Rise of Asia Forum – A summary

I attended this forum last night at the NUS Alumni House. It was quite a pleasant evening with good weather and good company. The session started off in pretty good mood with Viswa Sadasivan, the NMP, in the chair, and throwing a dig at Kishore, reminding him of his reputation as an apologist for a dictator. Kishore’s friendly replied was to remind Viswa of his whacking by the dictator.

This kind of talk must have astounded the audience but not all got the message. A young foreign student later told the forum that he was reminded to be careful when he opened his mouth in this country. Kishore reassured him that both he and Viswa would not be arrested after the forum and so there was nothing to fear really.

The main gist of the forum was how, after 60 to 70 years of independence, the Asians are still lacking confidence to think like Asians and have to speak and write with a western agenda behind their writings and ideas. And the Europeans still think that it is their right to dominate the world in all fields when their colonial past have long been resigned to history.

If one is to read the Asian media, one cannot go away without reading one sided articles coming out from the desks of CIA or other American and European intelligence agencies. And the stupidity of it all is that the Asian media probably have to pay for such craps. And these western paid writers are filling the pages of Asian media, writing about the impending demise of the rising Asian countries, corruption and collapse of their economies and polities. They forgot that the American and European economies are already in the abyss. The IMF Chief was not anywhere to twist the arms of the American President or the Presidents of the PIGS countries to sign on the dotted line for financial reform like they did to Suharto, in glee.

But last night was all talks, talks of an Asian cultural renaissance, from Asians growing up in a diet of roti prata, nasi lemak and char kway teow. Not the kind of Asians that were fed with hamburgers and have a head full of baked beans.

Would Kishore take it one step further, with his intellectual and political influence, to rein in the media and make them report Asia by Asians, seen from Asian eyes, and the thoughts and views of Asians? Or would nothing be changed and more bacon and eggs are being fed to the empty Asian minds, daily, by the unthinking ‘western’ Asian media?

The rise of Asia, if it is to be, must be comprehensive and not just economics. The colonial hangover must have been long gone, gone with the wind, and the Asians should be sailing in a new wind, the wind of Asia, be confident to speak out their minds with their own agenda, not the hidden western agenda that is crystal clear to even the dullest Asian mind. Would Asia rise? This is will depend greatly on the Asian renaissance, of a complexity of people growing out of the ruins of western colonisation of the Asian minds.


Anonymous said...

very good, so can he not licked up LKY agendas. where is his balls/

Anonymous said...

When the west controls the media, they control what the Asians read, how the Asians think, follow their agenda and manipulate their thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Here he is bashing western media. How about this - Which part of Asian media (e.g. Straits times,china daily or for that matter asian media empire) do you like best?
If we accuse western media have hidden agenda, how many viewing asian media with propaganda agenda and mouthpiece for their dictatorial government who are just out to suppress, in the name of "nation building"?
So much so that they can't even accept what is "robust criticism" or "differential views" without broad brushing all such "alternative views" as destructive, not promoting harmony, politicization, anger/rage or even "statements like these are not helpful"?

Come on..I will take the western free press anytime and have my own thinking hat than being fed just rojak from a single party point of view.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

All media, Asian or Western, are quite objective or critical when reporting other people's news.

When domestic news is concerned, they all suffered from the same sickness to a matter of degree. A dictatorial regime or near dictatorial regime will have fuller control of their domestic media. That is why our local media ranking is so high. No one is disputing this fact.

Generally many Asian media do not have good local English reporters and relied mindlessly on westerners to write about them or inter state politics in the region. This is where the westerners have a free hand to dictate the agenda and thoughts of Asians.

Then there are some Asian countries that are either semi colonies or have developed incestuous relationship with the west and allow western agenda to be printed as the conventional truth in their local media.

The media is a very powerful tool and needs to be handled carefully as there are many innocent readers imbibing everything as truth or unconsciously being supplanted with other people's views which they thought were their views.

Anonymous said...


Jonathan said...

Why see the world in terms of "Western vs. Asian" dichotomy? I believe that there is no need to argue over a false dispute. Western or Asian, the important thing is to recognize whether the ideas brings about progress in human development.

If we start to look at the world in the Western/Asian divide, then we are just falling into the trap of social stereotype, just at an international level. Still remember those silly arguments like "women are more suited to stay at home" or "men are better at decision making"?

Western/Asian divide is just one big hoax and stereotype.

Anonymous said...

Had the Forum been held using Asian Languages, then Asia has arrived. Unfortunately, I believe the speakers and audience were thinking and speaking in angmo languages. Many might have forgotten and did not understand their mother languages anymore. The Roots of most Asians have rotted and are now supplanted by the English Language. Many Asians think and speak in English, eat with fork, spoon and knife, drink champagnes and wines, marry whites and almost all had discarded their own traditions and cultures(especially fashion).
The DECLINE OF ASIA is tellingly so without any need of a forum.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

I can't disagree with your assertion. It was English that was used in the discussion. Actually everything in there, including the equipment and technology are western or western inventions.

It will take a long time for Asia to rise and create a new model and a new world. The old world of Asia was destroyed by the West with their own technology and some borrowed technology.

The new Asia will have to create new technology by building on what the West have developed. It is a kind of synthesis of sort.

The dichotomy of East and West is not going to go away. Actually it is not East vs West, it is European culture against the rest of the world. The strength of European culture is that they are able to come together, join forces while dividing the rest of the world into individual parts for their conquest.

Look at what is happening in the Middle East, Iraq and now Libya. The whole European and American forces are united to bash the Libyans. Whether you like Gaddafi or not is a separate issue. What is happening is a wolf pack whacking a lonely enemy. Victory is assured. The selfish and dumb world looks on helplessly.

This is the victorious formula of the West against the rest of the world. And they will keep the rest of the world divided for their self serving interests. And of course, it needs a stupid world with selfish interests in some individuals to allow this to happen. The West will play on the ego of some individuals to achieve their goals.

It is not the West vs East but West versus the rest of the world.

Anonymous said...

English is the western language. But, equipment, science and technology cannot be labeled as western stuff even though they are invented or designed or made by the western people. These are the products of modernization. These need not be only done by westerners as Japan proved it. Why would western style clothing dominated the world? Because it is cost effective and efficient. Because it is modern. Why China people has to abandon the Qing dynasty dresses? Why today's cheongsam is different from those worn by Qing dynasty people? It is the modernization of cheongsam and unfortunately people see it as westernized Cheongsam.

It is therefore not Asian vs Western. Rather, it is Asian vs Modern. Unfortunately, such debate is used by some dictators and their followers to perpetuate unaccountable, opaque, dynasty style and undemocratic rules. This will delay the advancement and progress of modernization in Asia. There is no point to debate Asian vs Western. It should blend the best of both world to achieve modern culture and value. Western goes a long way from dynasty style culture to today's democracy. Do you think they are on the wrong path? This must be a joke.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Modernity and technological advancement are universal. The issue of the West versus the world is a political issue, an issue of domination and control.

The Rise of Asia is not just about economic and cultural ascension. It has to do with political independence and to be treated equally, with equal opportunities in all fields and endeavours.

During the forum, Kishore mentioned about the fall of the French man from the top job in IMF. And quickly the French proclaimed that that job belonged to the French. And with the western domination of such organisation, IMF, World Banks, UN, they took the job as if it is their right. The rest of the world, sorry, the top post is a western reservation.

Such contest for domination over others will continue until all countries are equal and compete on merit and ability, not because it is someone else private turf.