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FOCUS December 1997 Volume 10

Asian Turmoil

Editorial

The continuing economic crisis in several Asian countries changed the image of booming economic progress of the region. It dampened the projection of the 21st century as the era of the Asia-Pacific.

There is no other way but to review and redo the system that had caused fast economic growth for at least twenty years in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea, and even Hong Kong.

This crisis undoubtedly hurts most those who belong to lowest levels of the economic strata - the ordinary workers especially. The negative effect can likewise spread to other less privileged sectors of society such as those in the rural areas.

It is ironic that the bitter medicine prescribed to be able to recover from the crisis will have to be shouldered by everyone when the system that caused the crisis was created and sustained by the economic elites of these countries. How much protection is there for those who have the least economic means to shield themselves from the effects of economic slowdown?

This economic crisis also brings out the link that closely ties the countries in this region. ASEAN set up a system of helping affected member-countries within the International Monetary Fund framework. Japan has to contribute financially to bail out some of the affected countries to protect its own huge economic investments. Singapore has come forward to help Indonesia's financial need.

This turmoil is an indication of a fault in the systems in Asian societies. It shows how freedom that is limited to economic activities failed to create structures that protect those who are most vulnerable to economic downturns. It also shows how unaccountable people in the government and business circles lead their own country to both economic prosperity and ruin.


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