Asia Pacific

Indonesian president's six years of failure

Thousands of mainly student protesters took to the streets in cities across Indonesia - including Jakarta, Palu, Makassar, Medan, Ternate, Samarinda, Bandung, Surabaya, Yogyakarta and Madura - on October 20 to protest the first year of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s second term as president.

While the protests encompassed a diverse array of issues, including women’s rights, workers’ rights and human rights, all the protests agreed on the utter failure of the government of Yudhoyono (known as SBY) to improve the lives of the vast majority of Indonesians or to dismantle the main institutions of Indonesian politics: the networks of cronyism and corruption that built up during the 30-year Suharto dictatorship and the militarism that dominates Indonesian politics and society.

Indonesian workers struggle for basic rights

A labour dispute is unfolding in this Central Java city that highlights many of the intransigent problems Indonesian workers face under the neoliberal government of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY). What should have been an easily resolved minor labour dispute has developed into an ongoing campaign that has involved public meetings, blockades, occupations and street demonstrations and has resulted in the formation of a new union and city-wide labour solidarity network.

Philippine Airlines dispute tests government's labour policy

In an unprecedented display of unity, 16 of the main trade union organisations in the Philippines met on November 8 to oppose the impending lay-off of almost 3000 workers by Philippine Airlines (PAL), the nation’s main airline. The groups issued a statement in solidarity with workers from the PAL Employees’ Association (PALEA) and called for the government of President Benigno Aquino to reverse its October decision to support the mass lay-offs.

Action needed on Agent Orange

Agent Orange is the code name of the dioxin-laced chemical used by the United States to defoliate huge areas of Vietnam and destroy food crops during its devastating war against the people of Vietnam. Between 1962 and 1971, the US military machine sprayed 80 million litres of chemical herbicides and defoliants in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. A quarter of the rural areas of South Vietnam were hit.

Burmese military regime organises fraudulent election

The Burmese military regime, officially called the State Peace and Development Council, organised a general election on November 7 – the first in two decades. The SPDC’s Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) claimed a landslide victory, declaring that it had won 86% of seats in the lower house of parliament and 88% in the upper house.  Despite insiders saying that only about 10% of the eligible voters turned up at the polling booths, the pro-SPDC announced a turnout of over 70%.

Letter from Jakarta: Amin's death

In hindsight, there was a great deal of beauty in the scene. There was a kaleidoscope of colours: dark blues and greens, the red and white of the national soccer team, as well as fading browns and greys and dirty whites.  T-shirts and dresses, trousers and singlets, chequered green and brown sarongs, black pecis on black hair, all coloured the scene. There was glistening silver from the sun’s steaming rays bouncing off the zinc and tin rooftops and the myriad blacks, browns and greys among the timbers, tiles, packing cases, corrugated iron, tarpaulins and plastics that were the constructions materials for these people’s homes. And there was the sky, grey and brooding and dirty, with clouds of faint blue among the puffy curtains that forebode rain. There were the greens of scattered trees and the occasional pot plant.

Indonesian rightists try to stop LGBT film festival

[The following is a slightly abridged version of a statement issued by the Perempuan Mahardhika (Free Women) National Network on September 28.]

Australian government complicit in persecution of Sri Lankan Tamils

Thousands of Tamils around the world commemorated the massacre at the Nagerkovil school that occurred 16 years ago near Jaffna, in the north-east of Sri Lanka. Many of the Tamils who commemorated the bombing of the school are facing deportation back to Sri Lanka where the Tamil people face systematic persecution.

Vietnam's long fight for liberation and socialism

(This article is based on talks presented to Brisbane and Sydney seminars on Vietnam on September 18 and 25. Chitts is a member of the Revolutionary Socialist Party and a founder of Stand Fast, the organisation of military veterans campaigning against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.)

US aggression continues against North Korea

The North Korean military’s artillery-fire upon the disputed territory of Yeonpyeong Island last November was the latest response to an unceasing campaign of provocations by the US military and its South Korean ally. The Yeonpyeong incident resulted in at least four fatalities. The pretext for the clash was the decision by the US-backed South Korean regime to engage in provocative military exercises close to disputed territory in the Yellow Sea.