Category Archives: General

Huawei Saga: An Expert or a China Mouthpiece?

Newspapers apply the expert tag very loosely, often! The Straits Times gave evidence of it in this morning’s edition of the newspaper by calling someone a China-US expert who, to me, only gave a one-sided picture of the recent Huawei saga.

I saw so going by the following extract from the report, Top Executive Allegedly Tricked Banks into Violating Sanctions:

“The arrest of Ms Meng Wanzhou is the latest manifestation of US power politics,” said China-US expert Shen Dingli. “It has damaged the cooperation between the two countries to restore trust and cast a dark shadow on the future Sino-US economic and trade consultations,” the Shanghai-based scholar said.

That is just positioning aimed at appeasing the Chinese Government, with nothing in it demonstrating any sense of balance. I see no reason for him to be called a China-US expert.

While, to him, the recent arrest of Huawei’s CFO in Canada is a manifestation of US power politics, he conveniently ignores the fraud she is charged with.

He is thus not an expert, but an unofficial China mouthpiece.

My other piece on the topic:

G Joslin Vethakumar

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A Taste of Nagercoil Food in Singapore!

I stumbled upon Nagercoil Arya Bhavan on Verdun Road (near Mustafa) this evening. I stepped in almost by impulse. How can I resist it when I grew up having Nagercoil food – right in my home in Chennai? My mother was an ace at cooking Nagercoil-style food.

I can also consider myself blessed, having had opportunities to taste heavenly food cooked by my grandma (father’s mother) – – the best fish curry I have had was the one she used to make whenever we visited Elanthaiyadivilai, a village in Kanyakumari district not very far from Nagercoil.

I was not lucky enough to see my maternal grandma (daughter of Sathianesan magistrate) as she had passed away a few months before I was born.

The digression aside, I recall having dined at the Arya Bhavan in Nagercoil regularly whenever we visited the town – the last time was perhaps about two decades ago.

Nagercoil Arya Bhavan2

The best dosai I have had to date was also in Nagercoil, cooked crispy even with rich cashew filling. But I don’t recall the name of the restaurant we had it in – all I remember is that it was near the main bus terminal in Nagercoil – I think it was called Meenakshipuram.

Back to the Nagercoil Arya Bhavan in Singapore – I heard it was started about three months ago. I had ghee roast – it was served like cone dosai, which was as crispy as it could get with three types of chutney, sambar and milagapodi (gunpowder). It was delicious, Udupi style.

I was told the thali meal, available only for lunch, follows Nagercoil recipes. That is reserved for another day. But I took home pongal, which did not disappoint me.

The decor at the restaurant is unique with religious nuances even as instrumental melodies waft through. A Christmas greeting below a Buddha ornament was lovely.

Arya Singapore

G Joslin Vethakumar

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Rahul and His Friends Will Ensure Modi Retains Power in 2019

So, Rahul Gandhi thinks the party that is wrecking India used the 2016 surgical strikes against Pakistan for political gains.

Ha, isn’t this Congress liability doing just that now? Dragging the Army into political games!

“Dumb as a Rock” is an insane charge U.S. President Donald Trump levelled against Tillerson just yesterday.

This best fits Rahul, for long recognised as one! He keeps demonstrating that periodically.

As if Robert Vadra and the likes of Sidhu are not enough to sink the party!

With friends like these, the party needs no enemies – they will ensure Prime Minister Narendra Modi has it easy in 2019. That it will be disaster for India is another matter!

G Joslin Vethakumar

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Free Trade is Fine, Not Free Fraud

Free trade will serve the global economy well if it is practiced with a sense of fairness, not when its purpose is abused by nations seeking to boost their coffers and have hegemonic control over its impoverished partners on the sly.

Put simply, free trade is welcome, not free fraud.

American companies such as Cisco are themselves to blame for being lax in protecting their own patents and enabling the unchecked rise of Chinese companies such as Huawei.

Compromising their long-term business interests for near-term contractual wins in China has not just affected their prospects but also gone against the grain of true competitive spirit.

Trying to win deals at any cost is not an ethical practice.

IPR Infringements

Now even as China is claiming readiness to crack down on IPR infringements, its sincerity is doubtful. Possibly in the same vein as U.S. President Donald Trump’s trade restrictions on China, given the business interests of his family in the country. It had all the trappings of a political gimmick when he kicked of the moves to rein in China, though it slowly gained credibility without any let-up until the recent truce.

The arrest of Huawei’s CFO in Canada has seen markets take a deep hit worldwide the last two days. I am not surprised as, in my view, Wall Street is the epicentre of international fraud with analyst commentaries and reactions often verging on market manipulation, making them sway to their tunes with eloquent positioning.

Markets and analysts are reading too much into the arrest of the Huawei CFO, assuming that this may put the temporary truce between the U.S. and China in jeopardy. That is giving too much importance to Huawei, even if its founder (Ren Zhengfei) is an ex-People’s Liberation Army officer. The CFO, Meng Wanzhou, is his daughter and likely successor.

Huawei fallout3

Western fears about Beijing strengthening its spy network through use of Huawei’s equipment in 5G communications networks are not unfounded. The fact that China reacted with anger to the arrest only offers grist to the fears.

Far-Reaching Repercussions

These fears are manifesting itself in actions from countries keen to keep espionage at bay. Japan today decided to ban Government purchase of equipment from Huawei as well as ZTE, another Chinese network supplier. Similar curbs are in place in Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. Two days ago, BT announced it would not use Huawei’s 5G gear in its network.

Per a Reuters report today, the arrest of Meng Wanzhou was designed to be part of “an investigation into an alleged scheme to use the global banking system to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran.”

The ramifications for Huawei are wide and serious, hence the paranoia in Beijing. Huawei, the CFO and China may still come out of the tangle soon even without any resolution to the issues at stake.

A few of my old posts on network vulnerabilities

Personal Jottings Aug 2018

G Joslin Vethakumar

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December Is In, Time for Christmas Melodies!

With December in, it’s time to play Jim Reeves’ Christmas melodies, listen to bells jingling and sing Feliz Navidad!

A white Christmas? Well, if that’s the ask, swathe yourself with multi-layered clothing, including thermal wear, gloves and caps/masks fit for sub-zero climes to warm your hands/ears, not to forget snow shoes, and hit the alpine terrain.

For a true Biblical experience, loosen up the winter paraphernalia a bit, head to the Holy Land from the winter land and be blessed by taking a bow in Bethlehem and Jerusalem and walking through paths that Jesus took.

This is precisely how I kicked off the 2018 Christmas season two weeks ago – visiting Switzerland to savour the charms of snow-capped mountains and Israel for fulfilment of a dream that transcends religion as it is a place considered holy by people of different faiths – with Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, in Palestine territory and His crucifixion/resurrection sites nestling amid Israel’s most famous mosque in Jerusalem (Dome of the Rock).

Israel and Switzerland2

For Christians, it holds special significance, bringing together Protestants, Catholics and people of other denominations in a demonstration of religious amity.

My earlier post on the topic:

G Joslin Vethakumar

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A Holy Land Start to Christmas Season

The last six days in Jerusalem have been an invigorating one for me with coincidences that have made the Holy Land pilgrimage go beyond my plans.

On Day 2 of my visit, which coincidentally was Thanksgiving Day, I visited Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the site of His Crucifixion and Resurrection.

On Day 3, Shabbat Friday, I went to Bethlehem again, this time on a private tour – me being the only passenger with the driver doubling up as a guide for the Jerusalem part.

The previous day a long queue prevented me from getting to the stable where Jesus was born at the basement of the Church of Nativity. This time I was successful though it was still packed. I was connected with a Palestinian guide who was able to get what he called a VIP pass that gave me quicker access to the stable.

Built in Shape of a Cross

One piece of interesting information I gathered is that the Church of Nativity is built in the shape of a Cross, though it is hard to see. It was octagonal earlier. But then it is a place that has faced one destruction after another and rebuilding over the last several centuries.

Church of Nativity, IMG_4487

I saw people carrying a Cross along the path that includes Via Dolorosa to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Jesus had carried the Cross to His Crucifixion through that stretch of 14 stations.

At Via Dolorosa, a tired Jesus is believed to have paused and placed His hand on the rock there. It is said to have become a permanent hand imprint of Jesus, though there is no description around it. In fact, most holy spots even within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre have no name plates. A lot of the descriptions are only in Hebrew.

Jesus Hand Imprint IMG_5065


Jesus’ Hand Imprint at Via Dolorosa

The places I have visited hold enormous significance for Christians. They include:

  • The Church of Nativity, Bethlehem, Birthplace of Jesus
  • Mother Mary’s Birthplace in Jerusalem
  • Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem – the site of His Crucifixion and Resurrection
  • Sea of Galilee
  • Jordan River, where Jesus was baptised
  • Nazareth, where Jesus spent most of His life
  • Capernaum, called the Town of Jesus
  • Garden of Gethsemane
  • Church of Multiplication (of fish and loaves)
  • Basilica of the Annunciation
  • Tiberias
  • Christ Church in Jerusalem, the first protestant/Anglican church in this part of the world.
  • West Bank and Golan Heights (passed through these areas)

Tomorrow I head to Tel Aviv for a day’s stay before I return to Singapore.

It has indeed been a blessed start to the 2018 Christmas season, thanks to the Holy Land visit that has been a long-standing dream for me.

G Joslin Vethakumar

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Scintillating Switzerland, Beyond Alpine Charm

Alpine charm, lovely lakes, Swiss Army knives, rich chocolates, Roger Federer and even chess, football and the Olympics spring to mind at the thought of Switzerland. And freezing weather!

If you are wondering why chess is in the list, it is because the Swiss system (whereby everyone plays all rounds without elimination and the winner is the one with the highest points) is the most common tournament format followed globally. Also, the world chess federation (FIDE) has an office in the country.

Even the International Olympic Committee has its base in Lausanne. How can I miss FIFA, functioning from Zurich? The rich sporting tradition of Switzerland is evident with this deep focus.

My recent visit Switzerland has been a lot of fun – with freezing temperatures hardly coming in the way. The train ride from Zurich to Lucerne, Mount Titlis, Mount Pilatus with the cogwheel journey (said to be the world’s steepest train travel at 48% to the peak), Lucerne Lake, Chapel Bridge, the Musegg Wall and more — not one any less exhilarating!

Switzerland and Singapore have a lot in common with both being huge economic successes despite limited resources. Only in terms of weather, the two are in opposite sides of the spectrum.

Lucerne was lovely. It was nice to see Indian flag fluttering in Lucerne outside an Indian restaurant that I visited for lunch one day after I ran tired of the food I generally stay away from.

Yet, Kanchi Restaurant was a huge bummer – totally forgettable food. And the price -5.60 francs just for a small bottle of water (500ml).

Weigh this against 1 Franc I paid for a 1.5-litre bottle of Evian water!

Trivial stuff though, considering the sights I have been relishing in beautiful Switzerland. That’s priceless!

G Joslin Vethakumar

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