I’m from sunny Singapore, but pretty much everyone across the globe has been hanging on to news of the U.S. presidential elections. Now the dust has settled and the Republicans have a hold of the House, Senate and the Oval Office, it’s time to think about how populism has defined the politics of today and whether the world is going to survive.



Brexit, Trump and the Problems with Democracy

These three tweets just about sum it up.


Hong Kong Government Cancels Talks With Student Protesters

My parents have expressed their ambivalence about the protests, and it’s here that I’ve noticed the generation gap more acutely than ever before. The reports about people being unable to return to work has incited some measure of annoyance from my parents, who think that the protests have gone too far. They think it needs to be scaled back, and they need to accept the terms put on the table by Beijing.

But as a student myself, I believe that if the protests are small, they’ll be too weak to force Beijing’s hand. And how can you possibly stage a large-scale protest without affecting commerce and business? And isn’t that a good thing? If all these services are affected, that’ll draw even more attention to the situation, which may accelerate change. Furthermore, the protests are necessary if there is going to be change; you can’t just snap your fingers and hope that the Chinese government will eventually grant Hong Kong some measure of democracy. Not when Xi Jinping is in change and strengthening his grasp on power.

Beijing clearly loathes to lose Hong Kong to democracy, but the students are not stupid, and won’t stand for a facsimile of democracy. Will the students just give up? I doubt it, not at the rate things are going. Will Beijing relent? Nope, doesn’t seem likely either. Is another Tiananmen Square incident about to erupt? I really, really hope not. But that looks increasingly likely to my eyes as Xi’s new government has not been shy in using force in other areas of China, including earlier during this set of protests.

Will another Tiananmen be any good? The students will be hurt physically for sure. Mainland Chinese might not be fully aware of the extent that the crackdown has hurt people. China will regain control over Hong Kong. But the world will see, and I wonder if China can afford that. On the flipside though, can the world afford to criticise and condemn China? Can we do anything from the outside to force China’s hand? Sanctions will hurt everyone, and I’m not sure they will do anything in the long run either.

The political fallout for these protests is something far beyond what I can predict. But I can say for sure: my parents aren’t correct. Diplomacy is not going to work with this Chinese government. Tibet and Xinjiang’s routine protests and violence have always been crushed ruthlessly, but they were too remote to be reported on extensively. But Hong Kong is different. It’s high time for China to change.


The Hong Kong government on Thursday night cancelled talks with student protest leaders, saying that the students’ refusal to accept anything less than free and open elections was “against public interests and political ethics.”

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam, who was due to meet with leaders of the Hong Kong Student Federation on Friday, said at a press conference that student protest leaders had violated the terms of talks in insisting on tabling Beijing’s electoral stipulations. Those call for the vetting, by a pro-Beijing committee, of all candidates for Hong Kong’s top job in the next elections in 2017.

“Unfortunately, the protesters rejected the rational proposal and went back to their old position,” said Lam. “This is sacrificing public good for their political demands.”

The students and other pro-democracy groups want the Chief Executive, as the head of government is called, to be directly elected from a pool of candidates nominated…

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Mozilla’s Culture War Is a Bad Model for Business

Well, I’m supportive of LGBT rights, but it does seem a tad ridiculous at 2nd glance for Mozilla to fire their CEO over his views on marriage. Democracy means more than just rights for everyone. It also means acceptance of other points of view. What we need for is for people to understand each other’s stance on issues, and agree to disagree. Not to remove people from jobs just because they don’t see the world the way you do. That’s tyranny.


Last week’s forced resignation of Mozilla CEO Brandon Eich should have sent a shudder through gatherings all over the country. This shudder was felt, it’s true, in gatherings of evangelical churches, Roman Catholic parishes, Orthodox Jewish synagogues. But this shudder should also have gone through corporate boardrooms, because it signals a dangerous trend of forced political uniformity, rather than tolerance, in corporate America. That’s not good for anyone, on any side of the culture war.

At issue, of course, is Brandon Eich’s 2008 donation of $1,000 to a campaign in support of Proposition 8, a California ballot measure to retain the definition of marriage in that state to the union of one man and one woman. Eich was hounded out of his job by activists who didn’t simply disagree with Eich’s view but who wouldn’t tolerate any dissenting view in the company at all. The goal, it seems, wasn’t dignity…

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