OnPoint by Keith Ng

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OnPoint: Joggers in Saigon

22 Responses

  • Paul Campbell,

    I found Vietnam to be probably the least likely communist country - it seemed like a country full of shop keepers.

    What really did it for me though was all the young women on scooters with evening gloves and masks - if your cultural concept of beauty revolves around staying out of the sun so you don't look like you work in the fields then the whole people's agrarian revolution thing just isn't going to fly ...

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I guess that to an economist, that's a reasonable argument. Execution doesn't work against crazed psychopaths, but might for rational blue collar criminals.

    Maybe they should shoot people in the street for minor but annoying opffences, like stopping on the motorway. Oh, wait..

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Realising you are first world country comes from all sorts of little observations. I had a friend here from a "developing" country recently and sanitation rated high for her to - specifically the fabulous public facilities up at Mathewson's Beach near Matakana. She was astonishised that a society would bother to invest in and mantain public toilets, for her it was a sure sign were a first world country.

    She asked me what the noise was when the pedestrian crossing went green at the traffic lights in the city. When I was explained it was so the blind could cross the road safely, she was impressed that we bothered to care about the blind. In her country, the blind have to ask for assistance or just take their chances.

    And really, having visited plenty of developing and third world countries I think that is the difference. We bother.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • Raymond A Francis,

    Nice comment TomS

    The poor old greens were really in a bind on commenting on the Sanlu executions
    On one hand they are always whinning about food purity while on the other hand here is someone (a loverly left wing government) dealing to the bad guys by execution

    Double bind really

    45' South • Since Nov 2006 • 577 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    If the death penalty can deter these economic crimes, and these economic crimes affect millions of people, isn't it worth it?

    Is there any evidence that a death penalty is more effective at deterring economic crimes than it is at deterring violent crimes (ie, not much at all?).

    Possibly people might think more about the consequences, as it's not so 'heat of the moment', but it still assumes that people are planning to get caught, rather than get away with it.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    One thing I've also noticed about developed countries. Yelling at people over minor things is acceptable. In Southeast Asia at least, yelling at people was totally unacceptable, and a very foolish idea, whether you were in the right or not. It's hard to say which one is more frustrating, when you get into a conflict.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I visited Saigon in 07 with Mitchell Pham, who left the country as a child refugee but now spends much of his time there on business. He was genuinely shocked to see a fat teenager at a shopping mall -- or any fat Vietnamese at all, for that matter.

    The local food is quite healthy. But dairy products are now entering the diet: hence, the opportunity to get fat.

    Thanks Fonterra!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Julian Melville,

    Hmm, I've been to Phnom Penh and other bits of Cambodia, various corners of Thailand and Laos, but the only place I've ever been offered child prostitution was a fairly upmarket part of Kuala Lumpur, right across the street from my hotel. Go figure!

    Auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 200 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Thanks Fonterra!

    A good friend of mine who has spent years living in various parts of Asia assures me that you can get fat on their food too, and had the man-boobs to prove it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

  • Keith Ng,

    Maybe they should shoot people in the street for minor but annoying opffences, like stopping on the motorway. Oh, wait..

    Well, it's not just the likelihood of deterrence, but the public harm of the crime, too.

    Possibly people might think more about the consequences, as it's not so 'heat of the moment', but it still assumes that people are planning to get caught, rather than get away with it.

    Another element of it is that people are more fearful about being caught, and so are less brazen about corruption. It's suspected that this has led to less "casual" corruption, of the wink-wink-gimme-some-cash variety, but - as with three-strikes, no parole, etc. - it's intensify the corruption that is occurring, since they might as well go for broke, as it were.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 543 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Holt,

    When has Keith Locke ever gotten the right end of the stick? Honestly... And he sure has got it in for the Chinese. Has the man even been there?

    He's another reason the Greens just cannot be taken seriously.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 16 posts Report Reply

  • Tze Ming Mok,

    Keith, you are just bitter that they tainted your childhood memories of white rabbit candies.

    Seems like a good argument in support of white collar corruption being more receptive to punitive deterrence, but you couldn't say for sure until more white collar criminals are executed and we have a more comprehensive data set. So, uh, death to corrupt officials in the name of rigorous social science I guess...

    SarfBank, Lunnin' • Since Nov 2006 • 154 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    Is there any evidence that a death penalty is more effective at deterring economic crimes than it is at deterring violent crimes (ie, not much at all?).

    Don't think they've managed to do that deterred from crime survey yet...

    I don't know, Kyle,isn't it really a question of would a potential death sentence deter you?

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Don't think they've managed to do that deterred from crime survey yet...

    There's lots of evidence that potential penalties have a limited effect in preventing people from committing crime. Try google.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    I'd favor the term speculation over evidence there Kylle.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • Keith Ng,

    When has Keith Locke ever gotten the right end of the stick?

    Hmm yes, I've been most suspicious of the man ever since I caught him at Bellamy's eating sushi with a fork *and* a knife.

    Most suspicious.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 543 posts Report Reply

  • richard thomson,

    Um, okay, so in China there were economic criminals killing small children by lacing their milk with melamine *despite* the threat of the death penalty. In New Zealand (for argument's sake) such people would be allowed to live, yet oddly our milk appears to be sound.
    Or am I living in a fool's paradise allowing my children access to dairy products?

    owhiro bay • Since Mar 2008 • 9 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    You're living in a nation with a huge public safety/ social order advertising budget php. Your favorite TV shows are interrupted to remind you of the various social problems surrounding you. The only oversight could be the assumption that the Chinese are similarly well informed as to the intricacies of the legal system, that general familiarity with the repercussions of various crimes. Essentially comparing developing countries with developed countries is akin to the contrast of grapes with wine. Best not to forget that less than 15 years ago, there was a country where the government had a paid advertizing campaign requesting good honest kiwis to rat on your neighbour.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    Also national religious tradition and belief would have a large influence on the possible deterrence of the death penalty. It's a case of what does death actually entail. hell or reincarnation?

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • Webster Yin,

    The ironic thing about Locke's statement is, whether the death penalty is an effective deterrent or not, this is the Chinese government acting with the full support of the people. If anything, a democratic Chinese government would be even less likely to spare the death penalty.

    Maybe that is exactly the problem of the legal system/criminal justice in China (or is it also the truth in a democratic state?). A punishment is imposed not on the basis of how many lives an offense claims but on the reaction of the masses. When the case was first exposed by the media, an entailing harsh punishment could be foretold by those who live in China or who are familiar with China since this seems to be the best, if not the only, way to channel the anger of the enraged people in China.

    The media, thus, have played an interesting role. It was the media that brought the case into daylight and I couldn't imagine how brave those reporters were to do such a thing at the risk of losing their job (maybe more) in China. However, the subsequent overwhelming coverage has pushed the government into corner. There seems to be only one choice - death penalty - left for the government if they want to take control and justify their ruling. Had it not been for the media coverage, death penalty or life sentence would not have been the punishment. "media violence" ? - should we call it?
    double-edged weapon

    Since Feb 2009 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    That's a really thoughtful post there, Webster - thanks. It's a bit early in the morning for me to comment cogently but I'll try later on. Certainly it wasn't hard to predict that heads would literally roll when the scandal broke internationally.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1609 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    A punishment is imposed not on the basis of how many lives an offense claims but on the reaction of the masses . . . the best, if not the only, way to channel the anger of the enraged people in China.

    Interesting post Webster, thanks. Seems to be an example of political human sacrifice. The only other modern form that readily comes to mind is invoking the memory of the glorious war dead for political purposes. As the Australian poet Les Murray once noted, even a crappy old idea like Britannia can start to look pretty good if you pile up enough dead bodies around it.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

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