28 December, 2005

disasty awards/n korean fictional democide

AsiaPundit still cannot find humor in this year’s natural disasters*, especially as the anniversary of the tsunami was only days ago. Nevertheless, here are the Asia-related items from the Onion’s 2005 top-10 stories:

Disasty#2 Asian Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, Kashmir Earthquake Battle for Natural Disasty Award

LOS ANGELES—In a night destined to provide "major upsets in the natural order," three of the biggest stars of the weather, pestilence or general phenomenon community will battle it out Friday for the title of Best Disaster of 2005. "Even though Katrina’s casualty count wasn’t as high as the South Asian tsunami, it possibly spelled the demise of an entire American city," said Rolling Stone writer and cultural commentator Touré. "And since it appears that the Kashmir earthquake’s strategy of playing to critics late in the season backfired, it looks like the hurricane definitely has the edge to win the Disasty." Touré added that Kashmir’s earthquake had a virtual lock on the Lifetaking Achievement Award.

North-Korea.Article# 4 North Korea Nukes Self in Desperate Plea for Attention:

PYONGYANG—Frustrated that its megalomaniacal outbursts no longer inspire fear and panic in the international community, the nation of North Korea detonated all six of its nuclear warheads early Thursday morning, killing 32 million in what international observers are calling "a pathetic bid for attention."

"This is very typical and melodramatic," South Korean President Roo Moo-hyun said yesterday. "North Korea has been ‘acting out’ for years—decorating its country with provocative posters, never leaving its borders, and getting aggressive with those closest to it. It has been this way ever since it was grounded from the national stage." UN officials are advising nations who feel self-destructive to speak to allies or counselors.

*AsiaPundit, obviously a sick man, can still find humor in fictional democide and North Korean nuclear activities.

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by @ 11:27 pm. Filed under Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, North Korea

military men quit kmt over stalled arms deal

Like the Foreigner, AsiaPundit isn’t yet sure how much of a big deal this is, and is awaiting some indication of numbers and rank.:

It seems that not even KMT stalwarts believe the excuses that the party offers for its blocking of the special arms procurement bill, because an number of Taiwanese military officers have written a letter announcing that they’re taking leave of the party over the issue.

It’s a little difficult to gauge how big this story is because the number of defecting party members is unspecified. The chairman of Taiwan’s largest pro-communist party, Ma Ying-jeou, takes it seriously though, saying that:

the KMT sincerely hopes to communicate with those service members who wrote to the defense ministry in order to talk to them about their position on stalled arms procurement bill.

American readers should note that Ma also said that the KMT was opposed to the special arms bill because it is a “cash-for-friendship” purchase plan. In essence, he claims that George Bush’s armament offer is nothing more than a great, big mafioso protection racket. Now, if I’m not mistaken, Taiwan was the one that requested these weapons, Mr. Bush was the only leader in the world good enough to offer those weapons, and now Ma and the pro-communists spurn the weapons - and slap Bush in the face to boot!

Good luck with your next weapons request, Taiwan. You’re gonna need it.

AsiaPundit does object to referring to the Kuomintang as pro-communist though, if only because the Chinese Communist Party are ‘communist’ in name only and now rely far more on nationalism for support. The KMT has not turned hard-left, the CCP has turned hard-right.

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by @ 10:45 pm. Filed under China, Taiwan, Asia, East Asia, North Korea

the tolerant singaporean

As mentioned in the previous item, Reader’s Digest has tagged Singapore as the most laid back and tolerant country in East Asia. AsiaPundit is therefore glad that we have a tolerant Singaporean selected as Asia’s best blogger.

XiaXue can represent the region’s best face to the world. Plus, Singapore is known as a bridge between East and West and Wendy certainly represents that. She blends the elegant vanity of the high-consuming developed Asian states with the yobbishness and xenophobia of a Cronulla Beach thug.:

YobsSo yes: I don’t like our foreign workers, and like I said, I most certainly won’t like to dance with them in a club.

Ask any other Singaporean girl and I bet the answer will be a loud, loud unison.

Racist? I have not even BEGIN to complain about our dear foreign workers.

WHAT THE FUCK ARE THEY ALL DOING IN ORCHARD ROAD ON CHRISTMAS EVE? I wasn’t stupid enough to go to Orchard this year, but I’ve been there enough times to know what goes on there. . .

These years, I don’t even go to crowded areas (excluding clubs) anymore because I know for sure the presence of these foreign workers.

Why are they allowed? They don’t contribute to our shopping centre’s sales… They terrorise our girls, spoiling everyone’s fun.

In time to come, people will all smarten up. Because of the presence of these molesters, girls will cease going to Orchard at all. When chicks don’t go, our Singaporean guys won’t go as well.

All you see in Orchard will be…

Man, that would be so fun. Imagine all the companies putting up parties and special performances… Only foreign workers will participate. Yay!

I say, either make sure these people don’t play play, or ban them entirely from Orchard road. They want to have fun, go have fun somewhere else. Sorry, if you can’t behave, that’s the way it is.

Unfortunately the above photo is of white Australians abusing a man of Arab descent, who is also quite likely Australian. I couldn’t find any photos of Singaporeans abusing foreign workers as Wendy would likely prefer. However Wendy can be pleased that the courts in Singapore don’t mind it so much when foreign workers are abused, so if she maintains her prejudice at a later date she can kill her maid without much fear of penalty.

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by @ 10:16 pm. Filed under Singapore, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia

singapore’s gracious society

In a blow to its self-idealized kiasu culture, a Reader’s Digest survey has found that Singaporeans are the most laid back people in East Asia.:

The magazine surveyed 3,600 people across Asia, with respondents in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Indonesia and South Korea asked to Indonesia and South Korea asked to rate 20 annoyances such as bad drivers and queue jumpers on a scale ranging from “extremely irritating” to “not irritating at all”.

The survey results showed that Singaporeans get most irritated by, in descending order: Spitting in public, queue jumpers, bad drivers and poor personal hygiene. The survey also found that Singaporeans were the most tolerant and Thais the most irritable.

Several Singaporeans that Today spoke to found the results bewildering. Ms Jody Lim, a 29-year-old marketing assistant, said: “It’s a bit bizarre. I was always sure we were an island of complainers.”.

Associate Professor Tan Ern Ser, from the National University of Singapore’s Department of Sociology, suggested a possible explanation: “Internally, we tend to think of Singaporeans as easily annoyed. But in relative terms we may not be so bad. We tend to judge ourselves more harshly than we judge other people.”…

Picture-8Another associate professor from the same department, Ms Paulin Straughan, suggested the response may be due to the possibility that Singaporeans face fewer irritations. She said: “We have campaigns educating the public on social graces, such as the Keep Singapore Clean campaign. It may well be that these campaigns have worked.”

For respondent Jonathan Siow, many questions simply did not apply to Singapore.

“Ask how irritated I get when I meet the lift-user who lets the lift door shut in my face even as I wave my arms like a drowning rat. This must have happened five times this month. Ask me how irritated I get when Chinese New Year songs start playing everywhere next month.”

For respondent Jonathan Siow, many questions simply did not apply to Singapore.

“The survey just asked the wrong questions. Public spitting doesn’t irritate me because I don’t see it,” the 24-year-old student said.

Image swiped from the website of state-sponsored Singapore Kindness Movement, sponsor of the 2004 Wedding Punctuality Campaign.

(via Double Yellow)

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by @ 9:19 pm. Filed under Singapore, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia

hong kong brokers = korean farmers

Simon Patkin hails the end of Hong Kong’s old commission system for stock trades, reporting that that small Hong Kong brokerages are feeling the pinch of competition but small retail investors are feeling relief.:

It appears that smaller Hong Kong stock brokers are now complaining that they are not getting the kind of 20 month bonuses they were getting before the abolition of the minimum commissions they were guaranteed under the old commission system. Today fees are as low as 0.15% of the trade and smaller brokers are getting a half month commission at the end of the year. Most big arbitrage deals are being done through larger brokerage houses, so they are getting the bigger year end bonuses.Via

Of course, a person can buy HSBC shares in the US with a commission of $US20 through ETrade, although there might be other taxes to consider (e.g. the US has a capital gains tax and taxes dividents)

The old commission system in Hong Kong (where small brokers paid out 20 month bonuses at year end) unfairly protected smaller brokers by FORCING the buyers to accept a minimum commission or go overseas to buy shares in foreign countries. Kind of like rice buyers in Korea being forced to buy rice from inefficient Korean farmers.

Kind of, but AsiaPundit has never seen financial sector employees riot. Well, not often.

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by @ 8:56 pm. Filed under South Korea, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

human security report

The 2005 Human Security Report has listed the top 10 ‘Warmongers; (as Harry describes them) since the end of World War Two and and two Asian nations make the top 10:


Peacefully rising China and gentle Thailand fall into a crowded seventh place with six international armed conflicts each.

In other sections, Burma solidly beats India for the country with the highest number of conflict years - with Ethopia, the Philippines and Israel rounding out the top five.


But it’s generally good news for east Asia, which hasn’t had a major inter-state conflict since the 1970s.


Full report here (pdf).

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by @ 8:25 pm. Filed under China, India, Cambodia, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam

work smarter, not harder

A new study by the International Labor Organization. summarized by the IHT, reveals that Korea has plenty of room to grow its economy. If only because the staggeringly low worker productivity levels give the land of the morning calm a lot of room for improvement.:

Picture-7It’s the sort of distinction that leaves you wondering whether to offer praise or pity: South Koreans worked longer hours last year than anyone else on the planet, 30 percent more than Americans and 65 percent longer than the French.

Workers in South Korea put in an average of 2,380 hours in 2004 - about 48 hours a week with a two-week vacation….

France is the world’s most productive country on an hourly basis, according to the KILM. But measured on the basis of each employee, America is leagues ahead of every other country.  In other words, when the French work, they are extremely efficient. But since an employee takes five weeks of vacation or more, he or she produces less for a company over the course of a year than a worker in the United States. …(France is still relatively competitive on a per-employee basis, however, coming in fifth place.)  Measured annually, each employee in the United States last year produced an average of $63,617 worth of goods and services, calculated in 1990 dollars. This is 37 percent more productive than in Britain, 17 percent more than France, 45 percent more than Germany, and 40 percent more than Japan…

As for South Koreans, they could easily cut back on their long hours if they raised their productivity, which on an hourly basis stands at just over one-third the level of the French.

(Via Nomad)

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by @ 1:46 pm. Filed under South Korea, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia

photo stalking

AsiaPundit has long admired animal photographers and nature documentarians and has occasionally wished that he were in a more adventurous line of work. Of course, that’s a naive view. Nature photography and documentaries, I have been assured, involve a lot of rather mundane waiting for a perfect shot. For instance, you may have to sit in the sun for hours or days waiting for a lion to attack a gazelle, and chances are you won’t get a kill shot.

Still, killing a few hours in the plains of the Serengeti would no doubt be a much cooler assignment than waiting for hours on a rainy Xiamen curbside. Though it seems you can still get great photos by doing the latter).


A photographer has come under fire in China for his pictures of a man falling off a bicycle.

The man came a spectacular cropper in Xiamen city after his bike hit a pot-hole submerged in rainwater.

But photographer Liu Tao was accused of lying in wait to take his pictures instead of warning people of the danger.

Readers of the Beijing Youth Daily, which published the shots, wrote in to express their feelings.

One wrote: “The pictures are well shot, but the person who shot this is disgusting. He knew there was a pit, but was waiting there for someone to fall over.”


Liu defended himself, saying: “I just knew that the city government has paved the pit, and without my pictures, the pit would not be noticed by the government, and there would perhaps be more people falling over.”

(via Boing Boing, Gordon)

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by @ 12:48 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Media

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