A Very Angry North

February 4, 2013 in Asia, The World Today, United States

Ed Jones – AFP/Getty Images

By Stewart Benson

In a recent rush of threats and warnings, North Korea, under leadership of Kim Jong-un, is accelerating its nuclear enrichment and missile weapons programs, specifically targeting both the United States and its neighbor, South Korea. Seen as a response to recently approved international sanctions drafted by the United Nations, North Korea now has a mission statement for its ballistic missile program: a nuclear test of higher level will target the United States, the “sworn enemy” of the Korean people. While American intelligence agencies are skeptical of how capable North Korea is of delivering a nuclear payload to the United States, recent missile tests by the isolated country indicates their missile technology has come a long way in recent months. The recent test of a satellite launch proved that North Korea has the ability to send missiles thousands of miles, possibly even reaching Hawaii. However, a strike towards the Continental U.S. is said to be still three to four years away. The North’s specific warnings against the U.S. also mentioned a plan for a third underground nuclear test. While in direct violation of the United Nation’s Security Council resolution, the test would be the first under North Korea’s new leader and a chance for the Obama administration to see how sophisticated their nuclear program has become.

At a time of immense insecurity in the region, these new threats by North Korea might be an indicator of the United State’s recent focus only on Iran’s nuclear program, a situation where the U.S. may have lost some diplomatic leverage. Ahmadinejad and Netanyahu butting heads several months ago, along with construction of new nuclear enrichment sites in Iran, placed American intelligence analysts solely focused on Iran. The past several years also saw nuclear talks with the North go sour, giving North Korea the opportunity to go ahead with the tests without much trouble. Perhaps adding to the acceleration of their tests, China has seemingly left North Korea alone, approving the Security Council’s resolution condemning the North’s satellite launch. However, China still maintains economic and diplomatic ties with the North, and has stated that instability within North Korea is more of a threat than further nuclear and missile testing.

Recently sworn in Secretary of State John Kerry has the opportunity to approach North Korea with perhaps more focus and energy than recently departed Secretary Hillary Clinton. There is little doubt that U.S. foreign policy will take more direct action against North Korea; the severity and specificity of the new threats are a real cause for concern. It should be interesting to see how diplomatic policy with the North will change under Kerry, and if China will become more involved with the sophistication of North Korea’s weapons programs is substantial. With Israel recently targeting a Syrian chemical weapons depot, it might be possible that the U.S. and its allies could target North Korean facilities. How China will react to direct strikes will most likely be negative, but that is a reality that could take place if international sanctions continue to fail. 

This post reflects the author’s personal opinions, not the opinions of Arizona Model United Nations.

Singapore Means ‘Lion City’ in Malay

January 30, 2013 in Asia, The World Today

By Aniket Maitra

The author William Gibson once coined the phrase, Singapore is “Disneyland with the Death Penalty” as a description for its autocratic and law-abiding structure that stifles creativity among its citizens.

Singapore is a tiny island off the southern cost of Malaysia. It’s not just an island though; it’s a tiger as well. By the 1990’s, four countries fit the mold of industrialized nations commonly known as “Asian Tigers” (ironic considering its name). One of them was this small 5-million-person nation of Singapore.

When you land at Changi Airport in Singapore, you’re not quite sure what to make of where you are. Everything surrounding you is perfect in its place. Step off the plane and you’ll step on floral carpeting usually reserved for only the best of hotels, surrounded on multiple sides by orchids adjacent to koi ponds where even the scales on the fish are perhaps measured and colored to perfection. When you ask the lady at the front counter of the currency exchange how much the fee to convert money is, the answer is “No fee sir.” If you ask how a system like this (without profit) is possible, you get the same answer. And when you look for a place to plug in your laptop or other another electronic device, it looks as if Singapore has multiple plug point systems for at least a dozen different nations.

When you walk outside of the airport you see an industrial port that has among the highest per capita incomes in the world usually ranked higher than the United States and slightly below Qatar. Besides the skyline and the efficient traffic, you’ll also notice the streets are absent of ugly gum stains that grow black with time. It’s even a place where multiple ethnic groups of Chinese, Indian, and Malaysian people have made their permanent home. It’s a strikingly attractive place, and then there’s the other side of Singapore. This includes the authoritarian side that considers drug trafficking a capital offense and famously canes Americans who get a little out of control with their graffiti art.

Though many accuse Singapore of this utopian society that stifles any dissent, you have to appreciate what the country has done since independence and how it continues to be a model for development. Everything in the country from its Marina Bay Sands Casino (which has the longest elevated pool on top of a 55-story hotel) to its world-class airline is a matter of presentation. And while other airlines hope you survive the undercooked meat, Singapore Airlines not only treats you like a first-class passenger in Economy, the fleet of A380s operated by Singapore Airlines have suites for those that want a homely rest at 560mph.

Singapore has become a global model for development that even industrialized nations may look up to. There is something about the culture of rigidness with professionalism, social harmony between different cultures, and a pleasing environment inspired by the idea to make their country into more than a presentation everyday that makes Singapore a place that will not just bring tourists to visit this Lion City once but inspire them to come again and this time, to bring their money.

This post reflects the author’s personal opinions, not the opinions of Arizona Model United Nations.

English in an Indian Accent

December 2, 2012 in Asia

By Aniket Maitra

Living in the United States, we don’t find language very trivial. All across America, English is used as a primary mode of communication, and in certain communities Spanish also plays a very large role. Yet, if we travel from Arizona to New York or Oregon, we don’t seem to find any trouble speaking English. And when we travel abroad, we use the unofficial international language again, English.

Now imagine a country in which most states have a different local language. India, there are 22 official languages recognized by the central government. Then, we forget that in that list there are two languages that are recognized as national languages, English and Hindi.

While today millions of children continue the cultural tradition of learning their mother tongue, Hindi, however one language is the language of opportunity: English. While being bilingual or trilingual may get you around all of India, being monolingual in English will get you into a good university, make you fluent in a language the rest of the world knows, and make you the most competitive for the best job opportunities.

The story of English here starts with the British. As a result of the British rule that first started with the British East India Company (from around 1757), and later with the British Raj (from around 1858), the influence of the British, and especially the English language, never quite left. In 1947, India gained its Independence and became the Republic of India. While maybe unsuccessful in religious and many cultural exploits, the British made English, in many ways, the lingua franca of India.

Today, many middle and upper class parents send their children to English-Medium schools, which means that the primary mode of the instruction in the school will be English. While English is used as a secondary language in many homes, it might just be the most useful language. That’s because higher education is often taught in English, and lucrative jobs will require English whether you seek employment in a call center or plan to become the head of a large firm.

In another sense, it is the language of exclusion. It is the language that must be known to function at the top level of India society. When entering the pillars of modernity, whether it be a mall, a modern grocery store, or a five-star restaurant, English is all but required.

While those that learn English thrive in these environments, those that primarily study in their native tongues feel a new sense of domestic cultural imperialism.

The prevalence of this language is so great that many young people now speak more fluently in English than their native tongue and find it easier to talk about politics or their majors in college in English.

While English might be leaving some people out of the conversation, today we have entered the world of the economics of language. It might not be your family background, caste, or your choice of college to study at that may determine your future, but whether or not you know English.

While the spread of this language is quite prevalent, the only question is, will the Republic of India ever standardize the Indian accent in English?

This post reflects the author’s personal opinions, not the opinions of Arizona Model United Nations.

Nachos in India

November 4, 2012 in Asia

By Aniket Maitra

Kolkata (formerly known as Calcutta) is a mega city in Eastern Indian with a population of over 14million.

As a Singapore Airlines flight arrives in Kolkata’s Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Terminal, nothing in this government-run airport has changed for years. The first thing you notice when you get off the plane is that stairs lead down on to the tarmac of the airport with a pathway dileanted for you to take a bus to the main terminal. In most cases there is no airbridge between the airplane and the airport. When you arrive at the airport you see dull yellow signs pointing to immigration or the bathroom and when you claim your luggage, the conveyer belt looks like it hasn’t been replaced in decades. There is a sense of mediocrity that hasn’t kept pace with the modernity that we here about in India. That’s because modernity has occurred without the help of the public sector.

Globalization has had its stark impact on India. In 1991, India removed economic barriers and began the process of the economic liberalization to outside markets and welcomed in a plethora of foreign industries.

Take a look at any modern-day private urban business and you feel as if you are in New York, London, or Singapore. The Chinese restaurants behind glass doors have air-conditioning, dim-lighting, a “classy” flute version of an Enrique Iglesias song in the background, and the presence of middle or upper class clientele. The menus are all in the English and the attire at these restaurants is implicitly Western.

The roads haven’t changed but the cars have. The most popular car 15 years ago might have been a small Suzuki Maruti (a small Japanese hatchback) or an Ambassador Classic (a car based on an English design that hasn’t changed a bit since the 1950s). Today, everything is available: Ford, Chevy, BMW, Audi, Porsche, Hyundai.

The place where modernity is most obvious is the malls. There is no difference between an American mall complex and an Indian mall. Toy stores, chocolate fountains, Tommy Hilfiger outlets, and that shop with bath salts. The language spoken often is English and when you go the movie theater, you can find a commodity never heard of in India before this globalization trend, nachos.

Just walk about 300 feet from the malls and the other side of the India is seen. It is the one a security guard from mall returns to. A one room home that an entire family shares in which the door is a curtain and the door to the outside world might be a small Philips tv. There are no iPhones in the pockets of these people, there is only the sight of the 7% GDP growth rate that has forgotten about them.  

While economic growth and modernity might be the pillars of a prospering society, an imitation of the West cannot occur with 30% of the population left behind. This 30% includes those unable to afford food due to hyperinflation occurring throughout the nation and unable to afford houses in megacities like Mumbai and Kolkata due to a real estate market that thrives with a growing middle class. While it appears that the private sector really can’t take care of the poor, it appears that the job must be taken care of by governments spending more on social services and imitating something else about the West: making governments functional and for the people.

This post reflects the author’s personal opinions, not the opinions of Arizona Model United Nations.

Kristmas In Kolkata

October 28, 2012 in Asia

By Aniket Maitra

I am often asked the question whether I have seen the “Diwali” Episode (Season 3, Episode 6) from the popular NBC TV series “The Office”.

My answer for about a year has been yes. Diwali, popularly known as Festival of Lights, is largely celebrated throughout South Asia and by those of South Asian descent living abroad.

However, the festivals in India and in neighboring countries like Nepal and Bangladesh are often ethnically and religiously specific.

While many of these ancient festivals have become meshed together as part of a pseudo-South Asian identity, many of these festivals are often regionally specific as well. In Eastern India, especially in cities like Kolkata, you can see the largest event of the year called Durga Puja celebrated by an ethnic group of Bengalis who are overwhelmingly followers of the Hindu religion.

Durga Puja is like Christmas in America but five times longer.

Just as the Christmas Tree lighting ceremony in Rockefeller Center often comes at a time when most Americans are preparing for Christmas, Durga Puja has those early special preparations as well.

The process often begins with construction of large idols of the Goddess Durga followed by her four children: Ganesha, Lakshmi, Saraswati and Karthik (starting from the left with Durga in the middle). The idols are sculpted from clay and straw for months before the large five day festival with every detail intact, from Durga’s fierce stare at the demon she is killing (the demon’s name is Mahishasura) to the ten arms on Durga, each with a weapon that are part of the idol.

 

Around the same time as the creation of the idol begins, the process of making pandals also commences. While the term pandal (pronounced pan-del by Bengalis) may seem very complicated, it is just a collection of large bamboo shoots and cloth covering the area. In this temporary structure, the religious idols will be placed inside for viewers from all over the city to come and see.

While the idols itself are surrounded by religious significance, it may appear to the Western eye that something incongruent is surrounding the pandal. That is where the concept of themes comes in.

While the bamboo and cloth pandal is quite simple, it is surrounded by enormous works of art made from various materials. While everything seems to be covered in religious significance, the concept of modernization has hit pandals as well. The pandals are often filled with extravagant themes ranging from Disney Land to the various tribes in India to a beehive. In one ocean themed pandal, Bob Marley’s hit song “Jamming” is played by a few musicians wearing Hawaiian shirts.

There are five full days of nonstop celebration in which every neighborhood in a city like Kolkata is filled with cheers, honks, and firecrackers, all felt by every resident. On the last day, these beautifully constructed idols are dumped in the Ganges River signifying the return of the mother goddess Durga to her husband Shiva in the Himalayas.

While modernization has caught up with this ancient tradition, it will be an ancient Hindu event practiced by Bengalis and those who join for generations to come.

So next time when you ask someone from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh or another South Asia country when they’re celebrating Diwali, consider what region they’re coming from.

This post reflects the author’s personal opinions, not the opinions of Arizona Model United Nations.

On the Streets of Hong Kong

July 9, 2012 in Asia, The World Today

 

By Hugo Polanco

Hong Kong is a thriving metropolis in Southern China. It has enviable levels of development in almost every indexable category, from life expectancy to education, and is a leading financial and cultural center in Asia. Yet this past week has seen Hong Kong rise up in protest with up to 400,000 city residents marching through the streets in anger and frustration. This is the latest manifestation of the uncomfortable and rapidly fraying relationship between Hong Kong and mainland China, a relationship that was inaugurated fifteen years ago with handover of sovereignty from the United Kingdom to China. The handover was a powerful symbol that China had come into its own, and that the last monument of capricious western imperialism was to wiped away from Chinese soil. In Hong Kong, this feeling was tempered by uncertainty for the future and fifteen years on this uncertainty still permeates the territory. The territory was handed over with the promise that China would preserve Hong Kong’s political and economic systems for 50 years. The protests suggest that Hong Kongers are not pleased with China’s upholding of this promise. For one they have a limited say in who runs their government, the Chief Executive or Hong Kong’s boss is elected by an election committee of 1,200 members. The election committee is composed of mixture of representatives from Hong Kong’s business community, religious community, and government representatives with the business sectors holding the bulk of the votes. The business sector in turn elects executives who protect their interests, meaning leaders that won’t rock the boat and upset the lucrative trade Hong Kong business leaders have with the Mainland.

 

Hong Kong has also been inundated with Mainlanders seeking to visit and live in the territory. While the mainlanders drop money into the Hong Kong economy, many of the Mainlanders are China’s nouveau-riche, billionaires and millionaires seeking the freedom and security that mainland China does not offer. However this group is driving up the prices of goods and housing to unbearable levels and are seen as being contemptuous of Hong Kong culture and customs. Compounding this friction is the fact that the recently elected Chief Executive ,Leung Chun-ying, violated housing restrictions. This scandal is especially damning because Leung was only selected because his chief rival Henry Tang was brought down by an identical scandal less than six months ago and because in cramped Hong Kong housing rights and space are near sacrosanct. The way forward for the embattled new leader is to try to buy goodwill with an expanded welfare and public housing program to ease the economic inequality and crushing price rises. Even Hu Jintao recommended this course of action as he visited the territory to inaugurate Leung. However the swelling crowds outside were not only calling for economic remedies, they were calling for democracy and for change in China itself. Now fifteen years after that proud day when China took control over its long lost territory from the British, the old colonial flag is being flown again by the citizens of Hong Kong. This time it is not being flown in deference to foreign occupier, but as an act of defiance and frustration in the inability of their compatriots both inside and outside the territory to just let them rule themselves. 

This post reflects the author’s personal opinions, not the opinions of Arizona Model United Nations.

A Modern Day Oligarchy

April 22, 2012 in Asia, The World Today

from http://www.mtholyoke.edu/~lee20d/classweb/

by Hugo Polanco

By most accounts South Korea is an extremely prosperous nations, especially when compared to the mind boggling destitution of its northern neighbor. Ever since the two split, the South has rapidly climbed to economic greatness and now its products both commercial and cultural are widely exported. If you’ve ever owed an LG telephone, Hyundai car or watched a Korean drama then you are one of the many consumers of these products. These goods that are surging out of South Korea are the products of South Korea’s chaebol. The chaebol are South Korea’s vast business empires, held as personal fiefs by a small number of South Korean families.

 The control that these groups have exerted over South Korea is incredible and disturbing. Samsung the largest chaebol for example has business interests in the electronics, constriction , theme parks, life insurance, and ship building industries. Unlike other large conglomerates the South Korean chaebol are also known for outright owning most of their suppliers giving them more monopolistic power over the South Korean economy.

 Beyond economic power, the chaebol have also had a complex relation with the South Korean government dating back to the end of the Second World War. During this time period the founding families, with the seized Japanese industries and political support quickly grew. Later they exploded under the patronage of President Park Chung-hee. The chaebol were given preferential treatment as a strategy to industrialize the country. In a way it worked, this time period saw South Korea rise as one of the four Asian Tigers as well as finally surpassing North Korea’s industrial advantage.

 Now as South Korea is prosperous and spreading their influence throughout the world, there is great domestic concern over the damaging control the chaebol. These opinions have a shifted widely in the past, the chaebol were exalted for the rise of the South Korean miracle economy,  denounced during the Asian financial crisis and finally rehabilitated during the recent global economic downturn.

 The recent elections have sent signs that the chaebol’s reputation is again falling. Many South Koreans believe that chaebol and government are intertwined to a ludicrous extant. The stock of chaebol rise and fall depending on the electoral fortunes of the parties they patronize. For example one investor sold his stock of a pharmaceutical company based on that fact that an opposition party leader had once visited a company hospital nearly 20 years ago for back surgery. The chaebol are now seen to contribute little to society, they make billions in profits but employ only a tiny fraction of the South Korean population. The fact that so much profits are being made when there such deep holes in the South Korean social security net is also upsetting.

 Before we haughtily deem our own society vastly superior, we should use South Korea as a mirror for the failings of own society. The United States also has a far from exemplar relationship with private business, we are notorious for one for the extant that corporations are able to use money in elections. Both the United States and South Korea would do well to look in ourselves and question whether we are satisfied with the status quo. 

This post reflects the author’s personal opinions, not the opinions of Arizona Model United Nations.

I am not a crook! The downfall of a Chinese Leader

April 15, 2012 in Asia

by Hugo Polanco

Scandals, coups, and murders! For the past couple of months China’s attempt to peacefully transition power to a new set of leaders has met with trouble. Bo Xilai the aspiring leader of the Southwestern metropolis of Chongqing has in rapid succession been demoted from being leader of Chongqing, removed from the politburo and now is facing the possibility of criminal charges. Beyond this being a simple scandal this is a huge blow to the Chinese Communist Party and came at the worst possible time during the sensitive transition.

The ramifications for the Communist Party could turn out to be quite severe. For one it is a very public split in an organization traditionally shrouded in secrecy. This scandal also will change the trajectory of the party somewhat. Until this even happened Bo Xilai and his clique seemed poised to greatly enhance their power. Bo and his faction’s style of leadership was known as the Chongqing model of development. This style emphasized redistribution of wealth, nostalgia for Maoism, and a brutal approach to curbing organized crime. Bo fed upon the population’s dissatisfaction with the socioeconomic status quo, primarily upon their displeasure with rampant rates of inequality that characterize modern day China. As a result he was widely popular in his own city, and as a first had initiated a limited form of popular campaigning to be selected for the Standing Committee of the Politburo placing him among the body of 9 men that are directly responsible for governing China. Many China analysts speculated how long the established party hierarchy would tolerate him given their predilection to support quiet neutral leaders, best epitomized by current president Hu Jintao, whose cold passionless demeanor would make him a perfect fill in for any Keanu Reeves role in the past 10 years.

However a frantic attempt in February by his security chief Wang lijun to defect to the United States quickly unraveled all his plans. What has followed as been shocking revelation after revelation. It turns out that Wang Lijun, frightened for his life after possibly uncovering a politically motivated murder had attempted to trade this information in exchange for American protection. Wang’s fears are understandable given the murder in question was that of a British businessman named Neil Heywood and the primary suspect is none other than Bo Xilai’s wife, Gu Kailai. As this scandal progressed Bo was quickly stripped of his office as leader of Chongqing and as a member of the Politburo. Gu Kailai for her own part has unveiled an even larger conspiracy. The wife of Bo Xilai claims that Zhou Yongkang, a member of the Standing Committee, was involved in an attempt to remove the heir apparent, Xi Jinping and replace him with Bo Xilai. It is unknown whether her allegations are true or whether she is feeding the party information in an attempt to avoid execution. What is known is that whether or not there was a larger conspiracy, Bo and his faction have been fatally weakened and his Chongqing model discredited. This may allow the Premier Wen Jiabao’s liberal faction to play their hand. This group has long been the counter to Bo and as foreign policy magazine explains there may be a personal tinge to Bo’s treatment at the hands of Premier Wen. Wen’s faction is best known for the Guangdong model of development which includes overtures to political liberalization. The latest event to showcase their thinking was their handling of the Wukan crisis, where the Guangdong government chose to negotiate with the restive village instead of sending in tanks Tiananmen style.

This time this even may be recorded as the turning point, where China was forced to start opening its political system. Political liberalization still has a long way to go and still faces many determined opponents but the hands of the liberal faction have surely been freed from dealing with fierce rivals of Bo Xilai and Zhou Yongkang.

This post reflects the author’s personal opinions, not the opinions of Arizona Model United Nations.

The Future of Tibet

April 8, 2012 in Asia

This post is dedicated to the memory of Fang Lizhi, who died two days ago. He was a world renowned Physicist and was one of the people responsible for inspiring the 1989 Tiananmen student movement. The University of Arizona had the honor of having as a professor for many years following his dramatic flight from China. He will be sorely missed

Dharamsala from http://tourism.ellamey.com

by Hugo Polanco

Want to resurrect? You’ll need a form for that. That is one of the most blatantly offensive and ridiculous part of the relationship between the Chinese state and Tibetan Buddhism. The fact that in an attempt to regulate the religious life of its citizenry, the officially atheist communist party gets to decide some of the finer points of Tibetan Buddhist theology. This story however is not directly about China but Tibet and their future. Obviously the Chinese state exerts tremendous influence over Tibetans, their desire to hold onto the territory is the primary reason Tibetans are so dissatisfied now a days. The story of the Tibetan people is tragic and through the tireless efforts of the Dalai Lama relatively well known in the west. Even with such a dedicated leader they face an uncertain future.

First of all the Tibetan community is currently bifurcated between India and China. The overwhelming majority of Tibetans are spread out over western China but Tibet’s religious and political elites have long been in exile in India. Ever since they fled in 1959 this community has taken it upon themselves to preserve Tibetan culture as well as serving as the voice for the larger community. In the past the government in exile was an exported version of the old Tibetan theocracy with the Dalai Lama serving as both a religious and political leader. Starting just last the Dalai Lama began making plans for the future, a future that the Tibetan community will face without him. Part of his strategy is to democratize the Tibetan exiled government as well as separate its religious and political offices. Because words and moral standing are the exiled community’s only weapons, this move was brilliant as it damaged the Chinese claims that the Dalai Lama and his government only represented the feudal backwards traditions of Tibet. The feasibility of continuing the office of the Dalai Lama is in doubt, or at least maintaining it free of Chinese influence. Since the tenets of Tibetan Buddhism hold that the Dalai Lama is reincarnated after death, when the current Dalai Lama passes it will most likely trigger a race between the exiled Tibetans and the Chinese government to install their own Dalai Lama. Having a secular leader in place will ensure that the Tibetan community’s voice will be heard even with the loss of a Dalai Lama.

Regardless of whether or not Tibet should be independent it is reasonable to assume that Tibetan’s are deeply dissatisfied with the status quo. Their desperation can be seen by their choice of political protest, burning themselves to death. These are chilling and deeply disturbing events especially to sympathetic readers in the west. Having a strong Tibetan leadership will help the community through their tribulations.

This post reflects the author’s personal opinions, not the opinions of Arizona Model United Nations.

This post reflects the author’s personal opinions, not the opinions of Arizona Model United Nations.

Good News and Bad News

April 1, 2012 in Asia

by Hugo Polanco

North Korea has returned in full form after a brief hiatus following Kim Jong-il’s death, when the region collectively held its breath hoping that the new leader would bring reform and moderation. Their latest act is a plan to launch a missile over Japan under a claim that it is a satellite launch.  Japan has not taken kindly to this news and has announced that be it a missile or genuine satellite launch, it will be shot down if passes over Japan. This is erratic North Korean policy at its finest given that the new leader had reached an accommodation with the west. He had restarted talks and in return for ceasing uranium enrichment and long range ballistic missile development, North Korea would receive much needed aid. This is perfectly in line with established North Korean strategy of making deals then increasing tensions through crisis in order to move for a better deal. Towards the end of Kim Jong-il’s rule this strategy failed to pay off because both South Korea and the United States began taking a harder line against North Korean provocations while being distrustful of any overtures for deals or talks. This transfer period was an excellent opportunity for North Korea to reverse its policies for the betterment of the region and its own suffering population. So while not surprising, this missile launch is disheartening.

 

On the other side of Asia, Myanmar has passed milestone one that has been greeted with adulation and joy. The election in Myanmar have passed and Aung San Suu Kyi has won a seat in the parliament. These election were a powerful symbol and a marker of how far Myanmar has gone in the past few years. Myanmar is still not free,  Suu Kyi’s party could not have win a majority because only a small percentage of the parliamentary seats were contested and  there was also accusations of irregularities. Each step that the government takes towards democracy is a sign, it makes rolling back all the reforms less likely for one. This step will also increase the likelihood that the European Union and the United States will roll back sanctions. With that Myanmar may finally achieve its full potential, there is already speculation that its position astride India and China, and its rich mineral resources will quickly transform it into a new economic powerhouse.

 

The contrast between the two countries is shocking. One is on its way up and the other still mired in oppression. Two years ago both these countries were considered absolute basket cases and often muttered in the same breath when listing corrupt regimes. So this week I’m left with hope and praise for the successes of Aung San Suu Kyi’s decades long struggle for the freedom of her people, while lamenting the failure of the corpulent Kim Jong-un and the North Korean regime to advance beyond the failed policies of his father.

This post reflects the author’s personal opinions, not the opinions of Arizona Model United Nations.

This post reflects the author’s personal opinions, not the opinions of Arizona Model United Nations.