6 July, 2005

it’s sad when close friends fight

Malaysia’s ex-prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, who supposedly retired completely from politics and took up a completely legitimate position in state-owned disappointment car company, attacks former henchwoman, Rafidah Aziz, who is now heading the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI).

The main crux of the issue is that Mahathir feels that the government is opening up the industry to foreign competitors thus crushing his pet project slowly. Read also from Paul Tan.

UPDATE: Forgot to link to this too - Jeff Ooi’s analysis on how the media is handling Mahathir’s press conference. I almost pity the mainstream media here, so confused about which side to support.

by @ 8:41 pm. Filed under Malaysia

north korean feminism

A sexual revolution is unfolding in the hermit kingdom, with the result being an increase in the number of North Korean army babes.:

In the past, it was considered ideal for women to get married around the age of 25 (as it used to be in Japan), and single women at the age of 30 were considered losers in the matrimonial sweepstakes. But the changing role of women in society around the world seems to have had an impact in North Korea, too, despite its relative isolation. Interviews with recent defectors reveal the women in that country are getting fed up with the men. By tradition, Korean women were supposed to unconditionally obey and respect their husbands, but that’s going by the wayside now, as it has most everywhere else. North Korean divorce laws and procedures are said to be complicated, and even repeated physical abuse is not grounds for divorce.


The ministry says that as a result, greater numbers of women are instead joining the army and using that as a springboard for membership in the Korean Workers’ Party (the only party in town), just as membership applications from the men are declining. The overall total of women in the army is estimated to have reached 15%

by @ 8:44 am. Filed under Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, North Korea

terrorism by numbers

In non-adjusted terms, India is the top target for terrorists, Sepia Mutiny notes:

Harper’s magazine, July 2005, reports a horrific statistic: 44% of fatal or wounding terrorist attacks last year took place in India, only 32% in Iraq. Israel isn’t even close, nor Sri Lanka. But with the prevalence of large car bombs in Iraq, that country may have a higher body count. Macabre, I know, but sometime it’s to our benefit that India’s still a handicraft country.
Keeping that in mind, six terrorists were killed in Ayodhya today after storming the infamous temple complex with assault rifles and grenades.

by @ 8:42 am. Filed under India, Asia, South Asia, Terrorism

india economy roundup (16)

Nitin’s 16th weekly blogside view of the Indian economy is up.

by @ 8:35 am. Filed under Money, India, Asia, Economy, South Asia

bare-handed justice


In Hong Kong, a betrayed wife is legally allowed to kill her adulterous husband, but may only do so with her bare hands. The husband’s lover, on the other hand, may be killed in any manner desired.

by @ 8:32 am. Filed under Culture, Hong Kong, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

korean prostitute exodus

The recently noted exodus of prostitutes from South Korea, following the domestic crackdown on the sex industry, is not without a dark side. Reports from CSR Asia and the Asian Sex Gazette remind us that prostitutes (even ones who voluntarily enter the trade) are easily exploited.

In February, it emerged that an organization sold 38 women to brothels in Australia, New Zealand and Canada in conditions of virtual bonded labor. Police say the organization would advance the women millions of won they had to pay back at 60 percent interest and forced them to pay medical expenses for diseases contracted on the job. The women had to sign up to a "code of conduct" that fined them US$300 for arguing with customers and US$50 for showing up a minute late to work.

by @ 8:21 am. Filed under Culture, South Korea, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

thanks to china, bipartisanship lives

Here is an excerpt from Billmon’s post today on the China syndrome:

But there really are some things that money can’t buy, and a group
of congressmen in the grips of a xenophobic frenzy is one of them. When
the House passed a nonbinding resolution last Thursday accusing Cnooc
of being a front for the evil Dr. Fu Manchu (well, not in so many
words, but that was the gist) it was by a vote of 398 to 15 — proving
that when it comes to pandering to fear and paranoia, bipartisanship
still lives.

Regular readers know I’m no fan of the state capitalists
in power in Beijing. But the anti-Chinese rhetoric now filling the
Capitol dome with hot air doesn’t have anything to do with anything
that matters — at least, not to anyone who isn’t a Chevron or Unocal

The number of American jobs conceivably at risk in the Unocal deal
is trivial. Blocking it wouldn’t stop the flood of sweatshop and/or
slaveshop goods entering the United States. It wouldn’t free Tibet, or
force Beijing to lift a finger to respect the U.N. Declaration of Human
Rights. And it wouldn’t do squat to resolve the huge and growing
financial imbalances created by China’s stubborn insistence on pegging
its currency to the dollar. It could even make them more dangerous — as we shall see.

It’s completely insane (or utterly craven, or both) to obsess over
the $18.5 billion purchase of a second-tier oil company, when China is
buying up roughly that same amount in U.S. Treasury and agency
securities every quarter. China’s stockpile
of Treasuries ($235 billion at the end of April) already equals almost
12% of all U.S. debt in foreign hands, and is growing nearly twice as
fast as the global total. And that’s using the Treasury’s own figures, which probably undercount.
Add in securities held through third parties, such as offshore banks,
and China could easily be holding close to $300 billion in America’s
national debt — second only to Japan. And unlike Japan, nearly all of
China’s Treasury holdings are in the hands of the Chinese government.

If the dipsticks in Congress really had national security
threats on their minds, they’d probably be worrying about that one –
not the risk that ownership of Unocal might allow China to tamper with
the U.S. oil supply in time of war. If that nightmarish scenario ever
were to unfold, the problem of seizing and securing Unocal’s
energy-producing assets would be trivial compared to the havoc that war
would create in the global financial markets and the U.S. economy.

Go read the whole thing.

by @ 4:45 am. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, Central Asia, Eli Alberts

indigenous television in taiwan

A new indigenous television network is going live in Taiwan:

Aboriginal groups have often felt marginalised by mainstream society. But they hope the new 24-hour television channel - iTV or the Indigenous Television Network - will be a chance for others to hear their voice, both at home and overseas.
The station will collaborate with other indigenous television networks around the world, including those in the US and Canada.
The channel shows a mix of news, entertainment, and
documentaries, giving the island’s aboriginals their own access to the
mainstream media for the first time."There’s a diversity of cultures in Taiwan," said Walis
Peilin, who heads the Cabinet-level Council of Indigenous Peoples, and
is a member of the Tayal tribe.
"The indigenous people of Taiwan should also have the
right to access the power of the media and pass on our unique culture
and languages."
"But we hope all different groups in Taiwan can support this station, and respect different ideas and each other," he said.


by @ 2:12 am. Filed under Culture, China, Taiwan, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Media, Eli Alberts

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