Monday, March 24, 2008


Inflation rears its nasty head in Bolivia.

I used to pay $US1.50 for a simple lunch at one of my favorite restaurants. It now costs close to $US3.00. Prices, especially food stuff, have soared. And like a fatal epidemic, prices of other consumer goods have also fallen victim to rising prices. I´ve been here 14 years; this is my first experience of rabid latin american inflation.

The government accuses business corporations of hoarding and have decreed a temporary ban on exports of locally produced food stuff. The business community have predictably pointed the finger at government mismanagment.

The lower middle class and the poor are the hardest hit. A watchmen told me this morning - we just eat less and our stomachs get smaller. And to make things even more difficult, salaries have not risen to match rising prices.

Pray for Bolivia!!!

Monday, March 10, 2008


Tsunami or a Search?

Yeah it was a Tsunami all right. The ruling party lost its 2/3 majority. Cabinet ministers lost their seats and 5 state assemblies fell to the opposition.

Lim Guan Eng, leader of the Democratic Action Party (DAP) is the new Penang Chief Minister, Whew!

Many, including opposition leaders were expecting the Barison Nasional (BN) to lose seats and eke out a 2/3 majority; few expected the BN to lose so much ground to oppostion parties.

Yesterday's election results however reveal a nation not afraid to break new ground and test new socio - political arrangements; there might even be the beginnings of a new ruling coalition arrangement if the opposition groups win the confidence of the people.

Could a two party system, not unlike the one in Britain and elsewhere, emerge in Malaysia?

A definitive answer is not forthcoming but yesterday's results reveal a willingness to perhaps test the waters. And for this reason our neighbours across the causeway deserve our admiration. They are a willing to take a risk and look for new political arrangements. Perhaps what we witnessed yesterday was not only a Tsunami but an awakening or a search for a different kind of Malaysia.

Yes, there may have been legitimate reasons for voting against the current ruling coalition. And maybe this "vote against" will herald a new social reality which includes a vibrant alternative ruling party. Time will tell.

Something is happening in Malaysia...