CALD in Web 2.0

4 09 2009

Participants at the 6th CALD Communication Workshop in Hong Kong discuss communication and marketing strategies for CALD.

How could CALD make better use of web 2.0?

1. Link (direct on CALD website to CALD’s Facebook, Twitter, Plurk, Youtube)

2. Make them more visible on the CALD Website

3. Having a shoutbox

4. Create its own CALDBOOK

What specific Web 2.0 features and tools would be best or most effective for CALD?

1. Document sharing among members

2. Survey tools

3. Political games (i.e. Restaurant City or Mafia Wars on FB)

4. More videos that are visible to all members

What can CALD do for your parties in this context?

1. Country visit and tecnical trainings of the party members in most needed countries

2. Upload videos of member party’s activities on CALD’s Youtube channel

3. CALD “Hotline”

Anti ISA March 2009

1 08 2009

It happened!

I had long planned to organise a new media workshop in KL on 1st August. My facilitator had already bought a flight ticket. I was told that there would be an anti Internal Security Act (ISA) demonstration on that day and a few people could not join. I still went ahead with my plan until I received sms from a friend asking me to call off my workshop. The message warned that a few roads would be blocked and since the workshop venue is located at the city centre it would be difficult for participants to travel to. I smsed a few friends to get confirmation which made me even more confused. Some said the demonstration would not be huge like the one in November 2007 when the ethnic Indian protested. However, the majority said that it might be huge and definitely main road would be blocked. After several exchanged of sms, I decided to call it off!

I planned to observe the situation since I would be in KL. However, I missed it. My programme in Cameron Highlands run late. I had to cancel my dinner meeting on 31st July and to reschedule it on 1st August. When I was having a discussion, I was told that the police blocked a few main road since last night. No wonder on my way back to KL, a lot of police were checking on our car.

Anyway, the first information I received was that a few people were arrested and tear gas and water cannon were fired at protesters. My meetings went on as usual until late afternoon. Then I received a call from a friend saying that two people whom I know were arrested. She said that they were about to leave after a peaceful protest then the police arrested them. Luckily they were released a few hours later.

Well, I have been asking myself whether it was a right decision to postpone the workshop since we had everything planned. The action today confirmed it was the right decision. It happened. The road closure led to dramatic traffic in KL today. A few online news portal declared it a success for the Opposition as it did damage to the government. That is politics and this is not meant to be a political message. I should then end it here…

Thailand to beef up security for regional forum: latest interview

16 07 2009

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has said that he would invoke a harsh internal security act to prevent protests at a regional summit in Phuket next week.

Mr Abhisit said the cabinet had agreed to declare the internal security act in Phuket and five kilometres around the tourist island from July 10 to 24 for the ASEAN Regional Forum meeting.

The forum groups foreign ministers from the 10 ASEAN members plus 16 dialogue partners, including the United States, China, Japan and South Korea.

The move comes after an incident in April when anti-government protesters loyal to ousted former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, forced the cancellation of a major Asian summit in the Thai resort of Pattaya. The declaration will allow the military to assist the police at the meeting.

So, what measures the authorities will likely put in place during the summit?

938LIVE poses this question to Dr Pimrapaat Dusadeeisariyakul, program manager of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation in Bangkok.

“The government will impose Internal Security Act as if they fill it’s necessary to do so. I think there will unofficial soldiers and police put in place in Phuket. Because they can never be challenged like they were in Pattaya. If I can refer to the situation in Pattaya, you see a lot of blue shirt guards. They are not with the government and they are not with the Red protesters. But they are somehow linked to one of the component parties in the current government. As far as I can see, you can have those kind of people in Phuket just to make sure that things do not get out of hands again.”

Leaders of the Red Shirts group had said that they have no intention of trying to disrupt the Phuket meetings. Do you think they can keep their promise as they are still demanding that the government should call for a general election?

 “They said that they wouldn’t break in to the conference during the meeting in Pattaya, and they did. And things went out of hands. So we can not be so sure that they wouldn’t do it again in Phuket. So I think the government has to be very careful in dealing with the situation and planning it so well in advance. I think they should have troops in place maybe not in large number but smaller to make sure that the protestors can not get closer to the delegates to the meetings. Because last time there was a debate right after the Pattaya meeting. But there was no law in Thailand that says like how many kilometers that you cannot get close to the meeting. Now I think the police are eventually aware that they cannot allow protestors to get closer to the delegates or to the meeting venue like how far they can go. So I think this time they are better prepared.”

According to Thailand’s constitution, under what circumstances will the government be forced to go for snap polls?

“Vote of no confidence in the parliament, that’s one thing. But if you follow the situation in Thailand close enough, you will listen to a statement by Prime Minister Abhisit. He said many times that once situation put in place he will dissolve the house and call for an early election. I think now all parties are prepared for a general election anyway, either before end of the year or before the King’s birthday in December or early next year. So I think it now depends very much on the assessment of the prime minister. Because the component parties did not do well in the by election and there is a constant internal conflict within the coalition. So we can say that the government is very fragile and they will call for an election anyway, it’s just a matter of time, because this type of coalition can not survive for so long. I think the government realises it right from the beginning.”

Mr Abhisit must bring unity to his coalition to ensure his government’s survival. Is his coalition likely to fall apart, and if so, what are main causes behind its collapse?

“Now we have to refer to why this coalition government was formed in the beginning. Because the Democrat Party did not have enough majority to form it, right? And now when they have Bhumjai Thai to form the coalition government, they were confident that BhumjaiThai could do better. And the result of the bi-election recently confirm that is not the case. So after the result of the bi-election, then you hear a lot of stories about Unity government that DP might form another coalition government with Puea Thai. So that’s one possibility and I can say that it’s still possible. The other is that they can form the same coalition government after the next election and Bhumjai Thai has to perform better. Without Bhumjai Thai, Democrat party can not form a government anyway.” With a big turnout at a rally of his supporters and another landslide by-election win for his party at the weekend, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has proved he is still a force in Thai politics, even in exile. How strong is Thaksin’s support in the country now? “Very strong. And I need to refer again to the bi-election result, because we thought Democrat Party has been doing better with all the component parties in the coalition government. But it doesn’t prove to be the case as I mentioned it earlier. So that also confirms that Thaksin is very strong in the rural areas especially in the north and northeast. And he has powerful people in those areas who can work for him and he doesn’t need to be present in the country at all.” Analysts say the strengthening of Thaksin’s parliamentary and extra-parliamentary movements could plunge Thailand into deeper political turmoil, stifling economic recovery efforts and heightening the risk of more civil unrest. What are your thoughts on the issue? “I think it will have the same impact on the economy and political and social division in the country as when the Red protestors did it. So, it’s not very healthy in the country with social division and political polarisation because we cannot have a short term solution for this. And it will adverse impact on our economy and out political stability because we may have an election either end of the year or early next year, but it doesn’t mean that it will preaid stability. The country will not be stabilised for a number of years.” Click on the above speaker to hear this on podcast.

Sino – US relations : an old fashion topic?

3 02 2009

Conversation of my two colleagues during lunch break kept me thinking about the relevance of the global configuration of power. politically and economically. What happened was that a colleague saw a book lied on a table of another colleague title “The Relations between the United States and China”. The former complained that the book has a very old fashion title. She seems to think that no one would be interested to study that kind of a topic at present time. Is it true? Is such title not valid for International Relations today?

After a while, I began to realise that many non-traditional issues have arisen and world attention has turned into that direction. This may be one of the reasons made she said that people are not anymore interested in the influence of the relations between the two global players.

As for me, I think we have to look at the world in different layers: global, regional and local. On the global level, can we deny that the two powers do not play influential role in world poltics and economic? Can we ignore them altogether? Have their economic policies impact on majority of countries in Asia? On the regional level, their relations have also impact on the relations within the South Asia and South East Asia region.

Tension escalated at the Thai-Cambodian border

17 07 2008
Preah Vihear Temple

Preah Vihear Temple

As can be expected, tension along the Thai-Cambodian border has escalated in the last few days. Yesterday, I learnt from the news report that 3 Thais were detailed and this morning news confirmed that they were already released. Although those 3 ordinary Thai citizens were released, it is claimed that a number of Thai soldiers are detained by the Cambodian soldiers.

Noppadol Pattama, former Foreign Minister, resigned on 14 July 2008

Noppadol Pattama, former Foreign Minister, resigned on 14 July 2008

The issue captured much of public attention after the former Foreign Minister Noppadol Pattama had already signed a joint communique with the Cambodian government on 18 June. The PAD and the Opposition Democrat Party used the issue to exert pressure on the government both inside and outside the parliament which had led Noppadol to tender his resignation – as a responsible party.

Using nationalism as a tool to exert pressure on the government can be easily understood – it is cheap and it always works, but who will be responsible for the consequences.

I had a chance to talk with a Cambodian colleague recently when we met in Bangkok. I asked “what is your opinion on the issue of Preah Vihear?”. She said Cambodian people are upset with the latest development and do not understand why Thai politicians have to politicise the issue further. Leaving the issue beyond politics and it may be solvable? May be, but I am not quite sure. Yet, I do agree with my colleague that politcising the issue has made it even more difficult to solve.

Both countries have different information background on this Hindu Temple. The Thais would argue that our government since King Rama the Fifth had never accepted the ruling of the International Court of Justice, the staircase leading to the temple itself is evidence. The Cambodian would rebut that the temple has all along belonged to Cambodia and the ruling of the international court ascertained it. While there can be no proved as to who is right and wrong, would not it be better to leave it as it has been. Now that the temple has been listed as a World Heritage, perhaps the Thai should also submit the request to list the surrounding areas as World Heritage as well.

KL is empty!

25 11 2007


I have been coming to Kuala Lumpur quite often but this is the first time that KL is empty. I was warned by a few friends yesterday that there would be a rally by the ethnic Indian near my place and that I should stay away from it. A few friends also rang and encouraged me to witness the rally myself since I am here and stay so close to the British High Commission where Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF) leaders intended to submit a petition.

A day before the rally, an Indian taxi driver passed me a leaflet carried the following message:

” A class action on behalf of Malaysian Indians has filed at the Royal Courts of Justice London 30th August 2007 to sue the UK Government for bringing in Indians as indentured labourers into Malaya and exploiting them for almost 150 years and thereafter failing to protect the minority Indian rights in the Federal Constitution when independence was granted, hence making Malaysian Indians a permanently colonized society.

A petition with 100,000 signatures to be presented to Her Royal Highness the Queen of England to appoint her Majesty’s Queens Counsels to represent the poor, underclass, oppressed and suppressed Malaysian Indians would be presented at the British High Commission on 25th November at 9am at the British High Commission on Jalan Ampang.

Democratic minded citizens of all races are urged to attend to show the British Government we are united and serious with our demands for JUSTICE and Protection as subjects of commonwealth.”

I asked him, “will you join the rally?” “No, but many will join”, he said.

When I was out taking pictures along Jalan Tun Razak and Jalan Ampang, I asked a police why did not they allow the Indians to submit a petition. If they want to submit a petition they can do so with 10 or 20 people why asking 100,000 to join. There must be something behind it. The Indians want to make it a racial issue. My friend then asked how about the other groups (ethnic Malays), why could they? No reply from that policeman.


I supposed to attend a forum at the Corus Hotel on Jalan Ampang, close to the famous twin tower, KLCC. My forum was forced to be canceled. There was no way that participants could come. LRT Station both at Ampang and KLCC were blocked. At around 1pm Malaysian riot police stood still right in front of Corus Hotel.

I was told that the ethnic Indian protesters are requesting also for the abolition of Article 153 of the Federal Constitution regarding the Malay rights. The Indians are feeling that they have been treated unfairly and like 3rd class citizens, after the Malays and the Chinese. Whether their complaint are true or not, one can only witness when come to Malaysia.

In a video showed in, one of the HINDRAF leaders after being arrested mentioned that they want economic freedom and equal rights. On the Star’s front page showed police notice warning the Indians to stay at home and do not join the rally. On the same paper yesterday, it covered the arrest of the three HINDRAF’s leaders and a story below it is a story on “Pakistan Throw out of Commonwealth” written by an Indian news correspondent – which I and a friend find it a bit unusual.

Latest update on Malaysiakini showed that about 30,000 joined the rally. Latest information from various sources said that over 300 people were arrested.

Although the crowd dispersed, people are worried whether the protesters would return on the street again today or some other time. This is something to do with people feeling and if such feeling is not going to go away so easily, people will find way to come back and fight for justice.

Burma’s Crisis

17 10 2007

news.jpgIt was an interesting afternoon to listen to a story about what happened in Burma from the Burmese perspective. The public forum organised by ISIS Thailand on “Burma’s Crisis: Ways Forward” was indeed in time. The recent protest and the military crackdown on the Buddhist monks was the picture the Buddhists would not like to see and it was one of the central points discussed at the forum.

I remember while watching the BBC news report I was asking myself what if that was happening in Thailand, what would Thai people react? Would the military regime give such cruel order? That has not yet happened in Thailand and the current government position on the situation in Burma is loud and clear: “it is unacceptable”, said Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont. Mr. Kraisak Choonhawan, one of the speakers, said that this was actually the first time Thai Prime Minister condemned the Burmese military crackdown. In the past, Thailand tends to say that it is their internal conflict and we should not get involve. Thailand and Burma share a long border and what happens in Burma will have a great impact in Thailand. Well while that statement is true, we should not forget that the previous Thai governments had mainly concerned about their business interest in Burma much more than anything else. Commenting or condemning the military action inside Burma would have an impact on their business dealing.

So much so about Thailand’s stand on Burma’s current situation. Another important issue in the Burma’s crisis is the China factor. As long as China continues to provide support to the Burmese government (to trade off natural resources), there is no way that the Burmese government will severely suffer from the Western sanction. But how to deal with China remains a question that none seems to find an answer.

Solution to the current crisis in Burma has to come from within. The Burmese should not reply entirely on outside help. External powers can help by putting more pressure on the Burmese government and China but the change in the society and the political system has to come from within. Some are thinking that a dialogue between the protesters and the government with senior monks as the mediator can make peace at least temporarily. However, I find it difficult to agree as I personally prefer the separation of state and religion. If the monks are allowed or are invited to mediate a peace talk, will it be acceptable to the Burmese people that they play a role in the political arena???