DUBLIN — Irish political punditry has long been something of an echo-chamber, so it was not much of a surprise when a tired default acronym got another airing over the past few weeks. “GUBU”, coined by the late Conor Cruise O’Brien, former UN diplomat, Irish government minister and editor of The Observer, stands for “Grotesque, Unbelievable, Bizarre and Unprecedented.” There is nothing, however, unprecedented about its over-use, as the acronym is invariably fired out whenever something controversial or unusual takes place in Irish politics. Inevitably, GUBU is the shorthand of choice, irrespective of hyperbole or appropriateness. The bizarre death-throes of the current government led by Brian Cowen and his party, Fianna Fáil, are as close to GUBU as Ireland has seen since the term first entered the political lexicon back in 1982 – when Ireland’s economy was spinning through another crisis.
BANGKOK — “May I propose a toast for the long-lasting Sino-Myanmar pauk-phaw friendship.” So said Li Jinjun, China’s Ambassador to Myanmar, or Burma, speaking at an official reception in Rangoon five years ago. Meaning ‘brother’ in Burmese, Li’s remarks alluded to the growing commercial and strategic ties between the two countries – links which Burmese opposition leaders and exiles have slammed for helping maintain the oppressive status quo in Burma, which is scheduled to hold elections on November 7. The real meaning of Pauk-phaw was underlined last week with the visit of Burma’s junta leader Sen. Gen. Than Shwe to China, marking the 60th anniversary of bilateral relations between the two countries, where once again both sides saluted their pauk-phaw relationship
BANGKOK — Last week, just over fifteen years after the US and Vietnam normalised relations marred by decades-old war, the naval destroyer USS John S. McCain docked in the central Vietnamese city of Da Nang to mark the anniversary. The ship is named after the grandfather of 2008 US presidential candidate John McCain, a former prisoner of war in Vietnam. Commanding officer Jeffrey Kim said that “over the last 15 years, we’ve established trust, a mutual respect, and I know that, in the coming years, our friendship and relationship will continue to become better.”According to a Vietnamese scholar who requested anonymity, the tighter relations are seen as a good thing inside the country. “Vietnamese view the US rather positive as the war is becoming history in the memory of a new generation,” he commented in an email.