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Federalism / SEA Dynamics / Engagement / Aspirations / Business in SEA

3rd day in Washington.

After recovering for a day free and easy in Washington, we settled down to class – yes class like students in university for a lesson in Federalism and federalist politics.

The lecturer, whom i shall decline to name, knew his area very very well. He lectured us off the cuff and gave us an overview of American Federalism and its practical consequences in less than 45 minutes. A spirited discussion followed. There was an Israeli delegation which sat in the class. Being from another track and on another program, their encounter with our group was only for that brief 2 hour session, we did not manage to talk having been required to rush from one meeting to another, no contacts were made no namecards exchanged. This however was no big loss, for the lecturer with his knowledge and wit, singlehandedly made up for all the lack of time in the programme.

In short i am inspired by his overview to study the American political and legal system in detail. Enough said. More details can come in another blog post.

4th day in Washington

The Professor this morning was an expert in SEA studies. Her overview of the dynamcs of the politics between South East Asian countries was, again given the time constraints, nonetheless impressive and concise and thought-provoking.

We were then taken to an NGO’s office where we were given an understanding of the role which the NGO played in facilitating education of young leaders in United States before these leaders entered public office.

A question and answer session that followed revealed the immense development of and initiatives commenced by such NGOs. The NGOs in United States are the movers of policy and it is with such NGOs that pressure is brought to bear on the system to respond to the needs of the people. True enough, a different set of factors exist in the US, the law and concept of government did play a part in fostering such a culture as well. This made for a vibrant, commited and dynamic society where the people will not wait for the government of the day to solve their problems, the people tell the government what they want and not the other way round as it is in Singapore.

Our NGOs have a long way to go before they reach the effectiveness of their counterparts in the US. This is a result of the environment that has been created by the ruling party. Nothing has been clearer than comparing Singapore with the United States. The glaring number of deliberate impediments designed to disenfranchise a thinking sector of the population, discourage and forestall an active citizenry are nothing short of selling out of the nation and a declaration of balllessness.

I am about to write on the aspirations of young public office holders in the US and the business interests but my eyes are too tired. I shall continue in the morning. That is, morning Washington time. ūüôā

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August 5, 2009 - Posted by | Politics

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