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AUGUST 4, 2000 VOL. 26 NO. 30 | SEARCH ASIAWEEK

Letters & Comments
Man of Conscience: 'Vietnamese scholar and monk Thich Quang Do, an anti-communist, offers solace in a despiritualized society. He has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.' — THE NATIONS, June 30

"Keeper of the Flame . . . a Nobel Prize prospect" [THE NATIONS, June 30], by Ken Stier, is unobjective. It distorts the religious situation and policy of Vietnam and makes an outcry in Vietnam's public opinion in general and the Buddhist community in particular. I believe that upon reading it thoroughly you would share my view that this article is in no way a reflection of Asiaweek's formal stance and that carrying it will only adversely affect your magazine's image in Vietnam. It would be appreciated if you would keep promoting your important role in ensuring a fair and objective coverage of all issues, including Vietnam-related ones, in every issue of Asiaweek.

Le Dung
Deputy Director
Press & Information Department
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Hanoi


Spilt Milk

I agree with you about the milk-poisoning scandal in Japan ["To Be Sorry Isn't Enough," BUSINESS, July 28]. The unbelievable complacency shown by the president of Snow Brand speaks volumes about Japanese corporate culture. The sad fact is that this scandal will most likely be quickly forgotten by consumers. The company, I hope, will not survive. The sheer volume of people affected (about 15,000) before any major damage-control was initiated by the company defies belief. Other corporations in Japan should wake up and place consumer safety first.

David White
Nagoya


Unsettled Dust in Fiji

"The Freedom Bloc" [EDITORIALS, July 21] concludes with the wise words, "the freedom bloc should always think hard before imposing sanctions that condemn a country to poverty, ignorance and isolation. Democracy rarely thrives in such conditions." Yet this is the condemnation now imposed on Fiji ["The Storm Before the Storm?" THE NATIONS, July 28]. Those sitting in judgment should seek to fathom why the recent troubles in Fiji have occurred. They may well find themselves in part responsible. Understanding is necessary, not punishment.

R.H. Hickling
Malvern
England



Thai University Reforms

I refer to "Time of Ferment" [SPECIAL REPORT on Education, June 30] regarding the Thai government's budget allocation for governmental autonomous universities. Despite the fact that your article has given a good perspective on Thai university administration after universities become autonomous in 2002, there are some points that are not accurate. These are:

n The concept of autonomy first started in Thai higher education over 30 years ago. The development has been slow due to various bureaucratic and substantive obstacles. The current commitment to make all public universities autonomous by the year 2002 is an ambition being undertaken following the economic crisis in 1997.

n The purpose of the Thai government's effort to encourage all our state universities to become autonomous is to strengthen their quality, effectiveness, efficiency, flexibility and responsiveness to society. The proper term to be used for this process is "debureaucratize" instead of "privatize," as the latter could cause confusion and misunderstanding. Under the program, the government will continue to provide substantial funding support in the form of block grants to guarantee the minimum standard.

Each institution at the same time will have greater management flexibility to generate income. In other words, our term "autonomy" means each public university remains a government unit, overseen by the universities themselves, which will subsequently be audited by the office of the Auditor-General of Thailand, supervised by the Ministry of University Affairs on policy, budget allocation and quality. Financial and asset management will be overseen by the universities, which will subsequently be audited by the office of the Auditor-General of Thailand.

n It is hoped that with increased autonomy, the universities will be able to contribute even more fruitfully to the nation's social and economic development. The government will encourage the universities to generate their own income while they will strive to better diversify their sources of funds. More importantly, they have to uphold accountability and transparency in their undertakings.

Dr. Vanchai Sirichana
Permanent Secretary
for University Affairs
Bangkok



Cane for Employers?

"Malaysia's Secret Vice" [SOCIETY, June 16] is a distressing exposE of inhumanity in the ill-treatment of foreign domestic workers. The correction of this social ill lies mainly in the hands of the government and judicial system. As a lawyer and criminologist, I feel that punishment in proven cases should be swift, severe and deterrent in nature. Corporal punishment such as caning (which the West covertly adores) would seem proper and effective.

Dr. H. Cheng
via the Internet
United States



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  THIS EDITION

COVER: Anatomy of a Prize
From an environmentalist in China to a mayor in the Philippines, Asiaweek presents the five extraordinary winners of the 2000 Ramon Magsaysay Awards
Public Service: Liang Congjie, China
Community Leadership: Aruna Roy, India
Media and the Arts: Atmakusumah Astraatmadja, Indonesia
International Understanding: Jockin Arputham, India
Government Service: Jesse M. Robredo, Philippines

EDITORIALS
Foreign Policy: Putin's diplomatic forays bode well for Asia

IT: Bringing more information technology to the great unwired

Letters & Comment: Against Vietnam's outspoken monk

THE NATIONS
DIPLOMACY: What came out — and didn't come out — of the G8 summit in Okinawa
Discontent: Resentment boils over in Naha over U.S. bases
ASEAN: The secretary-general talks about the group's bad rap

THAILAND: Samak defeats Thaksin's war chest to clinch Bangkok

CAMBODIA: The dilemma over the Khmer Rouge tribunal

INDONESIA: Wahid vs. parliament in the run-up to the MPR session
Megawati: Tired of following orders?

Newsmakers: Estrada's state of the nation address

Viewpoint: A growing sense of regionalism from Northeast Asia

INSIDE STORY
Arc of Conflict: Caught up in Asia's war zones, how can ordinary people make a difference in the search for peace?
Federalism: It's been tried, but a new model is needed
Maluku: An orphan tells of his fear
Sri Lanka: Love and race defy battle lines
Mindanao: A scholar - peacemaker refuses to wilt
Aceh: Losing hope and waiting to die

BUSINESS
Delayed Takeoff: The decision to put off the privatization of Thai Airways reflects poorly on the nation's economy
India: New Delhi is finally looking to privatize the skies

Investing: The rally in China stocks may be real

Business Buzz: Getting Ready for WTO Takeoff

TECHNOLOGY
Phones: Why China's local handset makers get no respect

Biochips: Computer scientists borrow from mother nature

Cutting Edge: Apple's New Crop

NEWSMAP
This week's news round-up by country

STATISTICS
The Bottom Line: Asiaweek's ranking of world economies


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