Sinking of the first Prince of Wales on 10 December 1941
In the intial post here I mentioned the last time the British sent the pride of their fleet, the capital ship Prince of Wales, to
see off the Asian challege to the white man demonstrate that Britain still ruled the waves. That Prince of Wales is now on the sea floor off the coast of Kuantan, Malaysia, or would be if the metal from the wreck is not being pirated as described here.
Lest anyone think that history never repeats itself, or that the British still haven’t got the hint that the world has moved on from their great power ambitions, the British now plan to do exactly the same thing with their next Prince of Wales. As described here they intend to use their new naval toy next to show the
Japanese Chinese who are the masters and who are the servants in the international order.
The new Prince of Wales is just as shiny, strategically impotent and as attractive a target as the last one. The newer ship is also much, much bigger and is unlikely to be attacked by Japan, but those who know their history will know that it was a lack of air cover that doomed the first Prince of Wales.
The more recent Prince of Wales will be protected by the new do-everything Lightning II multi-role fighters. Given the genuine fears over that plane’s development program and ultimate combat performance and how, like the Japanese, the Chinese are unlikely to be intimidated by Britsh bluster and strategic overreach, I can’t imagine what could possibly go wrong this time either…
Thanks to the work of the good folk at TechInAsia, particularly Kathrinna Rakhmavika, the great graphic found here and reproduced above illustrates the cost of data across the region.
There is a lot in that data. Some points I’d make is that I was unaware some of these countries had a minimum wage, and certainly if they do the enforcement mechanisms by the state would be, at best, extremely inconsistent and insipid. In this context the minimum wage reference, unless it was a vague allusion to the market minimum wage, is somewhat meaningless.
Then there is the number of hours worked to achieve payment equivalent to 1gb of data at local prices. This is provided as the number of hours of work at the (somewhat meaningless) measure of the minimum wage, but alternatively providing this as the required number of hours at the mean national wage (the average wage) or the number of hours for the nation’s modal wage (the wage received by the highest number of workers) may give very different answers.
There is also the issue that covering only income received from wages excludes those who receive their income from capital (and retirees and children). The data also avoids the cost of entry to accessing that data, eg the price of hardware and initial access costs.
My point is that at first glance this is, or was, an interesting graphic, but on closer scrutiny the numbers presented begin to look very shaky indeed on the story they are telling.
Note: As a supplementary comment on this post, the price of an additional 1gb data on a phone plan in Australia is around $10. With the minimum wage in Australia set at around $16 that equates to around 40 minutes of work, but the cost of that additional 1gb excludes the upfront and the baseline monthly fees to use it. That sounds unambiguous enough, but there are also packages that a quickly Google search and selection at random (like the one here) that presents options costed at (per 1gb) $3, $0.5 and (effectively) <$0.01 respectively. Of course if you used so much data that the cost is down to a single cent per gb then you a/ probably don’t need to work to pay for it, or b/ can’t keep doing that as you cannot find time to go to work to pay for it, but that is a topic for a post on another blog.
There is an interesting post here comparing the online performance of what I believe are the top airlines in Southeast when it comes to social media. There are a range of measures, but just sticking to Twitter and Facebook measures here is how they ranked in 2013.
I regret the data is again somewhat dated, and it would be interesting to see if there have been any subsequent changes in the hierarchy. I’d appreciate any reader who can point me to updated figures.
A quick addition to my post earlier today here.
All credit to the good folk at the Martin Prosperity Institute (MPI) at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management (who nobly espouse exploring the requirements to achieve a prosperous future for all, in which democracy and capitalism work in support of each other) who produced the research report Insight: Creativity in Southeast Asia located here.
In that marvellous work (well worth a read for interest in such things) they identify the close relationship between urbanization and creativity, with more urbanized nations scoring higher on the Global Creativity Index (see here for those interested).
How does this look in graphical form highlighting Southeast Asian nations? I’m glad you asked, because that is the featured image that leads this post.
In another report here the MPI shows “how the Southeast Asian nations stack up in terms of the share of their workforce that make up the creative class and compares them to international benchmarks”. In graphical form that can be seen below.
Image courtesy of the US Energy Information Administration here
Apologies once again for the break in posting. I have been, and will be, busy for the foreseeable future, so unfortunately my posts will be abridged for a while.
Although it is a few years old now, the graphic gives you insight into a couple of things.
Yes, it tells you that Chinese investment in hydro-electric power is (or was) increasing in the region.
More importantly however, a subtext to the investment is the growing and deepening ties between these countries and China, locking the region further into the Chinese financial, energy and security orbit at the expense of the Western investors and strategic interests.
And if I had to make a third point, as I like to do, I’d point out that hydroelectric power benefits flow (literally) downhill, illustrating once again how the formation of mountainous terrain can, hundreds of thousands of years later, have significant political consequences.
Why would I post about Trump’s personality flaws in a blog about Southeast Asia? Well, for the simple reason that Pepinksy’s earlier work studying authoritarian regimes in Southeast Asia, namely Malaysia and New Order Indonesia, give him (and therefore us) some clues in understanding the character of various regimes and authoritarian actors now in place across the region.
This post won’t go into exhaustive detail, but does give you the reader a framework to apply these thoughts against your own polity or those of particular interest to you. Pepinksy outlines comparative measures between dictatorships and regimes run by narcissists/bullies through the following points, with my thoughts following in italics.
1/ Dictators not lying openly to the media about things that are easy to check. I don’t think you would see that in Singapore. Thailand yes, not least because the alternative sources of information (with credibility) have been/are being squeezed, particularly by laws prohibiting free speech.
2/ Authoritarian media is about misdirection, not just misinformation. I see that as a more widespread issue across Southeast Asia, and Pepinky’s point that almost anything is allowed “as they can be reported as evidence of rapid material progress that justifies the steady hand of the ruling government” rings true. Touching on Pepinksy’s final point here, negative or damaging news in Singapore may “generate lies or outbursts in response”, unlike Thailand where I would argue that increasingly “it is simply not covered at all”.
3/ Authoritarian media focus on motivations rather than actions. I’d certainly say there is enough evidence of disparaging the motivations of critical voices in Thailand to support this point. The emphasis on criticising dissenting figures’ intentions rather than their actions in other regional countries varies, but it certainly isn’t a rare social/political phenomenon.
4/ Effective, authoritarian media cannot have competition. Consistent with point 1/, I would argue that this point increasingly characterises Thailand. On this measure Thailand would furthermore be towards the top of the list regionally, a hierarchy with Indonesia (by comparison) at the bottom of the list (with a relatively diverse and free media).
A very interesting and fruitful area of study, and I’d welcome links to any similar work out there.
PS I note that Tom Pepinsky also blogs at wordpress.com. Following him, or performing whatever online magic works for you to receive updates on his posts, is highly recommended.
The data is a little bit older than is ideal, but thanks to the good folk at Smart Insights and their graph above located here, we have an idea just how social Southeast Asian internet users are.
And they really do (or did, leading into the year 2016) rate highly, taking (by % of internet users) 5/10 top places on both Facebook and YouTube, 3/10 on Twitter and 4/10 on Google Plus.
One obvious question to ask is whether increased connections online is actually a greater or lesser act of social interaction, but I will think about that more and post when I have more time. I will also reflect on whether any measure of the extent of social interaction necessarily correlates with, or even reflects more broadly, the quality of sociability.
As always, your thoughts are welcome in the comments.