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New Life: 'Dawn is breaking on the bio-economy era, when health care will take the form of genetic interventions, vaccines come in the shape of a fruit and spare body parts are grown from stem cells.' — Oct. 6

Kudos for highlighting the biotech business ["Can Asia Catch Up?" COVER STORY, Oct. 6], which is of great significance to the growth and development of the region. The Asian people's genomics of Kyoto-based Takara Shuzo is one of several projects with immense potential ["Genes On a Chip"]. Such projects not only advance the science for the benefit of mankind but generate economic growth, as Asia has a rich skilled manpower resource. Since this is a new technology, governments will have to modernize their regulatory processes relating to testing, evaluation and registration of new drugs and gene therapy. A lot is happening also in agribiotechnology, which is important for Asia as it faces the challenge of feeding its billions.
Partha Dasgupta
Novartis India

Your COVER question is pertinent: Can Asia catch up? Among the companies involved in biotech, there is a heavy reliance on Japan and Singapore. It would have been insightful in answering this if a wider cross-section of the biotech industry, including government roles, was examined — in Thailand, Philippines and Malaysia. The reason biotech is undergoing a boom in Europe and the United States is dynamic efforts by governments to build so-called biotech parks. In Asia, there exists little of the coordination needed to jumpstart a biotech boom.
Godwin Vivar
via the Internet

Hope and Agony in Jolo

In "Going Nowhere Slowly" [THE NATIONS, Oct. 6], you reported the question, "Is the military operation worth all the sacrifices?" in reference to the rescue and offensive operations being implemented by our armed forces in Sulu. Our answer is a resounding "yes," considering that 14 of the 19 hostages seized by the terrorist Abu Sayyaf group have so far been recovered by our soldiers. The recovery of the 14 only proves that President Joseph Ejercito Estrada was right in ordering the military three weeks ago to rescue the hostages and crush the Abu Sayyaf. As the president has repeatedly said, the military solution was a tough call he had to take to prevent the group from pushing our country deep into a never-ending cycle of hostage-taking.

Your readers can rest assured that the safe recovery of the remaining five hostages is still the No. 1 priority of the administration. The president has reiterated his original directive for soldiers to put the hostages out of harm's way in their all-out drive to neutralize the Abu Sayyaf.
Michael T. Toledo
Press Undersecretary
MalacaNang, Manila

I agree with Libyan mediator Abdul Rajab Azzarouq that too many cooks spoiled the broth in the handling of the Jolo hostage crisis ["Too Much Time Wasted," THE NATIONS, Oct. 6]. When the crisis began several months ago, there was no clear strategy to solve it, and it also wasn't clear who was the real representative of the Philippine government. Many claimed that they had the government's consent to be involved in negotiations with the kidnappers.

As a foreigner working in the Philippines, I believe the government handled the issue insensitively, and at times addressed problems in an ad hoc way. The poor, mostly Muslim, southern region has long been a time-bomb in the Philippines. The government doesn't have a concrete long-term plan to improve livelihoods. And there is no understanding of the real situation in the south by the majority Christians, including the slightly-better-off people to the north. Most of these people don't mix with the Muslims, and treat them like they are all terrorists.

Therefore, even if the Abu Sayyaf are totally destroyed, unless there is a thorough plan to improve livelihoods in this region and the understanding of it, there will no permanent peace in this country.
Cornelius Choi
via the Internet

Appeal From Ex-Hostages

It has been one month since our release after being held hostage by the Abu Sayyaf in the southern Philippines for four months. Our hearts and prayers are with those who are still held hostage and have to go through the terror of military attacks, and with their families, who live each day in fear.

We are especially thinking of the Philippine hostage, Roland Ullah, who was captured with us on Sipadan Island in Malaysia [on April 23]. We would once again appeal to the administration of President Joseph Estrada to ensure the safe release of the remaining hostages [besides Ullah, three Malaysians and an American].

Those who did wrong will have to answer for their deeds one day and justify what they did. It seems that once again only God can bring about a solution and ultimately will be the judge. Till then the guilty will live in fear. We will keep on praying for all the innocents who have become victims of this terrible situation.
Callie and Monique Strydom
via the Internet
South Africa

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Quick Scroll: More stories from Asiaweek, TIME and CNN


U.S. secretary of state says China should be 'tolerant'

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Thai party announces first coalition partner


COVER: President Joseph Estrada gives in to the chanting crowds on the streets of Manila and agrees to make room for his Vice President

THAILAND: Twin teenage warriors turn themselves in to Bangkok officials

CHINA: Despite official vilification, hip Chinese dig Lamaist culture

PHOTO ESSAY: Estrada Calls Snap Election

WEB-ONLY INTERVIEW: Jimmy Lai on feeling lucky -- and why he's committed to the island state


COVER: The DoCoMo generation - Japan's leading mobile phone company goes global

Bandwidth Boom: Racing to wire - how underseas cable systems may yet fall short

TAIWAN: Party intrigues add to Chen Shui-bian's woes

JAPAN: Japan's ruling party crushes a rebel at a cost

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

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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?

COVER: Japan: A new generation is coming up with individualistic solutions that will ultimately change the nation
Looking Glass: Novelist Murakami Ryu sees a dim future
Transformations: Japan changed before. It can happen again

PHILIPPINES: Is the end coming for President Estrada?
• Juentang money: Estrada defends himself against the claims
Record: The litany of unending controversies
Interview: Accuser Singson tells his side of the story

MYANMAR: Universities are open again, and one academic — former dictator Ne Win's wife — is happy

INDONESIA: The attorney general is not done with Suharto
Population: Family planning is threatened

TIBET: As Tibetan exiles battle for power, Beijing seeks greater control over their homeland
Interview: What the Dalai Lama sees in Tibet's future
Reincarnation: The politics of Buddhism's central mystery
Interview: Tibetan "traitor" Ngabo Ngawang Jigme

People: The naked truth about Taiwan pop star Coco Lee

Art: Thai artist Vasan Sitthiket is rude, crude and proud of it

Health: Rating the top websites on diabetes

Books: Introducing sex by the numbers

Gloom: Consumers are worried despite Korea's good numbers

Banks: Are Taiwan's financial institutions under threat?

Telecom: Troubles for Malaysia's largest cellphone operator

Investing: The next course for Bangkok's bourse

Shakeout: Chinese portals merge as dead dotcoms pile up

GigaMedia: A talk with the man who said no to PCCW

Cutting Edge: PC Witch -Head for the Woods, Gamer


Taiwan: President Chen needs to build a real coalition

God: Christianity's struggle for China and India

Letters & Comment: Can Asian biotech catch up?

The Bottom Line: Asiaweek's ranking of world economies

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