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Thailand: Six months on, emboldened Red Shirts raise new slogans; Interview with Sombat Boonngamanong

Sombat Boonngamangong (left), the leader of the Red Sunday group and long-time activist, has renewed the Red Shirts' campaign in public, such as this "red aerobics". Photo by Lee Yu Kyung.

By Lee Yu Kyung, Bangkok

The left cannot ignore China’s achievements, but neither can it be too celebratory

Rural poverty in China is much higher than urban poverty.

By Michael Karadjis

November 24, 2010 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- I strongly agree with Reihana Mohideen (“The left cannot ignore China’s achievement in poverty reduction), that the left cannot simply ignore China’s impressive achievements in poverty reduction and other related social development. I also agree very much with Reihana that the main source of China’s outstanding success as a Third World capitalist power is to be found in the Chinese revolution itself, despite the undoing of its socialist basis and the uncontrolled capitalist development that has taken its place.

I would make a few points about poverty reduction.

Thailand: Red Shirts flood centre of Bangkok again

Ratchaprasong is a sea of Red Shirts again. Photos by Khun Kamberg CBN Press.

[Read more articles about Thailand HERE.]

By Peter Boyle, photos by CBN Press

November 19, 2010 – Thousands of supporters of the Thailand’s Red Shirt (the popular name for supporters of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship) movement once again turned Bangkok’s busy Ratchaprasong Intersection into a sea of red.

They turned out in their thousands (see video of the crowd posted by Richard Barrow to Twitter here) to mark six months since the Thai military bloodily attacked and dispersed a mass protest camp that occupied the area in April and May this year. More than 90 people were killed, thousands injured and hundreds or protesters are still imprisoned.

Malaysia: `No one is indispensable we often hear, but for the PSM ... Bala is indispensable'

G. Balasundram.

By Rani Rasiah, Socialist Party of Malaysia deputy secretary general

November 17, 2010 -- Comrade G. Balasundram was stabbed to death on November 16, 2010. He is really, truly no more, but the mind refuses to register this unacceptable reality. That’s because he was so alive, bubbling with life, loud, boisterous. So many of us have seen him, or had a meal with him or got a call or a witty sms from him just in the 24 hours before his sudden and tragic death.

Just a day earlier, he had turned up at the Ipoh High Court as co-counsel with Vengkat, his soul buddy, to appeal the conviction of four activists, including Segar of Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM), who had gathered with hundreds of others to demand the relocation of a rubber factory that was polluting the Kuala Kuang New Village in Chemor.

Thailand: Red Shirts plan another major rally

November 14 commemoration of the assassination of rebel general Khattiya Sawatdipho (popularly known as Seh Daeng) at Lumpini Park, Bangkok. Photo by "Klaus Crimson" (reprinted with permission).

By Peter Boyle

November 18, 2010 -- Supporters of Thailand’s opposition Red Shirt movement are preparing another major mobilisation, on November 19, 2010, to commemorate six months since the military repression of their mass protest camp in Bangkok’s Ratchaprasong Intersection.

The Red Shirts have being holding several build-up actions around the country including mass bike rides of red-shirted supporters in several cities and towns. And on Sunday November 14 some 1500 Red Shirt supporters rallied in front of the Rama VI statue Bangkok’s Lumpini Park to mark the assassination of rebel general Khattiya Sawatdipho (popularly known as Seh Daeng) six months ago as he gave an interview to a New York Times journalist in the Red Shirts protest camp at Ratchaprasong.

South Korea: Epic Ssangyong workers' strike remembered

Indonesia: FNPBI fifth congress -- `Time to awaken the sleeping lion'

 

Compiled by Ulfa Ilyas, translated by Risma

November 4, 2010 -- Berdikari -- The National Front of Indonesian Workers’ Struggle (FNPBI) held its fifth congress on October 24-26 in Denpasar Bali. About 300 FNPBI organisers from nine provinces of Indonesia attended the opening ceremony. It was also attended by Agus Jabo Priyono, the chairperson of People's Democratic Party (PRD), and Agung Winarte from the Labor Department of Bali Province.

Agus Jabo, in his solidarity message, highlighted the importance of workers organising themselves and being at the forefront of the national liberation struggle. He disagreed with the idea that labour movement should not be political. He asserted that to alienate the workers from the political arena is the same as to deny the workers a better future.

South Korea: First-hand report -- Day 1 of the anti-G20 Seoul International People's Conference -- Army of cops prevent march

Roddy Quines is a Socialist Alliance of Australia member living in South Korea. This is his first-hand account of the first day of anti-G20 actions on November 7, 2010, in Seoul.

* * *

On the afternoon of November 7 I attended an event called the Seoul International People's Conference. It was organised by trade unions, NGOs and church leaders as an alternative to the G20 conference. The People's Conference is taking place from November 7 to 10. Topics to be discussed include, among others, “Alternatives for the global economy”, “Climate change and civil societies” and “Structural adjustment and labour's strategies for resistance”. November 11 is reserved as a day for direct action with a planned rally and march, and on the morning of November 12 a press conference and strategy meeting are planned. 

Malaysia: The minimum wage farce

Palm oil plantation worker, Malaysia.

By Rani Rasiah

November 2, 2010 -- On 1 May 1996, Jawatankuasa Sokongan Masyarakat Ladang (JSML), the plantation workers' coalition of Jeringan Rakyat Tertindas (JERIT, the Oppressed People's Network), launched the campaign for a minimum monthly wage for estate workers. It called for a total revamp of the highly exploitative colonial wage system which assigned estate workers a daily wage that was subject to market price, weather conditions and crop yield, all factors beyond the control of the worker.

Public support for the RM750 monthly wage demand grew as the campaign shone the spotlight on the scandalous contrast between the affluent yet rapacious plantation capitalists and the then 300,000 estate workers who lived in poverty and backwardness. What was more, it was revealed that the largest shareholder in every major plantation company was the government itself, in the guise of agencies such as Permodalan Nasional Berhad and  Amanah Saham Nasional.

India: Protest Barack Obama's visit -- `US hands off India, hands off Asia!'

Statement by All India Left Coordination

November 2010 – Liberation – US President Barack Obama’s forthcoming visit to India this November [6-9] will inaugurate a new chapter in the "strategic partnership" between US imperialism and India’s ruling class. As people of India, let us examine the interests that the US president represents and the implications of his visit for India.

Barack Obama became president of the United States because he represented, for the people of the US as well of the world, a promise of "change" – change from the imperialist policies of the Bush regime that had imposed wars, occupations and economic crisis on the world.

Tamil refugee: `Why I fled to Australia'


Aran Mylvaganam's story.

By Sue Bolton, Melbourne

Green Left Weekly -- This year is the 15th anniversary of the Nargar Kovil school massacre in Tamil Eelam, the Tamil area of Sri Lanka. On September 22, 1995, the Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF) bombed Nargar Kovil Maha Vidyalayam schoolyard, which was crammed with 750 children on their lunch break. Reports of the number of children killed vary from 26 to 70.

Twelve of the children killed were six or seven years old. One hundred and fifty were injured, including 40 seriously. Twenty-two children had their limbs amputated. Ten of the amputees were under 12.

Grameen Bank and `microcredit': The `wonderful story' that never happened

Mohammad Yunus accepts the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize.

Far from being a panacea for fighting rural poverty, microcredit can impose additional burdens on the rural poor, without markedly improving their socio-economic condition, write Patrick Bond and Khorshed Alam.

October 21, 2010 -- Pambazuka News -- For years, the example of microcredit in Bangladesh has been touted as a model of how the rural poor can lift themselves out of poverty. This widely held perception was boosted in 2006 when Mohammad Yunus and Grameen Bank, the microfinance institution he set up, jointly received the Nobel Peace Prize. In South Asia in particular, and the world in general, microcredit has become a gospel of sorts, with Yunus as its prophet.

Consider this outlandish claim, made by Yunus as he got started in the late 1970s: "Poverty will be eradicated in a generation. Our children will have to go to a `poverty museum' to see what all the fuss was about."

South Asia: A regional `new politics' needed to challenge neoliberal agenda

 
October 14, 2010 -- Fisherfolk rally for debt cancellation, Karachi.

By Farooq Tariq

October 2, 2010 -- The recent devastating flood, affecting the lives of more than 20 million people in Pakistan, has once again revealed the severe poverty that people of Pakistan are facing. The only property that many hundreds of thousands were left with after fleeing their mud homes perhaps was just a trunk, few clothes and pottery and may be a donkey, cow or a buffalo.

Afghanistan: Malalai Joya -- `for our people, Obama is a warmonger, like another Bush'

Malalai Joya visits a girls' school in Farah province in Afghanistan. Photo: AfghanKabul.

By Malalai Joya

October 10, 2010 -- rabble.ca -- In the United States, many looked to the ballot box and hoped for real change when Barack Obama was elected president in 2008.

To be honest, I never expected that he would be any different for Afghanistan than President George W. Bush. The truth is that Obama's war policies have turned out to be even more of a nightmare than most people expected. Obama talked a lot about hope and change, but for Afghanistan the only change has been for the worse.

After almost two years of Obama, the number of US troops occupying Afghanistan has more than doubled. And the number of drone attacks in Pakistan has increased. Obama's so-called surge of troops has resulted in increased Afghan civilian deaths.

The documents released by Wikileaks prove what we have been saying about war in Afghanistan. There are more massacres by NATO forces than they wanted us to believe. Now the whole world should know this war is a disaster.

The left cannot ignore China's achievement in poverty reduction

Source: UN Human Development Report, 2007/2008.

By Reihana Mohideen

October 15, 2010 -- China’s achievements in reducing poverty have been outstanding. From 1978 – when the restructuring of the Chinese economy began – to 2007 the incidence of rural poverty dropped from 30.7% in 1978 to 1.6% in 2007. The biggest drop took place between 1978 and 1984 when the number of rural poor almost halved, from 250 million in 1978 to 125 million in 1985. During this period the per capita net income of farmers grew at an annual rate 16.5%. Urban poverty, measured by an international standard poverty line of US$1 per day, reduced from 31.5% in 1990 to 10.4% in 2005. No other Third World country has achieved so much and made such a significant contribution to reducing global poverty, as China has, over this period.

Thailand: Interview with Red Sunday leader Sombat Boonngamanong

Hundreds joined a bike ride for freedom in the historic city of Ayutthaya on October 3. Sombat Boonngamanong, garlanded, is on the red bicycle second from right. Photo by Ooi ThaiDelphi/CBN Press. Published with permission.

October 6, 2010 -- Sombat Boonngamanong, a cultural activist and NGO organiser, was not one of the central leaders of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (popularly known as the Red Shirts) when their mass protest camp (at the Ratchaprasong intersection in the heart of Bangkok) was bloodily dispersed by the Thai military on May 19, 2010. Thousands were injured, 91 killed and hundreds have become political prisoners in this crackdown. But Sombat has since emerged as a popular figure in the dramatic Red Shirts' resurgence over the last month.

Malaysia: 'Draconian, oppressive' amendments to labour law


PSM secretary-general S. Arutchelvan addresses the October 1, press conference. Video journalist: Hisyam Salleh.

By Philip Ho

Kuala Lumpur, October 1 -- klik4Malaysia -- Socialist Party of Malaysia (Parti Sosialis Malaysia, PSM) secretary-general S. Arutchelvan called the proposed labour law review by the Malaysian government's Human Resources Ministry, which will be tabled in the coming parliament sitting, "draconian" as it practically destroys whatever remaining rights workers have left.

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