Posts Tagged ‘Singapore’

Indian Media Confronts Corruption (Corruption III)

March 13, 2011 2 comments

We are attacking individuals without changing the system? It is the Desert Bloc systems that we must throw out. (Image courtesy - Click for a larger image.

Sancho Panza

Indian Don Quixotes tilting at windmills of corruption, frequently confuse between system-problem, inadequate data and corruption. Everyone cannot be discerning enough to categorize forty types of embezzlement of government property – as Chanakya did. Classifying corruption can be a daunting task.

To understand this, we will have to go to Singapore.

Conspiracy and corruption

Singapore is interesting to examine.

Lee Kuan Yew ‘ruled Singapore for 31 years before stepping down as prime minister in 1990.’ Lee Hsien Loong, Lee KuanYew’s son, is the Prime Minister now. China Post called this as a ‘pre-ordained transfer of power a formality’, after an interim Prime Minister for 14 years, Goh Chok Tong. Ho Ching, Lee Kuan Yew’s daughter-in-law is executive director of Temasek, a Singapore government investment-and-holding company which controls some of Singapore’s biggest businesses. Lee Hsien Yang, another son of Lee Kuan Yew, is the chief executive of Singapore Telecommunications. Lee Kuan Yew remains in the Singapore Government with the title of “minister mentor”.

How is it that Lee Kuan Yew & sons run Singapore like a family business – yet face no corruption charges?

Oldest, largest Republican democracy

The other benchmark, is the world’s oldest and largest republican democracy – The United States Of America. Father-son duo of John Adams and John Quincy Adams set in motion the US Presidential dynasty which in all, accounts for 40% of all US presidents. This family, distant cousins included, counts Millard Fillmore, Harrison (William and Benjamin), James Madison, Zachary Taylor, Roosevelts, Nixon, Rutherford Hayes, etc. as its members. Rarely discussed, not remembered, is the fact that ‘700 families in which two or more members have served in Congress, and they account for 1,700 of the 10,000 men and women who have been elected to the federal legislature since 1774′.

Singapore run on the Platonic-Confucian model of a benign autocrat may work in the short run. (Image courtesy - Click for a larger image.

Not to forget the adoration by America of America’s ‘first’ family – The Kennedy’s (whose wealth came from bootlegging, crime, fraud; remember the RKO films share scam; or the next family, the Roosevelts whose racist record is possibly unparalleled. Rumour and murmur, has it how Joe Kennedy contracted for a kill by Frank Costello (a mafia boss), sold the US presidency to the mob, to save his life. A deal that was brokered by the legendary Sam ‘Momo’ Giancana.

To get a perspective on that, see the amount of criticism that the Nehru’s family gets for nepotism and dynastic politics.

Strict burden of proof

These issues while in the public realm is handled with great care. In the West, in the tradition of the Borgias, Medicis, Rothschilds, media has made these families into objects of mystique, adoration and study.

In Singapore, a pliant media was hectored by Lee Kuan Yew

telling the International Press Institute that it was naive to believe a free press curbs corruption because “the media itself is corrupted”.

Since sweet-heart deals leave little clinching evidence, making corruption charges can be disastrous. Especially in countries which implement libel and slander laws strictly, like Singapore. Even if these laws are loosely implemented, like in most Western countries, large awards keep opposition leaders, activists, the press and media in line.

Remember Julian Assange? Libel, slander, defamation awards in the USA,

include a $223 million award against the Wall Street Journal,$58 million against The Dallas Morning News, $34 million against The Philadelphia Inquirer, $29 million against Harte-Hanks, $18 million against Capital Cities, $16 million against a California weekly and $13.5 million against The Cleveland Plain Dealer and $10 million against ABC News.

Each amount was later reduced either by a judge or through negotiation. The exception was the California paper, which went bankrupt. In any case, even “winning” a libel verdict can have vast consequences, including monumental legal fees, damage to reputation and loss of jobs for journalists.

Going by the law …

How the Singapore systems, uses extreme measures to curb dissent, political opposition, a loud-and-raucous press are extracted below.

Fledgling Singapore Herald newspaper, which was strangled to death by Harry Lee, then prime minister, when it ignored his strictures on what news it should and should not publish.

Lee angrily summoned the American manager of the Chase Manhattan Bank branch in Singapore – the Singapore Herald’s bankers – to his presence, and publicly humiliated him by ordering the unfortunate man not only to stop honouring the cheques drawn by its customer, the Singapore Herald, but also to foreclose its accounts with the bank.

the Government Investment Company (GIC), Temasek Holdings and other linked companies, whose ultimate shareholders, lest it be forgotten, are the Singaporeans themselves whose enforced savings are invested in the GIC’s multifarious companies and subsidiaries. The vast corporate management, however, is in the cozy hands of the eminent Lee family: the father, the dauphin and his dauphine, Ho. But not – be it noted — the prime minister. They do not report their stewardship to parliament or the people. There are no real checks and balances. There is however an alarming opacity. Neither the Accountant General nor the Auditor General has any jurisdiction over them. What supervisory or enforcement authority they have is somewhat tenuous. It is a situation that cries out loud for oversight powers. Remember what Juvenal once said: quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Who will guard the guards themselves?

Singapore’s chief justice – believe it or not — receives more than the combined salaries of the Lord Chancellor of England, the Chief Justices of Australia, Canada, and United States Supreme Court. (via Singapore: Past, Present & Future? Paper by Francis T. Seow – Former Solicitor General Singapore, February 14 2003| Some perceptions of the governing People’s Action Party’s grasp on political power in Singapore).

Multi-million dollar awards can seriously dent any newspaper or a publishing house. In India, the Indian Express newspaper group was rapped on its knuckles for exposing some of its wrong-doings – but not to the extent of ruining it.

In systems, where such laws choke dissent, the popular press and mainstream media cannot say much – without evidence. Much of corruption becomes post-facto and post-mortem. Unlike India, where slander, libel or defamation laws are not implemented at all. The mass-hysteria about corruption in India, is fueled by media ‘freedom’. Corruption has become breaking news – with no libel or slander prosecution on the horizon.

 Will isolated activism help? The role of the State and governance needs to change.(Cartoon by Zapiro; courtesy - Click for larger image.

Will isolated activism help? The role of the State and governance needs to change.(Cartoon by Zapiro; courtesy - Click for larger image.

India loved its kings

In the recesses of Social Unconscious, Indic kings remain a beloved memory. Indians have known incorruptible kings – without imperial ambitions, who left no palaces, monuments or memorials. Not even any hagiographic accounts. Rulers who governed without the help of prisons, police force, or a centralized judiciary.

Having known governance under भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra, the gradual rise of Desert Bloc polity in India, has been viewed in by Indians with skepticism and distrust. Starting with Qutub-ud-din-Aibak (1206), to the rampant massacres of the British to gain control over ज़र zar (meaning gold), जन jan (meaning people) and ज़मीन jameen (meaning land) has been seen in India, as a case of individual or group corruption.

In remembrance of this polity, and these rulers, uniquely, an estimated 50% of India calls itself a कुमार, कुमारी kumar, kumari (prince, princess), सेल्व-कुमार, सेल्वी selva-kumar, selvi (prosperous and popular prince, princess), राजा, रानी raja, rani (king, queen), राजन rajan (king) राजकुमार rajkumar (prince) as a name or surname, in the memory of these anonymous rulers.

Indic governance was guided by a polity based on भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra. This system guaranteed four non-negotiable universal rights – काम kaam (desire, including sexual) अर्थ arth (wealth), मोक्ष moksh (liberty) and धर्मं dharma (justice). The system also ensured access to ज़र zar (meaning gold), जन jan (meaning people) and ज़मीन jameen (meaning land).

Post colonial India, has made an uneasy compromise with Desert Bloc polity, using democracy, socialism, a (mostly) free-press, to rebuild itself from the ruin of of despotic colonialism.

The Failure of the Nation-State

November 6, 2009 Leave a comment
Divide et impera (Cartoonist - Paresh).

Divide et impera (Cartoonist - Paresh).

Divide et impera

Vietnam suffered from a prolonged war (1956-1976) – and finally peace had a chance after 20 years of war. Korea remains divided. The Cyprus problem between Turkey, Greece and the Cypriots has been simmering for nearly 100 years.

The role of the Anglo Saxon Bloc, in Indonesia, the overthrow of Sukarno, installation of Suharto and finally the secession of East Timor is another excellent example. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict (1935 onwards) will soon enter its 75th year. The entire Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a creation of the Anglo-French-American axis. The many other issues in the West Asia and Africa are living testimony of the Western gift to the modern world.

The track record

Closer home is the Kashmir problem. After 60 years of negotiations, India-Pakistan relations have remained hostage to the Kashmir issue. Similarly, between China and India, the border issues remain 60 years after the eviction of Britain from India.

The Anglo-Saxon habit of partitioning countries is a disaster!

  1. Cyprus between Greece and Turkey
  2. Israel between Palestine, Jordan and Syria
  3. Chinese Singapore in Malaysia
  4. Northern Ireland out of Ireland
  5. Two Koreas
  6. Taiwan and China

and of course a Pakistan out of India.

With a benign, ‘democratic’ dictator like Lee Kuan Yew, in the frame, the Singapore out of Malaysia is too small and too short-term a success to make any impact. The other thing is the Western ‘nation’ model has been a huge failure. How many countries have been successful in this quest for ‘nationhood’?

China says G20 summit success a priority –

March 13, 2009 3 comments
This will not be their last supper

This will not be their last supper

The overarching goal of Chinese foreign policy was to “spare no effort to ensure the stable and relatively fast growth of the domestic economy”, he told a news conference held to coincide with the country’s annual session of parliament. “The pressing task now is that all countries must work together to make the upcoming financial summit in London a success,” Yang said. “We believe the summit should play a role in boosting confidence, strengthening coordination on macroeconomic policies, stabilising financial markets, undertaking necessary reforms in the global financial system and regulatory regime.” Yang’s news conference highlighted the extent to which the world’s third-biggest economy now views its diplomacy through an economic lens. He brushed aside a question about whether his government blamed economic laxity in Washington for the world’s woes. He said the two had to work together and that Beijing was off to a good start with U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration. “In the current international environment, China and the U.S. share broad common interests. We hope that each side can accommodate the other’s core interests and enhance exchanges and cooperation,” he said. Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao will meet for the first time in London. (via UPDATE 2-China says G20 summit success a priority – News –

China believes in US leadership

China believes in US leadership

Outraged China

Sometime back a Chinese newspaper said, U.S. has plundered world wealth with dollar.

China was right. The US is looking after its own – and not bothered about the problems the US has created for other countries.

“The grim reality has led people, amidst the panic, to realize that the United States has used the U.S. dollar’s hegemony to plunder the world’s wealth,” said the commentator, Shi Jianxun, a professor at Shanghai’s Tongji University.

Shi, who has before been strident in his criticism of the U.S., said other countries had lost vast amounts of wealth because of the financial crisis, while Washington’s sole concern had been protecting its own interests.

“The U.S. dollar is losing people’s confidence. The world, acting democratically and lawfully through a global financial organization, urgently needs to change the international monetary system based on U.S. global economic leadership and U.S. dollar dominance,” he wrote.

Shi suggested that all trade between Europe and Asia should be settled in euros, pounds, yen and yuan, though he did not explain how the Chinese currency could play such a role since it is not convertible on the capital account.

Late In the day, Mr.Hu … This is something that the world has been talking about for a long time. China has been a major supporter (and victim) of this scam – by allowing US companies unlimited access and support. Chinese citizens have been duped with low paying jobs at these enterprises.

Is China forgetting history … Mr.Hu – Today it is the US – but yesterday, it was Europe, Mr.Hu. Europe was blockaded by the US for the last 100 years – and hence, European loot is possibly forgotten in China. European loot was accompanied by a lot of bloodshed and killing also, Mr.Hu.

Has the Leopard Changed its spots Possibly, you dont know, Mr.Hu, because China has very little wildlife left. Leopards don’t change their spots. Europe behaves today, because it has no options.

The answers A new currency floated by the five major economies who are most affected today – China, Russia, India, Brazil, South Africa. Maybe Japan will also join in. But, the answer, Mr.Hu is with these 5 – and not Europe.

The DragoBear Dance

The DragoBear Dance

Russia and China as significant military powers as well as a part of P5, will want their pound of flesh. They will, of course, be afraid of being left out! The US will not have them and the EU does not want them!

China and Russia

The big issue is of course, China and Russia. China has 2 trillion of US dollars – and what does China do with this? Russia has come out from a default about a decade ago – with a nearly US$400 billion reserves – flexing its muscles in Georgia and dependent on a high oil prices. What happens to Russia if a new Pacific Republic (Cuba, Haiti, West Indies, etc) were to start drilling for oil? In 5 years, the world would be awash with oil – and Russia’s mineral earnings could evaporate. This crisis seems to have made the Chinese Premier shaky. So, the world may not trust China and Russia too much.

Hardliners in bid to oust China PM-China-World-The Times of India

China’s most popular politician Wen Jiabao, the prime minister, has become a target for Communist party hardliners and could be forced from office, according to a magazine in Hong Kong.

Inner Party Democracy

Actually, if the Chinese were to open up the Communist Party also to a transparent democracy, it would be OK. Then such reports would have little meaning.As long as peaceful change in Governments and officials happen, a country /nation is ‘stable’.

Propping up the dollar?

Propping up the dollar?

While Europe and USA tussle … No clash … more like fighting over spoils …

In the last 10 years, the Euro has managed to make a niche for itself – and make space for itself. With the dollar under pressure, now the Euro wants to twist the knife into the dollar side. The Euro-zone knows that the G-5 (Russia, China, India, Brazil, South Africa) are not prepared with an alternate plan.

Without such ‘special’ mechanisms, the Euro and dollar zones have to compete, without significant weight advantage on their side. The institutional mechanisms in the G-5 have large gaps – and the Euro Bloc knows that. Hence, the Euro Bloc is trying to gain advantage over the dollar – and they can succeed only if China and Russia ‘co-operate’ with the Euro zone.

For all this time, the UK, was undecided and non-commital. But Gordon Brown’s visit to the Saudi Arabia is interesting.

Breaking News

BRITISH Prime Minister Gordon Brown said on Sunday he expected Saudi Arabia to give more money to boost the International Monetary Fund’s ability to bail out nations hardest hit by worldwide economic chaos.

The IMF has 250 billion pounds (S$596 billion) available to help countries struggling to stay afloat – but Mr Brown wants to increase this by hundreds of billions of dollars.

Opening doors

Middle East is possibly the only place where a British passport still opens doors. Most of the Gulf’s despots were put on the throne by a British dispensation after WW1. Hence, they look back at the British with gratitude and fondness – and bless themselves at their stroke of luck. Of course, the initial oil finds in the Middle East were also done by British monopolies.

Sending Gordon Brown to the Middle East was a smart move – by the US establishment, with George Bush suffering from a lame duck presidency. And the Saudi’s would have been it was payback time, as

“earlier this year oil prices soared to US$150 a barrel, allowing Gulf Arab energy producers to enjoy increased wealth.”

Now, there has been big controversy about ‘peak oil’. This should give some ideas as to what happened. This will also give an idea to everyone which way UK has jumped – not that it was ever in doubt.

Before the London Summit  was global financial crisis summit on   November 15- International Business-News-The Economic Times

WASHINGTON: President George W Bush will host a summit on November 15 in Washington, DC, area to discuss the global financial crisis and ways to prevent it from happening again, the White House announced on Wednesday.

“This will be the first in a series of summits that bring together leaders from countries that participate in the G-20 finance process to discuss current economic challenges.

The so-called G-20 includes the Group of Seven advanced industrial countries and the European Union as well as China, Brazil, India, Russia, South Korea and other major economies.

At the first meeting, working groups will be set up to develop recommendations to be considered by leaders in subsequent summits.

Earlier Quicktake Tripolar Currency System – Connecting the dots – Part II recorded what is the likely outcome – which has happened till now.

The New 5

The real action will be 5 countries – Russia and China on one hand – and India, South Africa and Brazil on the other.

Safe, Steady and Sure

Between ASEAN and IBSA, India needs to take such groupings from talk-fests to action-teams. Western clubs like UN, IMF, World Bank, G-7, P-5, etc are all heavily weighted against ‘outsiders’ like developing nations. We can keep banging our head against these altars, for another 60 years. It wont work.

We need to move – not necessarily fast, but surely and steadily.

Three Horsemen Of Apocalypse

The G3 (i.e. India, South Africa and Brazil) have functioning democracies, decent regulatory systems (which can be ramped up), the technology platforms, the trading systems, a vibrant entrepreneurial class – all of which is powering their economies forward. What they don’t have is P5 status – which is useful, though not essential.

This Washington meeting

During the con-fab, ‘committees will be set up’ which create mechanisms for this management.

The big issue for the developing world will be obtaining assurances against predatory raids by the dollar bloc and the Euro-zone to dismantle any new system – like the alleged plot of 1997 Asian crisis.

The lesser issues will also be inter-bank settlements, anchoring currencies (the role of gold or bullion).

Contours Of The Deal

The EU-USA-Asia may agree on a broad a global regulatory and oversight body to monitor and maintain oversight over a multiple currency regime. The new currency may an Asian-Developing world currency. Some of Asia may want to cling to the dollar skirt.

The new 3rd currency may take some time to figure out.

Complacent also .. not just clueless ...

Complacent also .. not just clueless ...

Clueless Indians

Like the Chinese and Russians, the Indian outline of steps to deal with global financial crisis too was superficial and patchy.

India … outlined the steps it wants taken to lift the global economy out of the current financial morass. Addressing leaders of 45 Asian and European countries at the ASEM summit here, PM Manmohan Singh said the first step would be to “de-clog” the global credit markets which had choked up as a result of the crisis.

Second, multilateral financial institutions (MFI) like World Bank and IMF should step in with larger resources to invest in large infrastructure projects in developing countries, which can act as a stabilizer in the global economy. …

It is now clear that India would certainly be present at the November 15 G-20 summit in Washington. … US President George Bush has called up Singh to personally ask him to be present. In what was clearly a global reversal of roles, European countries repeatedly asked Asia to lead the way out of the crisis. N Ravi, secretary (east) in the MEA, told reporters that all EU leaders asked Asian countries to refrain from withdrawing into “economic nationalism”.

Either … or …

India seems to completely lack direction on how to move independently in times like these. After, all why should India even look at IMF and World Bank – which are fig leaf organizations of the West, as transfer mechanisms of wealth from the Third World to the rich.

Or India is working on a different plan, of which we know nothing. After all, India does believe in moving steadily (even, if slowly).

Russia and China

US and EU have their own reserve currencies – leaving Russia and China out in the open. Russia and China (as full P5 powers) will want a ‘lion’s share’ of influence in any new architecture. Which any Third World grouping will not give.


Japan + ASEAN

China-leaning Lee Kuan Yew with an Islamic Malaysia may not be very hot about ‘giving so much influence’ to a ‘new member’ like India for an ASEAN initiative.

Any action which hurts the US, their largest market and patron, will be something that will make Japan and ASEAN hesitate. The very economic model of ASEAN + Japan is undervalued currency + exports to the USA. Hence, they will be wary of any initiative that affects the USA – and the West.

Status Quo …

Interestingly …

Manmohan Singh is the only educationally qualified leader in the leadership line up of major world economies.

Democratic Monarchy

Lee Kuan Yew’s diatribe against ‘Western democracy’ fails on this point. What happens after the Lee family dilutes its holding in Singapore – due to family size and age. Singapore has become a ‘democratic’ monarchy’. Which would be fine – if it were to declare itself so, and define succession laws.

India, engage

It is this lack of political transparency, which stops many awaited changes from taking place. And that is one thing that differentiates India.

Lee Kuan Yew On Chinese ‘superiority’

October 12, 2008 2 comments
Lee Kuan Yew - A modern follower of the Confucius

Lee Kuan Yew - A modern follower of the Confucius

To begin with we don’t have the ingredients of a nation, the elementary factors, a homogenous population, common language, common culture and common destiny. (via We saw Sri Lanka: Lee Kwan Yew says it again).

How tough it must have been

He is talking about the difficulty of ‘creating’ the nation-state of Singapore – with a population of 45 lakhs (4.5 million). To put that in perspective, that is little less than twice the population of AIDS-affected in India. And to think that India believes that the success of Singapore has any lessons.

Confucius - The Chinese Government loves him!

Confucius - The Chinese Government loves him!

Lee Kuan Yew, who is sure that India will never grow beyond 60%-70% of China and how the Confucian ethic is superior.

Platonic-Confucian axis

The axis of Confucian-Platonic authoritarian, ‘wise’ rulers was the overwhelming model for the world. Property rights remained with less than o.1% of the people. Under the CRER principle, (cuius regio, eius religio, meaning whose land, his religion; CRER) even the personal and private aspects of a person, like religious beliefs of the individual, were subject to State approval.

One thing, Mr.Lee, why don’t you ever talk about how beneficial it was for you (meaning Singapore, since  your family practically owns and runs Singapore) to become a client state of the US. That is the one lesson that Singapore can teach, Mr.Lee.

We Are Now More English Than Chinese Malay or Tamil

October 11, 2008 Leave a comment

We had Chinese, Malay, Indian schools – separate language medium schools. The British ran a small English school sector to produce clerks, storekeepers, teachers for the British. Had we chosen Chinese, which was our majority language, we would have perished, economically and politically.

Riots – we’ve seen Sri Lanka, when they switched from English to Sinhalese and disenfranchised the Tamils and so strife ever after.

We chose – we didn’t say it was our national language – we said it was our working language, that everybody learns English whatever language medium school you go to. Which means nobody needs interpretation to read English.

So, our sources of culture, literature, ideas are now more from the English text than from the Chinese or the Malay or the Tamil. (via Excerpts from an interview with Lee Kuan Yew – International Herald Tribune)

Lee Kuan Yew’s Smugness

I would like to know what happens when the English speaking Bloc is no longer dominant. It has happened before Mr.Lee.

Spain was the dominant language 150 years ago. Englishmen in 1400-1700 thought that French was the only civilized language in the world. Greek was the official language of the Byzantine Empire. But no world class country uses a third party language as their own language.

But you have company! India is the 2ndlargest country in English speaking world. And sadly, proud of it too.!

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