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November 30, 1999 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1999-11-30

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The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, November 30, 1999 - 5

Malaysia' s ruling
coalition wins
.landslide victory

WTO listens to
critics; holds
meeting, dialogue

Prime Minister Mahathir
Mohamad's coalition won a resound-
ing victory in yesterday's parliamen-
tary elections after a year of political
and economic turmoil that threatened
the Malaysian leader's reign.
Mahathir's 14-party National Front
0etained its two-thirds majority in the
93-seat Parliament with a campaign
that focused on economic and civil
stability. The strong showing
announced today assured Mahathir of
a fifth consecutive term.
The Alternative Front opposition
coalition had hoped to hold the
National Front to fewer than two-
thirds of the seats to prove Malaysians
yearn for democratic freedoms and
overnment transparency.
The opposition did win a crucial
victory when the wife of Mahathir's
imprisoned former deputy, Anwar
Ibrahim, trounced a former Cabinet
minister in the race for the rural north-

ern seat that Anwar held for 16 years
before being sacked and convicted of
"This is a victory of the people. It
shows that people dared to choose
change," Azizah Ismail told her sup-
porters late yesterday.
Anwar is serving a six-year sen-
tence for corruption and is on trial for
sodomy. Since being jailed and beaten,
the 52-year-old Islamic scholar had
become the opposition's leading sym-
bol for change.
The final tally for yesterday's vote
in Parliament and I1 state assem-
blies was not expected until later in
the day.
Mahathir could see his landslide vic-
tory as vindication of his risky actions
in the past year, from the firing of the
popular Anwar to his controversial eco-
nomic policies that brought sneers from
Western financial gurus, yet brought
the country out of recession.
Mahathir proclaimed his victory

Azizah Ismail, leader of the oppostion National Justice Party, waves to
porters after she won the first parlimentary seat for her new party In
Permatang Pauh in the Malasylan state of Penang yesterday evening.

her sup-

early today to thousands of cheering
members of his United Malays
National Organization.
"The people have given us more
than a two-thirds majority. That's clear
proof that they still want us to lead the
country," he said. "We will ensure that
the country remains free, remains
united and remains successful."
The new government was expected

to be formed later today, with the
Malaysian king reinstating Mahathir as
prime minister in a formal ceremony.
The Alternative Front had hoped to
win at least 65 seats, but with 191 of
the 193 seats decided, they had won
only 40 seats. In the previous
Parliament, the opposition held only
23 seats and the ruling coalition con-
trolled 166 seats.

The Washington Post
SEATTLE - Hoping to reverse
beliefs that it is secretive and undemoc-
ratic, the World Trade Organization
yesterday hosted hundreds of its critics
in a meeting hall here for a dialogue on
trade's impact on development and
human rights. The three-hour encounter
was polite - even though friends of
some of the guests were outside on the
street angrily waving banners attacking
the Geneva-based organization.
WTO Director General Mike Moore
argued that the current world trading
system benefits just about everyone.
"Over 30 countries - 1.5 billion peo-
ple - want to join the WTO," he
declared to the gathering.
But Martin Khor, from a group called
Third World Network, had a different
view. The consequences of more trade
liberalization, Khor said, could be "so
negative and serious in the Third World
that there will be tremendous political
instability over the next five years."
With 3,000 WTO delegates set to for-
mally begin new talks on trade liberal-
ization negotiations today, the meeting
was the first step in a program to put a
more sympathetic face on the trade
agency and make its operations more
Since its creation five years ago to
police world trade, the WTO has
become the target of a diverse interna-
tional coalition of activist groups that
include environmentalists, labor
unions, consumer groups and private
development agencies. They contend
that the WTO has too much power, that
it infringes on countries' sovereignty by
making them change environmental

rules. The critics also complain that an
agency that forever praises "transparen-
cy" in trade - the establishment of
clear rules, the elimination of back-
door deals - is notably lacking in the
quality itself.
Dispute panels that act as judges
when countries have trade disputes
operate in secrecy. There is no require-
ment to make filings and briefs public.
Often little is known publicly until
the panel issues its decision. The offi-
cial rationale is that the panels are
essentially government-to-government
negotiations, and that contacts of this
kind always take place in private.
No one in the WTO or in the major
industrial powers wants to weaken its
authority in dispute settlement - it
has established "rule of law" in
world trade, they say, and that is only
for the better. But on the question of
openness, pressure is building for
The Clinton administration has come
to voice the rhetoric of some of the peo-
ple in the streets. The White House pro-
posed yesterday's meeting with the
advocacy groups as a way of getting
them invested in the process. Officials
say it marks the first time in eight
rounds of trade negotiation over the last
50 years that the outsiders' views have
been sought.
"It's terribly important that the views
of civil society not just be heard but
incorporated into the work of the
WTO," U.S. Trade Representative
Charlene Barshefsky said after yester-
day's meeting. "The openness of civil
society is a stabilizing force and lends
credibility to the system."

Northern Ireland cabinet makes history

BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) - On a day
many thought would never come, Protestant and
atholic adversaries yesterday formed an extraordi-
nary Northern Ireland government that attempts to
ring together every branch of opinion within this bit-
erly divided society.
The unprecedented four-party administration -
due to receive powers Thursday from the British gov-
ernment - includes Catholics who long vowed never
accept Northern Ireland's right to exist, and
Festants just as unwilling to accept Catholics as
political equals.
Triggering an exercise envisioned in the Good
Friday peace accord but delayed for more than a year,
he four biggest parties within Northern Ireland's leg-
slature took turns unveiling their choices for a 12-
member Cabinet, an exercise akin to a pro sports draft
Picking first were the province's major British
Protestant party, the Ulster Unionists, and major Irish
?atholic party, the Social Democratic and Labor Party
DLP They both got four posts.


But Protestant legislators gathered at Stormont
Parliamentary Building in Belfast gasped when Sinn
Fein leader Gerry Adams announced his first pick -
his party's chief negotiator, Martin McGuinness, as
education minister.
McGuinness - who rose to the top of the Irish
Republican Army's command in the 1970s - will
now oversee the predominantly Protestant state
schools as well as the separate Catholic system.
Sinn Fein's other candidate, schoolteacher Bairbre
de Brun, had been considered the far more likely pick
for the education post. She instead received the health
ministry, arguably the toughest job in the administra-
tion, since closing hospitals is on the agenda.
"The reality is that very many young people do
look up to Martin McGuinness," said Sinn Fein chair
Mitchel McLaughlin, who pledged that both
McGuinness and de Brun would help project "a
vision of a society at peace with itself."
And even the Democratic Unionists, the province's
most uncompromising Protestant party, took their two
allotted posts within a Cabinet they had hoped would

never be born,
The Democratic Unionists nromised to do their
jobs impartially but vowed never to sit in the same
Cabinet room as McGuinness, a factor certain to
make the government's early days particularly prob-
"We will never rest until we rid this country of IRA-
Sinn Fein and all other brands of terrorism. They have
no place in any democracy," said the Rev. Ian Paisley,
the Democratic Unionist leader.
Paisley's deputy party leader, Peter Robinson,
became minister for regional development, and a
longtime aide, Nigel Dodds, will be minister for social
"We now have a mastermind of murder in a posi-
tion to educate our children," said Dodds, whom the
IRA tried to kill three years ago while he was visiting
his gravely ill son in a hospital.
But the Ulster Unionists, who made Yesterday's
Cabinet formation possible by dropping their long-
time demand for IRA disarmament in advance, took a
far more upbeat view.


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