REVIEW MUSINGS: Analysing “Poor Peoples’ Movements”

Indonesian politics and Poor People’s Movements: Why They Succeed, How They Fail by Francis Fox Piven and Richard A. Cloward. Continue reading “REVIEW MUSINGS: Analysing “Poor Peoples’ Movements””

AUSTRALIA: “Labor stirs anti-refugee hysteria”

Kerry Vernon has written a new article on the current mistreatment of people trying to reach Australiaby boat via Indonesia hoping to apply for residence in Australia as refugees. She starts by saying:

“Tamil asylum seekers from Sri Lanka, diverted from entering Australia and put on the Australian Customs ship Oceanic Viking, had been refusing food for two days and refusing to leave the ship at Kijang for the Indonesian immigration detention prison, Tanjung Pinang, on Bintan Island on October 26. It had been more than a week since the 78 asylum seekers, including a sick 12-year-old girl, were put aboard the Australian ship after being intercepted by the Indonesian navy on October 11 and diverted from reaching Australia in a deal between Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

The Rudd government’s offshore processing deal with Indonesia means that Canberra will provide Jakarta with at least $50 million, on top of $12 million already spent renovating and building detention centres and $7.9 million on border control management. Rudd’s refugee deals with Indonesia, and Malaysia, are under increasing scrutiny since news reports revealed that Afghan detainees in Australian-funded Tanjung Pinang detention centre have been beaten by guards. According to the ABC’s Geoff Thompson, “Some of the mostly Afghan Hazaras locked up in the detention centre have been there for between two and six months”. Afghan refugees have complained that conditions in the prison are brutal and that they are treated like animals.”

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SINGAPORE: From Orchard to Tao Payoh

It is Friday night, 7.30pm, on Orchard Road in Singapore. The crowds are out. The wide pathways as well as the underground labyrinths linking the malls from Ngee Ann City to the new boringly glitzy, pseudo glamorous Ion are busy with people. Office workers are window shopping and looking for something to eat – the food courts are crazily busy. Young women in fashionably sexy clothes right out of the glamorous window displays of the franchised fashion shops make their way around on the arm of their escort. Others, more tired as well as more casually dressed, buy some fried snacks at one of the stalls. Some just sit and rest on the concrete benches on the foot path.

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Xmas at Orchard 2008

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Review: Michael Moore’s CAPITALISM: A Love Story

Last night, here in Singapore, I went to the cinema to watch Michael Moore’s latest film: Capitalism: a love story. I had read that morning a very negative review of the film in the Straits Times newspaper, the island’s man daily newspaper, owned by a government linked corporation. Apart from the reviewer’s frustrations with Moore’s flamboyant theatrical style – his trademark, in fact – the review was ultimately a political rejection of Moore’s approach. For Moore, said the reviewer, viewed “capitalism as an evil, and an evil cannot be regulated”. But, went the rejoinder, there are many evils in the world that have been successfully regulated: “abortion, gambling, prostitution”.  So much for the hegemonic Singapore viewpoint.

caplovestory-approved_400Capitalism: a love story is a strong but complicated and sometimes confusing film. Like all of Moore’s films his basic appeal is to sentiment, to the emotions of those Americans who have been exploited or oppressed or those who are angry that such injustice exists. The film moves through a series of examples of such injustice: grossly underpaid men and women piloting jet passenger planes, families being evicted from houses that they have lived in for decades, men and women thrown out of work, employees sacked as their factory closes down but without being paid the wages and redundancy payments they are owed, poor people stranded by the Katrina catastrophe and so on. These cases are movingly presented and do indeed reinforce the sentiments of both compassion and anger that any humane person feels.

Continue reading “Review: Michael Moore’s CAPITALISM: A Love Story”

Ominous news for Indonesian labour

“Other major concerns with investors — the country’s onerous labour laws and the “spectre of exorbitant costs” in cases where companies have to retrench — are also going to be addressed,
Pangestu [Indonesian Minister for Trade] said, while still protecting workers’ rights.”

“while still protecting workers’ rights” …. hmmmm

The current minimum wage in Indonesia is set roughly at between Rp800,000 (approx AUD$100) and Rp1.4 million (around AUD$170)  a month. Onerous to investors?

Interview-Indonesia to fix constraints, labour laws (see below)

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