June 22nd, 2009

Lunch with Lee Felsenstein



Lee Felsenstein and his wife Lena.

Meet them last year in Bay Area via Nick Palevsky. They are in Sydney to give a talk on OLPC and I am here for ICANN.

May 31st, 2009

Fixing North Korea Mess

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Asia politic is something close to me that I followed quite closely although not something I often blog about.

Yesterday, I tweet: *doh* When would US clueless hardliner learn how to deal with #China? RT @CNBCtopStories: Knocking Down the China Myth http://bit.ly/bda3m.

I am not surprised that Tony Fratto, ex-Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Press Secretary for the Bush Administration would take a hardliner view on China. He is absolutely right that China did not buy US debt out of altruism and it is in China self interest to continue to do so.

For those interested, one should read the excellent article by Paul Krugman China Dollar Trap.

But what he is wrong is the attitude with the assumption that US is in the position of strength in the negotiation. Squandered by the 8 years of Bush administration, in global goodwill as well as economy strength, US has to come to terms with the new reality.

Still, people in Washington continue to believe that US has the power to command or the very least, to bend China to her will, as we witness in the latest saga with the North Korea.

Washington’s think tanks are concerned with North Korea’s nuclear missile test, as Defense Secretary Robert Gates “raised the idea of a tougher approach toward North Korea’s recent nuclear test … including the prospect of building up United States military forces in the region should six-nation diplomatic talks with North Korea fail” (JS: ST reported Gates does not plan to build up American troops in the region…Hmm…)

At the same time, they are appealing publicly (and privately) that China should do more in the saga, and it is not in the interest for China and US and China must stand up to North Korea togther.

Promfret got it absolutely right that when he say “First, there’s a silly assumption in Washington that our interests (no nukes in North Korea) are the same as China’s. But they’re not. China’s first interest in North Korea is making sure the Kim regime doesn’t collapse. China’s second interest? Making sure the Kim regime doesn’t collapse. From Beijing’s perspective, nukes in North Korea rank somewhere around 10th.”

Asian mentality on society values stability above anything else. I quote Kishore Mahbubani “An imperfect government that commits some human rights violations is better then no government, in many societies”.

China emphasis of Harmonious society is a broader reflection of that philosophy. Western interpret that as working towards a better society of equality, freedom and prosperity. Chinese understood it as tolerance for imperfection in society and when inequality occurs, look at the cup half-filled not half-empty.

North Korea having nukes? Okay, bad idea but chances that North Korea will unleash it in China is next to zero. A unstable North Korea is far more dangerous to China. A known devil is better than an unknown friend.

So Washington’s think tank who really think China will do anything to step into the affair right now is just dreaming in their ivory tower. And as I noted early, US is no longer in the position of strength to bend China to its will.

China needs US as much as US needs China, economically. One is a producer, one is a buyer. One is a lender, and the other is a debtor. The two economy is tightly coupled and therefore, one yield to the other not because of differences in power but in the mutual interest of both party.

US may have greater military power over China as a whole. But with a war in middle east, and a mess-up economy, China know US cannot sustain a (cold) war in the Far East. US “threats” of greater US military presence is at best laughable.

Japan, who is traditionally US ally in this region, is also mindful of China rising power is also evaluating their position. Japan is honestly concerned over North Korea but unfortunately has little clot in the matter beyond making motherhood statements.

It is left to South Korea who feel the immediate threat to flex its military muscle with US support. North Korea immediately responded that South is nearly an act of war.

Perhaps that’s what Washington has in mind all along. Not exactly what I like to see but perhaps that’s what it takes to bring China to do something.

* Also read the excellent article by Eric Anderson.

May 30th, 2009

The never ending Aware saga


Ever since the EGM of Aware voted out the ex-new Exco early this month, the same conservative groups have being eager to point fingers at people whom they thought were responsible for them being voted out.

First, they complaint that TheOnlineCitizen and similar sites coverage was biased to the extend of being anti-Christian. Then they go after Siew Kum Hong blaming him being impartial, pro-gay and worst, hinting he is corrupted. Siew has to take action to stop the nonsense. The latest is going after Straits Times claiming they are biased in their coverage.

What is truly sad is in all these, they have not sit down and reflect what did they go wrong.

Instead, its ST fault for uncovering the story in the first place (don’t they get a hint when we didn’t respond to any of their interview!?). If not, no one would know we taken over Aware and everything would be fine. Its TOC fault for extensive coverage and gathering voters to the EGM to vote us out, using anti-christian sentiment. Its Siew fault interfere with the EGM, or else we would have legal backing to hold on even we lose the vote of no confidence.

If you are doing something that cannot be said in open, it is good idea to evaluate what you are doing. If what you are doing angers people enough to spend 2 hours to queue up and 8 hours to vote you out, then its good idea to think over what you have done wrong. Christians are embarrassed by the saga not because of the coverage of ST or TOC but by the action of a few extreme fundamentalists.

Conservatives are free to believe in what they believe in and lead the life they choose. But they have no rights to impose that ideology to the rest of us.

I share the same sentiment as A. Prof Koo and I quote “Intolerance, not the economic crisis, poses the biggest threat to Singapore.”

Singapore recovery depends on everyone in Singapore working together, regardless of race, language or religion, regardless where a native Singaporean, PR or foreigner. Everyone is in a little boat called Singapore. Differences in opinions are okay but at some stage, one should say “We agree to disagree” and move on.

May 30th, 2009

Bus 44


Bus 44

May 26th, 2009

Netease setup office next to The9


Most people would have know by now that The9 lost the World of Warcraft China franchise to NetEase.

Last week, I found out we have a new neighbor in Zhangjiang, two story below us. We are located in the building behind The9.

There is this big sign board outside the building by NetEase recruiting people with experiences with World of Warcraft, strategically place so that staff from The9 can see it across the window :-)

May 4th, 2009

a deaf tries to play violin…


One of the hottest vids going around in China right now.

May 3rd, 2009

Pro-Family is not Pro-Feminism


I am happy that the saga with Aware so far (it is too early to say it has ended). My wife and me watch the whole episode with great interest, although our position on various issues are different. She is pro-family and I am pro-choice but we are both against the ex-new Exco of Aware.

Whether it is bad PR or lack of experience or bias of the media, the following remains:

1. They were telling half-truth in an NGO, an environment that requires and values transparency. In some cases, they either out-right lie or they changed their position often. The appearance of the puppet master, a feminist mentor, and the church (please don’t give me the BS that COOS is not involved) behind all these is the last straw for us.

2. (1) is not about whether they are christian or their views of homosexuality, which I disagreed but my wife agreed. As I said, she is pro-family – but at least she don’t see people who disagreed with pro-family as anti-family.

3. Their action so far in Aware speaks volume of their modules of operation: shutting down all sub-committee, firing long-time staff members, changing locks, security cameras, and uncontrolled spending of reserves.

This is not how you takeover a society. This is not even the way you handle a hostile takeover of a company. NGO is a totally different beast, and far more political and sensitive for you to run it as if you own it.

4. If there is one thing the ex-new Exco would be disqualified to run Aware, it is their value of Pro-Family they wear with pride. Aware is not just about helping woman to be successful (and by that count, the ex-new Exco is fully qualified) but build upon Suffrage movement.

Pro-Family oppose abortion. Pro-Feminism, on their first agenda list is reproductive rights, including abortions. Pro-Family and Pro-Feminism have a lot of things that don’t see eye to eye.

Don’t get me wrong: There is nothing wrong with Pro-Family values, although it is not one I subscribe to, but there are decent people (like my wife) who believes in it. But that value has no place in Pro-Feminism group.

April 10th, 2009

Think Funeral. Think Marriage. Think Family.


via mrbrown

April 7th, 2009

Empires are not build by one man


When we read about successful people, we often read about how capable he is in certain field of specialty.

Warren Buffet, the Oracle of Omaha, world’s greatest stock market investor.
Bill Gates, Billionaire Computer Genius, world’s richest man.

We tend to overemphasis on the man and overlooked the fact that successful men are successful because they are surrounded by a team of talented people.

Warren have Charlie Munger. Bill have Steve Ballmer.
Liu Bei have Zhang Fei, Guan Yu and Zhao Yun.
Sun Quan have Zhou Yu, Zhang Zhao, Zhang Hong, Cheng Pu.

Empires are not build by one man. 江山不是一个人打出来的。

As a leader, people skill, of recruiting and retaining talents, is far more important capability than his own capability.

March 28th, 2009

Hiring after layoffs


So there was this news that Google is still hiring after layoffs, which I normally won’t consider a “news”. I don’t find it unusual; any company would have fat is some portion but always desperately looking for talents in others, layoff or otherwise.

But speaking to one of the staff recently, I just realized how bad it could be for the moral of the company, esp the company is small in a close-nit group. He reminded me that it is sending a very wrong signal when his friends are being let off and a new one is joining at the same time. Worst, a good talented new staff may end up being ostrichized by the rest of the company, even though no fault of his.

One of the few things that makes managing a Chinese company quite different; “Relationship” is stronger than anywhere other company I used to work in.