The Pencil Guy: Hourann's illogical blog

Wacky leaders in the state and Southeast Asia

Thursday 28 February 2008 at 5:48 pm
  • Hooray for the state Liberals, who continue to find new ways to implode. I see no hope for them whatsoever at the next election. And hooray for Colin Barnett, who’s mumbling randomly now that he’s leaving. (Does he seriously want to see the state dump preferential voting, the one great innovation in Australian politics?)
  • Egad, Thaksin is back in Bangkok! (This after being kicked out by force.) I do hope that this doesn’t jeopardise the country’s stability; I don’t like the prospects for Thailand returning to a proper model of democracy any time soon. Thaksin’s no saint and the corruption charges may well be true, but it’s a stretch to claim the moral high ground if you were part of a coup!
  • Speaking of stability, Timor-Leste has done surprisingly well after the violence of a fortnight ago, with security forces now getting stuck into investigative work. Along with the extension of the UN presence, this pretty much puts things back to normal, which is good from a yay-the-country-isn’t-imploding point of view but mightn’t be the best thing long-term.
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ARF 2007: who will go to Darfur?

Tuesday 7 August 2007 at 11:05 pm

Last week’s series of ASEAN meetings, including the ASEAN Regional Forum (at which North Korean nuclear weapons were the hot topic, though the Western media hardly noticed), were a continuation of the process started some years ago of taking definite-but-not-hasty steps towards further integration and formalisation in the region, this being typical ASEAN style. As examples, the meetings produced a tentative human rights agreement and a new ARF adjunct group.

But most interesting has been that one of the key topics for discussion (on the sidelines of the meetings, at least) was Security Council resolution 1769, which authorises a peacekeeping force in Darfur. It seems that a few participants — particularly John Negroponte, who attended for the US in Condi Rice’s absence — were asking around to see who’d be willing to send some troops. So this year is notable as an occasion where ASEAN meetings have had an impact beyond the immediate region.

On our behalf, Alexander Downer announced that the Australian military is too busy to pitch in for Darfur (and although he was criticised, if you believe that we absolutely need to be in Iraq, I suppose that’s kinda reasonable). He also signed a new partnership agreement that will hopefully strengthen Southeast Asian ties, in a gradual and very ASEAN kind of way.

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