Category Archives: compelling read

Mandela: a man whe taught us about Reconciliation

By Colin Chapman

Everyone remembers a red-letter day in their life, and one of those came late in January 1992 in Davos, Switzerland, when I joined others to shake the hand of Nelson Mandela.

While his serene and smiling face were compelling, I had to glance down at those hands. These were hands that for 27 years had broken rocks at he infamous Robbin Island, a grim prison off the coast of South Africa, where Mandela, a lawyer , and other members of the African National Congress, had been incarcerated because of their opposition to apartheid.

Mandela had been invited to join his former jailer, President F.W. de Klerk on the platform of the World Economic Forum by this august organization’s founder, Professor Klaus Schwab, who has established an reputation for bridge building.

As Mandela was to repeat many times in subsequent years, he said he could never forget, but he had forgiven those who had stolen so much of his adult life. In a memorable speech, I remember, particularly, the following passage, “we do not ask for pity. We do not face the world with a begging bowl. We look to the future with dignity. We know that we will eradicate poverty through our own skills and labour. We recognise that our country has, because of apartheid, gone through a traumatic experience, no less than the wars that have been fought in Europe and elsewhere.”

The whole speech is worth reading today, and there is a link to it below. But there was something else. Mandela talked of an investment strike by private enterprise, and called for nationalization of key part of the ecionomy.

Later, in Davos, after meeting world leaders, he was talked out of it. They convinced him the world would invest in the “New South Africa”, as everyone began to call it.

I was later able to play my own small part in the New South Africa. My then employer, the Financial Times Group, took a 50 per cent stake in the country’s main financial newspaper, Business Day and in the weekly Financial Mail. We started the African Business Channel, on radio and television, and I became its first chairman, a task which took me to Johannesburg frequently.

When Mandela became president, I was able to see him in action, and got to know some of his ministers, particularly Trevor Manuel, who was to become South Africa’s longest serving finance minister.

Despite the success of the early years of Mandela’s presidency – and the global goodwill towards him and his government, the new South Africa faltered after he left Pretoria. His successor, Thabo Mbeke, also a lawyer, held office for nine years, and president over solid economic growth engineered bhy Manuel, but was unable to fix other problems that became endemic, including corruption and crime. The current president, Jacob Zuma, has also watched problems mount, and few now talk of the New South Africa.

But Mandela will never be forgotten.

Interesting Tributes

From the editor of the New York Times

Mandela’s death leaves South Africa without itsmoral centre-  New York Times

From former Australian prime minister, Malcolm Fraser.


Desmond Tutu on Nelson Mandela

A man who inspired the world – The Observer


Remember Tiananmen

COMPELLING READ: Chin Jin, a strong supporter of the China Democracy movement, funds his writing and broadcasting by driving a Sydney taxi three days a week. Although Chin is committed to pursuing his aims by persuasion rather than violence (“the pen is mightier than the sword”, the Beijing government cruelly refuses him a visa to visit his ailing father in his homeland.

Chin, a former merchant seaman, came to study in Australia a quarter of a century ago, and was one of the many students allowed to stay by former prime minister Bob Hawke after the Tianamen Sq massacre. He has just published a book on the work of the Democracy movement. Continue reading

READ: Future Leader of Al Qaeda?

COMPELLING READ: Anthony Ham, a Melbourne-based journalist, has written a bold and brave prediction for who he believes maybe the future figurehead of Al Qaeda. His call is bold, because Mokhtar Belmokhtar was only just ejected from Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in late 2012. Ham’s logic provides an interesting case and it does not seem he is alone in making this prediction. Whether you believe or not, his article is insightful and thought-provoking, and as many who try to crystal-ball gaze on counter terrorism issues would say, he may just prove to be right.

Image via youtube

PM’s Trip to India Resounding Success

COMPELLING READ: Much has been said of the PM Gillard trip to India last week, the uranium deal and the Order of Australia Award to Sachin Tendulkar. If you are behind on this issue, the Business Standard’s article provides a neat round up of how the PM got it right.

This compelling read was recommended by AIIA NSW President Colin Chapman.

Fantastic news for your Friday

COMPELLING READ: In the United Nations General Assembly vote, Australia has secured one of five non-permanent seats on the UN Security Council. Estimated to have cost around $25million over the five year campaign, the UNSC bid was launched by Kevin Rudd and has been a major priority of the current Government. Senator Bob Carr was quoted as saying:

It’s countries saying ‘we like Australia. We think Australia’s role is good and positive and we want to see Australia provide leadership’… It’s a wonderful heart-warming endorsement of Australia as a good local citizen.

Read more on the ABC:

The AIIA’s position paper on the UNSC bid is here:

Tell us what you think of the UNSC bid win!

FT: Obama has failed the youth of the Arab Spring

COMPELLING READ: To keep you up to date on the US election race and the issues informing debate, Councillor Nicholas Wright has recommended Ahmed Rashid’s article on the Financial Times Blog, post 15 October 2012.
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Foreign minister Bob Carr talks to ABC’s Kerry O’Brien about The Battle for Syria

COMPELLING READ: This week, Four Corners went on the frontline of the civil war raging in Syria, embedding themselves with a rebel militia. They witness Syrian soldiers defecting, and are helpless to intervene when a Government informer is captured and tortured. This is a fascinating report and must watch:

For more on Syria, be sure to watch NSW president Colin Chapman discusses the stalemate with STRATFOR’s director of analysis Reva Bhalla:

[‘The Battle for Syria’ was produced and directed by Jamie Doran from Clover Films and presented by Kerry O’Brien. You can also catch it on ABC catch up tv, ABC IVIEW]

Fullilove on the Foreign Policy Positions of Romney and Obama

COMPELLING VIEW: The Lowy Institute’s Dr Michael Fullilove launched his paper The Audacity of Reasonableness yesterday in Sydney. The paper examines the likely foreign policy differences between the Obama and Romney camps, observing that Obama is less dovish and Romney less hawkish than we might have expected and that overall the similarities are more notable than the differences. Dr Fullilove suggests the greatest differences will be substantive policy on Russia, Israel and multilateralism and the UN.

The full video of the event is not yet available, but below you will find a short 6-minute summary piece. The paper can be downloaded here.

Remember, the AIIA NSW will host two events on the US election in the coming month, firstly on Tuesday 23 October and then on Wednesday 7 November. Details on both events will be on the soon.

This compelling read was recommended by Shannon Barnes.

Kevin Rudd’s Strategic Roadmap for US-China Relations

ImageCOMPELLING READ: Several councillors and members of the AIIA NSW attended a special meeting at the Glover Cottages on Friday at which former foreign minister Kevn Rudd talked about China under new leadership: a new strategic roadmap for US-China relations.

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Stephen Fitzgerald on Australia’s Recognition of China in 1972

COMPELLING VIEW: Friend of the AIIA NSW and the first Australian Ambassador to China after opening of relations in 1972, Stephen Fitzgerald, was interviewed on Geraldine Doogue’s Saturday Extra (Radio National) this weekend. The interview focuses on Dr Fitzgerald’s new essay for the Whitlam Institute to mark the 40th anniversary of opening relations with the Peoples Republic of China. During the interview, Dr Fitzgerald is direct on Australia’s current geo-strategic positioning vis-a-vis the US and China: we need not choose between the US and China.

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