4th (edited 16th) December 2005



In Singapore, an Australian (Van Nguyen) was hung on 1st December 2005 for possession of about 500 grams of Heroin.  In Vietnam, rock star Gary Glitter is being investigated for consensual sex with a twelve year old, which is a capital offense.  In Bali, a Moslem Cleric who was involved in the death of 200 in Bali had a 2 year sentence reduced.  Again in Bali, Michelle Leslie, an Australian model who was apparently a convert to Islam (allegedly after being taken into custody) & had been partying with the son of Indonesia's finance minister was released after three months for possession of two ecstasy tablets.  Also in Bali, despite protestations of innocence, Australian Schapelle Corby was given a fifteen year sentence after being found guilty of having nine pounds of marijuana in her luggage.  Nine other Australians face execution for attempting to carry Heroin out of Jakarta (Courtesy of information provided by the Australian Federal Police).

In South Asia there are dark stories that bribery is rife.  Where there are such severe sentences, the incentive for corruption is extreme, and conceivably extends to the planting of evidence with intent to solicit a bribe.

It is reported of the Singapore governing clique that it profits from trade with Burmese drug lords.  Only primitive peoples put material profit above life.  Justification with lies about the harm that a quantity of Heroin would do is the sign of a guilty mind that dares not face objective assessment.  Statesmen know how to gracefully concede to public opinion.

I do not think that Australian Diarist will be doing travelogues in those parts of South Asia.


When I was educated, I was told that the Chinese civilization built the "Great Wall" to keep the barbarians out.  Three other walls spring to mind, "Hadrian's Wall, built to keep the Scots out of England, The Berlin Wall, to keep East Germans in East Germany, and the Israeli wall, a work in progress, which has the more limited objective of reducing terrorism.

None of those walls was an unqualified success, so why do the Chinese think that the electronic wall designed to keep liberty memes out of Chinese minds will work?  No matter what they do, there will be leakage.  And such leakage is cumulative, and causes exponential damage, and spreads virally.

On the other side of the Pacific, the USA has responded to the stealing by the Chinese of military secrets by making moves that might result in the barring of foreign researchers.  That would be a major mistake.  Not only will it deprive the USA of up to 50% of it's intellectual industry, but it will provide ammunition to terrorist critics.  One of the greatest assets of China is it's massive population of educated and intelligent people.  China will consume a considerable fraction of those resources to police it's new "Great Wall".

The USA is holding it's position in the world because it trades with China.  Economics theorists have long established that trade barriers hurt most that nation that erects the barrier.  Wal-Mart has benefited the people of the USA more than most US corporations.  GM & FORD are headed for the scrapheap because trade unions have stifled the intranational trade in labour.  Wal-Mart has made the essentials of life cheaper, which has most benefited the poor.   The Auto corporations have made transport more expensive.  Europe is degenerating at a frightening rate, which is because it maintains high trade barrier and a massive bureaucracy.

 The USA and Europe should abandon industrial & agricultural barriers.  That would curtail the huge subsidies that prop up inefficient industries and create enormous and expensive agricultural surpluses.  The money saved could be used to either lower taxes or provide greater and more equitable social security.  Those subsidies are not trivial.  A cow in Australia sells for about $AU500 which is about $US400.  In Japan that cow would be worth around $US3000, in Europe about $US2000, and in USA about $US1200.  Do I need to add that our cattle contain a very low proportion of pesticides, herbicides and other pollutants?  Just about all foods are similarly subsidized to the detriment of Japanese, US and EU & Japanese citizens.


Another independent elected in Brogden's vacated seat in NSW.  Now there are seven independent representatives in the NSW Legislative assembly of 93 members.  Even though it was the opposition that lost the seat, it must be a worry to all party politicians in Australia.  Is this a sign that the sheep are beginning to revolt against their wolf shepherds?


The latest fad among US liberals seems to be a new right, the "right to privacy".  Diarists view is that so much privacy exists as an individual asserts by his actions.  If a person appears in public, then they have implicitly given permission to be observed, spoken to or overheard whether electronically or in person.  Anybody who surreptitiously invades another's privacy by trespass and/or placing eavesdropping devices on private property should be subject to criminal prosecution & exemplary damages.


Telstra's new boss is failing to convey his message to the Australian people.

The problem is as follows.  Prime Minister Howard (quite properly, to my mind) decided to release Telstra from government ownership & control.  Telstra's assets at the time consisted of the "Local Loop" otherwise known as the last mile of copper, a few long distance connections, and the Telephone directory.

I believe that PM Howard should have looked at how the asset came into being.  Telstra's capital to build the local loop was derived from the extortionate connection fees that it charged it's customers.  As such, the local loop should have been given (like the NRMA shares) to those who paid for it.  My own suggestion would have been to give the local loop to local government.

Such was not our Federal government's plan.  Their little pig eyes lit up with dollar signs, and they sold the first 25% of Telstra on the stock market.  Management was handed to an MBA called Ziggy.  Ziggy might have been brilliant at managing generic businesses, but had no appreciation whatsoever of the potentials of the Telecommunications business.  Ziggy milked the copper for all it was worth, and paid excessive dividends instead of upgrading the network (except as a blocking strategy against Optus).  Consequently, when PM Howard sold the next 25% of Telstra he got about twice as much as he got for the first 25%.

Since then, the problems with Ziggy's approach have become obvious, and the price has fallen drastically.

An American manager was found.  Sol Trujillo had some experience with Telecoms, and brought his own expert management team.  He realized that the local loop was his major asset, and that after years of neglect it needed repairing & upgrading.  Enter the ACCC, which is the anti-monopoly arm of our Federal government.  The ACCC (quite correctly) insisted that the local loop was a near monopoly, and that Telstra must rent it out at cost to any bidder.  Once again, I agree with ACCC, especially since I paid for that local loop, and believe that it should be operated to my benefit, not the benefit of Telstra shareholders.  Issues such as the differential price of rural and remote local loops can be solved by appropriate government subsidies.

In passing, Sol noted that the ACCC was being a bit one sided in it's actions.  The standard cost of a connect from the local loop to a mobile is set at a very high rate, which (apparently) most benefits mobile corporations.  Telstra suggested that this cost be reduced immediately, (which would benefit Telstra) instead of waiting for another year or more of expensive copper to mobile & vv calls.  The other mobile companies (Optus etc) objected.  They do no like that deregulation initiative.

The local loop is monopoly infrastructure.   One possibility is that Telstra should spin it off, and let the new MD subcontract it's maintenance and upgrading to appropriate commercial banks, and charge an appropriate rental fee to any users (including the rest of Telstra).  That procedure should also make the ACCC happy.

However what about all those shareholders who bought Telstra while Ziggy was paying fat dividends by running down the existing local loop?  The market is pricing Telstra (still too highly in my opinion at $4 - About $2.50 is closer to the true value based on future earnings with continued ACCC intervention) much below the second tranche.  Unless John Howard finds a way to raise the value to T2, then his name when T3 is marketed will be mud.

My bet is that such a sale wouldn't juxtapose with an election.