Thursday, January 07, 2010

Around the World in 5 Stories

A few small items I'd like to comment on. Going in order of geographic proximity we have

1) Malaysian police had a busy new year's eve, raiding hotels to find unmarried couples there. Since Islamic citizens aren't allowed to be alone with members of the opposite sex, those caught are looking at up to two years in jail and a fine. Of course, the non-Islamic population of course are free to get jiggy with it.

2) The chairman of Thai Airways has resigned after getting caught avoiding excess baggage fees. Surely a perk of the job you'd think. But he took it too far when instead of the meagre allowance of 150kg for himself and his two companions got in first class, he brought 398kg back with him from a trip to Japan. Apparently a friend gave him some fruit for a temple in Bangkok. In addition, he got the fruit sent to the lost property office in Bangkok, conveniently skipping customs in the process. It's fair enough that he resigned, but he clearly wasn't trying hard enough to profit from his position. All this netted him only $5,000 dollars or so. If Thailand wants to improve its economy, it needs it's businessmen to take greater liberties with their companies. Ken Lay and Bernie Madoff couldn't have done what they did without huge companies to take advantage off.

3) Burma news now. The military leader of Burma has spoken to his people about the election happening some time this year. He has called on the people to make the "correct choice" when voting. I have no doubts about what he'd consider the right choice, and I'm pretty sure making the "correct choice" won't necessarily be the best for the people. Although given what happened last time the military allowed an election, I wouldn't bet on a freedom loving government coming to power. However the military has rigged the game a little, with the constitution requiring a quarter of the parliament being military members appointed by the head of the military so there's a little bit more of a chance they'll play nice after the election.

4) Out of Asia and into Africa now. A tribal king in South Africa facing 15 years in jail for charges including kidnapping, arson, assault and more is threatening to secede and take more than half the country with him in an attempt to get out of jail free. The king's supporters have called for the charges to be dropped and he be paid over ten billion US dollars in compensation for humiliating him. President Zuma has said that the claim the king can declare a new country in South Africa is ridiculous which is perhaps the best way to deal with such things, and a surprisingly sane reaction from a man with three wives.

5) And finally, a surprisingly sensible and rational policy from a political party. The French Socialist Party has announced that even though they are opposed to the burka, they are going to oppose efforts by the government to introduce a legal ban on people wearing them. It is good to see a party that is willing to say that they don't like something, but realize that legislating against said thing is not the best way to deal with the problem. Kudos to them for this.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There is no chance they will play nice in the election, but thanks for including.