A look at Dishonesty and Democracy in Asia

September 14, 2016

Corruption is a fact-of-life in most of Asia. The Corruption Perceptions Index of 2015 reveals that most of Asia is very corrupt —when it comes to this ranking, the smaller number is better and the worst global ranking for corruption is shared by North Korea and Somalia.

Of the 168 countries ranked for corruption in the world, in South East and East Asia: North Korea was ranked 167 (the most corrupt country), Cambodia was ranked 150, Myanmar 147, Laos 139, Nepal 130, Timor-Leste 123, Pakistan 117, Vietnam 112, Philippines 95, Indonesia 88, China 83, Thailand 76, Mongolia 72, Malaysia 54, South Korea 37, Taiwan 30, Bhutan 27, Hong Kong 18 (part of China), and Japan 18. (countries in bold are listed as democracies)

These countries in Asia are listed as democracies: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Mauritius, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka and Taiwan (except Taiwan is not considered a country).

India, the world’s largest democracy, was ranked 76 on the Corruption Perception Index. Singapore (describes itself as a ‘sovereign republic’) was number 8, making it one of the least corrupt countries in the world. The country on the list with the least corruption was Denmark. Second place went to Finland and third to Sweden.

China, a country that gets a lot of bad press in the United States for corruption, was ranked 83rd, but 50.59 percent of the world’s countries were ranked worse for corruption.

The United States was ranked 16th.

It may come as a surprise to many Western critics, but aei.org reports, “In 1987, the Party mandated the creation of new local governments by democratic election in China’s approximately 930,000 villages. A decade later, more than 905,000 elected committees and 3.7 million elected officials were reportedly in place.” To discover more about this experiment with democracy that’s been going on for 29 years inside of Communist China, click the link in this paragraph.

“Between July 2006 and December 2007, elections for local assemblies were held in 60 percent of provincial administrative regions, with more than 900 million voters selecting 38,000 people’s congresses. No elections had been held beyond the township level.” – Facts and Details.com

Few outside China have heard of China’s rural experiment with democracy, and each time there is an election, almost one billion peasants learn more about democracy in action.

Discover China’s First Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi, the man that unified China more than 2,000 years ago

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

A1 on June 22 - 2016 Cover Image with BLurbs to promote novel

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Taiwan: does democracy work in Asia? Part 6 of 6

January 24, 2016

The last alleged Asian democracy to shine a brief spotlight on is Taiwan, which isn’t really a country, since the United States and most other significant nations recognize one China and thus include the boundaries of Taiwan as being part of the boundaries of (mainland) China.

In fact, China claims Taiwan as its province, and the international community does not want to contradict China, so Taiwan is not a member of the United Nations.

Although local elections were allowed in Taiwan as early as the 1950s, the Kuomintang (KMT) ruled Taiwan with martial law under Chiang Kai-shek (1887 – 1976), and repressed democracy advocates for more than three decades—sometimes brutally.

For instance, there was another massacre “I never heard of” that I stumbled on by accident while researching another post, the 2/28 Massacre in Taiwan. Estimates of the number of deaths vary from 10,000 to 30,000 or more. The massacre marked the beginning of the Kuomintang’s White Terror period in Taiwan, in which thousands more inhabitants vanished, died, or were imprisoned. Has anyone heard the U.S. media remind Americans of the massacre in Taiwan that murdered as many as 10 times the casualties that have been reported annually about the alleged 1989 massacre in China’s Tiananmen Square?

After Chiang Kai-shek’s death, in 1976, the KMT held onto power until 2000. Then in direct elections, the Taiwanese people voted for a president in 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012, but corruption reared its ugly head again.

In 2009, Time World reported on former President Chen Shui-bian‘s corruption trial. Chen was accused of taking $9 million dollars in personal kickbacks on a state-sanctioned land deal, embezzling over $3 million from a state fund and laundering millions to overseas accounts.

Then in 2010, the Taipei Times reported, “A former president (Chen Shui-bian) jailed for graft, a retired head of military police indicted for embezzlement, three top judges accused of taking bribes — the list goes on. Taiwan has a problem with corruption.”

In addition, New York Times reported, “Lee Teng-hui, a former president (served 1996 – 2000), who moved the self-governing island toward democracy, was indicted … on charges of embezzling $7.79 million from a state fund, becoming the second former president of Taiwan to be charged with corruption.”

One good thing to say for Taiwan is a low poverty level similar to mainland China. However, in the world’s most powerful democracy, the U.S. 2010 Census says 15.7 percent of Americans live in poverty and that is 47.8 million people—more than twice the population of Taiwan.

After discovering the track record of these so-called multi-party democracies in Asia, do you think mainland China’s growing middle class will eventually want a multi-party democracy?

For one answer, Professor Stephen Kobrin of the Wharton School of Knowledge at the University of Pennsylvania says, “We tend to assume all middle-class people have certain values.”

Kobrin points to the common assertion that people rising into the middle class will press for democracy. However, that does not seem to be happening in China where he suggests that people may be willing to accept more autocratic regimes in return for stability and a middle-class consumer lifestyle.

“The assumption has been that there’s a link between capitalism and democracy, that as incomes rise and people become educated, they will increase pressure for democracy and freedom and civil liberties,” notes Kobrin. “That may or may not be true.”

What do you think—is democracy in Asia working and should China give it a try?

Return to India in Part 5 or start with Japan in Part 1

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

IMAGE with Blurbs and Awards to use on Twitter

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India: does democracy work in Asia? Part 5 of 6

January 23, 2016

Among the alleged Asian democracies, India is next.  The Guardian says of corruption in India that “All your life you pay for things that should be free.”

The Guardian reported that “one ordinary man” had to pay at least a third of his income to survive. “Of the 40,000 rupees (£520) I earn a month from my restaurant, I pay at least a third in bribes,” Vishal, 26, said. But bribery also extends into his personal life. Vishal has two young children and to get the eldest into the best local school he paid a “donation” of 25,000 rupees (£340) in cash to the headmaster.”

Economy Watch.com said, “India’s underground economy is believed to be 50 percent of the country’s GDP – US$640 billion at the end of 2008,” and Janamejayan’s Weblog goes into detail of one scam that cost $40 billion, which is 3% of India’s GDP.


Poverty in India, 2011

In addition, there is confusion over how many live in poverty in India.

In 2009, the United Nations Development Programme reported that literacy in India was about 74 percent, while the CIA Factbook set the literacy rate at 61 percent (literacy and poverty are linked), which explains The World Bank’s estimates of poverty in India at 41.6 percent.

However, the Hindustan Times says for 2011 that there are 406 million poor in India, which is a third of the population—an increase of 8% since 2009.

In addition, a study by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative using a Multi-dimensional Poverty Index (MPI) found that there were 645 million poor living under the MPI in India

In 2009, India’s population was about 1.2 billion, and the country had six nationally recognized political parties and about 46 recognized state/provincial parties. Source: List of Recognized Political Parties in India (Wiki)

India has been the world’s largest democracy since 1947, and although India claims to have reduced poverty from about 53% in 1973-74 to 25.6% in 1999-2000, the definition and difficulty in reporting the exact numbers casts doubt on this claim.

However, in the same time span, China reduced poverty from 64% to less than 3%, and China is not a multi-party democracy. If China had been a multi-party democracy like India, would poverty have been reduced so dramatically?

In addition, according to Time’s Global Spin, a blog about the world, its people and its politics, “The size of India’s middle class was 50 million in 2005, according to this report by McKinsey,” and McKinsey may be wrong and the number may be lower.

In contrast, Martin Trieu, President of Tourmaline Capital, estimates “there are at least 250-300 million people (in China) who now fall into this (middle class) category.”

Helen H. Wang of Forbes Magazine’s China Tracker agrees with Trieu, and says, “Today, China’s middle class is already larger than the entire population of the United States and is expected to reach 800 million in fifteen years.”

How precious is freedom when you are too poor to enjoy it?

Continued with Taiwan on January 24, 2016 in Part 6 or return to Part 4

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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Thailand: does democracy work in Asia? Part 4 of 6

January 22, 2016

The history of Thailand since 1973 saw an unstable period of democracy, with military rule after a bloody coup in 1976. The previous military rulers had been removed due to a Revolution in 1973.

For most of the 1980s, Thailand was ruled by prime minister Prem Tinsulanonda, a democratically inclined strongman who restored parliamentary politics, and the country remained a democracy apart from a brief period of military rule from 1991 to 1992.

The populist Thai Rak Thai party, led by prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, governed from 2001 until 2006. In 2006 mass protests against the Thai Rak Thai party’s alleged corruption, prompted the military to stage a coup in September.

However, a general election in December 2007 restored a civilian government.

The politics of Thailand after the 2006 coup still concerned the two fighting factions, supporters and opponents of the former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

The anti-Thaksinists formed the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), known as The Yellow Shirts, as they included the defense of the Crown as the symbol of the constitutional monarchy.

The pro-Thaksinists aimed at lessening the royal power; combined with anti-2006 coup activists, they formed UDD, known as The Red Shirts’, supporting the overthrow of the current constitution and an amnesty for Thaksin and his allies.

The country has been ruled by a succession of military leaders installed after several coups d’état, the most recent was May 2014, but along the way there have been a few democratic intervals. The 2007 Constitution (drafted by a military-appointed council, but approved by a referendum) was annulled by the 2014 coup-makers who currently rule the country as a military dictatorship.

Thailand has so far had seventeen Constitutions. Throughout, the basic structure of government has remained the same. A prolonged series of political protests occurred in Bangkok, Thailand in 2010 from March to May against the government. More than 80 civilians and 6 soldiers were killed and more than 2,100 injured. Why hasn’t the U.S. media reminded Americans repeatedly of these deaths and casualties caused during protests calling for democracy? After all, the U.S. media does it annually for the alleged 1989 massacre in China’s Tiananmen Square.

The United Nations Development Programme reported in 2006, that 13.6 percent of Thailand’s population lived in poverty, while the CIA reports the number of people living in poverty was 9.6 percent.

However, Stickman Bangkok.com says, “According to a United Nations report issued in 2000, Thailand has 9.8 million poor people, 5.8 million ultra-poor people and 3.4 million almost poor people. The total figure is 19 million, or 29.9% of the population, and is concentrated in provinces along the borders in the West, North, and Northeast regions.”

In addition, “Presently, according to Thailand Government Public Health Department, there are approximately 75,000 prostitutes in Thailand, but several well-informed non-governmental organization (NGO) groups estimate that the number of prostitutes at any given time is closer to 2 million. This figure represents 9% of female adult population and 3.15% of total population.”

Continued with India on January 23, 2016 in Part 5 or return to Part 3

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

IMAGE with Blurbs and Awards to use on Twitter

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Singapore: does democracy work in Asia? Part 3 of 6

January 21, 2016

The People’s Action Party (PAP) of Singapore has been the dominant political party since 1959. The politics of Singapore take the form of a parliamentary republic and the Prime Minister is the head of the government.

The 2015 Singaporean general election was held on September 11th to form Singapore’s Parliament. The previous Parliament was dissolved on August 25, 2015 by President Tony Tanon on the advice of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and candidates were nominated on 1 September.

The 2015 election was the first since Singapore’s independence in 1965 which saw all seats contested. PAP won 83 of the 89 seats.

Singapore has been accused of being a social democracy. The Economist Intelligence Unit says Singapore is a “hybrid” country, with authoritarian and democratic elements. Freedom House does not consider Singapore an “electoral democracy” and ranks the country as “partly free”.

Reporters Without Borders ranked Singapore #136 of more than 178 countries listed in the 2010 Worldwide Press Freedom Index.

The ruling Party’s policies contain aspects of socialism as does mainland China, which includes government-owned public housing constituting the majority of real estate and the dominance of government controlled companies in the local economy.

For 31 years from 1959 to 1990, Lee Kuan Yew ruled Singapore as its prime minister. He died March 23, 2015. Imagine the United States with the same president and party in power for more than three decades.

Chinese make up 76.8 percent of the population and according to a comment left for another post, the Chinese mostly vote for the PAP keeping Lee Kuan Yew’s party in power.

The CIA says unemployment is 2.2% and there is no information from the World Bank, the CIA, the World Health Organization, or from  Global Edge on how many live in poverty in Singapore.

Mr. Biao.com says, “Singapore has no beggars, because they will be picked up by the police. … We have no poverty, because Singapore has no official poverty line.”

Continued with Thailand on January 22, 2015 with Part 4 or return to Part 2

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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Japan: does democracy work in Asia? Part 1 of 6

January 19, 2016

The partnership between capitalism and alleged multi-party democracies in Asia is an ironic joy to behold.

After spending hours researching Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, India and Taiwan, I understand why the West and America, in particular, keeps pressuring mainland China to allow democracy to flourish.

The best way to discover what happens to China if it were to become a multi-party democracy is to look at the Asian democracies surrounding it.

Let’s start with Japan.

In 2009, the Guardian said of Japan, “After more than 50 years of almost uninterrupted power, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has been buried in a general election. Once before, in 1993, change came when a coalition of opposition parties briefly took power, but the LDP still held on to a majority in the Diet’s powerful lower house. This time … the center-left Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) took more than 300 of 480 seats in the lower house.”

Then in the 2012 election, the LDP took back the majority of seats Japan’s National Diet. The National Diet is Japan’s bicameral legislature. It is composed of a lower house called the House of Representatives, and an upper house, called the House of Councillors.

After the 2012 election, the LDP held 294 seats in the 480 seat House of Representatives and in 2013 took 115 of the 242 seats in the House of Councillors.

The Guardian reported that the DPJ, which ended the five-decade rule of the LDP from 2009 – 2012, was “funded to some degree by the U.S., (and) was put in place to marginalize all left-wing opposition. This involved some strong-arm tactics, especially against the unions …”

Japan has a long trail of corruption.

Werner Pacha’s study of Corruption in Japan from an Economist’s Perspective says, “Corruption can quite simply be understood as the use of public office for private gains.”

Then Pacha reveals a series of scandals starting with the 1954 Shipbuilding Scandal, which contributed to the collapse of the Yoshida cabinet sending one person to prison of the 71 arrested.

Next was the Lockheed Scandal of 1976, resulting in the arrest of Prime Minister Tanaka for having received payments from Lockheed (an American defense contractor) of about 500 million Yen.

In 1988-89, there was the Recruit Scandal, which concluded with the resignation of Prime Minister Takeshita on April 1989.

In 1991, the Kyôwa Affair, another scandal, included former Prime Minister Suzuki and Kyôwa, a steel-girder construction firm.

Briefly, there followed the Sagawa Kyûbin Scandal of 1991-1993, the Tax Evasion Scandal of 1993,  the Genecon Corruption Scandal of 1993, the Sôkaiya Scandals of 1997, and the 1996 – 1998 Scandals within the Elite Bureaucracy.

The CIA (in 2007) reported that 15.7 percent of the people in Japan lived below the poverty line. In comparison, according to the CIA, only 2.8 percent of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) live below the poverty line.

Continued with South Korea on January 20, 2016 in Part 2

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

Where to Buy

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