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The man of the year

Guy Verhofstadt
Mr. Guy Verhofstadt

The man of the year
L'homme de l'an
De man van het jaar
2009


A proven Democrat, protector and fighter for justice and human rights in the World.

Een bewezen Democraat, beschermer en strijder voor rechtvaardigheid en mensenrechten in de Wereld.

Un prouvé démocrate, protecteur et combattant pour la justice et des droits de l'homme dans le Mond.

Eine bewährte Demokrat, Beschützer und Kämpfer für Gerechtigkeit und Menschenrechte in der Welt.

Dokazani demokrat,
 zaštitnik i borac za pravdu i ljudska prava u Svijetu.




The man of the year

Guarantee
Peace in the World


Mr. Barak Hossein Obama

The man of the year
L'homme de l'an
De man van het jaar
2012


Guarantee
peace in the world

Garantie
vrede in de wereld

Garantie
la paix dans le monde

Garantie des Friedens in der Welt

Zabezpečenie
mieru vo svete

Garancija
mira u svijetu





Murray Hunter
University Malaysia Perlis



Perpetual Self conflict: Self awareness as a key to our ethical drive, personal mastery, and perception of entrepreneurial opportunities.
Murray Hunter




The Continuum of Psychotic Organisational Typologies
Murray Hunter




There is no such person as an entrepreneur, just a person who acts entrepreneurially
Murray Hunter




Groupthink may still be a hazard to your organization - Murray Hunter



Generational Attitudes and Behaviour - Murray Hunter



The environment as a multi-dimensional system: Taking off your rose coloured glasses - Murray Hunter



Imagination may be more important than knowledge: The eight types of imagination we use - Murray Hunter



Do we have a creative intelligence? - Murray Hunter



Not all opportunities are the same: A look at the four types of entrepreneurial opportunity - Murray Hunter



   The Evolution of Business Strategy - Murray Hunter



How motivation really works - Murray Hunter



Evaluating Entrepreneurial Opportunities: What’s wrong with SWOT? - Murray Hunter



 The five types of thinking we use - Murray Hunter



Where do entrepreneurial opportunities come from? - Murray Hunter



  How we create new ideas - Murray Hunter



How emotions influence, how we see the world? - Murray Hunter



People tend to start businesses for the wrong reasons - Murray Hunter



One Man, Multiple Inventions: The lessons and legacies of Thomas Edison - Murray Hunte


   
Does Intrapreneurship exist in Asia? - Murray Hunter



 What’s with all the hype – a look at aspirational marketing - Murray Hunter



   Integrating the philosophy of Tawhid – an Islamic approach to organization - Murray Hunter



Samsara and the Organization - Murray Hunter



Do Confucian Principled Businesses Exist in Asia? - Murray Hunter



 Knowledge, Understanding and the God Paradigm - Murray Hunter



On Some of the Misconceptions about Entrepreneurship - Murray Hunter




How feudalism hinders community transformation and economic evolution: Isn’t equal opportunity a basic human right? - Murray Hunter



The Dominance of “Western” Management Theories in South-East Asian Business Schools: The occidental colonization of the mind. - Murray Hunter



Ethics, Sustainability and the New Realities - Murray Hunter



The Arrival of Petroleum, Rockefeller, and the Lessons He taught Us - Murray Hunter - University Malaysia Perlis



 Elite educators idolize the “ high flying entrepreneurs” while deluded about the realities of entrepreneurship for the masses: - Murray Hunter



Lessons from the Invention of the airplane and the Beginning of the Aviation Era - Murray Hunter



Missed Opportunities for ASEAN if the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) fails to start up in 2015 - Murray Hunter



From Europe, to the US, Japan, and onto China: The evolution of the automobile - Murray Hunter



ASEAN Nations need indigenous innovation to transform their economies but are doing little about it. - Murray Hunter



Do Asian Management Paradigms Exist? A look at four theoretical frames - Murray Hunter



Surprise, surprise: An Islam economy can be innovative - Murray Hunter



Australia in the "Asian Century" or is it Lost in Asia? - Murray Hunter



Australia "Do as I say, not as I do" - The ongoing RBA bribery scandal - Murray Hunter


 
Entrepreneurship and economic growth? South-East Asian governments are developing policy on the misconception that entrepreneurship creates economic growth. - Murray Hunter



Hillary to Julia "You take India and I'll take Pakistan", while an ex-Aussie PM says "Enough is enough with the US" - Murray Hunter










 


Europe: Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, and Something Blue

Murray Hunter
 

Old Europe was once a grouping of feudal societies that occasionally interacted with each other. As transport and communication developed many of these feudal societies amalgamated to form larger societies known as nations where strings of alliances to preserve their interests developed.

If we fast forward to the end of the 19th Century Europe began to become dominated by two main groupings, the Triple Alliance between Germany, Austria, and Italy, and the Entente Cordiale between England and France. This was supplemented with the Franco-Russian Alliance, and the Anglo-Russian Entente.

These alliances formed two military camps on European soil and hastened the process to all out war when the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated in Sarajevo on 28th June 1914. Again in 1938, aggression across Europe led into bloodshed, pain and suffering destroying a major part of Europe. And after the Second World War Europe was partitioned with an iron curtain that once again divided the continent.

The narratives within Europe were once full of delusions of racial and religious superiority, imposed dominance, and cultural diversity. Some pockets of Europe today still hold these kinds of beliefs, where groups are still expressing aspirations for independence.

In Europe, there was a desperate need to find a way to co-exist, otherwise future conflicts would have devastating consequences similar to what has been witnessed a number of times through European history. The union had to unite a divided Europe of different histories and then stretch it's arms out to most of Eastern Europe after the collapse of the Soviet Union with an almost unbelievable transformation which other regions of the world like the ASEAN Economic Community will find very hard to emulate.

We can see that the spirit of these old alliances are preserved not for war that dragged Europe into destruction, but this time to bail out a member Greece in the quest to save the union, although the decisions to do this put extreme pressure upon the individual members of the Union.

Today many fundamental questions are arising as new challenges. Youth unemployment, freedom of domicile within the union, the influx of migrants, the Euro-crisis, soaring health costs, rising petroleum prices, food shortages, and terrorism are all concerning Europeans deeply. The answers don't appear to be there and this is leading to great uncertainty.

The European phenomena is still incomplete. We had the political revolution symbolized by the blue European Union flag flying above European land and institutions under flickering with the winds that once blew through a divided Europe. The second revolution is an economic one, symbolized by the common regulation and the Euro currency. This is currently presenting great challenges as we are still finding that common regulation is not as easy as anticipated due to the cultural diversity and situational issues that persist within the union member states. The Euro and uniform financial regulation had unforeseen consequences. The perceived strength of the union, a common currency also had a paradoxical weakness in that it severely limited the utilization of monetary policy, as the EU has now found. Relying almost solely on budgetary mechanisms for fiscal control along Keynesian philosophies is not enough for member states.

Undoubtedly the European Union Economic approach needs another mechanism. The Euro currency is not the "Higgs Boson" particle that everybody anticipated, and another mechanism to financially drive Europe is needed. But the answer may come in a similar manner to scientists at CERN who discovered that quantum mechanics is extremely complex to truly understand, and the deep fundamentals are within the individual parts, rather than the whole.

There is another revolution that is needed to create the great EU as originally dreamed about. And this revolution is the hardest of all to achieve. It's a mistake to believe that this revolution will come from the committee rooms of the European Parliament. No revolution ever comes from a legislature.

This revolution is a spiritual one about vision for a new Europe and it must come from the streets of Munich, the streets of Paris, villages in Romania, and towers in Barcelona, and so on. The vanguard of this revolution will be the same people who were involved in the Arab Spring, the uprisings in Burma and Iran, and the Occupy movement in the United States, the youth of Europe.

The European Union must find the right balance between debate and consensus on an overall vision. That vision must permeate into all aspects of society. Without this vision Europe cannot progress and may actually decline. The people of Europe need a new identity that carries both meaning and a sense of excitement about the future.

And what must be borrowed by the European Union, once discarded in an attempt to create a pan-Euro culture is the "hotch potch" of cultural diversity that exists within the member states. Uniformity does not bring strength, diversity brings strength which has been unrecognized. Diversity is what makes Europe and the Commission has over the years tried to create a Europe of the lowest common denominator (LCD). Europe has actually been stripped of its very strength. The answer is not in the pan-Euro approach but engaging the diversity within the Union, something many, if not the majority feel in their hearts. A Euro-culture should take in both national and pan-Euro traits and slowly evolve into a single Euro-identity.

Just like the Euro-debt crisis, the Euro-cultural crisis is the result of legislators believing that regulation is not the solution to everything. New approaches outside legislative frameworks are required here.

There is great risk that the metaphor of blue may become a sea that lacks the ability to have foresight and vision. The EU Council is fast becoming a transactional rather than transformational identity as it started out to be. The bureaucrats have replaced the dreamers and philosophers setting into motion processes that inhibit rather than rather than encourages growth in diversity and richness.

Blue is also symbolic of authority and the EU must be aware of the need to develop an environment where the Commission is not seen as top down regulator but truly concerned with what it's citizenry thinks and feels about issues. The citizens of the EU must be encouraged to develop a sense of ownership in the whole process once again.


29.12.2012



MENA Oil and the (hidden) political price Europe pays for it


Anis H. Bajrektarevic

There is a claim currently circulating the EU, both cynical and misleading: ‘multiculturalism is dead in Europe’. No wonder, as the conglomerate of nation-states/EU has silently handed over one of its most important debates – that of European identity – to the wing-parties, recently followed by the several selective and contra-productive foreign policy actions.

The Gulf OPEC states and Libya have –by far– the lowest costs of oil extraction thanks to the high crude ‘purity’ which is simplifying and cheapening the refinement process, as well as the close proximity to open warm seas for a fast and convenient overseas shipments. Hence, the costs per barrel of crude for Libya and the Persian Gulf states are under 5USD, for other OPEC states below 10UDS. This is in a sharp contrast to countries such as the US, Russia, Norway, Canada and many others that bear production costs of several tens of USD per barrel – according to the Intl. Energy Agency (IEA). Thus, although commercially very affordable, Europe presently pays a huge political price for the MENA crude imports.

* * * * *

By correlating the hydrocarbons with the present political and socio-economic landscape, scholar Larry Diamond reveled that currently 22 states in the world, which earn 60% or more of their respective GDP from oil (and gas) are a non-democratic, authoritarian regimes. All of them with huge disparities, steep socio-economic cleavages, sharp political inequalities and lasting exclusions, not to mention poor human rights records. These represent nearly half of the countries considered by the Freedom House’s annual reports as ‘not free’– the very same that are predominantly held accountable by the western media for domestic and regional insurgences, intl. armed conflicts, famines as well as for terrorists harboring and financing. Hence, as many as 9 of the 11 top crude exporters are usually labeled as the dictatorships and/ or despotic monarchies by the leading academia. Prof. Diamond calls it democratic recession. If so, there is not a single economic or political indicator at the MENA (Middle East – North Africa) region to imply any ‘Spring’ happening lately, but only a severe, lasting recession.

Indeed, modern history is full of examples where the crude exporting countries’ development was hindered by the huge revenues. Far too often, the petro-cash flow did not assist but delayed or derailed necessary economic diversification and political reform. It also frequently paved the way up for the elites, domestically felt as predatory, and externally instrumented as –to use CIA jargon– ‘useful idiots’. Conveniently though using revenues to buy and otherwise subsidize social peace, those regimes (of rentier states) were/are actually creating self-entrapment – ever stronger psychological and political dependence on hydrocarbons. Therefore, a real ‘Arab Spring’, for the Middle East and rest of us, will only come with a socio-economic decoupling and diversification, socio-political horizontalization, with a decisive de-psychologisation of and departure from oil-dependence. By no means, it would ever come by a pure cosmetic change of the resident in the presidential palace.

Fearing the leftist republican pan-Arabism and Nasserism, the US encouraged Saudi Arabia to sponsor the existing and establish a new large network of madrasah all over the Middle East – Prof. Cleveland reminds us in his capital work: A History of the Modern Middle East. In the last three decades, this tiger became ‘too big to ride’, as Lawrence Wright points out in his luminary book on Al Qaida: The Looming Tower. Wright states that while representing only 1,5% of the world’s Muslims, Saudis fund and essentially control around 90% of the Islamic institutions from the US to Kazakhstan/Xinjiang and from Norway to Australia.[1]

By insisting on oversimplified and rigid, sectarian Wahhabi-Salafist interpretations of religious texts, most of these institutions along with their indoctrinated clerics are in fact both corrupting and preventing an important inner debate about Islam and modernity.[2] Self-detained in a limbo of denial, they largely (and purposely) keep the Arab and non-Arab Muslim world in a dangerous confrontational course with both itself and the rest of the world.[3]

To end this, there is a claim currently circulating the EU, both cynical and misleading: ‘multiculturalism is dead in Europe’. The sort of Islam Europe supported (and the means deployed to do so) in the Middle East yesterday, is the sort of Islam (and the means it uses) that Europe gets today.

Why and how?!

Young generations of Europeans are taught in schools about a compact unity (singularity) of an entity called the EU. However, as soon as serious external or inner security challenges emerge, the compounding parts of the true, historic Europe are resurfacing again. Formerly in Algeria, Egypt and Lebanon, then in Iraq (with the exception of France) and now with Libya and Syria; Central Europe is hesitant to act, Atlantic Europe is eager, Scandinavian Europe is absent, Eastern Europe is bandwagoning, and Russophone Europe is opposing.

The 1986 Reagan-led Anglo-American bombing of Libya was a one-time, head-hunting punitive action. This time, Libya (and currently Syria) has been given a different attachment: The considerable presence of China in Africa; successful circumventing pipeline deals between Russia and Germany (which will deprive Eastern Europe from any transit-related bargaining premium, and will tacitly pose a joint Russo-German effective pressure on the Baltic states, Poland and Ukraine); boldness (due to a petro-financial and strategic emancipation) of Iran; [4] and finally the overthrows of the EU friendly, Tunisian, Yemeni and Egyptian regimes –all combined– must have triggered alarm bells across Atlantic Europe. [5]

Thus, in response to the MENA crisis, the EU failed to keep up a broad, consolidated agenda and all-participatory basis with its strategic neighborhood, although having institutions, interest and credibility to do so – as it did before at its home; by silently handing over one of its most important questions, that of European identity, to escapist anti-politics (politics in retreat) dressed up in the Western European wing-parties. Eventually, Europe compromised its own perspectives and discredited its own transformative power’s principle. It did so by undermining its own institutional framework: Barcelona Process as the specialized segment of European Neighborhood Policy (EU) and the Euro-Med partnership (OSCE). [6]

The only direct involvement of the continent was ranging between a diplomatic de-legitimization (by Goebbels-izing the media to instrument it for) and punitive military engagement via the Atlantic Europe-led coalition of the willing (Libya, Syria). Confrontational nostalgia prevailed again over dialog (instruments) and consensus (institutions).

The consequences are striking: The sort of Islam that the EU supported (and the means deployed to do so) in the Middle East yesterday, is the sort of Islam (and the means it uses) that Europe gets today. Small wonder, that Islam in Turkey [7] (or in Kirgizstan and in Indonesia) is broad, liberal and tolerant while the one in Northern Europe is a brutally dismissive, narrow and vindictively assertive.

Anis H. Bajrektarevic, Geopolitics of Energy Editorial Member
Chairperson for Intl. Law & Global Pol. Studies
Vienna, 12 DEC 2012
Contact: anis@bajrektarevic.eu



This article is an excerpt from the key-note address: ‘From Lisbon to Barcelona – all the forgotten EU instruments’ presented at the Crans Montana Forum, 18-20 October 2012, Geneva, Switzerland

Notes and References

[1] However, a corrosive influence of big money (an upper hand of silencing) in politics and human rights groups is so high, that any discussion about Saudis is one of the strongest taboos of our time.

[2] Undeniably, there were ideological complementarities between Soviet communism and the anti-colonial, leftist, egalitarian and republican pan-Arabism. Still, the post-Soviet and post-communist Russia remains on the same position, following its geopolitical rationale. Pan-Arabism is the only Middle Eastern counterbalance, an alternative to the Wahhabism-powered (or newly arriving, neo-Ottoman- powered) Islamism. (Salafist) Muslimhood might have an appeal among the Sunnis in Central Asia, Caucasus and within the Russian Federation, but pan-Arabism does not hold the same allure (which additionally seals-off Turkey and protects the Russian strategic Turkophone backyard from that side too). On the other hand, the republican pan-Arabism was felt as a direct threat to the US-backed GCC monarchies. Rather unchecked, the Al Qaida cluster has – in the meantime – managed to self-prescribe an exclusive monopoly on Islamism. By self-proclaiming an alleged struggle for the Sunni Ummah restoration, it actually corrupted and silenced all important debates within the Arab world. No single strategic objective it has so far achieved but to effectively divert the Arab attention from their real socio-civilizational, cultural, economic and political issues. In fact, the Al Qaida construct is only a radicalized and weaponized ideology of Wahhabism – of a sect that originates from the 19th century peninsular Arabian tribes on its anti-Ottoman emancipation quest, which – backed by that time Imperial Britain – finally demolished the centuries-long Caliphates-Ottoman Ummah. With religion per se, it has very little to do.

[3] Hereby we are not discussing the disastrous image of Muslims, created by the Saudi-Qatari financed Sturm Phalanges holed in Afghan caves and their conductor, Saudi Rasputin/Wahhabi Houdini, recently located in Pakistan and ‘retired’.

[4] It is anticipated that Iran (and Syria) on the Russian south-west flank serve as a pivotal security buffer. Indeed, Teheran is in constant need of diplomatic cover from Moscow. In return, it refrains from its own Islamic projection on and it shields the Caucasus and Central Asia – considered by Russia as its strategic backyard, from the aggressive Wahhabism. On the other hand, boldness of Iran endorses a perfect pretext for a reinforced missile shield, which –interestingly enough– rather encircles Russia then it deters Iran, as the recent stationing of the US Patriot missiles in Eastern Europe and in Turkey has shown.

[5] Additionally, the announced reductions of the American physical presence in Afghanistan, its limits in (nearly failed, nuclear, state of) Pakistan, massive overextensions suffered on the southwestern flank of the Euro-Asian continent as well as the recent US Army pullout from Iraq, is felt within the GCC (in France, Israel and Turkey too) as dangerous exposure to neighboring (increasingly anticipated as assertive) Iran, as well as Russia and China behind it. Right now, Syria pays a (proxy war) price for it: This multi-religious country may end up entirely combusted, creating a dangerous security vacuum in the heart of MENA. Or to use the words of frustration of the senior French diplomat who recently told me in Brussels: “we have to quickly delegitimize the legitimate Syrian government and topple al-Assad in order to convince Izrael not to bomb Iran…”

[6] The Gulf OPEC states and Libya have –by far– the lowest costs of oil extraction thanks to the high crude ‘purity’ (measured by overall properties such as a state of aggregation, excavation gravity, viscosity, weight, degree of sulfuric and other conta- minants) which is simplifying and cheapening the refinement process, as well as the close proximity to open warm seas for a fast and convenient overseas shipments. Hence, the costs per barrel of crude for Libya and the Persian Gulf states are under 5USD, for other OPEC states below 10UDS. This is in a sharp contrast to countries such as the US, Russia, Norway, Canada and many others that bear production costs of several tens of USD per barrel – according to the Intl. Energy Agency (IEA). Thus, although commercially very affordable, Europe presently pays a huge political price for the MENA crude imports. Of this, often hidden, price, European consumers are largely unaware.

[7] While the cacophony of European contradictions works more on a self-elimination of the EU from the region, Turkey tries to reinsert itself. The so-called neo-Ottomanism of the current
(Anatolian, eastern rural power-base) government steers the country right into the centre of grand bargaining for both Russia and for the US. To this emerging triangular constellation, PM Erdoğan wishes to appoint its own rhythm. Past the ‘Arab Spring’, neither will Russia effectively sustain its presence in the Middle East on a strict pan-Arabic secular, republican and anti-Islamic idea, nor will the US manage to politically and morally justify its backing off of the absolutistic monarchies energized by the backward, aggressive and oppressive Wahhabism. Ankara tries to sublime both effectively: enough of a secular republican modernity and of a traditional, tolerant and emancipating Islam, and to broadcast it as an attractive future model across the Middle East. Simply, Bosporus wakes itself up as an empiric proof that the Islam and modernity goes together. In fact, it is the last European nation that still has both demographic and economic growth. Moreover, Ataturk’s Republic is by large and by far the world’s most successful Muslim state: It was never resting its development on oil or other primary-commodity exports, but on a vibrant socio-economic sector and solid democratic institutions. This is heavily contesting, not only for Russia, but primarily for the insecure regime of the House of Saud (and other GCC autocracies), which rules by the direct royal decree over a country of recent past, oil-export dependent and fizzing presence and improbable future. No wonder that on the ideological battlefield, the two belligerent parties will be dominating the Middle East, which is currently in self-questioning past yet another round of hardships. The outcome will be significantly beyond the Arab world, and will reverberate all across the Sunni Muslim world. Ankara is attempting to justify that the Saudi-promoted Islam is actually a toxic, separatist/sectarian Wahhabistic ideology that self-constrains Muslims and hinders their socio-economic and political development. It does this by keeping Muslims on a permanent collision course with the rest of the world, while Turkey-promoted Islam is not a weaponized ideology, but a Modus Vivendi, which permits progress and is acceptable for all (including the non-Muslims), with the centuries-long history of success.


12.12.2012



The Singapore SMRT Labour Dispute: Symptoms of a dirty business and "human trafficking" in South-East Asia

Corporate greed, old authoritarian hangovers, and demographic changes in the foreign labour industry

Murray Hunter University Malaysia Perlis

Murray Hunter University Malaysia PerlisLate last month 171 Chinese national bus drivers who were employed by the Singapore Government controlled bus and underground railway company SMRT took industrial action by staging a two day walkout. The bus drivers claimed that they were being underpaid relative to other foreign workers doing the same job, and the poorly sanitized conditions of their accommodation.

This is reportedly the first strike in Singapore since 1986.


The SMRT management took it upon themselves to immediately revoke the work permits of 29 of the drivers causing their immediate deportation last Sunday. Five drivers were charged under Singapore law that prohibits any industrial action like a strike without giving 14 days prior notice. One was additionally charged with inciting people to strike by posting comments on a Chinese social network site and received a 6 month jail sentence after pleading guilty.

The SMRT case is not a surprising incident for those who know how the foreign labour industry works. This dispute is only indicative and symbolic of a much larger chronic problem. The pay and conditions of foreign workers throughout the region has been poor to say the least.

In this specific SMRT case, even the local Singapore media criticized the poor handling of the dispute by their CEO Desmond Kuek, who in an interview with The Business Times admitted SMRT had been too profit focused and that company attitudes needed to change. This highlights a much wider mean and sadistic streak within company management around the region towards foreign workers generally.

To date, foreign worker supply has generally been plentiful and workers are seen as a resource where the maximum should be extracted out of them for the minimum expenditure possible. This is extremely common within local companies, while some, but not all foreign owned companies do provide better conditions, viewing a good labour force as an asset rather than a resource to be exploited.

There are so many stories of harsh treatment, poor management, abuse, and the provision of generally poor conditions provided to workers. Most foreign workers have already paid manpower agents up to USD 10,000, mostly borrowed for the privilege of working abroad. In some cases conditions are no better than what a dog would be given and there are many cases of workers being cheated out of their salaries by greedy and unscrupulous employers.

Just within the last few days the Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur warned its nationals not to work as maids in Malaysia due to the abuses many have endured over the years with very few rights of recourse. In fact under Malaysian immigration law, any mistakes of misuse of workers outside of their visa conditions renders the workers liable, rather than the employers for punishment. There are cases where foreign workers have been jailed and received the rotan due to the misdeeds of their employers.

The trauma facing many foreign workers doesn't start with the employers, but with the recruitment agents who extract as much as they can from the workers. Many deposits are taken from villagers in Isaan (North-east Thailand), Laos, and Cambodia with the promise of foreign work that never comes. Some labour recruitment agents even issue false documents and visas to foreign workers, as happened in Nepal a few years ago where a recruitment agent sent workers to Malaysia on false visas. The culprits couldn't be caught and prosecuted as they were "operating outside the jurisdiction of Malaysian authorities". However the workers themselves were arrested for possessing forged visas. Very few of these labour recruiting agents who flaunt the law are ever prosecuted.

One of the problems is that the labour recruitment business is so lucrative and generally outside the taxation system that it has attracted officers of government agencies and even members of parliament to be involved. Just recently labour activist Abdul Aziz Ismail accused the Malaysian Attorney-General's Chambers of colluding with the Bangladesh High Commission in aiding foreign labour recruitment agencies. In addition a former Home Minister Mohd Radzi Sheikh Ahmad and the sitting MP for Kangar is listed in the Companies Commission of Malaysia (CCM) records as a company director of SNT Universal Corporation Sdn. Bhd. that has been accused of exploiting Bangladeshi workers. A CCTV caught officials of SNT Universal Corporation directly abusing foreign workers. Authorities are currently investigating the incident.

The former inspector-general of the Royal Malaysian Police Force Musa Hassan has also criticized the way the government handles foreign labour as little more than human trafficking.

This brings up the next issue of old authoritarian hangovers in the practices and processes of handling foreign workers. Foreign workers travelling to Malaysia, Singapore, and now Thailand specifically come to work for an employer on a short term basis and return home after a specific contracted period. Until very recently most workers were poorly educated and subservient to their employers, just wanting to make as much money as possible and return home. Foreign labour was seen as a necessity of nation building, particularly when the Asian economies were rapidly growing with construction and manufacturing. Foreign labour also took up the jobs that locals didn't want and thus performed a specific service, enabling national growth and development.

Governments have viewed foreign workers as "cheap labour" in their country for the greater good. This can be seen as a neo-Confucian nature of the Singapore Government in doing things for the greater good while forgetting about individual rights. Foreign workers are at the bottom of a feudal pecking order, the lowest in society to do what others don't want to do. Consequently governments have given them very few rights, as there until recently has been little pressure to do so.

In Thailand where there are estimated to be over 2 million foreign workers, mainly unskilled workers from Burma and Cambodia, some provincial officials will not even allow them to celebrate certain cultural activities. They are looked down upon by locals and treated poorly by their employers.

The embassies of supplier countries seem to be involved in the supply chain and the issue has not been highlighted to human rights forums internationally, although Phil Robertson, Deputy Asia Director of human Rights Watch (HRW) criticizes Singapore for defying basic human rights for criminalizing migrant workers actions of taking industrial action. He further criticizes Singapore for discriminating between different races when it comes to workers pay and conditions. Foreign workers have few, if any reasonable legal rights in any of the countries within the region, and often suffer the penalties dished out from mistakes their employers and recruiters make.

Finally the demographics of the workers themselves are rapidly changing. Foreign workers today are much more educated than their counterparts of just a few years ago. They are more likely to come from further afield than traditional sources like Indonesia and Thailand. Many now come from China where local work opportunities are also plentiful offering salaries not too far below what is offered in Malaysia and Singapore. Workers are much more highly educated, technology savvy with the ability to communicate to their peers in the host country and to home, and are much more aggressive about their rights than those before them.

These demographic changes require a much more professional approach on the part of employing companies. Employing companies must realize that their bargaining power over foreign workers will weaken in the future. Attracting future employees will be more akin to attracting expat professionals where benefits and facilities will be very important issues in attracting workers with many other options to consider. Local firms will have to run recruitment campaigns highlighting the benefits they offer to attract and keep foreign workers in the competitive environment within the not too distant future. Many workers travelling overseas for employment carry with them "Gen Y" aspirations and behavioral patterns which employers don't seem equipped to be able to handle. They expect respect rather than scorn and exploitation. This signals big changes to foreign labour supply.

Consequently, Malaysia and Singapore have drastically lost attractiveness as places to work over the last couple of years. Foreign workers in the past were open to easy exploitation and "bullying" but not today. Employers in the region will soon have to compete for workers and this will require a change in mindset and adopt new management practices. There needs to be a paradigm shift from seeing foreign workers as resources to seeing them as assets. Governments will have to reassess their harsh authoritarian policies and understand that unskilled and semi-skilled workers are vital to the operation of the economy. Foreign workers must be warmly welcomed rather than harshly treated if economies are going to be able to operate smoothly without interruption.

Foreign labour practices are an embarrassment to the region. A callous exploitation of people. It also shows that local firms still have very immature management, particularly in the HR area and have a long way to go until local companies can be claimed to be run as well as those in developed countries. The foreign labour issue makes a mockery of any CSR in the region and if not attended to in the near future may become a deep impediment to the regions competitive advantage in international trade.

What is even more alarming is the tacit approval to the foreign labour situation by citizens of the region to the suppression of workers' rights and dignity. Foreign workers have helped create a comfort zone for the community, and seems to be supportive of their governments keeping the status quo. The general community attitude is one lacking any compassion, showing that a "modern day caste system" is certainly alive and well in the region.

The foreign worker issue shows the world the ugly side of Asia as a region of deep exploitation. There are so many lies and crooks within the foreign labour recruitment industry. Yet this group that has been of great advantage to governments who have left these third parties do all the dirty work. This issue is rarely brought up at international forums, and all parties seem to prefer to sweep these injustices under the carpet. South-east Asian governments are very hesitant to regulate and control this sector ethically. Worker exploitation is not just an issue in the sweat-shops of China that has received much publicity, but also an issue across South-east Asia as well.

The SMRT strike has brought these matters of foreign worker mistreatment and unhappiness out into the public arena. The days of cheap "slave like" labour will soon go in the region. Further cases of worker exploitation surfacing in the press will drastically affect the reputations of governments, officials, and firms involved in these rackets. The recruitment industry which is heavily centered in Thailand is very poorly regulated with many scams by unscrupulous operators going on.

South-east Asian governments and employers must learn that nothing is forever and move from the 19th to the 21st century.

10.12.2012



Obama: Desperately seeking legacy.

Murray Hunter

Barak Hussein Obama began his first days in office as the 44th President of the United States issuing executive orders to direct the US military to begin formulating plans to withdraw troops from Iraq, ordered the closure of Guantanamo Bay detention camp and revoked President Bush's prohibition of federal aid to international family planning organizations.

One could speculate that what Obama did in those first few days of office was enough to earn him the Nobel Peace Prize, as nominations to the 2008 Norwegian Nobel Peace Prize Committee closed just 8 days after Obama took office.

Obama's first days all seemed consistent with the arrival of the "messiah" who carried the hopes and dreams of not only the American people, but those of the rest of the world, in a bid to banish the unpleasant memories and dark deeds of his predecessor.

Although Obama worked hard to implement a number of domestic policy pledges like re-establishing embryonic stem cell research grants, proposed new regulations to regulate greenhouse gases, expanded hate crime laws, introduced the "don't ask don't tell" policy for gays in the armed services, passed and enacted the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and appointed two female Supreme Court Judges, one being Hispanic; these measures have fallen short of creating any lasting legacy to date.

But the first cracks in the shiny silver armor of this angel from heaven surfaced before his election in 2008. Obama supported the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act 2008 creating a $700 Billion fund to bail out the financial industry. Although both the Congress and Senate had many reservations and many sections of the public were suspicious of a bill bailing out the very people who were seen as partly responsible for the financial crisis, Obama in a rush to be seen as doing the right thing to save the financial system, personally put the bill under little scrutiny, opting to publicly support it in the name of preventing a financial meltdown and severe economic depression.

Although Obama espoused the needs of Main Street over Wall Street, rhetoric well received during by the electorate during the campaign, his action supported Wall Street and big business. Soon after taking presidential office the automobile manufacturers who flew into Washington Congressional hearings on private jets were also given a bailout.

During Obama's first term the great opportunity to clip the wings of the financial institutions, seen by many to be the culprit of 2008, and a law unto themselves, was squandered through lack of will and action on Obama's part. He would have had the people behind him which would have put great pressure on Congress to act, but chose the easy way out. Instead the likes of Goldman Sachs got tapped lightly on the fingers with fines easily affordable for the financial giant.


President United States of America Mr. Barak Hossein Obama the man of the Year 2012

Although Obama pulled troops out of Iraq, Afghanistan seems to be a stalemate, not un-similar to the position of the Soviets in the 1980s in the same theatre of war. Obama has actually increased troop numbers rather than reduce them. The quandary Obama faces is when US and NATO troops leave Afghanistan as planned in 2014 is - how long will it take the Taliban to retake control of the country again? The Taliban retake, if it happens on the Obama watch will highlight a military and foreign policy failure which the current president will have to wear.

With the changing nature of battle and public criticism of US troop casualties, new technologies available have allowed the pursuit of a more painless way of taking military action as far as the public is concerned through the use of drones. Drones have become Obama's weapon of choice. Easy, convenient, secret, and cheap.

However drones have created another crack in Obama's shinny armor. Although drones enable one side to take action in remote and inaccessible locations in a surgical manner, the drawback is that it is against "international law" and amounts to nothing more than illegal assassination, especially when these drones are operated outside theatres of war. Obama appears to have contributed to the creation of a world where state assassination of people, even their own citizens without trial is acceptable. Last year the Obama administration deployed a drone to kill one of its own citizens Anwar al-Awlaki without any trial whatsoever. Obama's name and signature are on these executive actions and history will never erase them. The only thing we don't know is the extent that Obama has used this weapon. US foreign policy has returned to the days were the CIA has almost free reign to assassinate any "target" in secrecy.

Obama has proved to be a willing Commander in Chief of the Armed forces presiding over a new era of warfare and taking it to a new level.

The raid on the alleged Osama Bin laden in Pakistan also had no legal basis, other than being an 'act of might'. We must actually take the word of the US that it was actually Osama Bin Laden who was assassinated. This Obama claimed as one of the accomplishments of his first term, ironically basking in the shadows of his predecessor George W. Bush. In fact his acceptance speech for the Nobel peace Prize in 2009 was about justifying war for peaceful purposes could not have been better written by a Bush speech writer.

The only apparent difference in the Bush and Obama narrative is the finesse that Obama can put to what he says.

Obama's military actions to date have seemed to be more in common with the "Bush-Cheney" doctrines of the last administration rather than the hope and anticipation of change that accompanied Obama to the presidency.

But Obama was determined to break new ground (or sink to new lows) in human rights. On any standards the treatment of Bradley Manning by the military under the Obama administration is a disgrace, especially for a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. Manning spends 23 1/2 hours a day in solitary confinement in an 8x8ft cell. Manning gets 20 minutes of sunshine in chains each day.

These conditions represent borderline tortuous measures that have been condemned by a formal UN investigation as "cruel and inhuman" and by Obama's own former State Department spokesmen retired air force colonel P.J. Crowley who resigned over this matter. During Manning's court marshal, a prison psychologist testified that the conditions under which he is held were more damaging than those found on death row, or at Guantanamo Bay.

To add insensitivity to the matter now being processed by the military tribunal, the Commander in Chief has already publicly decreed that Manning is guilty of breaking the law, a very naive comment for a President of the United States who is a trained lawyer.

Obama also used the financial system to destroy Julian Assange's  WikiLeaks by asking the banks to withdraw credit card facilities so donations to WikiLeaks  could not be collected. Julian Assange is confined to a two bedroom apartment in London used as the Ecuadorian Embassy with diplomatic asylum fighting extradition to Sweden, where he fears being handed over to US authorities to face a similar fate as Bradley Manning.  

The Presidential candidate in the 2008 election for "change" certainly did change to become a representative of the establishment supporting both the Pentagon and large financial institutions of America. Obama arrived in Washington to compromise, but found he was the one who had to compromise with the establishment to survive.

Now we are approaching the eve of the second term. Usually a term where US Presidents are able to create their legacy.

So if the 44th President of the United States is going to have a legacy where might it come from?

Obama is only the second president to win two terms with the majority of the popular vote. On election night Obama told his supporters that they "voted for action, not politics as usual", and again talking of consensus which to date has totally eluded him.

US influence in the Middle East through the Arab Spring and subsequent events has been limited. New funds for overseas military operations due to the mammoth costs of Iraq would be impossible to get through the Congress today so Obama can only act with limited options. In addition, those falling dictators like Mubarak in Egypt who were old allies to the United States are being replaced by new leaders like Mohammed Morsi, whose real loyalties are still really unknown quantities.

Add in the unpredictable volatility of the region where we saw Egyptian President Morsi help broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, winning international acclaim, only to lose it through giving himself sweeping new powers a day later, bringing mass demonstrations to Cairo and military action on the streets to quell the opposition. Only a week after his diplomatic victory in Gaza his future hangs in the balance. Morsi's coup in achieving an apparently holding ceasefire could have greatly eroded US prestige if it wasn't for Morsi stabbing himself with his proclamation of increased powers.

Given Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's stubbiness and unwillingness to take counsel from the US and the division between Fatah and Hamas in Palestine, it seems very remote that any peace agreement can be brokered during Obama's second term, unless something really dramatic happens, which is unforeseeable at the time of writing.

This is not to mention the disaster of intelligence, or lack of it in Benghazi where the US Consulate was overrun and US Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other members of his diplomatic mission were lynched by the mob without any retaliation by the US to date.

It's extremely difficult it is for the US to work in the Middle East today.

In a very recent vote in the United Nations on giving Palestine observer status, the US and a small number of its allies strongly objected through voting no.  These actions are doing nothing to enhance the US position in the Middle East and give the impression that the US is blindly pro-Israeli in its foreign policy stance. Hardly a position that will aid in creating any environment where the US may be able to play a major role in any future peace process.

Syria continues without an end-game in-sight and the US is in the position of having very little  influence with any of the players  in this conflict. The US has little influence upon the outcome and must learn how to react rather than be proactive in the region. China's diplomacy within the region is influential, as can be Russia's, so in conflicts where brute military force cannot solve, the US has an extremely complicated and competitive environment to work within. It looks like the US is struggling to rid itself of the static view it has of the region.

In Asia as well, Obama's recent visit to Cambodia showed he isn't the only boy on the block and was humiliated by the way Hun Sen organized protocols. A welcome sign did not greet Obama upon his arrival at Phnom Phenh Airport, rather the area was strewn with welcoming signs for visiting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

This actually weakened Obama's prestige in the region, showing the new realities for the US, where ironically very few commentators picked up on this. Obama was played off against the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao who was also visiting the East Asia Summit, showing the world that Obama was powerless and could do nothing but take this second place. This humiliation from a veteran in the region is metaphoric of The Mouse that Roared. All this symbolically in front of the great Presidential icon Air Force One.

Obama is also on public record calling for integration of all peoples in Burma, a particular reference to the Rohingya people. Obama is taking a big risk here that his visit may come back to haunt him if the Burmese Government continues to take harsh action upon the Rohingya.

The days of SEATO (South-East Asia Treaty Alliance) mentality to handle the disputed South China Sea territories are long gone with too many other grouping proposals on the table up for consideration. South-East Asia is now a complex malaise of countries that don't think in the American black/white colour scheme anymore. Obama's failure to reflect on the US involvement in the bombing of Cambodia in the 1960s and 70s could be indicative of US lack of any sense of history of the region.

A new more dynamic schema is needed by the Obama advisors to engage the region with any true meaningfulness.

The rest of the world is full of potential mine fields and potential flash points like North Korea, where Obama will need more skill than he has shown to date to handle, especially if a crisis develops.

So far the administration has been often caught speechless when crises arise as the cabinet and close advisors try to find a position and strategy on each matter. This initial silence to arising world events signals the complexity the Obama administration faces in a world they can no longer dominate.

Reforming the world financial system, no. Peace in the Middle East, no. An end-game in Syria, no. Human rights and dignity, no, not this president. On human rights, Obama's actions are far from the spirit and doctrines of Martin Luther King.

With the numbers in both houses of Congress the way they are, there is an inability to implement any visionary domestic agenda. Just look at the current haggling on tax measures between the President and Congress.

Perhaps the best place where Obama can develop a legacy is to follow the footsteps of the former President Nixon. The legacy that Obama can carve out for his administration is developing a collaborative working relationship with China, which ironically a large proportion of US big business seek, as this is in corporate America's best interests.

Divide up and conquer strategies don't work anymore. It's going to be about finding common ground and mutual interests in each region of the world, where cooperation and collaboration results from dialogue. This could be the soundest strategy to bring lasting peace, prosperity and an Obama legacy.

Cooperation with China will balance the world order at bargain basement prices which could bring a dividend of new levels of prosperity and a new age of global relations. Where Obama has failed with the Congress he could triumph within the Great Hall of the People.

However does Obama have the wisdom to see this?

On a final note most often US presidencies are shaped on external events such as the great depression, World War II, the Cuban crisis, Vietnam War, the Iranian hostage crisis, fall of the Soviet Union, Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, and 9/11, etc. Legacies need definitive action develop and be remembered. So Obama's opportunity for legacy maybe something nobody foresees today.

To date the Obama phenomena has been more hype than substance. The Obama Presidency is more symbolic for the values that the constitution of the United States stands for rather than any pivot towards any substantial changes in society.

Due to various reasons the President has not displayed the signs of being that sort of special leader that comes along every couple of generation or so. Record debt and unemployment on his watch will not endear many towards him as he is yet to find the answers and ease the everyday problems the person in the street is suffering from.

However with the record of service rendered to date the final question is how would a President Obama be able to handle any real crisis? Obama's biggest test may yet be still ahead of him.

08.12.2012 




PUBLICATIONS:


     
Who Really Rules Australia?: A tragic tale of the Australian People - Murray Hunter

      Europe: Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, and Something Blue - Murray Hunter

      Back to the future: Australia's "Pacific Solution" reprise - Murray Hunter

      Hillary to Julia "You take India and I'll take Pakistan", while an ex-Aussie PM says "Enough is enough with the US" - Murray Hunter

     
Entrepreneurship and economic growth? South-East Asian governments are developing policy on the misconception that entrepreneurship creates economic growth. - Murray Hunter

      FOCUSING ON MENACING MIDDLE EAST GEOPOLITICAL ENVIRONMENTS, ENDANGERING SECURITY AND STABILITY OF WESTERN BALKAN* - Brig Gen (Rtd) Dr. Muhammad Aslam Khan, Pakistan

     
Australia "Do as I say, not as I do" - The ongoing RBA bribery scandal - Murray Hunter

      Australia in the "Asian Century" or is it Lost in Asia? - Murray Hunter

      Surprise, surprise: An Islam economy can be innovative - Murray Hunter

      Do Asian Management Paradigms Exist? A look at four theoretical frames - Murray Hunter

      What China wants in Asia: 1975 or 1908 ? – addendum - prof. dr. Anis Bajraktarević

      ASEAN Nations need indigenous innovation to transform their economies but are doing little about it. - Murray Hunter

      From Europe, to the US, Japan, and onto China: The evolution of the automobile - Murray Hunter

      Missed Opportunities for ASEAN if the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) fails to start up in 2015 - Murray Hunter

      Lessons from the Invention of the airplane and the Beginning of the Aviation Era - Murray Hunter

      Elite educators idolize the “ high flying entrepreneurs” while deluded about the realities of entrepreneurship for the masses: - Murray Hunter

      The Arrival of Petroleum, Rockefeller, and the Lessons He taught Us - Murray Hunter - University Malaysia Perlis

      Ethics, Sustainability and the New Realities - Murray Hunter

      The Dominance of “Western” Management Theories in South-East Asian Business Schools: The occidental colonization of the mind. - Murray Hunter

      How feudalism hinders community transformation and economic evolution: Isn’t equal opportunity a basic human right? - Murray Hunter

      On Some of the Misconceptions about Entrepreneurship - Murray Hunter

      Knowledge, Understanding and the God Paradigm - Murray Hunter

      Do Confucian Principled Businesses Exist in Asia? - Murray Hunter

      Samsara and the Organization - Murray Hunter

      Integrating the philosophy of Tawhid – an Islamic approach to organization. - Murray Hunter

      What’s with all the hype – a look at aspirational marketing - Murray Hunter

      Does Intrapreneurship exist in Asia? - Murray Hunter

      One Man, Multiple Inventions: The lessons and legacies of Thomas Edison - Murray Hunter

     People tend to start businesses for the wrong reasons - Murray Hunter

    
How emotions influence, how we see the world? - Murray Hunter

     How we create new ideas - Murray Hunter

     Where do entrepreneurial opportunities come from? - Murray Hunter

     The five types of thinking we use - Murray Hunter

     Evaluating Entrepreneurial Opportunities: What’s wrong with SWOT? - Murray Hunter

     How motivation really works - Murray Hunter

     The Evolution of Business Strategy - Murray Hunter

     Not all opportunities are the same: A look at the four types of entrepreneurial opportunity - Murray Hunter

     Do we have a creative intelligence? - Murray Hunter

     Imagination may be more important than knowledge: The eight types of imagination we use - Murray Hunter

    
The environment as a multi-dimensional system: Taking off your rose coloured glasses - Murray Hunter

     Generational Attitudes and Behaviour - Murray Hunter

     Groupthink may still be a hazard to your organization - Murray Hunter

  
  Perpetual Self conflict: Self awareness as a key to our ethical drive, personal mastery, and perception of entrepreneurial opportunities - Murray Hunter

     The Continuum of Psychotic Organisational Typologies - Murray Hunter

    
There is no such person as an entrepreneur, just a person who acts entrepreneurially - Murray Hunter

     Go Home, Occupy Movement!!-(The McFB– Was Ist Das?) - prof. dr. Anis Bajrektarevic

     Diplomatie préventive - Aucun siècle Asiatique sans l’institution pan-Asiatique - prof. dr. Anis Bajrektarevic

    
Democide Mass-Murder and the New World Order - Paul Adams


 






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BALKAN AREA
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prof. dr. Anis Bajrektarevic
prof. dr. Anis Bajrektarevic



Go Home, Occupy Movement!! - (The McFB – Was Ist Das?) -
prof. dr. Anis Bajrektarevic




Diplomatie préventive - Aucun sičcle Asiatique sans l’institution pan-Asiatique - prof. dr. Anis Bajrektarevic\/span|



ADDENDUM – GREEN/POLICY PAPER: TOWARDS THE CREATION OF THE OSCE TASK FORCE ON (THE FUTURE OF) HUMAN CAPITAL
prof. dr. Anis Bajrektarevic




Gunboat Diplomacy in the South China Sea – Chinese strategic mistake -
Anis H. Bajrektarevic




Geopolitics of Quantum Buddhism: Our Pre-Hydrocarbon Tao Future
prof. dr. Anis Bajrektarevic




The Mexico-held G–20 voices its concerns over the situation in the EURO zone - Anis H. Bajrektarevic



What China wants in Asia: 1975 or 1908 ? – addendum - prof. dr. Anis Bajraktarević











‘The exhaustion of Greek political system and a society in flames’ - by Dimitra Karantzen





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     FOCUSING ON MENACING MIDDLE EAST GEOPOLITICAL ENVIRONMENTS, ENDANGERING SECURITY AND STABILITY OF WESTERN BALKAN* - Brig Gen (Rtd) Dr. Muhammad Aslam Khan, Pakistan