Today, I woke up with light tears and heart upon the news that my master, Thích Nhất Hạnh, has passed away at Từ Hiếu Temple in the homeland of Huế, where his spiritual journey began in 1945. It is also the homeland of my in-law family, a Buddhist heartland. Light, in the sense that he… Continue reading Thích Nhất Hạnh (1926-2022)
COVID-19 has taken away many lives and unfairly so. Today marked the departure from this world of one my favourite southern Vietnamese country music singers, Phi Nhung (1970-2021), whom everyone in diaspora households grew up watching and listening to in the 1990s-2000s. This was a time when our parents, grandparents, relatives, friends, and compatriots began… Continue reading Phi Nhung (1970-2021)
"Responding to Chinese challenge with democratic socialism" by Thomas Piketty, 13 July 2021. In a recent blog post, Piketty argues that the most salient way for the West to address the supposed "Chinese challenge" is to be honest about chronic shortfalls at home and launch big investments into human capital and physical infrastructure. This will… Continue reading Egalitarian cure?
In the past week, Vietnam's 13th Communist Party Congress has been taking place. It is also 35 years ago since the country's reform era (officially termed "renovation" or Đổi mới) was launched during the 6th Communist Party Congress. A former editor-in-chief of Communist Review, the party's flagship journal, said that this congress should be viewed… Continue reading Reflections on Vietnam’s 35 years of reform
A difficult year is coming to an end. I have been fairly safe throughout this year, so far. However, the Buddhist concept of impermanence (vô thường) has never felt as close by as in many moments this year: how precious yet vulnerable a life can be. One may have to leave this world in any… Continue reading In memory
Spending time in self-isolation in foreign land has naturally triggered me to quietly observe the variety of pandemic responses being executed, either directly through my own observations (in Indonesia) or indirectly through regular conversations with colleagues who come from different parts of the world. These days, my way to show my care for someone that… Continue reading Pandemic responses for developing countries
Pakistan Monument, Islamabad. The past two months of the end of this year have been incredibly busy and kept my mind and heart way too occupied from any writing or even "unwritten" moments of self-reflections. But no amounts of exhaustion or other circumstances shall prevent me from penning down anything about my latest overseas trip… Continue reading A letter from Pakistan
Before writing this, I had already received the permission from a colleague of mine, a native of the capital Pyongyang of North Korea, to write about my experience with her. In general, it would be strange to comment on your colleague in a public post, both on professional and personal grounds. But instead, my aim… Continue reading Learning from a rare friend
The news of this year's Nobel laureate(s) in Economic Sciences was just an hour ago announced to be the economists Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer for their work to alleviate global poverty, the official announcement said. Hopefully, this will bring development economics back on the radar of mainstream economics and make the field… Continue reading The return of development economics?
In many developing countries with a deeply rooted legacy of socialism and egalitarianism, debates about choosing between the policy preferences of economic growth, equality and social justice remain as contentious as ever. Within economics, unanimity is really never meant to be achieved when studying the following questions: What is the optimal tax rate? What is… Continue reading China and inequality