Wednesday, February 9, 2011

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The Obama administration won't endorse immediate resignation of Hosni Mubarak.

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration is urging Egyptian leaders to include more people in a national dialogue on reform but won't endorse demands from protesters for the immediate resignation of embattled President Hosni Mubarak.

As the U.S. anxiously awaits political developments in its staunchest Arab ally, administration officials warned Monday that a precipitous exit by Mubarak could set back the country's democratic transition.

After several days of mixed messages, the administration coalesced around a position that cautiously welcomes nascent reform efforts begun by newly appointed Vice President Omar Suleiman that may or may not result in Mubarak's resignation before September, when elections are to be held. Mubarak has said he will not run.

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Slower growth and a drain of talented citizens are only the beginning.

The Price of Malaysia's Racism

By JOHN R. MALOTT
ASWJ

1 BOT 1 BILLION
Malaysia's national tourism agency promotes the country as "a bubbling, bustling melting pot of races and religions where Malays, Indians, Chinese and many other ethnic groups live together in peace and harmony." Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak echoed this view when he announced his government's theme, One Malaysia. "What makes Malaysia unique," Mr. Najib said, "is the diversity of our peoples. One Malaysia's goal is to preserve and enhance this unity in diversity, which has always been our strength and remains our best hope for the future."

If Mr. Najib is serious about achieving that goal, a long look in the mirror might be in order first. Despite the government's new catchphrase, racial and religious tensions are higher today than when Mr. Najib took office in 2009. Indeed, they are worse than at any time since 1969, when at least 200 people died in racial clashes between the majority Malay and minority Chinese communities. The recent deterioration is due to the troubling fact that the country's leadership is tolerating, and in some cases provoking, ethnic factionalism through words and actions.

For instance, when the Catholic archbishop of Kuala Lumpur invited the prime minister for a Christmas Day open house last December, Hardev Kaur, an aide to Mr. Najib, said Christian crosses would have to be removed. There could be no carols or prayers, so as not to offend the prime minister, who is Muslim. Ms. Kaur later insisted that she "had made it clear that it was a request and not an instruction," as if any Malaysian could say no to a request from the prime minister's office.

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