After 22-years of strong-arming the press as prime minister of Malaysia, former prime minister Mahathir Mohammad is finding it hard to get any attention. Moreover, he is being denied access to the state-censored press is is now turning to the online news outlet that has long been the subject of scorn from himself and the ruling IMNO party.:
Mahathir muzzled? Malaysian ex-PM vents on the Web
(Reuters) - Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, never the warmest friend of a free press, has suddenly found a use for it now that he is out of power.
In an irony that escaped no one in Malaysia’s pro-government mainstream media, Mahathir turned to a small independent Web site, Malaysiakini.com, to criticise the government on Tuesday.
“He’s been complaining about being isolated from the mainstream media,” Malaysiakini.com boss Premesh Chandran told Reuters, explaining that the major dailies that once hung on Mahathir’s every word now didn’t have much time for him.
That might be because he recently accused the administration of his successor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawai, of selling out sovereignty and lacking “guts” over its recent decision to scrap a project to build a bridge to neighbouring Singapore.
Jeff Ooi speaks with the editor of Malaysiakini who conducted the interview.:
Malaysiakini editor Steven Gan who led his team of journalists to interview Dr Mahathir on May 16, a request denied for six long years and postponed three times after a consent was given in March this year, came home with two unmistaken conclusions.
One, it was a reluctant interview, and Mahathir has not changed his view of Malaysiakini. In fact, says Steven, Mahathir had strongly hinted that he made a mistake in granting Malaysiakini the interview. Mahathir, apparently, has been persuaded to do so by one of his advisors.
Two, the interview confirmed something many had long known, that Mahathir is not someone who would accept his shortcomings easily. He remains “combative, sarcastic, and at times, bellicose” when asked about the mistakes he had made in his 22 years in power.
After 22 years of Mahathir, we should use Steven’s quotation on our leaders of the present and the future all the same.
Technorati Tags: asia, censorship, malaysia, southeast asia
Today come two views on China’s trade surplus, and the US deficit, that are worth paying attention to. One arguing that there may be a serious problem with China’s statistics (surprise) and the other suggesting that China’s surplus is a positive thing for America.
Standard Chartered economist Steven Green, one of the best China hands at any investment bank, offers a rather frightening essay in Businessweek suggesting that the majority of China’s 2005 trade surplus was, essentially, hot money.:
The export of fake goods out of China is commonplace whether you are talking about designer bags, blockbuster movie DVDs, or “Mont Blanc” pens. Many European and U.S. holidaymakers take these knock-offs home with them — some of them knowing they’re counterfeit; others are unaware. Underground Chinese firms spirit such goods out of the mainland on a much larger scale.
Now we may we have identified another fake: the supposedly gargantuan global trade surplus China enjoys with the rest of the world. Much of China’s trade surplus in 2005 was not trade at all, we think, but rather capital inflows (perhaps as much as $67 billion) disguised as trade. If so, this has major implications for China’s trade policies, the yuan, and the way the U.S. deals with China.
Also worthwhile is P.J. O’Rourke’s latest offering, in which he provides his typically acerbic musing on the surplus and other aspects of his recent three-week visit to China.:
There is no such thing as a trade deficit. It doesn’t matter if America imports all of its goods from China and exports nothing but pieces of paper. The Americans want the computer monitor, and the Chinese want handsome portraits of Benjamin Franklin. No coercion is involved. Nobody is making Americans buy Chinese goods. It’s not like the Opium Wars when the British forced the Chinese to accept shipments of, shall we say, pharmaceutical imports. Maybe the Chinese will fight a war with America–the Consumer Electronics War of 2007, with Chinese gunboats cruising the fountains in America’s malls. But it hasn’t happened yet.
I look around my house, and everything except the kids and dogs was made in China. And I’m not sure about the kids. They have brown eyes and small noses. All the Chinese got in return were those pieces of paper and an occasional 747 and some Microsoft software. Even if the software is illegally copied 1.3 billion times–and it was, I saw it on sale–China is getting the short end of the stick. This is another economic principle that America’s policymakers can’t get through their lumpy, bruised skulls. Imports are good. Exports are bad. Imports are Christmas morning. Exports are January’s Visa Card bill.
AP very briefly met O’Rourke on his trip and he did offer an improved view of Shanghai — which he described in his 1989 text ‘Eat the Rich‘ as the “worst of both worlds.”
Technorati Tags: asia, china, east asia, economy, northeast asia
Just a year after preventing China from buying fungible resources, the US Congress has won another victory against the Red Chinese menace. The State Department will no longer be able to use IBM-branded computers on its networked systems.
In the face of pressure from Congress, Foggy Bottom decided that the state-linked Lenovo is too much of a security threat to be used. The Shanghaiist, using citations from the NY Times, sees this an example of idiotic xenophobia.:
Fears and concerns that exist only in the minds of a deluded few (or many?) on Capitol Hill, as most industry watchers agree that the placement of any malicious hardware/software is extremely unlikely. But, that didn’t stop House members from patting each other on the back.
“Frank R. Wolf, the chairman of the House subcommittee that oversees the budget appropriations for the State Department, Commerce Department and Justice Department said the security concerns about the State Department’s use of Lenovo computers had been brought to his attention by two members of the United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a bipartisan group appointed by Congress. “They deserve the credit for this.”"
Credit for what? For showing zero faith in the State Department’s IT security staff in detecting possible implanted “mal-ware”. Or was it for further cementing America’s reputation abroad as an overly paranoid, increasingly xenophobic and completely out of touch nation in disarray? If so, thanks guys! A job well done indeed!
China is the final assembly point for a wide number of laptops and electronic devices, including AsiaPundit’s iBook. AP recommends that Congress consider all of these devices an equivalent security threat and removes all networked devices assembled in China or with major components made in China. This may not help with real world security concerns, but it should protect the country from the Cylon menace.
in Beijing’s tech corridor of Zhongguancun, Tyler Rooker notes that making a PC these days is like making a TV, and sees how China may have cause to revisit its desire to ditch Microsoft.:
The reason the State Department chose Lenovo in the first place is that there is a competitive bid process, and Lenovo’s computers were the cheapest, the fastest, and the best value. In times of budget deficit and current account deficit (not to mention trade deficit), the State Department should be commended. But it is being condemned.
Back to China. Why would the government fund its own Linux-based operating system and programs? Among many reasons, one is that there are existing fears about Microsoft and Dell, both American companies, that their software code and computers, respectively, contain secret code and hardware that will email secrets to Washington. What a far-fetched, feckless fear, I used to think.
Do you care about the status of the islands known as Dokdo. If you don’t you likely belong to the 99.994 percent of the world’s population that is not South Korean. GI Korea tested searches for the islands on Google trends:
I have been playing around with and it is an interesting tool to see who from what countries are searching for certain terms. After playing around with this for a while I thought what a great tool to use to once and for all see if anyone else in the world gives a crap about the Dokdo Islands controversy. Judging from the results you will see that .
AsiaPundit was intrigued by the findings, but thought to be fair that a test should account for language barriers. The Japanese name for the disputed set of rocks is Takeshima, However — and surprisingly — a test for that search term :
Oddly, Koreans are not only the most likely to care about Dokdo, they are also the only ones searching for Takeshima.
Technorati Tags: asia, dokdo, east asia, japan, korea, northeast asia, takeshima
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Mao: The Unknown Story - by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday:
A controversial and damning biography of the Helmsman.
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