ASEAN News and Discussion


Tihar Jail
Oct 2, 2009
India–Indonesia strategic partnership

Tamalia Alisjahbana, Jakarta | Tue, 05/18/2010 8:56 AM | Opinion A | A | A |
Indonesia may trade with China but it sings and dances with India. If Gandhi and Nehru or Indonesia's Founding Fathers, Muhammad Hatta and Sjahrir were alive today, they would say that India and Indonesia have a moral duty to create a vision of a democratic and pluralist Asia.
India is the largest democracy in Asia and Indonesia is the largest democracy in ASEAN. Democracy has not always been considered an Asian value.
At the "India-Indonesia New Strategic Partnership" seminar last week, Dr. Raja Mohan, strategic
affairs editor of the Indian Express, described how in the late 1990s the Singapore government spoke about Asian values as opposed to Western values, but how the discussion came to an abrupt end, when the people of Jakarta poured out into the streets demanding democracy in 1998.
For India and Indonesia, democracy is an accepted Asian value. An important aspect of this is also having a pluralist society. Former Indian ambassador to Indonesia Vinod Khanna expressed this by saying that diversity was a source of enrichment to all mankind.
It is a matter of little surprise that both India and Indonesia also currently face extremist groups bent on establishing uniform, homogenous societies for, as a noted Indonesian scholar once wrote, "A society that does not give its people the right to think and express themselves freely is a society that has not yet evolved out of its own tribalism." — tribes being usually homogenous in character.
It emerged that one of India's main interests in the ASEAN is security. The more nations of Southeast Asia that are democratic and pluralist, the more India and Indonesia's security interests are served.
During India and Indonesia's struggle for independence, the leaders of the two nations had a close relationship and frequently tried to assist each other in their fight for freedom.
Gandhi and Nehru were profoundly inspiring figures not only for Indonesia's founding fathers but for the Indonesian people.
In 1947, Nehru organized a conference of Asian nations in Delhi to support Indonesia's struggle for independence and to fly Sutan Sjahrir through the Dutch blockade for the conference.
Later when India experienced famine, Indonesian nationalist forces collected rice. Nationalist posters at the time cried out, "Help Mother India!" During the struggle for independence our founding fathers shared common goals, values and visions for India and Indonesia.
A democratic and pluralist Asia would certainly has been a part of their long-term vision.
Obviously, the governments of India and Indonesia are reluctant to lecture other nations about democracy, let alone coerce them into becoming democracies.
To do so would be a grave mistake for democracy needs to grow from the people.
So in creating a vision of a democratic and pluralist Asia, the people need to be given the opportunity to speak and act.
Both India and Indonesia have active NGOs in the field of democracy and human rights that should be encouraged to meet, exchange ideas and work together not only in the interests of India and Indonesia but also in building a vision of a democratic and pluralist Asia.
NGOs from Asian nations that are not yet democratic may be allowed to participate. Governments can provide forums and funding.
In brief the governments of India and Indonesia can support the establishment of a continuous and lively dialogue, as well as cooperation on issues of democracy, freedom of the press, human rights and national identity, which evolve around shared values.
An important element in creating and building democracies and pluralist societies is culture, which is why culture and the arts should also be of interest to the governments of India and Indonesia.
Too often Indonesia through ASEAN has been grouped together with China but although we may trade more with China, ideologically and culturally we remain closer to India.
Through the centuries we have seen India's influence on our dance, art, temples and monuments, and our music. Even today, India still delights us with its Bollywood films.
India's influences are not only felt in Bali but throughout the islands of the Indonesian Archipelago as Indonesia's first meeting with India was not just an information and technology revolution.
It was a profound awakening of our creative soul that paved the way for great development of the arts and culture.
Even today, India touches our hearts and inspires our creativity in a way that leaves the Indonesian soul deeply happy.
India and Indonesia should join hands to create dances, dramas, textiles and stories as we did so many centuries ago.
Additionally, why not create a Bollywood film together? It would be in the interests of both India and Indonesia for their governments to inspire a renaissance in the arts and in democracy, a renaissance that could spread throughout Asia.
Let us start with a lively and continued dialogue between India and Indonesia. In the words of
Dr. Raja Mohan, "I believe that India and Indonesia can make a difference in the world. Once you bring people together you will see things begin to happen"¦"

Indonesia may trade with China but it sings and dances with India.


Tihar Jail
Oct 2, 2009
Thailand's ex-PM Thaksin predicts guerrilla war

(Reuters) - Exiled former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said on Wednesday that a military crackdown on protesters backing him could spawn mass discontent and lead to guerrilla warfare.


Thaksin, ousted in a bloodless 2006 military coup, is denounced by adversaries as Thailand's most corrupt politician. To his anti-government supporters, who set Bangkok ablaze on Wednesday, he is a savior.

Speaking from an undisclosed location, Thaksin said the crackdown on "red shirt" protesters, which killed six people and wounded 58, could degenerate into widespread violence.

"There is a theory saying a military crackdown can spread resentment and these resentful people will become guerrillas," Thaksin told Reuters as troops fought protesters in Bangkok, sparking violence in outer provinces.

"There are lots and lots of people across the country who are upset because they were prevented from joining the Bangkok rally."

His critics say Thaksin is a crony capitalist who plundered the economy and perverted democracy for the benefit of his family and friends while in power from 2001 until the 2006 coup.

But to many rural voters, he was the first leader to consider the needs of millions living beyond Bangkok's bright lights.

Thaksin, who scored two landslide poll wins, has been living abroad in self-exile since being removed.

But a two-month campaign by his supporters to oust the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, hoping to gain Thaksin a political amnesty and justice, culminated on Wednesday in the country's worst political violence in 18 years.

Rioting and fires swept Bangkok after troops stormed the protesters' encampment, forcing their leaders to surrender.

Protesters set ablaze at least 27 buildings, including the Thai stock exchange and Central World, Southeast Asia's second-biggest department store complex.

A night curfew was declared in Bangkok and 21 provinces.


Thaksin, 60, has hovered over Thai politics since fleeing the country in 2008, accused of undermining the powerful monarchy and breaching conflict-of-interest laws. He was sentenced in absentia to two years in prison.

Government officials say the multimillionaire former telecommunications tycoon was funding the protests to the tune of about $1.5 million a day. Both Red Shirt leaders and Thaksin

deny he funded the anti-government movement.

In his comments, Thaksin rejected any notion he was the stumbling block in failed talks between the government and protesters.

"I only gave them advice that they should make a collective decision as a group, not letting any individual leaders to make a decision by their own... I never discussed about my personal interests with them," Thaksin said.

Thaksin, a former policeman, is accused by critics of abusing his electoral mandate to systematically dismantle constitutional checks and balances while consolidating his own rule.

In 2005, he looked unassailable with a record majority in parliament based on the platform of cheap healthcare and handouts for rural voters that swept him to power four years earlier.

He formed the first elected government to serve a full term, after which it was re-elected. He was also the first leader in Thai history to form a one-party government.

But corruption scandals and alleged abuses of power eroded his popularity among Bangkok's middle classes. Simmering anger exploded in 2006 when his relatives sold off, tax-free, their $1.9 billion stake in Shin Corp, the telecoms empire he founded, to a Singapore state company.

Thaksin responded by calling an election three years early, which he duly won.


Born into a family of ethnic Chinese silk merchants in 1949 in the northern city of Chiang Mai, Thaksin became a policeman in 1973 before gaining a masters degree in criminal justice at Eastern Kentucky University.

He is still popular among rank-and-file policemen, accused by government backers of doing too little to stop the protests.

In 1987, he established a computer dealership with his wife that started selling hardware to the police. The company evolved into Shin Corp, a telecoms conglomerate with interests ranging from mobile phones to satellites, the Internet and the media.

But a corruption probe dogged him in power until he convinced investigators he made an "honest mistake" in failing to declare millions of dollars of shares transferred to his domestic staff.

A 2003 war on drugs in which 2,500 people were killed boosted his image as a crime-buster, but sparked outrage from rights groups, who said he was riding roughshod over civil liberties.

In February, Thailand's top court seized $1.4 billion of his assets, saying it was acquired through abuse of power.


Senior Member
Aug 9, 2021
"Iswaran faces 27 charges, which mainly revolve around claims that he received favors such as tickets to soccer matches, shows and events from 2015 to 2022.

Among his alleged misdeeds are receiving two tickets worth over 1,000 Singapore dollars ($744) to a soccer match between English Premier League teams Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur in November 2015, and to shows such as “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” in December 2017.

Iswaran represented Singapore in negotiations for a Formula One motorsport event to be held in the city-state. The charges also allege that in September 2016, he received 10 tickets to the race worth over SG$40,000, and again the following year.

According to local media, Iswaran pleaded not guilty on Thursday as he appeared at the state court."


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