The Patrimony

In politics, everything is relatives

Tag: sons

Chaebol nobility

by fpman

Korean Air is the latest South Korean chaebol (large family-run conglomerate) hit by a scandal related to family matters. Cho Hyun-ah, company chairman Cho Yang-ho’s daughter, recently made a flight she was on turn back so one of the stewards could be kicked off at the gate. The reason: she was served macadamia nuts in an unopened bag which she, as the person actually in charge of the airline’s in-flight services, thought was not the proper way. According to common descriptions of the story she basically transformed into a dragon in response. She clearly went way too far, and by now she has ended up stripped of all of her company titles and was forced to publicly apologize for her actions.

ChoHyun_ahCho Hyun-ah (centre) with father Cho Yang-ho, apologizing (photo: Song Eun-seok)

The NYT doesn’t fail to add that the incident

“is likely to stoke already seething anger at the country’s family owned conglomerates — or chaebol — whose leaders have a reputation for imperious behavior and treating their employees like feudal subjects.”

It is worth remembering at this point Chonghaejin Marine Company’s case. It was their ship, the MW Sewol ferry which sank in April of this year. Over 300 drowned in that incident caused to a great extent by human errors. On its last journey the ferry was carrying over three times the amount of cargo it was supposed to carry, and the extra load was not properly secured. After a relatively sharp turn by the vessel at one point the cargo shifted and caused the boat to capsize.

Yoo Byung-eun was the head of the family whose business empire extended to control of Chonghaejin, run by Yoo Byung-eun’s sons at the time. In the wake of the ferry disaster, the public mood turned against father Yoo, and South Korean authorities issued an arrest warrant against him related to charges of embezzlement, negligence and tax evasion. His children fled the country, and in the meantime he went into hiding, presumably with the support of the 100,000-strong Evangelical Baptist Church which he co-founded.

Eventually police found a badly decomposed body in the middle of a field in the middle of nowhere, south of the capital Seoul, and based on DNA evidence it was proclaimed that it was Yoo Byung-eun. He was thus pronounced dead. Police is still after Yoo Som-na, a daugther of his who is also accused of embezzlement and is held in prison in France awaiting decision on her extradition. Her defenders argue she would not get a fair trial in South Korea at this point.

The NYT is also referring to a story where a “ruling-family” member at the telecom and petrochemical conglomerate SK group beat up a union activist with an aluminum bat. This exaplains the context where many papers are now calling on government and judicial authorities to set examples with some chaebol princes and princesses to put an end to what they describe as “imperial abuse.”

The spy who came in from the cold

by fpman

Some blogging-scarce days are past me. Family matters (I mean, blogging about them) had to wait. Now hopefully I’m back to some more regular posting.

For a while it looked like I might write to you about this developing story in Tanzania where the government was apparently considering evicting some 40,000 people from an area that the royal family from Dubai (UAE) was interested in using as hunting ground. But then it turned out people in government can still get back to their senses or at least can be pressured not to go all the way when thinking out loud about carrying out such an atrocity.

Additionally, I then came across an even crazier story. Just take a look at the headline and you’ll see what I’m talking about:

“Palestinian state is a ‘fantasy’, says son of Hamas founder.”

You would think of anyone having anything to do with Hamas as being in favour of an Islamic state in the territory of “all of Palestine,” basically, as far as their known position is concerned. But Mosab Hassan Yousef is special. His father, Sheikh Hassan Yousef was one of seven founders of the Hamas movement in 1987. And Mosab, as Sheikh Hassan’s son, was part of the movement, too. But, as the story goes, he eventually became disillusioned with what he saw in Hamas’ prisons.* He says he couldn’t stomach the regular torturing of people who were accused of being collaborators with Israel. Eventually he was approached by Israel’s Shin Bet security service and started working with them. He did so for a decade although not quite all the way under the perfect cover – his ties to Shin Bet eventually became known to Hamas’ leaders who were embarrassed by this and feared mostly that news of this would get out. Mosab left Ramallah in time to make it, and currently lives in the United States. He can thank that in part to Gonen Ben Yitzhak, his former Shin Bet handler and a personal good friend by this stage. Ben Yitzhak broke Shin Bet’s code of secrecy and came out to speak in public in Mosab’s defence when the United States was about to deport him from the country “for his Hamas ties.”

* Remark added on December 6: apparently, this happened in an Israeli prison’s effectively Hamas-controlled wing where mostly only Hamas members were held at the time.

Watch this video to hear some of the story directly from Mosab. Bonus crazy twist alert: a lady asks him at the end basically (though not in these exact words) about whether he might be like Nicholas Brody of “Homeland,” like, trying to infiltrate the West with a sophisticated cover story and all that. Mosab manages to answer with a straight face. Crazy questions most likely are a form of compliment when it comes to a crazy story such as this.

All quiet in the House of Saud?

by fpman

Gerald Butt, writing for the BBC, is warning us (in my words from here) that the situation past peak production of oil is not the only concern we should have related to Saudi Arabia: being past peak production of the “Sudairi sons” may be similarly concerning, prospectively. The Sudairi sons, or the “Sudairi Seven” are seven sons of the late Saudi king Ibn Saud from Hassa al-Sudairi, a favourite among the late king’s many wives. Currently this line of the family provides the oil kingdom with its succession of rulers.

Below is the relevant part of the family tree from Butt’s article, also giving you suggestions as to who in the next generation could follow once Abdullah, Salman and Muqrin will no longer be there.

Now, we don’t have to have a PhD in Gender Studies to be able to tell that there’s something wrong with how the family tree is visualised there. And no, it’s not that it is indicated that King Ibn Saud had “approximately” forty-five sons even though that indicates some potentially interesting things, too. On a more superficial level, the obvious problem is that women apparently are not supposed to belong in a scheme of this kind. It’s just the men who are shown. Hassa al-Sudairi has done her service as the mother of seven royal heirs but that doesn’t earn her a place there.

SaudiRoyalLineageAn overview of le royal with ease

At the risk of saying “at the risk of stating the obvious,” we may add that the absence of women is of course reflective of the general understanding of the role of women in Saudi Arabia. It is the men who deal with the important problems, such as that of which of them should take the throne. Back to Butt’s article:

“A meeting of the Allegiance Council, a body consisting of sons and grandsons of Ibn Saud to resolve succession issues, was held in March 2014 and endorsed King Abdullah’s elevation of Prince Muqrin – with the proviso that this appointment could not be overturned.”

At the end of the day, however, I don’t actually have to have a PhD in Geopolitical Studies to be able to tell you that this of course is not necessarily the foremost concern from the point of view of the world economy right now, and that in fact a succession of well-educated royal heirs to the throne may be much better in this respect than a bunch of AK-wielding shura members electing their caliphs (opportunity cost, damn it).

I beg your pardon

by fpman

So I beg your pardon because this is just a modest post, without additional research, mostly drawing attention to a link to an article about Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe (D).

The Governor is soon finishing his second term in office and before leaving he is interested in pardoning a few people. What makes this an issue, some would say a controversial issue, is that his son, Kyle Beebe, is among those he put on the list of prospective beneficiaries. Son Kyle was sentenced for the possession of two ounces of marijuana back in 2003 and admits in his pardon request to have been involved in “selling” marijuana. But with marijuana’s legalization becoming more popular these days, this is not likely to be seen as a mortal sin by most – controversy comes mostly from the general dilemmas of pardoning family members.

These dilemmas are certainly acute in the case of another prospective beneficiary. Governor Beebe is also apparently interested in pardoning a certain Michael E. Jackson, a convicted sex offender, who is also a known longtime friend of the Beebe family. By now new documents have emerged related to Jackson’s case, however, which even the Governor’s office now wants to examine before there is a final decision.

The article ends with a good summary of prominent examples of others who made similar decisions in the past in U.S. politics, including Mike Beebe’s fellow Arkansas native Bill Clinton:

“In the final hours of his presidency, Bill Clinton pardoned his half-brother, Roger, for a 1980s drug conviction.

In 2011, on his final night in office, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger reduced the prison sentence of the son of former California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, Esteban Nunez, who had pleaded guilty to participating in the killing of a college student. Over the objections of prosecutors, Schwarzenegger cut Nunez’s prison term from 16 years to seven years.”

The born-Bush legacy

by fpman

Some in-your-face analysis on the new Texas land commissioner, George Prescott Bush, elected yesterday: He’s got a name. And a family.

“People like the idea of a next generation of Bushes in Texas politics. He’s seen very positively across the board, by Republicans and Democrats. People know the name, it has very positive resonance in Texas, even more positive than George H.W. Bush or George W. Bush. He’s young, he’s good-looking, but there’s nothing substantive yet about him.” (Cal Jillson, political scientist, Southern Methodist University, Texas, US)

In case you wondered what the Bush family connections look like, here is the family history, along with the family bush tree.

george_hw_bush_family_history

George P. is thus grandson of former President George H.W., nephew to former President George W., and the son of former Florida governor “Jeb”, a.k.a. John Ellis (a potential presidential aspirant in 2016).

As George P. recently declared: “It’s legacy that I embrace and that I’m not going to run away from.”

In Texas that may be the right attitude. In the rest of the United States the same thing may not work equally well overall.

One (or more) question(s) about North Korea

by AiteVer

It’s been trending like crazy that Kim Jong-un, the current Supreme Leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (aka the North one) has been out of sight for more than a month. The mystery that surrounds the case has sparked mountainous debate and, strangely, all we can do is wait and see the events unfold.

Kim Jong-un came to power in 2011, following the death of his father Kim Jong-il who had earlier succeeded his father Kim Il-sung, in 1994. The latter was the first leader of the independent North Korea and was canonized as the ‘Eternal Leader’ by the country’s constitution. The respect for the Kim lineage derives from this constitutional arrangement, heavily supported by an all-enhancing state-led personality cult. In short, the Supreme Leader has all the decision-making power and his rule is unquestionable. Well, at least that’s how it looks.

1024px-The_statues_of_Kim_Il_Sung_and_Kim_Jong_Il_on_Mansu_Hill_in_Pyongyang_(april_2012)The ancestors (Source)

Following the disappearance of the latest Kim, there are multiple scenarios on what could have happened and what is expected to happen next. It stems from the nature of the North Korean system that at least some elements of these scenarios are only guesswork:

  • The widely popular view is that Kim Jong-un lost political control and was toppled by his government’s officials. This article describes the decision-making system as highly hierarchical and puts the Central Committee in the strongest position while underlining that the Party is not even mentioned in the constitution. As a result, most interactions ‘stem from habit, custom and established pattern’. No wonder most of the speculation involves a close examination of recent appointments in this strict structure.  This other piece provides a table that shows recent movements in the main governmental bodies.
  • Hwang Pyong-so’s fresh (and highly anticipated) promotion as the vice-chairman of the National Defense Commission and his visit last week to South Korea (on Kim Jong-un’s plane with Kim Jong-un’s bodyguards) suggested that he has become the second strongest person in the country.
  • Then, in another account, a former top official claims that the Leader already lost power to the government’s Organization and Guidance Department back in 2013, which was signaled by the public humiliation and execution of Jang Song-taek, a member of the previously untouchable Kim family.
  • The Diplomat writes that it’s likely that Kim Jong-un’s sister Kim Yo-jong temporarily took over the leadership while he recovers from his mysterious illness. By the way, officially it’s been denied that he’s suffering from any illness.

The above are just some of the speculations that circulate in international media. According to an expert cited by Time magazine

“These episodes [like Kim’s absence] reveal as much about us as them—our own assumptions, even obsessions, when it comes to North Korea. We assume North Korea must be on the brink of collapse, so when the young leader suspends his relentless ‘onsite guidance visits’ for a few weeks, we assume he’s been overthrown. Precisely because we have fewer sources of reliable, direct information about North Korea, it pays not to rush to judgment. “

Either way, there is another alluring question related to the issue: what happens if Kim Jong-un is really out? Interestingly, only a few articles delve into this kind of speculation. It is an exciting one. Living with such a huge legacy and their vividly praised ancestry, certainly no Kim could ever be pushed aside in total silence. Or is this a mistaken assumption? In a personalized de facto monarchy the next Supreme Leader will surely have to be another Kim, right?

A key challenge related to this is that there are very few options left on the table: there’s the sister (who is a ‘senior official’ apart from being sister), there’s that guy who lost his chances by visiting Disneyland on a fake passport, too, and the other brother who was deemed unable to rule by his father and is assumed uncontrollable. It would be easier if Kim Jong-un had an adult heir but he is only reported to have a young daughter. Or is it perhaps time for reconciliation and a new era of North Korean politics? Well…


kim family treeThe Kim Family Tree (Source)

The next major event in the DPRK’s life will be held on October 10. The country will celebrate Party Foundation Day, the celebration of the foundation of the DPRK Workers’ Party, and we will – or we will not – see the Supreme Leader cheering with his people.

Teh faceplant

by fpman

I am in such a rush to bring this photo (below) to the attention of The Patrimony’s followers I am not even going to correct the title above.

Obama_OvalOfficeThe faceplant – photo: Lawrence Jackson (source)

So this is a pic from the White House Flickr page (taken in June this year, published today). One source summarizes what we need to know about it thus:

“When a retiring Secret Service agent and his wife were invited to speak with Barack Obama in the Oval Office, the couple’s young son was offered the chance to go face-to-face with the world’s most powerful man. Instead …”

The context, provided to you straight from our Situation Room: US President Barack Obama has a history of popular photos with kids (see for example this story + photo combo, too). And the US Secret Service has a recent history of rather uncomfortable scandals.

Sometimes, if you add up one and one, it’s less than two – but may still be more than one. Call it the halo effect, if you’re the scientific type.

Dino Bouterse: Bad apple in the Big Apple?

by fpman

The following story reads like the script for a double episode of a crime show. Its 100% similarity with actual persons and events is the responsibility of those involved.

In the prequel: father serves in the Dutch Army, then goes home to the former Dutch colony of by-then-independent Suriname (1975). Takes part in a bloody coup d’état called the Sergeants’ Coup (1980). Leads a military regime for eleven years, handpicking nominal rulers of the country. While in power as leader of the junta, he is accused of having personally ordered or condoned some dreadful things, including the execution of his political opponents and revolting villagers. He heavily restricts political freedoms and even closes down the University of Suriname. To top this all off, he is, in 1999, sentenced to eleven years in abstentia in the Netherlands for involvement in the cocaine trade. An international arrest warrant is issued for him but he manages to avoid getting caught, and is, in 2010, elected as President of his sovereign country of Suriname.

That is Dési Bouterse’s story. End of Part One – to be continued.

Father has a son, and in the awesome second part we see son Dino get involved in the drugs trade himself, busted eventually in Panama after he offers US DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) agents, posing as Hezbollah operatives, assistance with setting up a training site for Hezbollah in Suriname, in return for $2 million. Even obtains a false Surinamese passport for one of the people who approach him, as eventually he himself admits in court in New York (two days ago).

DinoBouterseDino Bouterse, a former official of the Surinamese government as head of anti-terrorism, seemed to have an inclination to take “anti-terrorism” matters into his own hands (source of the photo, with context)

Father (and President) Dési, “shocked” to hear of his son’s arrest, now says “My son is responsible for his own actions.”

Dési_and_Dino_BouterseFather and son (photo: AP).

Curtains.