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The Last Post (for now)

15 Jan

After much consideration, I have decided to stop making any new posting. At least for now. The main reason for doing so is personal. To pause and take a breather. To recollect my thoughts and figure out the next step.

After all, for the past four years, I have maintained this political blog, often with the aim of providing a personal take on what I believe to be some of the most important events around the world. Spanning close to 500 posts, it has touched on so many different areas and aspects of politics and human rights that I’m sometimes surprised at its diversity.

From the local (e.g., the industrial dispute between my university, UNSW and its union, NTEU) to the global (e.g. Copenhagen Summit in 2009); or the East (e.g. democratic developments in Asia) to the West (e.g. anti-corporate capitalisation movements in Australia), many of these posts have shown how the political arena remains biased towards the power brokers. In most instances, they are the corporations, governments and political leaders who persist in illegal and/or immoral actions, believing that they can get away with it. Very often, these questionable behaviour would come to light and be vigorously opposed by conscientious people around the world. It is this opposing voice which I believe, lies at the core and optimism of politics.

As I am writing this, global events unravel at the speed of light.

Who would have thought that Tunisians, without any Western interference, have managed to a popular uprising to overthrow their despotic ruler, Ben Ali.  There is talk that this people revolution might inspire others around the region, sparking off another cascading effect of democratic revolutions.

Some commentators have claimed that an important impetus of this revolution can be attributed to the diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks. Meanwhile, its founder, Julian Assange remains under virtual house arrest in the UK while Bradley Manning, the alleged whistleblower who provided information to the site is still incarcerated in America, facing  the prospect of a military court.

Across the Atlantic, European governments are having a life or death battle of their own. In the UK,  for instance, the coalition government comprising of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats is facing the possibility of a unhappy split. The latter who came to power because of voter students turnout have faced street wrath in breaking their promise to increase tuition fees.

People power aside, the world faces insurmountable interlinking global problems that sometimes appear as if they are impossible to overcome. The latest intergovernmental meeting on climate change in Cancun has come and gone without much fanfare as the binding Kyoto protocol expires. The global financial crisis is expected to worsened while bankers  continue to reward themselves handsomely with taxpayers bailout money. As developed societies become more unequal, the rest of the developing world languishes in war, poverty and misery that could have been averted.

Clearly, this brief summary is inadequate. But it does show that there is so much more to be said, exposed and done. As such, I end with a cautious but hopeful remainder. May the good fight for the important things that matter such as human rights and social justice continue.

Multilateralism in Cancun? Who are we deceiving?

18 Dec

Unlike the Copenhagen Summit last year, COP 16 or the 16th Session of the Conference of the Parties in Mexico, Cancun, has occurred with less media attention. Perhaps the pathetic agreements achieved in the last conference had diminished public expectations and soured hopes of a possible breakthrough for this year.

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Expect protests for G20 Seoul summit

6 Nov

Expect protests and counter-repression tactics during the upcoming G20 Seoul summit happening between 11 and 12 November. According to the NGO coalition, Put People First! Korean People’s G20 Response Action, which consists of an alliance of student, trade unions and other civil society participants, 200 foreign activists have already been banned from entering Seoul during the intergovernmental meeting.

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Relevance of Universal Periodic Review in Singapore’s case

31 Oct

In its report to the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR), Singaporeans for Democracy (SFD), an NGO promoting local and regional democracy and human rights, focused on the city state’s electoral system, which it claims, is the root cause of all human rights abuses. While this is a commendable effort in drawing attention to the shortcomings of the electoral system and appears to coincide with upcoming general elections, its appraisals and recommendations may be of little relevance to the review due to the tenuous and indirect links between free and fair elections and human rights violations. It remains at best, speculative, that open and independent elections would naturally create conducive factors leading to human rights promotion. Moreover, the UPR is tasked to deal with specific human rights violations. As such, NGOs should have chosen to focus on these issues such as the death penalty. While Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of the Human Rights (UDHR) affirms the right of all peoples to representative government, this is not explicitly suggested by the SFD report. This article, divided into two parts, briefly describe the history, procedures, strengths and shortcomings of the UPR, before situating within the Singapore context.
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Why are they persecuting Wikileaks frontman, Julian Assange?

26 Oct

According to this New York Times report, Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange is on the run. Wanted by the U.S. government for the 1917 Espionage Act and facing sexual assault charges by the Swedish government, he believes he has also lost the possibility of refuge in other countries such as Britain and Iceland which are likely to hand him over to the Americans. Even Australia, where he was born, will do the same. In a reported conversation with an Australian senior official, the latter said, “You play outside the rules, and you will be dealt with outside the rules.”

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A self-serving insider perspective of wikileaks?

24 Oct

In an opinion piece for Al Jazeera, Grenier, a retired CIA veteran suggests that the recent wikileaks reveals few surprises. Furthermore, the greatest potential harm lies in promoting ‘tendentious interpretations’ i.e. a particular viewpoint or cause that is especially controversial. Continue reading

Israeli attack on Gaza Flotilla condemned by UN Mission

26 Sep

A UN mission, established under the mandate of the Human Rights Council to look into the Israeli attack on the Gaza Flotilla earlier this year, has released a report condemning the former for violating various international human rights and humanitarian law during the interception and detention of passengers in Israel.
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