Jul 29, 2007

Norway _ A Small But Strong Country

C6 speech by Kevin Chuu


Ladies and gentlemen! I think some of the middle-edge members still remember this song and the cartoon it belongs to--The Little hero of The North Sea (北海小英雄). This story is talking about a young boy, though thin and little, using his wisdom to fight with the big bad pirates and hostile countries. If you got some history background, you should know this boy, let's call him Willy, was a little Viking. That means he was a Norwegian boy. He lived in today's Norway.

Here's another event also having something to do with Norway. Two weeks ago, the Apple Company hyped their new products, the iPhone, bloating how fancy it was, and how many people were rushing to buy it. An iPhone will cost you US$500 to 600 plus $36 for activating it. But four days later, as the Apple was sitting and waiting for the big money coming in, a young man called DVD Jon decode its activating code and post it on his blog to share with everyone. Therefore no one needs to pay that $36 any more.

From DVD Jon's viewpoint, the Apple Company and other software monopolies are using license code and other protecting measures to unfairly take money from our pockets. So he vowed to make those greedy companies open their source codes, otherwise he will just keep decoding their stuff. This man made me recall little Willy in the cartoon. And what a coincidence! DVD Jon is also a Norwegian, a pirate of intellectual property. It seems they just have the same blood and tradition.

Do you know how DVD Jon got his name? His real name is Jon Lech Johansen. When he was 15 years old, he decoded the protection program of DVD. Since then, everyone in the world could copy DVD by the program he shared. He was seen as a hero, and got the name of DVD Jon.

The messages, from either little Willy or DVD Jon, is that humble individuals us their personal efforts to fight with the major power in the world for what they believe right.

All of this just makes me admire their country, Norway. This country, just like little Willy and DVD Jon, is a small country with only about 4.7 million populations, locating in the desolate Scandinavia of Northern Europe. However thanks to the oil export, this country is very rich. Although their GDP is the second highest in the world, their society is basically modest, not extravagant at all. Unlike other super power in the world, they don't put their interest on the first priority. On the contrary, they see themselves as humanitarians. They bestow Nobel Peace Prize every year, promote land mine inhibition in UN and host peace talk between Israel and Palestinians.

However what really made me respect them was something happened recently. They have a public pension fund of about $330 billions, the biggest one in Europe. Norwegian government uses this fund to invest the major stock markets. But, last month, they kicked some US companies out of their investment list for ethical failing. That meant these companies, such as Wal-Mart, are making products by bad or immoral ways. Wal-Mart's suppliers, some of them from developing countries are accused for child labor violation. And the strategy did work, those international big companies, though exasperated, finally yielded and tried to clarify their connections with those notoriously wrong doings. Norwegians, the descendants of little Willy, have once again proved how a country can be small but strong.

I think Taiwan should get some inspiration from Norway. Maybe we are only a small player in the world, but we don't need to be a weak one. We can play wisely just like little Willy and DVD Jon. Therefore we can earn more respect and approval.

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