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Monday, August 31, 2009

The Economist (4 Sept 09): Reforming Finance: He Told Us So

In a review of Henry Kaufman's "The Road to Financial Reformation: Warnings, Consequences, Reforms", it was suggested that business schools should teach financial history before risk-modelling.
 
To avoid repeating the past, we need to know history. But is this a cure all?  Let's see how Ben Bernanke saves the world in the coming year or two.
 
 
 

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A WIP

Conflict in Kokang, Myanmar: 缅甸果敢史上长期动乱 果敢族原为明朝汉人遗民

Conflict in Myanmar's Kokang Region. The current military confrontation between the military govt and Kokangs has an interesting background. The Kokangs are ethnic Chinese who fled Ming China as Manchu forces under Wu Sangui took over the last remnants of Ming China in 1659. Led by their general surnamed Yang, these refugee soldiers fled into the remote mountains of northern Myanmar where they set up a kingdom that lasted 400 years. Now the Myanmar military is renegading on an earlier peace agreement to attempt to take over Kokang region from the local autonomous govt (their website here: http://www.kokang.net/ )
 

缅甸果敢史上长期动乱 果敢族原为明朝汉人遗民

2009年08月28日13:54[我来说两句(120)] [字号:  ]

  缅甸果敢曾为中国西南边境少数民族的地域,明末大量汉族涌入云南省。本地几大姓如原来的土司王杨姓一支、果敢政府主席彭家声一支,祖上都是跟随永历帝南逃至此定居的。比罗星汉、彭家声年纪稍小的莱莫山土司的儿子坤沙,20岁时也到果敢入读这所"果敢军事学校"。

 

原题:歧路漂泊果敢人

  缅甸果敢曾为中国西南边境少数民族的地域,明末大量汉族涌入云南省。18世纪,一支汉人移民后裔成为科干山的地方势力,后受封为世袭果敢土司县。19世纪末,果敢并入英属缅甸,成为缅甸境内以华人为主体的土司县,也开始了百年的罂粟种植历史。1959年缅甸废除土司制度之后,果敢陷入了长期的动乱,直到1989年停战才趋于稳定,成为今日的掸邦第一特区。

  绕过滇西惊心动魄的崇山峻岭,经中国云南省镇康县的南伞口岸,跨越一条分界小河,就到了缅甸。这是一块中缅山水相连的坝子,一牌坊上用中缅文写着"缅甸掸邦第一特区—果敢"。这块名为麻粟坝("麻粟坝"在傣语里的意思是"最野蛮的地方",今果敢首府老街的所在地。)的坝子在毒品历史上可是赫赫有名,它在金三角一带以盛产著名的"麻粟坝烟土"、最早武装护镖贩运鸦片闻名于世。

  这块长约十余公里、宽不过几公里的坝子,管辖着缅北萨尔温江东岸总面积约5200平方公里的土地。与中国云南省临沧地区的镇康县、沧源县、耿马县以及保山地区的龙陵县接壤,边境线长达250公里。今缅甸联邦的这个总人数只有20多万的少数民族"果敢族",95%以上人的血统是中国的汉族,他们最早来到这片土地的始祖,是一批追随明永历帝朱由榔残存的官兵。

  果敢的明清那些事

  明末,永历帝朱由榔在李定国、白文选等护卫下,先是定都南京,后败逃到昆明建立"滇都"。清顺治十六年(公元1659年)正月初三,吴三桂三路大军数十万人,兵逼昆明。朱由榔带1500余人走腾越西逃,进入当时中国的属国缅甸瓦城(即曼德勒近郊的古都阿瓦),(观望形势的)缅王"慰留贵客于缅北山区"。

  1661年,缅京老王驾崩,新王莽白继位。他看清形势,派精兵夜袭,砍死了南明数十名遗臣武将,囚禁了永历帝。同年底,平西王吴三桂大军饮马怒江,直逼缅甸。莽白立即献出永历帝。

  朱由榔被押回昆明,囚禁在篦子坡头的金禅寺(今利民巷)内。康熙元年(公元1662年)4月,永历帝被吴三桂用弓弦勒死。南明王朝彻底覆灭。

  出于对吴三桂叛国降清的义愤,昆明百姓一直称此地为"逼死坡"。清云贵总督认为有损大清声誉,于道光年间,强将"逼死坡"改为"升平坡",并勒石立碑以宣扬其"升平盛世"。但昆明人至今仍称"逼死坡"。后云南都督蔡锷将军以"三迤士民"的名义,在逼死坡头立"明永历帝殉国处"石碑一方。石碑一度失落,1983年幸得找回,如今又重立在坡头。

  永历帝身后的溃兵上千人,逃到了麻粟坝,开始和这一带的掸、克钦和克伦等尚处于刀耕火种原始部族生活的原住民们打客家。原住民打不过这群远来如狼似虎的有谋略的职业军人,迁到周边高山,中国改朝换代的难民们,得以在此休养生息。

  在果敢采访期间,很多老街(果敢首府)人向记者强调:"我们是汉人,好多人祖上是从南京府过来的。"南京与果敢为什么有如此深的历史渊源?原来最早来果敢定居的那跟随明永历帝南逃至此的兵将,因南明王朝原在南京定都,所以不管他们后来跑到哪里、祖籍何乡,几百年后统统对外说"祖上来自南京府"。

  果敢公安局的杨忠校举例说:"比如罗星汉的第10代祖先,就是永历帝身边的偏将。本地几大姓如原来的土司王杨姓一支、果敢政府主席彭家声一支,祖上都是跟随永历帝南逃至此定居的。"

  果敢大庙的守庙老人告诉记者:"其实果敢人就起源于昆明的逼死坡。我们以前的老辈人,到了昆明时,都要去那里看看那块'永历帝殉国处'的石碑。"

  "永历帝事件"后,在今腊戍附近的登尼,清政府设立"木邦宣慰司"一职,命一杨姓将领为土司王(祖上南京府人)世守其地。现存果敢大庙附近的封诰碑记载了此事。从此清政府对缅北属地开始统而不治,果敢一带实际成为"化外之邦"。

  1852年,英殖民者侵占缅甸,中国开始失去对这片土地的控制权。英国人发现这里的土壤气候适合罂粟生长,派人传授种植技术,并指定东印度公司垄断收购。再销往世界各地,后来在鸦片战争中吃了败仗的大清国受害最深。

  罂粟人称"懒汉庄稼",每年10-11月播撒在刀耕火种的坡地上,只消间苗一次就不再料理。直至来年3-4月果实成熟,就可以刮浆制膏,女人孩子都能轻松胜任。果敢人也和缅北众多民族一样开始垦荒种烟。百余年后,种贩鸦片成了当地主要经济来源……

  到1897年,英人与清王朝(时为光绪帝在位)谈判定界,订立《中英续议缅甸条约》,勘边定界后,果敢正式被划入英属缅甸。生活在果敢地区的汉族由此改称为果敢族,汉语改称果语,汉文改称果文。

  在果敢大水塘(传统鸦片种植区),记者见到了当年用中英文写就的大清与英缅堪界碑,以及1941年由英殖民者颁布土司杨文炳次子杨振材为"印袭官"的敕封碑。英人也从中国制,确立了英缅抗日时代杨家的末代土司地位。离此碑几百米处,建有抗日将士阵亡纪念碑—抗战时果敢人与中国远征军93师配合,在果敢老街、西山区大水塘一带浴血奋战,使1000多名日寇在此毙命。

  因为对缅甸抗日保土有功,1947年在缅甸立国的"班弄"会议,土司杨文炳作为"果敢族"的代表参加了民族加盟缅甸联邦政府的签字仪式,缅政府总算正式承认300年来不被接纳的果敢族为其境内合法少数民族。

  缅甸果敢曾为中国西南边境少数民族的地域,明末大量汉族涌入云南省。本地几大姓如原来的土司王杨姓一支、果敢政府主席彭家声一支,祖上都是跟随永历帝南逃至此定居的。比罗星汉、彭家声年纪稍小的莱莫山土司的儿子坤沙,20岁时也到果敢入读这所"果敢军事学校"。

  罂粟盛开的土地

  事实上到了上世纪20年代,果敢麻粟坝的鸦片已经在金三角一带远近闻名,以交易鸦片的"烟节",也成了仅次于春节的重大传统节日。手持文明棍的英国绅士,带着印度奴仆,雇请"赶洋脚"的马帮每年从麻粟坝带走烟土不下上千驮。

  据老一辈果敢人说,果敢是在1840年中英"鸦片战争"后开始种植鸦片的。《果敢志》记载:20世纪初期,每至春节后三四月鸦片上市时节,中国川、滇赶来的马帮和印度、泰国来的商贾,都云集果敢老街赶"烟会",时间为10天到半个月不等。作为果敢政治经济中心地带的老街,当年尽管只是一条小街,却因这一鸦片盛会而声名远播。100余年来,整个果敢及周边地区出产的鸦片,几乎全以老街为集散地。可以说,果敢是金三角地区最早形成的、最负盛名的鸦片集贸地。果敢人也成了最会做鸦片生意的人。

  在金三角,只要说是果敢人,旁人莫不礼让三分。这不仅因为他们是金三角地区最早的押运大烟土的保镖专业武装,还因为果敢人"一致对外"的强悍武勇与团结。百来年,果敢人靠经营闻名滇缅的大烟集市和贩运鸦片为生。

  早先的果敢人只是靠充当大烟贩子的押运保镖获取报酬,抗战胜利后,部分当地豪强如杨家土司、金三角地区第一个世界级大毒枭罗星汉等,开始自己涉毒,并武装贩运鸦片牟取暴利。

  基于专业贩毒的传统,果敢因此产生了不少代表性人物、国际通缉的大毒枭。"鸦片将军"罗星汉就是使金三角毒名扬天下的果敢标志性人物,其祖上是亡国的南明永历帝身边的一个副将,传到罗星汉这一辈刚好是第10代;前些年中国抓获的泛金三角地区新一代大毒枭谭晓林,原来就是盘踞在果敢,后以果敢地区的勐固为基地活动。

  果敢南面100余里是另一个著名的大毒枭坤沙的老巢莱莫山,果敢与莱莫山之间历来有鸦片贸易往来和民间友好交往的历史。果敢公安局警员刘三透露说:"果敢现在的年轻人,很多人都以罗星汉、坤沙是果敢培养出来的大人物而感到自豪!"

  果敢如何培养出了金三角两代毒王?

  上世纪50年代初,国民党残军93师败逃果敢,在此地开办了"果敢军事学校"。时年14岁的罗星汉和时年15岁、后来的"果敢王"彭家声(缅共创军元老、果敢政府主席)成为该军校首批22名毕业学员之一,罗星汉是其中最小的一个。毕业后他们均被授予"少尉"军衔。

  比罗星汉、彭家声年纪稍小的莱莫山土司的儿子坤沙,20岁时也到果敢入读这所"果敢军事学校"。老人们说,该校当年的教官是蒋残军系中的老黄埔生,罗星汉、彭家声、坤沙在此学到了黄埔军校系统军事战术,以及中国远征军丛林作战等军事技术。

  "这对以后三人成年后的创业,起了决定性作用。现在连果敢当地知道罗、彭曾是同窗的人,都已经很少很少了。"果敢公安局干事何峰说。知道两代毒王罗星汉、坤沙竟然也师出同门的人,当然就更少之又少了。

  果敢的"小三国"纠葛

  当地人称果敢有个"小三国"。即果敢在二战结束后初步形成了三大势力主导局面:杨家土司的地方民族武装、受缅政府扶持的罗星汉"自卫队"武装,以及彭家声领导的缅共民族武装。因果敢是金三角地区最早最专业的鸦片贩运地区,果敢政要历来涉毒贩毒,20世纪80年代初,彭也曾被国际社会宣布为金三角毒枭之一。

  1989年3月11日,彭家声成立"果敢同盟军",实行果敢民族自治,实行民族和解,提出了禁毒口号。从此缅甸境内的16支民族武装中,有15支放下了武器与政府讲和。"果敢之父"彭家声一时成了缅甸的"民族英雄"。

  1992年11月,因推行禁毒,彭家声与掌握兵权、大肆贩毒的副司令杨茂良发生内讧,双方兵戎相见。杨转而向强邻佤邦求助。因果敢历来与南部莱莫山的历史渊源,彭家声与坤沙的关系较为密切,而缅政府军那时正联合佤邦军和坤沙交战,佤邦于是"助杨倒彭",派出1500人的佤联军支援杨氏兄弟。1993年5月,彭家声被迫退出了果敢地区。杨茂良开始主政果敢。

  缅甸果敢曾为中国西南边境少数民族的地域,明末大量汉族涌入云南省。本地几大姓如原来的土司王杨姓一支、果敢政府主席彭家声一支,祖上都是跟随永历帝南逃至此定居的。比罗星汉、彭家声年纪稍小的莱莫山土司的儿子坤沙,20岁时也到果敢入读这所"果敢军事学校"。

  云南省公安厅禁毒官员说,在杨茂良主政期间,果敢地区的毒品问题变得更加突出。杨氏兄弟本身就是大毒枭,大毒枭主政果敢,更主要的是他们把毒品出口的主通道,指向了中国境内,一度给中国云南造成了极大的危害。中国公安部当时把杨氏兄弟列为对中国危害最大的大毒枭。

  1994年,杨茂贤在潜入中国临沧地区贩毒时被抓获,同年由临沧地区中级人民法院判处其死刑。杨氏兄弟先是宣称要给中国政府出多少多少钱,想赎回杨茂贤的命,中国方面不为所动。杨氏兄弟于是叫嚣要武力报复,杨茂贤的儿子还猖狂地把一尊钢炮架到了相邻的中国南伞口岸海关前,以示威胁。中国方面迅速调集部队,严查封关,这使得果敢的主要经济来源断了(无论是日常消费还是商贸都是靠中国),一下导致果敢民心倒向。

  1995年11月12日,彭家声与其女婿"果敢东部同盟军"司令林明贤,联合缅政府军数营兵力,入驻果敢。杨氏兄弟被迫从此逃离果敢地区。"果敢王"彭家声重新控制了果敢。而缅政府军则趁机控制了老街至清水河42公里几乎所有的军事制高点。

  1995年12月20日,缅政府、彭家声、果敢三方成立了"果敢临时政府"。

  为了调查大烟种植的原生态,2002年4月20日,记者去到果敢西山区大水塘。副区长李树林和派出所所长赵小德带记者到附近山头,看3月底4月初收割了的罂粟地。地里是一片片已经枯干了的罂粟,偶尔还能看见有晚熟的罂粟青果生长。地里堆着一地已经收割过的鸦片果。

  当时缅政府军和同盟军一直在做铲除种植罂粟的工作。政府人员在大水塘砍掉了种植面积在2000拽左右的罂粟(当地人没有亩的概念,以产鸦片量缅斤"拽"来计数产地面积。"一拽"是指一缅斤,合3.3市斤)。旧历的八九月间,正是往常种植毒品的时候,缅政府提供了豌豆、麦子种子,改种了1000多拽麦子、蚕豆。但山民还是习惯性种了很多罂粟,政府人力有限,也难以监管到那么偏远的地方。

  一般只要有四五个劳力的家庭,很容易就可以种上七八亩罂粟,每亩大约可产一拽鸦片。一般四五拽可以生产出一件货(750克)的海洛因。大水塘地区烟农零零星星收了1000多拽鸦片。在没有禁种前,这一地区每年可以产4000多拽鸦片膏。

  收购者往往在每年下种罂粟的时候就来了,他们赊账给烟农,到收购时再扣除。收购价钱不好时,每拽才卖1600-1700元人民币。年成好时,一拽就可以卖到5000-6000元。年年发财的都是收购者与制造海洛因者,烟农贫穷依旧。

  留着余香的罂粟地

  果敢特区政府承诺在2003年全境成为无毒区,2000年就对烟农下达了禁种令,2001年允许限量种植最后一季罂粟。从2002年起,再不许任何人种植罂粟。

  记者指着一地晒着的罂粟种子,问:"晒这些种子做什么用?"烟农笑了,说:"那些是晒干了用来磨粉熬芙蓉汤喝的,成熟的罂粟种子完全无毒,鸦片子的含油量超过50%,还可以榨油。真正用来播种的种子是不能晒的。"

  烟农告诉记者:"一般是每年农历的八月份播种罂粟,一个来月苗就长成绿油油的了。到开花前上坡除一两次草,基本不用再经管。春节过后几十天,就到了鸦片果收获的时候了。"

  果敢在中国开展的跨境替代种植帮助下,铲除毒品经济,与世界主流文明接轨,重新融入现代社会。记者所著《解毒金三角》一书提到"据云南植物学家多年研究,因生物间奇妙的作用,凡种植过罂粟的土地,改种大叶种普洱茶后,茶叶别具一种香气。"这段话被果敢当地的美乐茶庄拿来当作商标贴注,向中国推销他们在鸦片地里进行的替代种植产品茶叶。

  烟农反映:替代种植如茶叶的价钱,都远远低于鸦片的收入。果敢坝子上搞的替代种植品是橡胶和甘蔗,因为这几年中国那边糖价下挫,南伞糖厂也不怎么来收购了,茶叶也卖不出去,因此本烟农对替代种植热情不高。

  是年4月初,中国派出20多人配合缅甸禁毒人员在果敢查抄毒品,当地烟农说,这一行动后"没人敢公开摆卖了,烟价跌到了金三角罕见的低价。"果敢公安局官员承认"禁烟使得毒源地百姓生活水平下降",但他们说:"禁烟是无条件的。"(综合 新民网)

Ouagadougou@Marymount View 28 August 2009

Another exciting meet of the Ouagadougou.
Photos courtesy of Tony Tan of Betel Box.

Some of us... as usual, only 10 confirmed attendance, but suddenly 20 turned up. Someone commented that this session of Ouaga is being turned into a Sgtravelcafe without the presentation.

Two readers and a yawner. Off to a quiet start

Food

The book is out.

The Nomad.

Treasure house shots!

The Monocle Man.

Kitchen chores

The Lady and the Book. Plus Wee Cheng's home-made sangria. She looks happy (and perhaps a little high).

Let me tell you about the book!

Drinks drinks drinks

Drinks drinks drinks

Garry looks excited. Is he on the football pitch?

So stylo... Very 花样年华

Gabriel still awake

A point to make.

Haha...my book. {I must stuck in my stomach}.

Qing Ru puts on the Monocle face.... And Yew Leong has a strange smile.

Gabriel articulating the concept of Dream Land.

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. Let me share with you news from Prestor John, King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.

Kevin explaining to Alvin how to prepare Vietnamese mooncakes.

Joon Yee sharing the secrets of dentistry with Dennis in exchange for the fine art of accounting.

Wee Cheng distributing Indonesian kueh lapis while promoting the sights and sounds of amazing Somaliland.

Getting late, but the last group only left at 3:30am, breaking all records.

Andy explaining to Geordie how he survived an armed robbery in Ghana and spied on Nigerian scam-men in a cybercafe. He had just put in an application to CIA. Please keep this a secret.

Pondering over difficult issues... how to save the world from recession, climatic changes and bad movies.

The remains of the day. Pieces of Vietnamese mooncake and pear.

More philosophical musings... about organisational architecture, organisational culture, structural conflicts and other topics too tedious at 2:30am! Or indeed at any hour of the day and night. Kelly looked very serious while Matthew was smsing away.

56 minutes ago

Matthew continues to sms while Wee Cheng spoke about difficulties of getting Libyan visas.

Finally, Matt stops smsing and smiles.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Brief Professional CV

Mr. Tan Wee Cheng is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Accounting at NUS Business School where he has taught finance and accounting related subjects. He also teaches in Nanyang Technological University. Mr. Tan is a Certified Public Accountant (C.P.A.) having graduated from Nanyang Technological University in 1993 with first class honours in accountancy. He also has a masters in finance from London Business School, which was financed on the British Government's Chevening Scholarship. Mr. Tan is also an alumni of Raffles Institution and Raffles Junior College, Singapore.

He is also an associate member of the Corporate Governance & Financial Reporting Centre (CGFCR) of NUS and a member of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Singapore (ICPAS).

Mr. Tan has broad experience in corporate financial management, investors relations and strategic planning as Group CFO of a listed chemical group; leveraged buyouts and financial buyers activities in Europe; and audit, special investigation and due diligence work in Asia (especially China) and Mauritius.

Mr. Tan began his career as an auditor in Price Waterhouse Singapore and joined a London investment bank, Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, in 1998, where he held the position of VP, Pan-European Leverage Buyouts. In 2003, he joined the Prudential Policy department of Monetary Authority of Singapore where he was involved in policy formulation of matters relating to banking regulation. Between 1995 and 1997, he was the Group CFO of a Singapore Exchange-listed company, and had played a significant role in getting the company listed as well as in subsequent investor relations and fund-raising activities among institutional investors in Asia, Europe and USA to fund major corporate expansion and acquisitions. In 2009, Marymount LLP was set up to run business, strategic, tourism and other consultancy services.

Mr. Tan has published in the Stock Exchange of Singapore Journal, Southern Africa Today Magazine and Quarterly Literary Review Singapore. He is also a member of the Old Rafflesians Association (ORA) and Singapore Heritage Society (SHS).

Mr. Tan is the author of "The Greenland Seal Hunter" (2004) and "Hot Spots and Dodgy Places " (2009), published by Marshall Cavendish, and co-author of Mainlines: The 2003 Sobaka Anthology, published by Sobaka And Diacritica Press, Chicago (2003). He has been interviewed by the Straits Times, Sunday Times, Lianhe Zaobao, Lianhe Wanbao, Berita Harian, Today and The New Paper, and by Channel 5, Channel 8, Channel News Asia and Mediacorp's News Radio 93.8FM, on his works and travels, and his views on business and finance, career/scholarships, heritage, culture and beliefs. Mr. Tan has been to 180 countries and territories to date and have been noted as the most well-travelled Singaporean in the 2008 edition of the Singapore Books of Records.

韩山元: 南侨机工70周年

Isn't it time Singapore commemorates the Nanyang Mechanics?  It's a part of a shared historical experience between Singapore and China, which is becoming important to us in an era of changing geopolitical environment.
 
转录自2009年8月28日联合早报:

三个旧时代海峡殖民地(三州府),两个有华侨抗战纪念碑,唯独作为东南亚援华抗战的中心的新加坡没有,怎不令人遗憾?

  终于等到这一天了!终于能看到纪念南侨机工的大型展览在新加坡举行,这将是新加坡对南侨机工迟来的敬礼,但迟来总好过永远不来。

  据早报报道,新加坡和中国有关单位于8月14日至16日,首次联手在云南省博物馆推出"华之魂 侨之光——南侨机工回国抗战档案史料图片展",作为纪念南洋华侨机工回国支援抗战70周年的主要活动,再现了华侨史上最悲壮却鲜为人知的一段史实。

  另据中新社报道,这次展览的展品包括两千多幅珍贵照片、158幅仿真档案复印件,是迄今为止关于南侨机工史内容最充实、集中公布史料最多的 一次展览。10月份还将转来新加坡进行巡回展览。

  看到这两则报道,我不禁想起十多年前先后两次到昆明访问当年的南侨机工,当时还有约20位老机工健在,如今,据说还在昆明的只剩下6人了。

  我采写过几位机工的故事,有一个故事迟迟没有发表,正当大家强调要吸取历史教训的时刻,我讲讲当代花木兰李月美的遭遇该是必要的。

  1939年从南洋回国服务的3200多名机工,几乎清一色是男的,然而却有四名女扮男装的青年瞒过了办理登记手续的人员,进入机工队伍。李月美是其中一个,她到了昆明,上了工作岗位都没有被发现,一次交通事故让她"露馅"了,她受伤入院,医务人员马上就发现"他"原来是"她"。按规定她不能留在机工队当驾驶员,然而她苦苦哀求留下来,怎么办?只好让她改学医药护理,依然留在机工队当护士,一直工作到 抗战胜利。

  这名为中华民族救亡做出贡献的当代花木兰在文革时的遭遇十分悲惨,她被指为国民党反动派的"残渣余孽",遭轮番批斗,她无法忍受这样的侮辱与折磨,愤然割腕自尽,死时才49岁。文革后虽然给她平反,恢复名誉,但用广东话来说:迟不迟了点呀?类似李月美的遭遇,在老机工队伍中还有不少。

我去探访老机工时,他们没有一个对自己参加救亡抗战表示后悔,杨保华老人还唱起当年他最爱唱的《大刀进行曲》。对于自己受到的不公平待遇,他们只有摇头叹息。的确,已经是八九十岁年纪了,除了摇头叹息,还能做什么?然而,我们这些还能做点事情的人,总不能什么都不做吧!
  马六甲市有抗日纪念碑,就在三宝庙旁,很多去马六甲游玩的人例必到三宝庙,可是很少人注意到这座古庙 旁边有一座纪念抗战的巨碑。在槟城也有一座华侨抗战纪念碑。三个旧时代海峡殖民地(三州府),两个有华侨抗战纪念碑,唯独作为东南亚援华抗战的中心的新加坡没有,怎不令人遗憾?

  南侨机工不仅仅是对中华民族的救亡做出了非凡的贡献,也为全世界人民反法西斯做出了贡献。如果不将法西斯轴心国打败,全世界人民都要被压迫,被奴役。南侨机工那段悲壮历史是新马人民与中国人民共同的精神文化遗产,如果我们不想将这段历史遗忘的话,在给机工送行的地点:武吉巴梭路或附近物色个地点立个纪念碑是必要的。我们缅怀先烈,追忆历史,为的是什么?不就是要吸取历史经验教训吗?不就是为了承前启后,继往开来吗?

  新加坡人是不是都把南侨机工遗忘了呢?至少陈嘉庚基金与怡和轩俱乐部( 当年发动与组织机工回国服务的南侨总会就设这里)的领导人没有遗忘,怡和轩与陈嘉庚基金属下先贤馆,将于本月30日(星期天)下午2时30分主办纪念南侨机工的讲座,想知道那段历史的人们岂可错过?

Friday, August 28, 2009

How accurate is Google Translation Tool?

Ouagadougou meeting today! Another party at Marymount View...
 
is now:

...واغادوغو اجتماع اليوم! طرف آخر في ميريماونت عرض (Arabic)

Уагадугу сегодняшнего заседания! Другая группа на Меримаунт Открыть ... (Russian)

瓦加杜古今天的会议!在Marymount查看另一个党... (Google Translation is certainly not accurate on Chinese!)

ワガドゥグーの会議は今日!メリーマウントViewでもう1つのパーティ... (Japanese)

Ouagadougou cuộc họp ngày hôm nay! Một bên ở Marymount xem ... (Vietnamese)

Laqgħa Ouagadougou illum! Parti oħra fil Marymount View ...(Maltese)
 
 

15malaysia.com: House by Linus Chung

A short moving story about the underclass in Malaysia.




Wednesday, August 26, 2009

UBS study on wages and domestic purchasing power of 73 world cities - An embarrassment for Singapore?

The political website, Temasek Review has a summary of a UBS study of 73 cities round the world that shows that despite being a city with one of the highest GDP per capita in the world, the average SG person has much lower wages and low purchasing power - the lowest among the 4 Asian Tigers despite having the highest GDP per capita. The actual report is here:  http://www.ubs.com/1/e/media_overview/media_global/releases?newsId=170250   and it makes very interesting read. I have some doubts on the validity of the choice of the basket of goods.  For instance, rental is an important cost component in the survey but most Singaporeans buy their property, not renting.  Hence the high rental costs here may not be that relevant.  Nevertheless, the report highlights issues for us to examine and reflect further.
 
Source: temasekreview.com
The worldwide study conducted and released by UBS lately, titled "Price and Earnings 2009″ has some unflattering results for Singapore. (download the study here)...
 
This is Part 2 of the Temasek Review analysis of the UBS report. It makes a very unflattering comparison between Russia and SG. I don't agree with its conclusions and yet, one finds it hard to refute some of the data:
 
Source: temasekreview.com
When Mr Goh Chok Tong became the second Prime Minister of Singapore in the 1990s, he promised Singaporeans that we will attain the "Swiss standard of living" within a decade.
 

The internationalisation of the SG uni classrooms

Serbia, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Italy, Japan, Vietnam, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, UK, USA...nationalities of my students...
 
It's an indication of how diversified the Singapore classroom has become.  When I was in uni in the early 90's, there were only Singaporeans and Malaysians.  Now, there are SG-Govt-Scholarship holders everywhere - typically from China, India and Vietnam, and occasionally from even more unusual countries. 
 
There are also many people on exchange which accounts for most of the European nationalities above - it does look like most of them would take finance classes here.  It also represents the coming of age of our universities...it does not, however, mean that we would produce Nobel Prize Winners...but that would be a seperate set of discussions...
 
 

Does Vietnam nominate too many world heritages?

 
Does Vietnam nominate too many world heritages?
21:07' 25/08/2009 (GMT+7)

VietNamNet Bridge – Vietnamese media have recently questioned whether Vietnam has gone overboard in its quest for UNESCO World Heritage recognition for many national treasures such as hau dong rituals, Hanoi's Giong Festival and the 82 stone steles at the Temple of Literature.

 

Local people have built houses and planted vegetables within the walls of the ancient Hue citadel.

 

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) annually recognises around 20 "world heritage sites." There is a long and complicated process of selection.

 

Since 1993, five world heritage sites and two intangible cultural heritages have been recognized in Vietnam.  These are Phong Nha – Ke Bang Cave, Hoi An ancient town, Ha Long Bay, the My Son sanctuary, the ancient Hue capital, the Central Highlands gong cultural space and the Hue royal court music.

 

Continue here: http://english.vietnamnet.vn/reports/2009/08/865321/

Sunday, August 23, 2009

China Government proposes changes to 44 Chinese words...

Gosh...the Chinese Government wants to change the way 44 words are written...why bother with such semantics?
 
========
 

《通用规范汉字表》(征求意见稿)对44个字作字形微调——汉字"整容"引争议

http://www.sina.com.cn  2009年08月20日06:59  大河网-大河报

  

《通用规范汉字表》(征求意见稿)对44个字作字形微调——汉字"整容"引争议

  

《通用规范汉字表》(征求意见稿)对44个字作字形微调——汉字"整容"引争议
□郭鑫

  据新华社专电19日,教育部语言文字信息管理司对近日在网上热议的"调整44个汉字写法"做出了最新解读。解读中称此次调整汉字写法的主要原则是为取得与宋体字笔形变异的一致,其他主用字体(仿宋体、黑体、楷体)与非主用字体,以后再逐步进行调整。

  据介绍,此次字形调整共有尊重汉字结构、考虑宋体风格、遵循统一规则、严格控制特例4个总原则。在总原则的指导下,此次调整中制定了横变提、竖变撇、捺变点、竖弯钩变竖提和竖钩、横折钩去钩5类笔形规则。经过对字形的调整和美化,进一步取得与宋体字笔形的一致,使字形更趋于规律性、系统性。

  此次公布的44个汉字的调整包括"琴"字上左部最后一笔横变提,"衾、汆"等字下部件末笔捺变点,"亲、杀"等字下部件的竖钩变竖,"唇、蜃"等字由半包围结构改为上下结构等。

 
See the rest of the report at:
 
 
 
 
 
 

"Tavisupleba" - Georgian National Anthem

ჩემი ხატია სამშობლო,სახატე მთელი ქვეყანა... My icon is my motherland, And the whole world is its icon-stand...

 

("Tavisupleba" - Georgian National Anthem)

 

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Finding the remote

My contribution to postings on SgTravelCafe.com:
 
Where is the most remote place you've been and what inspired you to go there?

- Timbuktu, Mali - the city that has come to represent remoteness.
- Rapa Nui / Easter Island - the nearest land is many hours away by air. I flew there on a 5 hour domestic flight from Santiago de Chile.
- Ghat, Libyan Sahara near the tri-border region of Libya, Algeria and Mali. Most people here are Tuareg tribesmen. Amazing 10,000 year old prehistoric rock paintings of giraffes, hippo, cattle and all sorts of animal life in a Sahara that used to be an inland wetland.
- Leticia, Colombian Amazonian city on the border with Peru and Brazil
- Kulusuk, East Greenland - this village is remote even to most Greenlanders. I was quoted $2000 for a domestic flight to Nuuk, the capital on the west coast of Greenland.
- Murmansk on the Russian Arctic Ocean - bright sunshine & crystal clear blue skies.
- Mulnaq on the Aral Sea, Uzbekistan - full of rusty ships on dry land.
- Nagaland, Northeast India on the border with Myanmar, where the people look Chinese.
- Bissau, Guinea-Bissau, West Africa. Very sleepy capital full of ruins from the civil war 10 years ago.

The old man with lots of books but couldn't read

ST A30: The Other Universe by Janice Tay: "He had no time for books. so he collected them, intending to read them when he retired...All had gone according to plan except for one thing: He was losing his sight. My neighbour spoke of him as an old man in a room full of books he would never be able to read. He told Klaus: Don't wait." Frightening prospect...I must avoid that fate...

Fictional Sovereignties by Robert Skidelsky

London – A year ago, tiny Georgia tried to regain control over its breakaway enclave of South Ossetia. The Russians quickly expelled the Georgian army, to almost universal opprobrium from the West. South Ossetia, together with Abkhazia (combined population 300,000), promptly declared their "independence," creating two new fictional sovereignties, and acquiring in the process all the official trappings of statehood: national heroes, colorful uniforms, anthems, flags, frontier posts, military forces...
 
For the rest:

Friday, August 21, 2009

NY Times: American Graduates Finding Jobs in China

Singapore undergrads should take note:
 

American Graduates Finding Jobs in China

Shiho Fukada for The New York Times

Mick Zomnir, 20, a rising junior at M.I.T., landed a summer internship at JFP in Beijing.

Published: August 10, 2009

BEIJING — Shanghai and Beijing are becoming new lands of opportunity for recent American college graduates who face unemployment nearing double digits at home.

 
 

Singaporeans speak up against aggressive proselytisation

I still recall getting into a quarrel with an university coursemate on a bus when he scolded me for being a stubborn, unrepentant pagan; plus a heated debate with two colleagues in my first job who told me my dead relatives were burning in hell simply because they were not Christians (and despite living a virtuous life). 

It's amazing how many Singaporeans have suffered from such intrusion most of their lives and kept silent until the prime minister discussed it openly. Today's ST forum carries an extraordinary outburst from many.
 
Singapore will be a more harmonious place if everyone accepts that this is a multi-religious and multi-ethnic homeland for all, and will always be so. National policies should always be decided based on rational, scientific and secular basis, and we as citizens should always defend the secular nature of our state.
 

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Wee Cheng on Wanbao (晚报) 17 August 2009

They got some facts wrong though.  I wasn't working in the universities when I took one year off to travel.
 

Monday, August 17, 2009

On Channel 8 (早安您好) Mon 17 August 7:52am, 9:22am talking about Venezuela

1) I must go to the gym more often.
 
2) Should I go for lasik?
 
3) How should I keep my eyes from blinking?
 
4) I can't stand my recorded voice but what should I do about it?
 
Oops...