Daily Archives: 21 April 2004

Indonesia’s Golkar Nominates Possible War Criminal for President

Sonia Kolesnikov-Jessop, UPI Business Correspondent, reports a troubling development for this summer’s Indonesian presidential elections:

SINGAPORE, April 21 (UPI) — The nomination of General Wiranto as presidential candidate for the leading party in the Indonesian general election is adding a new layer of uncertainties for investors in Indonesia.

Wiranto faces a U.N. indictment for crimes against humanity and is partly responsible for a U.S. congressional ban on military ties with Jakarta after mass killings by Indonesian troops in East Timor in 1999.

But on Tuesday, the retired general won the nomination of the Golkar party (former President Suharto’s party), pushing ahead of expected winner Akbar Tandjung, the party’s chairman. He won by promising “strong leadership” and an end to corruption….

Golkar is leading the results of April 5 voting, with 21.1 percent of the vote, followed by President Megawati’s party Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) with 19.5 percent, Former president Wahid’s party the National Awakening Party (PKB) with 11.89 percent, the Islamic party of Vice-President Hamzah Haz’s United Development Party (PPP) with 8.33 percent and the newly formed party of retired general Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the Democratic Party (PD), with 7.52 percent.

But, a survey by London-based Taylor Nelson Sofres indicated that 28 percent of the surveyed voters will chose Susilo as president.

For more on the legislative election results, see below.

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Nauru: Once Rich in Phosphates, Now Broke

The island nation of Nauru, which once had the highest per capita income in the “developing” world, is now broke. The New Zealand News reports:

Australia has declined to bail out the island nation of Nauru, which is facing almost certain bankruptcy this month.

As receivers moved in on Nauru’s key international property assets, President Rene Harris is understood to have approached Canberra for a short-term rescue package….

The tiny island republic is facing both a constitutional and financial crisis, following a deadlock in its Parliament when the Speaker resigned in protest at the Government’s failure to pass a budget.

A spokesman for the Harris Government said they were still trying to find a refinancer for a A$236 million loan with America’s General Electric Capital.

The loan used the last of Nauru’s once $1 billion-plus property portfolio as security.

Nationmaster.com profiles Nauru’s economy.

Revenues of this tiny island have come from exports of phosphates, but reserves are expected to be exhausted within a few years. Phosphate production has declined since 1989, as demand has fallen in traditional markets and as the marginal cost of extracting the remaining phosphate increases, making it less internationally competitive. While phosphates have given Nauruans one of the highest per capita incomes in the Third World, few other resources exist with most necessities being imported, including fresh water from Australia. The rehabilitation of mined land and the replacement of income from phosphates are serious long-term problems. In anticipation of the exhaustion of Nauru’s phosphate deposits, substantial amounts of phosphate income have been invested in trust funds to help cushion the transition and provide for Nauru’s economic future. The government has been borrowing heavily from the trusts to finance fiscal deficits. To cut costs the government has called for a freeze on wages, a reduction of over-staffed public service departments, privatization of numerous government agencies, and closure of some overseas consulates. In recent years Nauru has encouraged the registration of offshore banks and corporations. Tens of billions of dollars have been channeled through their accounts. Few comprehensive statistics on the Nauru economy exist, with estimates of Nauru’s GDP varying widely.

But Air Nauru says it will keep flying.

UPDATE: Head Heeb has more.

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An Anthropologist’s First Impressions of Occupied Japan

The Rare Books and Manuscripts Library at the Ohio State University has made available online a wonderful collection, “Doing Photography and Social Research in the Allied Occupation of Japan, 1948-1951: A Personal and Professional Memoir,” described thus:

Photographs taken by anthropologist John W. Bennett in occupied Japan, 1948-1951, (a few were made in the 1960’s during his term at Waseda University), with comments on the photos by Bennett. Also included are extensive selections from Bennett’s professional journal of the period, and other documents. Consisting of a personal and professional memoir, this site is also a record of a unique experiment in social analysis and research that focuses on a period of particular significance in the development of Japanese and international history, politics, economics, and culture.

Here’s an excerpt from First Impressions: A Letter to Kathryn Bennett Composed at Intervals During 1949.

let us list some preconceptions of the writer, which have since been scrapped. More than that, he was totally unaware that they existed, and he an anthropologist, too. But we know that anthropologists are on the whole naïve and eager people, who rarely examine their own prejudices. I discovered after two days that I entered Japan with the unconscious assumption that all Japanese speak in high voices. This is false. 2. I entered Japan with the notion that all Japanese would be embarrassed when spoken to. This is false. 3. I had a half baked notion that Tokyo looked like a large park with museum-like buildings scattered through it (really kind of surrealist dream). This is false. 4. I believed that although most Japanese could read, only a few were literate. This is mostly false. 5. I believed that Japan was amazingly homogenous in physical appearance and behavior. This is completely false and true–see earlier confused remarks. 6. Finally, I had the firm belief that a careful reading of Benedict, Sansom, Embree, et.al. would provide one with the basic knowledge for research here. Maybe– but today I discovered that my most pressing need for information concerns government bureaus and the patterns of population movement.

To conclude this session, let us ask the question: What is the “Oriental” here? Is this the Orient? The initial Yokohama impression was negative–the damn place looked like part of Seattle, and the docks were so packed with Americans that one could hardly feel strange and eastern. In to Tokyo the impressions were so confused that I can hardly say what I felt; after a while in Tokyo and outside the Orient came in a physical sense–the “Japanesy” look as my dear mother used to say when she saw some bamboo bric-abrac; that is, delicacy, intricacy, retiring-ness, vistas of people in hedged fields, etc., etc. Japanese gardens and prints. For a couple of days I drank this in–every glimpse I could get. Concrete highways and western buildings and railroads didn’t figure–I simply didn’t see them. I recall one trip into town with Herb Passin in the AM and the only thing that I remember seeing on that trip was an ancient house on a farm with old style thatched roof. Well, all this will return when we go to Kyoto and similar places which retain the traditional appearance, but by now the Japanese feeling and visions have about disappeared, and all I see are the familiar sights of the urban world – the streets look like streets again. “Oriental” becomes not of the bric-a-brac dish garden business but the urban and rural world of the Japanese nation. I regret that I didn’t see Japan in my mystic and impressionable teens, when the garden view would have persisted. Not of course that I don’t see the differences–this communication is full of them–but the special naïve physical “oriental” look is about gone.

via The Marmot’s Hole (in turn via Neilbarker’s Seoul)

I suspect I’ll have more to post as I explore the archives. Takes me way back to my early childhood in Occupied Japan.

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South Korea’s New Hybrid News Organization: OhmyNews!

Donata Communications has posted an article about a new type of media organization that apparently helped drive greater participation by normally apathetic younger voters (the “2030” generation, those in their 20s and 30s) during the recent elections in South Korea, the most “wired” society on earth. The article by Terry L. Heaton has a grandiose title–TV News in a Postmodern World: The Genius of OhmyNews–but is well worth a full read.

Whether it was genius, luck, timing or all three, OhmyNews! has become a very powerful media entity in South Korea, and the amazing thing is that its principal tool is a Website. OhmyTV is a very slick streaming online TV station, and their election night coverage would’ve stunned even the so-called “experts” at the network level in the U.S. The graphics and sound effects alone were enough to make any producer drool. OhmyNews! also publishes a Saturday print edition now, but its bread and butter is the Internet.

According to the UCLA Center for Communications Policy World Internet Report, there are two noticeable differences between U.S. and Korean Internet users. Seven in ten Korean users believe that most or all of the information on the Web is accurate or reliable. That’s compared to a little over half of Internet users in the U.S. Secondly, Internet users in Korea spend considerably more time online and less watching television than their U.S. counterparts.

Updates and bulletins can happen at any time, but OhmyNews! “publishes” its content three times a day, 9:30 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. It is, therefore, targeting a largely working audience. It also provides news via cell phones and other mobile devices.

Staff reporters (80% of whom began as citizen reporters) now number over 50 with almost 27,000 citizen journalists contributing. The American-educated Oh has a history of rejecting traditional journalism, having worked for alternative media outlets before founding OhmyNews!.

We do not regard objective reporting as a source of pride. OhmyNews does not regard straight news articles as the standard. Articles including both facts and opinions are acceptable when they are good.

And “good” is in the purview of his editors. It harkens back to the days before the elite “professionalism” took hold in the early 20th century, and it’s obviously resonating with the citizenry in South Korea.

via Bill Hobbs via Instapundit

UPDATE: The Marmot’s Hole comments, and promises more to come.

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