Home' Greymouth Star : October 20th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Tuesday, October 20, 2015
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uLetters to the editor
1822 - Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper is
published for the first time.
1945 - Egypt, Iraq, Syria and L ebanon warn
the US that the creation of a Jewish state
could lead to war in the Middle East; the Arab
League is formed.
1960 - Penguin Books goes on
trial in L ondon, for contravening
Britain’s Obscene Publications Act
by publishing D H Lawrence’s novel
Lady Chatterley ’s Lover.
1964 - Herbert Hoover, who served
as 31st president of the United States
1968 - Jackie Kennedy marries multi-
millionaire Aristotle Onassis.
1973 - Q ueen Elizabeth II officially opens the
Sydney Opera House.
1977 - Three members of the southern US
rock group Lynyrd Skynyrd are killed in the
crash of a plane in Mississippi.
1989 - Sir Anthony Quayle, English actor best
remembered for his roles in Lawrence of Arabia,
and The Guns of Navarone, dies of cancer.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Sir Christopher Wren, English architect
(1632-1723); Lord Palmerston, British
statesman (1784-1865); John Dewey, US
philosopher (1859-1952); Bela Lugosi, Dracula
actor (1882-1956); Wanda Jackson,
US country singer (1937-); Earl
Hindman, US actor of Home
Improvement fame (1942-2003);
Tom Petty, US singer (1950-);
Danny Boyle, British film director
(1956-); Allan Donald, former
South African cricketer (1966-
); Snoop Dogg, US rapper (1971-); Dannii
Minogue, Australian singer-actor (1971-).
“Morals is not preaching, it is beauty of a
rare kind.” — Ernest Dimnet, French priest,
lecturer and author (1866-1954).
“And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us
eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead
and is alive again; he was lost and is found!”
— (Luke 15:23-24).
Of the 12 who
originally formed the
Cobden Fire Brigade,
only one, Mr G
Batty is left. He was a guest of honour at the
brigade’s jubilee celebration on Saturday night.
Attended by about 140 people from all over
New Zealand, most of them being past and
present members of the brigade, the jubilee was
Mr Batty, in reply to a toast made by
Greymouth’s chief fire officer Mr J W Grant,
said he could remember when Cobden had
no water and men carried buckets and ladders
to the scene of a blaze. There was no water
pressure in Cobden in Mr Batty’s day and they
had to connect up with a water hole, creek or
water tank attached to a house.
First visible steps of the multi-thousand
pound Greymouth Civic Centre were taken
today when the contracting firm moved in to
start work on the laying of the foundations
for the gymnasium, which will be situated
at the back of the Puketahi Street section. A
spokesman for the contractors said that it was
expected that this stage of the work would take
about six weeks to two months.
The contract was for concrete foundations
and concrete piles to take a wooden floor.
A huge meteor was visible here shortly after
9 o’clock last night as it tore across the sky in a
northerly direction. At four times as bright as
the glimmering planet Venus, the meteor was
trailed by a coloured mass of sparks, about 6ft
long to the naked eye.
A Granity astronomer said it was the largest
meteor he had ever seen. Reports of sighting
the meteor also came from the Taranaki area.
uFood for thought
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uitting her job
joining rock bands
and chancing her
at small business
once have branded
Ding Jia as a rebel in China. Now she can
claim state endorsement as a “creative”.
“I haven’t had a formal job in years,” said
Ding, 31, sitting in her tiny coffee and
cocktails bar on a trendy Shanghai street.
She has no regrets, but no illusions
“Entrepreneurship can be a really hard
experience,” she said. “ Profits can be so
In the week she spoke to Reuters, she
and dozens of nearby businesses were
forced to close temporarily by city officials
on a regular sortie to enforce regulations.
While most parents might warn their
children off high-risk, low-reward
self-employment, preferring jobs in
government or State-owned enterprises,
Ding says her Shanghai nurse mother and
cab driver father were supportive.
That attitude finds an echo in high
places; recent graduates who start their
own businesses are being hailed in State
media as a new creative class that will
build China’s Silicon Valley.
“Creatives show the vitality of
entrepreneurship and innovation among
the people, and such creativity will ser ve
as a lasting engine of China’s economic
growth,” Premier Li Keqiang said in
January. “I will stoke the fire of innovation
with more wood.”
In addition to warm words, many are
receiving training, subsidies, free office
space and other support from district
governments and universities.
Optimists hope the next Jack Ma or
Mark Zuckerberg will emerge from this
pool, but sceptics say the policy is setting
up inexperienced kids for failure.
The aim is to help shift China’s
factory-based economy towards
knowledge-driven services, and address
unemployment among Chinese college
students. Most private employers have
little use for fresh graduates from
crowded domestic universities, who
consequently can earn less than skilled
factory and construction workers.
A Peking University study found that
entry-level salaries in Shanghai averaged
just $511 a month — a pittance in a city
with one of world’s 10 most expensive
Chinese sur veys show 20-30%
of college students now aspire to
entrepreneurship or self-employment,
and Cui Ernan, labour analyst at Gavekal
Dragonomics, said official data suggests
they are following through. Though
undergraduate numbers swelled to record
highs last year, the number seeking work
in the formal job market appeared to
Cynics say pushing student
entrepreneurship is mostly about helping
officials meet targets while heading
off political unrest among disaffected
students, the demographic behind the
1989 Tiananmen Square protests.
A busy entrepreneur, on the other hand,
counts as both employed and as a new
Parker Liu, currently chief executive of
a mobile technology start-up in Beijing,
began launching new companies before
he graduated. He said district officials
regularly scoured entrepreneurship events
seeking start-ups to subsidise, often on
the understanding that the company
would register in their district.
Liu said he had received small subsidies
from district governments and helped
introduce officials to other start-ups, but
was doubtful about the benefits.
“The real problem is the money
doesn’t come with education ... These
government officers, they did not know
much about entrepreneurs or start-
ups, but they know a lot about political
evaluations. They have a quota.”
Liu said the support also encouraged
too many into sectors with low barriers to
entry, such as e-commerce, mobile games,
and college prep schools.
“In terms of helping the job market,
this sort of thing is of marginal benefit,”
said Geoffrey Crothall, communications
director at China Labour Bulletin.
“They are going to price themselves into
the ground, and so the wages they can
afford to pay their staff are going to be
very low as well.”
While official data is scant, failure rates
appear unsurprisingly high.
“They have very poor management
skills,” said Cui of Dragonomics. “Most
of the businesses run by college students I
observe, only a few of them succeeded.”
The University Students Venture Park
in northern Shanghai was designed as an
incubator for college students considering
a start-up. The lobby is decked out in
a sunny palette and garnished with
inspiring slogans about creativity; outside
a large sign reads “Dream Community ”.
Some have turned their dreams into a
modicum of success.
The free rent, accounting ser vices and
internet access helped Jiang Gongbao
launch his Long Ai marketing company,
which has lasted long enough to hire a few
Jiang said he understands the risks, but
regards them as learning opportunities.
“ Failure is not a bad thing, as the
process to start up a business is always
meaningful,” he said.
The incubator’s deputy general manager,
Zhu Jiang, roots for his tenants, but he is
“ I do not encourage all students to
start up business. Being a successful
entrepreneur requires some characteristics
that not everybody can possess.”
Many venture capitalists doubt the
incubators do much good, since Chinese
bureaucrats with little or no experience
running private firms lack the skills to pick
successful business plans.
“ I think it’s really misguided,” said Gary
Rieschel, founder of Qiming Ventures,
which has invested in numerous successful
Chinese start-ups including Alibaba.
“A university is a terrible place to learn
how to start a company,” said William Bao
Bean, another China venture capitalist
with a long history of investing in Chinese
What is needed, critics say, is a
dismantling of the policy barriers that
make life tough for the private sector,
such as weak legal protection for new
ideas, restricted access to capital, and
labyrinthine regulations that enable
corrupt officials to prey on small
“Some countries make mistakes by trying
to pick favourites and pick preferred
technologies,” said Robert Zoellick,
former World Bank chief, in an inter view
“Creating a level playing field is the
start. You need to have an effective rule of
law and property rights. I think China is
struggling with that.” — Reuters
Beijing’s creative class
The death toll from the
twin suicide bombs at
a peace rally in Ankara
recently reached 128.
The Turkish police were
not present to provide
security (they never are at
“opposition” events), but
they did show up to fire
teargas at the mourners
Who did it? Prime Minister Ahmet
Davutoglu offered three possibilities:
the Kurdish separatist organisation
PKK; anonymous “extreme leftists”; or
Islamic State. Selahattin Demirtas, the
co-leader of the pro-Kurdish HDP party
that organised the rally, offered a fourth
alternative: people trying to advance
the interests of President Recep Tayyib
Erdogan’s Justice and Development (AK)
The atrocity certainly ser ved Erdogan’s
strategy of creating an atmosphere of
fear and impending calamity before the
elections on November 1, in which he
hopes to get back the parliamentary
majority he lost in the June elections. But
it is hard to believe that the AK Party
has suicide-bombers at its disposal; it is
an Islamic Party, but nothing like that
It is equally unlikely to have been the
work of the PKK, because a very large
proportion of the people at the rally
were Kurds. Moreover, the PKK is a
secular organisation, which makes it an
improbable source of suicide bombers.
The suggestion that “extreme leftists”
were responsible is ridiculous; what would
be their motive? Which leaves Isis, aka
Islamic State, as the probable perpetrator.
Isis uses suicide-bombers as a matter
of course, and it is certainly angry at
President Erdogan. He treated it quite
well in the early years of the Syrian civil
war, keeping the Turkish border open
for its volunteers to flow across by the
thousands. He even closed the border to
Kurds who wanted to help the defenders
of Kobani, a city in the northern, Kurdish-
majority part of Syria — a siege that lasted
four months and ended in an Isis defeat.
Erdogan is a deeply religious Sunni
Muslim. He wanted to see the overthrow
of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, an
Alawite (Shi’ite) ruling a mostly Sunni
country, and he did not much care who
the opposition was so long as it was
Sunni. He also did not want to see a
Kurdish mini-state appear just across
Turkey’s southern border, so he preferred
an Isis victory over Syria’s Kurds.
But his priorities changed after he lost
the June election. Now his own power was
at stake, and to keep it he needed a crisis.
In fact, he needed a war.
Assuming that the AK Party would
not only win its fourth straight election
this year but gain a two-thirds majority
of seats, Erdogan moved on from 10
years as prime minister and got himself
elected president last year. The presidency
is a largely ceremonial office, but with a
two-thirds majority he could change the
constitution and make it all-powerful.
But his party did not get a two-thirds
majority in the June election. It did not get
a majority at all: only 258 seats in the 550-
seat parliament. The main reason was that
the HDP, a party demanding that Turkey’s
one-fifth Kurdish minority be treated as
equal citizens in every respect, including
language, managed to get into parliament.
Most of the HDP’s voters were Kurds,
including many conser vative and religious
Kurds who had previously voted for
Erdogan’s party, but its secular and liberal
values also persuaded many ethnic Turks
to vote for it. It got only 13% of the vote,
but that was above the 10% threshold
a party must exceed to win any seats in
parliament at all.
The arrival of the HDP changed the
parliamentary arithmetic and deprived the
AK of its majority. Erdogan could have
opted for a coalition, but he was stranded
in the powerless presidency, unable to
change the constitution, and could not
even personally be part of such a coalition
government. So he decided to gamble on
The Kurdish votes were not coming
back to the AK Party, and the only other
possible source were the ultra-nationalists
who had been alienated by his peace talks
with the PKK. (The talks began and the
shooting stopped four years ago, although
the official ceasefire was only declared in
Now he needed to restart the war
against the PKK, and that would be most
unwelcome to his American allies. He
solved the problem by saying he would
attack Isis and other “terrorists”, which
got Washington on board — but since
the Turkish air strikes began in August,
they have hit 20 PKK targets for every
strike against Isis. It is not even clear that
Turkey has finally shut its border to Isis
The PKK is fighting back, of course, but
Isis has not been appropriately grateful
that Turkey is bombing it (quite lightly)
only for diplomatic reasons. It is almost
certainly responsible for all three mass-
casualty attacks using suicide-bombers in
Turkey this year.
There is only one consolation in all
this: Erdogan’s electoral strategy does
not seem to be working. A poll last
month showed that 56% of Turks hold
him directly responsible for the new war.
The polls also show AK’s share of the
vote falling, and that of the HDP rising.
Erdogan is facing defeat, and he richly
Gwynne Dyer is an independent
journalist whose articles are published in
Erdogan’s war for re-election
WORLD IN FOCUS
with Gwynne Dyer
People attend a commemoration for the victims of the October 10 bombings, in Ankara, Turkey.
Ding Jia, 31, poses for a photograph inside her D+ Cafe, in Shanghai, China.
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