UK Elections: Is it a chance or a real threat?

I was at Jeremy Corbyn’s manifesto speech in London at Chatham House last month. Despite being a good speaker and being able to construct lovely sentences with a proper British accent, it made me think of the implications of a hung parliament with Corbyn in the government in the UK.

The election on June 8th is a good chance for the UK to reaffirm support for the Tories and deliver them a clear mandate or clear political chaos for the future of the country.

As Theresa May says, “This is a really important moment for our country and we’ve got to get this right. If we get it right, I am optimistic for the British people…”.

A hung parliament would be a real disaster for Britain due to the huge gap in the different policies of the different parties, but more significantly, I am pretty sure that this would be used by Brussels quite cruelly.

Some of Jeremy Corbyn’s romantic statements, such as not to use nuclear weapons under any circumstances, no hand-holding with the US anymore, and potential tax increases, made me worry about the country’s future defence policy along with its economic policy.

 Could Singapore’s model be applied to the UK if the Tories win by large majority?

The answer to this  question is, potentially yes, but it would not be easy since it is a much bigger country with many people dependent on the system of social security. But it’s not impossible…

Lowering taxation in the UK would attract various types of businesses from all over the world and it would create a healthy opportunity to replace the departing financial industry. In addition, it would assure its place as one of the best options in the world for global talent to live and work.

On the other hand, it would push up the prices of everything (especially housing!) and citizens without health insurance would really suffer as there would be no safety net for them going forward! It could potentially create an even more competitive economy; thus, the transition would be painful for a lot of families and it would be very hard to find a balance there.

In contradiction to why voters voted to “Leave”, the current result may create a real “Remain” for London and the rest of the country.

I am personally optimistic for the UK after the election since history proves that many victories around the globe are not won on the battlefield but at the negotiation table!

Good luck Britain!

All the best from Singapore.

Sukru Haskan
@sukru_haskan

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Trip Notes: Yangoon, Myanmar

I was thrilled to be in Myanmar a couple of weeks ago with my family. Since time was limited, we only spent three days in Yangon.

Myanmar is the 57th country I have visited – and I should say I am quite amazed by it.

After visiting Cambodia, I wondered if I was doing the right thing flying to Myanmar with a 15-month old, but I can truly say that it is a very safe country. There are many warm people and the infrastructure for a country with USD 1,300 per head is pretty good.

The airport was built quite recently and looks modern. Even though the online visa processing could have been a little smoother, nothing really bad happened on that front. Immigration to the country also went fairly well.

We stayed at the Savoy Hotel, near the centre of the city. It is a nicely-kept colonial building. The hotel is operated by a German company and the staff’s level of English was extremely high. The room was spacious and nicely decorated with local ornaments.

We had a chance to spend some time at the Strand Hotel, located literally just next to the British Embassy. This would be a great hotel as an alternative to the Savoy!

We were extremely lucky to have a Burmese friend, a London Business School alumni like my wife, who invited us for a nice dinner at a local restaurant, Padonman Restauant. The walls were covered with American and British diplomatic pictures. Burmese food is very similar to Thai food and people who like spicy food (like myself) will really enjoy the cuisine in Myanmar.

We visited many temples, such as the famous Inclining Buddha, the Shwedagon Pagoda and the Sule Pagoda. Although Yangon is not the best place to visit pagodas on the whole, the Shwedagon Pagoda was an original example. If you are really keen on temples, I have been recommended many times to visit the city of Pagan in Myanmar. I am not personally a big fan of visiting temples, as I found them rather similar after going to one after another.

We were brave enough to taste Burmese wine – and I would not advise others to try it… Stick to the beer instead!

During our time in Myanmar, there had been a water festival going on, and it was a real experience to see lots of people packed into the back of a truck, throwing water at each other throughout the city. We did not see any violence and watching people having fun was really good. The water festival marks the beginning of a new year for the Burmese people.

Video: Water Festival in Yangoon

For a country where civil war ended only a couple of years ago, and which is opening up slowly, Myanmar has definitely got a lot of potential. With its beautiful people and wide landscape, Myanmar is a candidate to be a real star in the region.

Hospital building from colonial times

Is a new Thailand emerging in south-east Asia?

YES!

All the best from Singapore.

Sukru Haskan
Twitter: @sukru_haskan

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