Tuesday, May 31, 2005
A Follow-up By the Standard on the Disney Shark-fin Soup Tragedy...
Until attitudes change in Hong Kong, there will be no change in the tradition of serving the awful tasting and ecologically detrimental dish. Disney's disingenuous claim justifying serving it:
Disney spokeswoman Esther Wong said on May 27 that the park is sticking with its decision to serve shark's fin because it is ``part of the local Chinese culture.''
Of course they are going to continue to serve it since status-hungry Hong Kong people want it to be served. Most Hong Kong people that I have spoken to about this are oblivious to the plight of the shark. They just don't want to know about it.
And where did this "tradition" come from? Some brave souls are eschewing the "tradition." As I wrote before, I tried to have it removed from my wedding banquet, but the older folks insisted that it be served, otherwise, they felt like that they were cheating their guests.
Maybe the only thing to raise the consciousness of Hong Kong people to this barbaric habit would be something like an Earth First! kind of response. If anyone is familiar with Earth First!, they stage aggressive high profile media oriented and sometimes dangerous actions. Maybe this is what Disney wants.
Monday, May 30, 2005
I Think that Bill Maher is a Jerk.....
but that doesn't stop him from getting on TV to spew his particular brand of leftist whining.
On the May 13 broadcast of HBO's Real Time With Bill Maher, he referred to the Army's recruiting difficulties by saying that "we've done picked all the low-lying Lynndie England fruit, and now we need warm bodies." This comment does a great disservice to the brave members of all the military services.
Maher's lack of common sense is comparable to Sean Penn's pre-war visit to his buddy, Saddam Hussein. These guys are hungry for publicity in any form, and honestly believe that their celebrity status makes them experts in world affairs. These two "famous" men are probably not capable of understanding the level of sacrifice it takes for a man or woman to enlist, train under unbelievably difficult circumstances, and go thousands of miles away to fight for their country.
I didn't like him then and I still don't like him now. I just find it difficult to be even mildly amused when I hear him speak. Why is this person on TV saying such things?
Bill Maher, host of HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher," says Christians and others who are religious suffer from a neurological disorder that "stops people from thinking."
Is this funny, insightful or just the rantings of a dim-wit? I just think that the guy is a dim-wit.
Said Maher: "When people say to me, 'You hate America,' I don't hate America. I love America. I am just embarrassed that it has been taken over by people like evangelicals, by people who do not believe in science and rationality. It is the 21st century. And I will tell you, my friend. The future does not belong to the evangelicals. The future does not belong to religion."
At least my nation is not run by morons like him and does not belong to people like him but all of us, including people that believe in God.
And of course,he also says things like this about the handicapped...
another controversial comment Maher made on Politically Incorrect when he compared mentally handicapped children to dogs saying:But I've often said that if I had -- I have two dogs -- if I had two retarded children, I'd be a hero. And yet the dogs, which are pretty much the same thing. What? They're sweet. They're loving. They're kind, but they don't mentally advance at all.... Dogs are like retarded children.
Please don't watch this guys TV programs.
Another Journalist gets arrested while the residents of the fever-swamps of Beijing try to change June 4th history.
Beijing ought to spend less time criticising Japan over revisionist textbooks and focus more on its own moral responsibilities.
I Vote For Tube Tops and Mini-skirts.....
Nearly 20 years ago, when I was working in New York, Fridays were dress down days. We had to donate a dollar to the charity United Way for the privilege. Now, dressing down in more casual clothes has become a normal business practice believed to foster better employee relations.
However, in Hong Kong, this may not be humanly possible...
The group's statement comes after a survey of 17 office premises conducted by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, which found indoor temperatures of most offices hovering around 21C and 22C, with the coolest a winter-like 17.6C.
Raise the temperature in the office and shed some clothing. I see that as a good thing and look forward to seeing more eye candy.
The Brutal Killing of Innocents By Islamic Radicals Continues....
This won't be enough to placate the mandarins in Beijing. They will just come up with something else to complain about.
The French have voted and have voted 'Non' on the new EU constitution. For a good rundown of what various people are saying about this vote read Instapundit's piece here.
I have my own thoughts on this. Europe risks becoming an economic backwater where high labor and social costs will lead to long-term economic stagnation. I didn't see Europe eating the world's economic lunch when the Euro was 88 cents to the US dollar, how are they going to compete now?
The EU constitution largely codifies what has become a competitive necessity. Current restrictive work rules and the need to erect barriers to competition will raise costs when costs are being driven down for the rest of the globe through new investments and productivity gains. Ultimately, Europe will not benefit from that until they decide to harmonize their business practices with everyone else. Every country or region has their problems, but Europe is trying their best to make something bad into something even worse through inaction and diddling.
Additionally, the French voter has said that they want more of the same....but the model of high taxes and high social benefits may not be sustainable and lead to chronic unemployment[scroll down to the abstract "Why is French unemployment so high"]. Good luck our to European friends, they are digging their own grave of ignominy.
Crazy like a fox or just crazy? I never understood this guy. Maybe he turned to the dark-side a long time ago.
Friday, May 27, 2005
Pfizer Stock Down 2% on Viagra Side Effect Reports.....
The shares of Pfizer have declined in New York on Friday after a report by the FDA potentially linking the drug, Viagra to 23 cases of blindness since 1998.
It was also widely believed that masturbation causes blindness as-well-as hairy palms and insanity.
Masturbation was also associated with many physical symptoms; psychiatrist Benjamin Rush called it "self-pollution," claiming that it caused headaches, epilepsy, nosebleeds, memory loss, heart murmurs, blindness, and even psychosis.
A history of masturbation here, but I digress. Also, Mia had the good taste last week to point out the positive aspects of manual pleasure, I digress again.
We all know that this will result in litigation and how interesting is that going to be! In sworn court testimony, gramps will have to divulge all...."Ethyl and me were doing it all week-end and then I just went blind."
The attorneys should check the men for hairy palms too while they are at it. Maybe they were manually liberating themselves instead.
Its Alot Less Exciting Than It Should Be......
While the mad-mandarins of Beijing sphincter muscles twitch furiously over the election of the Hong Kong chief executive [detailed earlier] the rest of us are searching for some small tid-bits of newsworthy information to keep us mildly interested.
From the start, we all know that the election is a pre-ordained ordeal, wrapped in modernistic pomp but still mired in feudal tradition. However, very little will happen to further the progress of giving the people their deserved voice in their own destiny. The process and procedures are mapped out and people will go through the strokes to receive their new chief executive as if this is something to be proud of.
Even the wild-eyed pro-Beijing camp is becoming increasing dissatisfied with the tenor of progress in Hong Kong as they too get the cold shoulder from Beijing.
The flicker comes from members of the 800-strong Election Committee, who belong to the traditional leftist, pro-Beijing camp. These loyal souls were waving the red flag well before the motley assortment of opportunists who make up most of the committee discovered its virtues. They feel they have been shabbily treated by their masters in Beijing, more or less, since the SAR was formed.
They have voiced their displeasure with a tirade on the hapless chief executive in-waiting, Donald Tsang, as surrogate to their Beijing masters.
Some people figure that since this is the only possible world, in Hong Kong, then its the best of all possible worlds. Voltaire argued over 200 years ago that this attitude is hogwash and that...
"Liberty of thought is the life of the soul." (from Essay on Epic Poetry, Voltaire 1727)
Beijing figures that the opiate of material wealth will be enough to satisfy the typical Hong Konger, and they may be correct, at least for a while. But Hong Kong is made up of people that fled oppression to seek greater liberty and won't be satisfied with the simple pleasure of being associated with one China.
The people here have earned and deserve better than that.
Thursday, May 26, 2005
The Scourge of the Red Guard Reintroduced to Hong Kong.....
Red guard is a term used referring to militias in communist states. The famous Chinese red guard of the mid-1960's....
One of the militant school and college students, wearing red armbands, who were the shock-troops of the Cultural Revolution in China from 1966 to 1969. After killing many party officials and plunging the country into chaos, the Red Guards were outlawed and suppressed by the Chinese leader Mao Zedong.
Secretary for Education and Manpower Arthur Li, and Ma Lik and the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong are promoting a program to instill "patriotism" into young students by...
Li will send over 100 boys to the PLA [note: PLA is the People's Liberation Army]this July so they can ``strengthen their national identity'' and ``cultivate proper perception of national defense.''
But this is for starters. Over 200 students annually will be dispatched to Beijing for a 10-day ``national education'' course. They too ``are required to help teachers to promote national education in schools.''
So, these patriots find the need to send our students to indoctrination camps in China, specifically, the armed services to instill patriotism into these students. Then upon their return, the students are being asked to....
``assist their teachers'' in teaching these lessons to their fellow students.
All of this is just too close for comfort. And if the teachers don't comply, they will be struggled against and forced into the streets wearing dunce caps where they will confess to their anti-revolutionary crimes and they themselves sent to reeducation camps so that they too learn how to be patriotic. The students will also be asked to report on the patriotism of fellow students and keep an eye on the activities of their parents and siblings. Just kidding or am I? Do you want to take a chance with these clowns Arthur Li and Ma Lik?
The Fever Swamps of Beijing...
Now the mandarins of Beijing worry that there is a conspiracy afoot to foil the election of hand-picked Donald Tsang. Anything less than a Saddam Hussein-esque 100% yes vote is looked upon as a defeat for the mad-mandarins. And they are worried also that a conspiracy plot is being hatched, whereas a declared candidate feins illness and gets the independent judiciary here to delay the coronation past the appointed date of July 10th.
There are ``grave worries,'' said a source, that a non-Tsang contender for chief executive could ``fall ill'' and seek to delay the election thus derailing the mainland's careful plans to have a new chief executive elected on July 10, three days before the current hand-picked election committee's term ends.
Sources say Beijing is convinced that the democratic camp has a devious plan to feign the illness of a contender in order to sabotage the election.
Jeez, these guys aren't for real are they. But sadly they are in power and the fever swamps of Beijing just get nuttier and nuttier every day.
Limits to China's Growth Imminent....
Severe shortages of energy are developing and will become critical over the next 5 years.
China is expected to consume 2.2 billion tons of coal a year by 2010, resulting in a shortage of 330 million tons a year, the China Daily reported Wednesday.
By 2010, output is expected to rise to 1.87 billion tons a year, far below the projected level of consumption, he said.
Obviously, shortages can be met by increasing imports.
a recent projection by the US-based Rand Corp that China will depend on imports for 60 percent of its oil supply and 30 percent of its natural gas by 2020.
China is the world's second-largest importer of crude oil after the United States.
These are staggering numbers and it will be interesting to see if they can continue to run current and power up new factories over the next 5 years.
And also don't forget the 5,000 or so people that lose their lives in coal mining accidents every year in China.
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
What a Shame...China is Destroying its Cultural Heritage.......
Historically significant ancient tombs were destroyed or covered over with dirt to make way for a new housing project in Inner-Mongolia. Despite...
Their actions amounted to a violation of China's cultural relics protection law, but so far no one had been arrested.
No one has been arrested and the article also goes on to say that the destruction continues and the police are not stopping it!
There must be lots of payoffs and graft going on to do this. And where are all the officials in Beijing? Oh, I forgot, the lunatics are too concerned with which places the Japanese Prime Minister is going to visit or the plan to attack Taiwan or how to spirit out all the money that they have stolen from their own people.
A hundred Chinese tombs more than 2,000 years old have been crushed or buried to make way for a housing project in Inner Mongolia province, state media reported.
The destruction, backed by the local government, continued even though the Helinge'er county site was one of the largest and best-preserved cultural heritage sites in China, the Beijing Youth Daily said.
What an absolute shame. Next time Hu Jintao squawks about China's 5,000 years of history someone should ask him "What history?" and ask him what gives with this abomination.
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
I Hope That You Enjoy Your Shark-fin Soup as Much as the Sharks Enjoyed Their Fins...
The Disney's Hong Kong Shark-fin Soup Fiasco Makes Global Headlines...
And the headlines are actually a good thing for the sharks since it raises the issue among news organizations and people that care about the earth we live on. The story on this barbaric habit makes Yahoo news service seen by millions.
In 2004, more than 250 shark species were listed on the World Conservation Union's Red List of threatened creatures. Since 1986, nearly all recorded shark species have declined by more than 50 percent.
The fins are usually hacked off while the fish is still alive and the rest of it is tossed back into the sea to die.
I can eat almost anything but shark-fin soup tastes disgusting and risks a catastrophe for global shark populations. What do you think of all of this Hong Kong Tourist Association?
Richard Li, Won't Stand Up in Front of PCCW Shareholders....
This kind of behavior shows a lack of character. Richard Li is just another "spoon" here in Hong Kong.
Of course, Jack So's office never called me back after complaining to them. What an awful company PCCW is. The people here deserve better from their regulated monopolies.
China-Japan Relations Strained Again After Snub By China's Vice-Premier....
China continues with its bizarre behavior snubbing a scheduled meeting with the elected Japanese leader. It appears as if China scheduled this meeting just so the Vice-Premier could rebuff the leader in another example of juvenile behavior by the non-elected myopic leaders of China.
Vice-Premier Wu Yi has cancelled a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi that had been billed as a way to resolve bilateral tension and warned Tokyo it must work to turn around ties.
Wu cut short her visit to Japan by one day, keeping appointments with business leaders but saying pressing duties kept her from meeting Koizumi, Japanese officials said.
Tokyo Television said the reason was his visits to the Yasukuni shrine.
I wonder who should be more embarrassed about this behavior....the Japanese, whom have gotten snubbed by the silly mandarins in Beijing or the Chinese, who's silly mandarin leaders bizarre behavior gets reported to the rest of the world.
Seemingly, the meeting was billed as an attempt to repair relations but China's leaders, I guess, are more interested in school-yard juvenile antics than actually adult bi-lateral relations with other nations.
All of this over the Yakasuni Shrine? Koizumi reportedly last visited there on January 1st 2004. Some Chinese-Japanese relations chronology here and here. I have reported on apologies, the shrine and shrine visits before, here.
Silly me. I thought that kit and kaboodle was actually kitten kaboodle. Kind of like a kid that says bis-skettie instead of spaghetti. But even an aged old man like me still has some room to learn new things. Don't know what kit and kaboodle means? Read the history here.
Kind of feels funny out there these days, like something big is about to happen.
Monday, May 23, 2005
At Least It's a Start...Indonesia Trying to Deal With the Graft Problem...
Indonesia, where, government agencies sometimes have to bribe other government agencies to get them to do their jobs, comes another attempt to clean up its act. I had a friend that used to work for the Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency, that was formed by the government during the banking crisis there in the late 1990's. They had a slush fund to pay off legislators in order to get the votes in the Parliament to pass legislation necessary to complete their government mandated restructuring.
An aggressive graft probe into the Indonesian election commission could succeed in doing what no anti-corruption campaign has done before - make people fear the consequences before they start greasing palms.
Graft is an insidious tax on an economy and lowers the country's growth potential. It will take a long time to clean this up in Indonesia since corruption is just part of the government and business landscape there. But at least, President Yudhoyono is making a step in the right direction.
Finally Some Common Sense When It Comes to Shark-fin Soup...
With the rising affluence of China, I am afraid that sharks may have a difficult time surviving the next couple of generations. Disney is now under pressure for offering this dish in wedding banquets in Hong Kong Disneyland scheduled to open late this summer.
The National Geographic Society reported in 2003 that 50-85 percent of the world's shark fin trade came through Hong Kong. China exports 4,000 tons of the fins a year, according to a Toronto Globe and Mail report. The trade has been linked to execution-style killings of triad shark fin gangs in Fiji in the past.
Sharks will be fished to extinction if this trade is allowed to continue. Additionally, the methods for harvesting this delicacy is so brutal that any PETA advocate would have a fit! Sharks are 'finned' that is, they are caught, the fins are cut off of the live fish and then the creature, still alive, without its fins are dumped back into the ocean to die a painful and slow death.
Shark fin soup has long been decried by environmentalists and animal rights activists for the brutal way in which the fins are harvested and because of overfishing.
However, the practice is not illegal here, largely because eating shark fin soup carries cultural significance: it is seen as luxurious and a display of affluence.
Of the 10 world conservation treaties signed by the Hong Kong government, none deals in shark fins.
I went to a dinner last night that included shark-fin soup. I have never found it at all tasty or an attractive dish and I always wonder out-loud why anyone would like it, sometimes disturbing my hosts. It usually tastes fishy and contains clumps of gelatinous goop and that is the shark-fin. But more importantly, its important to make sure that people are aware that the trade in shark-fin could have long-term consequences on the environment.
When I got married here in Hong Kong, back in 1990, I asked that the banquet exclude the dish since it I am concerned with the long term potential for an environmental disaster. How would it be if sharks went the same route as tigers and the rhinoceros? But my wife was absolutely horrified and said that we HAD to serve shark-fin since it was a tradition. I told her that I wanted to change the tradition and that the tradition won't last very long if the sharks die out. She also added that most shark-fin soup was fake anyway and my retort that if it is fake, then why do we even bother was met with a stoic resolve to serve the unwanted dish. I caved in on my demands but at least I raised the issue.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization says over 100 million sharks, skates and rays are killed every year. We figure that's just half the total, because another half is unreported. This total threatens sharks because they reproduce slowly, more like mammals than fish. Some sharks only have 1-2 pups every other year, and they may take nine or more years to mature.
Coming home after all these years.
Ha ha ha.
All the woman folk love Colonel Angus.
Saturday, May 21, 2005
Willy Sutton Never Had it so Good....
It is said that Willy Sutton, the famous depression era bankrobber, was once asked why he robbed banks. His response was reportedly, "because that's where the money is."
Looking a little farther north from Hong Kong, I see that there are tens-of-thousands Willy Suttons operating in China. Some are unfortunate as this story narrates:
Lord knows there are enough of them, from crooked bank chiefs to million-dollar heists by input clerks. But way out front is Xiao Hongbo, who led an anonymous life as a lowly deputy branch manager in Sichuan before his scam was revealed. His reward for embezzling HK$4 million [US$ 500,000] to support eight mistresses? A bullet to the head.
[Just a little note here, according to Amnesty International, China executes more people than the rest of the world combined. But the exact number of executions is unknown since it is regarded as a state secret]
Beijing disparages such scoundrels as the "wayward few" but in truth most who have been caught with their fingers in the till have been either unlucky or victims of political expediency.
The 'wayward few?' Who are the mandarins in Beijing trying to fool? This poor fellow was executed for crimes that many local and national officials are also guilty of. Maybe they were angry since he stole so much money that it raised the profile of the thievery that they themselves were doing. Therefore, like the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland...."Off with their heads!"
Willy Sutton's bank robberies were usually spectacular affairs.
Sutton was an accomplished bank robber; it was usual for him to carry either a gun, a pistol or a Thompson submachine gun. "You can't rob a bank on charm and personality," he once observed, but had a professional's pride in having never used it. He stole from the rich and kept it, though public opinion later turned him into a perverse type of a Robin Hood figure.
But robberies in China are not spectacular but mundane affairs and are ones that are slowly draining the life blood out of the economy from the pockets of the working people
banks virtually single-handedly control and disburse a US$1.5 trillion (HK$11.7 trillion) pool of savings, stored up by 1.3 billion peasants, workers, millionaires and those aspiring to middle-class status.into the pockets of the chosen few. The spectacular growth that has taken place in China over the past decade has masked the graft problem from the economy but when the inevitable slowdown does occur, this 'tax' on China will weigh down prosperity there.
Since the four largest banks are too big to fail in my opinion, a recapitalization of these institutions takes the form of a taxpayer funded bailout.
the bailouts are sorely needed. The Big Four, which account for almost 70 percent of total PRC bank assets, are technically insolvent. Their bad debts are estimated at 25 percent of total loans by the government, but private sector estimates put them at double that amount. Even under some optimistic private-sector estimates of a bad-asset recovery rate of 25 percent, a reduction of the bad-loan ratio to 12 percent within a few years, and a low capital-asset ratio of 3 percent (well below the Bank of International Settlements guideline of 8 percent, because state banks are underwritten by Beijing), the cost of bailing out the Big Four would exceed ¥2 trillion ($241.5 billion), or almost 25 percent of China's 2003 GDP.Losses at banks in China through lax lending standards and through direct graft have led to this sorry situation and changes in management of these institutions will be ineffective in my opinion.
Bank directors in China, in theory employed to oversee and rein in managerial excesses are, as one foreign official put it, ``a complete joke. They are there to collect their pensions and have a nice lunch. Maybe once a year they have a trip to Laoshan (a famous mainland health resort) organized for them. They make no decisions, they have no power. A wax dummy would have more effect.''
Until the corruption by Chinese Communist Party officials stop, why should anyone else not grab what they can until the party stops?
Health Warning on Japanese Encephalitis....
The government in Hong Kong is warning people to watchout for mosquitoes that carry Japanese Encephalitis and Dengue Fever.
The culex mosquito, whose bite can infect victims with Japanese encephalitis, has been found in urban parks in Causeway Bay, North Point, Chai Wan and Shek Kip Mei, the government said on Friday.
Japanese Encephalitis is a particularly nasty disease, but is uncommon urban areas like Hong Kong. The reason being is that proximity to live pigs [wild birds can also be carriers of the disease], that serve as the amplification hosts and rice paddy breeding water are necessary ingredients for a full fledged outbreak. Even so, there were a couple of cases last year in Hong Kong and many more in rural China. The particular vexing problem with this disease is that it has a case-fatality ratio of 30% and if you are lucky enough to survive the chances of serious neurological sequela is 30% [I got that word, sequela, from the CDC website]. The brain damage could include paralysis, blindness and many other unwanted nasty out comes. Some facts from the CDC website:
Q. What is the mortality rate of Japanese encephalitis?
A. Case-fatality rates range from 0.3% to 60%.
Q. How many cases of Japanese encephalitis occur in the world and the U.S.?
A. Japanese encephalitis is the leading cause of viral encephalitis in Asia with 30-50,000 cases reported annually. Fewer than 1 case/year is reported in U.S. civilians and military personnel traveling to and living in Asia. Rare outbreaks in U.S. territories in Western Pacific have occurred.
Q. How is Japanese encephalitis treated?
A. There is no specific therapy. Intensive supportive therapy is indicated.
Q. Is the disease seasonal in its occurrence?
A. Seasonality of the illness varies by country (see table).
Q. Who is at risk for getting Japanese encephalitis?
A. Residents of rural areas in endemic locations, active duty military deployed to endemic areas, and expatriates who visit rural areas. Japanese encephalitis does not usually occur in urban areas (see table).
I am not too fond of getting vaccinations and avoid them unless absolutely necessary. I got this one last year since sometimes I travel to rural areas in the region.
Friday, May 20, 2005
China's Internet Meddling Intensifies....
This story is interesting in that China is hiring internet commentators to monitor chat room and other online forums and inject a pro-China opinion into the discourse. This deviates from previous Maoist/Stalinist attempts to crush dissent
Beijing has created a special Internet police force believed responsible for shutting down domestic sites posting politically unacceptable content, blocking some foreign news sites and jailing several people for their online postings.
In March, bulletin boards operated by the country's most prominent universities were blocked to off-campus Internet users as part of the campaign to strengthen ideological education of college students.
by closing internet cafes, closing sites inside China and eliminating access to those sites outside China with potentially anti-government commentary and arresting those people that have written published online material that the communists consider anti-government.
China has formed a special force of undercover online commentators to try to sway public opinion on controversial issues on the Internet, a newspaper said on Thursday.
China has struggled to gain control over the Internet as more and more people gain access to obtain information beyond official sources.
As far as I am concerned, there is better way to reduce dissent and this is to listen to what people really want and need. The Chinese communists will eventually lose the long-term battle that they are waging with their own populace and this will effect us all.
Without a Hot Button Issue for the July 1st Rally.....
It will be difficult to rally support for a large turnout for the July 1st National Day rally this year since there is no hot button issue like the Article 23 sedition law. About 500,000 people showed up for the rally July 1, 2003 to protest the government's arrogant mishandling of the sedition law as required by the Basic Law, the Hong Kong mini-constitution. The passing of the law collapsed when faced with mounting public displeasure on the handling of the issue.
This year, however, local organizers plan to hold a mock election for the chief executive who is currently appointed by Beijing and ratified by the local legislature.
The lack of democracy remains a constant, however, say organizers.
``[Acting Chief Executive] Donald Tsang has been handpicked by Beijing to be the next chief executive. Hong Kong people have no right to choose their ideal candidates. This will be an unfair election. Those who believe in democracy should come forward to protest against such a `small-circle' election,'' said protest leader Chong Yiu-kwong. Organizers are being somewhat conciliatory, however, by dropping the slogan ``return power to the people'' as the theme for the march.
It is really truly amazing how scared the mandarins in Beijing are of even a relatively minor official, such as the chief-executive here in Hong Kong, being elected by universal suffrage. The chief executive is the political and economic equivalent of being mayor of a large city like New York.
Thursday, May 19, 2005
Wake me up after the patriotism debate passes us by. I am sure that this is the first volley and what will prove to be another sickening barrage leading up to the glorious July 1 National Day and protest march [only a month and a half away!].
The Legislative Council unanimously passed a motion encouraging the raising of the national flag at all schools and government buildings on important anniversaries but stopped short of making the display mandatory.
The motion, proposed by Ma Lik, chairman of the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, was supported by the Democratic and Liberal parties.
Now, this piece of legislation is actually quite interesting since the motion is voluntary and only encourages the raising of the flag at all schools and government buildings. A principal or administrator at these facilities, however, may find that not displaying the flag for the appropriate occasions could subject them to charges in the future questioning their patriotism and may impact their careers. So, its probably best to do what is asked and display the flag dutifully on all deemed appropriate occasions..
But get this...
Unionist Wong Kwok-hing said it is a shame that places like the City Hall and General Post Office in Central do not even have flagpoles yet.
That is an interesting observation. There is definitely room at City Hall for a flag [They do have a war memorial there that I have inspected] but I cannot envision an appropriate place near or on the Central Post Office. I will also have a look at the schools in the area and see if they have hoisted a flag.
Furthermore, Jackie Chan has been drafted to promote the national anthem, The March of the Volunteers. The link gives an interesting historical context to the song that was written and was one of the patriotic resistance songs sung in the midst of the Sino-Japanese war, 1937-1945.
The government is banking on the star power of Chan and other well-known local figures to strengthen national identity and knowledge of the Chinese national anthem in a fresh round of lengthened television ad campaigns.
The Lyrics in English.
Arise, ye who refuse to be slaves!
Let us amount our flesh and blood towards our new Great Wall!
The Chinese nation has come to the time of its greatest danger,
From everyone's oppression shall come our final roar
Arise! Arise! Arise!
We are many, but our hearts beat as one!
Selflessly braving the enemy's gunfire, march on!
Selflessly braving the enemy's gunfire, march on!
March on! March on! on!
Lets see what other interesting things come about in the next 6 weeks. As I wrote in April, pro-Beijing legislators were questioning Donald Tsang's patriotism.
Kudzu, Overtaking the South, May Reduce Binge Drinking...
Kudzu, the fast growing vine...
introduced from China and Japan at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, has few natural enemies, and the speed with which it covers and transforms telephone poles, trees, junked cars and abandoned rural outhouses into weird shapes has inspired tales told around campfires: Kudzu has been known to pluck small children from the back of moving pick-ups, or even to swallow slow-moving halfbacks at night football games.
When I was a kid, we noticed fields of kudzu where the vine grew over everything, including trees and telephone poles and nothing else at all could grow there.
Besides it prowess for growing, it also may result in lower alcohol intake. Maybe that is why people here don't drink as heartily as in the West.
"There's a lot of anecdotal evidence from China that kudzu could be useful, but this is the first documented evidence that it could reduce drinking in humans," said Mr. Overstreet, who described Mr. Lukas' work as "groundbreaking."
Mr. Lukas recruited 14 men and women in their 20s to spend four 90-minute sessions consuming beer and watching television. Researchers selected people who said they regularly consumed three to four drinks per day. After the first session, some subjects received capsules of kudzu, others a placebo.
There is absolutley no Kudzu in Wanchai.
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
I have PCCW internet broadband access and NOW Broadband TV. With the state of technology today, one could imagine that the service would not be as horrible as it is. It is probably the worst service that I have had in 15 years except when I had the expensive Wharf Cable and their cheapie internet dial-up service that rarely worked.
I suspect that they, periodically, put too many customers on a server and the signal to the TV starts to break-up and slow down. When I complain, they send a technician over that fiddles around for a half-an-hour, gives you another useless decoder and then tips on his merry way. I have had these people come over at least a half a dozen times over the past several months.
All of this should be an embarrassment to them. But since the monthly charges are automatically put on my creditcard, how embarrassing is it really? They don't have to provide the contracted service and still get to charge the creditcard every month.
And try calling the service line... it is 1833-833. Ha ha ha. I spent 5 minutes today punching in numbers only get recording after recording and now that I have been on the line for 12 minutes [live blogging], its just an office phone ringing and ringing. I usually spend 10-15 minutes pushing buttons and listening to idiotic recordings asking me to enter my ID card number "to serve you better" and one can rarely get a live person on the line. I did end up getting a nice young man on the phone and after I completed my duty to complain, he said that he knows that the recording cue just sucks.
The most frustrating thing to me is I pay the full price for two lines and they keep shutting off the two line access that I pay for. I rarely can find who to talk to get this straightened out.
I called Jack So's office to complain. He is the Deputy Chairman and Group Manager Director. They just laughed at me and took down my number. Let's see if anyone calls me back. I doubt it. Jack took over the reigns from the vilified Linus Cheung. According to the 2004 annual report the top 5 directors of the company received compensation of between HK$18.5-24 million [US$2.37-3.07 million] each. So, I assume that since Jack is 2nd in command, that he is one of the directors getting compensated at this level. Despite their high compensation levels, the leaders at PCCW have been unable to get very much right when it comes to satisfying at least this customer. And as far as I am concerned, it is ultimately their responsibility to get it right. I guess that mini-tycoon Richard Li isn't that concerned since he is the son of uber-tycoon Li Ka Shing. I will comment on what I think of these two dudes some other day.
Hong Kong just blows when you deal with these monopolies and oligopolies. They figure that they are doing you a favor by charging you full price and delivering substandard Bangladesh type service.
But i would much rather be dealing with a Hong Kong company than a Chinese company any day of the week. There, they would just take your money and you would have absolutely no leverage against them.
Tolls..What is The Standard Talking About?
There has been much debate over the raising of tolls in the Eastern Harbor Tunnel crossing from HK$15 to HK$25. As contractually stipulated, the owner of the tunnel has the right to raise fares by stipulated amounts and the tunnel has done so legally. But the Standard's opinion piece makes this bizarre comment:
The question is not why the Eastern Harbour Crossing toll is HK$25, but why the main Cross-Harbour Tunnel is just HK$10.
It seems blindingly obvious that the toll is too low. The Cross-Harbour Tunnel is a limited resource; it was already congested.
Well, I took the main Cross-Harbor Tunnel this past Sunday morning to church and it was still HK$20 not HK$10 as he states. I think that it was HK$10 back in 1995 or something! When was the last time you paid the toll in the tunnel Mr. Gordon?
Overall, I do not see anything wrong with paying the prices that we do for the tunnel crossing. With fuel costing HK$12 per liter and car yearly registration fees topping HK$5,000, driving is a luxury and the 'right' to cross the harbor in a tunnel should not be a guaranteed low price.
The Hong Kong legislature has been considering several proposals including buying the private tunnels [The main Cross-Harbour tunnel ownership has already reverted back to the government]that would cost billions of taxpayer dollars. This proposal is just another disgusting tycoon related payout, and serves to enrich these people at the expense of the rest of us.
I could rant for hours on this kind of thing, but its a waste of time and only makes me angry. I will save my tycoon rant for another day.
Just a Thought....
This whole Newsweek controversy on the flushing of Koran down the toilet may just be a big cultural misunderstanding. Despite attempts to prove that books even as soft and flushable as Michael Moore's "Stupid White Men" proved to be unflushable [linked from Instapundit], it may be that toilet training for many of the Guantanamo Bay prisoners misunderstands the concept of flushing. In France, where I have run across fields of human excrement near caravan parks, just leaving the Koran in an open field may drive Muslims to riot. I almost rioted after innocently wandering into the trap and retching there.
And it appears, at least in Iraq, that sanitation and clean water has been a target of the bloodthirsty terrorists. Recent killings of garbagemen and targeting of water supplies in the hot and desert like environs of Baghdad have led people to rethink what the insurgent terrorists are really trying to achieve. I wouldn't drink that stuff that they consider water there either!
And I am sure that the Taliban and their friends weren't to used to proper sanitation either. With their dreams of returning the world to a 7th century caliphate, they also had high hopes of returning the world's sanitation systems to ancient ways. Attempts at searching out Taliban designed sanitations systems on Google have been fruitless.
I offer, that maybe the whole problem with these people is just sanitation, in general. Clean up the shit and the world will be a better place. Thank you George W. Bush for attempting to do just that!
Tom Jones said it best. Or was it "She's a lady"? Oh, I just don't remember since I went to a wine dinner at the Park Lane tonight.
But its also something that medical practitioners think should be better understood particularly for children.
Sometimes the toughest thing about feelings is sharing them with others. Sharing your feelings helps you when your feelings are good and when they aren't so good. Sharing also helps you to get closer to people you care about and who care about you. When people talk about feelings, they sometimes use the word "emotions."
Sorry fellas, but feelings isn't what its all about. Hard news and tough choices, I know that feelings come in handy when one has to decide which camel to ride for the day. But feelings just does not figure here.
"The apology and retraction are not enough," Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed told Reuters.
"They should understand the sentiments of Muslims and think 101 times before publishing news which hurt feelings of Muslims."
Obviously referring to the Newsweek retraction of their ridiculous story on flushing the Koran down the toilet. With nothing else to say about their juvenile followers and their bad and violent behavior, all they had to say is "you hurt our feelings."
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
The New Toe Randomizer is Now Available....
I think that this will provide just endless hours of fun. I was contemplating asking them to provide links to past weekly posts, but I was too lazy to do so.
They must have been able to read my mind. Enjoy.
New Iraqi Government Infograph...
Brought to you thanks to The Onion...
Monday, May 16, 2005
Al-Jazeera Reporter Denies al-Qaida Ties......
His real name is Tommy Flanagan and he was married to Morgan Fairchild simultaneously with a "young Elizabeth Taylor"....yeah, that's the ticket.
A war correspondent with the Arab satellite television station Al-Jazeera denied charges Monday that he had close ties to the alleged leader of a Spanish al-Qaida cell accused of helping plot the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States.
Baghdad Bob, Al-Jazeera, this fellow.....yeah, that's the ticket.
If you don't get this then you are just too young! Or never saw Saturday Night Live.
If you are an a communist party official, the list is much longer! But here it is for the usual business person....
Fraud No1 typically involves a Hong Kong company that buys machinery with a loan from a local finance company. The machinery itself is pledged as collateral for the loan.
The company then moves the machinery to a mainland firm, ostensibly as a way of injecting capital into a wholly owned foreign enterprise.
This second company then uses the same machinery as collateral for a loan from a mainland bank.
``So one asset results in two loans,'' says Lai. Everything is fine with the arrangement until the mainland company's business turns sour and it defaults on its loans.
The mainland bank freezes the assets and auctions them off, leaving creditors of the Hong Kong company without any recourse but to sue.
However, such Hong Kong companies ``are literally shells without their main assets - the machinery. They're meaningless,'' Lai says.
Fraud No2 involves a mainland enterprise that owes money to banks and, despite having a lot of cash, simply refuses to pay its debts. The banks subsequently freeze the assets of the company and arranges for them to be auctioned.
By colluding with the auctioneers, the company can ensure that the public announcement of the sale is so small as to pass virtually unnoticed. And because such auctions are frequent in China, banks are accustomed to accepting far less than the fair value of the assets.
So who is it that swoops in to buy the cheap assets? Often, Lai says, it is the company itself, which then proceeds to set up shop elsewhere under a different name.
Once stripped of its assets, the original company offers little that its creditors can seize to help recover their loans. Again, Lai says, ``the owners simply leave creditors an empty shell and start another business elsewhere.''
Fraud No3 produces a result similar to Fraud No2.
A company that has borrowed heavily to get started but sees its business go south simply starts another company a few blocks away, transferring its client list and its contracts to the new entity, whose name is remarkably similar to that of its predecessor.
The new company will have different shareholders and directors, usually friends and family of the management.
Such ``familial fraud'' is a perennial favorite in China, and new variations are constantly being invented, says Sam Porteous, regional managing director for China at Kroll, a multinational risk consultancy and private investigation firm. ``One of the innovations we have seen lately is that some fraudsters are beginning to have family members legally change their names before participating in these frauds, all the better to further obscure the chain of beneficial interest linking corrupt employees with competing companies or channel partners,'' he says.
Changing names is easy and common in China; some people even do it because they think their names are bad luck. Porteous knows of instances where names have been changed three times or more.
``You've got to be very careful with names in China because people often think they're dealing with big companies with all the assets,'' he says. ``When it comes to signing the contract, they're actually signing with a company whose name is very similar to the big company's, maybe legally associated with it. But if even one Chinese character is different, they're basically dealing with a shell company with no assets.''
Lai says fast name changes are most common among trading companies, whose most valuable assets are their contracts, and restaurants and information technology companies.
``They will usually tell customers their company is not doing well. Then they verbally recommend these customers to the other company.''
Alternatively, they will tell customers that the original company is undergoing a restructuring and the new company is the result of a streamlining of its operations.
Once again, the original company, minus its contracts, will provide very thin pickings for creditors.
Fraud No4 occurs when a mainland company obtains a stock exchange listing in Hong Kong. It then injects the money raised in its initial public offering into a mainland subsidiary, ostensibly for purposes of expansion.
The fraudsters then have two choices on how to proceed. The company may enter into a joint venture with a party that appears to be independent but in fact is related. The joint venture agreement will stipulate that any breach of the contract will result in the payment of huge damages.
The company will then proceed to breach the contract and pay a vast sum of money to the other party in the joint venture, says Lai. Or the other party may take out a writ freezing the company's assets and putting them up for sale at auction.
Another variation on this scam is a joint venture wherein one of the parties injects the capital and the other assumes the task of management - at an obscenely high fee.
Fraud No5 involves inventing fictitious debtors. This requires little creativity, which may be why it is so common. A company in Hong Kong or China offers a customer unusually long credit terms, sometimes more than a year.
``The company's justification for giving such favorable terms is that without them, it would not get much business from the customer,'' says Lai.
The company claims that its debtor, which owes large sums, is unable to pay. This, of course, affects the liquidity of the company and gives it an excuse for being unable to pay its own creditors. In most of these cases the debtor either does not exist or is a related company whose only real asset is its letterhead.
Don't do business in China since the cards are severely stacked against you, particularly if you are honest. There is no justice in China and the only "justice" is available to officials or those that PAY the communist party officials for justice.
None of these scams would be available if the officials in China were not profiting handsomely from them.
The American Campaign to Disrespect and Smear Islam.....
Newsweek has apologized for factual problems with their story where allegations of using the Muslim Holy book, The Koran, improperly in interrogation may not be true. More than a dozen anti-American protester have died in clashes in Afghanistan. The vitriol from Muslim clerics continues, however.
Lebanon's most senior Shiite Muslim cleric on Sunday said the reported desecration of the Quran is part of an American campaign aimed at disrespecting and smearing Islam.
In a statement faxed to The Associated Press, Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah called the alleged desecration a "brutal" form of torture and urged Muslims and international human rights organizations "to raise their voices loudly against the American behavior."
On Saturday, Pakistan's President Gen. Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, both allies of Washington, demanded an investigation and punishment for those behind the reported desecration of the Quran.
But, Americans don't really have to do anything at all to disrespect and smear Islam since Muslims are doing an excellent job of disrespecting and smearing the religion themselves. Murderous bands of Islamic extremists blow up carbomb after carbomb in the midst of civilians in Iraq. Islamic militants behead living souls and film it for broadcast to their more bloodthirsty fans. Saudi Arabia exports a hateful brand of Wahhabi Islam to poor countries around the world teaching young children to hate. Islamic terrorists from Morocco to the Philippines, kill, maim kidnap innocent humans in their war against humanity.
So, these people are running around the world hating and killing people.... why should they deserve respect from anyone? Do they really think that God wants them to do this? Why aren't the clerics and Muslim leaders loudly denigrating such behavior? By not protesting the killing and maiming of innocents, they are tacitly approving this behavior.
And I have always been amazed that the religion takes so seriously such slights as Salman Rusdie's book Satanic Verses or films made questioning Islam like those made by Theo van Gogh, that have caused deranged fanatics to kill or threaten to kill. If God wanted these people dead, don't you think that he has the power or will to take them himself? Is the religion so weak that one has to kill those that question it? Are you clerics so sure that the modern interpretation of God's ancient words to us is being followed and this is what he intended for us?
....anyone who murders any person who had not committed murder or horrendous crimes, it shall be as if he murdered all the people. (5:32)
Welcome to the modern world, Islam, grow up and be part of it, OK?
Gumby 50 Years Old....
Happy birthday old man! I remember 2 things about Gumby when I was a kid....
1. They had these jerky claymation Gumby TV shows and also the Davey and Goliath claymation shows. The dog talked funny. Thank you Pixar for making all this better for my kids.
2. The Gumby doll had wire for bones and if you twisted it hard enough, would become exposed. Gumby also doubled as a great thing to whack other children with since the plastic was nice and hard.
We look forward now to the further adventures of Gumby since new TV shows and a movie are now in the works. Director Tim Burton is working on the project and I just don't know how can make such a squeaky clean figure spooky.
Taiwan Hold Elections for National assembly..
Taiwan has a wonderful democracy that is full of fire. A set-up of a married female legislator with a hired gigolo caught on tape and broadcast around the world on the internet as-well-as full fledged fist fight battles on the floor of the assembly mark this vibrant democracy. There is lots of fireworks going on but not too much energy in the most recent election. It is interesting to note that the turnout is reported to be only 23.3 % of the eligible voters.
Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party won a National Assembly election Saturday, largely viewed as a referendum on policy towards China.
It secured 1.64 million votes, followed closely by the opposition Kuomintang's 1.5 million votes, reports the Central Election Commission. There was 23.3 percent turnout.
Chinese television did not report the results of the election.
Of course they wouldn't broadcast the results of the election since the Communists had invited two of the opposition parties leaders for a love-fest, kissy-face meeting with senior PRC officials and they didn't win!
The doctor that delivered my son in New York was Taiwanese and he always returned to Taiwan for the important elections so that he could vote and campaign for his favored candidates.
There are around 500,000 Taiwanese living and working in China now forming the backbone of China's manufacturing industries where they have invested around US$100 billion. I wonder how they get to vote? Maybe they return home during their presidential elections but it would look somewhat suspicious, don't you think? And I wonder if they are allowed to send in absentee ballots and if they are, how would they get delivered from China? Maybe the Communists open them and discard the ones from the candidates that they oppose! I wouldn't put that beyond their coterie of juvenile tactics.
Saturday, May 14, 2005
The rising costs of raw materials in China are troublesome for the economy in China and also in the USA.
Producer prices rose 5.8 percent from a year earlier after climbing 5.6 percent in March, the Beijing-based National Bureau of Statistics said on its Web site. Crude oil costs jumped 37 percent and coal prices rose 26 percent.
''Sooner or later this will trickle down to consumer prices,'' said Qu Hongbin, a senior economist at HSBC in Hong Kong. ''That's the real fear. The government needs to do more.''
China needs to put the brakes on economic growth to reduce the risks associated with out of control inflation. Since the central bank, has only has very blunt and somewhat ineffective tools to tame the burgeoning economy, the situation will be very difficult to control. In the US, the Federal Reserve has a time tested and effective method to keep inflation down by raising interest rates and therefore lowering the demand for money.
China will have a problem with inflation that will become increasingly more difficult to tame since the banking system is such a shambles.
Price increases will be passed onto to US consumers, the US Federal Reserve will continue to tighten monetary policy and aggregate demand for goods and services in the US will slow leading to an economic soft patch.
China will loosen the peg to the US dollar and this will prove to be a total disaster further weakening the fragile banking system. In reality, if they dollarize the economy, they will be better off since then monetary policy will be predictable and potentially reduce the speculative excesses threatening the economy.
Europe's economy will never recover.
So, there you go... an economic prediction for a Hong Kong pundit.
Kind of boring isn't it?
Friday, May 13, 2005
"You Will Never Understand".....
I have never understood the apparent deep rooted Chinese need to be united under one government in in Beijing. As it is explained to me, all Chinese want to have a unified China [I doubt the claim that ALL want it...I figure that a substantial portion just don't care]. I am very curious about this since I personally do not see the need or the advantages of doing so, particularly if it involves war and risks a potentially a larger conflict. So, I have been told that "I will never understand." This is right, I will never understand, and truthfully, I don't want to. Why would anyone want to be ruled by the clowns in Beijing?
There has been decades of rumblings on the status of Taiwan and things are seemingly coming to head and there is hope that a war can be avoided. Recent visits by opposition party leaders to Beijing are indicating a thaw of icy relationship that has existed since the Chinese Nationalists escaped to Taiwan following their defeat in the civil war following World War II.
``We must show the world that the Chinese people on either side of the Taiwan Strait have the ability and the wisdom to solve the contradictions and disagreements before us,'' Hu said in comments televised live across the mainland and Taiwan.
Finally, something intelligent comes out of the communist's mouths. But there is still no direct airlinks with Taiwan and the Taiwanese national airline, China Airlines, is not allowed to fly over PRC territory on its flights to Europe adding hours of additional flight time and inconvenience for people. How unbelievably juvenile. Do the clowns in Beijing really think that there is a danger or is this just petty posturings. Even North Korea allows overflights to international airlines!
One party rule by the communists in China is justified, in some circles, by the desire and need to reunite Taiwan with the mainland. This was one of Mao's remaining goals for China. However, all the other rubbish, such as a global revolution and communist utopia have been flushed down the toilet of history.
And for the record, unless someone can prove to me otherwise, Taiwan really hasn't been a part of China. Rule by China has been sporadic at best and I outline as follows:
Up until Dutch colonization and occupation 1624-1662, the island was home to an aboriginal population of ethnic Malay-Polynesian peoples.
While the Ming Dynasty was collapsing under Manchu aggression, a Ming loyalist pirate named Koxinga defeated the Dutch in 1662 but by 1683, the last remnants of the Ming were defeated.
The Manchu's did not hold sway or administration over the island of Taiwan and subsequent attempts to control the island ended in defeat. Taiwan, even at this time wasn't a renegade island but an island full of renegades.
During the civil war and the subsequent Manchu period, many Chinese refugees left for the calmer and safer shores of Taiwan to escape famine and war on the mainland.
Taiwan was the home of pirates and other ruffians during the 1870's and they attacked ships belonging to European traders expanding their business in the region. The Manchu emperor, asked by these traders to protect and patrol this area was told that Taiwan was beyond Manchu territory.
In 1887, European complaints of piracy, the occupation of Northern Taiwan for nine months by the French and Japanese expansionism in the region drove the Manchu emperor into action, declaring Taiwan to be be a Chinese province. This lasted less than a decade and the Japanese were deeded control of the island in perpetuity after the Manchu defeat in the Sino-Japanese war.
Post World War II, the Chinese Nationalists under General Chaing Kai Shek were given temporary authority to occupy Taiwan on behalf of Allied forces.
This became more-or-less permanent when the Nationalist fled Taiwan after their defeat in the civil war at the hands of Mao's communists.
So, therefore, I am not an adherent to the concept that Taiwan is a renegade province and that control should or needs to be ceded back to Beijing. Taiwan has a very separate history and has developed into a vibrant and dynamic economy and democracy. It would truly be ashame if the world allows the mandarins in Beijing to ruin this.
Thursday, May 12, 2005
Welcome Instapundit Readers......
Thanks for linking to me Glenn Reynold's Instapundit! My 15 minutes of fame!
The PRC shenanigan pieces are "Just How Weak is the Chinese Communist Party and the People's Republic of China if They Cannot Tolerate a Handful of Dissenters..." and
"Self Censorship..." Just scroll down. Thanks.
Just How Weak is the Chinese Communist Party and the People's Republic of China if They Cannot Tolerate a Handful of Dissenters...
And now, how stupid does the Hong Kong SAR Liaison Office deputy director Li Gang from the PRC sound?
``I have read those news reports relating to the judgment. The Falun Gong group has staged long-term demonstrations at the entrance of the Liaison Office, attacking the central government and state leaders. I believe the general public is quite annoyed by their acts,'' Li said at a function for the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce in Central. ``These protests are disgusting.''
The Court of Final Appeal judgment stated that the protesters, who were arrested while displaying a banner reading ``Jiang Zemin: Stop Killing'' at the main entrance of the Liaison Office in March 2002, were engaged in a peaceful demonstration and were exercising their constitutional right to freedom of speech.
So, these people were protesting and got arrested for what? Annoying people? They were protesting peacefully against the systematic victimization of their members in the PRC and he thinks that the general public is annoyed? So arrest them? Who is he...the Queen of hearts from Alice in Wonderland...."Off with their heads."
I have never seen any evidence of the Falun Gong annoying people. In fact, the general public didn't care at all about the Falun Gong until the short-sighted and evidently demented focus by PRC officials raised this issue to global attention. I figure that Mr. Li is the one that is annoyed and since the Chinese government is full of sycophants and yes-men, these clowns just don't know what to say or do when something does not go their way. He will probably have to go and do a little kow-towing in Beijing for his troubles now.
How weak is the PRC and their leaders if they cannot handle a few meditators in their midst. These PRC "leaders" are an absolute joke and therefore dangerous to everybody else in the world since we will never know what other innocuous thing will set them into panic mode. I just wonder what planet do they come from and why they even open their mouths when such idiotic stuff comes out of it? They really do have to learn that the world no longer revolves around the middle kingdom and that their juvenile actions and rants do not play well in the rest of the world. Watch out for these people they are dangerous in their stupidity.
Here is a very fine example of the danger to freedoms in the region. This printer is ceasing to provide printing services to the Falun Gong [in Hong Kong], the outlawed meditation sect in the PRC.
It is easy to understand the fear that the printer has of potentially becoming a pawn in the designs of the PRC's CCP leadership for regional hegemony. If everyone is afraid to print or publish materials critical of the PRC leadership, then the CCP can control the propaganda.
The Epoch Times, a newspaper linked to the Falun Gong that employs the group's followers, said it might cease publication this weekend after its printer said it will no longer print the paper.
The newspaper's chief editor, Amy Chu, told The Standard Wednesday that the printer, whom she did not name, had served notice in March that it will stop printing copies from Saturday.
Chu said the printer, which had signed a one-year agreement extension with the newspaper in January, said it feared it might affect other business if it continued providing printing service for The Epoch Times.
So, are the printers other customers being pressured or is the printer being pressured directly from the communists? Are the other customers worried that the risk is too great for them to be associated in doing business with a printer that is doing business with the Falun Gong?
According to an Agence France-Presse report, The Epoch Times has contacted a dozen other printing firms and all have refused to print it, the paper's spokesman Tony Chan said.
Isn't this just sick? The CCP is just a rot that will infect and swallow anyone and anything that comes in its path. The old "One country, two systems," has gvien way to "One country, one communist unaccountable system."
At least for the time being we have the internet untill they try shutting that down here in Hong Kong too.
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
Why Investing in China is Just Not Worth the Risk....
The deck is definitely stacked against you when you invest in China.
Chinese stocks fell on concern a government plan to sell as much as $264 billion of non-tradable state shares in the nation's companies will be unfavorable to minority investors.
Until these people stop being so arrogant, share prices in China will continue to fall. Major Chinese indexes are near 6 year lows. With growth in the economy over that time averaging 7-8%, how can this be possible? Just don't trust them. Corporate insiders and officials are out to make money just for themselves and everyone else can be damned.
Monday, May 09, 2005
Bangkok Golfing Excursion....
Bangkok is so very hot during this time of year, where temperatures routinely hover around 33 degrees Celsius [92 degrees Fahrenheit]. Its like a sauna this time of year and it takes drinking lots of water to keep hydrated.
The other disadvantage is that playing a full 18 rounds in the heat makes it difficult to have the energy to get out for Bangkok's famous nightlife.
We played Lakewood, Pinehurst and President golf courses. 18 holes with caddy and cart, weekday, costs around 2,500 Thai Baht [US$65=HK$500] per person which is very reasonable and a discount to what is costs to play in China.
Also, the Ambassador Hotel on Sukumvit Soi 11, is only US$28 [HK$218] per night. It is a slightly rundown hotel but with reasonably clean rooms and a decent buffet breakfast.
Hong Kong Officials Suck-up Big Time to the Juvenile Desires of PRC Officials Over Taiwanese visiting Rights...
It is very difficult to read these stories in the newspaper these days. Hong Kong officially sucking up to the PRC juvenile tactics should be embarrassing to the people of Hong Kong.
Pao Cheng-kang, the managing director of Chung Hwa Travel Service, which unofficially represents Taiwan here, was still smarting from the SAR government's refusal to allow him to meet with two top Taiwanese opposition leaders as they passed through Hong Kong en route to the mainland.
I remember as a child, it was considered a great insult in the schoolyard to declare that "I will not talk to 'so-and-so'." Then, the great schoolyard political battle began and children lined up to support one-or-the-other in this childish game.
Secretary for Constitutional Affairs Stephen Lam, who received Lien during his stopover, was slammed by critics for not allowing Pao to approach Lien.
His defense was that the Chung Hwa Travel Service was not an official body and therefore its chief could not be granted the privilege to meet top officials in the airport's restricted area.
Lam also said that Pao obtained his restricted area permit from an airline company and not the government.
Pao lashed back that he had obtained approval from the Airport Authority to meet Lien and notified the SAR government of the fact but he was still barred from the VIP room.
So in the schoolyard battle here in Hong Kong, officials here have lined up behind the PRC and are willing to play these childish antics in order to placate their overlords in Beijing. How long will the people in Hong Kong tolerate such silliness? Who knows. How long before Donald Tsang loses the confidence of the people of Hong Kong? I predict that he will ended up being vilified along with Tung Che-Hwa for his spineless kowtow to Beijing's whims and fancies.
Thursday, May 05, 2005
I am Playing Golf in Thailand.....
The golf course that I played yesterday was very nice. But it is so hot, it just becomes a sweat-fest. And I wish that I could play better. A 55 on both the front and back nine. Today we go to Pinehurst and tomorrow President.
I have to drink lots and lots of water! Its over 90 degrees out there.