Saturday, June 23, 2018

Can you call China a democratic country? Why?

This blog was lifted from an answer from Quora

China is not a democracy in the sense that while they might have election for local officials, they do not get to vote for their national leaders.
Not being a democracy means China does not go around telling other governments how to be democratic.
Not being a democracy means they don’t spend money of TV ads telling their people as to who is a lesser crook and don’t have to make promises they can’t keep just to get people to vote for them.
Not being a democracy does mean that China care about fulfilling the basic needs of its people and lifting them out of poverty.
Not being a democracy does mean that China have compassion for other people of the world and promote economic cooperation for global mutual benefit.
Not being a democracy does not mean that China insist on China first and everybody else can go to hell.
Ergo, I would not call China a democratic country and there is a lot to admire about that.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Kim Jong-Un and Donald J. Trump

Question: Why did Kim borrow an Air China 747 to fly to Singapore for the summit instead of his own jet?

Answer: Because he didn't want to hear Trump say, "My plane is bigger than yours."


Question: Do you think Trump will build Trump Hotel in Pyongyang?

Answer: Sure, why not. If he hires the Chinese to build the hotel for him, it will be done in ten days.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Stopping systemic prejudice another Obama legacy Trump can reverse

This blog first appeared in Asia Times.

It may take Congressional action to put a halt to the systematic racial bias against Chinese American professionals working in the Department of Commerce, but if Secretary Wilbur Ross answers the Congressional call, he will have reversed a terrible legacy from the Obama administration. And, that should make his boss, President Trump very happy.

Last Wednesday, members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus appeared on a Capitol Hill press conferenceto announce that they have sent a letter to the Commerce Inspector General Peggy Gustafson asking her to investigate the wrongful dismissal of Sherry Chen as hydrologist for the National Weather Service.

The same press conference also disclosed that a separate letter was sent to Secretary Ross signed by 132 Asian American community organizations asking him to facilitate the inspector general probe and give Chen full restitution.

America is supposed to provide equal protection and equal justice to all her citizens. Sherry Chen got none of that since she was wrongly arrested and falsely accused of spying for China in 2014.

After she was exonerated and all charges dropped in March 2015, Chen’s family, friends and supporters rightly anticipated that she would be given back her job, which was to model and monitor the Ohio River for threats of flooding and destruction of life and property. 

Instead Laura Furgione, the then deputy director of NWS, notified Chen that she was being dismissed from employment in the weather service. Louis Uccellini as director of NWS and Furgione’s superior had to sign off on the official notice, which he decline to do and recused himself. 

Furgione then went over his head and got Vice Admiral Michael Devany as Deputy Under Secretary for Operations of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Uccellini’s boss to approve the dismissal. Because Furgione had to try twice to formalize the paper work, Chen’s employment was officially terminated a year after all her charges were dropped, in March 2016.

The Asian American community rallied around a stunned Chen who appealed her case with the Merit Systems Protection Board. MSPB was established to adjudicate appeals from Federal government employees. Over the period from 2012 to 2017, MSPB heard nearly 70,000 cases and only in 1.6% of the cases that the board ruled in favor of the employee filing the grievance. Not a terribly promising prospect for justice but appeared to be the only avenue available to her.

A hearing was held by MSPB in March 2017.  Judge Michele Szary Schroeder issued her decision on April 23, 2018.  She ruled overwhelmingly in favor of Ms. Chen. Judge Schroeder took a year to write a 135-page judgment in which she carefully refuted each of the arguments presented by DOC to justify their termination of Chen’s employment.

Jeremy Wu, as trustee of Chen’s Legal Defense Fund, wrote to Senior Executives Association seeking to remove Furgione from the board of directors of SEA. His letter, dated May 15, 2018 said in part, The rest of the MSPB decision further describes Ms. Furgione’s bias and vengeance, lack of integrity and impartiality, disregard of exculpatory evidence, and conducting or staying silent on scandalous activities under her watch in the NWS.”

After the MSPB ruling, the only DOC response was to express an intent to appeal and in fact sought and got an extension to June 18 to file a formal reply. It seemed to be the usual reflex of delay and stall by a government with unlimited resources to wear down a victim of limited means.

The continued intent to deny Chen her due prompted 31 members of the Congressional APA Caucus to sign the letter to the DOC Inspector General and call the press conference. Concurrently, 130 some Asian American organizations wrote to Secretary Ross asking him to do the right thing.

These same Congressional and community leaders had previously called on Loretta Lynch, Obama’s Attorney General, urging her to give Chen justice. Lynch never responded. Thus, the stain of racial prejudice during the Obama administration became a part of his legacy.

Lest anyone think Sherry Chen represented an isolated incident, she was not. Last year, the Chinese American Committee of 100 published a white paperindicating that under Obama years, Asians were more likely to be charged with economic espionage than people of any other race. They are also found innocent at a rate two times higher than individuals from any other racial group. However, people with Asian-sounding names received sentences twice as long as those with Western-sounding names. 

The scandal did not occurred on Trump or Ross’ watch. Xenophobia does not have to be part of their legacy. They should want to know what is it in the DOC that is so protective of racists and bigots. If there is no systemic rot within the department, then what are the perpetrators hiding and acting so insistent on denying Chen her justice?

By exposing bigotry in the federal government, Secretary Ross, at no downside risk and personal cost, can strike a blow for fair and equal employment and ensure the full participation of every citizen in America without prejudice. Indeed the message of treating every citizen with respect and due process would be a breakthrough unprecedented in America’s history of race relations.