Barack Obama’s star quality shifted the focus of the event towards himself, and away from U.S. policy and its impacts.
U.S. President Barack Obama greeting an enthusiastic crowd after the Youth Town Hall at Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur. Original image from Getty Images.
After waiting in the blazing afternoon heat for over an hour, I was finally seated in the Dewan Tunku Canselor, the iconic hall of Malaysia’s oldest university, along with several hundred other youths – people under the age of 35 – from Malaysia and other ASEAN countries.
It was a relief to get into the air-conditioned hall in Universiti Malaya, which was looking in tip-top condition. Two large flags, of Malaysia and the United States, hung side by side, covering the far wall. Rows of chairs lined the hall’s four sides. In the center, a square black stage, with a teleprompter on either side of a podium which bore the seal of the President of the United States. Continue reading
This article was published in Loyarburok.
Doomed from the start – the AHRD | Badly drawn by Yu Ren Chung. Original picture from http://jvsc.jst.go.jp/find/sports_e/s02_sld/d2_mech/m40_tx.htm
Last week, Prime Minister Najib Razak and other ASEAN leaders signed a document called the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, or more fondly, the “AHRD”. In the ensuing days, much was said about the AHRD. ASEAN and governments praised it, the United Nations expressed caution, and civil society condemned it.
Many are disappointed with the Declaration, as am I. But honestly, were our expectations that high to begin with?
The AHRD was doomed from the start – doomed by poor and varied human rights standards among ASEAN countries coupled with a consensus style decision-making process, ASEAN’s compulsive focus on sovereignty and non-interference, a non-independent human rights commission, and a secretive and non-inclusive drafting process. Continue reading