Asean Missing Social Agenda — Charles Santiago

Source: The Malay Mail Online

BY CHARLES SANTIAGO

An opinion piece - file pic

An opinion piece – file pic

NOVEMBER 21 — It’s the 27th time that Asean heads of states and world leaders, such as yourselves, will be meeting to discuss the initiative for Asean integration, which deals with the gaps in economic development in the region, besides meetings with other dialogue partners such as Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea and the US.

The formation of the Asean Economic Community in the next six weeks, similar to that of the European Union, which is characterised by a single market and the free intra-regional flow of goods, services and investment will be the main focus of the meetings and has captured the imagination of global and regional economic observers.

Asean has been mouthing that it works in the interest of the people. But the economic integration, fashioned to look as if it prioritises the welfare of the people, only focuses on Business Asean and not Social Asean.

Business Asean, which includes the free trade agreements such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, European Union-Asean trade deal or the recently concluded Transpacific Partnership Agreement, promote multinationals, Asean big businesses and lobbyists.

The social dimension to the integration efforts by the ten member countries — Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos, Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia and the Philippines — is therefore sorely missing. Read more

What APEC means to poor people in Asia — Cherian Mathews

Source: The Malay Mail Online

BY CHERIAN MATHEWS

An opinion piece - file pic

An opinion piece – file pic

NOVEMBER 18 — Manila is hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Meeting, which is going to be attended by prominent world leaders. For Oxfam, this is a good time for APEC leaders to re-examine the prevailing development and economic paradigm that has increased the wealth of a handful while millions remain in poverty, creating a landscape of staggering inequality.

Steady economic growth in most of the countries across Asia in the last quarter of this century has created jobs, new wealth and reduced poverty.

But a study from the Asian Development Bank(ADB) found that inequality in the region between the mid-1990s and the late 2000s has risen by as much as 18 per cent and that 1.6 billion people continue to live on less than US$2 (RM8.77) a day.

Gini coefficient — a common inequality measure — has worsened during 1990s and 2000s in the countries where more than 80 per ent of the population lived in Asia. That inequality increased in the midst of the region’s much vaunted economic growth means that something is amiss. Read more

Why are some refugees more equal than others? – Syerleena Abdul Rashid

Source: The Malaysian Insider

A few weeks ago on the night of Maal Hijrah, the Immigration Department raided a village in Bagan Dalam, mainland Penang and rounded up about 80 “illegal immigrants”. Sixty of them were refugees and asylum seekers which included women and children. A majority of refugees living in this community were Rohingya Muslims who, as we know, are regarded as the most persecuted and most vulnerable communities in the world.

Just last month, the government surprised the entire nation by saying that our country would “open its doors to 3,000 Syrian migrants over the next three years to help alleviate the refugee crisis”. Read more

Court of Appeal wrong to declare religious law unconstitutional, rules Federal Court

Source: The Malaysian Insider

The Federal Court ruled today that the Court of Appeal made a mistake in declaring section 66 of the Negri Sembilan Shariah Criminal Enactment as unconstitutional in the case of three transgenders. – Reuters pic, October 8, 2015.

The Court of Appeal has no jurisdiction to declare that a provision in the Negri Sembilan Islamic criminal enactment as unconstitutional as three transgenders had used the wrong legal procedure to start their action, the Federal Court ruled today.

A five-man bench led by Tan Sri Md Raus Sharif, who delivered the unanimous judgments, said the trio should have gone to the Federal Court as they were challenging the competency of the state legislature to make laws. Read more

Ever widening income disparity between rich Malaysians and the rest, says economist

Source: The Malaysian Insider

The Khazanah Research Institute’s Director of Research Dr Muhammed Abdul Khalid uses the benchmark of car sales showing declining sales in the lower price range cars against major increases in luxury car sales as further proof that the income gap is widening betwen the rich and the rest of Malaysia. – The Malaysian Insider pic, August 11, 2015.

The income gap between top earning Malaysian individuals and everyone else is widening, an economist with a local think tank said, even though income disparity between households has gone down.

Dr Muhammed Abdul Khalid said some indicators of this are how luxury car and home sales have gone up, and are still buoyant compared with sales of the middle and low-end range of these products.

The sales for luxury big ticket items are also happening at a time when overall consumer sentiment is weak due to inflation and a slow economy, said Muhammed, who is attached to the Khazanah Research Institute.

“Car sales in Malaysia are down but for Porsche it is up by 180%. Proton is down 22% and Naza down by 100%, but for Mercedes it is up 44%.

“The high end cars are selling like hot cakes and the lower end is dropping. The rich are ok. The low (income) have a problem,” Muhammed said on the sidelines of the Malaysian Student Leaders Summit in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday. Read more