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«Comprehensive Security: Challenge For Pacific Asia♠ James C. Hsiung New York University Abstract This study identifies the origin, components, and ...»

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What is true of Hong Kong is also true of many other cities in the region. Yet, as if this were not enough, recurrent forest fires in Indonesia present another nuisance for the environment far beyond Indonesia borders. For instance, a forest and land fire started in mid-1997 burned and smoldered for more than one year. It finally burned out in East Kalimantan in May 1998, but not before it had scorched at least 500,000 hectares (1.4 billion acres) of land. For the entire year, the haze not only blanketed vast areas of East Kalimantan but also reached far-off points in Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, and other parts of Southeast Asia.93 Details of these fires need not concern us except that Indonesia apparent inability to prevent and control the wildfires is a source of worry for its neighbors.

The same causes and neglect were said to be responsible for earlier recurrent fires in the country in 1986, 1991, and 1994. These wildfires have almost always been human caused, such as those resulting from agricultural conversion burns (to prepare land for pulp wood and oil palm plantations), logging operations, and even arson.94 The recurrence rate of these wildfires seems to have only increased. In March 2000, about 1,200 fires were reported in the Indonesian provinces of Riau on Sumatra and Kalimantan on Borneo, with pollution readings over the 300 level on the Pollution Standard Index (PSI), a level considered hazardous to health. The pollution effects spilled into neighboring countries. In nearby Singapore, for example, the air

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quality worsened to the most polluted levels of the year on March 8, when its PSI stood at 65. Malaysian environmentalists expected their country to feel the effects of the haze if the fires continued.95 Again, in July 2001 (the latest information available to me at the time of writing), wildfires on the Indonesian Islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan (Borneo) created a dense smoky haze blanketing a large swath of Southeast Asia. Nonetheless, Indonesia inability to prevent slash-and-burn agriculture by both large estate and small private farms that caused the wildfires, and its failure to formulate a plan of action to fight the fires, has exacerbated what has become an almost annual event.96 Estimates of the damage of these fires to the global environment are both hard to come by and time-consuming. In late 2002, the Environmental News Service (ENS) carried a report on the final estimates, made by a team of British scientists, of the 1997 wildfires in Indonesia. According to these estimates by the team headed by Susan Page from the University of Leicester, United Kingdom, the fires that scorched parts of Indonesia in 1997 pewed as much carbon into the atmosphere as the entire planet biosphere removes from it in a year.” The fires released as much as 2.6 billion metric tons of carbon ostly in the form of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) nto the atmosphere. The conclusion of the team study was that the Indonesian fires were major contributor to the sharp increase in atmospheric CO2 concentrations detected in 1998.”97 Thus, the Indonesian recurrent wildfires are not just a regional problem threatening only the environmental security of Southeast Asia, but a global warming problem.

Fourth, terrorism in the Pacific Asian region became a festering, albeit underreported, problem even before the September 11 sneak attacks on New York and Washington made the whole world edgy about terror. On 23 April 2000, armed men representing the Philippine separatist Abu Sayaf Group (ASG) raided the Malaysian diving resort of Sipadan and seized more than 21 tourists from Malaysia, Germany, South Africa, Lebanon, Finland, and the Philippines. Using these people as hostages, the terrorists entered into negotiations with the Philippine government. They made a variety of demands, including the creation of a separate state and the restoration of ndonesian Wildfires,” report of the USCINCPAC Virtual Information Center, 20 March 2000, available at:http://www.vic-info.org?RegionsTop.nsf/0/b4f66870b1821dff8a2568af00641.

ndonesian Wildfires 2001,” report of USCINCPAC Virtual Information Center, 11 July 2001:

http://www/vic-injfo.org/RegionsTop.nsf/0/ea32c3a84a78ad678a256a8600805920/$FILE/Indonesian +Wildfires+07f11-01web.doc.

ndonesian Wildfires Accelerated Global Warming,” ENS dispatch, 8 November 2002. Results of the team study were published in the November 7, 2002, issue of the journal Nature.

fishing rights for local fishermen. A few weeks later, the ASG began demanding a $1 million ransom for each hostage. They seized additional hostages, including foreign journalists covering the story. By August 2000, the group had reportedly taken in more than $5.5 million in ransom money. 98 The ASG is a threat to not only the Philippines but also to the larger region, as it was known to have links with extremist Islamic groups in the Middle East and South Asia.99 One such link was with Osama bin Laden, who had reportedly funneled financial support and deployed trainers to the ASG, as well as to another local terrorist group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

As recently as 6 August 2003, a sport utility vehicle packed with explosives blew up in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, killing 15 people and wounding 150 in a Marriott Hotel, a large restaurant, and an office building. The police, three days later, identified the suicide bomber as Asmar Latin Sani, a new recruit of the militant Islamic group Jemaah Islamiyah, which is known to have close ties with Al Qaeda.

Indonesian experts believed that the group operatives planned and carried out the attack in Bali in October 2002, in which 7 Americans were among the 202 killed (New York Times, 6 August 2003, p. 1; and 9 August 2003, p. 9).

The world most virulent outbreak of chemical- and biological-weapons terrorism to date took place in East Asia. The Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo, in March 1995, released sarin nerve gas in the Tokyo subway system, killing eleven people and injuring more than 5,000. As subsequent investigations revealed, the group had attempted other chemical-biological weapons attacks, including an unsuccessful attempt to kill thousands of Tokyo residents by releasing anthrax spores from a tall building (New York Times, 26 May 1998, p. 1).100 Maritime piracy, a problem related to terrorism, presents another hazard for the Pacific Asian region security in more than just the environmental sense. One instance of maritime piracy happened to a Hong Kong-owned cargo ship, the Cheung Son. On 16 November 1998, while traveling from Shanghai to Malaysia, the ship lost contact with its owners as it passed through the Taiwan Strait. The ship was attacked by a gang of pirates who were able to board by posing as antismuggling police. Once aboard the ship, the pirates ordered the 23-member crew to lie on the floor, where Paul Smith, ast Asia Transnational Challenges: The Dark Side of Globalization,” in Julian Weiss, ed., Tigers’ Roar: Asia Recovery and Its Impact (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2001), pp.


See Patterns of Global Terrorism, 1999. U.S. Department of State publication 10687, released April 2000, www.state.gov/www/global/terrorism/1999report/appb.html.

See discussion in Smith, ast Asia’ Transnational Challenges,” p. 18.

they were bound, gagged, and blindfolded. After executing the crew by machine guns and other weapons, the pirates then methodically weighted the bodies and tossed them overboard. Many of the bodies later turned up in fishermen nets. The attack on the Cheung Son was one of the most violent maritime attacks in Eastern Asia in recent years. Although Chinese authorities eventually caught most of the perpetrators, it is a fact of life that sophisticated syndicates view maritime piracy as simply another means of making fast, though illicit, profits.101 The greatest threat of maritime piracy is still in Southeast Asia, especially in waters around Indonesia and the Philippines, both archipelagic countries. According to one account, nearly two-thirds of the world maritime piracy attacks in 1999 occurred in Asia, and about 113 (40 percent) of the 285 reported cases of piracy in the ports and territorial waters.102 region took place in Indonesia Rising maritime piracy in the Asian region in recent times has largely correlated with its economic and political problems resulting from the 1997 financial crisis. In Indonesia, political instability associated with the conditions surrounding the ouster of General Suharto, and the economic malaise magnified by the Asian financial crisis, have been linked to rising pirate activity, perhaps due to reduced funding for law enforcement or naval patrols. Skyrocketing unemployment may have turned many people, conceivably even some legitimate sailors, to piracy. Another reason that maritime piracy is thriving in Southeast Asia is the lack of a coordinated regional approach to the problem. In areas where governments are known to have weak law enforcement and where states engage in competing territorial claims, the pirates find their most fertile operating grounds. 103 Mutual suspicion between governments remains the toughest obstacle to any collaborative antipiracy efforts on a regional level and spells a blessing for the pirates preying on ships that ply the region waters.

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Summary In our search for the meaning and ramifications of comprehensive security in Pacific Asia, we have looked at the economic, human, and environmental components of the question. In this closing section, I pause to sum up the main findings and then Ibid., p. 19.

Bertil Lintner, he Perils of Rising Piracy,” Jane Defense Weekly, 34, 20:16-17 (November 15, 2000).

Smith, ast Asia Transnational Challenges,” p. 20.

venture a commentary. The following is a summary of the findings.

First, economic security is distinctly the region longest suit, not only because of its proven record of sustained, robust growths reaching iraculous” proportions, but also because it has passed the trying test of the Asian financial crisis, mostly with flying colors.104 Paul Stiglitz, who supervised the World Bank earlier study, The East Asian Miracle (1993), led a reevaluative study of the Pacific Asian economies bruised by the crush of the crisis of 1997. The purpose of the study was to learn if any new insights could be gained from a e-thinking” of the miracle thesis advanced earlier. Fifteen eminent scholars, hailing from four countries (Japan, Malaysia, China, and the U.S.) and Hong Kong, took part in the project. The result was a monograph, Rethinking the East Asian Miracle (2001), which Stiglitz coedited with Shahid Yusuf.

While most chapters are country-oriented, the final chapter, by Stiglitz, sums everything up at the regional level. For the question as there a miracle?” the inevitable conclusion, after careful ethinking,” is that the East Asian record of growth deserves the epithet iracle,” or any other synonymous superlative. As if to warn the remaining skeptics, Stiglitz adds that here is another aspect of the miracle that has received too little attention but plays a role in the sequel: capitalism has always been plagued by fluctuations, including financial panics.” ***This direct quote needs a citation, either in text, or footnote.*** The Asian miracle can be appreciated only through comparison. What is remarkable about East Asia, Stiglitz points out, is not that it so successfully passed the test of the 1997–1999 crisis but that

it ad experienced so few crises over the preceding three decades.” ***Author:

again, a direct quote needs an in-text or footnote citation.*** This, he emphasizes, is better record than any of the supposedly advanced and well-managed Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries” (p.


Despite the debilitating SARS epidemic that hit China from November 2002 through June 2003, a forecast by the Wall Street Journal (14 July 2003, 1) said that the Chinese economy would sustain an 8 percent GDP growth rate for the year.

According to statistics released by the National Statistic Bureau in Beijing on 17 April 2003, China GDP had already registered a whopping 9.9 percent growth during the first quarter of the year.105 Second, the Pacific Asian region record on human security is spotty.

Although the lack of the abject poverty problem that usually afflicts developing Even Indonesia, the last country in the region to recover, decided not to renew the IMF bailout Unknown program initiated in 1997, when it expires at the end of 2003. New York Times, 30 July 2003: W1. Deleted: one Qiaobao [China Press] (New York), 18 April 2003, p. 2.

countries is positive, the region suffers from a number of problems of its own, as we have noted. Some of these, such as income inequities and the denial of women rights, are found in other parts of the world but are more acute in the Asian region.

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