Wednesday, March 16, 2005

LMG Seeks to undermine CHR!

BREAKING NEWS: The ASA secretariat received an email from Geneva. It's about the dynamic in the upcoming UN Commission on Human Rights (CHR) annual meeting. Members in the Like Minded Group (LMG), Malaysia and China already set their tone to hijack the Commission's agenda to defend their interests on the first day of deliberation March 14.

H.E Ambassador Sha Zukang, China, on behalf of the LMG:

"the use of Commission agenda item 9 that deals withQuestion of the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in any part of the world to discuss rigorously human rights violations in specific countries. It was clear in the Chinese statement that naming and shaming is something that is uncomfortable for the LMG to bear, hence the LMG chooses to label such exercises as a “misuse” of Item 9."

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia, Dato Syed Hamid Albar, also member of LMG, accused the panel of not addressing issues of culture and pointed to its failure to specify measures to alleviate some of the difficulties faced by developing countries.

He disagreed with the Panel’s recommendation that universal membership of the Commission can help the organization do its work better. Instead he said it was double standards, selectively and hidden political agenda that is to blame – a charge that could be equally levied at Malaysia and the LMG.

It is evident that the statements by China and Malaysia do set the tone on where and how the LMG will try to derail the focus on human rights focus in certain countries. They will support initiatives that keep “power” within the nations and avoid any attempt to independently verify human rights violations in their respective countries.

The LMG attitude of restricting and regulating NGOs with the framework of the UNCHR is alarming given that the whole UN system is scheduled to finalize the recommendations from the two UN Secretary General Kofi Annan HLP reports: one on UN-Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) relationship; another one on Threats, challenges and changes (UN reform)

Hostility by member states as specially those from the LMG towards NGOs during this delicate period could result in drastically eroding space for NGO participation in future CHR deliberations.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

How Iraq liberated? Agricultural Perspective

UPDATE: Iraq, a "liberated" country that emerged as a new market opportunity for American agribusiness. They aren't wasting any time to exploit Iraq'a fragile food sector, battered by decades of war and sanction.

US exports wheat, rice, soybean products and poultry to Iraq all ballooned in 2003 after the sanctions were lifted. The American project extends beyond prying this revived market away from Australia and other nations that did agricultural business with Saddam Hussein.

How liberated will Iraq agricultural sector?

1. Privatizing state-run food companies;

2. Phasing out farm subsidies;

3. Boosting food prices;

4. Introducing genetically altered seeds that are patented and not reusable.

This will be a comprehensive neoliberal strategy to open up and deregulate Iraq's market.

For more reading, please read "Plowing Iraq for Profits" by Christopher D. Cook.

Call for March 20 Action!

BREAKING NEWS: The ASA is calling the Hong Kong based organizations, network and regional groups to sit down and discuss the coming March 20 protest action in front of the US Consulate. Since the unjust war on Iraq waged by the US and its proxy, the world's security never safer but become more threaten with all kind of ongoing armed conflicts and potential conflicts.

Besides, the ASA regional secretariat office also call our respective members to hold program, forum, protest action or any other activities to express our protest to the war plunder. On March 20, there will be marked the enter of the third year of US occupation in Iraq. The last General Election in Iraq never legitimate the occupation of Iraq. Moreover, the people never be freed under the occupation.

Therefore, for those who are based in Hong Kong, we hope that you can join us:

No War Coalition Meeting on March 20 Action
Date: 16 March 2005 (Wednesday)
Time: 6.00pm
Venue: ASA Office
No. 2, Jordan Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong

For those who unable to join us, please feel free to write or even call us to deliver your message. We shall update you abuot the outcome of the meeting.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Philippines: College Education in Crisis!

UPDATE: Five years from now, the Philippines tertiary education will likely face a crisis if the current trends in college enrolment and dropouts will continue. Due to continuing tuition hikes more and more students enrolled in private colleges and universities find themselves either dropping out or forced to transfer to state institutions.

But the state universities and colleges (SUCs) are plagued by similar problems: Not only are they few now and their enrolment quotas limited, they are also haunted by increases in tuition and other fees thus forcing many state scholars to leave.

Recently, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) National Commission of the Philippines reported a measly 22 percent overall student survival from 1st to 4th year college. In June 2004, the Wallace report revealed that the dropout rate in college is at a staggering all-time high of 73 percent.

A new report by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) shows that the number of tertiary population in schoolyear 2002-2003 was 2.4 million compared to 1.87 million in 1994-1995. It cites however that while state institutions had their population soar by 415,972 (from 399,623 to 815,595 during the same period), private colleges and universities could only absorb an additional 139,357 enrolees (or from 1.472 million to 1.611 million).

It is true that in 1997, enrollment in private tertiary schools grew by 6.47 percent. By 2002 however the figure plunged drastically to a -2.8 percent. Enrollment figures in private schools fell by 46,354 in schoolyear 2002-2003 from 1,657,735 in the previous year.

The exodus of college students enrolled in private schools to state universities and colleges (SUCs) over the last two decades is also shown in other CHED records. In 1980, only 10 percent of college students were studying in SUCs. By 1994, the number went up to 21 percent and in school year 2002-2003, it already accounted for 34 percent of tertiary population.

For more reading, you can read from the

Friday, March 04, 2005

Condemnation Rally at the Malaysian Consulate

Ramon Bultron from the Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM) closed the protest action with a strong condemnation of the Malaysian government's inhuman treatment of the undocumented migrant workers. Together with him is Khai Loon from the ASA regional secretariat. Posted by Hello

Condemn the Malaysian Government's Crackdown on Undocumented Migrant Workers

More than 30 individuals representing different regional and local organizations in Hong Kong march toward the Malaysian Consulate to protest the massive crackdown on undocumented migrant workers starting March 1. Posted by Hello

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Stop the Massive Crackdown in Malaysia!

UPDATE: More than 30 individuals representing different regional and local organizations in Hong Kong held protest action on March 2 in front of the Malaysian Consulate.The protest action was organized by the Asian Migrants Coordinating Body, Asian Students Association(ASA) and Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM).

Representatives from the Asian Human Rights Commission, Amnesty International - Asia Pacific, Far East Nepalese Overseas Association, Asosiasi Tenaga Kerja Indonesia and the United Filipinos in Hong Kong delivered their solidarity speech during the protest action.

Copy of the petition letter signed by 260 individuals and organizations from more than 21 countries worldwide and addressed to Malaysian Prime Minister YAB Dato Seri Abdullah Haji Ahmad Badawi was presented to the representative of the Malaysian Consulate in Hong Kong during the protest action.

Here are some of the calls from the protest action:

1. Stop the crackdown on the undocumented migrants immediately.

2. Abolish the 2002 Amended Immigration Act and implement an Immigration Policy that adheres to international human rights standards and instruments.

3. Issue extension visas to migrants with pending labor and court cases and allow them to continue their stay and work with employers who wish to sponsor them;

4. Implement a policy that will address the trafficking issues of women and children;

5. Establish a Special Commission on Migration for a total review and map the road to a comprehensive policy for the management of migration that upholds the rights of migrant workers.