Archive | September 2012

Asian Values V.s. Human Rights

The Asian values debate from the early 1990’s is a puzzling and questionable rebuttal to discussion of validity in regards to the human rights movement. One that is questionable on multiple fronts, including its reactionary nature, a lack of definition behind the monolithic size and diversity of “Asian Culture” and the validity of proposed notions of such values, coming from social elites, when there is a lack of free press to verify their points, which are put forward to represent the entire Asian population, ranging in the billions.

1993 saw the Bangkok Declaration being signed by dignitaries from East and South East Asia, with is main proprietors being Singapore, Malaysia and China. The key foundations of the Asian values debate comes from a rejection of Western values, and over emphasis upon the clear foundations of which Asian culture is derived. These include an emphasis on family and clan as the building block of society, hard work, frugality and respect/deference/reverence for authority. Those values form the basis of the Asian values debate. As the dignitaries argued, the West’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) represents an underlying agenda of cultural imperialism, and a lack of respect for Asian traditions and customs, indeed their general antagonism seems to suggest it is even an affront to their values. At its heart, it is a disagreement fuelled by the cultural relativism debate in human rights.
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To what extent do you think being a journalist in the 21st century will be different from in the 20th century?

Journalism, like many other industries is currently in a state of flux. The Internet is proving to be the most influential invention in recent history, as far as its revolutionary power for those at the bottom end of the economic food chain, since the birth of the Gutenberg printing press in 1811. The internet provides the global community the second revolution of information distribution, again granting a power shift from those who previously controlled media, to the people. What this means for journalists is a staggeringly complex shift in the way that we do our work, more questions are raised than there are answers for them. Some view this as a period of excitement, with many opportunities soon to rise which journalists have never had before, whilst others see the internet as the death of the industry as we know it. The topics I will cover in this essay will be the rise of information over news, the level of interaction that journalists have with their audience, and the pros and cons of such a form of communication.

Before tackling these issues however it is important to recognise that the role of the internet has not fully been actualised. The manner by which the internet is controlled may end up being completely different in nature to the way it is now at the beginning of the century. Much of what I have to say is written from an optimistic view of the future, which is that on a whole the internet is not controlled nor censored by any government or corporation. It is written from a perspective that the internet stays as the people’s tool of communication, and not from the alternative possibility, in which the power of the internet is subdued by heavy censorship/legislation by government/corporation for their own interests. Which is another possibility, one which I will acknowledge but not discuss in this paper.

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Would Australia benefit from a Bill of Rights? Why or why not?

Australia is the only Western nation in the world, without a Bill of Rights (BoR) or constitution which protects the basic rights of its citizens. In this essay I will outline three ways that Australia would benefit from having a BoR or similar. Firstly the manner by which all Australians and especially those most disadvantaged will have a domestic piece of legislature to point towards when their rights are violated. Secondly the protection it will afford the people from future, potentially tyrannical governments and finally the inspiring nature of a BoR on the people and the manner by which is instils a culture of rights protection.

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