Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Singapore left out of China's OBOR?

This is not the best way to post this but I have no time.

Relevant links.

China Frictions May See Singapore Miss Out on Belt-Road Billions

Common interest of Singapore and China greater than any difference of views: DPM Teo Chee Hean

My response borrowing heavily from Leo Suryadinata, 'The Rise of China and The Chinese Overseas"

Click on pic to enlarge. 

Update: May 25 7:40 pm

Just like the suppliers selling gear to gold prospectors. We make money regardless if they find gold. I don't think there is gold.

Manchester: Targeting children

Taken from the front page.

Your hate will make you strong. Satisfy your urge for revenge. Give in to your anger. Strong is the Dark Side, do not resist its seduction.

ISIS saw how Trump shot 59 Tomahawks in response to Assad nerve gassing children. Targeting kids is their priority now.

We must resist this thirst for revenge and only pursue justice. Not a bad idea to review and update the laws on this especially to discourage more such acts.

We resist the Dark Side and seek the better angels of ourselves. May God help us.

Boom and Bust in personal road transport

Saw this early this morning and Whatsapp an old friend about it:

About a month or so ago, I shocked to see so many cars drove up to the foyer at Jcube who were Uber or Grab hires. This morning ST report helps to quantify their presence. At the personal level how is this affecting you?

Crazy. Looks like they grossly over expanded. Drivers are going to suffer. Commuters short term joy could turn into tears later. They have brought the logic of boom and bust to this segment of the transport market.

We are no good at doing road transport here isn't it? We keep trying. Sometimes we succeed but the success doesn't last long. 

Meanwhile I just got a response from my friend: "Honestly I don't bother"

And my response: "I like your attitude! Take care as competition looks fierce."

Monday, May 22, 2017

Finally a decent speech from Trump

Absent the usual divisiveness and now emphasis on unity and inclusiveness except for identifying Iran as the enemy, which there is abundant evidence that they are trouble makers.

Read his speech on his Facebook page.

Update: May 24 5:20 am

There are two ways to look at this. Trump was duplicitous and no doubt he regularly is. He had an education on Islam, I am open minded enough to accept that possibility. Nevertheless the man is unfit to be president and possibly the worst president in America's history.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

This fascinated Tharman

I find this completely intriguing that Chess could be addictive enough to lure people away from the bottle and gambling. Only in this Indian village and may be a few more undiscovered ones which have enough in common. It will never work here but it is very useful to understand why it is working there.

The other more important reason for this post is Tharman. I am always curious what goes on in the minds of some of our top leaders. Do I find them surprising or boring. Quite a few are boring but Tharman is always fresh or insightful.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mahbubani: West get North Korea wrong

I am tired of reading about North Korean defectors predicting the fall of the their country. Their track record is so poor, I have gone to read up and understand a little better why that ain't happening. These defectors basically wanted to sell books and wrote up their stories basically to achieve that. To be fair to them they believed the North is doomed or they would not have risked their lives running away.

I agree with Mahbubani that the western media get the North more wrong than right but I feared he has done even worse. E.g., there is no such thing as an unbiased point of view. All views must reflect our preference which is not informed by facts but beliefs.

His prescription of helping the North grow economically and secure so that they would give up their nuclear weapons is fantasy. There is simply not enough trust. The North does not even trust China to protect them! Would they trust the Americans? The western media has been far better at selling their views more consistently than Asian intellectuals or media.

It is completely in Singapore's interest that there is no war on the Korean peninsula and that the current debacle can with patience eventually be peacefully resolved. I signed up to that too but I feared the crazy Trump bends more toward violence because to the Americans all peaceful options have failed. The logic of others dead than American lives at risk is a powerful one to attack the North regardless of the consequences as long as America First is preserved.

A peaceful solution is available if China have the ability to guarantee the North's security but that would take a long time and the North would be nuclear armed with ICBMs long before that. Instead I think the Japanese is likely to arm themselves with nuclear weapon eventually. When that happens depends on the US commitment to its security. If the US waver the Japanese will be nuclear ready sooner. Following that South Korea will do the same.

There is no peaceful solution for the peninsula except through nuclear deterrence to maintain an uneasy peace until the social and economic circumstances of North Asia societies are completely different from today.

One Belt, One Road: Show me the money

China offers a free call option with no expiry and many nations signed up. Why not? Problem is where is the money? The Chinese have it but is not showing it. Not yet.

I like the OBOR idea but one has to be realistic as well. Beyond money the Chinese has plenty to catch up before they are able to lead this endeavor. What with so many pressing domestic issues that already consume so much time and energy.

The only thing realistic about OBOR is just one line in the story: He did not give a time frame.

But once you make a big public show of OBOR the clock starts ticking. It is no longer strictly true the Chinese can do as they please any more. You have to keep people expectant and interested or lose credibility.