Magazine article New Internationalist

Asian Tigers: The Facts. the Miracle and the Mirage: The Asian Success Story

Magazine article New Internationalist

Asian Tigers: The Facts. the Miracle and the Mirage: The Asian Success Story

Article excerpt

The growth figures for East and South - East Asia have been raising eyebrows across the financial world -- and furrowing the brows of those who have to live with the less - publicized consequences.

The initial success of the four 'little tigers' (South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore) in the 1970s and 1980s is now spreading to their neighbours -- Thailand, Malaysia and parts of Indonesia and China. Here NI takes stock of what has been gained -- and at what cost.

Thailand

Rate of economic growth 1994: 8.3%

THE MIRACLE

ECONOMY

Per capita Average yearly

GNP(f.2) growth of exports(f.3)

1973 1994 1970 - 80 1980 - 92

$240 $2,085 10.3% 14.7%

STANDARDS

Infant mortality Women in

(per 1,000 secondary

live births)(f.2) education %(f.3)

1970 - 75 1991 1970 1991

55 27 15 32

THE DOWNSIDE

Thailand has had an annual rate of deforestation of 2.6% between 1965 and 1989 -- one of the highest in Asia.(f.5)

The absolute number of poor people has increased over the period of high growth rates.

In 1992 the Thai military government under General Suchinda massacred 52 democracy demonstrators and arrested 3,000 others.

Even after the re - establishment of civilian government the whereabouts of 21 people who disappeared during the crackdown has not been established. Extra - judicial disappearances and killings are not uncommon in Thailand.

The fate of union leader Thonong Po - arn at the hands of the military remains unknown.(f.6)

Singapore

Rate of economic growth 1994: 8.8%

THE MIRACLE

ECONOMY

Per capita Average yearly

GNP(f.2) growth of exports(f.3)

1973 1994 1970 - 80 1980 - 92

$1,580 $18,025 9.9% 4.2%

STANDARDS

Infant mortality Women in

(per 1,000 secondary

live births)(f.2) education %(f.3)

1970 - 75 1991 1970 1991

14 7 45 75

THE DOWNSIDE

For well - educated parents there are subsidies of up to $5,000 for their first three children. For the poorer and less educated, subsidies are far less generous.

Undocumented foreign workers comprise 16% of all prison inmates.

Some 28% of GDP is siphoned off as transnational profits.

Women make around 75% of men's wages.

Unlike other Asian NICs local business has a small role, contributing only 30% of gross manufacturing output.(f.7)

Capital punishment applies for many offences. Caning is mandatory for 30 offences.

Riding with a damaged ticket while on the Singapore Mass Rapid Transit System incurs a fine.

Malaysia

Rate of economic growth 1994: 8.4%

THE MIRACLE

ECONOMY

Per capita Average yearly

GNP(f.2) growth of exports(f.3)

1973 1994 1970 - 80 1980 - 92

$550 $3,230 4.8% 11.3%

STANDARDS

Infant mortality Women in

(per 1,000 secondary

live births)(f.2) education %(f.3)

1970 - 75 1991 1970 1991

37 16 28 59

THE DOWNSIDE

In 1992 - 93, 80 political activists were detained without charge under the Internal Security Act -- 126 were held altogether.

The death penalty remains in force for a variety of crimes. …

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