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Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?

Asiaweek Time Asia Now Asiaweek story

LETTERS AND COMMENT

"To report accurately and fairly the affairs of Asia in all spheres of human activity, To see the world from an Asian perspective, to be Asia's voice in the world"
Mission Statement, 1975


HOW TO REACH ASIAWEEK?

I FULLY AGREE WITH Zaid Ibrahim [THE NATIONS/VIEWPOINT, July 3] that the "no contests" instruction to members of the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) is not consonant with party tradition. During the time of the Tunku, Tun Razak and Hussein Onn, despite serious political and economic problems facing Malaysia and the party leadership, there was no attempt to stifle criticism, let alone bar contests for party posts. Those leaders firmly believed in democratic principles.

Mahathir changed this. Seemingly democratic, he has always been critical of Western values, including democracy. By banning contests at divisional levels he was able to obtain continuous support from the party's old guard. One observes an erosion of democratic principles and practices in UMNO over the past 15 years and an increasing tendency in the party and government toward authoritarianism.

Muhammad Nurudin
Kuala Lumpur


SURVEY ON MAYLAYSIAN LEADERS

IMAGINE COMING TO A conclusion about the leader of a country based on the opinions of a random, miserable poll ["Speaking One's Mind," July 3]. [The Internet poll of 81 people was conducted by an associate professor at the National University of Malaysia.] I guess the opinions of the rest of the country - millions of voters - come to nought.

Suleiman Abdullah
via the Internet


QUESTIONING OXYGEN BARS

"NEW AIR FOR A New Age" [HEALTH, July 3] is very disturbing. In pulmonary medicine, oxygen is considered a "drug" and has to have a physician's prescription. There are specific indications for its use. One cannot help but be amazed by the commercialization of a form of oxygen therapy. It brings up the issue of possible misuse and abuse of oxygen. Is there any objective evidence of benefit from a randomized-placebo controlled trial that will confirm the efficacy of oxygen given at four liters per minute for 20 minutes? Yes, it can elevate your blood oxygen level for some minutes, but does it give you real benefits? Besides, giving oxygen at this level is not providing "99.9% pure medical-grade oxygen." It's true that we get 21% of oxygen from the atmosphere. Giving it at 4 liters per minute is equivalent to 36%, not 99.9%. Has the U.S. Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) approved its use in oxygen bars?

Dr. Percival Punzal
Philippine Heart Center
Quezon City


THE FDA'S POSITION: MEDICAL oxygen requires a prescription in order to be dispensed. But the FDA notes the spread of oxygen bars and says that they "don't administer oxygen for medical or emergency use in the traditional sense." Under its rules, oxygen-bar advertising that makes unproven medical claims would render the oxygen a new drug.

In Asiaweek's article, Oxyvital's owner said her oxygen bar is for the healthy only and that all customers have to sign disclaimers that they do not suffer from emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. - Editors


HOW TO REACH ASIAWEEK

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