his vice-presidential candidate Jusuf Kalla won 52% of votes compared to 48% for Prabowo Subianto and his running mate Hatta Rajasa.

Thailand: The militarisation of society

A Thai journalist protests next to troops over concerns about freedom of speech. Photo by @redbamboo16 on Twitter.

For more on Thailand, click HERE.

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

June 29, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- As the autocratic rule of Big Brother Generalissimo Prayut Chan-ocha trundles forward, we are seeing the militarisation of politics, economics and society.

All government ministries are controlled by military personnel. Civil servants who were in post before the coup are being replaced by those who are loyal lapdogs or cronies of the junta.

New executive board members have been appointed to state enterprises, with military men on every board and with Generalissimo Prayut as overall chair. Civilian cronies are carefully chosen from among the ranks of the whistle-blowing middle class mobs who hate democracy.

El "siglo de Asia" y la integración de la ASEAN: contradicciones y desafíos

Sonny Melencio.

[In English at http://links.org.au/node/3910.]

Por Sonny Melencio

22-06-2014 -- Sinpermiso -- Cuando viaje desde Manila hasta Australia, me compré en el aeropuerto un libro de bolsillo para leer en el avión. Fue la novela de Dan Brown titulada Infierno. Cuando la edición de tapa dura de este libro llegó a las librerías, en las Filipinas la gente se volvió loca con una pequeña parte de la novela que se refería a Manila como la "puerta del infierno".

Después de leer el libro, pensé que lo que la novela dice sobre Manila es verdad. Es la ciudad más densamente poblada de la tierra, con enormes atascos de tráfico, una contaminación sofocante, casas hechas de metal corrugado y cartones, comunidades que apestan y un horrible comercio sexual y tráfico de mujeres, jóvenes y niños.

Me acordé de la novela de Dan Brown hoy porque, a pesar del infierno que es actualmente Manila, nuestro gobierno habla de un paraíso que se construirá en las Filipinas durante este "siglo de Asia".

El siglo de Asia

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