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Socialist International condemns Pacific Upheavals

AT THE END of the first ever convening of Socialist's International in the South Pacific, the organization condemned the region's political turmoil. Reports Mathew Loh.

Socialist International secretary Louis Ayala said "political crisis in the South Pacific" was the meeting's main issue.

"We were very happy to see Mahendra Chaudhry (deposed and formerly detained Fijian PM) was fit but we were saddened to hear him stress the difficult times Fijians are facing.

"Listening (to Mr Chaudhry) has strengthened our resolve to stand beside our friends in Fiji, reiterate our solidarity with them on our shared principle that democracy must return to their nation," said Mr Ayala.

He added the other regional hotspots of East Timor, Solomon's, Irian Jaya, Papua New Guinea and in Asia - India/Pakistan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Cambodia, Burma and Sri Lanka also had extremely important issues of democracy, peace, security, development and social advancement.

With the Fijian issue a dominant force the island's Labour Party representative Krishna Dat was pleased with what he described as a "very strong and clear statement endorsing the 1997 constitution and the rapid reinstatement of an elected government".

"We need bilateral, regional and global pressure to see Fiji back to normal," said Mr Dat.

He added that if required the "extreme threat of economic and trade sanctions" may be needed to provide the "considerable pressure to get democracy returned in as short as six the spoken about transition of three years is not at all acceptable".

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Meanwhile on a day when former Malaysian deputy PM Anwar Ibrahim was sentenced the Malaysian delegation was in a sombre but defiant mood.

"It is a sad day for Malaysia and for democracy" Mr Liang said.

"The trial of Anwar was also a trial for Malaysian Justice and the Malaysian nation.

"The criminal charges, trial and sentence is an indictment on the system of government in Kuala Lumpur and many Malaysians despair for our international reputation and creditability".

Mr Liang also spoke of sinister reports emanating out of Malaysia about a series of morning arrests to coincide with the sentencing of Anwar.

"What is happening in Malaysia has to be of huge international concern," he said.

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