Contrast to Seoul’s defining moment

October 25, 2011 Articles, Letters
Letter to the Financial Times (October 25, 2011) From Mr Kai L. Chan. Sir, Watching the Greek tragedy unfold -- most recently with protests in Athens that turned violent ("Athens burns: Austerity measures passed despite protests", report, October 20) -- one cannot help but juxtapose these actions with those that unfolded in Korea during the Asian crisis of 1997-98. Greeks are taking to the streets with petrol bombs over the prospect of the raising of the retirement age from 61 to 63, and of the elimination of public sector largesse (average government salaries that are almost three times the level of similar private sector positions). During the crisis of 1997-98, ordinary Korean citizens were queuing up to donate their gold and jewellery to the central government to help their nation avert bankruptcy. The differences between the two nations could not be more stark. The act of making harsh sacrifices to save their country became a defining moment for the Koreans (Korea has since become the 15th largest economy, having tripled the size of its economy since its nadir in 1998); Greece is looking at its defining moment with an eye towards becoming a have-not country of the 21st century. Kai…

Tough on crime just for the poor

April 10, 2010 Articles, Letters
Letter to the Toronto Star (Sunday, April 10, 2010) Tough on crime just for the poor Re:  Former MP Rahim Jaffer connected to conman, April 8 I was intrigued to read that the Crown in Rahim Jaffer's court case very generously offered the former MP a favourable plea bargain.  When I was 17 years old growing up in poverty and arrested as a young offender, the Crown sought six month's closed custody (i.e. jail time) for a school fight I got into. I had to aggressively fight against the Crown and won a favourable ruling (probation with no incarceration) from the judge who presided over my case.  Eighteen years later I am an alumnus of University of Toronto and Princeton University.  I wonder what path my life would have taken had I spent six months in jail.  Seems to me that the tough on crime model only applies to people from lesser backgrounds. Kai Chan, New York © Copyright Toronto Star 1996-2010

What to do: young offenders

March 18, 2010 Articles, Letters
The Globe & Mail: Letters to the editor (March 18, 2010) What to do: young offenders I was arrested twice as a young offender (Tory Bill Proposes Publicizing Names Of Violent Young Offenders – March 17), so I read carefully the proposed changes to the legislation.  For the most part, harsh sentences do not deter crime and actually work against rehabilitating offenders.  My brief time in incarceration only ensconced me more deeply in the criminal culture: While in detention, I befriended hardened offenders.  Most of the people I met in juvenile detention were good persons, who just happened to come from unfortunate backgrounds (poverty, dysfunctional families etc.). I always wonder how much talent our country is wasting by not making these young offenders do something productive with their lives (e.g. getting them involved in sports/arts/culture), rather than leaving them to wither in detention. I eventually went on to get a PhD at Princeton after graduating from the University of Toronto.  Teenage years are rough for everyone. K.L. Chan, New York © Copyright 2010 CTVglobemedia Publishing Inc.  All Rights Reserved.

The Era of the White Man

April 7, 2008 Articles, Letters
Letter to the editor published in the NYT (on-line edition) April 7, 2008 Letter ‘The Era of the White Man’ To the Editor: Re “The Baton Passes to Asia,” by Roger Cohen (column, The New York Times on the Web, March 31): Before anyone really thinks that “it’s the end of the era of the white man,” let me point out a few things. The rates of economic growth in China and India are high because these are modernizing countries playing a game of catch-up. When you look at G.D.P. per capita numbers, the United States is still far ahead of both countries. Second, 450 million cellphones in China, a country of more than 1.3 billion people, means that only over a third of its people have a mobile handset, much lower than the ratio in most developed (typically white) countries. Yes, Asia is large, and the economic gravity is shifting (back) toward Asia, but this is simply natural given, that most of humanity lives there. Go to China or India and see how far the world’s paradigm must shift before the era of “white is right” is over.  The female “natives” virtually worship the white male expatriates in Asia,…

I’d rather have the comfort of a chocolate bar in the nuclear winter

January 21, 2008 Articles, Letters
Letter to the Financial Times (21 January 2008) I'd rather have the comfort of a chocolate bar in the nuclear winter Published: January 21 2008 02:00 | Last updated: January 21 2008 02:00 From Mr Kai L. Chan. Sir, The argument Chris Kniel sets forth (Letters, January 17) as to the intrinsic value of bullion-backed currency falls into a common fallacy that blinds gold bugs. The current system of fiat money does display inflationary bias, so no disagreement on that point.  However, to believe that gold has special value is pushing the argument. Gold-backed currency has less inflationary bias only insomuch as the supply of gold is limited and has a real cost of production (ie extraction).  If money were backed by salt, water, sand or whatever commodity one desires, it would have the same anti-inflationary effect.  The only special qualities for gold are its relative scarcity and high cost of extraction.  In that case, uranium would probably serve as an even better storage of value and be less prone to debasement, a common flaw of gold coinage. Personally, I'd still rather have my currency backed by chocolate bars.  In the case of a worldwide catastrophe – such as a…




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