Exercising Power Fairly More Important SDG Yardstick than Democratic Accountability

By Kalinga Seneviratne

BANGKOK (IDN) – In its 2017 Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific, the Bangkok-based UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) makes an interesting argument in regards to achieving the Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in seemingly downplaying the importance of democratic accountability and emphasising that how power is exercised is more important. Continue reading “Exercising Power Fairly More Important SDG Yardstick than Democratic Accountability”

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India’s Yogi Chief Minister May Rewrite Democracy Textbooks

Analysis by Kalinga Seneviratne

NEW DELHI (IDN) – From across Asia to Europe and the United States voters have shown their dismay at corrupt political systems by voting in unconventional politicians who promise to “clean the swamp”.

So the election mid-March of a Yogi Chief Minister in Uttar Pradesh – India’s most populous state – may well herald in a new era for Asian politics, where religion could step in to clean up the corruption in politics. Continue reading “India’s Yogi Chief Minister May Rewrite Democracy Textbooks”

Sri Lanka: Celebrating “Independence” In A Mess

Published by IDN-InDepthNews – 02 February 2017

By Kalinga Seneviratne

On February 4 each year Sri Lanka celebrates the gaining of independence from British colonial rule. 69 years since then, it is appropriate to ask: “what independence?” The country is currently in a real mess brought about by a successful regime change campaign orchestrated by “civil society” groups, which toppled the government of “war-winning” President Mahinda Rajapakse in January 2015.

Today, the country’s foreign minister acts like a colonial era British Viceroy and not as the country’s top diplomat safeguarding the nation’s interests and dignity. The Prime Minister while trying to drum up foreign “investments” acts as if he is willing to sell any part of the country to the highest bidder and the President roams around the island like a colonial-era “gate mudaliyar” attending functions and trying to assure the natives that they are in good hands. Continue reading “Sri Lanka: Celebrating “Independence” In A Mess”

SDGs in Asia Risk Hijacking by Western Activists

By Kalinga Seneviratne

BANGKOK (IDN) – Early December three UN agencies UNDPUNESCO and UNFPA organized a three-day youth mobilizing program at the UNESCAP building here called ‘Case for Space’ (C4S) touted as a campaign led by over 60 partners in the region to raise awareness and advocate for the promotion ofSustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Asia-Pacific region.

Yet, it was dominated by mainly European and American speakers and consultants, with the project being led by a UK-based activist group Restless Development, which made many participants from the region to wonder whether the SDG agenda is being hijacked by westerner activists. Continue reading “SDGs in Asia Risk Hijacking by Western Activists”

Mixed Reactions in Southeast Asia To Trump Triumph

Analysis by Kalinga Seneviratne

BANGKOK (IDN) – Republican Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential elections has drawn mixed reactions. Thailand hopes that a Trump presidency will adhere to a “balanced” foreign policy, while Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia have expressed concerns that he will dismantle the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. Indonesia cautioned its citizens not to react negatively to Trump’s anti-Islamic stance and Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte welcomed Trump’s victory because both are “alike”. Continue reading “Mixed Reactions in Southeast Asia To Trump Triumph”

Philippines and Malaysia Unplug Obama’s Asian Pivot

By Kalinga Seneviratnexi-d

BANGKOK (IDN) – Philippines’ outspoken President Rodrigo Duterte while unplugging U.S. President’s much-publicized “Pivot to Asia”, has also challenged the United States to help promote cooperation in the region not confrontation.

Duterte provoked alarm in diplomatic circles last month (October) by announcing his country’s “separation” from the United States and realignment with China while on a visit to Beijing.

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak has also signaled a similar realignment of foreign policy during a visit to Beijing. In a commentary published in the China Daily he said that former colonial powers should not be lecturing to countries they once exploited on running their internal affairs. Continue reading “Philippines and Malaysia Unplug Obama’s Asian Pivot”

DPRK Nuke Test Calls For Dumping Cold War Responses

Analysis by Kalinga Seneviratne

BANGKOK (IDN) – Even before the ink dried up on a statement issued in the Laotian capital Vientiane by the East Asia Summit (EAS) on nuclear proliferation, North Korea announced the successful testing of a nuclear bomb that has focused attention in the region on increasing militarization.

Pyongyang’s latest weapons testing came less than a day after the EAS leaders adopted a statement urging it to give up its nuclear and missile programs. It was the first time that the 18-member regional body, which also includes the United States, China, Russia and Japan, adopted a single-issue statement other than the chairman’s statement. Continue reading “DPRK Nuke Test Calls For Dumping Cold War Responses”