International -- Readers Report
QUICK FIXES WON'T CURE MALAYSIA'S ILLS (int'l edition)
While the jury is still out on what kind of person Anwar Ibrahim really is, the problems here in Malaysia are political inertia, the worsening of public discontent, and the increasing number of bailouts of undeserving but politically connected companies ("The feud," Asian Cover Story, Nov. 9). Real reforms are nonexistent, and suppression of the public is increasingly felt. As a Malaysian, I honestly could not care less about Anwar. I am more worried about my country taking quick fixes in a global recession that could last for years.
Kuala LumpurReturn to top
LET THE PEOPLE DECIDE ABOUT ANWAR IBRAHIM (int'l edition)
I wish to put some facts straight concerning a letter from M. Bakri Musa (Readers Report, Nov. 30). In today's corporate world, there is no rule that, when there is a disagreement between the chief executive and the No. 2, it is the latter who should go. If there is a stalemate, it is up to the shareholders to decide. In the feud between Mahathir and Anwar, the voters should be given the chance to voice their opinion, not only at the ballot box but also through the media and open forums.
Second, the West admires Anwar's tolerance and liberal views, unlike Mahathir, who has been putting out anti-Western rhetoric since he came to power in 1981. Mahathir has also made anti-Jewish remarks, targeting the Jewish currency traders on Wall Street. He blames everyone for Malaysia's economic turmoil except himself. Is this a leader whom the West should admire?
Third, the accusation that Anwar's vision of Islam is of the Iranian variety is absurd. Has he ever condoned terrorism? Has he passed fatwas on dissenting voices? Anwar has promoted moderate Islamic views; he tried to promote Islamic studies to the non-Muslims at the same time as he promoted Confucianism to the Muslims. Finally, Anwar issued a directive to all federal agencies and state governments in early 1977 not to entertain any tender application from his family.
LondonReturn to top
U.S. CULTURAL IMPERIALISM: STEAMROLLER OR BLESSING? (int'l edition)
I congratulate you on the most informed article I have ever read by an American on this subject: Jeffrey E. Garten's "`Cultural imperialism' is no joke" (Economic Viewpoint, Nov. 30). We touchy Canadians--citizens of the Invisible Country--long ago gave up expecting Americans to abandon the fantasy that the whole world revolves around America.
I hope somebody in the White House is listening. If not, they will one day find that steamrollering other people's cultures in their own countries will--by provoking cultural, political, and economic backlash--cost the U.S. more than the profits of 1,000 movies peddling mind-numbing violence in the name of free trade.
Garten states that "America's lifestyle and ideas...are often destabilizing abroad." The contrary is happening: U.S. TV channels abroad (from CNN to Nickelodeon) carry a wealth of free information. For many countries, this coming generation will be the most educated ever (and I don't mean only in the formal schoolbook sense). Dictatorships can't flourish for any length of time in countries with high levels of education.
What's more, producers of national culture who have seen the successful U.S. model have improved themselves. Veja, in Brazil, is the fifth-largest weekly in the world. Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, from Argentina, was named foreign group of the year by MTV. There are more examples. After being involved with Latin America for 17 years, I have seen more personal freedom flow from the wealth of information.
MiamiReturn to top