Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sydney University condemned by the Chinese: A case study of how to fail in business in Asia

In October 2011 the Vice-Chancellor , University of Sydney, The Rev Dr Michael Spence, announced that the University will accept for entry into the University grades achieved in China's National College Entrance Examination(or Gaokao in Pinyin).

On February 21 2012, the Chinese state owned English publication, China Daily, reported:
Compared with the admission cut-offs set by Chinese universities, the entry score set by theUniversity of Sydney is very low, according to the guide to academic entry requirements for Chinese students applying to undergraduate programs at the university in 2012.
The entry score is listed by China's municipality or province. In Shanghai, for instance, students with a minimum gaokao score of 468 can apply for the university, which is more than 100 points less than the score needed to enter China's top universities, such as Peking University orTsinghua University.

The publication is state owned and serves to disseminate the views of the Chinese leadership.

That the Daily has chosen to describe the University's cut-off mark as "very low", and then compared it unfavourably to Peking and Tsinghua universities should be of concern to Sydney University for the words convey a lack , if not a loss of regard for the University's standing.The reasons are unclear, but regardless of what the reasons might be, the University obviously does not enjoy the confidence of the Chinese leadership.
While their motives are not known, what is clear is that the above has followed the Reverend's decision to accept NCEE marks for admission. While he might have felt he was doing poor Chinese students and their families a favour, the Chinese reaction is that he has been motivated by money. As another state owned if not controlled publication , the Shenzhen Daily put it:
A growing number of Australian universities are preparing to lower the enrollment requirements for Chinese students in the hope of enrolling more high school graduates from the country.

This is an opinion shared by younger Chinese as well, who have made their opinions known on the website OffBeatChina
In that sense, the reaction of the Chinese leadership is easily understood as a simple taking of an advantage when the opportunity to do so is offered.The Reverend offered the opportunity by showing the University as being willing to lower standards to gain more fee paying students, the Chinese leadership took advantage of that opening to publicly demonstrate the superiority of Chinese institutions.
Any Asian would have seen that coming.


Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Australian Department of Defence-SingtelOptus Contract seen through Asian eyes

Singtel Optus has the prime contractor role to the Australian Department of Defence for the military communications payload.

The nature of the relationship is well described by the Department:
Joint Project 2008 Phase 3D was established in 1997 following an invitation from Optus for Defence to share Australia’s next generation commercial communications satellite. The project provides for supply and support of a Defence owned payload operating on the shared C1 communications satellite, together with Defence owned fixed terrestrial infrastructure for control and management of the Defence payload and the new communications network.

The network, otherwise known as the Australian Defence Satellite Communications Capability, will provide Defence with satellite communications across Australia and throughout the Asia Pacific region in the X, Ka and UHF radio frequency bands. Contracts with Optus were signed in October 1999.

“Information Systems Division will be responsible for control and management of the new communications network. Optus has been contracted by Defence to supply payload operators, to maintain and support the fixed terrestrial infrastructure and to undertake telemetry, tracking and command of the satellite. A satellite management agreement has also been established to guide Defence and Optus in the management and operation of the shared satellite asset."

Singtel Optus is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Singtel Ltd, a subsidiary of the Temeasek Holdings Ltd , a wholly owned subsidiary of the Government of Singapore.

Few ,if any born and bred in Asia, would not see that this deal provides the Government of Singapore with a number of opportunities. These include:
a) The ability to listen in, catalouge and archive all Australian Department of Defence communications

b)To analyse that information so as to identify material that could be of use to Singaporean interests

c)To analyse that information so as to identify material that could be of use to Singapore's friends in the region whose interests might be affected by Australian foreign policy, for example Indonesia, Myannmar and China.

d) To determine the best use of that information to further Singaporean interests, including the sale of that information to any interested party

As anyone born and bred in Asia will tell you, for Singapore to not do so would be the height of stupidity. The Department of Defence would of course argue that there is no evidence to suggest......


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

People Smuggling: Did Australia's National Security Adviser learn anything in Malaysia?

The Sydney Morning Herald reported on April 25,2009:
WAVES of Australia-bound asylum seekers crossing from Malaysia to Indonesia have prompted the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, to send the national security adviser, Duncan Lewis, to talk with Malaysian officials about counter measures.
Mr Lewis was accompanied by the head of Customs, Michael Carmody, and senior immigration and Australian Federal Police officers. Before leaving Kuala Lumpur yesterday, members of the delegation said the meetings with Malaysian officials were "positive".
"There has been agreement at a conceptual level for increased co-operation and engagement to combat people smuggling," one member said.

On February 1 2012 a boat capsized of the east coast of Malaysia.The wording of reports regarding that incident by Malaysian media, which are essentially state controlled, is instructive:

EIGHT foreigners drowned in Malaysian waters early yesterday while attempting to sneak into Australia to seek greener pastures.
District police chief Superintendent Che Mahazan Che Aik said when police reached Telok Semayong about 8am, they saw eight bodies washed ashore while further off, the 12 survivors were spotted in a group.
“We believe the foreigners were trying to leave the country illegally. They were using Malaysia as a spring-board,” he said.
Initial investigations also revealed that the passengers had paid US$8,000 (RM24,000) each for the journey from their country to Australia.
The 12 who were rescued were sent to the district police station to assist investigations while the bodies were sent to the district hospital for post-mortem.
(by Sam Bak Heng, 8 drown off Johor;New Straits Times,02 February 201)

Eight people drowned, 11 others were rescued while six more are still missing, all foreigners, after their boat capsized off Teluk Semayong waters, Sedili Besar, near Kota Tinggi Wednesday morning. Kota Tinggi Police Chief Supt Che Mahazan Che Aik said the boat was believed to be illegally ferrying men from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq to a neigbouring country when the boat capsized.
(Report in the Borneo Post, 2 February 2012, quoting the national wire news service, Bernama)

Clearly, what Australia regards as "asylum seekers" Malaysia regards as opportunists.
As far as Malaysian police are concerned the main issue here is "illegal ferrying".
The persons being ferried are not being treated as asylum seekers, refugees, or anything of that sort but rather suspects or accomplices in a crime.

How then did Duncan Lewis and party come to the conclusion that "there has been agreement at a conceptual level"?
Lewis is now Secretary , Department of Defence, and the post of National Security Adviser has yet to be filled. Nevertheless, as NSA he was , in essence, the country's chief spy.
As Sally Neighbour put it:
The most recent initiative is the appointment by the former Rudd government of a National Security Adviser (NSA), who works out of the prime minister’s office and chairs a new National Intelligence Coordination Committee, to ensure the agencies are “closely aligned [and] effectively integrated”. Australia’s first NSA, the former SAS commander Brigadier Duncan Lewis.....
(the post) centralises control in the prime minister’s office ... the position is entirely outside the accountability umbrella of IGIS.
(Sally Neighbour, Hidden Agendas,The Monthly, 2010-11-04)

Despite these advantages, it does appear that the NSA learnt nothing in Malaysia, or of Malaysian attitudes to what Australia considers asylum seekers. Judging from the SMH report, and from the Gillard government's handling of the the "asylum seeker" issue it does appear that the present administration is light years away from understanding the problem of illegal migrants.Pretending that this simply another aspect of the white man's burden is an idea that has long passed its due date.