Thursday, March 16, 2006

Netherlands, here we come

Topless ChickThe Netherlands is now screening potential immigrants with pictures of homosexual men kissing and topless female bathing (See Today, 14 March 2006, page 14). With the runnaway success of Brokeback Mountain (and the many copy-cat pictures that typically follow a proven formula in the months to come), as well as the ever popular bare-breasted female form, I'd expect to see a bee-line, especially men, for Dutch citizenship!

Ironically the Dutch are adopting this strategy to try to keep people out of their country. You'd wonder what warped sense of logic this is, until you also read that scenes of crime-ridden ghettos are shown along with these titilating video scenes. Dutch Immigration authorities hope that this will evoke horrors and extreme discomfort and thereby discourage would-be immigrants. Usually, nations want to project a rosy image of their country, the attractions and its pleasant people to demonstrate the beauty and successes of their country. Here, the Dutch are doing the opposite. I say again, what a warp sense of logic.

Of course, there are those who speculate that the Dutch wants to keep out purantical people, especially extremist Muslims, from their country. I think they have learnt a lesson from their neighbours, the Danes, about people who would break windows and demonstrate on the streets just because of a couple of cartoons in the newspapers. Well, this is certainly a novel solution, though I don't know if it will lead to another round of demonstrations or stampede for the doors to the country!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Polarising Positions

A Debate is defined as
A formal, public political discussion involving two or more candidates for office. In a debate, candidates state and defend their positions on major issues.

DebateThe political situation in Thailand continues unabated, with the opposition forces that are arrayed against Thaksin's government adamant that nothing but a public debate will do to resolve the situation. A debate will not resolve anything. If nothing, it will serve to polarise the parties even further in this political quarrel and make the situation even worse than today. So it is disingenuos for the opposition to insist that a public debate will resolve the situation. The opposition hopes to push Thaksin to the edge of the cliff and thereby score points, if not effect an coup. Clearly, they are not prepared to meet Thaksin halfway and negotiate a settlement to their differences. They just want to win at all costs.

Of course, they don't trust Thaksin in a closed-door negotiation, which is what Thaksin offers, but I suggest that that is the only peaceful way forward. If they think that Thaksin will 'do them in' in close-door pow-wows, then they lack confidence in themselves and in the validity of their positions. Lest readers of this blog think that I am pro-Thaksin, let me clarify that I am for the rule of law. That rule of law says that any political legitimacy can only be obtained through the ballot box. Any injustice can only be righted through the court of law. Circumventing these internationally accepted norms is to invite ridicule from the international community.

There is a Chinese saying, jia chou bu ke wai yang, meaning, settle your family's differences internally or behind closed doors. Thailand should do that today.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Nuclear Terrorists

Atom Bomb CasingI think terrorists today, with their penchant for making and exploding bombs, would love it if they have an atom bomb in their hands. It'll be equivalent to seventh heaven for them - the ultimate possession of ultimate power to wipe out the mother of all infidels that walk the earth. If they can blow up such as bomb in the White House, a la Independence Day style, no less, it will certainly promote them to the highest seats in heaven. Immortality of the highest order awaits them, and their names will perpetuate forever. I do not doubt that this course - Martyrdom 101, is being taught somewhere in the world today, and that Iran presents the best opportunity now to getting their hands on an actual atomic bomb.

What does Iran wants with nuclear energy anyway? Nuclear energy presents a lot of problems in the long run, least of which is the disposal of spent nuclear fuel. It also poses a danger to the people and the environment. It wouldn't be pleasant if there is a nuclear meltdown, to put it mildly. Look at Chernobyl. On the other hand, Iran is blessed with the world's 2nd largest proven reserves of oil under its soil today.

So what's the rationale? Has Iran got too much money in the bank? It doesn't know how else to deploy its brilliant scientists and engineers? Then why doesn't Iran do some good by donating some of it to poverty stricken parts of the world where people, especially children, are dying of poverty, hunger and disease, where people suffer from natural disasters? Why doesn't its brilliant people spend time researching and finding cures for diseases that plague the planet? Don't tell me that only 'westerners' are capable of charity?

Iran has stated openly that it wants to destroy Israel. So far, all conventional forces thrown at Israel by the Arab countries have been rebuffed successfully by Israel. It doesn't take a person with a PhD to figure how a nuclear bomb can advance an age-old ambition - the destruction of the State of Israel - an aim which has been publicly stated by the President of Iran.