Migrant wives kept like slaves by Aussies


By GLENDA KWEK

Aussie's hushandsLooking out for them: Case worker and former child bride Eman Sharobeem says victims are reluctant to pursue justice through legal means. – AFP

Unhappily married – In Australia, migrant wives in abusive marriages are all the more vulnerable as they are dependent on their husbands. 

KANYA thought she was starting a new life in Australia after arriving from India to marry her husband, but it quickly turned into a nightmare.

She was barred from going out on her own, forced to cook and clean for her partner’s family, and made to sleep outdoors if she did not complete her tasks.

The fate of the 18-year-old, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, mirrors that of others in “slave-like” relationships that Salvation Army worker Jenny Stanger has taken in at a Sydney refuge for trafficked people in recent years.

The women came to Australia under the promise of a happy marriage, only to be exploited by their partners.

“It’s an absolute deception on the part of the perpetrator,” said Stanger of a problem involving nearly a quarter of her safehouse’s residents. Immigration figures show women in such situations come from China, India, the Philippines and Vietnam among others.

“Marriage was the tool that was used to exploit the women for profit, gain or personal advantage.”

“In a typical case, the migrant wife would face extreme isolation, extreme denial of their basic rights around freedom of movement, possibly an exploitation of their labour … and being denied money,” she said.

Getting a sense of how many marriage visas under Australia’s partner migration programme are used to bring women in for exploitation is difficult. Social workers say victims are often deliberately isolated and threatened if they seek help.

Researcher Samantha Lyneham, co-author of the first Australian study looking into the exploitation of women through migrant relationships beyond forced marriages, said the reluctance of victims to report crimes was a problem – such is their dependence on their abusers.

Lyneham said the fear of being deported, which stemmed from the “precarious immigration status” the women faced, was a key barrier, along with language and also mistrust of police after bad experiences in their home countries.

An inaugural Global Slavery Index published by the Walk Free Foundation in October said roughly 30 million people were living in modern-day slavery, of whom up to 3,300 were in Australia.

Lyneham’s new Australian Institute of Criminology report recorded the experiences of eight female victims – including Kanya – aged 18 to 49, mostly from South-East Asia, but also the Pacific, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

They found that while some women moved to Australia on marriage visas in search of economic opportunities, others did so for love and to start a family.

All the women had consented to their marriages, having met their spouses through arranged situations, family links, online dating sites and chance encounters. Seven of the women said they married their husbands outside Australia.

Case workers said the husbands – half of whom were from the same countries of origin as the women – were most likely to be dual-citizens.

One woman told of how her husband would lock her out of the house at night. “I would have to stay in the tree overnight,” she said.

Others told of sexual violence and coerced pregnancies, according to the report. The women said their passports were taken and they were blocked from using telephones or having access to money.

Clandestine crime

Lyneham said although the interviews showed cases had been “happening for some time”, it was also clear when she raised the issue with authorities that some were not aware of it.

“It’s a clandestine type of crime that people mistake for domestic violence,” Lyneham said.

The use of domestic violence laws to address cases highlights the difficulties in identifying and prosecuting such crimes, which cut across legislation separately targeting human trafficking, slavery and domestic abuse.

Official Australian data between July 2001 and June 2011 showed 337,127 people were granted partner migration visas, with Britain, China and India the most common countries of origin.

Between July 2006 and Dec 2011, 3,654 people on the visas obtained protection under the Family Violence Provision.

This allows them to apply for permanent residency if they or a family member are subjected to violence. About 12% came from China, 10% from the Philippines and 8% from Vietnam. Others came from India, Britain, Thailand and Fiji.

Lyneham said while the numbers appeared low, previous research showed under-reporting, particularly in migrant communities.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott in June announced more than A$100mil (RM298mil) to fight domestic violence, and vowed a “particular focus” on women from culturally diverse and indigenous backgrounds.

Forced marriages were criminalised and laws against forced labour were strengthened in 2013.

Case worker Eman Sharobeem, a former child bride who was abused during her marriage, said some women who approached her for help were not comfortable pursuing their husbands through the legal system.

While she worked with politicians to help formulate the 2013 laws, what “we are really interested in is educating the community more than just having a law to guide them”.

Her views are echoed by Salvation Army worker Stanger, who praised the legislation but added: “They (victims) are looking for a way out, so … the more doors we can open, the more likely someone is going to step through that door.” – AFP

Unhappily Married

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Selangor state of Malaysia in a mess !


Selangor_what a mess

Twists and turns aplenty

It is a mad, mad world in Selangor where the power struggle over the Mentri Besar post has resulted in political crossovers, name-calling, accusations of corruption and talk of fresh elections.

Selangor_KHALID vs WanIT was a day of confusing twists and turns for journalists covering the never-ending saga of the tussle over the Selangor Mentri Besar post.

A press conference by the party’s Selangor deputy chairman Zuraidah Kamaruddin at the PKR headquarters took on a pasar malam atmosphere when two conflicting documents were handed out to reporters.

One document claimed that Selangor supported PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail for the Mentri Besar post while another document nominated deputy president Azmin Ali as the alternative candidate.

The situation turned even more chaotic when Zuraidah, who is known to be an Azmin ally, read from the document supporting Dr Wan Azizah.

It seemed like Zuraidah had switched alliances and thrown her support behind Dr Wan Azizah.

Before the morning’s excitement could die down, reporters began getting whatsapp images of a sensational letter purportedly written by party secretary-general Datuk Saifuddin Nasution to Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim.

Fortunately for Saifuddin, it was a fake letter or else his goose would be cooked. The fake letter had stated that if Khalid resigned, all the allegations of wrongdoing made against him would be withdrawn. It also offered to make Khalid the state economic adviser with a salary of RM50,000 a month.

Even as reporters rushed to verify the authenticity of the letter, the Mentri Besar had made a highly strategic move to invite the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to investigate him on the accusations of corruption that Saifuddin had made against him a few days earlier.

Khalid had sent no less than the chief private secretary to the Mentri Besar to lodge the MACC report. It was Khalid’s way of telling his accu­sers: I have nothing to hide, investigate me.

He is so confident that he is in the clear, he has not bothered to wait for his accuser to go to the MACC; he himself is asking the MACC to scrutinise him. It was a slap in the face of his accuser.

As all this was happening, a news portal reported PAS secretary-general Datuk Mustafa Ali calling PKR strategist Rafizi Ramli “stupid”.

When The Star phoned Mustafa about it, he said Rafizi had made a “stupid comment”.

Rafizi had told a forum on the Selangor crisis that, in the run-up to the general election, PAS had wanted Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah instead of Anwar for Prime Minister. It was his way of explaining PAS’ insistence on supporting Khalid and its opposition to Dr Wan Azizah.

Mustafa is a very courteous politician and he was obviously not impressed by Rafizi’s habit of showing everyone how much he knows about everything.

The media who have been covering the power struggle have often likened what Khalid was going through to a roller-coaster ride but it was reporters themselves who were now feeling like they were on a roller coaster.

Reporters would be chasing one story in the morning. By midday, the story would have been overtaken by new developments and by evening, something new would have happened. That is how convoluted and fast-moving events have been in PKR. It is a mad, mad world in Selangor.

The chaotic press conference yesterday morning was a step forward for the lady president who has been battling public opinion about her candidacy for the challenging job of Mentri Besar.

Zuraidah is not only the party’s No.2 in Selangor, she is also the Wanita chief. Two other Azmin allies, Dr Xavier Jayakumar and Abdullah Sani, were also present at the press conference.

It has been very embarrassing for Dr Wan Azizah that Selangor, where Azmin is the chairman, has been lukewarm about her candidature for the top job in the state.

Azmin would have overtaken her if the matter had been put to a vote in the PKR supreme council meeting that was held to discuss the Mentri Besar candidate and if Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had not insisted on her.

Zuraidah’s U-turn suggests that the powers-that-be in the party have been working hard to undermine Azmin’s base by persuading his allies to change sides.

It has also come at a price and Zuraidah has been slammed by Selangor members for betraying her old friend Azmin.

It was also curious that she signed off her press statement in her capacity as Ampang division chief rather than deputy Selangor chairman.

Zuraidah’s U-turn is unlikely to be a turning point for Dr Wan Azizah in Selangor where Azmin still holds sway.

Moreover, very few are convinced that Dr Wan Azizah will ever make it as Mentri Besar.

Going by the commentary coming from PAS, it is evident that the party will not endorse her when it meets on Aug 10. PAS will continue to insist on Khalid.

The chatter among Pakatan politicians is that a snap state election is the only way out of the mess. The Kajang Move which was supposed to stabilise and unify PKR and its Pakatan partners has morphed into an uncontrollable monster that is about to consume the coalition.

But will the Mentri Besar issue be resolved even if Pakatan opts for fresh elections?

There is no guarantee that the three parties can agree on the next Mentri Besar even if they win. In fact, the coalition will probably crack by the time state polls are called.

- Comment by Joceline Tan The Star/Asia News Network

It’s a game of numbers

The role of the Sultan becomes paramount if the political wrangling fails to come up with a solution.

THE raging turmoil in Selangor over the post of the Menteri Besar is testing the tenuous bonds of the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) partnership. Many riveting issues of constitutional law have come to the forefront.

The Selangor MB was appointed by the Sultan of Selangor and there are five main ways in which the MB’s term can come to an end – resignation, expulsion from his party, defeat in the assembly, dismissal by the Ruler and disqualification due to a criminal conviction.

Resignation: If the MB resigns and the ruling coalition (with 44 out of 56 seats) unanimously nominates a successor, a smooth transition is likely. The Sultan’s constitutional role of appointing a new MB will be largely formal.

Expulsion from party: If the MB digs his heels in because he thinks that he has a working majority of 28+1 in the 56-member assembly, an engaging political scenario may ensue. He may be expelled from Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and be reduced to an independent or join another faction.

Expulsion from PKR does not automatically affect the post conferred on him by the Sultan if Khalid retains majority support in the Assembly. For example Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India, was in 1969 expelled from her Congress Party. Mahathir Mohamed was left without a party in 1988 because Umno was declared illegal by the High Court. Yet both premiers retained their posts because it is not party affiliation or party posts but requisite number of legislative supporters that count.

No-confidence: If Khalid does not resign, a motion of no-confidence is a looming possibility. Two examples from constitutional history are: in 1976 the BN majority in the Selangor Assembly dismissed its MB, Datuk Harun Idris, because he had fallen foul of the national leadership. In Kelantan in 1977 PAS moved a motion of no-confidence against its own MB, Datuk Mohammed Nasir.

Khalid is not entirely powerless in the face of such a threat. The Selangor assembly is not in session and the power to advise the Sultan to summon the assembly belongs to the MB and not the Speaker or the PKR leadership.

Under Article 70 of the Constitution of Selangor, six months can elapse between one session and the next and Khalid can frustrate PKR by not advising early summoning of the assembly! The Sultan may, of course, frown upon such unreasonable delay.

A motion of no-confidence needs an absolute majority of the total membership i.e. 29/56 legislators. Many permutations are possible. First, PKR’s 13 Assemblymen (Khalid excluded), DAP’s 15, PAS’s 15 and Umno’s 12 may all team up to oust Khalid.

Second, Umno may support Khalid or abstain but all PR partners (43) may unanimously support the motion. Third, PAS may be divided but even if one PAS member supports PKR’s 13 and DAP’s 15, the motion will reach the requisite number 29. A fourth scenario is that PAS’s 15 and Umno’s 12 may abstain. With PKR having 13 (Khalid excluded) and DAP 15, the motion will fail by one vote! Khalid will have a right to continue. PAS’s role is therefore pivotal.

Dismissal by Sultan: The power of the Sultan to dismiss an MB is not explicitly mentioned in the Selangor Constitution. However Common­wealth conventions indicate that the Head of State has a reserve, residual, prerogative power to dismiss the political executive in some exceptional circumstances.

For example, PM Whitlam of Australia was dismissed by Governor-General Sir John Kerr in 1975 due to the budget stalemate between the Senate and the House and Whitlam’s refusal to call an election to resolve the issue.

In the present scenario, the Sultan can remove Khalid in the following three circumstances.

First, if a majority of the members of the Selangor assembly make a written representation to the Sultan that they have lost confidence in Khalid and the Ruler wishes an immediate sitting of the assembly to resolve the issue of confidence and the MB refuses to advice the Sultan to summon the legislature immediately.

Second, because the assembly is in prorogation, the Ruler can follow Perak’s Nizar v Zambry (2010) precedent and personally determine the issue of confidence by taking note of political realities outside the assembly. The Stephen Kalong Ningkan v Tun Abang Haji Openg (1966) ruling in Sarawak that the issue of confidence must be resolved only in the legislative chamber is no more law.

If the Ruler comes to the conclusion that confidence has been lost, he can ask the MB to resign. If the MB refuses, the Ruler can dismiss him.

Third, if the assembly when convened, votes Khalid out, the Sultan can ask him to resign.

Dissolution: If Khalid is defeated by an absolute majority of the total membership, he has two options: resign or advise dissolution. The Sultan has wide discretion to accept or reject the advice. There are precedents from Kelantan (1977), Perak (2009) and Sabah (1994) when the advice to dissolve the assembly was rejected by the Rulers and Governor respectively.

Appointing a new MB: If Khalid resigns or is voted out but the PR coalition is deeply split over the choice of its MB, then the Ruler’s discretion and wisdom can provide the solution. As on many occasions in the States of Australia, the Sultan can choose a compromise candidate of his choice till the coalition puts its house in order.

Can a woman be appointed as MB? The incredible assertion that she cannot, has no basis in federal or State laws. In fact Article 8(2) of the Federal Constitution is clear that gender discrimination is forbidden except in explicitly specified areas like personal laws.

A “hung Parliament”: If after a new election, no party or coalition in the assembly has a clear majority, the Sultan’s discretion will become pivotal. He may appoint a minority government or a unity government pending a repeat election.

Sultan’s role: All in all, it can be said that in the following critical circumstances, the Sultan holds the key to keeping things on an even keel:

> the summoning of the assembly in case the MB is reluctant to face a vote;
> the discretion to accept or reject the MB’s advice on dissolution in case it is 28-28 on the confidence vote;
> the discretion to accept or reject a defeated MB’s advice to dissolve the assembly after a vote of no-confidence;
> If on a vote of confidence, the floor is split 28-28 for both sides, the Sultan would have the discretion to allow the MB to continue pending elections;
> the dismissal of the MB in the situations outlined above;
> the choice of a new MB if the majority coalition is hopelessly deadlocked over who should lead it;
> after a dissolution, to allow the incumbent to remain as caretaker MB or to appoint someone else as head of an interim, neutral government pending election that must be held within 60 days after dissolution;
> after the election, the appointment of a minority or unity government if the results indicate a “hung” Assembly with no decisive support for any grouping.

One prays that none of the above exceptional powers will have to be marshalled and that Selangor politicians, despite themselves, are able to put the State’s and the nation’s interest above their compulsion for partisan polemics.

–  Reflecting On The Law by Shah Saleem Farquqi

> Shad Faruqi is Emeritus Professor of Law at UiTM. The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own.

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Contradiction blots Obama’s legacy with outdated Cold War mindset


Obama insurance conference call providers Russia and the U.S. are sending rather contradictory signals about their relationship.

US President Barack Obama belittled Russia as a nation that “doesn’t make anything” in an interview with the Economist on Sunday. He also said that the West must be “pretty firm” with China, as the latter will “push as hard as they can until they meet resistance.”

Obama downplayed Russia’s role in the international community by saying Moscow is unable to attract quality immigrants and Russia’s population is shrinking and aging. He described US tensions with China as “manageable,” but stressed that the West should be tough with China when China “breaches international norms,” and show China “the potential benefits over the long term.”

Condescending to China and Russia, Obama treats both nations separately. He wants to draw more Western attention to China, so there could be more efforts to contain China. Obama paying close attention to China resulted in his “rebalancing to Asia” strategy.

He hasn’t shown much belligerence to China and Russia since he took office, but apparently, he lacks strategic insight and the power to control his government and be a good decision-maker. His advocacy is always ambiguous and easily misguided by some emergency issues. Diplomacy will not be a proud part of his legacy.

In the Middle East, the US withdrawal from Iraq under his leadership has not helped sort out the mess in the region. He won’t be given a medal for the current situation.

In its relationship with Russia, the US wrongfully kept its momentum to squeeze Russia’s strategic space and caused Moscow’s intense countermeasures.

Washington and Moscow are now engaged in Cold-War-level tensions, and they will cost the US much resource and attention.

In US-China relations, Obama has also found it hard to fully achieve his “rebalancing to Asia” goals. When the new Chinese leadership proposed the concept of a new type of major power relationship, the Obama administration accepted the general idea, but hasn’t accepted the connotations.

Obama has not made constructive contributions to China-US relationships. He cannot make landmark progress if he still clings to an outdated Cold War mindset.

In the next two years before his last term ends, Obama could make himself remembered by making breakthroughs in the Sino-US relationship.

He could work with his Chinese counterparts to work out a framework for both countries, which would influence the entire picture of international relations.

In the early years of Obama’s administration, people were impressed by his less strident posture toward international affairs, and this is also why he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. But now he has become more self-contradictory.

Perhaps that’s how the most powerful man plays his role, held back by many different forces. It seems that only recklessness and strident talk can make the US presidency function well, while forward thinking won’t get anywhere.

Source: Global Times

Xinjiang’s terrorists kill religious leader Imam Jume Tahir in China


Xinjiang Iman June TahirJume Tahir, the China’s imam of the 600-year-old Id Kah mosque in the city of Kashgar, was killed Wednesday by “three thugs influenced by religious extremist ideology”, the Xinjiang government web portal Tianshan said. PHOTO: AFP 

Xinjiang imam´s murder: 2 suspects killed, 1 detained

 The murder of Jume Tahir, the imam of China´s largest mosque in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous …

 

 

Imam’s murder is death-knell for terror

Police in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region announced on Thursday that they had shot dead two alleged religious extremists and captured one man, all of whom are believed to have murdered Jume Tahir, the imam of Id Kah Mosque, in Kashi.

According to a report by Xinjiang’s official news portal ts.cn, the three suspects, who had been influenced by religious extremism and intended to do “something big” to make a name for themselves, killed the 74-year-old imam Wednesday after he finished the morning prayer service.

Id Kah Mosque is the largest in Xinjiang. Imam Jume Tahir was a patriotic religious leader who enjoyed a wide reputation and respect among Uyghur Muslims.

He publicly condemned the brutality of extremists after their recent deadly attacks in the northwestern region, which authorities believe to be connected to overseas terrorist groups.

The murder of the respected imam is a hideous crime. It only indicates that the extremists felt growing anxiety and fear over the patriotic religious leaders’ public criticism and elaboration of the real spirit of Islamic teachings. They were attempting to create a sense of terror.

The death of Imam Jume Tahir has once again shown the world that the terrorists are the public enemy of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang. They mean to destroy the peace and stability of Xinjiang. They have created one bloody atrocity after another to draw global attention and promote their extremist causes. Whoever stands in their way will become a target.

The repeated deadly attacks have hurt the livelihood of Xinjiang, especially in the southern part of the region, including the tourist resort of Kashi. Local business people, mainly Uyghurs, have felt the biggest impact.

The terrorists are sacrificing the local economic and social progress for their purposes.

Terrorist attacks in Xinjiang seem to be on the increase in recent years. It is no surprise if you also learn about how the separatist World Uyghur Congress has been spreading false information to foreign media, and how the Western media have often been amplifying their prejudice against the Chinese government.

Prosecutors in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, on Wednesday announced they were prosecuting Ilham Tohti, a former lecturer at the Minzu University of China, for separatism. The US Department of State demanded the release of Tohti on the same day. The stance will encourage overseas Uyghur separatists to create more troubles.

However, the extremists’ goal to split Xinjiang or mess up the entire country will never succeed. It has become clearer than ever that ethnic integrity is the only choice for people in Xinjiang.

Source: Global Times

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Japan reopens China’s wounds: Sea of Change in pacific policy; Japan’s wars and Potsdam Declaration still relevant


China-JapanJapan reopens China’s wounds

Few wounds take so long to heal. But the defeat in the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95, which broke out 120 years ago today, remains an open wound in Chinese national psyche.

Not because it hurt us too badly. The subsequent unequal Treaty of Shimonoseki, fittingly portrayed as “humiliating the country and forfeiting its sovereignty”, has since been a hallmark of national shame. But the Japanese imposed on us greater shame and sufferings in the decades that followed.

Nor because we are a nation of grudge-holders. We have befriended posterity of Western intruders responsible for our nation’s humiliating past, and are forming partnerships with them. Even to Japan, our worst enemy in history, our leaders always reiterate the wish to let friendship “last from generation to generation”.

But because the same old ghost of expansionist Japan is lurking next door, causing a contagious sense of insecurity throughout the region.

We cannot afford to not be vigilant, because Shinzo Abe’s Japan is strikingly similar to the Japan of 120 years ago. International concerns about the likelihood of history repeating itself in Northeast Asia are not groundless. Because, like in 1894, Japan is again aspiring for “greatness” through expanding its overseas military presence. And its foremost target is, again, China.

It is dangerous to underestimate Japan as a security threat. Which it was, and still is.

The Japanese prime minister’s rhetoric about peace may be engaging. But never forget Japan’s extreme duality. Its wars of aggression have always been launched in the mode of surprise attacks while waving the banner of peace.

In 1871, Japan signed the Sino-Japanese Friendship and Trade Treaty with rulers of China’s Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), which promises mutual respect for and non-violation of each other’s territories. Hardly had the ink on that document dried when the Japanese began invading Ryukyu, then a Chinese tributary. The Ryukyu kingdom was finally annexed in 1879 and renamed Okinawa.

On Japan’s agenda of overseas expansion, the 1894 surprise attack against China was a carefully plotted advance to control Korea before slicing China. But the Japanese government eulogized its acts of aggression as those of benevolence aimed at “preserving the overall peace of East Asia” against “barbarians and semi-barbarians”.

The more devastating Japanese war of aggression, embarked in 1931, was also waged in the name of peace, under the pretext of building an “East Asia sphere of common prosperity”.

Even today, Japanese politicians call it a war of “liberation from white colonialism”, even “enlightenment”.

In amazing similarity, present-day Japan is flexing its military muscles overseas in the name of proactive peace. Also like in the run-up to the year of 1894, with peace on lips, Abe is waging a propaganda war against China, framing us as a threat.

This country has suffered enough from its one-sided wish for peace, and poor preparedness for worst scenarios.

Now is time for a break.

Sources: China Daily/Asia News Network

Sea of change in pacifist policy

Japan may have crossed a rubicon as it will only be a matter of time before it acts like a ‘normal’ country where troop deployment is concerned.

Abe_eye militaryON July 1, the Cabinet of Shinzo Abe decided that Japan would no longer abide by the policy of not engaging in collective self-defence.

This may appear innocuous but to those conversant with Japanese defence policy since World War II (WWII) this could amount to a sea of change.

The Americans, in an attempt to prevent a remilitarised Japan after WWII, imposed on it a constitution which contains Article 9, an article probably found in no other constitution. It states that Japan renounces war as a sovereign right of a nation and cannot resort to force, or the threat of the use of force, to settle international disputes.

The defence of Japan was guaranteed by the United States in a security agreement signed with Japan after the American occupation. Nevertheless, the United States also insisted that Japan take some steps to defend itself.

Thus, Article 9 was not interpreted literally by subsequent governments as excluding Japan from establishing a Self-Defence Force (SDF), but it could not be allowed to participate in collective self-defence. Japan could not send its military force to help any country, however friendly, except for humanitarian purposes.

This approach, perhaps unexpectedly, worked brilliantly for Japan.

Freed of the need to build a large military establishment, Japan devoted its energies to economic development and built what was until recently the second largest economy in the world.

But as the United States began to realise that Japan was the greatest beneficiary of this approach, it applied pressure on Japan to give up this “free ride”, and start deploying troops overseas, especially to aid American military expeditions. The Japanese resisted.

They argued that the SDF could be sent overseas for humanitarian purposes but not for combat as this would involve Japan in collective self-defence, even if only to aid Japan’s crucial ally, the United States. Article 9, as then interpreted, would be violated.

But the Japanese could not resist US pressure for long. Since then the Japanese have sent Japanese vessels to supply fuel for US ships to attack Afghanistan, and troops to Iraq in the war against Saddam Hussein.

But though these troops were placed in combat situations, their presence was justified, however contrived, for humanitarian reasons. They were not there for the purpose of collective self-defence!

This has now changed with the recent Cabinet decision. Despite assurances from the Abe Cabinet that Japan will only use troops after all means have been exhausted, henceforth it can send troops not only to help US forces if attacked but also to the defence of any other country that it might feel an obligation to. Japan may have crossed a rubicon as it will only be a matter of time before it acts like a “normal” country where troop deployment is concerned.

China and South Korea are against it. They fear that this could lead to the remilitarisation of Japan as they believe Japan has not sufficiently come to terms with its past of aggression against Asia.

Many South-East Asian nations, on the other hand, have been impressed by Japan’s peace diplomacy since WWII, and may be less inclined to believe the Japanese will remilitarise. Even though many South-East Asians, particularly those of Chinese descent, suffered from Japanese atrocities, they are more ambivalent about the Japanese war record.

The Japanese occupation in South-East Asia was a military one and lasted only about three-and-a-half years. Compare this to Korea, which was colonised by Japan from 1910 to 1945, when Korean cultural identity was subjected to an eradication campaign by the Japanese colonisers.

Or the Chinese, who since the Sino- Japanese war of 1895 had suffered almost half a century of Japanese threats, colonisation (Manchuria in 1931) and invasion (from 1937-1945.) Memories of Japanese atrocities such as the Nanjing Massacre are still vivid in their minds.

South-East Asians are concerned that the history issue, whatever the merits of the case, will continue to prevent reconciliation between Japan and Northeast Asia, in particular China.

Sino-Japanese relations will not stabilise unless that issue is resolved. This will not be good for South-East Asia, given the profound economic and geopolitical impact these two countries have on the region.

There is also some reason for unease in the manner in which Abe implemented the change. Over a matter of such importance, the Abe government should have gone through the procedure of amending or abolishing Article 9 of the constitution, instead of resorting to the tactic of changing governmental interpretation.

It is true that this will be difficult, given that a recent poll shows 56% of the Japanese population are against the Abe move. (A constitutional change needs a two-thirds majority in both houses and a majority in a national referendum.) Nevertheless, it is the task of Abe and his people to convince the Japanese people of the necessity of the constitutional change. If the Japanese people are unconvinced, then Abe should leave things be.

More concerning is that this normalisation is accompanied by a nationalist agenda of visits to the Yasukuni shrine by Japanese legislators and indeed by Abe himself, and by other actions that suggest Japan did no wrong in the war.

Japanese nationalists like Abe argue that they are only praying for the souls of the deceased when they visit the Yasukuni shrine, and they have no wish to resurrect the past.

But there are other aspects of the nationalist agenda the Abe people are pushing which may survive. One is the introduction of patriotic education, that can have a long-lasting effect on the Japanese population.

It can be argued that the Abe move to make Japan a normal country should be welcome. Japan is a large country with a population of around 120 million.

Moreover, it has the third largest economy, and is technologically one of the most advanced in the world. It has also convincingly demonstrated a record of more than 60 years of peaceful diplomacy.

At the same time, many Japanese, particularly the younger generation, no longer want to carry on with the mentality of a defeated nation so long after the war. Nevertheless, it is a pity that their government has to pursue the normalisation of Japan while at the same time pushing a nationalist agenda.

 

By Dr Lee Poh Ping The Star/Asia News Network

Dr Lee Poh PingDr Lee Poh Ping is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of China Studies in the University of Malaya. The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own.

http://english.cntv.cn/program/dialogue/20130726/100500.shtml

First Japan war’s lessons remain relevant

Today is the 120th anniversary of the eruption of the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-95). The war is generally viewed as a turning point in modern Chinese history. The illusion of a strong navy of the then-Qing government and limited hopes brought by the Self-Strengthening Movement ended with the war’s coming. China not only lost to the West, but also was defeated by an East Asian country—Japan. China’s long-held sense of superiority came to an abrupt end.

The complete defeat in the war, and cession of territories and indemnities brought with it, caused Chinese society to realize that only reform could reverse China’s backwardness. Yet all reform measures failed to save the Qing regime.

The war also completely remade East Asian geopolitics, with Japan assuming a role as the leading country in the region. Only in recent years has this arrangement changed to some extent.

Drawing lessons from the war is not an easy job. Neither China nor Japan has set an example in this. China was convulsed by half a century of war and other disturbances following its defeat, before it gradually found its path forward. Japan became increasingly self-centered and paranoid due to its victory in the war and began to follow an expansionist path. It would only begin to restrain itself following its defeat by other world powers in the World War II.

China’s experiences during the past 120 years are fodder for significant reflection. China and Japan once again find themselves in a confrontational stance. How should we look at China’s geopolitical status, both then and now? What’s the most significant lesson for us? There has been much discussion throughout China on this subject, but no consensus has yet been reached.

Will China find itself in a new war, similar to the one 120 years ago? History will not repeat itself, but China still face a number of uncertainties. What are these uncertainties? From where can the Chinese people derive our strategic confidence?

It is naïve to compare the historical context of the First Sino-Japanese War or World War I with China’s current circumstances. Both international politics and China’s internal social structure have experienced profound changes.

China is rising, even as there are many factors countervailing this process, both internal and external. The momentum of China’s development has empowered the country, while at the same time exposing problems. Opinions remain divided as to whether Chinese society as a whole can bear the pressure.

There are those who would compare the Sino-Japanese relationship of 120 years ago with today. It is a confusing comparison. China 120 years ago lacked national strength, social unity, and effective government. It proved unable to reform itself in the face of serious setbacks.

China’s task of reform was thrown into sharp relief following the First Sino-Japanese War. Even now, the country must continue to push reforms, and curb its social ills.

We should continue to crack down on corruption, and protect the democracy advocated by generations of revolutionaries. All this, however, should not come at the cost of social chaos.

Source: Global Times Published: 2014-7-25 0:28:01

 

DeclarationDeclaration still relevant

Looking at the Potsdam Declaration 69 years after its release on July 26 in 1945 is of great help in knowing why the Japanese government’s attitude toward the war of aggression it launched against China and other Asian countries during World War II matters a great deal to its relations with its neighbors and the situation in East Asia.

Along with Cairo Declaration in 1943, this historical document was the cornerstone of the postwar world order. It was these two documents that established the principles for Japan, one of the culprits for World War II, to redeem itself from the evils of its militarism. And it was by following what both documents stipulated that Japan could realize reconciliation with its neighbors, which had forgiven what its invading troops had done to their peoples with the hope that the island country would behave itself and contribute to the building of a peaceful Asia and peaceful world at large.

However, the declaration was challenged when the Japanese government made the decision to nationalize the Diaoyu Islands in 2012, territory it had grabbed from China with its military aggression. Japan was supposed to return all the territories it had taken from China according to Cairo Declaration, and the Potsdam Declaration requires that the Cairo Declaration must be observed.

By blatantly questioning the international definition of the nature of the war, the legitimacy of the Far East Military Tribunal and even the existence of the “comfort women” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is actually trying to overturn what the two declarations had stipulated for Japan’s surrender and the establishment of the postwar order.

Abe government’s lifting of the ban on its collective self-defense by reinterpreting Article 9 of its postwar pacifist Constitution early this month trod on the toes of its neighbors, as there is no threat to Japan’s national security that calls for the possible use of its collective self-defense and for any overseas military action.

All Japan’s Asian neighbors can get from what Abe is saying and doing is nothing but increased suspicion about the possibility of the revival of Japan’s militarism.

When celebrating the 69th anniversary of the Potsdam Declaration, it is indeed necessary and urgent for China and its Asian neighbors to remind the Abe government that it is leading its country in the wrong direction if it indeed wants its country to become a normal member of the international community.

Sources: China Daily/Asia News Network

Who stands to gain from MH17, USA?


The general public should always ask this question to prevent ourselves from being deceived by ‘false flags’

THE Russian military has released military monitoring data which challenge allegations circulating in the media pertaining to the MH17 crash in the Donetsk Region of Eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014. Questions have been raised about Kiev military jets tracking MH17, Ukrainian air traffic controllers and the deployment of Buk missile systems. Kiev should also release military data on the circumstances leading to the crash. So should the Pentagon which reportedly has relevant intelligence and satellite data.

Since military data is hardcore information, Kiev and Washington should be persuaded to be transparent and accountable. The UN Secretary-General can play a role in this since there is a specialised agency within the UN, the ICAO, dedicated to international civil aviation.

Military data from Moscow, Kiev and Washington should be scrutinised by the independent international panel that is supposed to probe the MH17 catastrophe.

Such data carries much more weight than videos purportedly revealing the role of the pro-Russian rebels and the Russian government in the crash. One such video showing a Buk system being moved from Ukraine to Russia is a fabrication. The billboard in the background establishes that it was shot in a town – Krasnoarmeisk – that has been under the control of the Ukrainian military since May 11. Similarly, a YouTube video showing a Russian General and Ukrainian rebels discussing their role in mistakenly downing a civilian aircraft was, from various tell-tale signs, produced before the event.

The public should be wary of fabricated “evidence” of this sort, after what we have witnessed in the last so many years. Have we forgotten the monstrous lies and massive distortions that accompanied the reckless allegation that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) which led eventually to the invasion of that country in 2003 and the death of more than a million people? What about the Gulf of Tonkin episode of 1964 which again was a fabrication that paved the way for US aggression against Vietnam that resulted in the death of more than three million Vietnamese?

MH17-coffins

The “babies in incubators” incident in Kuwait in 1990 was yet another manufactured lie that aroused the anger of the people and served to justify the US assault on Iraq. Just last year we saw how an attempt was made by some parties to pin the blame for a sarin gas attack in Ghouta, Syria upon the Assad government when subsequent investigations have revealed that it was the work of some rebel group.

From Tonkin to Ghouta there is a discernible pattern when it comes to the fabrication of evidence to justify some nefarious agenda or other. As soon as the event occurs before any proper investigation has begun, blame is apportioned upon the targeted party. This is done wilfully to divert attention from the real culprit whose act of evil remains concealed and camouflaged.

The colluding media then begins to spin the “correct” version with the help of its reporters and columnists who concoct “fact” out of fiction. Any other explanation or interpretation of the event is discredited and dismissed derisively to ensure that the “credibility” of the dominant narrative remains intact.

As the narrative unfolds, the target often embodied in a certain personality is demonised to such a degree that he arouses the ire of the public and becomes an object of venom.

The pattern described here is typical of what is known as a “false flag” operation in which blame for some dastardly deed is consciously transferred to one’s adversary. It has happened right through history and many contemporary nation-states – and not just the United States – are guilty of flying false flags.

To protect ourselves from being deceived by such operations, the general public should always ask: who stands to gain from a particular episode? Cui Bono is in fact an important principle in the investigation of a crime. In the case of the MH17 carnage, the pro-Russian rebels do not benefit in any way from downing a civilian airliner. Their goal is independence from the Kiev government which is why they are fighting Kiev through sometimes violent means including shooting down its military planes. Massacring 298 passengers in a flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur does not serve their cause. Moscow which backs the rebels to an extent also gains nothing from involving itself in such a diabolical carnage.

10 days after the carnage, it is now clear who is trying to reap benefits from that terrible tragedy in the skies. The demonisation of the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, orchestrated from various Western capitals, including Kiev, after Crimea voted to join the Russian Federation, thus thwarting one of the primary strategic goals of Nato’s eastward expansion, has now reached its pinnacle.

MH17 has helped the elite in Washington in yet another sense. It has strengthened its push for tougher sanctions against Russia which began after the Crimea vote.

It is obvious that those who seek to punish Russia and the pro-Russian rebels, namely, the elite in Washington and Kiev, are poised to gain the most from the MH17 episode. Does it imply that they would have had a role in the episode itself? Only a truly independent and impartial international inquiry would be able to provide the answer.

In this regard, we must admit that while elites in Kiev and Washington may stand to gain from MH17, those who actually pulled the trigger may be some other group or individual with links to the powerful in the two capitals. It is quite conceivable that a certain well-heeled individual equipped with the appropriate military apparatus and with access to air-control authorities in the region may have executed the act of evil itself.

MH17 down

Because of who he is, and where his loyalties lie, that individual may have also decided to target Malaysia. Was he giving vent to his anger over our principled stand on the question of justice for the Palestinians? Was he also attempting to divert public attention from Israel’s ground offensive against Gaza which time-wise coincided with the downing of the Malaysian airliner?

As we explore MH17 from this angle, would we be able to connect the dots between MH17 and MH370, between July 17 and March 8, 2014? We should not rest till the whole truth is known and the evil behind these two colossal catastrophes punished severely.

We owe this to every soul who perished on those fateful flights.

This article is dedicated to the cherished memory of all those on MH17 – especially the 80 children who were on board.

By comment: Dr Chandra Muzaffar

Dr Chandra Muzaffar is the President of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST).

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MH17 black boxes handovered to Malaysia to be passed to AAIB UK via Dutch investigators


Malaysian experts hand over MH17 black boxes to Dutch investigators
MH17 black Boxes

THE HAGUE, July 22 — The black boxes from the crashed flight MH17 have been handed over to Dutch investigators in Ukraine, the Dutch Foreign Ministry announced late Tuesday.

“The black boxes from flight MH17 have been handed over by Malaysian experts to the Dutch Safety Board (OVV) that is leading the international investigation,” the ministry said.

According to local media, the black boxes will be sent to Farnborough in Britain, where experts can read the data stored in the black boxes and try to find the exact cause of the crash.

The ministry said, the experts from the Dutch safety board will travel with other experts from several countries together, to send the black boxes to Farnborough.

For now, the Dutch side is in charge of the investigation of the crash, which caused 193 Dutch citizens’ lives.

The Boeing 777 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed near the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk Thursday, killing all 298 people on board.

The Dutch government announced early Tuesday that a flight with the first victims’ bodies will arrive in Eindhoven, the Netherlands on Wednesday.   Xinhua

Malaysian official: MH17’s black boxes to be passed to AAIB

Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said Wednesday in a statement that the international investigation team, led by the Netherlands, had decided to pass the black boxes to the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) for forensic analysis.

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