Kick out the scoundrels / GMA playing with truth / Japan, China gouge-out

HERE'S THE SCORE - Teodoro C. Benigno -
Oh what a tangled web they weave when first they practise to deceive, was what we virtually said when the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) embraced Burma as a full member in the early 90s. This columnist sputtered and angrily questioned that membership. I even personally confronted then President Fidel Ramos about it. His lame excuse was that the Burmese leadership of rogue generals would eventually relent and reform, and that letting them in instead of treating them like a pariah would be good for the region.

That was a colossal blunder.

The generals haven’t reformed at all. They continue to confine Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest, treat this rose petal-gentle woman as they would a mad dog, and resist universal clamor that they respect the rights of the Burmese people. They now arrogantly claim that their treatment of Aung San Suu Kyi is nobody’s business but theirs and they are an independent country which can do as it pleases. Zounds!

This is fascist language derived from the Aryan hauteur of Adolph Hitler who figured he was strong enough to defy Europe, America and the whole world. This is also what the white supremacists in South Africa declared as they let loose the monster of apartheid and held Nelson Mandela prisoner for 26 years. Well, the generals of Burma have another guess coming. I figure they’ll blow up in less than three years, with nobody shedding tears at their carcasses.

I wonder why they’re so scared of Aung San Suu Kyi.

She is a wisp of a human being, pretty, a poignant haiku somebody said, a strand of hair falling over her left eyebrow, who talks the language of peace and would like nothing better than to arrive at a final reconciliation with her general captors. No, the generals would have nothing of that. In fact, during Aung San Suu Kyi’s last outing, a rare privilege accorded her, she was set upon by a pro-government mob and suffered injuries. To rub salt into all this, the government jailed her in a stuffy, smelly cell, where she remained for days until an exasperated world breathed outrage into the generals’ ears.

The foreign ministers of Asean are in a bind. They have protested Burma’s taking over chairmanship of the Asean in 2006. If again, they relent, a huge conclave of countries including America, the European Union and others could boycott Asean meetings. That would be disaster for Asean, which seeks greater Asian stature and greater and more effective bonding with the international community in the years ahead.

Of all the ministers, I understand, Philippine foreign affairs secretary Alberto Romulo has taken the strongest stand against Burma, and well he should, well this country should.

Aung San Suu Kyi is the Ninoy Aquino of Burma, the lone, fearless, intrepid symbol of "liberte, egalite, fraternite" which she triumphantly earned when her NLD party swept the national elections in 1990, then found itself pounded to rubble by the generals who jailed thousands of NLD leaders, including Suu Kyi of course.

Since then, the generals have treated them like scum, promising every year she would be liberated, promising, promising, and now virtually the whole world has denounced Burma the way they descended on the evils of apartheid with the threat of an international boycott, and so they released Mandela. And ended apartheid.

The Asean can do no less. It should call a spade a spade, stop fraternizing with generals who stink worse than a rathole, evict Burma from membership if need be, kicked the scoundrels into limbo. Go to it, Bert Romulo, bring the Philippines back to respectability.

You can do it, man, show ’em.
* * *
I suppose I am as close to the truth as Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is far from it. As I understand it, it was after a conversation with Pope John Paul II that she finally found the moral courage to renege on her palabra de honor to step down from politics and not run in the 2004 presidential elections. This, I think is humbug, hot hoosh and plain pastrami. In fact, I had a private conversation with GMA at the time street anti-Estrada demonstrations were shaking Metro Manila.

She had not joined any demonstration despite repeated attempts by COPA (Council on Philippine Affairs) to involve her. GMA assiduously stood by the sidelines, and I asked why she wouldn’t honor one demo with her presence and deliver a speech. After all, I said, if the demos should succeed, GMA as vice president would almost automatically vault to the presidency.

I cannot recall the lame excuses she volunteered at the time.

But I do recall having said that if she became president, it would be wise political strategy for her forces to coalesce with COPA. At the time COPA was riding high, spearheading the street demonstrations, and shaking the foundations of Estrada’s presidency to its rotten roots. GMA said she would think about it, but never, never did it come about that she would join the "bloodless revolution" that was EDSA II. In fact, she held COPA at arm’s length

Now she has spun the truth 180 degrees by invoking the Pope who is no longer around to confirm or deny her invocation of Mater et Magistra.

Truth to tell, GMA changed her mind about not running in 2004 because she was received like a princess at a White House reception by President George W. Bush then paranoid on Iraq. GMA was the quintessential "cold warrior" against terrorism and flung herself at Bush’s feet. I smelled this immediately and I was the first in media to venture the "fearless forecast" she would run in 2004 with the US president giving his unconditional blessing.

Indeed she did. And so how does Pope John Paul II now enter the picture?
* * *
It is Asia’s battle of the titans, China and Japan squaring off in what looks like a knock-down-and-drag-out affair in the years to come. It started out half-innocently enough. China as usual steamed as Japan’s Ministry of Education anew approved school textbooks Chinese claim whitewashed Japan’s wartime atrocities, particularly the so-called Rape of Nanking. This time however Chinese anger spilled as thousands of students stormed the Japanese embassy in Beijing and other Japanese establishments and caused, it seemed, considerable damage.

The Japanese ambassador huffily summoned the Chinese ambassador and demanded an apology.

The Chinese ambassador flatly refused, stared the Japanese government stonily in the face. "Up your ass!" the Chinese envoy virtually exclaimed, claiming Japan brought the whole thing on itself by sweeping Dai Nippon’s war atrocities under the rag. It is true, many observers say, that when it came to World War II, Japan’s memory was preposterously selective.

China can afford to be up in arms today because it has almost caught up with Japan economically and, militarily, is in the ascendant. Besides, many countries in the South and Southeast Asian region haven’t forgotten how Japan exploited them during the Second World War with its Asian Co-Prosperity scheme. That was outright brigandage.

The United States of late has seemingly unchained Japan from its anti-war constitution and seeks the military partnership of Dai Nippon in its apparent bid to perpetuate Pax Americana in the Asia-Pacific region. As a consequence, Japan is expected to play a crucial role in exploiting the suspected vast submarine oil and gas resources of the Spratley islands, and help interdict China from invading Taiwan.

As we have emphasized in so many columns, the world is fast changing. China and India, are seen to be teaming up where in the decade of the 60s and after, they were at each other’s throats, the Chinese army even streaming across the border towards New Delhi in a border war in 1962 that luckily did not explode further. The Chinese changed their minds and went back to China.

These two nations make up 40 percent of the world’s population and are now Asia’s two fastest economically progressing nations, China at a 10 percent clip, India at 6-7 percent. By the year 2050, according to Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew, either could dominate the world economically.











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