Fri, 11 Mar 2005

From: Jawawa

~Labor crunch

Having postponed the amnesty period over and again, the government has finally taken the decisive step to flush out illegal foreign workers still lurking in the country.

After the raid operation, the construction and manufacturing industries have suffered serious labor shortage; many eateries have gone out of business; sales at sundry shops have dropped drastically; the oil palm industry is in tatters. In other words, thanks to a lack of timely preventive measures, foreseeable consequences have materialized.

The government has turned down the proposals to legalize illegal foreign workers on the spot. Now the government is sending away these illegals and want them to spend some money to come back here through legal channels. The sheer waste in resources should have been avoided.

While we still need a lot of foreign workers in this country, any strategy related to foreign labor should therefore be far- sighted. There is no point making a lot of noise and then allow everything to fall back to square one again.

-- Sin Chew Daily, Selangor, Malaysia

Direct elections in Egypt

President Hosni Mubarak has just called for the Constitution to be amended so as to allow more than one candidate to run for president in direct and free elections. Commentators argue that no candidate can pose a credible challenge to Mubarak.

Egypt is emerging from half a century of patriarchal rule during which the president's charisma and the backing of the military hindered the search for political alternatives. In patriarchal regimes the leader is projected as father to the entire nation and the thought of his absence is often disconcerting.

The public, as well as the opposition, have lived for a long time in this climate. There may not be enough candidates capable of catching the nation's imagination. Yet this is a historic opportunity. The election has to be fair and free. It will test the nation's political maturity as much as it will test the candidates already waiting in the wings. -- Al-Ahram, Cairo

Argentina's debt restructuring

The best thing about Argentina's successful US$100 billion debt restructuring is that it holds the promise of ridding the country of its status as an economic pariah and improving the lives of its citizens.

It's easy to forget, amid all the self-congratulation by the Argentine government, that the mismanagement of the economy led to six years of lost growth, an increase in poverty, job loss on a massive scale and general social and economic misery. Bankruptcy isn't pretty.

At a time when Latin America is beginning to feel the competitive economic pressure from China, the Argentine deal gives potential investors reasons to think twice about investing in Latin America. By forcing investors to settle for 30 cents on the dollar - a new low in such a massive default - Argentina has increased the risk premium, which potential lenders and investors would be foolish to ignore.

-- Miami Herald

The litigation game

We are all too conversant with the proclivity of party in power to involve its political opponents in litigation on corruption charges. The process commences, soon after a newly elected government has taken over the reins of power, sometimes with the issuing of what is euphemistically called a 'white paper' containing 'black deeds' of the past government, preceded by a period of witch hunting aided by various agencies.

We ask whether these cases are really motivated by the desire to root out corruption from public domain starting with the politicians or it is merely a ploy to wreak vendetta and reprisal on the political opponents?

We are constrained to make the query, given the outcome of most of these cases we have seen all these years, that are either quashed by the court for lack of evidence or are set aside particularly in respect of those that were against the ruling party members, by the party in power. Regrettably, we are yet to see a juridical conclusion of or any conviction in, any of the cases.

Corruption must be curbed at all costs and by all manner and means, and dishonest individuals must be called to account, whatever be the rank or political status, but such action must not be bereft of objectivity and transparency. -- The Daily Star, Dhaka