Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Of Singapore’s casino, Red China and freedom fighters

The world has witnessed profound change in the last few decades. Not all of it has been as momentous as the events of 9/11 or the demise of the Berlin Wall. No region of the world has been left out: the Americas, Asia, Europe and Africa are all part of the equation.
In some instances, yesterday's world has been turned onto its head. Consider the following events.

Capitalism continues to consolidate its gains in former communist nations such as Russia, China and Vietnam. In fact, Chinese and Russian capitalists are now some of the wealthiest billionaires in the world. On the contrary, the market economies of Western Europe and the United States are headed towards greater state control and influence over private enterprise.
The fate of the US Dollar, the world's reserve currency, is as susceptible to statements coming out of Beijing as to comments from policy makers in Washington. In fact, from being the global patron of free trade, accusations of protectionism are today most commonly directed against the US itself.
India's appointment as the US Deputy Sheriff for freedom and democracy in South Asia is testament to India's transformation from a Soviet bloc socialist nation to a stalwart of global capitalism. The transition has been remarkable in its swiftness.
Meanwhile, America's former 'most allied of allies,' i.e. Pakistan, is more often found in the doghouse than in the White House.
Turkey demonstrates superior macro-economic credentials to join the Euro currency union than existing member Greece. A noteworthy shift for an economy often found knocking on the doors of the International Monetary Fund for assistance.
In fact, Turkey's economic statistics may be better than other members of the Euro PIGS, i.e. Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain.
After being feted at the Reagan White House in the 1980s, Afghan leader Gulbudin Hekmatyar has gone from being a hero of freedom and democracy to one of America's most wanted persons. Like Osama Bin Laden and other members of the Afghan Mujahideen, Hekmatyar was a beneficiary of US largesse, including materiel and training, during the Afghan resistance to the 1980s Soviet occupation ('Charlie Wilson's War').

For Singaporeans, perhaps the oddest event is the opening of state sanctioned gambling dens in the Republic. Ok, let's call the vice dens 'Integrated Resorts' (IR). IR sounds better and less offensive!

But seriously, until recently few older generation Singaporeans would have believed that casinos will exist in Singapore, especially during Lee Kuan Yew's lifetime!
Today's billionaire is tomorrow's bankrupt. Tomorrow's superpower is yesterday's impoverished nation, and the cycle never stops.
Truly, there is no greater power than Life itself!

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