Brazilian left divided as far-right candidate cruises toward presidency

A supporter of Jair Bolsonaro, far-right lawmaker and presidential candidate of the Social Liberal Party (PSL), holds up a cardboard box depicting an electronic ballot box, during a demonstration in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in this October 14, 2018 photo. (REUTERS)
Updated 17 October 2018
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Brazilian left divided as far-right candidate cruises toward presidency

  • Haddad, a former PT mayor of Sao Paulo, has been unable to distance himself from the disdain many Brazilians harbor for the party’s role in corruption schemes revealed by investigators in recent years
  • Lula da Silva, is doing jail time for a corruption conviction. Videos of the event showed Cid Gomes was met with rowdy boos

SAO PAULO: Efforts to unite the Brazilian left against right-wing presidential front runner Jair Bolsonaro have snagged on internal squabbles, making it even harder to close a gap in opinion polls less than two weeks before the runoff election.
The latest poll, released by Ibope late on Monday, showed conservative firebrand Bolsonaro had a commanding lead over leftist rival Fernando Haddad, with 59 percent of valid votes against 41 percent for Haddad. The poll, details of which ran in newspaper Estado de S.Paulo on Tuesday, showed Haddad with a higher rate of “rejection” among voters ahead of the Oct. 28 runoff, due in part to dislike of his Workers Party (PT) even among fellow leftists. About 47 percent of people polled said they would never vote for him, compared with 35 percent rejecting Bolsonaro.
The bad news for Haddad came as efforts to attract the voters of Ciro Gomes, who came third in the first round of voting on Oct. 7 after a center-left campaign on the Democratic Labour Party ticket, devolved into a shouting match at a campaign event on Monday night.
At a rally in the northeastern state of Ceara, his brother and campaign manager Cid Gomes was called upon to formally endorse Haddad.
But Cid Gomes took the opportunity to call for a “mea culpa” over sprawling graft schemes orchestrated by leaders of the PT. The party’s founder, former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, is doing jail time for a corruption conviction. Videos of the event showed Cid Gomes was met with rowdy boos.
“You’re going to lose the election, and it’s your fault,” Cid Gomes shot back. “You morons! Lula is in prison!“
The PT held the presidency for 13 of the last 15 years and Lula remains beloved by many for his social policies, credited with easing the lives of the poor in one of the world’s most unequal countries.
Haddad, a former PT mayor of Sao Paulo, has been unable to distance himself from the disdain many Brazilians harbor for the party’s role in corruption schemes revealed by investigators in recent years.
Haddad has struggled to both stand by Lula, whom the PT considers an unjustly convicted political prisoner, and also acknowledge the party’s errors.
Bolsonaro, 63, a seven-term congressman who openly defends Brazil’s 1964-1985 military dictatorship, is pitching himself as the anti-establishment candidate and appealing to voters fed up with political corruption and violent crime.


ASEAN may be forced to choose between US, China: Cambodia PM’s son

Updated 38 min 17 sec ago
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ASEAN may be forced to choose between US, China: Cambodia PM’s son

  • Cambodia has become an unlikely staging ground for geopolitical influence in Asia
  • The economic ripples of the trade spat between China and the US could destabilize global supply chain links in Southeast Asia

BANGKOK: Southeast Asian nations may soon have to “choose sides” between the US and China in their ongoing trade war, the political heir to Cambodia’s strongman ruler Hun Sen warned Wednesday in rare public comments.
Impoverished Cambodia has become an unlikely staging ground for geopolitical influence in Asia.
In recent years it has turned into a key China ally, heading off criticism of the superpower over its claims to disputed seas in exchange for billions of dollars in investment and loans.
While China has cozied up to Cambodia, the United States and the European Union have admonished Hun Sen, the nation’s ruler for 33 years, for his increasingly authoritarian rule.
In a rare speech outside of his country, his son, Hun Many warned the US-China trade spat may create lasting divisions in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
“Perhaps one day ASEAN would have to choose between US or China,” Hun Many said in Bangkok.
“How would we see the trade war spill or expanded in other areas? Surely it will pressure individual members of ASEAN or ASEAN as a whole to choose sides.”
The economic ripples of the trade spat between China and the US could destabilize global supply chain links in Southeast Asia, while a slump in Chinese spending would impact its trading partners.
Cambodia’s strongman Hun Sen has welcomed Chinese investment to pump-prime his country’s economy.
At the same time, he has accused the US of trying to foment revolution in Cambodia by supporting his critics.
Both the US and EU decried the July elections, which were held without a credible opposition and gave Hun Sen another term in power.
When asked which of the superpowers Cambodia would side with, the Australian-educated Hun Many demurred.
“At the end of the day, it depends on those who are involved to take a more responsible approach for their decisions that affects the entire world,” he said.
Earlier this week, Hun Sen swatted away concerns that Beijing will construct a naval base off the southwest coast of Cambodia, which would provide ready access to the disputed South China Sea.
Beijing claims most of the flashpoint area, infuriating the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan who all have competing claims to its islands and potentially resource-rich waters.
Hun Many, who described himself as a “proud son,” is widely believed to be in the running to one day replace his father.
His elder brother, Manit, is the head of a military intelligence unit while Manet, the oldest, was promoted in September to the chief of joint staff of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces as well as the commander of the infantry army headquarters.
But Many brushed aside the notion.
“It is way too soon to say that I am in the next generation of leaders,” he said.