Excerpt: "For the last several years, [Gujarat's Chief Minister] Modi has been successful in projecting his
"vibrant Gujarat" as a role model of economic growth and himself as
''Vikas Purush". Though one must give due credit to Modi for his
effective skills in making projections, one must also critically analyse
this "growth story of Gujarat" based on facts and figures"
"Hereditary MPs" is a hilarious term but also sadly, infuriatingly true. The author may not realise it but his thesis is valid for several countries, not just his examples of India and Pakistan. Take China, for instance, where "princelings" have been in focus recently for all the wrong reasons (are there many right reasons?). Or over-protective parents in Singapore. And so on.
For some reason, my little ifttt hack didn't work and the articles I bookmarked onto my radar over the past several days didn't actually make it to the blog. No matter. I emailed them. I'm sure they'll reply with a fix.
Meanwhile, here are some of the things I posted to my radar since my last blog post. If you get my email newsletter, you've already seen most of these. I'll disable the double-posts once the ifttt problem is fixed.
This is one of those few times I've actually sat down and looked at the kinds of stuff I post on the radar. Quite a hodge-podge. Plus there's stuff I read but don't post. Wonder how much my radar overlaps with other people's.
...aka piracy, depending on who you talk to, is fast becoming a hot-potato issue.
Even in sedate Singapore. Entrepreneur Bernard Leong makes his case to the Singapore government as to why they should not enact a law similar to SOPA. You'll find his piece here. He says:
The burden of reviewing every blog post, tweet and video submission is impossible to manage for any company. This is similar to the situation in China, where video sites such as Tudou have to hire people to monitor content uploads 24-7 to ensure that no sensitive political content is uploaded.
SGE‘s opposition against SOPA/PIPA legislation is not focused on freedom of speech arguments which have been brought forward by many digital advocates. You can read about these elsewhere. Our concern is that such legislation has profound implications to our economy.
He later says:
There has been strong resistance against both bills not just from many technology entrepreneurs from the start-up space but also from multi-national companies such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Facebook.
...meaning that the opponents of such legislation are, as one would expect, those who would suffer most from SOPA-like legislation. Now, The Economist said in their usual forthright style a few weeks ago that:
The bill’s supporters want this [how content should be distributed and paid for] to change as slowly as possible, so they have time to adapt. Opponents want to see more rapid changes in business models to speed up overdue innovation: cheaper pricing in poor countries, more use of on-demand digital services, less exclusivity in distribution, and ultimately, less reliance on selling albums and DVDs. Yet self-interest is at work on both sides: many of the bill’s critics are trying to create just these kinds of business.
A related issue is now boiling over in India. Global Internet companies are in effect being held accountable for things that their users said, even though a law had previously been passed specifically to clarify that Internet companies and other intermediaries could not be held liable for their users' misdeeds (as long as certain conditions were met). See Is India Ignoring its own Internet Protections?.
So who's right? I'd rather focus on the freedom-of-speech argument that Bernard eschews. High-minded? Idealistic? Yes and yes. But that doesn't make the argument any less valid. In fact, focusing on dollars and cents cheapens the issue.
Note also, as The Economist implies, that arguing purely on economic grounds is to pick winners and losers. Who is to judge whether Google's and Facebook's claims are more valid than counter-claims by Newscorp and CBS? On what basis can one pick one side over another?
Taking the freedom-of-speech tack will probably not have much effect in Singapore (possibly the reason Bernard avoids this argument to begin with) but I think this is the right argument as a matter of principle. Possibly the only right argument. It certainly doesn't have the conflict of interest of the economic arguments advanced.
...and I have to comment! In the grand scheme of things, does any of this matter? No. Would I rather read my fascinating book on superstring theory instead? Yes. But I'll spout my own spiel anyway like this guy:
Alright, it's not any old someone who said something. It's an interesting article titled "LeeKuanYew-istan Forever" in the influential Foreign Policy magazine. While the writer makes many valid points, he glosses over or does not mention certain things that are obvious to the casual observer and even makes a few outright errors.
What does he get wrong?
Singapore's national health insurance does not provide full coverage. Certainly can't be compared to free universal medical care as available to many Europeans.
While top-tier jobs and education may have been some of the issues underpinning voter frustration in the recent elections, I hardly think they were the main issues. These revolved more around stagnant income growth for lower and middle-income citizens in the face of inflation, rising property prices, very quick population growth over the past few years (mostly via immigration) which has stretched Singapore's transport infrastructure, boo-boos such as letting an incarcerated terrorist escape and vastly exceeding the budget for the Youth Olympic Games, the perceived arrogance of incumbent ministers and MPs, and even ministerial salaries. Also, although I have no hard data to back this up, many voters don't like the unfairness of the political system in particular (every Singaporean knows what the numbers 60% and 93% refer to) and, more generally, how the spoils of economic growth are divvied up. Many voters were able to express all these frustrations at the ballot box for the first time this year since most constituencies were contested unlike in the past. A few of these and other frustrations may have been brewing for several years, possibly since even before the GRC system was introduced. None of this finds mention in the article.
The parliament has "three significant parties"? We had no idea! Who is the mysterious third party? Does he mean NCMPs? Also, do 6 parliamentary seats out of 87 constitute significance? Do (or will) opposition MPs have "real influence in Parliament and policymaking"?
Singapore isn't "already attracting leading biologists and pharmaceutical talent from around the world" to its research institutes. This has been a trend for over ten years now due to long-term efforts by the government.
Lee Kuan Yew's son is "moving to the side"? Another astounding revelation! I thought he was supposed to be coming to the fore.
Gum-chewing has always been allowed in Singapore. Only its import is regulated. But this is a common misconception. Forgiven!
The title is catchy and all that, and this comment is only stylistic and a wee bit pedantic but surely Khanna knows that the "istan" suffix is used exclusively by Muslim countries?
Too many errors for a publication of Foreign Policy's repute. This other short piece from Time is more perceptive and discerning, and certainly doesn't have any glaring errors.
Of course, I can take no issue with any of the praise Khanna lavishes on LKY as it is all factual and completely deserved. (As he points out, younger Singaporeans may have less of an appreciation for this though this is just a consequence of their youth.) The simplest test I apply for whether praise is deserved is, could I have even contemplated the enormity of the task ahead of me if I had been in LKY's shoes? Of course not. Even asking the question seems silly.
Some of Khanna's other points are definitely spot on too, such as Singapore's "near-perfect degree of efficiency" and penchant for long-term planning (recent unexpected flooding and stretched transport infrastructure notwithstanding). Many Singaporeans complain about inefficiency (self included!) not realising what a superbly efficient country and government we have, probably because they've never lived anywhere else. I've talked about this anecdotally myself here. We certainly don't hear of horror stories like this. However, as I said earlier, this is all pretty obvious. Saying that Singapore is efficient is about as novel as saying that ice is cold.
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