[About this blog] Inspired by local soccer player Mike Lim during my rookie reporter days at Singapore Polytechnic, I set up this blog in August 2002. I feel that blogging is a novel platform to document interesting facets of my life and my thoughts on certain issues. [Email blogger] ephraim@singnet.com.sg

Saturday, November 22, 2008

[APEC in Peru]
I was happy to return to Peru after 24 years. After getting married in Boston in 1984, my wife and I toured South America for two weeks as part of an extended honeymoon. We travelled cheaply as students, staying in 2-star hotels and flying dangerous airlines (in hindsight). From La Paz, where we suffered badly from altitude sickness, we flew to Cuzco and travelled by train to Macchu Picchu. Those centres of Inca civilization left an indelible impression on me. When we arrived in Lima, the city looked as if it had been bombed. Buildings were run down; the streets were dusty; even Miraflores, the best district, looked tattered. Inflation was in double digits, becoming triple digits a year afterwards.

Lima has improved by leaps with beautiful hotels and charming restaurants. Peru is now one of the fastest growing countries in Latin America although the current crisis will slow it down. Alain Garcia who was a young President in the late 80's is back, this time wiser and more mature. Parks, public buildings have been spruced up for the arrival of world leaders. Walking through the old city last night, there was a carnival air. Pedestrians and motorists wave to visitors, grinning broadly and gesturing with thumbs up. At the Plaza Mayor, I saw the welcome ceremony for the Vietnamese PM.

Arriving in Lima

I visited a few old churches. Peru remains a very Catholic country, a legacy from its Spanish past.

At Franciscan Monastery

This morning, I took part in a panel at the APEC Business Summit, joining the newly elected NZ Prime Minister on stage. The economic crisis dominated the discussions. I talked about the need to respond both top down and from bottom up. Top down, we need better international coordination and a reform of institutions like the IMF. Bottom up, countries, companies, families and individuals have to go back to basics - hard work, education, not spending more than what we earn, building up trust and reputation. There's no shortcut to success and making money.

With Peru Trade Minister

With Peru FM

With Japanese FM

With Korean Trade Minister

With Australian FM

Group Picture with Foreign and Trade Ministers

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