Congratulations to President-elect Barack Obama! Southeast Asian bloggers are celebrating his victory. In fact, his election success has led many bloggers to reflect about the need for change in their local politics. A sample of viewpoints in the region:
Rogue Economist hopes there will be â€œchangesâ€ as well in Brunei:
“It's official. The most powerful man on earth is now Barack Obama. This proves that nothing is impossible in this world, as long as you work (hard) for it. (Oh please God, Brunei needs someone like this to make changes!)”
Cambodia Calling reminds Obama about the challenges he will face:
“Why am I interested? Because it is everyone's business who becomes the leader of the most powerful nation in the world. The pressure on Obama will be immense. If Obama fails to deliver, it'll be a long time coming for another black president in the US.”
Return to Rai Ketak compares Obamaâ€™s victory to East Timorâ€™s independence celebration:
“Today, phone calls and emails, online chatsâ€¦All with one profoundly positive message. History does not make us. We make history. I have not felt like this since May 20, 2002. And one Timorese friend made the comparison over email as well:
“After Timorese independence, the election of Barack Obama is one of the great events of the 21st century. It does not matter what may come to pass afterwards. The great step has already been taken.â€
Indonesia Anonymus wonders whether Indonesians will vote an Obama-like candidate:
“Indonesians, of course, just like many people in any other countries, are mostly for Obama. So we love Obama, no doubt about it. Now the question is: if there is an ‘obama' in our country, will we be able to spot him? Or better yet, will we vote for him?
“In Indonesia, that would make our ‘obama' half native Indonesian and half Chinese. Let's just say, our ‘obama' has a javanese mother from Solo, central Java, and an Indonesian-Chinese father with ancestors from Fujian province, China.â€
GJ Jakarta notes that the world has high expectations for Obama:
â€œThis is a huge amount of pressure for this guy, he has not only the weight of Americansâ€™ expectations, but that of the entire world.
â€œThe reality is there will still be a financial crisis, the USA will be in recession, there will still be soldiers dying in Iraq and Afghanistan, thousands of people will be out of work, many more will lose their homes. I know this guy didn't do that, he's not responsible, and people are just looking for a happy story, something for the future, some shining light from the dark tunnel.â€
Mahaguru58 from Malaysia believes America has redeemed itself by electing Obama:
“America has redeemed itself today by electing a man whom we can all respect and honor. Just listening to him speak, gives us a sense of hope. Each word that he utters, each sentence that he proclaims, returns a sense of goodwill to America. Today, the whole world celebrates the coming of a new era.â€
Obnoxious 5xmom advises Malaysian bloggers who are overjoyed by Obamaâ€™s victory to do something about Malaysiaâ€™s local problems:
“It doesnâ€™t make sense. So many Malaysian bloggers are ooooing and ahhhaing over how Obama has won the USA election. They write so passionately about him and how he is going to bring changes to the United States and the world.
“Yet, in our very own backyard, here in beautiful Malaysia, they never even bother to do something about it. Why so over the moon with what is happening in the USA when we cannot even try to make the changes over here in our country?
“Why I donâ€™t see them ever question our own countryâ€™s policies? Why I donâ€™t see them ever get agitated with the things that happen over here that affects us? Why gushing over something over at the USA when we cannot even lift a finger to do something here?”
Noting that America has achieved a breakthrough after electing Obama, Lim Kit Siang bemoans the quality of race relations and nation-building in Malaysia:
“Obamaâ€™s historic breakthrough make many Malaysians ask whether it is possible for a Chinese, Indian, Kadazan to become the Prime Minister of Malaysia although the Constitution is very clear that any Malaysian citizen, regardless of race or religion can become Prime Minister.
“If such a question is asked 50 years ago, the nationâ€™s founders would unhesitatingly answered in the positive as there is no constitutional bar – separate from the question of whether it was likely to happen.
“But if the same question is asked now, there will be strong voices (as heard in Parliament today when this question was posed) who would rise up to say no.
“Why is Malaysian race relations and nation-building going backwards in the past 50 years as compared to the historic breakthrough in race relations in the United States with Obamaâ€™s historic victory in the US presidential elections?”
Rocky's bru from Malaysia has some questions for Obama:
“Will he be able to turn around the US economy? Will he close down Guantanamo Bay? Will he stop America's holy War against Terror? I have my doubts. But who cares, uh? They say anyone after Bush would/should make a better US President, at least to the rest of the miserable world.”
The US embassy in Thailand held a mock elections in Bangkok. Guess who won in the ballots? HaPPi like a HiPPo describes the mood in Bangkok:
“In the past few days, Thai television and radio channels in Bangkok have been talking a lot about Obama and seem to have forgotten about PAD protesters. Every Thai person I know supports Obama and even the radio jockeys and news presenters love him. Soon we can expect Obama dolls and other goodies being sold on the Thai streets.”
DK from Singapore was first worried over the selection of Obama as the Democratâ€™s candidate:
“I must admit that I was kinda worried when I learned that Obama is the Democrat candidate instead of Hillary. My main concern was that he is a black and America might not be really for a black president yet. Iâ€™m glad I was wrong. Iâ€™m glad Obama is elected as the President of United States. And although we donâ€™t know if he is the right person to bring USA and the world out of recession, we know that we have better chance with him in the White House.â€
Stars in the making from Singapore is a supporter of McCain:
“Tears came to my eyes when I watched John McCain give his final speech of this election campaign. In my mind, John McCain should be the next President of the USA. His experience in foreign affairs & war will stand America in good stead, and to me, he is the stability that America & the world needs during these turbulent times.
“But America voted for â€œChangeâ€. Obama is a good man, and will lead the country with integrity. He is a symbol of the American Dream, but how long will this dream last? Will reality bite when Obama steps into his first year in office? Will expectations be too much for him to meet?”
Obama has chosen a Filipino as his consultant on Asia Pacific issues. At midfield reacts:
“For Filipinos, we will now to see whether having a Filipina as his main consultant of Asia Pacific issues will benefit us and lead to Obama revisiting his position against the Filipino USAFFE veterans equity bill and other issues, not least of them how the war on terror is being carried out here.”
A Filipina Mom Blogger is curious about Obamaâ€™s foreign policy:
“As a Filipino, I am interested in Senator Barrack Obamaâ€™s foreign policy. In Obama, I see a president willing to reach out to world leaders, whether friend and enemy, to open dialogue and resolve differences through diplomacy rather than military engagement. After all, when did it hurt to sit down and talk to our enemies?
“An Obama election will send a signal to minorities across America and to countries around the world that the US is breaking through the racial divide, opening their hearts to people of all colors and religion.”
Tonyo Cruz asks Filipino activists to emulate Obamaâ€™s campaign strategies:
â€œFor Filipinos, let us draw inspiration from Obamaâ€™s victory. Let us raise the call for change this early (Obama started his campaign two years ago; the next elections here will be in less than two years!), challenge the political parties, and make our issues the central issues in the presidential campaign. Of course, the Philippine political system is a totally different animal compared to the US system. But that should not be an excuse to throw out the whole Obama experience. There are plenty of lessons to learn and perhaps to also apply in our own situations.â€