Friday, August 12, 2016

Chips on Shoulders, Cash or Credit

John Schaus, Lauren Dickey and Andrew Metrick outline the coming Submarine Shopping Spree in Asia:
Despite the long build times and complex operational requirements, Asian countries are expected to acquire over 100 submarines by 2030. In many cases, old submarines will be retired and replaced with newer, more capable vessels. Other countries are looking to either establish a new submarine force or expand their fleet. These decisions, especially taken in aggregate, suggest that the nations of the Asia-Pacific do not believe that the security and stability of their region remains on a positive trajectory. 
Looking to the future, an increase in the number of submarines will not necessarily equate to cutting-edge submarine capabilities nor will it necessarily give nations the capabilities they seek. Most SSKs lack the speed necessary to conduct aircraft carrier escort missions and lack the endurance to operate in the vast expanses of the Pacific or Indian Oceans. To understand the future role and impact of attack submarines in the Asia-Pacific, one must examine the current and future submarine forces in the region...

Htun Ang Gyaw explains how ethnic vs state politics are defining the peace process in Myanmar:
The main problem is they are making a major issue on race identity. In Shan State there are Pa'o, Wa, Palaung, Lahu, Lisu, Kachin, as well as the Shan. So people from races other than Shan want their own state. The Wa are the strongest resistance group and they want their own Wa State - so do the Pa'o, Palaung, Lahu, Lisu, etc. These kinds of demand stem from states based on ethnicity.  
Nai Han Tha said Tanintharyi and Irrawaddy divisions have many races mixed and living together and he wants those areas to be nationality based states not as one ethnic base (he indirectly means a Burman race) division. But Tanintharyi division and Irrawaddy division are names of regions not based on any race. That is the reason divisions in Myanmar have no argument about race issues. The race and identity issue has only been raised in seven states.  
The main ideology of this issue is ethnic minorities want to control Burmans, who are the country's majority race, by proposing eight states in a federal system that has seven ethnic states and one Burman state. So, when they need to make a decision, a vote of 7-1 can beat the Burmans. This idea was presented by the Shans chiefs in 1962 before the military takeover.  
This idea will be rejected outright by the Army, as well as the ruling NLD party, because over half of the population is Burman. They would never accept having one vote while the rest have seven votes; it is not a realistic solution. Also, the Shan deny being a minority. They say we are a majority in our own state and created the term "ethnic nationalities". 

Resentment from an entitled China as well as investors pissed over lost opportunities make sure that Scott Morrison's decision in the Ausgrid affair leave no one pleased. Mark Beeson:
Whatever Morrison decided to do in such circumstances would be criticised by some powerful and influential voices. A key problem is that it is difficult to demonstrate an unambiguous threat to security as a consequence of any Chinese investment, even in what looks like a “strategic” asset. Security types will always suggest that we can’t take chances and it’s better to err on the side of caution. 
Perhaps it is. But many in China will undoubtedly ask why such national interest concerns aren’t raised when the investment comes from just about anywhere else.It will be hard to present this decision as not being all-about-China. The widely held view that there is something very non-transparent and possibly sinister about the way some Chinese state-owned enterprises go about their business, especially when it involves technology and/or strategic investments has clearly carried the day. 
The question now is whether this will actually make it more difficult to reject subsequent decisions about “sensitive” investments in the agriculture sector, for example. The fact that they are sensitive primarily because the Nationals think they are, and because a weakened prime minster doesn’t want to encourage internal critics, doesn’t make them any less consequential. 
The only people enjoying all of this may be students of contemporary Australian policymaking. This decision captures in microcosm the complex reality facing Morrison and his counterparts elsewhere.

Finally, the Pax Global row offers a look at how boardroom culture in Hong Kong turns inward. Ben Kwok:
Lee’s public outburst against the analyst has shocked people in Hong Kong’s financial and investment community.  Also, the behavior is a bit ironical, given that Lee was voted the Asia’s Best CFO (Technology/ hardware) a month ago by Institutional Investor magazine. 
Corporate executives tend to have mixed, and often uneasy, relationships with analysts (also, the same case with journalists). Company owners and top managers seek cheerleaders for their firms. Analysts who are deemed sympathetic are provided access and exclusive information, while those taking a critical view could get shunned. 
Some executives take umbrage that analysts tell them how they can run the businesses better, like selling a certain non-performing asset. 
Analysts can, and do, go wrong many times in their reports and stock calls, but investors still place a lot of value on the recommendations. This is something that riles company managements and leads to frosty ties with analysts. 
Coming back to the Pax Global case, we can only speculate as to why Lee couldn’t contain his anger over Lam. But insulting of analysts is not something new in Hong Kong.

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