Activity Report (1998) Preface - Trends and Issues in 1998


NINETY-EIGHT LIKE 1997 was another tumultuous year for Asia: the continuing effects of the Asian Financial Crisis which eventually in 1998 spread to become a global economic crisis that effected most emerging markets. Nineteen-ninety-eight too, was the year, of the 10th anniversary of '8.8.88'-the general strike and pro-democracy movement in Myanmar; the end of the Khmer Rebellion in ambodia; the succession of Habibie as President of Indonesia replacing President Soeharto who was pressed to resign by rising dissatisfaction of the people of Indonesia because of rising prices and the lack of political reform; the 4th National election in Laos; continued political struggle in Malaysia which accumulated at the time of the arrest of Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim; shaken hopes of democracy in Papua New Guinea as a result of a military mutiny; the election of Joseph Estrada as President of the Philippines; while experiencing massive financial and economic problems the government of Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai was able to complete one year in office; the 15th Congress of the Communist Party of China which concentrated on the strengthening of economic ideals took place in Beijing; North Korea launched a Taepo Dong missile across the Sea of Japan; South Korea was still feeling the crisis which had begun to hit in 1997 so much so that all gains from the last 8 years had been completely wiped out; Bangladesh had some of the worst flooding in recent years and experienced delays in the implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Accord; Nepal continued to experience many political problems with characteristically violent party rivalries within the coalition government; Bhutan began to introduce a major decentralizing program and dissolved the long standing governing cabinet; and India conducted five nuclear tests on May 7 th and 9 th which then prompted Pakistan to test six nuclear devices on the 28th and 30th of May; therefore openly declaring India and Pakistan as nuclear powers.

As was the case in 1997, the Asian Financial Crisis continued to cause tremendous instability in financial markets around the region, and also caused a large amount of political and social unrest. This so to speak conflict between economics, political and social re-structuring after the deflation of the Asian miracle reflected heavily on many aspects of daily life and the interaction of Asian countries with each other as well as with the rest of the world. From the point of the collapse of the Thai Baht in July 1997 until the present time, there is no shortage of scholars, politicians, economists or social activists who have not contemplated the fabled ideal of "Asian Values." As we mentioned earlier, this discussion is not just being generated within Asia itself, but is being used by Western individuals as one of the main reasons behind the downfall of the
economic tiger of Southeast and East Asia.

With this, several of the Asia Center's own programs have provided a venue for such reflections: this is perhaps one of the advantages of intellectual exchange modalities that allow for flexibility of theme and approach. Other self-initiated programs-e.g., Japan-India after the Test Explosions of Nuclear Bombs-took on new meaning because of the timely necessity to allow dialogue about this very important issue to be established.

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