Lai See

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 November, 2010, 12:00am

Singapore gets crotchety over swimming trunks

Singapore's water polo team at the Asian Games has raised eyebrows for wearing boldly designed swimming trunks using elements of the national flag without official approval. The bright red trunks are decorated with stars and a crescent moon shaped more like a banana which gives them a somewhat raunchy tone. Previously the team wore black trunks.

The Singapore Arms and Flag and National Anthem Act states that government approval must be sought to use the flag as part of any costume or attire, provided there is 'no disrespect'. The team did not seek official permission and has, as you might expect, been rebuked.

'Unfortunately, the team did not seek our advice on the use of the crescent moon and stars when they designed their swim trunks,' the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts said in a press statement. 'We would have told them that their design is inappropriate as we want elements of the flag to be treated with dignity.'

The word 'Singapore' is emblazoned on the rear of the trunks. Despite government disapproval, the team will continue to wear the trunks as Asian Games regulations forbid them from changing their attire. One can but speculate on their fate when they return to Singapore.

Mystery and history

It's not quite up there with the 'Lancaster bomber found on the moon' story, but the China Daily's account of Chinese in a remote village being descendants of Roman soldiers comes close.

The newspaper recently ran a story saying that anthropologists are looking into the possibility that some European-looking Chinese in northwest China are the descendants of a lost army from the Roman Empire.

Genetic testing of the villagers shows that almost two-thirds of their DNA is of Caucasian origin.

Unlikely as it may sound, the DNA tests lead many experts to conclude they are descendants of an ancient Roman army headed by general Marcus Crassus. The army was defeated by the Parthians in 53BC but a 6,000-strong force was believed to have escaped and was never found again.

Many of the villagers in Liquian on the edge of the Gobi Desert have blue or green eyes, long noses and even fair hair.

Experts at the newly established Italian Studies Centre at Lanzhou University in Gansu province will conduct excavations on a section of the Silk Road in search of Roman remains.

The theory was first floated in the 1950s by Homer Dubs, a professor of Chinese history at Oxford University. But not everyone is buying it.

'The county is on the Silk Road, so there were many chances for transnational marriages,' Professor Yang Gongle, of Beijing Normal University, told the China Daily.

'The 'foreign' origin of the Yongchang villagers, as proven by the DNA tests, does not necessarily mean they are of ancient Roman origin.'

The story has brought fame to the village and a Beijing film producer plans to turn their story into a film.

Broker found out

Interesting to see that someone succeeded in acting as a stockbroker for five years in Hong Kong without a licence from the Securities and Futures Commission. However, Lee Chi-ying was eventually found out and was fined the princely sum of HK$5,000 by Eastern Court yesterday in addition to having to pay the SFC's equally princely expenses of HK$6,390 as the cost of its investigation. Lee was found to have provided dealing services including price quotes and placing orders with a licensed brokerage firm. The SFC's investigation is continuing, we are told.

History in the making

Looking forward to the Credit Suisse media briefing on Wednesday when Sakthi Siva, emerging markets and Asia-Pacific equity strategist, and Vincent Chan, head of research for China, will be explaining not why stocks will fall next year, but surprise, surprise, why they will rise.

Next year apparently is shaping up to be much like 2005, that is, 'a mid-cycle slowdown year in which global leading indicators bottomed out', Credit Suisse says.

Indeed Siva will be calling on history, according to the invitation, to show why we can expect a 20 per cent gain for regional stocks next year. Chan, for his part, will be looking at China and telling us that while EPS growth looks more promising than in 2005, valuations are more expensive.

However, by the time we get to hear all of this it will be history to their clients, who will presumably not be waiting until January 1, 2011 to act on this information.