Just a few decades ago, the Asia pacific region was hit with the worst economic crisis in history. However, since then the region has grown to be one of the fastest growing regions economically. Currently, it is one the most stable regions in the world with a cluster developing countries. According to estimates from financial analysts, the regions hold the most growth potential in the coming decades. It has one of the youngest and most skilled populations. Unlike other regions such as South America and Africa.
One of the areas that the Asia pacific region is lacking in is strong leaders. Except for a few actions by some leaders such as the Chinese, most others are not willing to act. For instance, the Chinese claim over much of the South China Sea has seen many hyped statements in the media. However, the real picture on the ground is quite different. None of these countries is willing to go toe to toe against the Asia giant.
However, China has also been largely unwilling to act against aggression by foreign powers. Despite its claim to this sea, whenever countries such as the US have breached the area it claims, Chinese leaders have been unwilling to do anything. Generally, there is a pattern of inaction in the region on most issues.
In terms of business, the region has been unable to exploit its full potential. What is quite clear is that the region is experiencing phenomenal growth. However, the growth in these countries needs to expand to other regions of the world. When compared to the countries of the west, this growth has been quite sluggish. For one, governments have not been acting to protect the actions of their domestic companies. In the US for instance, the President is always ready to support domestic companies with diplomacy and legislation to help them grow. Most Asia leaders have appeared clueless as to how they can intervene to protect growth in their domestic economies.
Another area where there has been a lot of sluggishness is poverty eradication. Despite the huge growth experienced in the past few years, little has changed. The common people are still experiencing huge poverty rates. Except for a few places such as China, poverty eradication programs have largely failed. A good example is India. Despite the huge growth, the sprawling slums continue to expand. In addition, crimes associated with low economic status such as gender-based violence are still a huge issue.
Perhaps one of the biggest demonstrations of inaction is in corruption. Asia pacific countries have some of the highest rates of corruption in the world. Most of the governments in the region recently came into power on a platform of change and ending corruption. The current India administration came to power on this platform. However little has changed since then. The country and the region continue to be hit by mega corruption scandals.
A good example of how corruption is widespread was the Malaysian 1MDB scandal. This involved the Malaysian Investment Fund. Billions of Dollars seems to have disappeared overnight. The issue has had far-reaching implications. This has even led to calls for the prime minister to resign. The people of Malaysia have lost billions of dollars and none of it is yet to be recovered. Furthermore, despite statements from the government, nothing seems to move on the ground. Up to now, there have been very few convictions if any, on the issue. This corruption has even strained relationships with the US to some extent.
What Must Change?
Clearly, it cannot continue to be business as usual. Something needs to change if the region is to capitalize on its superb economic growth. Leaders in the region need to be seen to take steps that are more concrete. The leadership, however, cannot tackle theses serious issues on their own.
The institutions that are given these tasks must also be seen to act. The leaders need to apply as much pressure as necessary to make sure that everybody is doing their job. In addition, they need to make sure these institutions are free of political interference.
The Asia pacific region has a lot of potential for becoming great. However, all this might remain a pipe dream if the leaders are unwilling to act. As of now, they are at a watershed moment, which will determine how the future of the region will be.
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