October 28, 2004

You are on the invidual archive page of Asia by Blog. Click Simon World weblog for the main page.
Asia by Blog

Asia by Blog is a twice weekly feature, posted on Monday and Thursday, providing links to Asian blogs and their views on the news in this fascinating region. Please send me an email if you would like to be notified of new editions. Previous editions can be found here.

This edition contains changing Chinese newspaper terms, football, New York Times lies, killer tomatoes, Koreans defecting both ways, death in Singapore, the curious case of the dictator's son and Maria Sharapova's underpants, plus plenty more...

Hong Kong, China and Taiwan

  • Look through this fascinating list of changing terms used in Chinese papers over the past 50 years. It tells you a lot about the changes the country has gone through in that time.
  • Joe asks questions in dealing with China's nationalist movement. My response is here.

  • A good look at China's economic and foreign exchange policy.
  • While China's soccer is a mess, it's really becoming a modern nation now it is getting its own football hooligan law...but the law isn't just about football.
  • Andres has two excerpts from Red Dust. The first on the campaign against spiritual pollution and the next on the River of Ghosts.
  • Attack of the killer Chinese Tomatoes, in Italian.
  • We Observe the World is a project by Chinese journalism students, bringing to the world first hand opinions by China's next generation. Joe Bosco is behind the project.
  • China is a partner in Europe's Galileo satellite network, a rival to America's GPS. ACB looks at the issues.
  • Chinese workers are striking in larger numbers.
  • China's emerging middle "stratum".
  • Another piece of NYT misinformation unearthed by Jeremy.
  • China rounded up 65 potential North Korean defectors, attacked them with cattle prods and asked Western embassies to please stop helping them.
  • Via Fons, the Globe and Mail looks at the impact of the internet of China's youth. Could the USA be doing more to help the net in China? Matthew draws attention to the entire excellent Globe and Mail series, with a truckload of varied and intelligent articles.
  • Why use English signs in China?
  • Brilliant title: Bonfire of the bourgeois vanities...Running Dog takes an excellent look at the madness of the Cultural Revolution.

    Korea and Japan

  • This could be huge: North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's son, who may or may not have been living outside of the North since 2001, may have deliberately left a memo attacking the North Korean regime. Perhaps the start of a struggle for succession?
  • Jodi looks at a shocking form of discrimination against HIV positive non-Koreans.
  • It makes a change when there are South Koreans defecting to the North through a hole in the fence.
  • Seoul will remain Korea's capital (forcing some to drink) and Infidel uses the decision to look at the regional rivalries and disparities within the two Koreas. Oranckay looks at the same thing from a political view. Infidel also looks at the economic and political preparations for Korean unification.
  • Korea has the fourth highest suicide rate after Hungary, Japan and Finland. Marmot's found a common factor between all four countries.
  • Terrorists took a Japanese hostage in Iraq, but Koizumi will not withdraw troops. Joi Ito has an interesting slant on the Japanese reaction.
    Kirk has a Korean blogging round-up.

    SE and Other Asia

  • Indian Hindu nationalism as dangerous as Islamic fundamentalism.
  • Thailand had 79 people die in police custody. Terrorists plot revenge and get their justifications ready...along with their Wahhabi connections.
  • The original hobbits were Indonesian. Look out New Zealand. Someone's not surprised at the find.
  • Thai monks know how to party.
  • Jeff Ooi says the US Secret Service outdoes the Gestapo and the Red Army. Rajan deals with this stupidity.
  • Frisk Dude's SE Asia roundup is up to edition 34.
  • An Australian faces the death penalty in Singapore. Hicky has the case against the death penalty, Australia and Amnesty's pleas to Singapore, an SMH editorial "The Death Penalty as Society's Loss" and Singapore as Disneyland with a death penalty. The death penalty never works, anywhere.
  • Like that other rising Asian power, India's military needs to modernise.


  • A look at the rise of Asian film-making. The Economist this week also sang the praises of South Korean cinema (sub req'd).
  • The real reason attendance was so high at a Japanese tennis tournament? Undies.

    posted by Simon on 10.28.04 at 03:41 PM in the Asia by blog category.

  • Trackbacks:

    TrackBack URL for this entry:

    Send a manual trackback ping to this post.

    Mainly of interest to the sane
    Excerpt: The following links are of interest only to the sane and semi-sane. Marmot's got a couple of good links on, one about the newest trend in Korean plastic surgery and other assery; and another on the Taiwanese government's idea of...
    Weblog: eclexys
    Tracked: October 29, 2004 12:38 AM


    what's all this anti death penalty drivel? the guy knew the rules. everyone in asia knows the rules. singapore executes people found with drugs above certain limits. if you can't do the time, don't commit the crime. if he didn't want to run the risk he should have flown via hong kong.

    and what do you mean it doesn't work? i'd like to see him offend again once he's had his neck stretched. bleeding heart countries like the uk, where people seem to be free to reoffend at will and make other peoples lives hell, and people are released because the jails are too full, instead of either a - cramming them in, or b - building new jails - could learn a thing or two from the singapore approach.

    posted by: giles on 10.28.04 at 05:41 PM [permalink]

    It's not really a good deterant if people keep attempting to bring in drugs anyway, is it? And there's not much hope of rehabilitating an offender if he's six feet under.

    posted by: Simon on 10.28.04 at 05:45 PM [permalink]

    i have no access to any stats, and they'd be meaningless anyway as by definition they are only going to be guesses at the level of undetected smuggling, but i would bet my house that fewer people, in both an aboslute number and as a proportion of visitors, are taking drugs into singapore than are coming in to hk.

    and a quick google reveals that rates of reoffending are as high in some places such as NZ (which has no death penalty) as 86%. hardly says a great deal for "rehabilitation" does it.

    besides why would i want him rehabilitated. he's a drug smuggler. at the risk of sounding like a london cabby, string him up i say - it's the only language they understand.

    posted by: giles on 10.28.04 at 06:13 PM [permalink]

    giles: Nobody is defending the crime. But rather the punishment for it. Taking the life of a man just for prosessing a small amount of banned substance goes the very grain of humanity. And what happens after the fact the world decides the War on Drugs is a stupid waste of time and resources, similar to the American Prohibition? Or that new evidence show that he was innocent?

    posted by: Rajan R on 10.28.04 at 08:58 PM [permalink]

    i'm so glad to know that at least there's someone else who sees the logic in the death penalty - in the form of giles. i don't quite understand what rights that Nguyen twit has when he obviously knows what he get himself into by bringing in the drugs over.

    some daft foreign amoeba is sent to his death for drugs - a *mere* small amount no doubt - and almost everybody whinges about singapore's record of hanging people. how come when singaporeans got hanged, there's barely a whimper? yet there is so much hoo-ha - and really loud ones at that - for a foreigner? without fail?

    btw, does anyone residing outside the islet hear or see of any drug pushers peddling their wares at every turn at the corner of the street? or even coming across used contaminated syringes left at playgrounds? no isn't it? with drugs, comes triads and gangs. with triads/gangs, come territories and petty squabblings. with petty squabblings, come gunfights where some unlucky git would be caught in the crossfire. or lives lost causing utter misery to their families.

    i'm very sure some of you's would have heard of that poor lass in nottingham who lost her life whilst bystanding and some twit of a drug gangster shot her through an open window of a car. mistook her for someone or somesuch. ok, so you's don't. or those jamaican yardies in bristol having an open quibbling in the city centre. not even giving a fig about civility and respecting the law of the land. i bet none of you's would ever want to even come here for holidays/business/setting up shop if any of the above scenarios replicated over here.

    btw, singapore is a *sovereign* state. regardless if the amount of drug is a mere 15 gms, one has to respect its law. if one has a problem about its judiciary system like death by hanging, it has a choice, ie: stay away from the islet.

    likewise i'd be told to bunk off by yanks if i were to live in the states, and then grumble about the blatant sexual permissiveness in certain cities and its liberal gun laws.

    posted by: the letter b on 10.28.04 at 11:21 PM [permalink]

    well said b. i agree with evey word.

    and rajan - no it doesn't go against the very grain of humanity, it goes against the very grain of bleeding hearts who view criminals as victims not perpetrators.

    the guy committed a crime. he got caught. he faces the penalty. i agree where there is an element of doubt you should always err on the side of caution, but as i understand it he had the stuff strapped to his body, concealed in his luggage and probalby stuffed up his ar5e too. he can hardly claim it all got there without him knowing! if it was just the luggage then i agree he may have a case for avoiding the death penalty, but strapped to his body???

    criminals are not victims. they are people who have chosen to break the law, and should be prepared to face the consequences.

    posted by: GILES on 10.29.04 at 11:09 AM [permalink]

    There are two issues here. Firstly should drugs be criminalised? Personally I think not, given drug abuse is a health problem being solved by jailing (or worse) addicts, and that criminalisation has caused far more damage without being effective in controlling drugs.

    Secondly when it comes to the death penalty it is aquestion of whether the punishment fits the crime. Sneaking 15 grams of heroin is not worth hanging someone from the gallows. It is an irreversible punishment so the burden of proof has to move from beyond reasonable doubt to beyond all doubt to justify it. Should criminals be punished? Absolutely. Is an "eye for an eye" justified? No. The only cases where I can understand the death penalty as a legitmate punishment would be high treason and terrorists.

    Bre, I can respect that Singapore is sovereign with its own laws. So is China, and it doesn't stop me criticising them often about the choices they make. I'm not sure the death penalty is the only, or even the major, reason that Singapore doesn't have such trouble with drugs. And I hate to say this, but if you think there isn't drugs and triads in Singapore, you're being very nieve.

    posted by: Simon on 10.29.04 at 11:17 AM [permalink]


    the issue of whether drugs should be decriminalised is totally irrelevant.

    at the time he smuggled them in they were illegal, and the punishment is death. what happens in the future is not relevant. he committed a crime. he knew the consequences.

    the limits that singapore decides to impose before the death sentence becomes mandatory are for singapore alone to decide.

    who are australia, or the uk, or the u.s. to tell another sovereign nation what level the limits should be set at.

    you are effectively trying to impose your view of the right way to run a country on another sovereign nation.

    and lastly, he wasn't "sneaking 15 grams in" - he had 396 grams strapped to his body and in his luggage. that's 26.4 times the mandatory death sentence limit. that's like driving at 2,640km/h in a 100 km/h zone - a bit over the top i think you'd agree, and plenty to potentially kill plenty of people back home in australia.

    his guilt in irrefutable. it was strapped to him for god's sake. as i said earlier if it was i his luggage alone then i may be persuaded that it could have been put there by someone else and he should not be executed, but strapped to him is a very different thing.

    i'm sure there are drugs and triads in singapore, as no doubt the editor of singapore tatler will agree, but they are much further underground and are not openly challenging police authority like they do here in good old hongkers every friday night in Yau Ma Tei.

    posted by: giles on 10.29.04 at 12:14 PM [permalink]

    I certainly can tell Singapore what I think - just like I can tell North Korea I don't like the idea of locking up people at random, nor that I like Sudan's genocide. Countries can't hide behind "sovereignty" when they breach human rights.

    You're right that he's done the crime and will be punished as the law says. But I disagree with capital punishment and will continue to criticise places that use it, like China, the US and Singapore.

    posted by: Simon on 10.29.04 at 12:18 PM [permalink]

    it's not you personally criticising it that bothers me (it's a free(ish) country and we supposedly have a right to free speech here (unless beijing "reinterprets" that of course), so it is certainly your right to comment, as it is mine), it's the australian government getting involved. i'm sure the aussies would expect singapore to respect their right to govern their own country as they see fit, and should show singapore the same courtesy.

    and we're not talking about human rights abuses, genocide, or detention without trial, or all the other things that north korea, sudan etc etc are being criticised for - and which are, most importantly, STATE SPONSORED. this makes the state is the legitimate target of complaint for illegal activity and the subject of legal consequences should any of the perpetrators and/or leaders ever be brought to justice, but heroin smuggling by a private individual.

    totally different.

    it is illegal in every country in the world

    every country has their own way of dealing with it.

    let singapore deal with it their way, and australia, and everywhere else, can deal with it as they see fit.

    posted by: giles on 10.29.04 at 12:36 PM [permalink]

    I agree with not intefering, but then I wonder how I would feel if it was my brother?

    Anyone read The Damage Done: Twelve Years of Hell in a Bangkok Prison?

    A bit over the top for a punishment, but no death.

    I'd put them in pods, where they cannot move at all and only their brain is active.

    posted by: shaky on 10.29.04 at 12:51 PM [permalink]

    that's an interesting idea shaky but i'm afraid has been proved to be nothing but a way of encouraging people to attempt to take over the world.

    if you remember your history lessons, both Davros, the leader of the Daleks, and the three evil kryptonians from Superman II, General Zod, Ursa and Non, were effectively trapped in a similar manner, with their minds free and their bodies disabled, and in both cases they attempted to take over the world.

    Only the timely interventions of Doctor Who (frequently) and Superman saved us from total destruction.

    posted by: giles on 10.29.04 at 02:05 PM [permalink]

    Good point. Hang them.

    posted by: shaky on 10.29.04 at 02:43 PM [permalink]

    Sucks to be that guy. Drug abuse is a health problem??? Wow! What fcuking insurance company gives you coverage in case you become a pothead? I think the war on drugs is a waste because it targets the users(read unhealthy) instead of the source. This dude was a source. I say tie a porkchop around his neck and stick him in the tiger pen at the Singapore zoo, just because he is so frickin stupid. I wouldn't bring aspirin into Singapore.

    posted by: germaine greer on 10.29.04 at 03:56 PM [permalink]

    Don't forget Zod, Ursa and Non were freed by a nuclear bomb. There's a message there somewhere. I think that Nuclear bombs can not only create freakish monsters that destroy cities, they can also set free those who would subjugate all mankind. The only thing I agreed with was letting Lex Luthor rule Australia.

    posted by: germaine greer on 10.29.04 at 04:00 PM [permalink]

    Was it clear to him that drug smuggling crimes were a capital offense? Was the man given due process ie a fair trial? Hang em high.

    Although I am not for the death penalty for drug smuggling this is not a human rights issue. In the case of the PRC, where it is a human rights issue, it is because capital crimes are not defined, arbitrarily enforced and right to due process are non-existent.

    posted by: kennycan on 10.29.04 at 04:16 PM [permalink]

    I think we can all agree on the following:

    * Germaine is the weirdest American I've ever met. Why would and self-respecting man adopt a female Australian as a nom de plume?
    * Giles is to facism what hand is to glove.
    * Shaky is a space cadet.
    * If we ever go visit Bre, we're not taking a couple of hundred grams of heroin with us.

    posted by: Simon on 10.29.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]

    Because I wear ladies underwear?

    posted by: germaine greer on 10.29.04 at 05:43 PM [permalink]

    so simon thinks i'm a fascist, while attila and genghis think i'm a dangerous liberal.....


    and if bre ever contacts me asking me to get her a couple of hundred grams of heroin, i shall be slipping it into simons luggage on his next trip there.

    posted by: giles on 10.29.04 at 06:02 PM [permalink]

    liberals are fascists. They are all for government control of your life.

    posted by: germaine greer on 10.29.04 at 06:34 PM [permalink]

    oh my goodness i'm being mentioned not once but many times over without even having to counter what Simon originally said about triads and gangs in singapore. i'll talk more about it later as i'm taking a breather from the sheer madness here, but i must say that:
    1. i can't believe myself for agreeing with what GG said about offering that Nguyen twit as tiger food
    2. i'm not alone in believing that hanging criminals of all sorts is for the greater good of the society, most importantly for my safety and well-being
    3. if you's would ever visit moi, please help me sneak in some playboy mags
    4. oh i'd prefer cannabis to heroin really if you's must - not that i did try that stuff before, but heroin is oh so commonplace

    oh Giles, how about slipping the drugs thingy into Simon's, erm, "knickers" when he isn't looking.

    erm, that's about all for the moment.

    posted by: the letter b on 10.29.04 at 06:48 PM [permalink]

    Agreeing with Ghengis/Germaine is the first sign of madness.

    posted by: Simon on 10.29.04 at 06:53 PM [permalink]

    You will refer to me as Ms. Greer.

    posted by: germaine greer on 10.29.04 at 07:32 PM [permalink]

    oh dearie me. but having worked with tossers for 4.5 years, i'm not surprised that i'm veering towards that direction.

    help me god.

    posted by: the letter b on 10.29.04 at 09:48 PM [permalink]

    Please help me to defect this the torture I am experiencing in the United States of America. My ex is an ex- military general and he is responsible for the War in the middle east. He and his family began this war because of his greed for financial wealth. The United States of america is holding and torturing my children as prisoners of war. Please help to send me information regarding "DEFECTING". I am very proud of my GIBSON name, while the USA allows my 4th removed cousins to misuse my family's name. They have no moral values or respect and are tyrants to the country. However, this american behavior is typical. Please help.


    Sarah J. Gibson

    posted by: Sarah J. Gibson on 12.02.04 at 01:52 AM [permalink]

    Post a Comment:


    Email Address:



    Remember your info?