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The Arab Spring One Year On: the Challenges of Reforms and Democratic Transition

The Arab Spring, now entering its second year, was no random event. Rather, it was a synthesis of many interconnected failings within the post-colonial Arab state system ranging from endemic political corruption, to dire economic stagnation and associated social marginalisation of the masses to list just the obvious ones. But revolutions, as idealistic and romantic as they may appear to be, are never meant to be quick and tidy events. Indeed, the Arab Spring from its beginnings in Tunisia on 17th of  December 2010 to its current manifestation in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere in the region  is exhibiting all the hallmarks of a highly unpredictable phenomenon driven by a combination of internal dynamics and external interests.

Observers to Timor-Leste’s elections

As Timor-Leste heads into the three rounds of 2012 elections, election observers have begun to organise to monitor the election process and to report their findings. Accredited by Timor-Leste’s National Electoral Commission (CNE), observers continue to play a critical role in the young country’s still developing democratic process. Observers have been a part of Timor-Leste’s democratic process from the start of the country’s move towards independence. In 1999, independent observers spread across the then occupied territory, often by local transport and staying in homes or basic local accommodation, helping to enhance the larger international presence and thereby complicating plans by the Indonesian army, then known as ABRI, and its proxy militias to derail the ballot process. The observers gave Timor-Leste’s people an understanding that, though it was a difficult time, they were not alone.

Mining's small change

(This piece first appeared in The Age 16 February)

*Peter Carey is a professor of accounting in Deakin University’s faculty of Business and Law
*Neil Fargher is a professor of accounting in the Australian National University’s College of Business and Economics

Timor-Leste: the role of the president

The various contenders for Timor-Leste’s presidency in the 17 March election have begun to try to persuade the voting public why they should be elected as president. A number of candidates have said that, if elected, they will institute particular changes or reforms. These promises appear, however, to misunderstand the role of Timor-Leste’s president.
In short, the role of the president in Timor-Leste is, with few exceptions, a ceremonial one. Apart from a few carefully circumscribed areas, Timor-Leste’s president does not have an executive function.
Presidential candidates who announce that, if elected, they will institute particular changes therefore appear to be unaware of the constitutional role of the president. It is either that, or that they wish to change the constitution and give Timor-Leste a different type of political system.

SHALL WE TALK ABOUT WHALES AND WHALING? (10)

Lest we forget @ Albany

“Of course, it is in a remote place,” said a lady at a tourist information centre, slightly frowning.  I was a little paralysed with her reaction as it was not in the context of what I said before her words.

In the early November last year, I was in Albany, WA. As many of you, hopefully, may remember, Albany was the place where the last whaling station in Australia was operating.  The site has turned into a museum named the Whale World.  It seemed that it was crucial for me to visit the site for my research, and so I did.

It was quite a trip from Melbourne.  I flew into Perth and then took a coach service to Albany the next day.  I could have rented a car but because I hadn’t driven a car for more than a decade, I thought I better stay away from driving for other drivers’ safety.

How to avoid being the runt of the tertiary education litter

We need competition in supply and funding of individuals not institutions Julia Gillard wisely remarked last month that competition with Asia could “make us the runt of the litter” in terms of our educational performance. This provocative remark should trigger urgent application to government policy, given that increasingly unlike much of Asia, ours is a state-owned tertiary model. Our university communities are not offered the diversity of choice as in the USA, or indeed as in our own secondary and primary schools. New technology and social networks allow leapfrog in terms of ways of sharing information. All universities could jump ahead by using such remote devices to augment teaching, writing and research frameworks across broader international markets. However Socratic face-to-face “tutorial” and live lecture modes remain vitally important – the “getting of wisdom” is too important to be on iPads or lonely PCs.

Contador and The Need for Speed

On the day the CAS handed down its decision on the Contador case Cadel Evans was quoted in the cycling press repeating two of the institutional mantras of professional cycling. The first being that often claimed by the UCI and by others such as Lance Armstrong that the sport is at the forefront in the battle against drugs: “Cycling has done more than enough to show it’s doing the right things when it comes to the fight against drugs … Now it’s time for other sports to look to cycling and replicate what we do so the fight against drugs in sports can maybe be beaten one day across all sports.

Contador not guilty of doping? But ....

 

On Monday, after an appeal by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the International Cycling Union (UCI), to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS,) Contador was stripped of the 2010 Tour de France title and banned from competing until August.

The three panellists from the Court of Arbitration found that the most likely source of the banned substance clenbuterol was a contaminated supplement that Contador took. However, this is despite the fact that there was no evidence before the tribunal that the source of the clenbuterol was from a supplement.

But Contador never offered that as a reason, he argued against the food supplement contamination and stuck by this story that it was from contaminated meat. Because of this CAS didn’t take the supplement story into account as a mitigating factor - even though they found it was the most likely source.

Timor-Leste: possible electoral outcomes

As Timor-Leste’s political climate warms up ahead of next month’s presidential elections, many people are asking who is most likely to be elected president. In a country that does not have political polling, there are no obvious indications as to which candidates are most preferred by voters. But there are some indications of possible combinations, each of which could produce very different outcomes.
The vote from 2007 is seen by many as an indication to voting intentions in 2012 but, if so, it is no more than an indication. Since 2007, the political landscape has changed, which could affect how Timor-Leste’s citizens vote and how the candidates and parties align themselves.

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