Thursday, January 19, 2006

Oust Gyanendra Now!

BREAKING NEWS: Various sources reporteed that autocratic King Gyanendra's regime has arrested over 200 people in Nepal this morning. The massive crackdown on the people's movement included disrupted the international telephone services; cut off the telephone line of political leaders, human right defenders and civil society activists; cut off all the mobile telephone lines and armies are marching on the Kathmandu streets.

The most senior political leaders including Madhav Kumar Nepal (General Secretary of CPN-UML) and Girija Pradad Koirala (President of Nepali Congress Party) have been kept in home arrest. It is an undeclared curfew in Kathmandu now. Among those arrested are the senior leaders of the political parties, journalists, human rights activists, leaders from the civil society. All of them were arrested from their own home in the early hour of today at 5:00 am (January 19).

In response to this crackdown, the seven party alliance will have a massive mobilization of people for peaceful demonstration in Kathmandu on January 20 (tomorrow). With the intensify of the people's movement, the regime has stepped up its suppressive move against the political parties, human rights defenders and civil society people.

At the same time, Gyanendra's government has declared the Capital city the restriction zone and banned any peaceful assembly, rallies and demonstration of people. It seems like a semi-curfew situation in Nepal. It has imposed curfew in capital city and several major cities from 9:00 pm. to 6:00 am. It had already handed down 90 days warrant papers to the 16 detainees who were arrested the days before yesterday from the peaceful demonstrations.

This is so far we know now and we will let you know further when the situation develops further....

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Left takes over in Latin America

UPDATE: On January 15, 2006 Chile elected its first women president, Michelle Bachelet, who will continue the centre-left policy of her predecessor, Ricardo Lagos Escobar.

With 53.5% of the vote, Michelle Bachelet, 54, beat the right-wing candidate, Sebastian Pinera, to become Chile's first ever women president, swept to power on a promise of more work and a continuation of President Lagis' socially progressive policies. She has promised to enhance the role played by women and indigeneous communities in Chile.

After Eva Morales elected to become the President of Bolivia end of December 2005, there are more left wing government in Latin America. The situation worry the United States because there are more headache counterpart for them to deal with. Before it is Fidel Castro from Cuba, then Hugo Chavez from Venezuela.

Now US has to deal with the Bolivia and Chile. Those are the big counterparts in Latin America. However, as the neo-liberalism is popularising in the world, how these left-wing government intrtoduce new policies on the economy, public services and other sectors that benefit the people due to monitor.

The ASA congratulate the people in the Latin America who decided the future of their nation and the direction that the leaders have to take. The whole process was conducted through the democracy process and without the intervention of the US. The democracy that implement in the Latin America now is another model for the people in the world who fight for the democracy and better world.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

ASA on Voice of Taiwan

UPDATE: The ASA secretariat member, Khai Loon was interviewed by The Voice of Taiwan, an internet radio in Taiwan. In the session called "The Wind of Freedom", it interviewed different people in Asia especially the Chinese speaking activists, opinion leaders, community leaders and etc.

For those who understand Chinese, you can log in here. The program was on January 7. Just take note that the program was last for 45 minutes. The interview part was in the last part of the program. Starting from 22nd minutes to 43rd minutes.

For those who are not understand Chinese, I briefly introduced the contents of the interview. The interview mainly touched about the organization structure and members of the ASA. At the same time, the position of the ASA on difference issues such as globlization, political situation in Asia-Pacific and also the social movement in the region.

Let's us utlize all the media for our outreach to more audiences and public.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Sook Hwa's Court Case Postponed to February 16

UPDATE: As the Attorney-General was unable to present the written report to reject the appeal of Sook Hwa to challenge the University and College Universities Act (UUCA), the High Court postponed the decision whether to accept the case filing by Sook Hwa. The High Court will handle the case on February 16. If the High Court allow her appeal, it will become the first court case to challenge the AUKU in Malaysia.

Sook Hwa involved in the election campaign for Tian Chua, the Vice President of the People Justice Party in Malaysia 2004 General Election. She was punished by serious warning and a fine of 200 RM (around 56USD) by the University Science of Malaysia (USM).

The ASA expresses its solidarity and actively joins the campaign on the abolition of the UUCA. We shall update you with the current update on this case. For those who are interested to know more about this issue, please contact the ASA secretariat.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Khai Loon is now in Malaysia

UPDATE: One of the Regional Secretariat members, Khai Loon is now in Malaysia for several programs. As the ASA this year will focus on the consolidation of its members, Khai Loon will travel around South East Asia to meet with the members in order to unite the members on the ASA transformation into a regional youth and student platform.

At the same time, he will be working closely with the DEMA on the local organizing work. By the To Build Program in April, the ASA hopes to come out with the concrete implementation of the General Plan of Action (GPOA)

Friday, January 13, 2006

Goodbye, see you in March!

UPDATE: Last night, the HKPA held a solidarity farewell party to the HK 14. There were around 100 supporters fill up the limited space on the rooftop of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Union (HKCTU). The atmosphere was so touched, warmed and full of solidarity.

The ASA Secretariat attended the solidarity farewell party together with some volunteers. All of the HK 14 were given a ASA T-shirt that full of inspiration of the struggles. As ASA always emphasized "Your struggle is my struggle", the continously support with those protesters never reluctant.

In fact, there are still three of the protesters charged by the Hong Kong government. They will come back to Hong Kong in March. Therefore, the pressures to call for the release them without any condition will be continued. This is just the beginning of the struggle, we will prepare for the next battle.

Longlive International Solidarity!

Junk Junk WTO!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Not Guilty! Free them now!

BREAKING NEWS: Longlive International Solidarity! All of the HK 14 can go home and reunite with their family. The After one-month long struggle against the imperialist tool, WTO, the HK 14 who are charged by the Hong Kong government, 11 of them were drop charges, 2 of them were charged under unlawful assembly and 1 of them was charged under unauthorized assembly.

However, three of them can be bailed out unconditionally with HK$30,000 each. All of the HK 14 can go home. The 11 Korean will go home on Friday. Besides, the HKPA and the Korean will have the farewell party for all of them on the evening of January 12 (Thursday). For those who are in Hong Kong can join all of us.

As mentioned in the previous blog, all the ASA secretariat members including the outgoing Secretariat, Madhav joined the hunger strike. All of us stay in front the court house overnight. It was a meaningful and significant event for the ASA in solidarity to release the HK 14.

Both the ASA secretariat members, Khai Loon and Rey also represented the ASA to deliver the solidarity message to more than 100 of the hunger strikers. With the highest spirit and strong courages, the hunger strike was a successful to get the attention of the people. The public also very supportive to the campaign of the released.

Monday, January 09, 2006

ASA Secretariat will join the 24-hour Hunger Strike

UPDATE: The photo showed the mass protest rally to call the Hong Kong government to release the 14 protesters immediately unconditionally.

Following the protest rally on the January 8 (Sunday), there will be 24-hour hunger strike to support the WTO political prisorners.

With the title of "Beginning the Hunger Strike for Solidarity and Justice -- Our Struggle Against the WTO is Not Over!", the Hong Kong People's Alliance on WTO (HKPA) will have 24-hour from January 10 to 11 outside the Kwun Tong Law Court Building.

The ASA Secretariat will join the 24-hour hunger strike to show our solidarity to those who are still unable to go back to their home country. At the same time, we will join the overnight sit-in to protest the Hong Kong government for this illegal detention.

For those who are in Hong Kong in this moment, please come forward to join us. Let us do something to release those who are illegal detain by the Hong Kong government. If you cannot come to join us at 3pm, you can join us for the candle light vigil at 7pm-9.30pm. Please bring along your own sleeping bag if you will join the overnight sit-in.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Release the 14 protesters NOW!

UPDATE: The Hong Kong People's Alliance on WTO (HKPA) organized a protest rally from Wan Chai to the Police Headquater, then marched towards the Central Government Office (CGO) to call the Hong Kong government to release the 14 protesters immediately unconditionally.

About 500 protesters chanted the "Release Now!", "Drop All Charges!" "Not Guilty!" etc throughout the possession. As the protesters arrived the Police headquater, there was a minor dispute regarding the protest area. The police only "gazetted" a small area for the protesters. It caused a lot of anger and furious of the protesters. Fortunately, the negotiation team of the HKPA managed to fight for a bigger place and let the protesters to go closer to the Police Headquater. All the programs were conducted in the peaceful manner. The police representative also came out to receive the protest letter from the HKPA.

After the protest action in front the Police Headquater, the whole posession proceeded the protest rally towards the Central Government Office in Central. There were a lot of Hong Kong public raised their concerns and sympathy towards those Hunger strikers who are also join the mass rally. Even it was their fourth day of the hunger strike, but their spirit was still militant and agitated. They sang the militant song which is also translated into Cantonese, the local version.

The protest action was touched the people because the 14 protesters are illegal detained. They were seperated from their love one and family. They have to leave their land without any curtail. Their suffering live under the WTO become more devastating after the detention by the HK government.

The ASA urged the government to release them immediately and give them back their freedom. Free the HK 14 now!

Friday, January 06, 2006

Legislative Council rejected outsourcing the loan

BREAKING NEWS: After the protest action of the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS) in front the Legislative Council (Legco) Building, the Finance Committee rejected the proposal to outsource the loan system to the private institution.

Here I try to outline the reasons most of the Legco members disagree with the proposal:

1. Due to process.
The loan system is affecting the student loan. The Student Grant Loan Department plays the main responsibility but it never bring this to the Education Committee to discuss on this matter. Many Legco agreed with this point.

2. Tricky way to past the proposal
In order to past the proposal without the consultation within the Education Committee, the government emphasized the "benefit" that HK$ 7 million cost saving each year. This is provocative, stupid and nonsense.

3. Worry on the way of loan collecting
If the student has the difficulty to pay back the loan, will the private institution acts like the "shark-loan" to threat the student to pay?

This is an important victory for the Hong Kong students. Some of the students may think as long as loan can be produced, the issues of lender is not that important.

However, for the Asian Students Association (ASA), the campaign of education shall continue through increasing the awareness of the students about the rights to the education. At the same time, we have to understand the bigger picture that education is already become part of the commercialization. It already became the commodity which we strongly against.

Education is a right, not a privilege!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Campaign for the Immediate Release of Political Prisoners

UPDATE: From the 5th of Jan, 12 of the arrested WTO protestors (including the 11 Korean and 1 Japanese) will have an indefinite hunger strike, demanding the Hong Kong Government to drop charges. Meanwhile, at the same place, the Hong People's Alliance on WTO (HKPA) and the Supporting Groups will hold daily candles light vigils, and conduct a signature campaign.

The Launching of Hunger Strike and Press Conference
Time: 3:00pm
Venue: Tsim Sha Tsui Star Ferry Pier

Candles light Vigil ( daily events from 5/1)
Time: 7:00pm
Venue: Tsim Sha Tsui Star Ferry Pier

Sunday January 8, 2006
Big March

On the 8th of January, the Hong Kong People's Alliance on WTO (HKPA) and the Supporting Groups will organize a big march to the Central Government office, calling for the participation and support of Hong Kong citizens and civil society.

Venue: Southorn Park

The march will first go to the Police Headquarters to protest police brutality and then to the Central Government Office. We will call for the participants to come to the candles light vigil at Tsim Sha Tsui Star Ferry Pier after the march.

Education is not for sale!

BREAKING NEWS: The Hong Kong Federation of Students organized a protest action in front of the Hong Kong Legislative Council Building this morning. They called the government to stop the outsourcing of the grant-loan to the private institution.

The Hong Kong government's decision to privatize the grant-loan system was unacceptable due to several reasons:

1. The profit-driven companies will burden the students and their parents. It will make the education only affordable to those who have the financial capacity.

2. The loan record of the students will be part of the database under the financial system in Hong Kong, it will affect the future of the students who graduated by increase the interest of the loan in other aspects.

3. The privatization of the grant-loan is part of the government's policies that want to implement "small government, big market". The neo-liberal policies that privatized all the public sectors.

The ASA secretariat also presented in the protest action. The protest action ended by burned the document of the privatize the grant-loan. Together with the chanting of "Education is not for sale!" and some other Cantonese slogans.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Presenting the new leadership

UPDATE: To realize the thrusts and activities set forth by the General Conference within the next three years, the ASA elected the new members of the executive council and the ASA regional secretariat.

The General Conference re-elected to the Exco of the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS-East Asia), Student Federation of Thailand (SFT, Southeast Asia), All-India Students Association (AISA, South Asia), and New Zealand University Students Association (NZUSA, Pacific). There was none delegates from the West Asia due the travel restriction by the Hong Kong Immigration. The new team will communicate with the General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS) to propose the candidate from the West Asia.

To ensure the smooth transition and transformation of the ASA, the General Conference re-elected to the Regional Secretariat Rey Asis from the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP-Philippines) and Lee Khai Loon from the Malaysia Youth and Students Democratic Movement (DEMA – Malaysia). Bhaktar Gurung from the All Nepal National Federation of Students (ANNFSU) will replace Madhav Nepal as the new Regional Secretariat member.

An Asia-Pacific Youth and Students Comprehensive Platform

UPDATE: One of the important agenda of the 16th General Conference was the call to transform the Asian Students Association into a regional platform of youth and students in Asia Pacific. The current standing of the ASA makes for itself a good foundation to take the challenge at hand – addressing the comprehensive concerns of the youth sector in the region – from land rights to wages, social services to employment, from education to issues of self determination, food sovereignty and security.

Another significant organization change will be the formation of executive committee. They shall be elected as individuals as they help in paving the way for a special conference that will not only formalize the revitalized and developed platform but elect and ensure the involvement and participation of those coming various sectors, aside from the students.

The member organizations of the ASA reach the consensus to approve the concept paper draft by the secretariat. The further implementation and the transformation of the ASA will be mapped out by the To Build Programme that will take place in the near future. The new leadership including the members of the Executive Council (Exco) will responsible to make sure the transformation of the ASA on the right track including the timetable of the constitution amendment.

Assert our rights to land and food

UPDATE: The 16th ASA General Conference formally open by the keynote speaker, Sarojini Rangam, the Director of the Pesticide Action Network (PAN-AP). Members of the ASA were presented with the concept of the food sovereignty. As majority of the Asia-Pacific countries depend on the agricultural, many of the people are peasants or agricultural workers. However, due to the subsidies of the developed countries, their livelihood become deteriorates.

It was an important orientation to many of the members in the ASA because the issues of agricultural and peasant seldom been discussed in the past. The awareness on the WTO and globalization cannot isolate from the agricultural. The Agreement on Agricultural (AoA) is the main culprit who destroys the culture of food and takes away the concept of the food sovereignty.

Sarojini pointed out the important of the struggles in different levels. As the ASA is the regional platform and the members are campaigning in nationwide, the struggle for the food sovereignty and the rights of the people must be improved in order to address the current situation. The keynote address was around 40 minutes with the active participation from the members.

“Onward with Peoples’ Struggles, No to WTO”

UPDATE: After the mass arrest of the on the early morning of December 18, there were a lot of misleading information from the media. Some were told that the rally in that afternoon will be cancelled due to the “riot”. The government even used all the mass media to advice the public not to join and go to Victoria Park.

Without any hesitation, the ASA together with HKPA decided to push through the assembly and rally. Besides to protest against the WTO, another main call of the rally was released the detainees, condemn the police brutality and human rights violation. More encouraging was the number of the participants did not decrease. There are more local people who come out and showed the sympathy to the protesters. It was a warm and affirm rally.

Some of the local protesters even started the hunger strike to call the government to release the protesters. Those who arrived the protest area approached the hunger strike area and provide them with care and concerns. The scenario always contradicts with the Convention and Exhibition Centre where the negotiation took place.

Mass arrest of 900 protesters

UPDATE: One of the highlights during the People’s Action Week was the mass arrest of around 900 protesters who participated in the December 17 protest action. Most of them were from the Korean farmers. There were also from different nationalities such as Indonesia, Thailand, Japan etc who also joined the rally.

The Hong Kong police used the violence to stop the protester to get closer to the venue of the Ministerial Conference. They used pepper spray and tear gas to disperse the crowded. Children and pedestrian became the victims of the police brutality as well. More unfortunate was some of the mainstream media even described the incident as the siege and riot. It was unfair to the people who come from far away to Hong Kong to express their objection to the WTO.

The ASA tried to negotiate with the police in order to deliver some foods and drinks to the 900 protesters who were surrounded by the police forces, but failed. Even none of the ASA delegation was captured by the police, but we always keep follow up with the situation in the protest area.
At the end, 14 protesters were charged by the HK police. 11 of them are Korean delegates, 1 from Japan, 1 from Taiwan and 1 from mainland China. The HKPA set up a support group to solicit assistance to those who are under arrest. The ASA calls the HK government for immediate release

Youth March against WTO

UPDATE: There were plenty of protest actions took place during the People’s Action Week. The outspoken student and youth definitely grabbed that opportunity to unite the young people to deliver our strongest protest to the WTO. With the different culture and styles of rally from different part of the world, the youth march was really colorful but not less militant to express the voice.

Delegates from Philippines leaded the protesters with the songs from Bob Marley. The lyrics were changed in order to suit for the call of education is rights and should not be commodify. The rhythms of the march attracted the attention from the Hong Kong public. Some of them even clapped and wave their hand to support the young people. Some of them even joined the march and sing the songs together with the protesters.

The youth march arrived the protest area with the speeches and performances from different delegates. It was a successful protest in term of media coverage and the public awareness campaign. Although some incidents such as confrontation with the police happened, generally every participant was satisfied with the whole session.

International Students and Youth Conference on Globalization and WTO

UPDATE: With the significant and historical moment of the WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong, the Asian Students Association (ASA) together with International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS), World Student Christian Federation (WSCF) and ILPS-Youth Commission committed to hold the conference on globalization and WTO. The young people never miss the opportunity to share and exchange the views on the WTO and its impacts to the people in the world.

More encouraging was the high turnout of the participants. More than 150 participants in total of these two days long conference. Besides the cultural event performed by the ILPS Youth Commission, there are workshops in the afternoon to further the in-depth discussion between the participants. The creative and critical thinking from the youth enriched the outcomes of the conference.

The conference ended with a consensus and commitment to continue the platform of Students and Youth Network Opposed to WTO (SAY NO WTO). The roles of the SAY NO WTO are to continue to provide a platform for all the youth and students across the world to discuss debate and exchange the views on globalization and WTO. Besides, to broaden the participation from more countries, the secretariat from different regional organization will have to take up the task.

As in the ASA, we never say good bye but see you in the future. We shall continue to work and fight for the future of our people.

Ten years of WTO, a decade of plunder and war

UPDATE: “Trade” in the era of imperialism means inter-imperialist rivalry and collaboration in plundering the weak economies; and war is the sharpest form and expression of these inter-imperialist competition, aggression and domination of the weaker states.

This was the strong message in the Forum on Trade and War organized by the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) in the Victoria Park. The ASA delegation presented in the forum and participated in the exchanged with the prominent speakers from different part of the world including Prof. Jose Maria Sison, Jane Kelsey, Tony Tujan etc.

It was an inspiring and critical forum. Besides the progressive and critical analysis about the current international affairs, the future prospect of the people’s movement also made up an important element in the forum. The ASA delegation stayed in the forum from the morning until the evening with full attention and actively participation. It showed the power and the energetic of the youth and students!

Opening with assembly and rally

UPDATE: Following the opening of the WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong, the ASA delegation who just arrived in Hong Kong, participated the rally together with the Hong Kong People’s Alliance on WTO (HKPA). Around 60 youth and students from different part of the world brought the banners, flags and slogans to express their protest against the WTO.

The theme of the assembly and rally was “People Power to Protect our Livelihood, Security and Dignity”. It addressed the concerns and the needs of the people in the world whose livelihood ruined by the policies of the WTO. Around 4500 protesters participated in the rally. Many of the local Hong Kong people also attracted by the rally by took the photo and witnessed the whole possession.

When the possession reached the protest area, six ASA delegation including the secretariat member were on the stage to chant on “JUNK WTO” in different national languages. It represented the Asian realities in protest against the WTO. The ASA always very vocal and critical in express our strong objection to the WTO.