Posts Tagged ‘southeast asia’
Outlook India’s Vivek Menezes writes about how the Indian state of Goa, once a Portuguese enclave, has flirted with the idea of being a Singapore-like city-state.
At that very beginning of decolonisation in Asia, the Portuguese dictator Salazar found a lot to like in what was happening in the British-ruled port city — its new Legislative Council included only six (later nine) elected seats out of twenty-five, and only British subjects were eligible to vote. Meanwhile the colonial system remained dominant. Salazar figured this an excellent model for the four-centuries-old Estado da India Portuguesa.
Even after the Council yielded to a fully-elected Assembly, and the UK Parliament passed the 1958 State of Singapore Act accepting the establishment of an independent state, Salazar still looked for a Singapore-type solution to the increasingly thorny Goa crisis, as Nehru and Krishna Menon grew progressively restive about the last colonial “pimple disfiguring the face of India”. The Portuguese dangled promise of a NATO port at Mormugao to his allies, and it took a Russian veto to stymie the US/UK-led United Nations resolution demanding withdrawal of Indian troops after their mercifully bloodless takeover in 1961.
In the immediate aftermath of Indian annexation, the Goan freedom fighter (he famously got into a fistfight with the colonial Governor General) António Anastásio Bruto da Costa led a group demanding “Goan Goa” with “full sovereignty” to be achieved via “natural right to a plebiscite.” This “third force” also looked to Singapore as a model of what might be possible in Goa.
With those political questions resolved, visions of Singapore continue dancing in the minds of a very wide range of contemporary observers of India’s smallest state. As India Today — the national media outlet that gets Goa most consistently wrong — ludicrously put it in 2013, “the steady march of urbanisation, experts predict, will turn tiny Goa into a Singapore-like city state miraculously untouched by the woes of overpopulation and urbanisation.”
Why these supercharged fantasies for famously laid-back Goa? Perhaps the promise of manageable size, with per-capita GDP and human development statistics dramatically higher than the neighbours? Both Singapore and Goa are centuries-old pockets of globalisation, with relatively cosmopolitan leanings. If it could happen there, it could logically follow that it can also happen here.
For anyone familiar with the cuisine of the Philippines, this is big news: Jollibee, a Manila-based fast food chain that’s widely seen as the country’s answer to McDonalds, is planning to open a restaurant in Toronto. The company, which already has about 30 stores in the U.S., has chosen Toronto for their first Canadian store, with their CFO saying they hope to be open here within the year.
For those previously unacquainted with the chain: The menu spans North American fast-food classics with a few local favourites. (Their mascot, naturally, is a jolly bee.)
Part of a large overseas expansion plan to set up restautants in the Middle East, Europe, and Japan, this seems to be the chain’s second attempt to expand overseas. Robin Levinson’s February 2014 Canadian Business article notes how the first push into the North American market was flawed, trying to compete head-on with established giants, and suggests that targeting urban centres with large Filipino populations is part of Jollibee’s North American strategy.
When its first location opens here next year, Canadians will finally be able to enjoy the distinctive pineapple-topped Aloha burger that has helped make Jollibee the Philippines’ largest fast-food chain. But the restaurant took its time expanding globally, having opened in the U.S. 15 years before considering coming north of the border.
Founded in 1975 as a single ice cream parlour just outside downtown Manila, Jollibee is today the flagship brand of a family-run empire, spanning 2,700 stores and nine brands around the world.
Jose Miñana, who heads U.S. operations for the company, says Jollibee initially limited its expansion to just those areas with large Filipino populations. But the company later decided to aggressively pursue “mainstream” clientele, opening branches in further-flung locations and tweaking recipes to cater to North American tastes.
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After opening its doors in Toronto, Jollibee hopes to expand to other cities in Canada—like Vancouver and Winnipeg—with high Filipino populations.
Unlike in the Philippines, where Jollibee is a franchise, all of its North American stores are company-owned. Although franchises would allow Jollibee to expand faster, Miñana says that’s not the point: “We want to enter there with the Jollibee brand the way we want it done—really right.”