The longtime leader of Indonesia, Suharto, is dead, but aside from the funeral on a few TV stations and aside from a handful of flags at half mast around Bali, life goes on in this tropical paradise.
I am spending a few weeks this rainy season in Bali, Indonesia.
I’m recovering from the unseasonably cold January in Kuwait—where for the first time in well over a decade that years the temperatures at night dipped below freezing for nearly an entire week. In the first time in memory snowflakes fell in the rural region of Abduli about ten days ago.
Are these weather peculiarities this winter in Kuwait a result of global warming? It seems to be a possibility. (My time-share sits on the small island of Gili Meno in the Indonesian Archipelago, so I am personally very concerned about the place sinking.)
From Kuwait to Indonesia to the USA and Davos, Switzerland (where Bono & Al Gore spoke) every one around the planet is talking about either both global warming and/or the U.S.A.’s economy being in recession these days.THE R-WORD IN THE USA AND AROUND THE GLOBE
Interestingly, Indonesia was the first country I have visited in the last half-a-year where almost all economists and business personages have publicly admitted that the United States is in a Recession. One sees this diagnosis of “recession” in the Bali and Jakarta press here often--as well as in discussions with investors and international currency traders.
Meanwhile, the experts everywhere else in the OECD part of this planet Earth is hesitant to use the R-Word (Recession). These supposedly wise economists and business geniuses are acting as though the world economy will be jinxed through simply admitting the fact that the USA has been in recession for some time.
That is, it seems to be a common fear that simply uttering the word “Recession” is expected to make the problem worse.
It is fascinating to phenomena to witness, i.e. the supposedly more western and modern parts of the planet that are so superstitious, and these so-called developed nations and their public figures seem to actually believe that by invoking the R-word peoples around the world will be condemned to an even worse set of economic developments in 2008--and in the years to come.
That is non-sense. (On the other hand, the U.S. government has been in denial on many fronts for most of this decade.)
The last time Southeast Asia found itself in a free-fall recession itself was 10-years ago.
Amazingly, the long-downtrodden people in Indonesia bravely went into the streets that year and protested against the economic and political cabal running their country.
Unlike in the USA, where protests against a government waging wars against the will of the local populace and where popular indignation at a badly run economy & justice system seem to be shaking up very little politically and socially, the Indonesians of only one decade ago oversaw the deposing of a nearly 25-year old dictatorship of the now defunct president Suharto.
What is more… that abrupt resignation and ending of a tyrant’s rule [Suharto’s 24-year rule] in Indonesia (1) led to beneficial & greater autonomy in terms of economic and political development across the great federation of the Indonesian archipelago and also (2) led to enough political freedom in Indonesia to lead numerous coalitions of individuals to take the former tyrant and his family to court several times over the past decade. [However, almost no moneys have been recovered through the courts.]
Transparency International says that Suharto and his family milked the peoples of Indonesia of 35 billion dollars—the greatest acts of government corruption of the whole 20th Century. [Sadly, the Suharto family has only given apologies—but no monies have been paid back to the people of Indonesia.]
Currently, in 2008, economists and businessmen are feeling that Southeast Asia is still in pretty good shape despite economic recession in the USA.