Where Monsoons Meet No. 2
It had been my intention to post regularly on political developments in Southeast Asia, under the generic heading of Where Monsoons Meet. Naturally, this was rather overtaken by the tragic events of the earthquake and its aftermath. But there have been some important things going on in the region and I highlight a couple of them here.
- One of the most depressing features of progressive politics has been the tendency for the Philippine Left - once a real force for change - to indulge in deadly internecine feuds. This situation has reached its nadir in the last fortnight. The exiled leadership of the Communist Party of the Philippines has issued a so-called "hit list" of what it calls "counterrevolutionaries". One of their crimes is to be associated with foreign Trotskyites and social democrats. Among those named on the list is my friend Walden Bello. For those who don't know him, Walden has been a leading campaigner over many years for global justice and equality. He was awarded the 2003 Right Livelihood Award (the "alternative Nobel Prize") precisely in recognition of his work in exposing the depradations of corporate globalisation. So there is a bitter irony here - of the dogmatic Party apparatchiks threatening their supposed rivals on the Left who dare to practice a different kind of politics. The problem is that this is not merely an empty threat. Many have been assassinated by the CPP's hit squads. In the meantime, the Philippine elites ignore the spat and continue the unravelling of a tormented society. There is a brilliant commentary on the "nightmare" of the Philippine Left by Bonn over at A Good Game.
- Despite the terrible loss of life in Thailand the conflict in the Muslim South shows no signs of abating. Earlier in the week the government deployed some 10,000 troops in the southern provinces - the prelude perhaps to a pre-election offensive by the prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra. There are more updates on the situation in southern Thailand at Forum Asia.