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OCTOBER 13, 2000 VOL. 26 NO. 40 | SEARCH ASIAWEEK

Letters
Oil Price Hike: 'OPEC controls just 40% of world oil, and the prices now may be its last hurrah. The day is fast approaching when an alternative-fuel, environmentally friendly car becomes affordable.' — BUSINESS, Sept. 29

"The stone age came to an end not for a lack of stones, and the oil age will end but not for a lack of oil," you quoted an Arab oil sheikh as saying ["All You Need to Know," BUSINESS, Sept. 29]. The sheikh was Ahmed Zaki Yamani, spokesman for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) during the tumultuous 1970s. He also predicted that in 20 years technology will cut deep into demand, while big new finds will lift crude flows from areas outside the OPEC countries.

In the meantime, I ask strikers and road-blockers worldwide to consider that their actions will only create more panic and more crisis. My family is trying its best to save oil. We are moving so that dad and mom's office is closer to the kids' school and our home.

I also call on members of the World Trade Organization to act in response to the latest oil crisis, which can be of more benefit to all of us than calling on smaller countries to open their markets for opportunists. Should not oil prices be an essential part of a WTO round?
Surach
[name & address provided]
Bangkok


Three Indian ministers had the courage to resign from Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's government in protest against a steep hike in the prices of petroleum products which has hit the poorer sections of society very badly. The three — Minister for Railways Mamata Banerjee, Minister of State for External Affairs Ajit Panja and Minister of State for Agriculture Satyanarayana Rao — must stick to their decision and not withdraw their resignations or they will lose the goodwill of the poor of India.

We have been hearing lame excuses from the government as to why the prices of petroleum products, especially diesel, kerosene and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), cannot be kept stable and have been increased. They will be increased again drastically in future. Why has inflation not been controlled? The falling value of the rupee is making the cost of petroleum products much higher in India than the increase in their prices in dollars. Why has the rupee been allowed to slide by about 30% in the last two-and-a-half years under a government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party?

Why does the government not realize that the fuel price hike will lead to spiraling commodity prices? The expected agitations against inflation will destabilize the economy as well as the government, whose downfall has begun with the resignations of the three ministers.
Ashok T. Jaisinghani
Pune, Maharashtra
India


Freeing the Hostages

The strategy employed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines in unleashing its might against the Abu Sayyaf in Jolo pressured the group to the extent that hostages got the chance to escape and were rescued by the military ["Getting Tough," THE NATIONS, Sept. 29]. The small unit or commando type tactics, envisioned by some leading people, if employed against the Abu Sayyaf could have had a disastrous effect on the government and the hostages. Small-unit operations employed in a terrain of which they have better knowledge would be welcomed by the Abu Sayyaf. Also, they have the intelligence support in the area. All they would need to do is wait in ambush and have a heyday killing government troopers.
Venerando S. Vergara
Cebu City


Of course local emissaries had to wet their beaks too ["My Conscience Is Clear," THE NATIONS, Sept. 29]. After all, it is standard operating procedure in all Philippine government transactions to deduct at least a 10% commission. Now it has ballooned to a 40% take. When negotiations like those over the Jolo hostages amount to millions of dollars, it is pretty hard to prove what really transpired. It's a lot easier using phrases like "My conscience is clear." No, Mr. Aventajado, we haven't heard anything at all about the $10 billion worth of projects you are handling, but we heard about the smuggled luxury vehicles that the present administration doled out to all cabinet members for free. There's a saying that "Even those who work the milk of human kindness cannot help but spill some of it on themselves."
J. Hernani M. Parco
Kalibo, Akean
Philippines


Parallel Paths
I enjoyed NEWSMAKERS ["Making Nice on the Potomac," Sept. 29] in which you explained the increasing closeness of India and America. In the digital economy, English plays a vital role and there is no doubt that the U.S. and software superpower India are finding common ground. The strength of India is its modern and excellent education system plus a vibrant middle class of about 400 million. India and its skilled workforce will be a second home for Americans and the U.S. will be a second home for Indians.
K. Ravindran
Singapore

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