16 October, 2005

south asian blog roundup


Rifat of ‘Close your eyes and try to see’ discusses premarital sex in the context of Bangladesh.

Shappir of ‘Bring your own Shisha’ recollects the story of Joseph/Yusuf/Yosef, the prophet of three religions to uphold the virtue of forgiveness.

Razib of ‘Me, myself and Bangladesh’ links to a report that Designers from Bangladesh are using khadi for designing bridal sarees and suits. What more they are fast becoming popular in India.

Sadiq tells about the golden rules of various religions in his blog “Inspirations and Creative Thoughts”.

Salam of ‘Salam Dhaka’ comments that the current Bangladeshi government is not doing good for poor people.


Selva of ‘The Scientific Indian’ tells how an American outsourced his life to India.

Madman blogs his lunch in an Italian restaurant. Yummy!

Rajesh Jain of ‘Emergic’ quotes two gems on ‘Digital divide’ and ‘Computers and Education’.

Shaksi of ‘To each its own’ thinks of the Parsi community in India as a role model for the rest of the Indians.


Ahmed has had it with the elderly people.


International Nepal Solidarity Network reports that the identity and movement of all Indian and Nepalese nationals crossing the Indo-Nepal border will be recorded from November 1 by border security forces of both the countries.

Dinesh of ‘United We Blog’ remarks that the Nepali political parties want democracy, but the King talks election. This draws an interesting debate.

Laetitia-Marie of ‘Karma Sonam Gurung’ reports that the national human rights commission in Nepal accused both Maoists and security forces of failing to protect child rights as per national and international laws in a recent report.

Binita Shrestha blogs from New York and brings to us all about court reporting.


Mudassir of ‘Pakistani perspective’ links to some online credit card donations for Pakistan’s earthquake relief.

‘The Glasshouse’ posts some heartbreaking facts about the recent Quake. He also takes a critical look at Pakistani leadership dealing with the disaster.

Shirazi of ‘Light Within’ links to some Pakistani bloggers response to the quake. Maria posts roundups of media responses to the quake.

Metroblogging Lahore has lots of info and links of the quake.

Pakistani Bloggers like Sepoy of ‘Chapati Mystery’ are taking personal initiatives to raise money for the victims.

Sri Lanka:

Marisa Wikramanayake discusses the question of whether there is such a thing as a just war?

Via ‘Lanka Citizen’ the voice of the ordinary public warns the politicians for accountability.

Shandy, a British expatriate writes about his travel in many beautiful destinations in Sri Lanka, with lots of pictures.

Kate Baumgartner posts some beautiful pictures from Sri Lanka.

by @ 8:46 pm. Filed under Blogs, Pakistan, India, Asia, South Asia, Weblogs, Nepal, Bangladesh

4 September, 2005

weekend links

This sounds like an unpleasant way to lose one’s virginity.:

Ms. Wang, a 38 year old woman who says she is a virgin, goes to Cathay
General Hospital with her mother, where Dr. Lin Hui-lin, a minor
celebrity herself, gives Ms. Wang a pelvic exam without getting Ms.
Wang’s permission first.
During the examination Ms. Wang’s hymen
was ruptured. Ms. Wang then filed a complaint with the Consumer
Foundation. After mediation by the Consumer Foundation, Cathay General
Hospital said that it would repair Ms. Wang’s hymen free of charge or
give her NT$100,000.
The Wangs, however, were not satisfied. Ms.
Wang’s father, one Wang Xian-ji, held a news conference where,
brandishing his daughter’s bloody panties (the print version of the
Apple Daily story actually had a picture of this), he demanded NT$5
million in compensation and an apology from Dr. Lin or he would take
her to court for medical malpractice. In the China Times version of
the story Mr. Wang said that although his daughter had had boyfriends,
she had protected her virginity like a treasure. Now her ill-fated
doctor’s visit had destroyed a woman’s most valuable possession-her

I recommend full compensation for Ms Wang, plus punitive damages and a trip to this clinic in Manila.:


Meanwhile in Bangkok.

BreadbodypartsthaiKittiwat Unarrom, a Thai baker’s son, was trained as a fine artist, but
has switched to baking realistic putrefying human body parts and organs
out of bread and other ingredients, and has become a trendy sensation: Along
with edible human heads crafted from dough, chocolate, raisins and
cashews, Kittiwat makes human arms, feet, and chicken and pig parts. He
uses anatomy books and his vivid memories of visiting a forensics
museum to create the human parts.

Today’s gratuitous image of the female body comes from Fons at the China Herald.:

A funny description by blogger Chinawhite,
a foreigner living in Shanghai, as he was invited for an evening out
with starlet Mimi. Mimi confesses she is looking for a nice foreign
boyfriend - I might have heard that before. Chinawhite did not seem to
have made the test, nor did Mimi.


Danwei points to a BBS post that ponders, "what if Super Girl were run by CCTV?":

The competition starts. Hosts Zhu Jun and Zhou Tao come onstage.

LittleredchoirZhu Jun: The spring breeze of reform blows throughout the
land, and happiness descends from the heavens in waves. Viewers,
through the great attention of leaders at all levels, the cooperation
of local television stations across the country, and with the generous
support of our sponsors, we bring you the CCTV - #6 Pharmaceutical
Power Pill Super Girl Competition!

Zhou Tao: The land is filled with reform’s spring breeze, and
super girls must test their wills. Viewers, the Super Girls competing
in today’s competition have been selected by local TV stations across
the country. Passing through stringent political investigations, they
are red-rooted and upright, they are actively moving forward, they work
hard to closely organize, they are both red and professional, and they
can be completely trusted.

Michael Turton notes that China has allowed Taiwan airlines to use its airspace, and offers a warning.:

largest airline said yesterday it will become the island’s first
airline to fly through rival China’s airspace in more than five decades.

China Airlines Ltd. said Beijing has approved its application to use
the mainland’s airspace, a month after Taiwanese Premier Frank Hsieh
(謝長廷) said he would allow the island’s airlines to fly over Chinese

China’s aviation authorities yesterday approved
applications from four Taiwanese airlines to fly over its airspace
after Taipei urged the permission amid rising oil prices.

Chinaairlines_1Hmmm….given the regularity with which China Airlines’ airplanes fall out of the sky, I’m not sure I’d permit them to fly over my territory….

Also be sure to visit Michael Turton’s weekly Taiwan blog roundup.

In reaction to high fuel prices, Seoul is trying to curb the number of cars on its roads and, for a country known for sporatic crackdowns, it’s impressively doing it through incentives.:

SeoultrafficGas prices are through the roof and as they threaten to get higher and
higher, this could put a crimp on the Korean economy, the world’s
fourth-largest buyer of crude oil and a nation that depends entirely on
imports for its oil needs. According to a Bank of Korea estimate, "a
one-percent rise in oil prices would trim 0.02 percentage point off the
nation’s economic growth."
For that reason, Seoul is reported to be
to give motorists tax and other incentives to prod them to drive less.
As part of the move, the government is revamping efforts to get people
to leave their cars home at least one business day per week (you may
have noticed the round, colored stickers with one day of the week
printed on them).

Meanwhile, North Korea has its own energy-saving plan.:

Norknight_2 It is eight o’clock on a Saturday night and darkness envelopes
virtually all of Pyongyang, serving as a vivid reminder of communist
North Korea’s pressing energy needs.
World leaders such as U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have
talked of satellite pictures of the Korean peninsula taken at night
that show a brightly illuminated South and the North in total darkness.

Malaysia has started to crackdown on mobile phone porn and will be randomly checking cell phones:

First of all the checking of phones randomly is an invasion of privacy.
It’s terrible and infringes personal liberty. Is it worse that we are
not free within our own country or is it worse that some teenagers
trade naughty pictures and texts?
Secondly by deleting these
records do you actually stop anyone from having the impluses to trade
naughty pictures? No you just drive them deeper underground.

I’ve suggested elsewhere, the US and Australia would get better results in terrorism-related trials in Indonesia if they called off the high-profile statements and resorted to more traditional methods. It seems someone on Michelle Leslie’s legal team understands this.:

Michelle_leslie_1That didn’t take long. Today it was reported in the Australian media
that somebody claiming connection with the Balinese police could
intervene in the drug case of Michelle Leslie (aka "Michelle the
Muslim") for a monetary donation. Might just be some jokester, but also
might be just the tip of the iceberg.
At least it’s reassuring
that the investigation into the possible bribe solicitation will be
conducted by………the Indonesian police. That should clear up
matters fairly quickly. Sort of like the Indonesian human rights
activist who was poisoned on his flight to Europe. The pilot is now on

It seems that Hu Jintao is sensitive to charges that he has been taking China backwards, and has decided to rehabilitate another Hu to help polish his own image.:

Huyaobang_1The Chinese government has not publicly commemorated the birth or
death of Hu Ya0bang since he died on April 15, 1989, lest publicity
reignite the democratic spark snuffed out on J*ne 4 that year when the
army crushed the student-led dem0nstrations. State media rarely mention
his name.
Hu Jintao decided recently that the party would officially mark the
90th anniversary of Hu Ya0bang’s birth on November 20 at the Great Hall
of the People, said a source close to the family and a second source
with knowledge of the commemorations.

One of the sources reports that that some of the current Politburo
Standing Committee will attend the commemoration and that Hu Jintao
wishes to play the Hu Ya0bang card to inherit his political resources
and work on improving his ‘reformer’ image after a number of crackdowns
on liberal intellectuals, the media, the Internet and non-governmental
organisations and further restrictions on basic freedoms.

La idler suggested I should add some beefcake for female readers. It’s not really my area of expertise, but Jodi thinks these guys are eye candy. Nomad thinks the guy in front needs to better accessorize.


I’m always fascinated by anything that looks at the economy of North Korea, OneFreeKorea picks up on an FT item noting the rise of the ice cream man.

The Chosun Ilbo has printed a summary of a Financial Times story
that may change your model of the North Korean economy, but not much.
The story suggests that changes in economic policy in 2002 have in fact
launched a limited number of small private businesses, and that those
businesses are substantially enriching the people who run them.

Icecream_manThe World Food Program’s North
Korea director Richard Ragan told the paper the wealthy are
concentrated in five cities, including Pyongyang. They are the group
that can be seen going to work on their bicycles, which cost triple the
average monthly salary in North Korea. The newly affluent work mostly
in retail and service industries and include tailors, ice cream sellers
and bike repairmen who make money in general markets, which have
multiplied to some 300 since 2002. Some farmers selling surplus produce
are also part of what passes for a wealthy class in North Korea.

How long can an economy base
itself on an ice cream vending industry? For explanations by smarter
people than myself, I recommend Marcus Noland’s Korea After Kim Jong-Il and Nicholas Eberstadt’s The End of North Korea
(Eberstadt admits that he failed to predict the success of North
Korea’s aid-seeking strategy, but his analysis of the North Korean
economy itself is sound). An economy that fully participates in the
greater global economy can prosper as a service economy if its services
generate sufficient income to allow it to import the goods it needs.
North Korea will not mirror the experience of, say, Singapore because
it lacks the means to produce goods for its own use or for trade, the
connectivity to participate in the global economy, and the foreign
exchange to purchase what it needs from abroad.

Japan, a country where even the worst television is better than CCTV.

SwimsuitThis March, we had a post on the five worst television programs in Japan as selected by the weekly magazine Shukan Gendai. The fifth in the series was Mizugi Shojo (Swimsuit Girls)
broadcast at 3:10 a.m., Thursdays on TV Tokyo. The premise of the show
is to dress some young, busty models in bathing suits and have them
engage in goofy games and repartee.
One of the games is Tongue Golf.
This game is played with one girl acting as the golf course, with her
navel as the hole. Another girl plays golf on her body with a ping pong
ball, using her tongue as the club.

Speaking of Asian television, Gordon notes that the CCTV’s coverage of the disaster in New Orleans leaves much to be desired.:

160_myers_kanye_west_050903The wife and I were watching news on one of the CCTV channels this
evening and they were showing footage of the devastation that has
rocked most of the south. They followed that with clips of various
stars trying to raise money for the relief efforts and to my shock they
showed one of Mike Myers (Austin Powers) standing next to a black man
who blurted out "George Bush hates black people and instead of sending
aid, he has sent soldiers with orders to shoot us."
damn near fell off my stool. There’s a lot of blame to go around in
regards to this disaster, but calling the President a racist is
completely ignorant. unfortunate though, 1.3 billion Chinese are
probably going to buy into that notion.
That is complete lunacy
and I can not believe that a broadcasting network would allow such
blatant ignorance to be aired like that.

Also on Katrina, Sepia Mutiny notes that Sri Lanka has offered $25,000 in aid, while Madame Chang notes the Philippines is doing the same. Though is she wonders if it is a good thing.:

I have very mixed feelings about this…..
realise that the world is horrified by what has happened, what is still
ongoing and what is still to come in the southern States, I realise
that the world is trying to now do its part and help the ‘Friendly
Giant’ that comes to the aid of others so willingly, I realise that the
Philippines has a strong tie to the US and as such I can see it wants
to do its part to help….I applaud the reaction of sending aid
However, I cannot help but feel that the $25,000
would be of much greater use at home in The Philippines…..is that
callous or small minded and am I missing a bigger picture here?

And from Bangladesh, Rezwan asks:

… is it fair to compare Bangladesh to the chaos & destruction
United States is facing? Natural calamities are always a tragedy and an
act of God. The humans can only be well prepared and coordinated to
minimize the destruction. Bangladesh faces this kinds of tragedy every
year and still it is a developing not a stagnant country. The media do
not propagate the courage and efforts many Bangladeshis show each year
to start their life all over. If the calamities would not only be the
central idiom of the media, the world could have learnt many tips for tackling these kind of calamities.
Daniel Brett writes a striking post "What America can learn from Bangladesh":

"Last year Bangladesh faced a natural disaster
which was an altogether larger disaster than Hurricane Katrina and the
casualty figures were probably lower than the casualties sustained in
the New Orleans disaster. But the disaster was contained due to the
survival instincts of the Bangladeshi people, their ingenuity in the
face of adversity and their culture of hard work. Rather than shoot and
loot, Bangladesh immediately used its modest resources to limit the
impact of the floods before international aid arrived.

Donate to the Red Cross

by @ 10:07 pm. Filed under Japan, South Korea, Blogs, Singapore, China, India, Indonesia, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, Philippines, Media, South Asia, Thailand, Web/Tech, Books, North Korea, Australia, Bangladesh

22 August, 2005

monday links

As if the arrest and imprisonment of buxom Shapelle Corby wasn’t enough to strain Australian-Indonesian relations, police in Bali have busted a Aussie lingerie model.

MleebodypaintSYDNEY - Australian lingerie model Michelle Leslie could face up
to 10 years in jail after getting busted on the Indonesian resort of
Bali for allegedly possessing ecstasy tablets, officials said.

The 24-year-old, who has modelled for sassy lingerie line Antz
Pantz and works under the name Michelle Lee, was arrested at a party
near Bali’s popular Kuta beach at the weekend, they said.

The Swanker says:

If you’re one of those people who think the Australian media got into a
big tizz over Schapelle Corby solely because of her looks, wait til
they get a load of Michelle.

In other celebrity news, Other Lisa is horrified that ‘The Donald’ intends to bring the Apprentice to China.

Communist mainland China will soon have its own version of "The Apprentice" — Donald Trump’s reality TV tribute to capitalism.
Trump will be the executive producer of the Chinese show, which
will be hosted by Beijing property mogul Pan Shiyi, the South China
Morning Post newspaper reported Sunday.
The newspaper said China’s version would closely follow the U.S.
original, in which contestants compete for a job with Trump. Details of
the deal are under negotiation.

I wouldn’t worry too much about Trump crossing the Pacific. On top of tightening regulations on joint Sino-foreign productions, Vincent Lo of Hong Kong’s Shui On Group has already commenced a rival project.:

But "Wise Man Takes All" will not feature cut-throat
competition or Trump’s catch-phrase, "You’re fired!"
The show symbolises China’s embrace of market economics
after decades of strict state planning. Entrepreneurs are now
eligible for "model and advanced worker" status, an honour once
reserved for the likes of bus conductors, miners and other
employees of the Communist state sector.
"We are trying to sharpen the entrepreneurial spirit in
young people," Vincent Lo Hongshui, chairman of Hong Kong
property developer Shui On Land, a major sponsor of the show,
was quoted as saying.
Reality television is relatively new but catching on quickly
in China. Millions of people have been tuning in to watch the
late rounds of "Super Girl", a singing showdown that clearly
takes a page from "American Idol" and reaches it finale on

Lo’s project may not be as edgy as Trump’s, but it has a better chance of getting off the ground. In grey areas such as the entertainment media, it helps to have guanxi. And, as the Economist has noted, Lo is the "King of Guanxi."

Cyber War! Cyber War! Cyber War!

Japanese netizens are attacking a South Korean website:

The website of the Voluntary Agency Network Korea (VANK)has been hacked and its message board flooded by messages-
in what’s thought to be a retaliation by angry Japanese netizens (can I
call Japanese internet users netizens too?) over Google Earth changing
the name of the body of water between Korea and Japan from Sea of Japan
to East Sea after VANK lobbied Google Earth.

The South Korean government is setting up safeguards to prevent it from being caught in the crossfire as Chinese netizens attack Japan.:

“We don’t know whether cyber warfare will indeed happen between China
and Japan, but to prevent any fallout, we have devised countermeasures
jointly with universities and Internet service providers,” a ministry
official said.
Hong Kong daily reported recently that the Association of China’s Red
Hackers, one of the world’s five hacking groups, plans to launch
formidable attacks on the anti-Chinese websites in Japan between July
and September.

Rebecca McKinnion will soon be arriving to mediate moderate:

I’m thrilled to have been asked to moderate a panel at this years first inaugural Chinese Bloggers’ Conference in Shanghai, November 5-6….
One thing I hope we’ll talk about is how we can do more to foster constructive dialogue online between bloggers in China and Japan.

A constructive dialogue would be nice. Though I’d even consider fostering a hostile dialogue progress, so long as it meant a reduction in hacking and ‘DNS atacks.’

In Japan, it’s hip to be square.:

819otakuThough Torii may not know it, he’s the type of guy who’s apparently all
the rage among Japanese women nowadays. Much of the media is currently
smitten with the country’s booming otaku culture. This has, in turn,
led to widespread claims that the geeks, freaks, weirdoes and fatties
who, like Torii, are collectively referred to as otaku, a group once
largely shunned by women, are now being seen as the country’s hottest
hunks. Apparently, their appeal lies in the belief that the otaku are
up for a purer form of love and are the obsessive types likely to
become devoted to the one gal once they’ve found her.

MassgamesIt’s tourist season in Pyong’yang. Seriously, to mark the 60th anniversary of Allied Victory in World War Two’s Pacific Front Kim Il-sung’s almost single-handed defeat of Japanese fascist armies and the birth of the juche state, the country is holding three-month long Mass Games. We’ve been assured that these will offer some of the best acrobatics, gymnastics and xenophobia that Northeast Asia has to offer. As NK Zone notes, the Financial Times is offering some free coverage.

It’s been argued that governments are not doing enough to prevent the Avian Flu from becoming a pandemic. Thankfully, we now have "An Investor’s Guide to the Avian Flu," so even if millions do die, at least some of us can profit. (FWIW: CLSA issued a similar report several months ago, they just weren’t as gauche when selecting a title.)

Nepal9Michael Manoochehri says that Nepal’s border guards are much nicer than the Chinese ones. Both Chinese and Nepalese babies are cute though.

It’s easy to understand why the Chinese border guards were grumpier. The Tibetan region has security problems while Nepal has… err Maoist insurgents and student rioters.

Global Voices offers another fine roundup on the blasts in Bangladesh.

When MasaMania posted his spread of Tokyo street-racing photos today, I was struck by this older link that showed up in my RSS reader today. I thought that a possible reason for the "Korea Wave," and the waning influence of Japan on Asian fashion trends, is that the trends coming out of Japan are just a little bit too freaky for the rest of the continent.


The fashion trends coming out of South Korea, meanwhile, are much safer… even if some of them are copies of trends that originated in Japan.



by @ 9:33 pm. Filed under Culture, Japan, South Korea, Blogs, China, Indonesia, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Weblogs, North Korea, Nepal, Central Asia, Australia, Bangladesh, Tibet

china economic roundup (viii)


It’s all smiles and handshakes when Wen Jiabao and Manmohan Singh meet, but the two emerging powers are competing for influence in South Asia - both diplomatic and economic. Via CDT, Japan Focus has a very in-depth article on the trade and economic ties between China, India and the region.:

  India, as the resident power of South Asia, considers the region its "near
  abroad," and does not want Beijing to intrude on to its turf. What unnerves
  India most is China’s eye on South Asia’s biggest prize: the Indian Ocean. While
  India would like to prevent China’s advance into its sphere of influence, it
  lacks the regional or international clout, diplomatically, militarily or economically,
  to stem Beijing’s march on South Asia or the Indian Ocean.
  China, however, has sought to calm Delhi. Prime Minister Wen Jiabao’s four-day
  visit to India on April 9-12 attests to growing efforts to woo Delhi. China’s major goal is to keep India from forging military and strategic alliances with the U.S. that might undermine Beijing’s goal of reunification of Taiwan. Well aware of India’s historic concerns for its territorial integrity, China deftly plays on India’s nationalist instincts and its visceral aversion to domination by foreign powers. China’s deft diplomacy is facilitated by the current U.P.A. (United Progressive Alliance) government of India that rests on a liberal-left coalition, many of whose members are more suspicious of western powers than of Beijing.

The Oil Drum notes that China’s south has received oil deliveries, and further evidence emerges that (as was widely noted last week) the shortage was caused by price controls, and ’solved’ by government intervention.:

Global prices have risen by about 30 per cent
this year but Chinese prices by about half that, leaving local refiners
such as Sinopec suffering large losses on sales of imported fuel.
Sinopec official in Beijing, speaking on condition of anonymity, said
Wednesday the company had been forced by the government to order its
refiners to produce fuel for the local market, even though it was not

Simon picks up on this theme from another article, noting that the big refiners’ refusal to supply the market at a loss may have much bigger ramifications.:

One other interesting part of the article that is mentioned in passing but has greater significance:

Sinopec and PetroChina have listed many of their business operations in
overseas securities markets, they are increasingly able to cite
"shareholder interests” as an excuse to defy government orders.

market economics can triumph over Communism after all? The writer is
implying that Sinopec and PetroChina are using shareholder interests as
a fig leaf to ignore orders. What if, perhaps, they actually believe in
creating shareholder value and subverting Government orders is a means
to that end?

Indeed, one of the most frequent dreams/fears I hear from economists and analysts is that much of China’s semi-state sector is increasingly behaving according to market rationale not because of government pressure — but because the top-management has desire to do so.

While this doesn’t mean much while China continues to boom, a day may soon come when Chinese banks start to call in loans made to insolvent SOEs and refuse to endorse policy loans. If that happens, there could be a real shakeout with the next downturn.

This loosening of state control is hinted at in an article reproduced by Mark Thoma: a Business Week interview with economist Fan Gang.:

There has been some progress in the banking sector. There still is
political interference, but control of the banks has been centralized
[away from local governments]. As a result, the whole system is more
independent of the local politicians. The managements of local branches
aren’t appointed by local governments any more.
The reform has started — but maybe too late. The government
has injected money into the banks to float shares. To improve the
capital market, 20% to 30% of their shares have to be sold to the
public. But [more state injections are likely].

Also at the New Economist, another Business Week item on the costs of China’s energy subsidies on the environment. Mark Thoma notes.:

ChinapollutionAccording to the World Bank, six of the world’s ten most polluted
cities are in China.  It is also a very inefficient user of energy
requiring 4.7 times as much energy to produce a unit of GDP than in the
U.S., a consequence of subsidized fuel in China leaving little
incentive to implement energy saving technology and lax environmental
regulation.  The energy subsidies and the lack of environmental
regulation contribute to the cost advantage enjoyed by Chinese
producers. And, according to BusinessWeek, China is becoming even less efficient in its energy usage.

As well as environmental concerns, but something that isn’t too distantly related, Martyn at the Peking Duck looks at a damning report on China’s healthcare system. Bingfeng notes that China is coming under pressure - from the public, media and branches of government - to rollback healthcare privatization. Bingfeng’s solution, one which I agree with, is to stay the course.:

The problems of the marketization, such as overcharge, unevenness,
etc. are the same ones of any industry going privatized, and they will
diminish over time as the industry has more money and players in and
services become more competitive. even health care sector has its
uniqueness, the therapy for the misplaced reform is to further advance
the marketization but not to halt it.
the public, mostly don’t
have that knowledge and vision, are proposing to draw back to the safe
and cozy position of government-take-care-of-all, and with the help of
mass media, their voices are without doubt reach the ears of top
policy-makers. in my view, the public opinons are an indispensable part
of the policy-making process but they are just counter-productive in
the health care reform.

On currency and central bank matters, Sun Bin offers a look into the composition of the yuan’s guidance basket.:

The fact that RMB is still so highly correlated to USD is still puzzling. Maybe PBC is smoothing out the transition, by adjusting the USD basket weight slowly from 100% down to the the target weight
of 50% or 43%. In other words, in July, USD might have still been the
sole content inside the basket, or RMB continued to peg to USD alone
for a few more days, until the peg is slowly loosened. If Jen’s implied
weight at 85% is correct (the average over the period), USD weight
might have decreased from 100% down to around 70-80% now.

Logan Wright, meanwhile, offers some sobering comments to those who put too much faith in People’s Bank of China governor Zhou Xiaochaun.:

I understand that all bureaucracies are beset by compromises, with
various agencies seeking out turf in conflicts that often produce
decisions that are essentially "satisficing" results that are "good
enough" but not utility-maximizing for all parties involved.
My argument in this debate is that China’s economic bureaucratic
institutions effectively lack autonomy, because there is no single
institution capable of fomulating its own goals regarding China’s
position and stance toward the international financial markets.
Instead, policymaking becomes concentrated in the State Council, and
political compromises emerge that essentially convey mixed messages to
the global marketplace….
PBOC, in contrast, has to respond to directions from the State Council,
even while attempting to win more turf for its own bureaucratic
empire.  The result, I believe, is that international economic policy
effectively loses credibility. 


by @ 1:11 pm. Filed under China, India, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia, South Asia, Bangladesh, Economic roundup

21 August, 2005

sunday links


ESWN has a translation of a Chinese state-run paper’s view on internet censorship and the real name campaign. If you are a CCP member, there is reason to be optimistic.:

With the continual cleaning up
  of the Internet, time and again, there is hope that every corner of the
  Chinese Internet will be mopped up cleanly.

Above cartoon from Seattle PI via Mei Zhong Tai.

Harry notes that working as a Chef for Kim Jong-il can be hazardous. Among the many things to fear… shaved gonads!:

In 1989, Mr Fujimoto married one of the Group for Pleasure dancers,
with the Dear Leader playing a prominent, but bizarre, part in his
"My wedding was held on the second floor of the number eight banquet
hall. Many executives from the North Korean Labour Party came to the
wedding and told me to drink a lot. I drank one and half bottles of
"The next morning, Kim Jong Il came to me and asked me whether I had
pubic hair," Mr Fujimoto continued. "I answered, ‘Yes’ but he said to
me, ‘Let’s go to the bathroom to check’. We went to the bathroom and
checked, but it was all gone."When I was intoxicated with cognac, someone seemed to have removed
it. Kim Jong Il said, ‘That’s how we celebrate weddings’ and smiled.

That odd tidbit is from the Scotsman, for more serious information on Kim, read a book.

Sometimes in China, protests work. The China Youth Daily has scrapped a plan to have bonuses linked with pleasing the party. Don’t worry too much about the reporters missing out on the extra cash, there are still other ways for journalists to make money.

The Economist a few weeks back ran a leader arguing that video and online games did not lead to increased levels of deviancy or violence. There is no evidence to believe it does. Still, as virtual weapons and property becomes more valuable, we can probably expect more online theft.:

StickupA man has been arrested in Japan on suspicion carrying out a virtual mugging spree
by using software “bots” to beat up and rob characters in the online
computer game Lineage II. The stolen virtual possessions were then
exchanged for real cash. . .
“There’s an ongoing war between
people who make bots and games companies,” he [Ren Reynolds, a UK-based
computer games consultant and an editor of the gaming research site
Terra Nova] told New Scientist. “And making real money out of virtual
worlds is getting bigger.”. . .

Via Imagethief, the Taiwanese are Kiwis, and - power shortage or not - the Bund must be spectacular.


(image stolen from here)

PuffyamiGravely disturbing headline at Boing Boing: "Puffy AmiYumi Bukkake": 

… not exactly what the headline promises: Link

I’m sure the imagery isn’t intentional, although it’s slightly bothersome that a group so dedicated to children’s entertainment would be so careless about its image. Speaking of which: "Disney sweatshop report: Part VI."

At East Asia Affairs, a damning commentary on South Korea’s progressives:

I fear I was
wrong about democratization in South Korea. At least some of those who
fought against dictatorship weren’t, and aren’t, true democrats. What
they hated was the generals’ right-wing politics, not authoritarianism
per se.
Such self-styled "progressives", who rule the roost in the new South
Korea, seem to me merely to have turned the old values inside out,
rather than made true progress. I sometimes think Koreans don’t do
shades of gray, but prefer gestalt conversions: a total switch of world
view. They flip.

Singabloodypore has a report on internet filtering in the city state, from my view (as a former long-term Singapore resident now in China), it’s not that bad in comparison.:

In our testing, the OpenNet Initiative (ONI)found extremely minimal
filtering of Internet content in Singapore, as only eight sites of
1,632 tested (.49%) were blocked: www.cannabis.com, www.chick.com,
www.formatureaudiencesonly.com, www.penthouse.com,
www.persiankitty.com, www.playboy.com, www.playgirl.com, and
www.sex.com. The limited blocking that our testing revealed focuses on
a few pornographic URLs and one site each in the categories of illegal
drugs and fanatical religion. Similar content is readily available at
other sites on the Internet that are not blocked in Singapore. Thus,
Singapore’s Internet content regulation depends primarily on access
controls (such as requiring political sites to register for a license)
and legal pressures (such as defamation lawsuits and the threat of
imprisonment) to prevent people from posting objectionable content
rather than technological methods to block it. Compared to other
countries that implement mandatory filtering regimes that ONI has
studied closely, Singapore’s technical filtering system is one of the
most limited.

It forgets to mention that the Sarong Party Girl cannot be accessed from government offices.

Japundit has great analysis on Japan’s election. High Noon in Tokyo #2.

The Philippines is getting tough on corruption? I won’t hold my breath, but if this case is any indication of things to come… ouch.

It is encouraging that the Sandiganbayan (corruption court) is starting
to really clamp down on corruption, though last Friday’s sentencing of
a 71-year-old former mayor to 64 years’ imprisonment for employing his cousins seems, er, a tiny bit disproportionate.

Rezwan has a fantastic roundup of blog coverage of last week’s blasts in Bangladesh. And also great commentary.

Finally, a Great China blog roundup at Global Voices.

by @ 8:40 pm. Filed under Japan, South Korea, Singapore, China, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, Media, South Asia, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Books, Censorship, Terrorism, North Korea, Bangladesh

18 August, 2005

bangladesh blast update

Rezwan has further details - and many questions - on the yesterday’s bombings in Bangladesh.:

When around four hundred small bombs explode in 63 districts out of 64 districts of a country simultaneously it shows what kind of network the attackers possess (imagine 50 states out of 51 in US). The mostly hit city was the capital Dhaka with around 30 bombs explosions including key installation like the Zia International Airport, Supreme Court, Secretariat etc.
The casualties and injured numbers are so far incredibly much less (2 deaths and 150 hospitalized). The question may be why is that. The bombs were confirmed as small IEDs (Improvised explosive device) containing not much explosives. From the TV reports of the unexploded ones I have seen that each contained four batteries and some small devices and a switch attached to the bomb by red tape. Most probable the switch activated the delay device and it exploded sometime later allowing the carrier to leave it and flee away. The most remarkable thing of these bombs is that they contained wood saw dust instead of splinters. That is why there are fewer casualties although they were exploded at manned places. Actually many received minor wounds of saw dusts hitting the body with the power of explosion and went home after emergency medical attention. If these were loaded with more explosives and deadly splinters, we could have seen thousands of dead people.

Gateway Pundit has a news and blog roundup of the blasts, including a video link, and he notes a claim from authorities that there were 500 blasts.

Joe Gandelman at the Moderate Voice also has an excellent roundup, featuring an array of regional and international media sources.

Further posting at Chapati Mystery and Sepia Mutiny.

by @ 1:35 pm. Filed under Asia, South Asia, Terrorism, Bangladesh

17 August, 2005

over 100 bombs

Over 100 small explosives have been reported detonated across Bangladesh, Channel News Asia is reporting.:

A total of 111 explosions occurred near bus and train stations, courts and administrative buildings, various police officials said, adding they appear to have been caused by small, homemade devices.
Police in some affected cities said leaflets - apparently from a recently banned Islamic extremist group calling for the implementation of Islamic law - were found near the scene of the blasts.
Some were written in Arabic and others in Bangla.
"There are bomb blasts all over the country. We have reports of some injuries but no fatalities yet," said Abdul Kaiyum, Bangladesh’s Inspector General of Police.
In addition to Dhaka and Chittagong, police reported nine explosions in the southern town of Barisal and at least six in the southwestern town of Khulna.
Police chiefs in 11 other towns and districts reported a further 61 blasts.

The report does not mention any casualties.

UPDATE: Rezwan has more.

by @ 7:19 pm. Filed under Asia, South Asia, Terrorism, Bangladesh

10 August, 2005

wednesday late links

Another Avian Flu Blog, H5N1, offers a look at computer modeling of how an epidemic may spread.

Both studies look at Thailand as the example source of an epidemic, in part because the Thai government has been more forthcoming with useful information than China and Vietnam (other locations of known human H5N1 infections), and in part because Thailand remains a hotbed of the virus. The Nature team took a case of a single rural resident of Thailand coming down with a human-transmissible form of H5N1, then calculated the patterns of infection across the nation. The results — visible in this movie (small .mov, larger .ram), with red representing flu cases and green representing locations where the disease has "burned through" the population — are sobering.

H5N1 also links to clips on how the plague could be controlled. Improvements in computer modeling  are fantastic. And even if we don’t face Armageddon, a pandemic option would be a great feature for any new Sid Meier game.

I recommend that the man in this photo get out of China as quickly as possible, he won’t be popular after this is transmitted through the SinoBlogosphere:


While it’s not clear if this is the gentleman in question, ESWN reports an Australian named Paul said, "I cannot believe that I would be on top of the Great Wall; and I can’t believe that I can piss a full load right

Pissing on the only man-made object visible from space the Great Wall isn’t going to win you many Chinese friends, although Xinhua is remiss in labeling a rave an orgy. Still, if Binfeng is right the guy who couldn’t hold it may herald a new wave of Great Wall preservation.

On the China blogosphere, we are being watched. Andrea notes an SCMP item on a lecture given by CCTV’s producer Hu Yong.:

"The mainland’s internet police are keeping a wary eye on messages posted by its 5 million bloggers, although most of them use cyberspace as a channel to express their desire for individualism, according to a leading network expert from the mainland."

Chirol at Coming Anarchy takes a quick look at the threat from the nutty nuke-wielding, shorter-than-average guy with a really bad haircut, noting that Clinton cannot be blamed for the current crisis.:

I take a dim view of those on the right who tend to immediately and anachronistically blame him for problems occuring during the present administration. Though the North Koreans indeed renegged on their agreement, it should firstly not come as a surprise nor as unprecendented. The Soviets broke almost every agreement we had with them but it was still better to have some sort of framework than nothing.

Not a surprise indeed, North Korea has not only reneged on any military agreement, it reneges on every agreement! It is a serial violator of trade agreements, even with friendly states such as the former USSR and China, and is a defaulter on its debt. It’s a nasty rogue state and should be forced to stand in the corner until it collapses.

Speaking of Rogue States, good news for Asia, the continent does not feature a single nation in the top-10 of Foreign Policy’’s Failed States index. Plus only three nations cracked the top-20: Afghanistan at 11, North Korea at 13 and Bangladesh at 17. Burma/Myanmar comes in 23rd,

A twisted tale comes from India Uncut, apparently the Congress Party has a problem with press freedom, although they still try to get press coverage when they organize a mob to attack a publication.

The group that came to the first floor roughed up the watchman, broke open the door and charged in shouting on the top of their voices.
This group broke computer keyboards, yanked out phone wires and one of them had even held up a chair to throw at the publisher’s glass cabin.

And here’s the bit I find most remarkable:

Ironically, other press had also arrived at the Mid Day office with the Congress persons, giving the indication that the ruling party had called the media in advance to flaunt their cowardly act.

From Sepia Mutiny, a study that damns public health care.:

Although doctors love to tell you that they work out of a sense of seva, and that the quality of care has little to do with the fee structure, it simply isn’t true. Surprising as it seems, the researchers find that you’re better off with a less trained private doctor than a better trained public doctor. Why? Because the private doctors try harder.

While not strictly Asia related, IndCoup of Indonesia notes an Egyptian report that states that French Kissing and Doggie Style are inventions of Islam. If this is true, I completely forgive the religion for inventing calculus.

After a lawmaker is reported dead after voting against Japan Post privatization, Joi Ito recounts a disturbing conversation with chairman of broadcaster NHK:

I remember him telling me that half of the officially reported suicides were actually political murders/assassinations and that the corruption went all the way to the top. If I had heard this from anyone other than the chairman of the largest broadcaster, life-long political reporter and behind-the scenes kingmaker, I would have thought it was a stupid conspiracy theory

Rajan says that Malaysians who are upset about the haze should SMS Indonesian president SBY. Jeff Ooi has more on the Air Pollutant Index, which was banned for eight years because it damaged tourism.

FridgeThe Lost Nomad reports that Mamon is alive and well on the Peninsula.

LG Electronics Inc., South Korea’s second-largest consumer electronics manufacturer, said Monday it has begun selling a new three-door refrigerator encrusted with about 4,900 crystals from Austria’s renowned crystal maker Swarovski.
Only 200 of the refrigerators, which are available in South Korea for 3.99 million won (US$3,934), will be sold, LG said in a statement.

I hate it when this happens. In Singapore, quite possibly the only first-world country that (embarrassingly) isn’t a democracy, the ruling People’s Action Party is again acting like Iran’s Guardian Council. Why? A challenger may emerge in the presidential election:

But not in Singapore though. Like in Ayatollah-ruled Iran, interested candidates must first be prequalified by unelected guardians of the faith (the PAP faith in Singapore’s case). Only safe candidates can be presented to voters.

In the Philippines, Sassy says pork-barrel politics must end.:

There’s this lawyers’ group called Lawyers against Monopoly and Poverty (LAMP) that filed a petition with the Supreme Court to declare as unconstitutional the appropriation of the Priority Development Assistance Fund, otherwise known as pork barrel funds–PhP 65 million for each member of the Lower House and PhP 200 for every senator, annually. The total is PhP 8.23 billion.
Why unconstitutional? Because the job of the Legislature is to legislate. The job of developing the countrysides, including infrastructure projects, properly belongs to the executive branch. The Constitution says that the three branches of government–executive, legislative and judiciary–shall be co-equal but separate. Therefore, if one branch encroaches upon the functions of another, there is a violation of the Constitution. Furthermore, the pork barrel funds “pet projects” of legislators and are a source of corruption.

Indeed, if Gloria is ousted, there should be a Sassy for President campaign.


by @ 9:14 pm. Filed under Japan, South Korea, Blogs, Singapore, China, Money, India, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Myanmar/Burma, Southeast Asia, Philippines, Media, South Asia, Weblogs, Censorship, North Korea, Bangladesh, Religion

5 August, 2005

south asian blog roundup

Here is today’s round up of some of the blogs of South Asia.


Tanim laments on which jobs are deemed respectable and which are not in Bangladesh.

Sadiq finds that the practices of prostration and Submission to God are similar among the major religions of the world.

Asif of ‘Unheard Voices’ sepeculates a big world tour of 50 amateur Bengali musicians from Boston to promote Bangla Gaan (Bengali songs) across the world from USA to Bangladesh.


Nitin Pai tries to find out what is the economics of espionage.

Amardeep of ‘Sepia Mutiny’ discusses the problems in the study of South Asian languages in US.

Dilip D’Souza’s writings on the chaos when a metre of rain came down on Mumbai (the recent Mumbai flood). More accounts of the trauma the citizens of Mumbai faced - by Mukta & Uma.


‘United we blog’ reports that authorities in Nepal have ordered an independent FM radio station in Kathmandu to immediately halt broadcasting news. In another post it depicts a battle between the police and college students. These shows the current turbulant poltical situation in Nepal.


Dareecha reports that the Pakistani government has planned to set up 47 radio stations in various areas of the country to create awareness among the masses about socio-economic issues and their solutions including promotion of literacy.

Deevan muses on the importances of being desi.

Pakistani perspective links to the news of a revel ‘pub’ in Islamabad challenging the conservative society.

by @ 6:42 pm. Filed under Blogs, Pakistan, India, South Asia, Weblogs, Nepal, Bangladesh

1 August, 2005

’trouble brewing’/mass tea-related chaos

Arsonists have attempted to burn down Ayah Pin’s giant teapot, the architectural centerpiece of his interfaith ‘Sky Kingdom’ sect.   Based in Malaysia’s strongly Islamic state of Terangganu, devotees of the teapot’s purifying infusion have previously been arrested (as noted earlier on Asiapundit). 

Meanwhile, striking tea-plantation labourers in Bangladesh and India are starting to settle their bitterly-protacted pay negotiations, but Nepalese tea-labourers associated with the Maoist insurrection have forced the closures of 21 tea estates. 

And Texans newly introduced to green tea smoothies seem to think that green tea has no caffeine, and that once fat-filled artery-clogging smoothies have green tea added to them, that they are healthy. 

by @ 8:48 pm. Filed under Food and Drink, India, Malaysia, Asia, Global/grober, Nepal, Bangladesh, Religion

25 July, 2005

south asian blog roundup

Here is today’s round up of some of the blogs of South Asia.


‘BDeshini’ has some thoughts on the stained glass art she is mastering.

Sadiq links  us to the only site that brings together the Scriptures from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam - all in one place and with the finest translations available in English.

Mezba explains why fishing is a cruel sport.


Dina Mehta tells about a protest by SMS - The Thane Municipal Corporation is being bombarded by text messages from 627 families of Saket Complex, a society of buildings, complaining and urging action against the stench created by open garbage.

Desipundit points to discussions about bothering nasty comments in blogs.

Seven notable Indian journalist/economists have started a blog called ‘The Indian Economy’.


Pakistani Perspective posts an interesting review of the book ‘The dancing girls of Lahore’.

Abez has a recipe of Mango Milk for the husbands.

‘Chapati Mystery’ construes an interesting analogy:
The logic of the war on terror demands that there exist a cohesive ‘them’ while the premise of the jihadist narrative is the disintegration and dispossession of ‘us’.


United we blog has an informative post citing the usual misconceptions of Nepali Politics.

by @ 3:50 pm. Filed under Pakistan, India, South Asia, Nepal, Bangladesh

20 July, 2005

south asian blog roundup

Here is today’s round up of some of the blogs of South Asia.


Sadiq (aka the mystic man) studies the Muslim prophet Muhammad’s mentions in Hindu scriptures.

‘Deshcalling’ links to a history of the Kashmir conflict.


Chandrahas of ‘the middle stage’ posts an interesting review of Naguib Mahfuz’s book ‘Akhenaten, Dweller in Truth’.

Dilip D’Souza discusses a myth behind the stars which are called Cepheids.


‘The Glass house’ links to an article about misfit Pakistanis in England.

‘Pakistani Parspective’ talks about a 10 year old Pakistani girl who has become the youngest Microsoft expert.

‘KO Offroad Pakistan’ shows an alarming state of Pakistan’s Internet connectivity.


‘United we Blog!’ reports that the Nepali government barred agitating political parties to hold the special session of the dissolved parliament in a public building in Kathmandu.

by @ 5:26 pm. Filed under Blogs, Pakistan, India, South Asia, Weblogs, Nepal, Bangladesh

18 July, 2005

ironic pretend ‘asian invasion’ loses ground to ‘actual’ pretend asian invasion

Asian diaspora bloggers in the West with ironically-threatening names, such as America’s Angryasianman and New Zealand’s Yellow Peril, are viewing America’s recasting of China as a non-ironically-threatening geopolitical force, to be a uniquely challenging branding dilemma.  Says Yellow Peril:

Since I started my convolutedly ironic, yet politically and culturally challenging diaspora blog, if you Googled ‘Yellow Peril’, the first thing that came up was ME.  That’s the way I like it.  How is the resurgence of Sinophobia and General Zhu’s threat of a nuclear strike [see below] going to affect my hitrate?

Meanwhile, the UK-born Asian diaspora was busy trying to figure out how many of them went to school with the London bombers

And in Sydney, one of Yellow Peril’s Chinese doctor ‘cousins’ treated a shambolic, mentally ill Muslim man with a broad Australian accent.  The local police then reported the terrified Muslim to the federal authorities because in the midst of his pavement ramblings, he said the word ‘bus’.

by @ 5:04 pm. Filed under Culture, Blogs, China, Pakistan, India, Taiwan, Asia, East Asia, Current Affairs, Weblogs, Terrorism, Australia, Bangladesh

13 July, 2005

south asian blog roundup

Hello Asiapundit readers this is my first guest post. I will be touring you around some of the blogs of South Asia.


Imtiaz slams Bangladesh politics, as opportunists are being able to influence the Prime Minister for their own interests.

Tasnuva talks about ignorant Pakistanis who does not have a clear idea of Bangladesh & the liberation war which separated itself from Pakistan.

Over at my blog ‘The third world view’ I have asked ‘whose problem is terrorism anyway’?


Abhi of Sepia Mutiny finds that the London bombers are the second generation Pakistani-British. This has aroused another controversy as some think that the Indians should not be refered to as ‘desi’ or ‘South Asian’, because they are not Pakistanis or Bangladeshis.

Kiruba writes about an interesting legal battle between Coca-Cola & Sharad Haskar, the best digital photographer of India over a photograph.

Parag thinks that the plight of Muslim women in India is equally bad if not worse than Pakistan.


Chapati Mystery celebrates the new ultra-hip cultural phenomenon ‘desi’ which is the focal point of marketing strategies of some of the US companies.

Pakistani Perspective slates a new ‘moral law’ (hasba).

KO Offroad Pakistan shows an alarming state of Pakistan’s Internet connectivity.


Anbika of United we Blog! discovers that Nepal’s private colleges are being increasingly involved into unhealthy competition to attract top students.

by @ 5:12 pm. Filed under Blogs, Pakistan, India, South Asia, Weblogs, Nepal, Bangladesh

1 July, 2005

india-us defense pact

While I had recently argued that the rise of China as a military threat is exaggerated, preparing for worst-case scenarios is both necessary and, moreover, can help build a deterrent to prevent such scenarios from happening. That’s one reason the new US-India defense pact is good news.

That said, I’m viewing the new pact with a narrow focus on China and Taiwan. There’s much more at play as this great roundup at Winds of Change demonstrates.

by @ 2:04 pm. Filed under China, Pakistan, India, Taiwan, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Terrorism, Bangladesh

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