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Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?

Asiaweek Time Asia Now Asiaweek story

LETTERS AND COMMENT

"To report accurately and fairly the affairs of Asia
in all spheres of human activity,
to see the world from an Asian perspective,
to be Asia's voice in the world"
-Mission Statement, 1975


How to reach Asiaweek

The Asiaweek Power 50 on CNN

THERE ARE TIPS FOR China in the other troubled economies ["Economic Immunity Is Not an Option," BUSINESS, May 8]. Before the crisis, Southeast Asian countries relied heavily for their expansion on intra-Asian trade. Today the only way to grow is to export more to the U.S., Japan, Europe and other countries beyond Asia. The European economy is healthy and its people are willing to spend. This is good news for Asian companies. The bad news is that European consumers are very quality-sensitive and generally have a poor image of Asian products (whether it's justified or not).

Asian countries' major short-term debts was one reason for the crisis. The U.S., for years burdened with a multi-billion-dollar trade deficit, had no problem because of the power of the dollar. The Euro will challenge the dollar. What would happen to the U.S. if everybody asked it to pay its debts in Euro? In all these developments are good lessons for China. It should:

Encourage its companies to make high-tech and high value-added products. Taiwan, with its personal-computer industry, is relatively protected from the crisis. But China shouldn't rely on a few products. What will happen if the PC market shrinks tomorrow?

Develop its domestic market to fuel growth (which it is doing) and export all over the world, to rich and developing countries.

Be careful of debt. No one can rely only on credit.

The Chinese economy will be one of the biggest in the next decade, which gives our leaders an advantage in dealing with other powers. But they should always bear in mind why China is behind many countries, when it was the most advanced a few centuries ago, and how they are planning to restore it to its former position. The Chinese people have been suffering from wars, foreign humiliation and leadership problems. When are we going to reclaim a rank that befits the size of the nation?

Chen Z.H.
Paris


A Ratings Witch-Hunt?

THERE IS AN URGENT need to review the rating agencies, which have proved themselves incapable of foreseeing a crisis ["Rating the Credit Ratings," VIEWPOINT, May 1]. If the Asian crisis could not be predicted, then what is the use of having agencies which brainwash investors with sovereign ratings that can never tell you the pitfalls. In fact, they have become nuisances - quite dangerous ones - in that they can break a country's standing with a downgrade. Take India's case. There is a constant threat of being downgraded even though conditions in 1997 were the same as in 1996.

Instead of accepting that they have limitations, the rating agencies like Moody's and Standard & Poor's have begun a kind of a witch-hunt on countries which were not affected by the crisis. Surely there is need to have someone rate them.

M. Sabnavis
via the Internet
India


In Defense of the RSS

THE DESCRIPTION OF THE RSS [THE ASIAN LANGUAGE, April 24] is far from true. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh [National Volunteer Service Organization] is not a semi-militant group. It is a socio-cultural organization, which came into existence for the unification and upliftment of Hindu society. It is the world's largest non-political organization with membership in many countries. Hindus can never act communally as history shows. From the beginning of civilization till now, the doors of Hindusthan (India) are open to everyone. We have a multi-religious, multi-caste society, which we are proud of.

The RSS has never said that Indian Muslims and Christians cannot be true patriots because their holy lands lie in Arabia and Palestine. It does not differentiate between Hindus and Christians or Muslims. The RSS is on the way to finishing the caste system in India. In the organization a person is called by his first name so that caste is not used. There is no discrimination as nobody knows the caste of the person sitting next to him.

The stick is used as a tool for exercise and not for fighting. In today's world of AK47s and rocket launchers, sticks are of no use in combat. None of the so-called weapons (sticks, javelins, daggers) were used while the old structure [in Ayodhya] was demolished to pave the way for a temple for Lord Rama. Also, there was no mosque because there had been no worship there since 1949.

There is no proof that the old structure was destroyed by the RSS, whose people were there to stop and discipline the crowds, which swelled to hundreds of thousands. They wanted justice after hundreds of years and which had been delayed due to the wrong policies of the Congress government. Later, it was Hindus who were killed in their hundreds in India.

Praveen
via the Internet


AN ASIAWEEK JOURNALIST WHO covered the incident at Ayodhya says the crowd wielded sticks and the other weapons in question. - Editors


India's Missiles

THE INDIAN SURFACE-TO-SURFACE MISSILE Prithvi is not named after the 12th-century ruler Prithviraj Chauhan ["A New Threat to Stability: How Will India Answer Pakistan's Missile Test?" May 1]. The word means earth in Sanskrit. All guided missiles being developed by India are similarly named: Agni (fire in Sanskrit), Akash (sky), Trishul (trident) and Nag (snake or cobra).

Sudhendar Hanumantharao
Troy, New York


Philippines Then and Now

SOMETHING ELSE HASN'T CHANGED in 100 years besides our sometimes questionable implementation of the democratic processes and that is the way political events are reported [COVER STORY, May 8]. However, whatever impressions "Revving for a Hard-Fighting Last Lap," by Sangwon Suh and Antonio Lopez, may have made about our history, may I present some facts that I do not think anyone, whatever his political or historical leanings may be, can dispute:

The convention held on March 22, 1897 was called by Andrés Bonifacio's supporters and chaired by Bonifacio himself. Tejeros was not Aguinaldo's territory but that of the opposing Magdiwang faction. Only eight members of Aguinaldo's party were present since the rest, including Aguinaldo, were busy fighting the Spaniards. It is difficult to imagine ballots being filled out in his favor before the election. We are talking about a roomful of voters, not millions of voters spread out over hundreds of islands.

Emilio Aguinaldo was a school dropout, could not learn Spanish (the language of the elite at that time), had been mayor of his town, and came from the province of Cavite. Vice President "Erap" Estrada is a school drop-out, is criticized for not being able to speak English well, was mayor of his town and comes from the province of Cavite. Both are not known for their rhetoric. Aguinaldo, like Estrada, was a popular leader.

May I invite [Staff Writer] Suh and [Senior Correspondent] Lopez to watch a little creative writing of my own entitled Miong. This musical play, which opens in June, is based on the life of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, first president of the Republic of the Philippines, who declared Independence for the first democratic republic in Asia and united our country under one flag and one anthem 100 years ago.

Joy G.Virata
Metro Manila
The writer is the wife of former PM Cesar Virata, grandson of Emilio Aguinaldo.


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CNN INTERNATIONAL WILL PREVIEW Asiaweek's 1998 ranking of the 50 most powerful people in Asia. The POWER 50 appears in our May 29 issue. The preview airs at 9.30 p.m., May 20, and 10.30 a.m., May 21 (Hong Kong time).


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This edition's table of contents | Asiaweek home

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SINGAPORE: Singaporeans need to have more babies. But success breeds selfishness


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