Posts Tagged ‘3 Quarks Daily’

Please vote now in 3QuarksDaily.com blog competition

December 6, 2011

I’d appreciate your support in this year’s 3 Quarks Daily Politics & Social Science Prize. Please vote for my nominated article, Overheard at Ali’s Diner on Arab Street, listed alphabetically under letter M for Muhammad Cohen, You can read the article, a reaction to the massacre in Oslo, and the other nominees through links on the nominee page. The deadline for voting is Saturday, December 10 at 11.59pm New York time, so please vote for Muhammad Cohen’s article now.

The articles with the most votes get considered for the top prize of $1,000, so please cast your ballot for Muhammad Cohen, and please spread the word.

Many thanks for your support, and may the best blog win.

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.

Bangkok bounces back

January 1, 2011

Bulletin: My heartfelt thanks to all of you who voted for Twenty reasons Barack Obama stinks in the 3QuarksDaily.com 2010 Prize in Politics. Your support made the piece the top vote-getter in the competition, helping it to advance to the final round. Unfortunately, the judges didn’t select Twenty reasons Barack Obama stinks as one of the three prize winners. In this case, I’ll defer to the wisdom of crowds.

Let me also take this moment to wish you and your loved ones a happy new year. I hope you find all you seek and more in 2011. And I hope you’ll keep stopping by here to read and comment on what I have to say.

Walking through CentralWorld Mall in Bangkok, you’d never suspect that the place had been torched in May by anti-government protests. There are few hints left of the thousands of the demonstrators that occupied the city’s main shopping district for two months and the crackdown that cleared them, events that left at least 90 people dead.

By every measure, Bangkok has returned to normal. Despite two months of virtual urban warfare, tourist arrivals will top last year’s total by a wide margin. Yet all is not well in Thailand. As I reported for Asia Times from the Thai capital, the rift between supporters and opponents of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, dating back to the 2006 coup that deposed him, and the underlying social and economic issues haven’t healed. With elections due within a year, Thailand may well see more fireworks.

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.

Sands China rolls 7-8 craps in Macau

December 10, 2010

Bulletin: My blog entry Twenty reasons Barack Obama stinks has been nominated for the 3QuarksDaily Prize in Politics. Please vote here if you enjoy the piece. First prize is $1000, and, of course, a quark. So please vote now.

Macau aims to diversify its gambling-addicted economy, a course Beijing urges at every opportunity, as the city’s gaming revenue climbs beyond $2 billion a month. Last week, Macau rejected Sands China’s bid for Lots 7 and 8 to build a new casino resort in the Cotai entertainment district. But Macau’s decision may have no connection to economic diversification.

A subsidiary of US-based Las Vegas Sands, Sands China has spearheaded efforts to create an Asian version of the Las Vegas Strip in Cotai, a landfill connecting Macau’s outer islands of Coloane and Taipa. Following its $12 billion master plan, Sands China has already opened the Venetian Macao, and the Four Seasons/Plaza complexes, and has another 6,400 room casino resort under construction. Sands China says it invested more than $160 million in Lots 7 and 8 based on an informal grant from the Macau government several years ago.

In tiny Macau, land is the most valuable commodity, and the government controls it. Formal approval for land concessions in Macau routinely comes long after the designated developer begins work. Sands China has every right to feel that it got a raw deal. It has appealed the decision to Macau Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai-on. The company could also take its case to court. But in Macau, where matters are habitually decided behind closed doors and without public explanations – news about Lots 7 and 8 came from Sands China, not the government – it’s tough to beat the house.

Losing Lots 7 and 8 hurts Sands China but, as I wrote in Asia Times, the meaning for Macau is far less clear. Denying the application seems to be a move to limit future gaming, but it’s likely that the land will be granted to one of Sands China’s rivals to build its own casino resort.

Macau’s government may have a grudge against Sand China, even though it’s the casino developer that provides the most diverse non-gaming amenities at its resorts, including shopping malls, a 15,000 seat arena, a Cirque du Soleil production, and a 1,000,000 square foot convention center, all money losers to date. Macau added insult to injury by staging an unprecedented vice raid Friday at the Venetian Macao during a visit by Las Vegas Sands chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson, who reportedly has a rocky relationship with government leaders.

Or Macau could be signaling it will limit growth for outsiders, defined as anyone not named Ho – as in local gambling godfather Stanley Ho. Ho and his children have stakes in three of Macau’s six casino licenses.

The saga of Lots 7 and 8 unmistakably illustrates that Macau’s unelected, unaccountable government can and will act arbitrarily. Smart investors will understand that hard reality trumps Macau’s glittering casino revenue numbers.

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.


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