Everything seems to have a "Standards Board" these days. Not a bad idea really, if it applies to everyone fairly, is clear and unambiguous. Of course, they do go for "minimum standards", to protect the less robust in the case of financial institutions for example. Basel II is a case in point - on the basis that it was actually needed in the first place - but here we have an agreed set of "standards" to apply to the financial services industry globally. Wonderful. But no sooner had it been put in place when certain countries said "Well, yes, this is good, but perhaps it doesn't all apply to us", and others who said "Clearly, the top ten banks have to follow the rules in their entirety, but the other 12,000 can modify it to something simpler". Drop the standards, double the trouble. Bail out the big investment banks, who perhaps should have known better, but sorry, the little provincial bank must be allowed to fail.
Financial markets aside, what about the sporting community? I am getting just a little fed up of the "warnings" being put around in advance of the Olympics which start on Friday, against the drug cheats. Not because I think drug induced performances should be condoned, but because the people who are giving the "heaviest" warnings seem to come from countries with a high proportion of suspect athletes and sports people, who have already had their sports men and women disqualified from previous victories. The standards are there, but they only seem to provide a "target" for the coaches to aim at, and see what they can get away with.
Speaking of the Olympics, there is a great deal of fuss about the use of the internet and the level of access being allowed to journalists and others in Beijing. Journalists, it seems, want to go to Beijing to report on the Olympics - and the first thing they do after they arrive is try and access sensitive sites as a "test". I think that China is entitled to believe, as has been stressed in other parts of the world at other times, that the Olympics should be non-political. This should be for genuine sporting achievement. If you want to protest about something, fine, but there is a time and a place for everything. It seems that the Chinese are much more likely to respect the sensitivities of their hosts when they visit other countries, than the so called civilised world is choosing to do when in China.
And as we are on politics, I was struck by a comment in the Letters column of the South China Morning Post a few weeks ago, when someone wrote about the way in which the world treats Mr. Mugabe on the one hand in Zimbabwe, and Hamas on the other. Once again, don't misunderstand me as I am not apologising for, or condoning terrorism. It seems odd, though, that from an election which by all accounts was reasonably and fairly run we have an elected Government (Hamas), which is subject to immediate sanctions by the West if they put one foot out of line. On the other we are subjected to regular doses of an African leader, unfairly elected, who by almost every account is unspeakably dreadful - and no-one does anything other than express their distaste for him.
Standards? Yes, let's agree them and abide by them if that is what they are there for, but double standards are quite unacceptable.