The Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, were the tallest buildings in the world from their completion in 1998 until 2004, when Taiwan’s Taipei 101 skyscraper captured the honor. Nonetheless, they remain the tallest twin towers in the world, and they stand as an unintended symbol of Malaysia’s economic power structure – an alliance of a government dominated by its ethnic Malay and an economy dominated by its ethnic Chinese. These two – the Malay government and the Chinese business community – are the real Twin Towers of Malaysia.


The mention of Japan conjures up an image of the Samurai warrior in the minds of many people around the world. Those highly skilled and disciplined fighters, who served as the faithful military of Japan’s feudal lords starting around 700 A.D. and until their decline in the 1800s, have been a symbol of Japan’s fighting spirit for decades, a favorite subject of novels, movies and television – and in recent years of Nintendo’s popular video game, Samurai Warriors.


Geographically, Indonesia is vast. It stretches over 3,200 miles east to west and over 1,100 miles north to south, similar to that of Australia or the continental United States. It is the largest of the Southeast Asia countries, rich in natural resources, and is the largest country in the world composed wholly of islands, consisting of 17,508 islands, about 6,000 of them inhabited.


Ganesha – the Lord of all Beginnings and the Remover of Obstacles in the pantheon of gods of the Hindu religion, the religion of 80 percent of India’s population – is on the minds on Indians these days. Ganesha is the elephant-headed god who gives support and encouragement to new undertakings and is a source of strength in times of rapid and uncertain change. In a rapidly globalizing world economy, those times are now.

Hong Kong

An old Hong Kong proverb goes: “Register a business in the morning.  Open in the afternoon.  Have a profit by nightfall.”  New Yorkers who do business in Hong Kong, accustomed to “the New York minute,” have come to know “the Hong Kong second.”  Everything happens fast in Hong Kong. One thing that deliberately did not […]


Many will remember the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing.  Thousands of dancers and acrobats performed wonderfully coordinated and artistic routines.  The ceremonies were an apt tribute to the Games and to China’s quest for international recognition. China had spent billions of dollars over the preceding 12 years preparing for the […]


The greatest offense one can commit in communicating with a Canadian is to confuse him or her with an American. Canadians do actually like Americans, but they dislike the incessant, pervasive influences that emanate from their neighbor to the south. Former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau once said, “Living next to the United States is like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered the beast, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.” American culture and events fill their airwaves; “acid rain” from American industrial centers pollute their forests; American products dominate their shelf space.


The national flag of Cambodia – as national flags often do – gives a sense of the character of the country. In the center of Cambodia’s flag is an image of the temple Angkor Wat, the largest temple complex in the world, built in the early 12th Century by King Suryavarman II, then king of the Khmer Empire. (Angkor Wat means “City of Temples” in the Khmer language, Cambodia’s official language and the language of 95 percent of its people.) The temple, which served as Suryavarman’s state temple and ultimately as his mausoleum, has survived centuries of neglect and national chaos.


Looking at a map of Bangladesh, the country looks like it lies in the jaws of a big tiger, the tiger being India, which surrounds Bangladesh except for the Bay of Bengal to the south and a rather short border with Myanmar to the southeast. But the tiger is friendly. It is a Bengal tiger, the national animal of both India and Bangladesh.


Bill Fisher, a career diplomat and most recently Australia’s ambassador to Canada, always had a large globe of the world in his office. A visitor will sometimes comment that the globe is turned upside down, and Fisher will say, “Not at all. Australia is always on top.” This remark says a lot about the ebullient Australians, those fun-loving, competitive, and often raucous “blokes” who live in “the Land of Wonder, the Land Down Under,” as Australia is described in some of its tourist advertising.