Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: "Orderly transition" in #Egypt

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  • Dismal Soyanz, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    Singapore does see itself as ‘west’ though and the desire of a smallish sector in Malaysia to do likewise is a reason amongst many that festering hodge podge of discontent could explode at any time.

    Singapore is an interesting (in an anthropological sense) mixing of influences. However, whether the average Singaporean thinks they are "Western" or "Asian" is quite a different matter. I never felt that any of the Singaporeans I knew/interacted with ever considered themselves "westernised". Certainly they would be comfortable with many institutions that are common across western countries, and they drink Coke, drive BMWs and watch Hollywood films. But they also "take" teh tarik, ride the MRT and buses and watch Asian films. [And yes, these are things that may be an indication of development but that's different from being "westernised".]

    From a political/national perspective I can see the "west" leaning. For example, although it has several national languages, the lingua franca of government is English. Administratively this was easier to maintain after independence but by not an absolute necessity.

    As for Malaysia, there are significant groups which are unhappy with the political system - along both racial and ideological lines. Explode is somewhat dramatic though. Support for the PKR doesn't seem vehement enough to generate massive protests. The security services, while obviously targetting political activists and opponents of UMNO, don't seem to be noticeably overt. Any time? I think there would need to be a combination of major economic ructions (accompanied by increasingly obvious wealth disparity) for dissent to really threaten "the system". I think you are more likely to see BN lose its mandate at the polls than a revolution on the streets of KL.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2010 • 310 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Dismal Soyanz,

    However, whether the average Singaporean thinks they are "Western" or "Asian" is quite a different matter. I never felt that any of the Singaporeans I knew/interacted with ever considered themselves "westernised".

    I was talking about the government, not the population at large and they've been very open in their desire to aspire to the west. In the Museum of Singapore some of Lee Kwan Yew's speeches from the early 1960s are available to view. They're quite illuminating. We need to 'westernize' was a recurrent theme.

    to generate massive protests.

    Really?

    The water cannons were out in KL twice last year too - I witnessed the aftermath of one such incident. It hardy caused a murmur in the media but it happened.

    I don't think we will see Egyptian level protests in the near future there but there is increasingly vocal and growing discontent especially amongst the South Asian population who have neither economic (Chinese) nor political (Malay) power.

    Malaysia seems to exist at the moment as several nations running rather unequally on parallel tracks rather than one unitary state.

    Edit: water cannons on the streets of KL this last week

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Dismal Soyanz,

    Protests of 3-5,000 where the Klang Valley has a population of 7+ million.

    Contrast that to Cairo which has population of 17 million, and how many tens of thousands were protesting even during the "quiet" periods.

    I guess it depends on how you interpret "massive".

    Given the context of the Mason article, it is the nature of the protesters that was being described as "westernised."

    Wellington • Since Nov 2010 • 310 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Dismal Soyanz,

    Protests of 3-5,000 where the Klang Valley has a population of 7+ million

    What number do you reckon constitutes a tipping point into 'massive', noting of course that it was you who introduced the word massive into the text, replacing my 'festering' - and that I said 'I don't think we will see Egyptian level protests in the near future'.

    Myself, I tend to think that the government using tear gas and water cannons on a large peaceful opposition protest, not once but several times in an 18 month period (up from none in the previous 18 months) may be an indicator that all is not well. I guess we disagree on that.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Dismal Soyanz, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    ahhh. PERC - used to read them a lot. Out of touch with them recently but I used to find that they missed quite a few of the on-the-ground subtleties.

    I agree that there are political tides that are pushing Malaysia and will see more protests and tear gas and water cannon. I take your point on frequency but I'd rather wait to see if it is maintained before saying that was indicative of anything more substantial. Like I say, I think the elections will be the more likely avenue of major political change than the demands of protesters.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2010 • 310 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Dismal Soyanz,

    but I used to find that they missed quite a few of the on-the-ground subtleties.

    Another thing to throw into the mix - the common wisdom in Indonesia is that much of the Islamic trouble in recent years comes via Malaysia, which is a route for the Arab money and the training camps in the Southern Philippines (although these seem to have more recently shifted to Aceh).

    The Indonesians tend to blame the Malaysians for anything they can't lay on the Dutch though so I take that with a grain.

    I agree that the Malay peninsula, despite the repeated vocal concerns in Singapore of recent is hardly likely to erupt into an Egyptian scenario or anything close. However the inequity in the social, political and economic strata is, to use my earlier word, festering and festering badly.

    Of more concern to me right now is the fact that Cambodia and Thailand have just closed their borders.

    Talk about a fracas that has no point....

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    Of more concern to me right now is the fact that Cambodia and Thailand have just closed their borders.

    As the PAS freelance wire reporter on the spot, what can you tell us about the background to this?

    And how do you feel (obviously)?

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Angus Robertson,

    Talk about a fracas that has no point....

    Thailand is facing massive internal dissent and a traditional remedy for that is to cook up an external enemy. Also if Thaksin is involved with the Cambodian regime, a fighting war makes the red shirts look "un-Thai".

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 984 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    Some more on social networking and activism in Egypt.

    And a bit about the surprising complexity of common knowledge, skip to page three to miss the maths.

    It's possible to give someone information by telling them something they all ready know.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Dismal Soyanz, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    Talk about a fracas that has no point….

    Oh I dunno. You kick an invading power out, 600 years later they're back.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2010 • 310 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    From The Guardian’s liveblog:

    11.45pm GMT: The protests in Egypt have sparked an appetite for news among American TV viewers, with the evening news programmes getting their biggest viewing audiences for years.

    The latest TV ratings from Nielsen reveals that NBC’s Nightly News had its biggest weekly average audience in six years last week. NBC’s news anchor Brian Williams presented the programme from Cairo for NBC’s top-rated newscast. ABC and CBS also reported the best news ratings for a number of years.

    From Pew:

    Last week’s turmoil in the Middle East registered as the biggest international story in the past four years- – surpassing any coverage of the Iraq war, the Haiti earthquake and the conflict in Afghanistan.

    From Jan. 31-Feb. 6, the Middle East saga, driven by televised images of the protests and power struggle in Egypt, filled 56% of the newshole studied by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. Not only was that easily the biggest overseas story in a single week since PEJ began its News Coverage Index in January 2007. It registered as the fourth-biggest story of any kind – trailing only two weeks in the 2008 presidential campaign and the aftermath of the Jan. 8, 2011 Tucson shooting spree.

    The events in the Middle East have accounted for more than half of all US news coverage.

    And the US networks have been all over this, brief, extraordinary interview with the freed Google staffer Wael Ghonim:

    These are bloody interesting times for the news business.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I guess people like the idea of a real revolution, rather than an externally imposed one. Something about it just feels right. I feel empowered by it, I must say, and I'm not even in a dictatorship. There's something awesome about people fighting off oppression, especially when it's done (mostly) peacefully.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    I'll be interested in the long term effects of the wider US public learning that Al Jazeera aren't all bad and can be interesting watching.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Dismal Soyanz, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    It’s probably dropped of the Al Jazeera website but I noticed a few days ago they had a comparison of web searches for Al Jazeera vs Foxnews.

    Someone’s ass dun get whupped.

    ETA: Someone else liked it enough to capture it

    Wellington • Since Nov 2010 • 310 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Rich Lock,

    Thailand is facing massive internal dissent and a traditional remedy for that is to cook up an external enemy.

    The internal dissent is there, but I don't think that's it. And the scale of societal breakdown and supposed drift to civil war was largely a creation of offshore sub-editors demanding a story from acquiescent reporters.

    I think Dismal Soyanz, has it:

    600 years later

    In Asia as in the Middle East these things simply don't just fade into history.

    And how do you feel (obviously)?

    Bizarrely the border closure is now just in a very small area and the trans-national tourism, and normal flights continue elsewhere. Here, in BKK, you almost read about it as if it was in another country. It's not a big deal day to day.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Dismal Soyanz, in reply to Dismal Soyanz,

    Figured out how this google-interweb-myface thingy works.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2010 • 310 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Rich Lock,

    As the PAS freelance wire reporter on the spot, what can you tell us about the background to this?

    I think wiki gets it fairly well, although diplomatically sidesteps the bigger issue of ancient national enmity, and as Angus says, Thaksin sitting in Phnom Penh in 2009 didn't help the relationship .

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    More Fisk.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Christiaan,

    So it seems the time for "orderly transition" has passed.

    London, UK • Since Dec 2006 • 121 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    He's certainly a stubborn bugger, isn't he?

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Bevan Shortridge,

    And here I was getting ready for the spam beginning "I am the former president of Egypt and I need assistance to transfer money out of the country..."

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 122 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    Perhaps it was the translation but Mubarak's speech this morning was the deepest dung-pile of self-serving tosh I have heard for a long while.,

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2558 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Yeah... blame the translator, eh? :-)

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Dismal Soyanz,

    I've only read some excerpts of his speech via the newswires.

    Just what is it that Mubarak believes he will achieve by staying on?

    Given the amazingly peaceful way in which the protests have evolved in combination with the Army's refusal to get drawn into taking a position (and thus refraining from using force on either side), it hardly seems that his removal would result in social disorder or even a power vacuum.

    I have some sympathy for the view that constitutional changes are needed and these need to be thought through properly but then Mubarak doesn't need to be there for that to happen.

    My inner conspiracy-theorist says he might be buying time to ensure that either he or or those close to him have time to hurriedly shift assets into offshore havens. Either that or the other members of the elite are so concerned that his departure would expose them and that they need to manipulate the transition so that the resulting power structure continues to protect them.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2010 • 310 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    If power passes to Suleiman then we can expect a nightmare.
    Suleiman: The CIA's man in Cairo

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

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