Archive for January, 2012

Indonesian Chinese flourish after 1998 riots

January 19, 2012

For decades, Indonesia’s Chinese minority enjoyed disproportionate wealth while simultaneously serving as the nation’s designated ethnic scapegoat. The 1998 riots that targeted Chinese in Jakarta and other major cities left more than 1,000 dead – mostly non-Chinese – and caused an estimated $300 million in property damage. Those riots of suspicious origin led to the ouster of President Suharto and a new era of reformasi, substituting democracy for authoritarianism.

Jemma Purdey wrote the book on the 1998 riots and their place in the history of Chinese in Indonesia, Anti-Chinese Violence in Indonesia, 1996-1999. I caught up with Purdey during the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival in Bali last year.

Purdey and other experts I interviewed for Asia Times agreed that Indonesia’s Chinese face new challenges now that Indonesia has emerged as the world’s third largest democracy. But they all believe that the situation for Chinese is far better than it was in 1998. That’s a hopeful note to sound for the lunar new year.

May the year of dragon bring good things to you and your loved ones. Kung hei fat choi/gong xi fa cai.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, financial crisis, and cheap lingerie. See his biography, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com.

Singapore beats Las Vegas at its own game

January 9, 2012

Gaming industry analysts project that Singapore beat Las Vegas in casino revenue last year. That’s incredible given that Singapore’s two casinos were in their first full year of operation and total 320,000 square feet of gaming floor, while the Las Vegas Strip has decades of glamorous history, 39 casinos and nearly 3 million square feet of tables and slot machines

The Lion City’s success underscores the gaming industry’s argument that there’s huge unsatisfied demand for casinos in Asia. As I report in Asia Times, other countries in the region hope to copy Singapore’s model of casino development.

Singapore insisted that developers invest billions of dollars to build not just casino hotels, but integrated resorts (IRs) that feature a wide variety of non-gaming attractions. With Resorts World Sentosa weeks away from its second anniversary, the IRs no longer resemble construction sites and have become much more hospitable to visitors.

Marina Bay Sands had a severe fun deficit in its early days. But the world’s most expensive casino resort has blossomed into a destination worthy of its stunning architectural wrapper. Since the resort’s grand opening in June 2010, new additions include US import clubs Pangaea and Avalon, the first Singapore outpost of Banyan Tree Spa, a world class museum, and an ice skating rink, plus restaurants and bars overlooking the bay. Those new attractions along with the presence of people actively engaging the property, have overcome the initial imposing cathedral atmosphere. The arrival of Singapore’s MRT mass transit line this month will bring bigger crowds to add to the fun, and to Singapore’s lead over Las Vegas.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, financial crisis, and cheap lingerie. See his biography, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 137 other followers

%d bloggers like this: