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Hillary Clinton arrives on Phuket with her own security escort

AseanWATCH: Clinton Show Rolling on to Phuket

Tuesday, July 21, 2009
HILLARY CLINTON is here. The US Secretary of State landed on Phuket at 1.05pm on Wednesday with children from eight island schools scheduled to wave a welcome along the drive from the airport. Security was extra tight today. Even cars with sticker passes were stopped and checked. Mrs Clinton's delegation landed in two special aircraft. Today she was dressed in green. Meeting her were the Governor of Phuket, Wichai Praisa-nob, and the Secretary-General of Asean, Dr Surin Pitsuwan.

Phuketwan AseanWATCH

HUMAN trafficking was the last item, on page 12 of the joint communique released after the Asean Foreign Ministers' Meeting yesterday.

However, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is likely to raise the ''slave trade'' at tomorrow's Asean Regional Forum summit.

And today came news of the arrest of five Malaysian Immigration officials who were allegedly part of a Rohingya trafficking ring.

The US State Department has been scathing about Malaysia and its role in human trafficking, so this is an opportune coincidence.

Refugees were charged between $85 and $170 each. Those who could not pay were sold for fishing industry labor in Thailand until they worked off their debts, the New Straits Times reported.

It's odd how human slavery and a glamorous celebrity American politician come together on Phuket.

Although headlines in the US and Europe talk of ''The decline and fall of Hillary Clinton'' and ''The curious case of the steadily shrinking Hillary Clinton,'' we think she has shown enough to indicate she wants a fresh start for America in Asia, especially when it comes to human rights.

But will she be able to change the mind of the local letter writer who this week opined: ''I simply don't care what a load of trumped up politicians have to say to each other.

''These meetings will have absolutely no effect on my life or those of ordinary people on Phuket. Find something else to write about.''

Unlike Bernard Curtis, of Phuket Town, most of us consider it fortunate that Hillary Clinton and others like her don't share that narrow view of the world. If President Obama's goal in appointing Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State was to neutralize his biggest rival, he has certainly succeeded. Clinton looks a shadow of her former self, and has been the most low-key Secretary of State in recent times. Her immediate predecessors Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell were far more prominent figures on the world stage during their first six months in office. Clinton, in contrast, looks tired, disinterested, and largely going through the motions.'' We'll probably never know what the terms of the deal were between Senator Barack Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton which caused her to fold up like a cheap suitcase at the Democratic National Convention last year. Obviously, she wanted and got the post of Secretary of State. But, it appears the Clintons weren't nearly the savvy negotiators they might have thought they were. Inquiring minds would like to know whether the Clintonistas were smart enough to insist that along with the title "Secretary of State" would come the reality that she would be the senior foreign affairs personality in the Obama Administration. Among Barack Obama's many firsts, we can now add this: He has made Hillary Clinton nearly invisible. Even Bubba never managed that. The secretary of state surfaced in Washington the other day for a speech designed to highlight her heavyweight status within the Obama administration. Her appearance did just the opposite, confirming the sense she is being marginalised on foreign policy. The campaign to puff her up was too obvious. She stacked the room with aides and her team talked up the ''muscular'' approach she would take toward Iran. To get ready for her closeup, Clinton shed the sling she has worn since breaking her elbow. All for naught. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton began her three-day trip to India on Saturday with a burst of public diplomacy, but her meeting with a group of poor women left some residents here cold. Indian newspapers described how local police gave no advance notice before barring residents of an upscale neighborhood from returning to their homes during Clinton's 90-minute visit to a shop maintained by the Self-Employed Women Association. Traffic also was blocked at a normally busy intersection, and parked cars were towed to make room for a 20-foot-wide red carpet.

yonhap news agency A delegation of North Korean officials was to arrive Tuesday to attend the Asean Regional Forum, at which they are expected to face strong pressure from other countries over Pyongyang's missile and nuclear provocations, a diplomatic source said. The North's decision not to send their Foreign Minister to the ARF, an annual meeting of top diplomats from more than a dozen nations, disappointed the host Thailand and other participants who had hoped for a breakthrough in stalled efforts to bring the North back to the negotiating table. South-east Asian foreign ministers have rejected criticism that a new human rights commission in the region will be toothless. Members of Asean set out plans yesterday at a meeting in Phuket for a regional human rights body, putting an emphasis on rights promotion rather than rights protection. But there is no provision for Asean citizens to complain to the new body, which in turn will lack any power to investigate or prosecute purported abuses.

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Comments have been disabled for this article.


Don't want to seem picky, but has anybody else noticed that Mrs Clinton is still wearing the same clothes two days after her arrival here ? Or did they do all the photos for subsequent articles all on her arrival here ? Check the photos in the P G ? Somebody take the lass shopping in Patong please ?

Posted by mouse on July 23, 2009 16:26

Monday July 6, 2020
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