: "?We ought to look as if we care what?s going on,? reads the punch line in this morning?s Business Post cartoon strip. It?s not easy. Reading the newspapers in the gwailo?s lair on the top floor of S-Meg Tower, I strain to turn the pages, so heavy are they with the tedium of contemporary world affairs.
In the Ming cartoon, investors take the Hang Seng Index up to 15,999 before stepping back to watch disinterestedly as their very own Central People?s Government lashes out at Taiwan?s President Chen Shui-bian, who has scrapped the dormant and symbolic National Unification Council and its ?One China? guidelines. Apparently, this will ?stoke tensions and trigger a serious crisis in the Straits ? [and] threaten to destroy peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region? ? which must be why the Hong Kong stock market ended the day only 94 points up. On the Internet, excitable young Mainlanders froth at the mouth about forgetting the Olympics and vaporizing their beloved Taiwanese compatriots.
Beijing takes things too seriously. What a relief, therefore, to read of the latest events in Manila, which have unfolded with all the organization, precision and clarity we expect of the Philippines. The excitement began before the weekend, with reports of unauthorized troop movements around the capital and mutterings about a coup plot, which transpired to be an ?attempted withdrawal of support?. A group of Marines protested the dismissal of their commander. Diminutive President Gloria Arroyo issued Proclamation 1017, a state of emergency that should instantly impose total order and discipline onto the entire nation, but in practice seems to mean a day off school for the kids. Barbed wire and soldiers appeared on approaches to Government offices. Now... Arroyo congratulates the Marines for their professionalism and not doing whatever they were planning. Mobilized by cell phone text messages, former presidents whose terms of office were blighted with corruption and constitutional shenanigans call on the vote-rigging, husband-favouring Arroyo to stand down. A hunt starts for alleged plotters – including, of course, Gregorio Honasan, ‘resident adviser on failed coup attempts’, who took part in revolts against Marcos and Aquino before quitting the army and joining the Senate. The streets throng with the inevitable nuns. And everyone asks the burning question – are the schools open again yet?"