Tag Archives: Australasia

SECOND REPUBLICAN DEBATE

2nd rpublican debate

Senator Marco Rubio summed up current threats facing the United States during the Republican Presidential Debate on Wednesday evening.   These are not just threats to the US – the same threats are facing the entire Western world, whether you live in North America, Europe or Australasia.

“There is a lunatic in North Korea with dozens of nuclear weapons, with long-range rockets that can hit the very place where we are standing tonight; the Chinese are rapidly expanding their military and are hacking into our security systems; they are also building artificial islands in the South China Sea, the most important shipping lane in the world; a gangster in Moscow is not just threatening Europe – he’s been threatening to destroy and divide NATO; you have radical jihadists in dozens of countries across multiple continents and they even recruit Americans using social media to try to attack us here at home; and now we have this horrible deal with Iran where a radical Shia cleric with an apocalyptic vision of the future is also guaranteed to one day possess nuclear weapons and also long range rockets that can hit the United States.”

He continued to remind his audience that the most important responsibility of any president is to ensure the peace and safety of the American people, but what we have now is a president who is eviscerating the US military.   He added, that “we have a president who is more respectful to the ayatollah of Iran than to the Prime Minister of Israel.”

Senator Rubio was correct on every point.   He might have added the current invasion of Europe, which also threatens national and international security, though this has not unduly affected the United States yet.

The issues he mentioned are, of course, not the ones being discussed on television talk shows, where celebrity gossip and sensational revelations remain the staple of the day and night.   As syndicated conservative writer Mark Steyn put in a recent article:  “We will still be discussing transgendered bathrooms when the mullahs send their first nukes this way!”

I should add that a few of Wednesday night’s candidates had clearly taken an “International Relations 101” class since the last debate. That’s good, because they are going to need it, assuming one of them actually becomes an occupant of the White House.

Some final comments on CNN, the channel that hosted this debate (Fox hosted the first one).   Whereas Fox News is clearly more conservative, CNN is quite liberal, though not as liberal as MSNBC, which is avowedly liberal.   USA Today stated yesterday, the morning after the debate, that CNN had its highest ratings ever for the Republican debate – perhaps that should tell them something!

CNN may also want to vet its commentators better – a female journalist from the Chicago Sun-Times was asked to comment Thursday morning on one issue that came up in the debate: who should be on the $10 bill?   Right now, it’s Alexander Hamilton.   It is being suggested that the man who founded the US financial system should be replaced by a more recent female.  Carly Fiorina, the only woman candidate for the Republicans, felt this was an empty gesture during an Administration that has seen the numbers of women living below the poverty line increase by 3.5 million.   The journalist’s response was critical – that it makes no sense to keep a long since dead president on the currency.

For the record, Alexander Hamilton was never president.

Her comment is symbolic of a wider problem amongst journalists – ignorance of history, without which there can be no understanding of the present!

 

 

SINGAPORE LOSES ITS FOUNDING FATHER

Lee Kuan Yew

Singapore is one of the greatest success stories of the modern world.

The modern history of the country started in 1819, just under 200 years ago.  The British were looking for a strategic location to base their growing merchant and naval fleets and to thwart Dutch regional influence.

The then Lieutenant-Governor of Bencoolan in Sumatra, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, landed in Singapore after surveying neighboring islands.   A colony was soon founded with a population of only 150. Today, the population is almost 5.5 million.   Singapore’s success was based on free trade, which made it a vibrant commercial center, attracting merchants from all over Asia, the Middle East and the United States, as well as Great Britain, which dominated the globe in the nineteenth century.

The port city saw its greatest period of growth after the British opened the Suez Canal in 1869.   Control of vital sea-gates around the globe contributed to the dominance of the British Empire.   It was possible for British vessels to sail from England to Gibraltar, Malta and Cyprus in the Mediterranean, before continuing their journey through the Suez Canal and Aden, then on to points east, including Singapore.   The naval base at Singapore enabled the British to dominate the Far East and Australasia.   Singapore was a vital sea-gate, one of the arteries of empire.   Many believe this fulfilled the prophecy in Genesis 22:17 that Abraham’s descendants would “possess the gates of their enemies.”

Everything went well until the Japanese attacked the city the day after Pearl Harbor.   Once regarded as an impregnable fortress, the city surrendered on 15th March, 1942.   It remained under Japanese occupation for three-and-a-half-years.   Looking back, it was a major turning point in the decline and fall of the British Empire, perhaps the biggest single turning point.   It showed that the seemingly invincible British, a white race that ruled the greatest empire in history, could be defeated by a non-white peoples considered backward and inferior.

After the defeat of Japan, the British returned, but it was impossible to return to the pre-war order.   New political parties were formed that campaigned for independence.

In 1963, the people of Singapore voted to join the new Malaysian Federation, which the British had created six years earlier.   Only two years later, Singapore, an island of mostly Chinese immigrants, had to leave the Moslem dominated federation and go it alone.

In 1965, at the time of independence, the total Gross National Product of Singapore was only $1 billion.   Fifty years later, it’s $300 billion.   Per capita income has grown from less than $500 per year to well over $55,000, second only to Japan in East Asia.   The island state has been transformed in fifty years from a Third World outpost to a thriving city-state that belongs proudly to the First World of wealthy, affluent countries.

This achievement was the work of one man, Lee Kuan Yew, the longest serving prime minister in the world (from 1959 to 1990). Singapore’s former prime minister died at the weekend.   The man who cried when the federation broke up and Singapore had to go it alone, had a clear vision of what was needed – a free enterprise system which would become a regional financial center.   This does not mean that government was not involved.   He was mildly authoritarian, with restrictions on freedom of speech and the press.   He also oversaw massive public housing projects, which contributed to a rising standard of living for the people. The US could learn from its medical system.

He leaves behind a wealthy, efficient and honest administration – one of the modern world’s greatest success stories.   Other developing nations, struggling to survive in the contemporary world, could learn a great deal from Singapore and the man who built its modern economy.

Singapore is also symbolic of Asia’s growing might, accompanied by the decline of its former imperial master Great Britain, and the West in general.

The world has changed a great deal in the fifty years since Singapore became an independent republic.   It’s experience should give many nations pause for thought and reflection.