Singapore Armchair Critic

A blog about politics and policies in Singapore and beyond

Tag: Hong Kong

Teaching Love Through Hate

(To all who have been harping on how “xenophobic” Singaporeans are – yes I am talking about you – open your eyes and see the Chinese textbook example of xenophobia before you so readily brand us as such).

Destroy Hondas and Toyotas, boycott everything Japanese (except the porn star Aoi Sora who, apparently, “belongs to the world”), assault Japanese on the streets, attack the Japanese envoy’s car, besiege the Japan embassy, loot shops selling Japanese and other goods to your heart’s content . . .

These are just some instances of how anti-Japan furor, or mass hysteria, has been running high in China over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands dispute in the past weeks. Tensions between the two countries have escalated now that Japan purchased some of the islands from their private owners, and China retaliated by sending six ships into Japanese waters near the islands (BBC report here and AlJazeera on the island dispute).

The fury of the Chinese knows no bounds. Some unfortunate celebrities had also been sucked into the whirlpool of senseless hatred. For doing something as innocuous as eating sushi, or taking up filming jobs in Japan, poor Fiona Sit, Tony Leung and Bruneian Wu Chun had been hounded by Chinese netizens gone ballistic.

Where do such intense anger and hate emanate from? Continue reading…

China’s “National Education”: Lessons for Singapore

Warning: If your eyes automatically well up with tears each time you sing or hear your national anthem, then this post is not for you.

This week I was supposed to blog about the prospects of democratization in Malaysia and Singapore but I felt compelled to write this post after seeing the photograph below. It is an excerpt of a teaching guide and the highlighted parts translate as:

“Questions to prompt students to share their experience in singing and hearing the national anthem: When you hear the national anthem, does it bring to mind the Motherland? Does it remind you that you are a Chinese national? . . . Does it not evoke your sense of national pride and move you to tears? . .  .

Note: Should the teacher find that the student does not display strong emotions of patriotism/nationalism, do not criticize him. Accept his behavior but ask the student to reflect upon himself.” (emphasis mine) Continue reading…

Hong Kong vs Singapore: Who’s Getting Ahead?

The relationship between Singapore and Hong Kong is one of rivalry. In the economic sense, I mean. We vie to be Asia’s financial hub, compete to be a haven for investors and rich migrants among others. But one realm in which Singapore never aspired to beat its rival is that of civil liberties – freedom of speech, protest rights and others. Singapore ranked 135th in the 2011 press freedom index, way behind Hong Kong which is in 54th place. Till this day, there is only one designated spot for public speeches and gathering in Singapore. The vibrant media, freedom of speech and protest cultures Hongkongers enjoy have always filled me with envy.

But recent developments in Hong Kong have been rather disturbing, and all-too-familiar to what we experience here in Singapore. Continue reading…

Hong Kong’s Minimum Wage: What Impact on Jobs and Pay?

Ominous predictions of a tide of restaurant closings and job loss in Hong Kong after the implementation of a wage floor had fallen flat.

In August 2011, three months after Hong Kong’s Statutory Minimum Wage (SMW) took effect, restaurant operators lamented a shortage of workers. Some had to pay an hourly wage of 30 to 50 Hong Kong dollars, above the wage floor of 28 Hong Kong dollars, to hire dishwashers, kitchen helpers and servers. Despite higher overheads, the number of eateries grew by 500 to 15,000 from the end of 2010 to August 2011. The expansion of fast food conglomerates, in particular, was the most evident. Greater number of vacancies in the industry, moreover, saw fewer takers – on average, there was only one applicant for every three to four job openings.

It seems clear now that industry players’ earlier claims of operational difficulties had been exaggerated in a bid to forestall the SMW’s implementation in May 2011, no mean feat in a city which had long prided itself as the last bastion of laissez-faire capitalism, where adherents and business interests fervently sounded dire warnings against a wage floor, averring that any government interference with market-determined wages would backfire and cost jobs. Continue reading…

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