Monday, May 24, 2010

News coming soon from Singapore as well as closer to home

(To the right you see a photograph from Singapore's Chinatown, shops featuring everything from duty free goods to posters of Chairman Mao)

I'll be returning from Singapore Tuesday, May 25, and will soon thereafter have a report on issues here in Southeast Asia that are remarkably similar to those we face in the U.S. South--a growing gap between the rich and poor, the plight of immigrant workers, tensions between rural and urban dwellers.

There is a hotbed of activity over here with bloody demonstrations in Thailand, saber-rattling between North and South Korea, knife attacks on children and students in China, resentment against U.S. military presence in Okinawa, and tensions everwhere regarding the effects of U.S.-style capitalism on society.

Today I visited an exhibition at the Singapore Art Museum on social realism in Asian art, and I discovered a strong tradition of artistic sympathy for and insight into working people and their struggles that reaches far beyond the usual Marxist dialectics and debates. I talked with workers and intellectuals here about Singapore's unique status as a city-state with essentially one-party rule, a long tradition of ethnic diversity and toleration, and a nervous eye toward the various tensions that surround it. It's a fascinating place, and you'll be getting the full report very soon, as well as updates on the catfish workers' situation in the Mississippi Delta and other issues closer to home.

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