Change in Asia might start with a woman

The Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, gave her first speech before an international audience on march 30th, after emerging from 24 years of isolation for being a political prisoner. Suu Kyi gave her speech in Bankok, raising attention to Myanmar’s many needs after the big reform process that happened in the country, ending the former military regime and holding

elections in 2010. The nobel peace prize winner decided to go on an international tour after being elected to Parliament in april this year. The international tour started this week as a mission to discuss how the world can help Myanmar. Aung San Suu Kyi

“Besides everything i’ve always felt free inside”- states Aung soon after being released: she believes it is important that there shall be no vengeance nor anger associated with what has happened to her but the situation should definitely not be overlooked: all she wants to do now is focus on her goals. The overall aim is improving the citizens of Myanmar’s future through efforts and changes, among them the enrollment of the people in the daily politics of the country and a further encouraging enrollment in the country’s military. She states that its quite obvious what the people want: they want better lives based on freedom and security (financial security as well as personal security). At the moment security is used as an excuse for depriving the people from the basic freedoms they should be entitled to. Peace and prosperity of the country should be achieved via a non violent

revolution, ‘revolution’ in the sense of a radical change, or a noticeable change. A change for the better.

Perhaps the most stunning proof that this woman has the power to change the situation not only in her country but in a good part of Asia, comes from the President of Burma, Thein Sein: invited to the World Economic meeting in Bangkok, eventually postponed his trip for a few days, only days after knowing that his opposition leader had been invited to the conference as well. Many say he did so to avoid sharing the international stage and being obscured by the Aung San Suu Kyi, as happened in the recent elections in which the NLD won 43 of the 45 seats available, outperforming the government party.

 

The protection and the fight for human rights, equality and development in those countries which are in the tail of development, continues to be a fight against politic and economic interests and power. There is much to be done by very few people who dare to swim against the river’s flow. This case of Aung San Suu Kyi is not but an example of how slowly changes are made and how costly

they are. However, this woman is also an example of that those changes are already becoming a reality in southeast Asia, since the development of a country depends on the developing leaders like Aung San Suu Kyi.

No Fly Zone

Beijing Public Toilets According to a recent disposition coming from the Image Office of Beijing, public washrooms in the chinese capital cannot contain more than two flies in their interior. The reason, explains Xie Guomin, is that “they can be seen, they bother and can transmit illnesses”.  The fist critics have already been rising, tough, especially thorough social networks and media: while hygiene in the toilets might be improving, the workers that are responsible of repairing and cleansing, make the most despicable job for a minimum wage and all along exposed to gas pollution.

The new standards issued by the Beijing Municipal Commission of City Administration and Environment,  are an attempt to set new standards for public toilets in China, such as odor and cleaning litter bins. The new standards also cover training for attendants on cleaning and on how to properly use the equipment. The rules are to be applied mainly in toilets located in tourists spots such as parks, railway stations, hospitals and shopping malls. To help the tourists, the regulation also requires every toilet to have signs in both Chinese and English installed.

However, what many say is that China should put its efforts and investments on educating the public on how to use the public toilets rather than put it on improving those toilets.

Nevertheless, these new standards have been a doubted and thought to be ‘ridiculous’ in terms of the enforcement of the guidelines. Xie Guomin, the official in charge of the new iniciative, responded to these critics the following: “We will not actually count fly numbers. The regulation is specific and quantified, but the inspection methodology will be flexible”. Above all, again, the overall aim to achieve by these implementations is to educate the public on proper use of restrooms.

More critiques have also been forwarded concerning the new health reforms in general: employees and citizens complain that there are bigger issues that “a couple of flies in a washroom”. Among those issues some can be named like the employees’ underpayment, or the worrying low-hygiene conditions they have to work in.

Weibo (the chinese version of Twitter) has been pullulating lately with the indignation of beijing citizens, that rise in defense of the operators of the hygiene department, whose health and pay conditions are in a concerning situation.

In addition, the World Health Organization estimates that 10.000 chinese have no access to toilets. A 2010 report estimated that 45 percent lacked access to improved toilet facilities.  For citizens with this shocking lack of basic sanitary facilities, there are many problems – obvious ones being exposure to diseases. Contrastingly, Chinas overall sanitation has improved drastically in the past 20 years, and continuous to improve.  Further, even though for westerners such conditions of public toilets in Beijing seem worrying and unacceptable for basic health issues, chinese employees have compared this to the labour of farming, and even though it seems to be a disheartening daily job for them they believe it is necessity in order to obtain a stable income.

This can be considered an analogy of the changes that are taking place in modern China due to the unavoidable international pressure towards the bad image that often reaches the western world’s shores hidden beyond the economic growth, an image lacking of respect towards the environment, human rights and the welfare state. Or is this just a new custom in which the real China pretends to disguise itself to sell a better image to the international media? Is it possible for a government like the Chinese to adapt itself to the western values and life styles? In any case, its undeniable truth that the pressure is having some effects on the Asian country, which is a sign of future change.

Interview to Dave Yan Yu

Dave Yan Yu is from Jinjiang City, a country level city of Quanzhou City, Fujian, in the People’s Republic of China. Dave is a foreign trade salesman that is responsible for contacting, finding business opportunities and making business with foreign countries and foreign companies around the world.

I have chosen to interview Dave because he used to make business with my uncle that lives in Brazil, selling and exporting mainly machinery and equipments for large scale production for factories. He has always lived in China, so I thought it would be very interesting to interview someone that has a deep understanding of this country and that has contact with many countries around the globe.

Can you talk a little bit about the city you live in?

I’m from Jinjiang City. It’s a big city, but not as big as other cities in China. There are a little over a million people living here in Jinjiang. The city is known as the shoes capital of China because we have many factories that operate here, especially in the clothing and shoes industry.

Could you briefly talk about the culture in your country?

It is a little hard to talk about our culture, that are so many aspects and things that I can say and tell you about. I think that is because our culture is broad and profound, and very different from the western culture. I could start talking about the religion, that is very distint but I’m not a very religious man myself. There’s also the politics in our country, which I think it must be very different from yours. What I want to say too is that it seems to be very hard for people to understand the Chinese essence.

And why do you think that is hard for people to understand the chinese essence? 

Because we are very different from the rest of the world, mostly in cultural aspects. And now that China is growing and the world is starting to pay more attention to us, they are starting to see these big differences and sometimes people seem not to accept that very well, and I think that is starting to have some effect on our society.

What kind of effects?

I think that China pays too much attention to the development of economy and ignores the culture protection and action. In my opinion, China should have some changes to improve the morals in all the society. That means China should develop  its excellent tranditional culture. But in someway, I think that the government hasn’t been doing their best on this aspect.

What do you work with in your country?

I am the foreign trade salesman in my country, I sell mainly machinery for large-scale production for factories and companies. It’s machinery to produce shoes, clothes and many other things. What I think is very interesting in my job is that I can get in touch and know many different people from different places and countries.

Would ever consider living in a country different from China?

Yes, I would like to live in another country and open up a business, I think that are many countries out there that offer good opportunities for business, like Brazil for example. But I think that in the end, China is my first choice, I like it here and I know I’m not leaving here soon.

You mentioned before that the politics in your country is different. How’s the politics in China?

The politics work well here. However, some officials can not serve for people well. President Hu does a great job in my opinion, even yesterday, today and tomorrow. You know, China is so big and so hard to manage, control. Now he is doing  good.We trust him a lot here.

What can you tell me about the current economic situation in China?

 The economy of China is good right now, we’re growing a lot, there’s a lot of investments happening here right now. However, I don’t think that the money that is coming in because of our economic growth is being equally distributed among everyone. It seems that the rich become richer, while the poor, poorer. So I can say that there is  a bit of a ressentiment, and it becomes worse and worse everyday.

What do you know about the current crisis in Spain and in Europe?

Honestly, I don’t know very much about the current crisis in Span and Europe. All I know is that they are having some trouble with the economy and there are lots of strikes happening and people are losing their jobs and can’t find new ones, and they are not happy about it.

Dave did not want take a picture for the interview.

By Gabriela Montenegro Siqueira de Matos Luis

Interview

 

 

ME: Hello Wei, how have you been?

 

WEI: I’m good how are you? We don’t talk in forever, I miss you

 

ME: I miss you to my brother, so let’s starts with the interview?

 

WEI: Yes sure

 

ME: First introduce yourself, What’s your name? Where are you from? How old are you?

 

WEI: My name in Ching Wei Chang, I’m fromTaiwanand I’m nineteen years old.

 

ME: Awesome! Can you give us a little facts aboutTaiwan? Like the main informations that we would like to know?

 

 

WEI: Well the capital ofTaiwanisTaipei, it is the economical and cultural centre of the country, New Taipei is the most populous city. The official language ofTaiwanis mandarin but Taiwanese Hokkien is the language spoken by the majority.

 

ME: Which is the religion ofTaiwan?

 

WEI: The most popular religion inTaiwanis Buddhism, we also have Taoism, Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, and Bahaism.

 

ME: What is the most popular sport inTaiwan?

 

WEI: The national sport of Taiwanis baseball. It is also the most popular sport. Basketball is the second-most popular sport, we also have Taekwondo ,a martial art widely practiced in Taiwan.

 

 

ME: So right now you are studying in the u.s right? Why the U.S? is it important to have this experience inTaiwanof going to another country to study?

 

WEI: Yes it is really important, learning another language, another culture and experiences new things are great toTaiwanbusiness, it will be easier to find a job in the future.

 

ME: Cool, what about the military obligation in your country, what did you do about it?

 

WEI:Well they are really restrict in this area, if you don’t show up to the military training, you will probably end up in jail. I had to ask my school supervisor to send an email toTaiwantelling that I was a student in the U.S and I would not be able to participate in the military program.

 

ME: Interresanting, now about the food, how’s the food inTaiwan? How does it compare with the U.S food? Which one do you like the most?

 

WEI: InTaiwanthe food isn’t so weird as they are in china, we basically eat noodles and rice everyday, like you eat rice and beans in brasil huh?. American food doesn’t look liketaiwan’s food at all, they want to make the ‘cooking’ simple while inTaiwanthere are always little rituals to follow in the meal time.

 

ME: How is the weather? I heard that it’s always hot!

 

WEI: Yes you are right, the average temperature is 25’ C , 77’ F. It’s always warm even in the winter.

 

ME: How about the government, isTaiwana democracy?

 

WEI: YesTaiwanis a democracy.

 

ME: Is the public transportation efficient? How does it work?

 

WEI: Yes the public transportation of Taiwan is one of the best that I have ever seen, you can get everywhere, most of the people in Taiwan don’t have a car, not because they can’t afford it, but because the public transportation can take you whatever you want, leaving the car as a 2 option.

 

ME: Tell me alittle bit about the technology ofTaiwan, is it a country like japan? Or doesn’t have so many techs?

 

WEI: We are pretty much japan in the aspect, we have internet Wireless in everywhere, once I was lost in a little town in the middle of nowhere and I had just my cellphone with me, you probably would think that the wireless would never connect in this area, but it connected, even me got surprised where they had put Wireless rsrs.

 

ME: When we think aboutAsia, we think about little houses where a lot of people lives together in a crowd. Is it like that inTaiwan?

 

WEI: No, houses like that just in a few areas that are still being constructed by the government. The main majority are apartaments and really tall buildings, we have the second tallest building in the world, it is named asTaipei101.Everything is big,Taiwanseens to be very small, but once inside of it you start to repair that everything is so distant and big, it looks like U.S, everything is huge!

 

ME: I think we have done! It was nice to talk to you! I hope we can see each other soon. Thank you for your time Wei!

 

WEI: Welcome my brother! Really nice talking to you, let’s do it again another time! Have a nice year inSpain! Miss you

 

Thank you Wei! Miss you too.

Starting A Business From Scratch: Xiaos Story

I interviewed a woman from China who lives in the same area as me here in Madrid. She has a beautiful house and has invited my family many times to have dinner with them. However, during the interview she was very careful with what personal information she talked about nor wanted to give names (only her own, Xiao), including the name of the company she owns. 

Nevertheless, it was a very interesting convestation/interview about her story which i am thrilled to be able to share.. 

To sum up, the main points throughout this interview are:

  • importance of knowing what is important.  Keep your eyes on the target.
  • The economical crisis is tough but not permanent.
  • There will always be people supporting immigration, and people against immigration. 
  • adaption should be made easy by oneself and learn to tackle difficulties as they come.

Her background is of woman who came to Europe with barely any money, one bagpack and an address written down on a piece of paper to where she would only be staying for a few days and had no clear plans of what would happen in the future. “I came here to work and save money, if things didn’t go well id return to China, i wanted to see what would happen”.

Coming from a small village near Shanghai, and now after living 15 years in Madrid Xiao now has an important importing business here in Madrid. I asked her why she decided to come to Europe in the first place and what was her aim or objectives in the time she would spend here.  She answered that her main goal was to save money, “i started working at any job that i could find to save money, i didn’t spend any money, just the necessities food and a bed”.

She described to me the main reasons why she decided to leave home, to a complete different language, different culture and so far away from home, she described the conditions of China at the time of her departure.. “economy in china was very bad, much better life in europe”, and why spain? “the weather, the people healthy food, in china there is too much contamination. But chinese people are everywhere nowadays.”

After ‘saving money’ and working very hard, she managed to start a small business, importing small chinese  items, the price difference was relatively high “there very cheap, here more expensive” so it was a fast way of earning money fast.  In china, hand made items aren’t as valued as in the west.  Little by little, more items where imported from china to Madrid, Spain.

In addition, she explained that chinese people are like a big family when out of their home country, and all understand the difficulties and are willing to help each other. For example, “anyone will lend you money, one day you can ask a friend and the next day another, and so on.. and little by little with the money saved its very easy to build your on company”  However, this nowadays has changed since 15 years ago. Nowadays, there is much more competition, prices are higher, hand made objects price has gone up. There is sometime problems in the customs at the airport, price is very high. She told me about ‘antidumping’ penalty, intended to equal the difference between the importing countries price of the goods and the market value in the exporting country.

The biggest difficulty, according to Xiao, is language. In general she desribes the period of adaptation as easy process, except for the language. Even though this is now becoming less and less of an issue as the importance of language is being indented in minds of young students.  In addition, language can become a problem, in terms of law, they cannot understand well the law in spain and this requires the need for a chinese lawer and chinese assessor.

Moving on, i asked her to describe or compare differences between China and Spain when starting a business. Starting a business from scratch is now as difficult in China as it is in Spain, there is no longer the problem of low economy in China as much as it was before “it depends where in China you come from, the west tends to be poorer, whereas places on the coast are richer.”  This means that people with less money and less opportunities in there home country will be more willing to move to countries in the west, whilst people living in the coast who live more comfortable, with a reasonable salary, will be happier to stay in their current situation and allocation.

Nevertherless, again as times have changed and competition is higher, the smaller business that try to grow, like Xiaos managed to do, nowadays they usually close, give up or simply have no chance whatsoever to improve and grow. Xiao has noticed this change in the economy and described it as a hard time having to make many trimming in the staff and products. “its funny because when the economical crisis started in 2008-09 and spaniards said that the chinese where the only ones who didn’t notice the crisis… this was true but since last year (2011) the economical crisis is very noticeable! What i am sure of, the economical crisis isn’t permanent.”

What xiao was certain about is that she will never return to live in China but she will always return to visit her family and friends.  I think most people would agree with her when she says that her children who are practically 100% spanish, in the way they talk, the way they think and most of their culture litres in the liquid of their persona.

 Xiao wanted to end by saying that she definitely encourages people to start business in China. With patience, hard work, and saving money, starting a business in a foreign country without speaking the language, is definitely possible. A life lesson that with hard work, belief and patience we can do anything we set our mind to. No matter how many times this is said or heard it is never less inspiring for anyone who has a goal to achieve.
By Violeta Hernandez

Australia: a hotspot for drug trafficking

In the last couple of months Australia has seen more than one of its citizens convicted for drug trafficking. But the situation has become even more critical: the convictions will most likely turn into death penalties.

According to ACC (Australian Crime Commission) the number of illicit drug arrests in the country was the highest in the last decade, especially those related to cocaine. Always according to ACC data, cocaine production, together with other unknown drugs, as increased by 225 per cent and 331 per cent respectively.

The two most critical situations are those of Edward Myatt and Dominic Jude Christopher Bird.

Edward Myatt

The Edward Myatt situation took place in February: he got caught trying to import a large quantity of drugs into Bali, Indonesia. Arrested with 1.1kg of hashish and four grams of methamphetamines he is now facing three charges, including trafficking and two counts of possession. The 54-year-old showed no emotion and said little even when the court decided he could be sentenced to death if convicted on the drug-trafficking charge. Nevertheless, Edward, will be receiving some help from the law, since being a drug addict in Indonesia can lead to a lighter sentence. Mr Atmaja, Bali’s chief prosecutor, added that he was yet to form an opinion about the case, but said that the evidence against Myatt was overwhelming: the trial will be continued next Thursday, the 22nd .

The Dominic Jude Christopher Bird situation took place only one month after: the West Australian from Perth was arrested on March 1 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia confirmed that the 32 year old man was arrested for allegedly selling methamphetamines, but he was yet to be charged.

The man was caught during a raid on a coffee house just outside Kuala Lumpur’s central business district. In Malaysia, possession of more than 50g of methamphetamine is considered drug trafficking, which is punishable by death, and the australian from Perth was caught with 225g of the drug, and is now facing the death penalty.

According to the Australian Crime Commission licit drug data report, (IDDR), in 2009-10, the Australian market is a “lucrative one” for most organized crime groups. It is a problem needed to be solved through practical methods in order to be better anticipated, investigated and prevented. To steer away illegal drugs from the market, it is fundamental to understand how the drug economy operates, including all aspects: variables of product, pricing, promotion and methods of distribution – also, how these contribute, or are involved in, the effects of technology, competition and the social/cultural environment. Patterns, common trends or similar elements in these investigations will provide an important evidence base to assist decision-makers in the development of strategies to combat such a threat.

Moreover, in this report, the IDDR mentions cannabis, heroin, cocaine and other more recent drugs. Cannabis continues to be the predominant illicit drug purchased in Australia in the last decade, with 44 736 seizures nationally in 2009-10. Cocaine is also on the highest record to cause national arrests. The number of national illicit drug arrests is the highest reported in the last decade with more than 85 000 people arrested for illicit drug offences. The increase of the variety, number and speed of evolving analogue markets presents unique challenges for decision makers and law enforcement agencies.

It is crucial, according to John Lawler APM Chief Executive Officer Australian Crime Commission, for vigilance to continue and be a key to solving the problem of law enforcement action, as well as, strengthening knowledge of organized crime involvement in the illicit drug market.

The problem is out there, and illicit drugs traffic is not something that can be just wiped out from human natural societies, but these two examples are the living proof of an each time more effective system, which becomes capable of managing the detection and suppression of any kind of activity against the law. However, this is not but a fraction of the failures to comply with the laws in developed countries, so there is much to be done yet, especially in those countries where legal borders are more easily crossed, which are the countries that luck of a solid politic, economic and social structure.

From Italy to Thailand: a fascinating and mysterious country

– Interview to Lorenzo De Cicco

By Maddalena Zocca

Lorenzo De Cicco is a middle-aged italian entrepreneur: he has travelled much during his life because his work allows him to do so. During the winter of 2002 his travels brought him to Thailand, who’s fascinating features stuck him right away: the climate, the people’s sociality and availability and most of all the easiness with which one could open a business.

Lorenzo De Cicco

Eventually, in 2007 he managed to managed to start his own small business in Chonburi, about 160 km from Bangkok: he opened a karaoke, a sort of disco-bar really popular there, which he called Karaoke 101.

The peculiarity of this karaoke is that its costumers are strictly thai, no strangers, nor tourists. Only locals.

This surprised me, seen the aforementioned description of Thai citizens like open, friendly and available. When I asked Lorenzo about it, he explained to me that bars and pubs, or anything related to night life and free time, are like that. There is no “mixing” up between locals and tourist, it is simply unthinkable. The only exceptions might be cinemas.

“It is not a question of race” he says, “it is a question of culture”: first of all, the average thai person does not speak fluent english, and tends to mix his own language with english. Likewise, the average tourist does not speak thai, not does e tend to stay in a specific location for more than a couple of days, so locals do not even make the effort to build up a dialogue with them, knowing that they will move on soon to go visit monuments and temples around the country. Not to mention the fact that tourists tend to travel in groups, with friends or family, forming an intimate circle that acts as a deterrent in front of the locals.

On the other hand, if they notice one person that comes back more often, then yes they will do the effort and start involving the newcomer, especially if its a small businessman or a club manager like himself.

Since he opened his karaoke, Lorenzo has been spending 5 or 6 months there every year, and the business is working well. He hasn’t managed to learn the language, tough. To my question as why he doesn’t speak thai yet, he replied: “learning thai is impossible: in over 10 years spent there I have witnessed only one european that managed to learn it.. and he was already speaking other asiatic languages”. Thai counts more or less 25 dialects, one very different from the other, so even among themselves they struggle to understand each other.

As far as the opening of the karaoke itself is concerned, seen from an european point of view, and especially an italian one where bureaucracy is a tough affair, Thailand could be considered as the paradise of private business.

Obtaining the allowance to open the club was quick and easy: Lorenzo employed a thai manager that made everything go smooth, facilitating the communication. He was responsible for the paper work during the opening process and administration, and now he is also responsible for recruiting the personnel. Unlike in Italy, he said, government and local authorities were never even been seen, and the paper work and bureaucracy were quick and efficient: it took only one week to get a work permit, and one additional week to get the paperwork for the karaoke itself.

He got the manager to do a regular rent contract and business management, trough a lawyer: it was laid dawn both in english and thai, like law requires when the signer is a foreigner.

On more thing one has to do when opening a business, Lorenzo says, is to make it known to the local police, that is responsible for controlling and supervising all the local economic activities.

Unlike Italy, and contrary to what one might think of such countries, local police forces have a particularly important role and power. While in Italy there are many such bodies, like the Polizia, Carabinieri, Guardia di Finanza, La Ronda, la Guardia Civile, and many others, in Thailand there is only one police body.

Karaoke 101.
n.102 MOO 10
Nongprue Banglamung / Chonburi
Thailand

One can avoid paying taxes if he provides the right documentation stating that his income is minimal. But if one does not pay taxes without the right “excuse”, the municipal administrators send a chart with the right import due to pay, and in that case there is no appeal, unless of course the taxation was unrealistic: in that circumstance, since the administrators side the workers, it is not in their interest to tax them excessively and the amount would be revised and corrected.

In case of contentious, one can address the police and with a “tip”, everything can be easily fixed: the documentation is casually set aside for an indeterminate time.

It is not a good system seen from our western point of view, concludes Lorenzo, but it works there, because there, it has a reason to be.

“All of Asia is for us western civilization really mysterious: there are great differences in habits and customs, even within the country itself”, says Lorenzo, and I admire him for his ability to undertake something like this in Thailand.