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Indian Express/The Straits Times
Laos to bid for Asia-EU pact membership
AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
BANGKOK, December 27: Laos will soon submit its application
to join a cooperation pact between the Association of Southeast Asian
Nations (ASEAN) and the European Union, a report said here Saturday.
The expected move would come amid a spat between Asian and
European nations on military-run Burma's participation in inter-regional
cooperation following this year's admission of Rangoon and Vientiane to
The remote and landlocked Southeast Asian country will apply
to Thailand - the coordinator of ASEAN-EU cooperation - to join the
pact, Laotian Foreign Minister Sonsavat Lengsavad told the Bangkok Post.
A Bangkok official was, meanwhile, quoted as saying that the
application, which will allow Laos to join all ASEAN-EU meetings and
activities, was expected to be submitted ``soon''.
``All ASEAN members need to Express their intention to
cooperate with the European Union,'' Somsavat said.
The Bangkok Post quoted an unidentified source as saying
that the Philippines, as the chairman of the ASEAN standing committee,
had asked the European Union to extend a protocol on the ASEAN-EU
cooperation agreement to Laos and Burma.
Both countries were admitted as the eighth and ninth members of ASEAN
at a meeting in Malaysia in July. But a fiery row has since blown up
between ASEAN and Europe over the participation of Burma in ASEAN-Europe
meetings, a furore which forced the postponement of a gathering here in
Europe strongly opposes the participation of Burma in the
meetings, saying that while it has joined ASEAN it has not signed the
1980 co-operation protocol and should not be invited to do so because of
its human rights record.
ASEAN countries, notably Thailand, insisted that Burma - and
Laos - at least be allowed to attend the meeting as observers, a move
firmly resisted by Europe. The meeting, scheduled to be held in Bangkok,
will now likely go ahead in February, the paper said.
The Laotian minister however praised Burma's junta for
``trying to develop the country,'' the Post said.
Somasavat said ASEAN-EU coperation between the members of the nine and
25-strong groupings respectively, should be conducted on a collegial
basis rather than count ry-to-country.
However Vientiane will put off its bid to join the 25-member
Asia-Europe Meetingforum (ASEM) for ``a while'' on the advice of ASEAN
which Laos joined in July, he said.
``If we send our application now it will be meaningless
because the current membership will not consider it,'' he said.
ASEM is due to meet for its next summit in London in 1998 as
European nations uphold a strict visa ban on Burmese officials and their
families.ASEAN groups Brunei, Burma, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the
Philippines, SingaporE, Thailand and Vietnam. It is comprised of seven
of the ASEAN nations, the 15 members of the European Union as well as
China, Japan and South Korea.
Apart from Burma and Laos, Australia, New Zealand, India and
Pakistan are also Reportedly seeking ASEM membership.
The Straits Times
By M. Nirmala
University staff going overseas to woo students
TEAMS of senior staff from the two universities here have started
wooing top-quality foreign students in countries such as Mauritius,
Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, India and China.
Later, the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang
Technological University (NTU) will cast their net wider, with teams
visiting Myanmar, Nepal and South Africa.
These efforts depart from their previous practice of waiting for
foreign students to come to them.
They were nudged in this new direction by Deputy Prime Minister
Tony Tan, who oversees university education here. He felt that being
proactive was one way of solving the projected shortfall of graduates.
By year 2000, the number of graduates here needs to be nearly twice
that of the present total -- from 9,000 to 17,000.
The visiting teams of two to four senior lecturers and
administrators attend education and career exhibitions, hold talks for
parents and students in hotels and talk to principals and students of
They also distribute brochures, sell degree courses and explain why
it is attractive to study in Singapore.
Each trip may cost between $1,000 and $40,000, depending on whether
it is a day trip or a longer 10-day visit.
"Show me a country where there are about 12 bright students who
want to study in NUS and I will go there and get them," said Professor
Bernard Tan, 54, who heads the Department of Office of Student Affairs
set up recently.
Professor Victor Choa, 56, Dean of Students in NTU, said: "There is
a rich untapped source of students out there. The students I have met
are sparklers and I'm mining for unpolished diamonds."
The response so far to the teams' visits has been good.
About 750 parents packed a hotel room for two days in Jakarta and
150 parents turned up at similar talks in Mauritius held by the NTU.
NUS and NTU face tough competition at such events from overseas
universities in Australia, Germany, United States and Britain.
For example, for an upcoming fair in Jakarta, German universities
have already booked 20 booths and are planning to include replicas of
their institutes as exhibits.
By contrast, NUS and NTU staff have been sharing only one booth at
most fairs, but they made up for this lack of space with some hard-sell.
At these events, the teams tell parents that their children can
obtain almost 100 per cent bank loans for tuition fees. These loans can
be settled over 20 years and students start paying interest only after
These facts go down well as parents in these countries do not earn
much and may have money problems from devalued currencies.
Parents are also told that Singapore is a safe place for their
children to study in.
Many parents already know that a degree from Singapore's
universities is one that is highly regarded worldwide.
Parents also learn that tertiary education in Singapore is heavily
subsidised by the Government. And they are assured that their children
will be helped to settle in.
Both universities will start seeing results of their work some time
in April when applications are received.
But the work of the teams will continue.
Next year, for instance, Prof Choa will travel to several
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