Tag: Asia

Lee Kuan Yew combined the Vatican with Confucius

Monday, 23 March, 2015 0 Comments

“He modelled Singapore’s democracy after what he saw in the Vatican, where only cardinals nominated by a Pope could elect the next Pope… As Prime Minister he bankrupted or imprisoned individuals in the political opposition… He spoke in disparaging and politically incorrect ways of women, the disadvantaged, and both the downtrodden and the powerful — but worked harder than anyone else in Southeast Asia to build a harmonious, peaceful state, where all races felt welcomed in an incorruptible, transparent meritocracy.” Danny Quah writing about Lee Kuan Yew, who died yesterday aged 91.

In his 31 years as Prime Minister, from 1959 to 1990, Lee transformed Singapore into a globalized economy and his template has brought vast wealth to Asia. But despite what Danny Quah implies, Lee was not a democrat. Rather, he was a Confucian leader and this is what made him a role model for the rulers of modern China. They, too, have seen their nation rise from rags to riches and they, too, are frightened that open debate will undermine the fragile stability that underpins the edifice.

“Supposing Catherine Lim was writing about me and not the prime minister… She would not dare, right? Because my posture, my response has been such that nobody doubts that if you take me on, I will put on knuckle-dusters and catch you in a cul de sac… Anybody who decides to take me on needs to put on knuckle dusters. If you think you can hurt me more than I can hurt you, try. There is no other way you can govern a Chinese society.” — Lee Kuan Yew

The Straits Times has a tribute blog about reaction to the death of the man who created the modern miracle of Singapore. It is also printing a special 24-page tabloid edition devoted to his life and work.

Singapore mourns


Young Asian men buying up infant milk

Tuesday, 16 December, 2014 1 Comment

Odd sight in the local supermarkets. Young Asian men filling suitcases with powder infant milk. Maybe they are all delighted fathers who cannot get enough of the excellent European formulation for their babies. Perhaps their muscle is needed to carry the packed suitcases to distant places. The latter seems to be a more likely explanation when one considers the New York Times report of 25 July 2013: Chinese are buying up infant milk powder everywhere they can get it, outside of China.”

Shopping till they drop

Good for baby


Conclave watch: Italian job or Asian pivot

Tuesday, 19 February, 2013 1 Comment

After seeing the last two pontificates going to a Pole and a German, the Italians are said to be eager to see one of their own wearing the Ring of the Fisherman. The Ring of the Fisherman In all discussions, three names dominate: Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa, and Cardinal Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan. Of the three, Cardinal Scola, 71, is said to have the most impressive CV. If, however, someone younger is needed, Francesco Moraglia, the Patriarch of Venice, is waiting in the wings, He’ll be 60 in May, but the problem is that he’s not a cardinal. Of course, nothing prohibits the election of someone who is not part of the Sacred College, but tradition is central to the rites of the Catholic Church.

If youth is an issue, and Benedict XVI has certainly put the matter of age into play by way of his renunciation of the Papacy, conclave historians will note that Karol Wojtyla was a mere 58 when he became John Paul II. That being the case, it may well be worth keeping an eye in the coming weeks on a young cardinal who has enhanced his theological credibility by helping to author the huge history of Vatican Council II. As well, his doctrinally correct pastoral work is said to be pleasing to Benedict XVI and his simple lifestyle and outreach to the poor have impressed the faithful. Step forward, archbishop of Manila, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle.

Backgrounder: He’s 56 and he’s got 118,000 likes on Facebook. More importantly, he’s from the Philippines, which is the only Asian nation with a Catholic majority. Rome would like to see that state of affairs change in our life time and just as the USA is said to be pivoting towards Asia, the Vatican is aware that the Pacific and not the Atlantic will be the decisive ocean in the 21st century. Cardinal Tagle might just be the person to lead the new wave of evangelization, about which we’ll have more here on Friday.


The Nose goes digital and pivots to Asia

Friday, 28 December, 2012 0 Comments

Back in December 2000, William Langewiesche wrote a superb portrait of Robert Parker, the man who revolutionized the world of wine, for The Atlantic titled The Million-Dollar Nose. Snippet: “The Wine Advocate has 40,000 subscribers, in every U.S. state and thirty-seven foreign countries. These are influential readers, and they pass the issues around, igniting the […]

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Pure Mo

Monday, 14 May, 2012

“We Asians like being Asians, Siamese being Siamese, Malays being Malays, Viets being Viets. But a warning. Scratch us, there’s a snarling xenophobe behind the smile.” So speaks Snooky, the hero/heroine of Pure, the latest novel by Timothy Mo. By the way, Snooky is a well-endowed Bangkok lady boy who joins a group of bloodthirsty […]

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