My trip (starting tomorrow) through several Southeast Asian countries will be mostly fun and food, except for one, unfortunate fact. When I visit foreign countries, they (locals) always make a comment about our President. In Africa, they wanted to know about President Obama, in a most positive and inquisitive fashion. On my last two trips overseas, both to Europe, our current President was ridiculed, and laughed at. They wondered in total amazement, how a great country like the U.S. could elect such a person. So did I.
But rather than focus on the negative, let’s take look at the countries I am visiting. Does anyone know who the leaders are in these Southeast Asian countries: Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, and Vietnam?
Thailand is rather unique, since they still have a King, Rama X, who is the head of state, and still quite popular, though mostly ceremonial. The current leader is a Thai military guy named Prayuth Chan-ocha, who led the recent coup, and installed himself as Prime Minister. They have a recent history of corruption in government, with the former President, Shinawatra now in exile in England.
Malaysia’s current Prime Minister is Mahathir Bin Mohamad, serving for the second time. Together with his first term, he is the longest serving holder of this office. He was a medical doctor before entering politics. At the age of 93, he is the world’s oldest sitting head of government.
Moving on to Cambodia, a country which suffered through the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot, the government is now headed by Hun Sen. Installed in 1985, he is world’s longest serving Prime Minister. Cambodia still retains a one party system. When he became Prime Minister, he was only 32, the world’s youngest head of government. He is described as a “wily operator who destroys his political opposition.” Sound familiar??
Finally, to Vietnam, where many of my friends served in the U.S. military during the war. The President of Vietnam is the head of state. The Prime Minister is the head of government in a one party system, the Communist Party. Some of you might know of Ho Chi Minh, the revered leader of Vietnam. Recently, on September 21, the President of Vietnam passed away, Tran Dai Quang, a mere 61 years old. The National Assembly is scheduled to convene in October to elect a new President. The current Prime Minister is Nguyen Xuan Phuc, elected in April, 2016. Officially, this country is called The Socialist Republic of Vietnam. But they have carefully incorporated capitalism into their system!
Now, we will be gone while the FBI investigates the court nominee and his alcoholic reputation. Again, how embarrassing is this? I welcome the “Asia-centric” news coverage, very little about U.S. politics, or other American current events. Perhaps I will just focus more on the baseball playoffs, and hope that I am back home in time for the World Series.
My buddy Mike wore his “Not My President” T shirt in about a dozen languages. He was the most popular guy in Vietnam, as everyone wanted to take a photo with him!!!!