Global Trends by Martin Khor
Monday 14 January 2008
The first fortnight of
the New Year saw many interesting events, led by the Clinton-Obama primaries
battle, while in
The New Year has kicked off in interesting ways this last fortnight, showing signs of some of the important events and developments that will take place in 2008.
The United States’ presidential primaries took off, with first a stunning upset victory for for Barack Obama in the Democratic party’s first primary in Iowa, and the also stunning “comeback” win by Hilary Clinton the following week in New Hampshire, just when it looked her campaign was going off the rails.
With these two candidates running neck to neck, and the Democrats having the best chance to capture the Presidency, people around the world are taking greater interest on what a Hilary or a Obama presidency would mean.
If the Democrats win, it will most likely be a first -- either the first woman, or the first black, to become US President. Bush has been such a disaster for the world, in so many ways, that there would be collective global relief to see either Hilary or Obama take over.
In the past many would think
that there would be not much difference to the world whether the
However, the Bush presidency
has been marked by such extremism, in military, security, diplomatic
and environment affairs, that the next President, especially if he or
she is a Democrat, can make a difference, at least in pulling the
Hilary has till now stressed that she has the advantage of “experience”, implying that her husband Bill will be there to co-steer the ship. Obama has successfully campaigned on the basis of “change,” implying a turnaround from the way the Republican-Democrat Washington establishment has operated.
For the next several weeks,
This is transition year, with the Bush presidency winding down, and the new administration being hatched.
As Bunn Nagara perceptively wrote in The Star on Sunday, Bush’s middle-east trip is part of his very-late-in-the-day attempt to be known as a “peace president”. His effort will almost certainly fail, as it is mainly based on the Israeli position of the Israeli and would involve a sell-out by Palestinians on issues like the refugees’ right to return and on Israeli settlements in occupied territories.
“Given the narrow
On the economic front, the
first fortnight has seen increasingly gloomy predictions for the
A Merill Lynch report on
8 January said a
The bad news induced falls
in many stock markets last week. The
This has been attributed to an inflow of foreign funds, the strengthening of the ringgit and expectations of a general election.
Problems and glitches keep popping up, with the government trying to act fast to overcome them. The Datuk Chua Soi Lek affair has already died down, while the search for the people behind the DVD plot continues, and if they are found the issue will erupt again.
The embarrassing and puzzling shortage of cooking oil gave rise to incredulous questions as to how the major world producer of palm oil could suffer from retail shortage of cooking oil. The situation has normalized after measures to “flood the market” with supplies.
More difficult to tackle are two major problems that will preoccupy the country throughout the year – the rising cost of food and other items; and the rising crime wave.
News that roti canai shops face a cost crisis and may stop supplying this favourite food item, if their situation does not improve, shocked Malaysians.
The kidnapping in
It highlighted once again the deterioration of the crime and personal security situation in the country.
The rising cost of living and the critical crime situation have deep seated causes and will require comprehensive approaches and measures to deal with them.