Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The cocktail party for the 50th anniversary of the founding of Singapore at the Raffles and Fairmont Hotel. And the devaluation of the Chinese currency.

Photo from the Singapore National Day party last night
courtesy of Joseph Habibi.
In the photo with Fortune Ledesma, Joseph Habibi and Sharon Tan,
living a #Travelife...

So last night in Manila, living a #Travelife, I was among the hundreds of guests who braved traffic to attend the party given by the charming new lady ambassador of Singapore, H.E. Kok Li Peng, for the 50th anniversary of the founding of Singapore.

It was a very nice party, and as I have been away for so long on a #Travelife -- basically nonstop traveling since the end of March this year -- it was very nice to see so many old friends again in one night.

MANILA'S 700 WERE THERE

Everyone who mattered in a political, economic and diplomatic sense in Manila was present at this party, giving evidence of how important this Asian powerhouse is to its neighbours.

 This was the first time in a long time that I have been to a Singapore National Day party as I am usually away for August -- and how ironic that I finally made it to this annual party, as the previous Ambassador of Singapore and his wife were excellent friends of mine and I was never around for their parties.

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REMEMBERING SOME GOOD TIMES

Whenever we three were in Manila at the same time, we always found time for a private meal for lunch or dinner on a Sunday, sans talk about politics or the economy, and I was often tasked with finding an interesting new restaurant.

I came to look forward to these meetings very much over the course of the years.

REMEMBERING A VERY STIMULATING DINNER PARTY

Then last night, I bumped into the good Ambassador of China.

The last time I'd seen him was before I'd flown to Tokyo two weeks ago, and we had been seat mates at a formal dinner party hosted by the Ambassador of Mexico at his home.

At the Singapore National Day party last night,
living a #Travelife...

THE SORRY STATE OF POLITICS
IN THE PHILIPPINES

The conversation among all the guests that night had been so stimulating and candid, and I came away with so many thought about the future of this rather basket case of a country we live in and its sorry state of politics, and the unfair system that is in place to keep a majority of people living in great hardship while politicians fight with each other over the spoils.

Having lived so long in a first world country, this is a very sad situation to observe, and if I had my way, no politician would ever be elected to a position of responsibility in this country. We do not need politicians who are good at backstage manoeuvring or at firing up populist sentiments via emotional speeches.

We need managers who can properly channel our meager resources as a Third World country without favour into the improvement of our much-needed infrastructure.

THE SORRY STATE OF MANILA

I'm not exactly the nicest person in the world, but my heart breaks every time I see working people having to bear the indignities and hardships of a malfunctioning LRT system, so essential to taking so many of our populace to their workplaces everyday.

And my anger boils overtime whenever I have to sit through traffic -- which is every hour of everyday these days -- because of badly maintained roads, poorly planned instrastructure, and a whole lot of ills that might have easily been fixed if only government funds had been channeled properly and we'd had capable people at the helm.



THE FUTURE OF THE PHILIPPINES

Anyway, when I saw the Ambassador of China, I remarked to him pointblank about our dinner two weeks ago: "That was the most stimulating discussion I've had in Manila in a very long time. It gave me so much to think about that I couldn't sleep, thinking about the future of the Philippines and of Asia."

Ever the discreet diplomat, he simply smiled and said, "I remember that conversation very well, too." 

CHINA DEVALUES THE YUAN

But then, switching topics, I also said: "You devalued your currency today. What a shocker."

Indeed, currency and stock markets all over the world have been suitable rattled, although I expect the shock will wear off in time.

We'd had an interesting discussion that same night about world equities and the slowdown of the Chinese economy. Again, ever the diplomat, he said: "No need to worry. This was necessary for the management of our economy."

Maybe so. But in the meantime, I'm forgetting about the world markets and going on holiday, living a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful #Travelife.

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