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Unbridled capitalism worse than soc
- Subject: Unbridled capitalism worse than soc
- From: Sidneypilg@xxxxxxx
- Date: Wed, 02 Dec 1998 20:02:00
Subject: Unbridled capitalism worse than socialism: Soros
DEC 2 1998
Thailand supports $1.6b Myanmar deal
Under the initiative worked out by the IMF and World Bank, aid will be offered
to the rulers in exchange for a dialogue with the opposition
By EDWARD TANG
BANGKOK -- Thailand has thrown its support behind a US$1 billion (S$1.6
billion) international effort reported to be led by the United Nations and the
World Bank to break the political deadlock in Myanmar.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sukhumbhand Paribatra has praised the two
international organisations for the billion-dollar offer of humanitarian and
technical aid to Myanmar's ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC)
in exchange for opening a dialogue with the opposition National League for
Democracy (NLD) led by Ms Aung San Suu Kyi.
"Non-governmental organisations and the private sector in different nations
can contribute to the foundations of a modern Myanmar by helping to develop
human resources in the country," he said.
But he added: "The initiative will not bring about apocalyptic changes in
Myanmar, nor will it break the political deadlock overnight."
His comments in The Nation newspaper yesterday gave credence to a report last
week in the International Herald Tribune, which first disclosed the secret
According to that report, the SPDC would be rewarded with financial and
technical aid on a gradual basis as it carries out three conditions.
These are the release of political prisoners; freedom of movement for Ms Aung
San Suu Kyi; and permission for the NLD to function as a political party.
In exchange, the NLD, which won the general election in 1988, would rescind
its right to convene parliament.
Financed through the World Bank, the bulk of the funding would come from
Japan, said the report.
It is believed that the dollar-for-democracy idea was hatched at a meeting in
London in October among a small group, which included Mr Sukhumbhand, UN
Special Envoy Alvaro de Soto, and five Yangon-based ambassadors from Britain,
Japan, Australia, the United States and the Philippines.
According to Mr Sukhumbhand, both Myanmar's ruling generals and the opposition
were receptive to the idea, which was conveyed to them by Mr de Soto during
his visit to Yangon last month. But other sources interviewed by The Nation
were less upbeat.
An unnamed Myanmar general was quoted as having said that SPDC leader General
Khin Nyunt was not keen on the idea and that he accused the NLD of being a
One analyst told The Straits Times that Yangon might have been upset that the
plan, a sensitive issue, had been leaked to the press.
"Myanmar generals are not used to doing business under full public glare. They
also do not like to be pressured. The leak may have killed the idea even
before it is given a chance," he said.
The military government in Myanmar has been isolated by Western countries and
aid agencies for violation of human rights and political repression.
Suharto family's land 'about size of Java'
More land holdings of the former First Family have been uncovered. Much of the
land might have been obtained through dubious means, says minister
JAKARTA -- Former President Suharto, his family and friends own or control
nine million ha of rainforest, about the size of the main island of Java,
newspapers reported as pressure continued for him to be taken to court.
Forestry and Plantations Minister Muslimin Nasution said a probe by his
department had uncovered the holdings around the vast archipelago, adding that
much of the land might have been gained through dubious means.
"We found a strong indication that those properties were acquired by the
Suharto family and their cronies through corruption, collusion and nepotism,"
the Jakarta Post quoted him as saying.
Demands are growing for Mr Suharto to go on trial over charges of corruption
and human-rights abuses during his 32-year rule.
Some dailies estimated that the Suharto family had amassed a US$40 billion
(S$66 billion) fortune during his reign, which ended amid the economic crisis
and political turmoil in May.
His successor, Dr B.J. Habibie, ordered the Attorney-General to probe into Mr
Suharto's wealth and has promised to set up a separate independent
But critics dismiss both inquiries as a symbolic attempt to appease public
Mr Muslimin said the plots of land were controlled by the former First Family
and friends through shares in various companies. Most of the land is in Irian
Jaya, Maluku and East Kalimantan.
The latest findings will be reported to Coordinating Minister for Development
Hartarto Sastrosunarto and Coordinating Minister of Economy Finance and
Industry Ginandjar Kartasasmita. Mr Muslimin said his ministry was continuing
with its investigation. "We will conduct more thorough investigations because
the Suharto family may have sold or transferred their shares to other
parties," he said, adding that there might well be more than nine million ha.
A separate report yesterday quoted the head of the Land Affairs Ministry in
Bogor district as saying that on top of a cattle ranch, the Suharto family
owned an orchard, ostrich farm, a race track, golf course and 30,000 ha of
undeveloped land there.
The Indonesian Observer quoted Mr Sugiarto Sargo of the Bogor office as saying
that he thought it would be difficult for the local people to reclaim their
land from the family, but that he hoped they could farm on it.
Late last month, Mr Suharto, faced with almost daily student demonstrations,
handed over seven charity foundations he chaired -- worth some US$530 million
-- to the government.
The Land Affairs Ministry has continued to document the Suharto family's
properties nationwide and the Attorney-General said it has found some US$2.8
million in domestic bank accounts under Mr Suharto's name.
Since he stepped down on May 21, Mr Suharto has insisted that he has no money
except his pension. -- Reuters, AFP
THE STRAITS TIMES
Unbridled capitalism worse than socialism: Soros
He proposes credit guarantees for nations with sound economic policies
GEORGE Soros said that unfettered capitalism "is a bigger danger to an open
society than socialism", and some Harvard University professors said recent
events offer support for his ideas.
Looking back at the world economic upheaval since last year, Mr Soros told an
audience of hundreds at Harvard's John FKennedy School of Government that
financial markets "behave more like wrecking balls than a pendulum". He
doesn't want to "abolish global capitalism", but to make it "more equitable
and stable", the 68-year-old said at a panel gathered to discuss his new book,
The Crisis of Global Capitalism: Open Society Endangered.
"It is quite amazing what two years have made," said Dani Rodrik, a Kennedy
School professor, who added that he had previously been "baffled and
unconvinced" by Mr Soros' arguments. Since February 1997, however, "financial
markets in east Asia and Russia have come crashing down and the cost of this
instability has become all too clear to the rest of us," Mr Rodrik said. Mr
Soros attacked what he called "market fundamentalism", or the view that
markets should be allowed to operate with as little regulation as possible.
In his book, Mr Soros prescribes a capitalism that mixes profits, philanthropy
"As competitors we must fight to win," he told the Harvard audience. "As human
beings we must be prepared to fight for some intrinsic values, such as freedom
and justice, even if it means fighting for a lost cause."
"If you leave capital flows purely to the market, you get exuberance or you
get panic," said Mr Soros, who's made billions by profiting on these swings.
"I am part of that. If I fought the market I wouldn't be where I am. If you
want to be successful you try to be ahead of the herd, never against it.
"We now have a situation where capital is fleeing" emerging-market countries,
Mr Soros said. "What I propose is a credit-guarantee arrangement to provide
capital to countries which are following sound economic policies, but don't
have an adequate supply of oxygen, of money."
Jeffrey Sachs, the economist and Harvard professor, went further, proposing
measures to cope with what he said is a widening gap between rich and poor
He suggested that the World Bank be privatised, the International Monetary
Fund be shut down, and the group of countries making economic decisions that
affect the globe be expanded.
Mr Soros is to testify on his views about the world economy before a committee
of UK legislators next month.
The New York-based financier also told Newsweek magazine this week that the
recent market recovery in the US is impressive, though previous lows will be
retested, possibly next year. -- Bloomberg
BUSINESS TIME - DEC 2, 98
Code of conduct to be revised
Effort to make MPs more accountable
The code of conduct for MPs will be revised to give Parliament the power to
condemn unruly politicians.
A draft code is being scrutinised by the House Committee on Parliamentary
Affairs to allow MPs whose behaviour is deemed unacceptable to be formally
House Speaker Wan Muhammed Nor Matha said the code would make politicians more
accountable and give the public more faith in politics as a profession.
However, yesterday he told a seminar on the topic that some MPs did not want
tougher rules brought in fearing it would restrict their freedom.
He said MPs often criticised others while overlooking their own conduct.
Pradit Charoenthaithawee, a former Constitution Drafting Assembly member, said
irresponsible MPs caused trouble by missing parliamentary meetings resulting
in the lack of a quorum.
Reports of MPs' adulterous behaviour also eroded public confidence, he said,
adding that the country needed moral leadership from politicians who should
provide a role model to the young.
Decho Savananond, another former charter writer, said parliament should set up
a body to regulate members and possibly throw out unruly MPs.
Weng Tochirakarn, the Confederation for Democracy chairman, said MPs who were
caught in wrongdoing must apologise to the public and publish their apologies
in newspapers for seven consecutive days.
BANGKOK POST - DEC 2, 98