By Walden Bello*
(Speech at meeting of international social movements, Hotel Trang, Bangkok, August 31, 2012.)
by Walden Bello
originally published in FPIF
Most visitors to Myanmar these days, when the country is opening up, limit their trips to Yangon, better known in better times as Rangoon. They rarely make the five-hour trip to Naypyitaw, the site upcountry to which the ruling military regime has transferred the capital. As a parliamentary delegation from different Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) governments seeking to make contact with opposition legislators, we embark on the road trip to the Burmese generals’ version of Brasilia, not really knowing what we’ll find at the end of the 230-mile journey.
Before we leave Yangon, however, we meet with members of “Generation 88,” people now in their forties who were leaders of the student uprising of 1988. Our meeting takes place against the background of fast-moving developments in Burmese politics: the triumphant European tour of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, universally referred to as Daw Suu or “the Lady”; the release of two dozen more political prisoners; and the opening session of parliament on July 4. There is a widespread sense that the country is undergoing momentous change.
Mary Ann Manahan
15 March 2012
Speech delivered during the implementation of the right to water and sanitation transversal session of the Alternative World Water Forum/Forum Alternatif Mondial d’Eau. The session was moderated by Sylvie Paquerot, University of Ottawa and the panelists include Maude Barlow, Council of Canadians; Arthur Manuel, Defenders of the Land; Pedro Arrojo, Water for New Culture/University of Zaragosa; and Alexandros Kastrinakis, Initiative 136 in Greece.
It is an honor to be among comrades and kindred spirits from around the world, not only sharing the same cause of challenging the corporate World Water Forum, but also presenting a new vision, a new culture of water as part of our collective aspiration, to build the future that we want. I would also like to give a big hand to all the young people like me who are participating in this politically strategic gathering.
Many of you know Asia as an “economic miracle”— a region which managed to evade the financial crises in Europe and the US. Led by China and India, Asia is being touted as the new engine of the global economic system, fulfilling the dual roles of producer and consumer. Little is understood about how these developments are seen and experienced “from below” or what it means for the environment, in China, India, and across the region. In reality, this economic growth does not necessarily translate to better jobs, or even poverty reduction. In fact, the number of Asians living in extreme poverty has not changed in three decades – they number 1.1 billion in 2008 as they did in 1981!
At the Seventh World Social Forum (WSF), held in Nairobi, Kenya, in late January, the most controversial topic was not HIV-AIDS, the US occupation of Iraq, or neoliberalism. There was a rough consensus on these issues. Aside, of course, from the lively internal politics of the WSF, perhaps the topic that generated the most heat was China's relations with Africa.