Lee Kuan Yew, the founding Prime Minister of Singapore, passed away on 23rd march 2015. His supporters called him a great leader and outstanding politician who turned Singapore from a poor British colony into one of the richest country (if wealth is calculated per capita wise) in the world. His detractors would derided him as a dictator, and violator of human rights and civil liberties. Continue reading Remembering Lee Kuan Yew
Recently, I heard an exchange on a Canadian radio show. An interviewee criticized a new Canadian government effort to pass an anti-Muslim law. The radio host let slip a “standard” excuse /justification: “The Canadian legislators are legitimate representatives duly elected by the people.” The interviewee replied interestingly, “That doesn’t mean their actions are legitimate.”
Thus, it hit the nail on the head for the issue that we have been dancing around the ideologies for decades and centuries: What is legitimacy in politics?
In honor of passing of the Singaporean leader, I ponder this question.
Continue reading What is Legitimacy?
Lee Kuan Yew passed away yesterday (March 23, 2015). It is a sad day for Singapore, for Chinese everywhere, as well as for the world. Under Lee’s leadership, Singapore became not only an economic and technological Mecca, but has also developed a unique multicultural melting pot that help it escape the many racial and religious violence that have gripped its earlier history and has continued to grip other parts of Asia and the world.
One of our contributors here passed along a commemorative issue from The Strait Times. I thought it’s fitting to link and archive a copy here.
The news about China the last few days is about how it is scoring a diplomatic coup d’état against the U.S. vis-a-vis Europe. On March 12, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced that the U.K. had applied to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as a founding member. If accepted, Britain would have been the first major Western country to become a member.
A few days later, Germany, France and Italy also announced that they too would join. South Korea and Australia soon also switched their stance and are now on the verge of joining.
Japan appears to be the odd-power out in Asia now. Given its history of deference to the U.S. (e.g. Plaza Accord) and its current diplomatic row with China, my money is on Japan not joining at this stage. But even nationalistic and deferential Japan has not has not ruled out the possibility of joining at the founding stage.
The editorial board of the NYT today penned an editorial titled “U.S. Allies, Lured by China’s Bank.” The notion that China is “luring” U.S. allies seems to me … err … funny – even laughable. Continue reading The Tussle over AIIB – So Much ado about Influence?
I was driving last night and tuned onto WNYC of “On Point” program about “Xi Jinping and his Anticorruption Campaign”. The introduction was about the Wall Street Journal article by David Shambaugh about the coming crackup of China. The usual format with 3 professors or China experts exponding on the topic. The 3 experts and the listener callers generally agree with David Shambaugh with some reservations that the anticorruption campaign is doomed to fail, that it’s a factional jockeying for power, and we better be prepared for the coming collapse.
Since the founding of People’s Republic of China in 1949, there were innumerable books about the coming collapse of China. Every few years the thesis reared its ugly head and proved wrong. I am sure CIA spent millions consulting those China experts regularly and issued dire warnings to no avail. Today, with China on the verge if not already surpassed U.S. in total GDP (Price parity), the threat of China and concomitant theme of coming collapse is gaining currency to the chattering classes. One of the experts, a professor from San Diego State, expressed puzzlement why Xi, being himself suffered from Cultural Revolution, and his father also suffered and purged, still seem to admire Mao and want to continue his policies in culture and art. She said that Deng has to give lip service to Mao because he has to appease Chen Yun, but Xi has no apparent foe to pull to the left. To me the answer is obvious yet it seem to be beyond her understanding.
U.S. bills herself as a Christian nation. Yet as some said if Jesus is born today he’ll either be ignored as a crackpot, jailed as a subversive, or lock up in a mental institution. The real god in Capitalism is money/profit. The tenets of Capitalism a priori assume competing philosophies as false gods. To the good professor factional struggle is about money, fame, and power. She doesn’t ask what’s the purpose of power? She assumes self interest. She can’t imagine that Xi’s fond memory of flea and mosquito bites in Yan’an in his youth as genuine. It must be theatre and propaganda. Xi’s speech can’t possibly be genuine. I beg to differ. I remember the week I spent in 1958 when my 7th grade school moved in mass to the countryside. We spent 1 week harvesting soybeans, picking cottons, and eating 2 meals of soybeans. Some students never suffered the attack of mosquitoes in the city now showed bites all over their head. and laughed at each other. I am sure that we did more damage and ate up the surplus value at the commune than our labors generated, but it was the happiest week during my childhood. Xi is a Marxist, he believes China will be a moderately prosperous country soon, and working to make it true. He personifies China Dream.
In science, a theory is postulated to explain some facts, the theory is tested by its predictive power. If the predictions don’t fit the facts it must be modified or abandoned. Yet those so called China experts continuously predicted the demise of China and find a receptive market for their chatters. It’s a puzzlement.
“Under the Dome” originally was a novel by Stephen King about a community in Maine enclosed by an alien force field and the how the people reacted under the stress. CBS adopted it later for a TV drama series. Chai Jing was a reporter for CCTV. She resigned after she got married and became pregnant. Recently she made a documentary about smog and pollution, using her own money, and it went viral and caused quite a stir in China.
In the documentary Chai Jing, using the format like TED talk, on a stage with a projection screen showing pictures, statistics, and interviews with experts showed how pollution affects hundreds of millions of Chinese people. The blanket of smog makes people like living under a dome of cancer causing pollutants. As a former reporter she knows how to communicate effectively in simple language to common people, using personal anecdotes about her new born baby, some basic science, and experts combined to pull the heart strings of viewers. The response has been tremendous with some comparing her to Rachel Carson and “Silent Spring”. The minister of environmental protection was forced to comment on the documentary and praised it. The overwhelming response on the web is positive with some inevitable sniping about her being a former smoker causing her baby’s benign tumor rather than smog and possible effect on jobs and economy. One funny result was the stock prices of all the companies involve in pollution controls in China jumped the day after the showing of the documentary.
China has agreed with US in capping the CO2 emissions and are investing heavily in green technologies. Local officials now can be fired for failing pollution standards. The documentary is in Chinese, I do hope it will be translated to English or with English subtitles. It can be viewed at Todou or Yukou.