Subject: [cwj 8] Activists slam Asian Development Bank
From: Corporate Watch in Japanese <>
Date: Fri, 05 May 2000 12:29:06 -0700
Seq: 8

Friday, May 5 7:46 PM SGT 

Activists slam Asian Development Bank

CHIANG MAI, Thailand, May 5 (AFP) - 

Anti-globalisation activists branded the Asian Development Bank (ADB) as
corrupt and incompetent on Friday ahead of its annual meeting, as momentum
built behind a plan for a regional monetary fund.

About 400 angry activists joined a march to highlight the perceived "evils"
of globalisation after a coalition of NGOs issued a catalogue of
accusations against the ADB's role in post crisis-Asia.

"Globalisation is killing poor people" read one banner held by protestors
chanting "get out of Thailand ADB!"

Protests were however muted compared with demostrations at a major UN trade
conference in Bangkok earlier this year and at other recent world financial

NGO representatives earlier criticised ADB policies and the Thai government
for supporting them.

"Thais are being asked to bear the huge debt burden imposed by the ADB as
well as cope with huge long-term damage to society, public health and
ecology," said a statement from the groups.

Norly Grace Mercado of the Legal Rights Centre in the Philippines claimed
that a succession of ADB projects had suffered from "poor preparation, bad
management and were unrealistic."

He alleged that good governance reforms supported by the bank were pushed
through the Philippine parliament with improper or corrupt methods --
therefore negating their purpose.

ADB Vice-President Myoung-Ho Shin said in a meeting with NGO
representatives that there was "little difference" between the goals of the
two sides.

But he admitted that some ADB projects had not turned out satisfactorily
for everybody. NGOs said several ADB-backed dam projects in Thailand and
Vietnam had been human disasters.

Thai bankers issued a vigorous defence of the regional bank.

"Asia needs the ADB as the old cartel of family-owned banks has broken up,"
said Aswin Kongsiri, executive director of Thailand's Siam Commercial Bank.

Many Asian banks were submerged by non-performing loans and shunned by
credit ratings agencies and the Manila-based ADB was one of the few
institutions that could raise substantial funds, he said.

He said the regional banking crisis was so deep it would be a long time
before banks could offer the loans needed to cement the recovery.

Supporters of a proposed regional monetary fund stepped up their campaign
Friday for an expanded ADB role, and a plan which could see it
metamorphosise into an Asian Monetary Fund.

Japan's unsuccesful candidate for the International Monetary
Fundleadership, Eisuke Sakakibara, on Friday led revived calls for the
establishment of an Asian Monetary Fund, which first arose during the
regional economic crisis in 1997, 

A fund could "guard against volatility if (Asian states) are to prevent any
future crises," said Sakakibara, who was dubbed "Mr Yen" for his influence
on financial markets.

Thai Commerce Minister Supachai Panitchpakdi told reporters that it
appeared an unstoppable momentum was building for some kind of Asian
support mechanism.

Thai police have meanwhile laid down a huge security net to head off any
violent protests and to deter any terrorist acts.

Security forces would also be on maximum alert after kidnappings involving
Muslim rebels in the Philippines and the seizure of a hospital by Myanmar
rebels in Thailand earlier this year.

Last year's World Trade Organisation summit in Seattle was severely
disrupted by protests and anti-globalisation groups, which also
held angry demonstrations at the World Economic Forum in Davos,
Switzerland, this year.

At a UN trade conference held in Bangkok in February, NGO representatives
led protests involving hundreds of people along the street outside the

One activist smashed a pie into the face of former IMF managing director
Michel Camdessus.

Founded in 1966 as a multilateral infrastructure bank, the ADB is
subscribed to by 58 member countries and territories, comprising 42 from
Asia and 16 donor nations from North America and Europe.

The bank has recently focused more heavily on alleviating poverty, and this
weekend plans to review strategies for tackling poverty and efforts to
reinforce soft loan facilities.
Corporate Watch in Japanese
Transnational Resource and Action Center (TRAC)
P.O. Box 29344
San Francisco, CA 94129 USA
Tel: 1-415-561-6472
Fax: 1-415-561-6493
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