Sunday, January 30, 2005

Asian Egos

It's quite pathetic really. Just over a month after the catastrophe - and with the chance of doing something important to avoid future disasters - the countries of the region have thrown away a golden opportunity to establish an Indian Ocean tsunami warning system. The meeting this weekend in Phuket has been divided by clashes over who should host a regional coordination centre. Thailand proposed that it should be in Bangkok, but this was opposed by Indonesia and India. This kind of policy inertia is nothing new in the region. In the aftermath of the Asian financial crises in 1997-98, for example, there was no coherent regional solution on the table and so the management of the crisis was ceded to the IMF and US Treasury. Not untypically, reporters are saying that "national egos appear to be getting in the way of international co-operation". The only firm agreement to date is that a UN agency, the International Oceanographic Commission, should coordinate a decentralised network. Just once, you'd have thought ...


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