Asean Summit, Malaysia on Nov 21, 1015

Asean Summit, Malaysia  on Nov 21, 1015
Asean Establishes Landmark Economic and Security Bloc
"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) - Text version)

“….. Here is the prediction: China will turn North Korea loose soon. The alliance will dissolve, or become stale. There will be political upheaval in China. Not a coup and not a revolution. Within the inner circles of that which you call Chinese politics, there will be a re-evaluation of goals and monetary policy. Eventually, you will see a break with North Korea, allowing still another dictator to fall and unification to occur with the south. ….”

“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."
"Update on Current Events" – Jul 23, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: The Humanization of God, Gaia, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Benevolent Design, Financial Institutes (Recession, System to Change ...), Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Nuclear Power Revealed, Geothermal Power, Hydro Power, Drinking Water from Seawater, No need for Oil as Much, Middle East in Peace, Persia/Iran Uprising, Muhammad, Israel, DNA, Two Dictators to fall soon, Africa, China, (Old) Souls, Species to go, Whales to Humans, Global Unity,..... etc.)
(Subjects: Who/What is Kryon ?, Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" Managed Business, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)

North Korean defector criticises China in rare Beijing talk

North Korean defector criticises China in rare Beijing talk
North Korean defector and activist Hyeonseo Lee, who lives in South Korea, poses as she presents her book 'The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story' in Beijing on March 26, 2016 (AFP Photo/Fred Dufour)

US under fire in global press freedom report

"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - (Text version)

… The Shift in Human Nature

You're starting to see integrity change. Awareness recalibrates integrity, and the Human Being who would sit there and take advantage of another Human Being in an old energy would never do it in a new energy. The reason? It will become intuitive, so this is a shift in Human Nature as well, for in the past you have assumed that people take advantage of people first and integrity comes later. That's just ordinary Human nature.

In the past, Human nature expressed within governments worked like this: If you were stronger than the other one, you simply conquered them. If you were strong, it was an invitation to conquer. If you were weak, it was an invitation to be conquered. No one even thought about it. It was the way of things. The bigger you could have your armies, the better they would do when you sent them out to conquer. That's not how you think today. Did you notice?

Any country that thinks this way today will not survive, for humanity has discovered that the world goes far better by putting things together instead of tearing them apart. The new energy puts the weak and strong together in ways that make sense and that have integrity. Take a look at what happened to some of the businesses in this great land (USA). Up to 30 years ago, when you started realizing some of them didn't have integrity, you eliminated them. What happened to the tobacco companies when you realized they were knowingly addicting your children? Today, they still sell their products to less-aware countries, but that will also change.

What did you do a few years ago when you realized that your bankers were actually selling you homes that they knew you couldn't pay for later? They were walking away, smiling greedily, not thinking about the heartbreak that was to follow when a life's dream would be lost. Dear American, you are in a recession. However, this is like when you prune a tree and cut back the branches. When the tree grows back, you've got control and the branches will grow bigger and stronger than they were before, without the greed factor. Then, if you don't like the way it grows back, you'll prune it again! I tell you this because awareness is now in control of big money. It's right before your eyes, what you're doing. But fear often rules. …

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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Give Asean Wants To Play Bigger Role, 2009-03-31 15:17

Let's shake on it: President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono meets British Prime Minister Gordon Brown at 10 Downing Street in central London on Tuesday (AP Photo/Leon Neal)

Asean should be given more active role to coordinate regional strategies to resolve regional challenges amid the global economic crisis, Secretary General of Asean Surin Pitsuwan said yesterday.

Surin, who is attending the G-20 London Summit on Thursday, told ANN in an interview that it is a rare opportunity for the Asean chair to attend such a summit “when the global community is being faced with such formidable challenges as now.”

“It is rather encouraging to all of us in Asean to be given such an opportunity to participate in the highest level of the global community in search of the global solutions to all the global challenges,” Surin said. “I hope that this will be the beginning of a new era of regional organizations playing a global role.”

As the Asean chair, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who arrived here Monday evening, will speak on behalf of Asean on Thursday. He has been coordinating with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono over the issues to be raised since February. They are scheduled to meet on Wednesday ahead of the summit. Asean and its dialogue partners China, Japan and Korea also will speak with one voices on the necessity to reform international financial systems to make them more equity.

Surin pointed out that Asean can offer a model of regional cooperation that has helped stabilize a diverse region, achieve a continued economic growth, integrate economies of various levels of development and enhance prosperity and security of the region for the past 4 decades.

“The grouping can take part in the efforts to redesign a new landscape for the global economic system post-crisis. It will be a multi polar growth,” he said adding that East Asia will be one such pillar and Asean can be the cornerstone of that regional growth pillar of East Asia.

But to achieve these objectives, he reiterated that Asean must be forceful to go against protectionism of all shades by lowering tariff and non-tariff barriers among its members.

“In fact, one reason why Asean was invite to London summit has been its track record of regional cooperation and sustained economic growth and prosperity and stability achieved through such cooperation. We can be an example to other regions,” he said.

Looking forward in the post G-20 summit, the Asean chief said that coordinated efforts based on the summit’s outcome must be fully carried out by all including the international community at large.

Resources must be mobilized for such international financial institutions like the World Bank, the IMF and regional development banks, according to Surin.

“And if regional mechanisms for financial cooperation and economic coordination could be created, it would be a healthy development, strengthening regional development cooperation and governance for the benefit of the regions.”

At the Asean summit in Cha-am/Hua Hin, the Asean leaders reaffirm their determinations to ensure free flows of goods and services. They also stood firm against the protectionism. (By KAVI CHONGKITTAVORN/ ANN)

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Southeast Asia military delegates tour China base

The Jakarta Post, Christopher Bodeen, The Associated Press, Nankou, China | Tue, 03/31/2009 9:45 PM

Top Southeast Asian military brass toured a tank base north of Beijing on Tuesday, highlighting China's growing engagement with a region that has long felt neglected by the United States.

Officers from the ten-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations viewed a demonstration of sophisticated computer training simulators at the home of the Sixth Armored Division, then posed for photos with members of China's People's Liberation Army in front of tanks, armored personnel carriers and self-propelled artillery.

The division, based in the town of Nankou at the foot of the Great Wall of China, is one of China's elite units, charged with conducting mobile operations and providing security for the Chinese capital.

Tuesday's visit followed two days of workshops focused on boosting cooperation in peacekeeping and humanitarian relief along with efforts to fight piracy and drug smuggling.

"We have seen a real strengthening of Chinese engagement with ASEAN. They're pretty keen on participating in all of our forums," Thai Army Brig. Gen. Chainan Jantakananuruk told The Associated Press.

The U.S., Jantakananuruk said, "needs to get more involved."

China's new engagement is a reassertion of its once considerable influence in Southeast Asia, and could challenge U.S. sway at a time when Washington is distracted by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The region often felt slighted by the Bush administration, and President Barack Obama has sought to reverse this perception of neglect. In February, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton strongly indicated U.S. intentions to step up engagement with a visit to ASEAN's Indoesia headquarters.

"The U.S. must enhance cooperation with ASEAN," said Indonesian Brig. Gen. Subekti, whose country's military has been subject to U.S. sanctions over its rule in East Timor and past human rights abuses.

"Now that Indonesia has made progress in those areas ... whether relations wil get better depends on the U.S. getting more involved," said Subekti, who like many Indonesians uses just one name.

Despite such statements, Washington's clout remains and China's recent ties with Southeast Asia have not been entirely smooth. China's enormous economic power has prompted concern, while teritorial disputes in the South China Sea have moved no closer to resolution.

China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines have overlapping claims to all or parts of South China Sea island groups and the waters that surround them. Along with rich fishing grounds, the South China Sea is belieed to have large oil and natural gas reserves. The disputed island groups also straddle busy sea lanes that are a crucial to China's economy.

Vietnamese Brig. Gen. Nyuyen Duc Thinh said Hanoi preferred to engage Beijing directly in its territorial dispute with China, but said multilateral forums were usefu for improving trust and understanding.

Despite recent exchanges of diplomatic protests among the disputants, Thinh said the danger of a conflict remained low.

"It's under control, things are stable, all sides are showing control and restraint," he said.

Malaysian trafficker gets 12 years for trafficking

The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Tue, 03/31/2009 8:27 PM

The Sanggau District Court in West Kalimantan has on Tuesday sentenced a human trafficker to 12 years in prison and fined for Rp 150 million.

Chong Kum Seng, a 50-year old Malaysian, was guilty of sex trafficking and violating the immigration law, reported.

One of the two victims was a secondary student who was drugged and kidnapped in Lampung by Sri Eka, an accomplice who is still missing.

The sentencing, laid down by presiding judge Gabriel Siallagan, was in accordance with the prosecutor's demands.

Chong said he would appeal the court's decision, while prosecutor Anton Suhartono said the ruling was satisfactory.

The 15 year old victim, Kuntum (not her real name), however felt that the ruling was unfair.

"Chong should have given life behind bars for what he did, he's ruined my life," Kuntum told by phone. (amr)

Malaysia's next PM pledges racial equality

The Jakarta Post | Tue, 03/31/2009 8:01 PM

Malaysia's incoming prime minister reached out Tuesday to discontented ethnic minorities, saying his government will support all those in need "regardless of race or religion."

Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak made the comments during a visit to the office of Sin Chew daily, the biggest Chinese-language newspaper, where he showered praise on the Chinese community who make up a quarter of the population in this Malay-majority country.

"The Malaysian Chinese community has (played) and will forever play a vital role in the fabric of our nation," Najib, who is expected to take over as prime minister this week, said during a meeting with the senior staff of the daily.

Malaysia's Chinese and Indian minorities have long chaffed at what they see as arrogance of the Malay majority, who control the government and the politics. The minorities also complain of discrimination in jobs, education and religious rights.

"I have pledged to develop a government that respects the voices of all Malaysians," Najib said.

"We have already instituted a number of policies ... designed to support all those in need, regardless of race or religion," Najib said, according to a statement by his office.

However, Najib did not explicitly say if he will abolish a decades-old affirmative action program that gives preferences to Malays in jobs, education, business, land purchases and other aspects of life. The program, called the New Economic Policy, is at the core of the minorities' complaints.

Anti-government anger among Chinese and Indians, which has been building up over years, led to a significant loss of support for the ruling National Front ruling coalition in the March 2008 elections. The Front has ruled Malaysia since independence in 1957 but there is no guarantee it will win the next elections in 2013.

In 2008, most minority voters migrated to Anwar Ibrahim's three-party opposition alliance, which promises to abolish the New Economic Policy and build a racially fair country.

Najib will take over from Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who is stepping down to take blame for the election losses.

Najib's comments came a day after the minister scheduled to become his deputy said the government will end economic discrimination against the ethnic Chinese and Indians.

The government will ensure that the "economic cake" is shared equally in Malaysia, International Trade and Industry Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said.

"We admit that we have weaknesses and have made mistakes in the past," he said.

NEC to Build Submarine Cable Linking Indonesia and Hong Kong


Martyn Williams, IDG News Service, Tuesday, March 31, 2009 1:50 AM PDT

NEC has won a contract to build a new submarine fiber-optic cable linking Indonesia to Hong Kong.

The Submarine Cable Asia Network (SCAN) will connect the Indonesian capital of Jakarta and the second-largest city of Surabaya to Hong Kong and from there on to other cable networks.

The 4,300-kilometer cable system will have an initial transmission capacity of 40 Gbps with upgrades possible to 1.92 Tbps, NEC said. It will also be built with three branching units along its length to facilitate possible future expansion to other ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries.

The cable is being constructed by Fangbian Iskan Corporindo and Telemedia Pacific. NEC's work is expected to begin during the first half of this year and be completed by 2011.

Vietnam wood product export falls sharply in Q1

Hanoi (ANTARA News/Asia Pulse) -- The global economic crisis has reduced demand for wood products, according to an official from the Vietnam Timber and Forest Product Association (VFA).

Association statistics show the wood processing industry had a total export turnover of about US$500 million during the first three months of this year, down 22.9 per cent on a year-on-year basis because many main partners had reduced their imports.

Last year, firms received US$2.8 billion for wood products, which was 13.4 per cent higher than in 2007, but in the first two months of this year, the value fell 60 per cent to US$330 million compared with the same period last year, said VFA Deputy Chairman, Nguyen Ton Quyen.

Malaysia, Bangladesh reach accord on workers

Kuala Lumpur (ANTARA News/Asia Pulse) -- Malaysia and Bangladesh Monday reached an understanding to tighten legislation to ensure that Bangladeshi workers for the Malaysian manufacturing and plantation sectors are not recruited without the availability of jobs for them.

Malaysia's Human Resource Minister Dr S. Subramaniam said Bangladesh had given the assurance that it would enforce legislation strictly to monitor the activities of employment agencies in that country.

"It will look into resolving the issue of workers brought in by agents who end up without jobs in Malaysia," he told reporters. About 450,000 Bangladeshis currently work in Malaysia.

Tanjung Perak police foil fertilizer smuggling attempt

Surabya, East Java (ANTARA News) - Police at Surabaya`s Tanjung Perak Port on Tuesday foiled an attempt to smuggle 4,000 tons of fertilizer worth Rp25 billion to Vietnam.

A port police spokesman, Adjunct Senior Commissioner Gagas Nugraha, said the MV Hoang Phuang Star with the fertilizer in its hold was nabbed when the ship was still berthed at Tanjung Perak`s Zamrud pier.

"At first, we were suspicious about the ship, and in an investigation we found 1,863 tons of fertilizer without legal documents inside the ship," Nugraha said.

He said in a follow-up investigation , the police found a document of PT Prima Mulya Abadi to export 4,000 tons of fertilizer worth Rp25 billion to Vietnam.

But in reality, the owner of the fertilizer was not PT Prima Mulya Abadi but PT Multimas Chemindo which obtained the fertilizer from PT Sentana Adidaya Pratama which had imported the commodity from Canada.

The police afterward named Suanto, director of PT Multimas Chmindo; Jhoni Eko Saputro, director of PT Prima Mulyo Abadai; and Benny Juansyah, director of PT Sentana Adidaya, as suspects.

Besides holding the suspects, the police also nabbed the Vietnamese-flagged ship and seized 4,000 tons of KCL fertilizer along with several documents.

ADB cuts growth forecast for developing Asia

Hong Kong (ANTARA News) - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said Tuesday that growth in Asia's developing economies this year would fall to 3.4 percent, citing the "bleak" short-term outlook for the region.

Growth will drop from 6.3 percent last year and 9.5 percent in 2007, the bank said, with 2010 expected to see a 6.0 percent expansion.

The slowdown will mean more than 60 million people in the region will remain mired in poverty, the bank said in its annual Asian Development Outlook report.

"The short-term outlook for the region is bleak as the full impact of the severe recession in industrialised economies is transmitted to emerging markets," said ADB acting chief economist Jong-Wha Lee.

The bank was predicting as recently as December that the region's developing economies would grow at 5.8 percent, highlighting how the crisis has rapidly spread across the region as demand for exports vanishes.

The figure is below China's official growth target of 8.0 percent, seen as the minimum required to prevent mass joblessness that could lead to social unrest in the country of 1.3 billion.

The report looks at the prospects for 44 jurisdictions stretching from the former Soviet states of Central Asia to some of the tiny Pacific islands, excluding developed countries such as Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

Several of the region's most export-dependent economies, including Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, will contract in 2009, the report said.

Lee told reporters in Hong Kong that he believed the region's economies were currently "close to the worst."

"Eventually Asian (economies) will bottom out in early 2010, and show signs of recovery," he said.

ADB president Haruhiko Kuroda said the region had to fight any knee-jerk reactions that would place extra restrictions on global trade.

"Loud calls for protectionist policies are becoming worrisome," he said in his foreword to the report.

"As job losses in the major industrial countries continue, the protectionists' voices may only get louder."

The bank welcomed the various stimulus packages that have been unveiled to battle the downturn, but said there was a "dearth of information" about how they would be implemented.

Despite the gloom, the report said the region was in a much better position to tackle the slowdown than it was in the 1997 Asian financial crisis, which pummelled the region's currencies and economies.

Robert Prior-Wandesforde, a senior Asia economist at HSBC bank, said the current downturn was as severe as that in 1997 but that the region was expected to rebound more quickly.

"Being fundamentally in reasonably good shape when the region went in and with a lot of policy support to come, we expect (the region's economies) can bounce back sharply," he told AFP.

The ADB report stressed that Asia had to tackle its obsession with savings and shift to a more consumer-driven economic model.

"Strengthening domestic demand requires policies that develop social safety nets to encourage more private consumption," said Kuroda.

South Asia will also struggle in 2009, although it is less reliant on trade. Growth in India will fall to 5 percent this year, down from 7.1 percent in 2008, the report found.

Central Asia, where several countries derive much of their income from oil, will see growth drop to 3.9 percent in 2009, from 5.7 percent in 2008 and 12 percent in 2007.

The Pacific islands, buoyed in recent years by the commodities boom which has stoked growth in Papua New Guinea, will fall to 3.0 percent, the bank said.

Protecting Asean Wildlife, 29 March 2009

Worldwide illegal trafficking in wildlife is growing and may be as high as $20 billion annually, according to a 2009 report by the United States Congress. One of the regions threatened by this illicit trade is Southeast Asia, home to many species of plants and animals.

Endangered species such as the pangolin, an ant-eating mammal native to Southeast Asia and Africa, continue to be trafficked across international borders despite their protected status.

The United States is working with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' Wildlife Enforcement Network, or ASEAN-WEN, to stop the organized poaching of the region's flora and fauna. ASEAN-WEN is part of the larger ASEAN-US Enhanced Partnership promoting cooperation between the United States and Southeast Asia.

As part of that effort, the United States provided support for a workshop on protecting ASEAN wildlife, held March 3-4 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The workshop was conducted by the ASEAN's Wildlife Enforcement Network and the Federal Courts of Malaysia. Among the participants was Robert S. Anderson, Senior Trial Attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice and an expert on environmental crimes.

"The workshop represents one of many cooperative programs that the U.S. and Malaysia are undertaking in our joint regional effort to combat illegal trade," said U.S. Charge d'affaires Robert Rapson.

Charge d'affaires Rapson noted that the United States is one of the top 3 destinations in the world for illegally trafficked wildlife products. Recently, the U.S. has moved to strengthen its legal framework to prevent illegal wildlife trade. Recent amendments to the Lacey Act make it unlawful to import, export, transport, sell, or purchase any plant taken or traded in violation of the laws of a U.S. state, as well as most foreign laws. The amended act will be phased in beginning April 1, 2009.

"The U.S.," said Mr. Rapson, "recognizes that combating wildlife trafficking is not the purview of any one country, but requires collective effort by all countries." The U.S. commends the government of Malaysia and ASEAN for their efforts and is committed to working with its international partners to preserve Southeast Asia's biodiversity.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Myanmar to host ASEAN energy meeting in second largest city , 2009-03-30 21:56:33

Yangon, March 30 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar will host the 27th Meeting of Energy Ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Energy Business Forum in the second largest city of Mandalay in July this year, the local Myanmar Times reported Monday, quoting sources close to the Ministry of Energy.

The four-day meeting from July 27 to 30 will be the first of its kind hosted by Myanmar and it will focus on global energy issues including ASEAN's.

Besides, a meeting of energy ministers of ASEAN+6 will also take place involving Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.

Papers relating to a range of energy issues will be read at the meeting, the report said.

More than a month ahead of these meetings, Myanmar will also host the ASEAN Energy Award competition from June 10 to 11, the report added.

Since Myanmar opened to foreign investment in late 1988, oil companies from Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam have been engaged in oil and gas exploration in the country.

Official statistics reveal that foreign investment in Myanmar's oil and gas sector had reached 3.357 billion U.S. dollars in 88 projects as of the end of 2008, standing the second in the country's foreign investment sectorally after electric power.

Asean+3 to establish $120-B crisis fund

GMANews.TV, 03/30/2009 | 10:09 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) group along with its partners Japan, China, and Korea (ASEAN+3) will establish the $120-billion pool of currency swaps that will aid member-nations that might experience liquidity problems.

"If all these things will happen, we can have a launch by the time we meet in Bangkok or Bali in May where ASEAN+3 ministers will meet for the annual ADB conference," Finance Secretary Margarito B. Teves said.

“The key consideration is the contribution coming from plus three. The allocation is 80 percent will come form them. Hopefully, we can have this done in our meeting in Bangkok," he told reporters.

Meeting of the countries’ deputy ministers will be held in April 7 to 8 followed by the finance ministers meeting and summit leaders meeting on April 10 to 11, Rosalia V. de Leon, officer-in-charge of the Finance department’s international finance group, said.

The meeting will help decide how much China, Korea, and Japan will contribute individually in the $120 billion fund. Taken together, the three nations’ contributions are expected to reach $96 billion.

"Other remaining issues are on the surveillance mechanism that will be put in place. There will be some discussion on decision-making process," she added.

Last month, the ASEAN+3 agreed to increase the $84-billion ASEAN bilateral swap arrangement under the Chiang Mai initiative to $120 billion.

Officials also agreed to transform it into a multilateral facility to address short-term liquidity problems resulting from the global financial turmoil.

In October, Teves attended a meeting with ASEAN ministers and development partners on a proposed regional contingency plan called the ASEAN Preparedness Plan to prepare for the worst impact of the global financial turmoil on the region. - GMANews.TV

China-ASEAN FTA to be completed in 2010

Beijing (ANTARA News/Asia Pulse) -- Tariffs on over 90 per cent of products traded between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will be lowered to zero starting from January 1, 2010.

This means that except sensitive products, all products traded between China and ASEAN countries will enjoy zero tariff, sources attending ongoing China-ASEAN free trade agreement and Expo disclosed.

In fact, the average tariff rate between China and ASEAN has already been lowered to 5.8 per cent from January 1, 2007, and has been cut further to 2.4 per cent from January 1 this year.

By 2010, 93 per cent of China's import from ASEAN will enjoy zero tariffs, and ASEAN countries will make similar arrangements.

Dutch company to make electric cars for Europe, US

Malaysia's Proton, Dutch company set to make electric cars for Europe, US by 2010

Yahoo Finance, 30 March 2009

Vijay Joshi, Associated Press Writer, Monday March 30, 2009, 10:03 am EDT

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia (AP) -- Malaysia's national car maker Proton and a Dutch-based company signed a $555 million deal Monday to make zero emission electric cars that they said would be more powerful that any existing model.

Proton and Detroit Electric, a startup company that owns the technology, signed the agreement in the presence of Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to produce the sedan cars, initially targeted for Europe and the U.S.

"We have the audacity to bring to the people an affordable, practical, everyday car ... with zero emission," Detroit Electric Holdings Ltd. Chief Executive Albert Lam said in a speech.

The four-door vehicle will roll out of Proton's factory by early next year, Lam told The Associated Press in an interview.

The aim is to produce 40,000 units in the first year, ramping up to 270,000 by 2013, he said. The cars will be priced between $23,000 and $33,000, depending on the model and taxation.

Under the agreement, Detroit Electric will use Proton's underutilized assembly line. Detroit Electric's motor, lithium polymer battery, the drive train and other components will be fitted in the bodies of two Proton models, Persona and Gen 2. They will be sold as Detroit Electric, without a specific brand name.

If it succeeds, Detroit Electric would be among the first to mass-produce an electric car driven purely by a noiseless battery-powered motor, unlike current hybrid engines that combine gasoline engines and electric motors.

General Motors Corp., Toyota Motor Corp., Ford Motor Co., PSA Peugeot-Citroen, Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and Tesla Motors are all seeking to develop electric cars market amid rising consumer interest in "green" technologies -- and at a particularly difficult time for the industry amid the global slowdown.

U.S.-based Tesla Motors has a prototype that has a claimed range of 160 miles (257 kilometers) and is scheduled to be produced by 2011, and cost about $50,000. A Peugeot-Mitsubishi collaboration, the iMiEV hatchback, expected to reach European consumers next year, has a stated range of 90 miles (145 kilometers).

Lam said Detroit Electric's base model, meant for city driving, will have a range of 150 miles (240 kilometers) on a full charge of eight to 10 hours and will have a top speed of 120 miles per hour (195 kmph).

The higher model will have a range of 200 miles (320 kilometers) with a top speed of 120 miles per hour. Plugging the car to an ordinary electric power outlet would charge the battery, manufactured by a South Korean company.

"We will be the spark that triggers change and tells people now is the time," said Lam. "Let's push change in the industry for environment's sake, for the sake of less dependency on petrol, for the sake of zero emission and for noiseless driving."

Lam, a British citizen and a longtime auto industry executive, joined a group of Dutch investors and inventors of the car's motor to set up a company in Damwoude, Netherlands. Lam bought the rights to the company's name -- Detroit Electric produced electric cars in the U.S. in 1907 -- to restore its historical legacy.

The engineers developed the car over 18 months and two working models were demonstrated to journalists last year.

Proton, which has struggled in recent years, could benefit from the agreement and create a niche market for itself.

"The project shows that Proton can adapt well to the current challenging economic climate," said Proton Managing Director Syed Zainal Abidin bin Syed Mohamed Tahir. "As a manufacturer, we have to think differently from others and start venturing into new areas where there are potential for growth," he said.

He said the deal will earn Proton revenue of at least 2 billion ringgit ($555 million) over four years, even if it makes only 40,000 cars per year.

Proton will have the option of buying the Detroit Electric technology after a nine-month evaluation period and to sell the car under its own brand in Southeast Asia.

Associated Press writer Eileen Ng contributed to this report.

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China asks Indonesia to maintain ASEAN regional security

Beijing (ANTARA News) - China has asked Indonesia to jointly step up security in ASEAN region, especially during the global financial crisis which led to a significant change in the field of security and defense.

"The global financial crisis has a negative impact on a number of countries, including those in East Asia, and has changed the security situation in East Asia and ASEAN," Chinese Military and Science Academy(AMS) spokesman Lt Gn Liu Chengjun said in a China-ASEAN Defense dialog here on Monday.

Present in the dialog were among others Indonesian Defense Ministry`s Strategic Environmental Analysis director Brig Gen Subekti, Indonesian Defense Attache in Beijing Col Infantry Yayat Sudrajat, and a number of ASEAN and Chinese military officials.

Chengjun said the global crisis had already caused social conflicts and regional instability.

In addition, he said several terrorist activities and separatism, cross border crime such as piracy, and human trafficking would probably escalate.

"Therefore, China and Indonesia, including ASEAN should have a joint security system," he said.

To maintain peace and security in the region, he said China would like to be Indonesia and ASEAN partner as good neighbors.

"China has so far built a strong foundation in defense cooperation with ASEAN and it would continue to be developed in the future," he said, adding that every year China had a defense consultation mechanism with Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore.

In addition, China also had a defense cooperation agreement with Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore, and strategic cooperation with Thailand.

Indonesia`s consumption rate still high: official

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesia`s consumption rate is currently still high so that it is able to absorb the country`s unexported goods, according to a senior economic official.

"There is no problem with national consumption because it is still high," Edy Putra Irawady, deputy for industrial and trade affairs to the coordinating minister for economic affairs, said here on Monday.

With a population of more than 200 million, Indonesia`s domestic market was considered large, moreover the country was going to hold the general elections later this year, he said.

"In this part of the world, we are a large market, we are a larger market than any other parts of the region," he said.

The contribution of Indonesian products to international consumption was around three percent from the total international consumption, he said.

"The value of our products `eaten up` by the global recession is only about three percent or around US$1.8 trillion per year," he said.

Indonesia has so far been conducting its exports through third parties such as Singapore, he said.

International demand for Indonesia`s main products was actually still high, only that trading companies which had so far bought Indonesian products went bankrupt, he said.

"Currently, many trading companies especially those in Singapore had collapsed due to the global crisis, so that Indonesia had to be brave enough to export directly," he said.

Indonesia proposes 500 more boats to fish for tuna

Ika Krismantari, The Jakarta Post, Denpasar, Bali | Mon, 03/30/2009 12:59 PM

Indonesia proposes to expand its tuna fishing fleet by 500 vessels at the 13th meeting of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) in Bali this week.

The Fishery Ministry's director general for ocean fisheries Ali Supardan told The Jakarta Post on Sunday that in a bid to increase the country's tuna production, Indonesia would propose that 500 more vessels be added to its existing fleet of 874 vessels during the 13th Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) being held in Bali this week, starting on Monday.

With more vessels registered with the IOTC, Indonesia would get the chance to significantly expand its tuna fishing areas. Vessels registered with the IOTC are permitted to fish outside of their national territorial fishing waters, so long as they remain within the Indian Ocean region covered by the IOTC regulatory framework.

Director of fisheries sources Nilanto Prabowo told The Jakarta Post that Indonesia was expected to increase its tuna production by 20 percent this year, should the proposal to amend the quota under the IOTC regulations be approved.

According to data from the Central Statistic Agency (BPS), Indonesia produced 125,933 tons of tuna in 2008, a slight increase from 121, 316 tons in 2007. However the proposed substantial expansion in the size of the tuna fishing fleet would have a major impact on the tonnage of tuna landed, although it might take some time to optimize the resulting catch based on the requested quota.

Nilanto said that the proposed increase in the number of tuna fishing vessels to be deployed under the requested amended IOTC quota would have to be phased in step by step as this would require time and substantial investment.

"We will propose the plan during the meeting. About the time frame for the implementation, we will add the number of registered ships gradually," he said, without elaborating.

The proposal is part of an Indonesian strategic plan to have a greater say among tuna producers in the commission and to play a greater role in the tuna fishing industry.

Nilanto said that Indonesia was not alone in proposing an additional quota. The commission was still in the process of determining the number of boats that could be allowed to fish for tuna in the Indian Ocean region in order to maintain a balance between the development of the tuna industry and sustaining the size of tuna reserves.

"Other countries only propose between 25 and 50 additional vessels," Nilanto said, adding that Indonesia's hefty request was reasonable because the country was considered to be among the biggest maritime countries in the world, with its fishing industry expected to show major growth in the coming years.

Data from the Fishery Ministry shows the country's fishery output reached 8.71 million tons last year, up from 8.24 million tons in 2007.

It exported 895,000 tons of fish in 2008, a 4 percent increase from the 854,329 tons it exported in 2007.

Indonesia joined the IOTC as a full member in 2007, after previously serving as a cooperating noncontributing party.

The IOTC is an inter-governmental organization that manages tuna and tuna-like species in the Indian Ocean and adjacent seas with the main objective of promoting both cooperation among its members and sustainability of tuna resources.

Indonesia is the 27th member of the IOTC.

According to the commission, the region produces more than 1 million tons of tuna annually worth between US$3 billion and $5 billion.

Chinese general warns of more territorial disputes

The Jakarta Post, The Associated Press | Mon, 03/30/2009 2:13 PM

The global financial crisis is increasing competition for marine resources and could aggravate territorial disputes in the South China Sea, a Chinese general said Monday.

Along with rich fishing grounds, the South China Sea is believed to have large oil and natural gas reserves. The disputed island groups also straddle busy sea lanes that are a crucial to China's economy.

China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines have overlapping claims to all or parts of South China Sea island groups and the waters that surround them.

Air force Lt. Gen. Liu Chengjun called for stepped-up dialogue among the claimants to keep disputes from spinning out of control. Territorial conflicts in the South China Sea have occasionally broken out into armed confrontation, although the countries have more recently sought to resolve differences peacefully.

"The economic crisis is putting pressure on regional stability and could increase territorial disputes," Liu said. "Faced with this possibility, we need to increase dialogue and cooperation."

Liu was speaking at the opening ceremony of a weeklong forum in Beijing featuring top military brass from China and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Several members of the association have laid claim to island groups that Beijing disputes.

In recent weeks, Beijing has issued a flurry of diplomatic protests over such disputes and dispatched a converted navy ship to reassert its claims.

The global economic crisis has put millions out of work in China and across east Asia, worsening financial concerns in countries already struggling with vast numbers of poor and threatening large scale social unrest.

Liu said economic desperation was among the factors increasing competition for marine resources - and the potential for clashes. Threats ranging from piracy and transnational crime to the effects of climate change also increased the need for regional cooperation, he said.

The Beijing conference, which includes a visit to an armored division outside the Chinese capital, underscores recent efforts by the traditionally secretive Chinese armed forces to raise their international profile through joint exercises, port calls and participation in United Nations peacekeeping missions.

AirAsia sees brand value in Asean flag

The Bangkok Post, BOONSONG KOSITCHOTETHANA, 30/03/2009 at 12:00 AM

The brand value of the Asean flag is about to be exploited by a private company. The budget carrier AirAsia believes that the trading bloc's flag, featuring 10 paddy stalks, is something that can create a good brand identity and a sense of belonging among nearly 600 million consumers in the region.

AirAsia is now aiming to turn itself into an ''Asean'' carrier, replacing the Malaysian, Thai and Indonesian flags on the planes of its three affiliated airlines.

Ironically, the move comes at a time when the effectiveness of ''Visit Asean'' as a regional tourism slogan is being debated.Consultants recently recommended that the group adopt ''Visit Southeast Asia'' instead.

AirAsia has received approval from the Asean directors-general of each state to paint the Asean flag, marque and slogans on its planes and other products.

Asean secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan said the low-cost carrier group was qualified to carry the Asean identity largely because its operations extend across the 10 member states.

The flagship AirAsia, is based in Malaysia. Together with its sister carriers, Thai AirAsia and Indonesia AirAsia, it covers more capitals and cities in Asean than any other national airline in the region.

''So they can rightly claim to be an Asean carrier,'' said Dr Surin. ''I believe AirAsia wants to sell the potential of Asean, be identified as an Asean firm and raise the profile of Asean in the world, which is good and should be supported.''

The AirAsia group currently operates 114 routes covering 64 destinations.

While cockpit and cabin crews on each of its airlines are dominated by nationals from the countries where they are based, the group is now taking steps to ''Aseanise'' its onboard services.

For instance, the Malaysian cabin crew on AirAsia X, the long-haul operator, greet and send off passengers on Kuala Lumpur-London flights with a Thai-style ''wai''.

''We want to Aseanise pilots, cabin crews, languages, entertainment. We are starting a new trend,'' said AirAsia X chief executive Azran Osman-Rani.

''We want to make our customers feel we are their airline as well. I don't want them to think they are taking a foreign airline. That is why we want to make our crew more Asean.''

He added that, from a business perspective, ''the sexiness of Asean is 600 million people''.

However, the Asean identity does not mean that AirAsia airlines will abandon the national flags under which they are registered by each government.

Dr Surin said Asean would like other big corporations in Asean _ PTT, Siam Cement and Charoen Pokphand in Thailand for example _ to associate themselves with the Asean identity.

But he added that Asean would only welcome companies that have a business presence in most, if not all, of the 10 Asean states. No fee is imposed.

Papua New Guinea wants full ASEAN 'card', 30 March 2009

Boracay Island, Malay, Aklan (30 March) -- Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare in his message to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during the state dinner tendered by the Philippine government for the visiting head of state and his delegation at Shangri-la's Boracay Resorts & Spa here, said he would like his country to become a full-pledged member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The Prime Minister said that Papua New Guinea is seriously contemplating in seeking full membership in the ASEAN and he is seeking the positive support of the Philippines towards this move.

Somare, the first prime minister of his country, said his country is willing to comply with the requirements towards full ASEAN membership. Right now, Papua New Guinea is a special member with an observer status.

Somare pointed out the importance of having closer relations with other countries as these result in "fruitful exchange of mutual interest and concern."

ASEAN member-countries are Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

ASEAN was established on 8 August 1967 in Bangkok by the five original Member Countries, namely, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. Brunei Darussalam joined on 8 January 1984, Vietnam on 28 July 1995, Lao PDR and Myanmar on 23 July 1997, and Cambodia on 30 April 1999.

The ASEAN Vision 2020, adopted by the ASEAN Leaders on the 30th Anniversary of ASEAN, agreed on a shared vision of ASEAN as a concert of Southeast Asian nations, outward looking, living in peace, stability and prosperity, bonded together in partnership in dynamic development and in a community of caring societies.

In 2003, the ASEAN Leaders resolved that an ASEAN Community shall be established comprising three pillars, namely, ASEAN Security Community, ASEAN Economic Community and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community.

Somare's visit to the Philippines is expected to enhance bilateral relations with the country and the Philippines represented by Secretary Arthur Yap and PNG Minister of Fisheries will sign a memorandum of agreement on fisheries development.

Aside from the agreement on fisheries development, the two countries have been working together in other areas within the framework of the Asia-Pacific Forum, South-West Dialogue, and so-called coral triangle that also involve Malaysia, Indonesia, East Timor and Solomon Islands.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sudan's wanted president welcomed at Arab summit

The Jakarta Post, Salah Nasrawi, The Associated Press, Doha, Qatar | Sun, 03/29/2009 9:30 PM

Sudan's president, who is sought by an international court on charges of war crimes in Darfur, received a warm welcome Sunday in Qatar, where he will attend this week's Arab League summit.

President Omar al-Bashir was greeted with hugs and kisses by Qatar's emir in a red-carpet welcome at Doha's airport on Sunday. He later had coffee with the emir and the head of the Arab League. The summit begins Monday.

The 22-nation Arab League has already said it would not enforce the International Criminal Court's arrest order for al-Bashir issued on March 4 and the Sudanese leader visited Eritrea, Egypt and Libya over the past week in a show of defiance.

Arab countries have been critical of the international tribunal's decision to issue an arrest warrant, arguing it would further destabilize Sudan as the Darfur conflict enters its seventh year. The Arab-dominated Sudanese government's battle against ethnic African rebels in the western region has killed up to 300,000 people and driven 2.5 million from their homes since 2003, according to the U.N.

Arab foreign ministers preparing for this week's summit endorsed a draft resolution Saturday rejecting the ICC's arrest warrant.

"The leaders reject attempts to politicize the principles of international justice and using them to undermine the sovereignty, unity and stability, of Sudan," said the draft resolution.

In a news conference Saturday, Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa said the League will "continue our efforts to halt the implementation of the warrant," including asking the U.N. Security Council to halt the case against al-Bashir.

"What is required from all of us is to stand with our brothers in Sudan and its leadership in order to prevent dangers that affect our collective security," Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said.

But the Arab ministers rejected an offer from Sudan to host an emergency Arab summit in Sudan to show solidarity with al-Bashir. Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheik Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani said instead that Arab governments decided they will increase their diplomatic visits to Sudan.

Qatar, an energy-rich Gulf state, has been seeking to play a bigger role on the Middle East sage, and mediated a round a preliminary talks between Sudan's government and the most powerful of the Darfur rebel groups in February.

Wading into other important regional issues, Qatar supports the Palestinian movement Hamas but also hosts the headquarters of the U.S. Central Command for military operatios in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Taufik Hidayat claims Indian Open badminton title

The Jakarta Post, The Associated Press, Hyderabad, India | Sun, 03/29/2009 7:54 PM

Winning party: Indonesia's Taufik Hidayat (right) and Malaysia's Muhammad Hafiz Hashim pose for photographs at the Yonex Sunrise India Open 2009 badminton tournament in Hyderabad, India, Sunday, March 29, 2009. Second-seeded Taufik defeated Hashim 21-18, 21-19 Sunday to clinch the India Open men's singles title. AP/Mahesh Kumar A

Second-seeded Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia defeated Muhammad Hafiz Hashim of Malaysia 21-18, 21-19 Sunday to clinch the India Open men's singles title, while top-seeded Pi Hongyan of France took the women's event.

Myanmar, Indonesia seek direct trade link, 2009-03-29 10:39:54

YANGON, March 29 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar and Indonesia are seeking direct trade link, direct banking transaction and direct Yangon-Jakarta air link to boost their bilateral economic and cooperation, the leading local weekly Yangon Times reported in this week's issue, quoting Indonesian official sources.

So far, the two countries are trading through Malaysia, carrying out banking transaction through Singapore and connecting without direct air link.

The report also quoted the two countries' businessmen as saying that Indonesia imported from Myanmar beans and pulses, onions and marine products, while it exported to Myanmar in return crude oil, cigarettes, and medicines.

Indonesia's beans and pulses import from Myanmar amounted to 20,000 tons annually, the report added.

Indonesia is Myanmar's fourth largest trading partner among members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) after Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia, having a bilateral trade of 235.09 million U.S. dollars with Myanmar in 2008. Of the total, Indonesia’s exports to Myanmar amounted to 209.03 million dollars, while its imports from Myanmar were valued at 26.06 million dollars, according to Myanmar official statistics.

Meanwhile, Indonesia's investment in Myanmar has so far reached over 241 million dollars since late 1988 when Myanmar opened to such investment, standing the 9th among Myanmar's foreign investors.

Editor: Deng Shasha

East Timor to be Home for New Golf Resort


The developer that built Malaysia's Sutera Harbour resort plan to build the first luxury resort in East Timor. Edward Ong, the principal of the Singapore-based Ock Group, will build the soon-to-be-named resort on a coastal setting outside East Timor's capital of Dili. The resort will consist of a 350-room hotel (the nation's first five-star hotel), a business park, and a 27-hole golf complex.

The resort will be modeled after the 348-acre Sutera Harbour resort in Sabah, Malaysia, which Ong opened in 2000. Sutera Harbour has two hotels (956 total rooms), a marina, a spa, and a 27-hole, Graham Marsh-designed golf complex.

East Timor, Asia's newest country, is in Indonesia, 400 miles northwest of Australia. It won its independence in 2002 after considerable violence and internal strife. The country is still struggling to build an economy - its unemployment rate is said to be 40 percent - and it lacks dependable electrical power and necessities such as a large airport and office space.

Initially, the resort will target business travelers. But Ong hopes East Timor will eventually generate enough tourism to warrant the construction of more hotel rooms and other attractions. "It's a virgin place that people have not explored yet," said Ong, who hopes to open the resort in 2012.

This story originally appeared in Asian Golf Business.

By the way: Being Indonesian and proud of it

The Jakarta Post, Sun, 03/29/2009 11:14 AM

Another head scratching moment for me and for people who assist me — as an Indonesian passport holder I always face the same issue every time I need or plan to go to other countries outside ASEAN. Applying for entry visas, with stacks of documents and tedious preparations required. At the end I always feel overwhelmed filling in the forms and preparing necessary documents.

One has suggested to me to change nationality to make it easier for me whenever I need to travel overseas. You know, for citizens of some countries, they have visa waivers so they can just jump up and go overseas anytime they want.

As a spontaneous person I feel this visa issue burdening me a lot. When I am in the mood for travel I need to check entry requirement first, then have to start applying for visas. Depending on the country and my luck (and so far I have been lucky), I will get a visa approved in 1-2 weeks. But, hey, the anticipation may not be there anymore. But what can I do? Nothing. Just try to keep my name clear so every time I apply for a visa or when I enter any country the immigration officer’s computer will flash “Clear” or “Not in the dangerous list” or whatever.

Back to the suggestion of changing nationality, I suddenly remember one story of an Indonesian singer who already went international. She has been living outside Indonesia for many years and had established her reputation as a reputable international singer in Europe. She changed her Indonesian nationality to another nationality. She told the papers that as an international artist she had difficulties and often has a headache applying for and getting entry visas to perform or do overseas tours and the Indonesian embassy people did not help her much too. Exchanging nationality for ease of travel?

It is true that being Indonesian we often have to line up outside the embassy applying for visas that may or may not be approved, with stacks of documents and financial proofs that should be prepared, and we have to wait for at least 1 week or, it could be worst, 1 month to get it. In the process, our passports will be kept with them. Honestly I hate this waiting time. I am hopeless without my green passport.

Now come to think of it, why do people, in this case governments, always make things so complicated? Is it their nature not to trust anybody? So is it that we are guilty before proven innocent?

Maybe changing nationality is worth doing it. But, my blood is Indonesian. Although, like many Indonesians, I swear a lot about the country, but, it is my country, and I belong to it. I was, am and always will be Indonesian. No matter what.

I never knew that I loved my country until I realized it one day. I still remember vividly that day. I was about to move to Canada. It was late November. I was at Cengkareng airport in Jakarta, waiting for my flight. It was not a time when the national anthem was normally played publicly, but, suddenly I heard the Indonesian national anthem. I was dumb struck and started crying quietly. I missed Indonesia already. I promised myself that being Indonesian overseas meant that I had to represent Indonesia, make the country proud of me, and that I would be proud of the country and defend it.

Despite any troubling things that have been happening in Indonesia, I am never ashamed of being Indonesian. I am sometimes sad and disappointed with what’s happening in the country but am never ashamed of the country. If any bad news about Indonesia reaches the shores where I live, I will always take it as my responsibility to help the country to explain — especially to non-Indonesian people or people who are not familiar with Indonesia — what exactly is happening.

I always believe it is our duty to learn the best things wherever we live overseas and bring them back to Indonesia someday, perhaps to help build a better Indonesia in the future.

Well, in the end, with my discovering my true love of my country, Indonesia, it is really worth going through the headaches and bother of applying for entry visas rather than exchanging my identity. I am Indonesian. I will always be Indonesian. And I am proud of it.

Obama invites major economies to energy forum

CNN, 29 March 2009

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Barack Obama has invited the leaders of 16 major economies to Washington for a forum on energy and climate next month, the White House announced Saturday.

Obama, who recently turned his attention to the need for more clean-energy funding, has also asked U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to attend.

The forum, scheduled for April 27-28, seeks to "generate the political leadership necessary" for a successful outcome at the U.N. climate change negotiation to be held in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December, the White House said in a statement.

Aside from the United States, the 16 other major economies are Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Russia, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

Last week, Obama told a group of renewable-energy company owners and investors that the country has "known the right choice for a generation (and that) the time has come to make that choice."

He argued that an expanded investment is needed to lay the foundation for long-term economic growth, cut dependence on foreign oil and slow the process of global warming.

"We can allow climate change to wreak unnatural havoc or we can create jobs preventing its worse effects," he said. "We can hand over the jobs of the 21st century to our competitors, or we can create those jobs right here in America."

The need for new energy sources was a heated point of contention in the 2008 presidential campaign. Obama emphasized the need for renewable-energy development, while Republican nominee John McCain stressed a preference for more oil drilling within the United States.

Asean University proposal gathering momentum

The Bangkok Post, PLOENPOTE ATTHAKOR, 29/03/2009 at 12:00 AM

NAKHON SI THAMMARAT : Asean secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan has endorsed the idea of an Asean University as proposed by a group of prominent academics in the region.

Mr Surin discussed the proposal with Charnvit Kasetsiri, lecturer in Southeast Asian Studies at Thammasat University's liberal arts faculty, at a forum on "The Islamic World and Muslims in Southeast Asia". The forum was held by the Social Science Textbook Foundation and Toyota Foundation in Nakhon Si Thammarat. Mr Surin said he was approached by Shaharil Talib, a renowned historian and senior official at the Malaysian Attorney-General's Office, who sought his support for the proposal.

"I told him to work out a concept paper and submit it to me," Mr Surin said. He added leading academics will participate in the project, making contributions writing curriculum.

According to Mr Surin, Prof Shaharil was accompanied by the governor of Riau, on Indonesia's Bantam Island, who pledged to donate a plot of land for use as the university site. Mr Surin said the university did not need to be big at this stage, adding it would instead make full use of cyber technology and serve as a "virtual university".

He said there was a need for countries in the grouping, which was founded 40 years ago, to foster what he called an "Asean identity". He said it was apparent people in the grouping still thought of themselves as separate nationalities and not Asean citizens.

Mr Charnvit, who is secretary of the Social Science Textbook Foundation, said the new university should be multi-disciplinary.

"While it may offer engineering and other sciences, the new university should be strong in social science," he said, adding it would help people in the grouping develop an "Asean spirit" that will help them understand each other better. He said the university can be located in any of the 10 Asean countries. He said he will discuss the project with Maria Diokno, ex-chancellor of the University of the Philippines, next week in Manila.

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