A Snapshot of Democracy in Asia – Part 3/6

September 29, 2011

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.

On May 7, 2011, the election results for parliament resulted in 60.14 percent of the votes for the PAP,  and  they hold 81 of the 87 seats in Parliament.

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 prime minister, and he still has much influence as a Senior Minister and as a Minister Mentor.

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% (two point two) 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 on September 30, 2011 in A Snapshot of Democracy in Asia – Part 4 or return to Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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The Danger of False Truths – Part 2/3

July 22, 2011

My “old” friend said, “It isn’t the fact that China has crooks, every nation has them. However, the degree of corruption in China is simply breathtaking. But not unexpected due to the fact it’s an oligarchy with strict censorship of anything deemed inappropriate by the ones who are the most open to corruption.”

My reply was to refer him to Transparency International, which identifies itself as the global coalition against corruption. The results are worth reading and provide compelling evidence that my “old” friend may be wrong since many democracies, according to Transparency International, are more corrupt than China.

Transparency International’s 2010 Corruption Perceptions Index shows that nearly three quarters of the 178 countries in the index score below five, on a scale from 10 (highly clean) to 0 (highly corrupt).”

Of 178 countries ranked for corruption, China tied with seven for a rank of 78 and a score of 3.5.  The countries China tied with were Colombia, Greece, Lesotho, Peru, Serbia and Thailand.

If you check the list of Electoral Democracies, you will discover that Greece, Peru, and Serbia are on it and many other electoral democracies have a lower rank than China.

For example, Argentina is ranked 105 with a score of 2.9.

India, often touted as the world’s largest democracy, is ranked 87th with a score of 3.3 and is home to a third of the world’s people that live in severe poverty.

In fact, according to Economy Watch, India’s underground economic corruption is believed to be 50% of the country’s GDP or $640 billion US dollars at the end of 2008.

Mexico is ranked 98 with a score of 3.1.

The Ukraine is ranked 134 with a score of 2.4.

The most telling evidence is Singapore, which did not make the Electoral Democracy list. However, Singapore shares 1st place with Denmark and New Zealand as the three countries with the least corruption in the world.

Qatar was ranked 19th and is an Emirate, which is similar to a monarchy or sultanate, but a government in which the supreme power is in the hands of an emir (the ruler of a Muslim state).

The US rank was 22 with a score of 7.1, which is a C- (good but not perfect).

The reason those 16,000 to 18,000 Chinese crooks fled China for mostly the US was because if caught, they would probably be executed.

In the US, all these crooks have to do is pay taxes then reap the rewards of their corruption in a land where more people go to prison than any country on earth. After all, Bonnie and Clyde are folk heroes in the US with a Hollywood movie.

Continued on July 23, 2011 in The Danger of False Truths – Part 3 or return to Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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A Road to the Hajj from China – Part 1/2

November 30, 2010

This two-part post may come as a surprise to many in the West that believe there is no religious freedom in China.

In fact, China handles religious freedom similar to how Singapore does, and Singapore is seldom if ever criticized in the Western media for this practice.

The U.S. Department of State says that Singapore’s government has broad powers to limit citizens’ rights and handicap political opposition, which it uses. One of those restrictions is a limited freedom of religion.

However, the Constitution for the Republic of Singapore offers the same fundamental liberties China and the US does, which includes freedom of speech, assembly and association and freedom of religion.

For example, Singapore bans the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Unification Church by making public meetings illegal. The Falun Gong has also had problems in Singapore.

China, on the other hand, recognizes five religions — Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism but has banned certain new religious movements that are considered cults. China does not recognize cults as religions.

In the video embedded with this post, Al Jazeera follows Chinese Muslims as they prepare to undertake the hajj pilgrimage.

The ancient city of Xian in Shaanxi province is home to about 60,000 ethnic Chinese Muslims.

Xian claims it has a Muslim history going back thirteen hundred years when Islam was first introduced to China in 650 AD.

In fact, the oldest mosque in China was built in 685-762 AD in Xian during the reign of Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty.

Chinese Imam Ma Yi Ping speaks both Chinese and Arabic. He studied at the Islamic University of Medina and has made the hajj several times. He was taught to be a devout Muslim by his parents during Mao’s time when the mosques in China were closed.

Despite the persecutions that took place during the Cultural Revolution (1966 – 1976), Islam survived in China.

Ma Yi Ping says that after Mao and the Gang of Four were gone and China opened for trade with the world, he did not have to study the Quran in secret anymore.

Since the 15th century, Xian Muslims have been going to Mecca in Saudi Arabia for the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

In the past, during the ancient days of the Silk Road, these journeys started and ended in Xian’s Muslim quarter. Today is no different.

Continued in A Road to the Hajj from China – Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Cultural Differences, the Ignorant American and Star Trek

May 21, 2010

I’ve watched Star Trek since the 1960s and have seen most of the spin offs.  In the Star Trek Universe there are many cultures and races—far too many for even Christians or Islam to convert since that seems to be a driving force behind both of these major religions even if it means using war and violence to make it happen.

One way to look at this is to consider cultures and countries like China, Japan, both Koreas, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore and others as if they are light-years away from Western culture.

If the US sent a spaceship to a far off world around another star and discovered a culture that was alien to our way of life, but these aliens had powerful, modern weapons and a strong military to defend themselves there would be no way to force them to change as the West did to so many cultures during the 19th century and a good portion of the 20th.

But what if this culture around that foreign star had products and materials  we wanted or needed for our civilization to survive. To do business with them, we would have to accept that culture the way it was and not attempt to change them or judge them as if that planet were an American Territory to be terrorized and converted.

None of the Asian cultures on our earth developed from Christianity, Judaism or Islamic roots. Even our staunchest allies in Asia, Singapore and Thailand, are Asian cultures with governments that do not fit the America model.

What does loss of Face mean to most Chinese?

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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The Collective Will

May 19, 2010

In “China’s Private Party” by Richard McGregor, The Wall Street Journal, quickly sketches how those that hold power in China keep it. He mentions the Red Machine—an encrypted communication system—that stitches the few hundred who rule China together for making quick decisions.

Where McGregor gets it wrong is when he says that China’s government may not look like Communists any more, but once you strip away the wrapping, they still are. The truth is that Communism as the world knew it during the Cold War is gone and what replaced it in China hasn’t been defined yet.

Confucius

Confucius said when the men (who rule) are there, good government will flourish, but when the men are gone, good government decays and becomes extinct. With the Red Telephone, China insures this government will always be ready to act. Confucius called for the people to show respect to the high ministers of state and the leaders of today’s China expect nothing less as long as the government continues to improve life in China.

These leaders are not Marxists, Leninists, Socialists or Communists. They are Chinese, who plan to stay in power. In a democracy like America, every few years the political climate changes like a stormy wind and these Chinese do not like uncertainties. They plan, set goals and want to be there to insure that what was set in motion is completed. It’s all about the collective harmony. Taoism plays a roll  too. It’s why the Chinese may say one thing and do something else.

The reason China is studying Singapore may clarify what I mean.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Four Equals One China—Communist China Continued (Part 2 of 7)

May 15, 2010

The previous president selected the current president of China. After the selection, the candidate must be approved by the Politburo Standing Committee, which usually has between five and nine members, usually men. They are China’s top leadership. This is where major decisions are made and/or approved. They are the most powerful decision making body in China.

The Great Hall of the People in Beijing

China’s Constitution does not allow anyone to stay a member of the Standing Committee for longer than two, five-year terms and mandatory retirement is sixty-seven. In 2012, all current members will be replaced. Both the national media as well as political watchers abroad closely watch standing Committee members.

Once the candidate for president has been approved, the National People’s Congress votes on the nomination.  The National Congress of China has 2,987 members. Two thousand ninety-nine are members of the Communist party and eight-hundred and eighty-eight do not belong to the Communist Party. They meet in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

Go to Four Equals One China: Part 3

Why is China Studying Singapore?

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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 love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Why China is Studying Singapore – Part 3/3

February 6, 2010

In the 2010, January, National Geographic Magazine, there was a feature about Singapore that said, “the per capital income for its 3.7 million citizens exceeds that of many European countries, the education and health systems rival anything in the West, government officials are largely corruption free, 90 percent of households own their own homes, taxes are relatively low and sidewalks are clean (and safe), and there are no visible homeless people or slums.”

Singapore beach scene

When was the last time you heard the Western media or an American politician criticize Singapore’s government?  Probably never.

There’s a reason for that. Singapore is a strong US ally and an English-speaking city-state.

It makes sense that China should want to model their economic and political system after another country with similar values and a stronger and more stable economy than the United States. The Chinese, like the Singaporeans, save money too. When the world economy collapsed while George W. Bush lived in the White House, China had a few trillion dollars in reserve with no national debt, and the Chinese people work harder and save more money than any other country.

Compare that to the United States and you will know why China’s role model is Singapore—not the United States of America. Now, see what a traveler said about Singapore.

Return to Part 2 of Why China is Studying Singapore

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

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