Hosni Mubarak's release, cheap oil's impact on Canada, British MPs banned from Hong Kong, clean development, and the falling Russian ruble

This week's round-up of commentaries covers Hosni Mubarak being released from prison, cheap oil's impact on Canada's economy, British members of Parliament banned from Hong Kong, clean development in Singapore, and the struggling Russian ruble's impact on Turkey.

Tarek el-Gabbas/AP/File
Ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, 86, lies on a gurney, next to his son Gamal, second left, in the defendants cage, during a court hearing in Cairo, Egypt on Nov. 29.

The Australian / Sydney, Australia
Is the Arab Spring now past in Egypt?

“[Former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak has] been imprisoned since he was driven from power in February 2011. [Mr. Mubarak has been] acquitted of all charges over the killing of hundreds of protesters in the historic uprising that ended his authoritarian regime.... The acquittal has ... signalled a symbolic end to the hopes for a new Egyptian style of government, born of the Arab Spring and the liberal democratic ideals that inspired the Tahrir Square uprising...,” states an editorial. “Egypt is not alone in seeing the betrayal of the hopes attached to the Arab Spring. Only in Tunisia, which recently held a reasonably democratic election, have hopes of reform been realised. Even there, Tunisians are flocking to fight with ... Islamic State....”

The Globe and Mail / Toronto
Cheap oil will hurt economic growth and investments

“Central Canadians marvel at the prospect of $1 per litre gasoline and people in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland shiver at the prospect of crude in the US$60 range.... But because Canada is a net energy exporter, our loonie [Canada’s one-dollar coin] is in free fall...,” states an editorial. “The most serious problem facing Canada will be a drop in investment in future oil production. The growth of the oil sands and offshore oil in Newfoundland powered our economy out of the recession, creating jobs and putting money in consumers’ pockets. Even at today’s lower crude prices, most existing producers will continue to make money, but Canadian economic growth could suffer if investment in new production facilities is held off until prices rise.”

The Times / London
No reaction when British members of Parliament were banned from Hong Kong 

“For 30 years Beijing has grown rich through foreign trade while muzzling foreign criticism of the way China is run. Its most successful technique has been a form of commercial blackmail – the implied threat of cutting access to its markets and manufacturing sector in retaliation for ‘interference’ in its domestic affairs. Fearful of such a reaction, David Cameron has waited three months before lodging a public complaint about Beijing’s move to ban British MPs from visiting Hong Kong to investigate the slow pace of reform there,” states an editorial. “The delay is unconscionable, because the ban is outrageous. If allowed to stand it will leave Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters without a single significant show of support from abroad.... Worse, it is part of a crude recalibration of Chinese diplomacy according to the maxim that whatever Beijing can get away with must be acceptable.”

The Straits Times / Singapore
Moving toward a carless future means making changes now

“A new sustainable blueprint to guide Singapore’s development over the next 15 years was launched [in November], to create a better home, a better environment and a better future.... One priority of the ambitious $1.5 billion Sustainable Singapore Blueprint 2015 is reducing the number of private cars on the roads...,” writes Feng Zengkun. “For Singapore to truly become a car-lite nation, a high quality, reliable public transport system has to be supplemented by access to taxis, car-sharing and bicycles. But Singaporeans themselves will also have to take the first step ... [in order to reach] that vision.”

Hurriyet Daily News / Antalya, Turkey
Struggling Russian economy will hurt Turkey’s tourism industry

“The quick depreciation of the Russian ruble against the U.S. dollar might affect Turkish tourism.... The Russian losses reached $40 billion due to the Ukrainian sanctions and $100 billion due to falling oil and gas prices this year...,” writes Murat Yetkin. Turkey, the sixth most visited country in the world, received 4.2 million Russian tourists in 2013. “The depreciation of the ruble against the dollar could hit the purchasing power of Russian tourists.... When combined with the depreciating image of Turkey in Europe,... due to Turkey’s domestic political situation and the atmosphere of war in Syria and Iraq, that worry increases.”

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