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AsiaGlobal Voices

Trending Opinions From Across the Region

AsiaGlobal Voices is a curated feed of summaries of opinion articles, columns and editorials published in local languages in media from across Asia.

The publication of AsiaGlobal Voices summaries does not indicate any endorsement by the Asia Global Institute or AsiaGlobal Online of the opinions expressed in them.
Coexisting With Covid-19 For The Next Five Years
Wednesday, December 15, 2021
Coexisting With Covid-19 For The Next Five Years

Fu Laixing, commentator, in Lianhe Zaobao (October 3, 2021)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Dr David Sing / Shutterstock.com)

Coexisting With Covid-19 For The Next Five Years

After achieving a vaccination rate of 82 percent, Singapore appeared ready to transition to the new normal of a Covid-19 resilient society. Then in August, the number of new daily cases rose dramatically. The question is: How long can society tolerate coexisting with the virus?

After two years there seems to be no end in sight and even after cases fall, it will till take several years for the world to return to normal. Indeed, over the past 130 years, the world has faced five major pandemics, lasting up to five years. The vaccine offers some hope. Yet, countries that have reached a certain percentage of vaccination rates such as Singapore now require their citizens to get a third booster shot. And even in the future, they will have to administer the vaccine regularly to maintain immunity as the virus evolves. Challenges stem from new variants and increased transmission during autumn and winter.

The situation is therefore precarious. Society believes that the government should not rush to loosen restrictions and that opening the borders must be done gradually. Reintroduced movement control measures have caught the public and companies by surprise. A survey found that two-thirds of the surveyed Singaporeans struggle with restrictions that limit social interaction and dining. Such measures will also undoubtedly affect Singapore’s economic performance in the second half of the year. Yet, without such action, infections will continue to climb, and it will be even more difficult to flatten the curve.

Coexisting with this virus over the next five years will be no easy task. The government must strike a careful balance between protecting Singapore’s livelihood and saving lives.


Acknowledging Gender X
Thursday, May 5, 2022
Acknowledging Gender X

Jo Chan-je, journalist, in Kyunghyang Shinmun (April 1, 2022)

Summary by Paul Forien (Photo credit: Raphael Rashid @koryodynasty on Twitter)

Acknowledging Gender X

There are people who consider themselves as intersex or non-binary, deviating from the male-female gender identity. They are called the “third sex”. The concept of gender, which refers to acquired sex, has drawn attention since the 1960s. In 2003, an “X” instead of an “M” or “F” appeared for the first time in the gender information field of an Australian passport. This was the first acknowledgement of the existence of a third adult gender X.

From April 2022, American citizens can select an “X” as their gender on their passport without a proof of sex reassignment surgery. This measure improves the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in the United States – including 1.2 million adult non-binary, 5.5 million intersex and 2 million transgender individuals. This demonstrates the commitment of the administration of US President Joe Biden to diversity at a time when LGBTI people have been discriminated against in the military, work, religious activities, and sports. The social atmosphere has changed a lot however institutional support is still slow in improving.

The situation in Korea is even worse. According to a survey conducted by the National Human Rights Commission of Korea, more than 8 out of 10 people have never tried to correct their gender because of medical expenses and concerns of unfair treatment. Will the “X” mark appear in the gender column of Korean passports? Unfortunately, the case of transgender Sergeant Byun Hee-soo, the reactions of Koreans to the queer parade, and the behavior of conservative politicians promoting gender confrontation do not indicate a change anytime soon.


Pragmatism over Ideology: New Leadership for the Region and Beyond
Thursday, April 28, 2022
Pragmatism over Ideology: New Leadership for the Region and Beyond

Ei Sun Oh, senior fellow, Singapore Institute of International Affairs, and principal adviser, Pacific Research Center, Malaysia, in The Manila Times (April 27, 2022)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: PNA)

Pragmatism over Ideology: New Leadership for the Region and Beyond

The presidential election in the Philippines, one of the democracies in the developing world, is attracting attention. As neighbors with the best of intentions, we have our small wish list. Top of it would be an unwavering desire for the Philippine economy to prosper, for the sake of not just the Filipinos, but the growth of the region as a whole as well. Philippine economic growth was quite impressive at over 5 percent annually for a few years, but was inevitably dragged into negative territory by the pandemic. It has since rebounded but the country would have to work hard to keep up this momentum.

The pandemic recovery coincides with the entry into force of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), to which the Philippines and all other member states of ASEAN, as well as China, South Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, have signed on. It essentially creates the world's largest free trade area and common market for its members. The new Philippine leadership, together with its regional counterparts, must put their heads together to take full advantage of RCEP.

As neighbors, we wish that the future Philippine leader would put less stress on ideology and more on pragmatism when it comes to the conduct of foreign and international affairs. There is an outcry for effective regional leadership that would hopefully steady the increasingly precarious regional ship in the South China Sea and beyond. A new Philippine leader should take charge of the rudder amid a turbulent sea of international intrigues. And a new leader must make sure that the very democracy that elected him or her into office is kept thriving and does not backslide into autocracy. The region is not immune from authoritarian or even dictatorial rule, and the Filipino fire for democracy must stay lit.


To Strengthen the Immunity of Society Against Covid-19, Build Trust in Vaccines
Tuesday, April 26, 2022
To Strengthen the Immunity of Society Against Covid-19, Build Trust in Vaccines

Jakkrit Sangkhamanee, associate professor of anthropology in the Faculty of Political Science of Chulalongkorn University, and Abhirat Supthanasup, National Centre for Epidemiology & Population Health Research, Australian National University, in The Standard (March 31, 2022)

Summary by Nisara Panchang (Photo credit: Ministry of Labour, Kingdom of Thailand)

To Strengthen the Immunity of Society Against Covid-19, Build Trust in Vaccines

During the Covid-19 pandemic, public perceptions towards managing the spread of infectious disease in society is essential, in particular, the success and limitations of vaccines. In Thailand, there has been much debate over the effectiveness of each type of vaccine. In the early stages, Sinovac was the main vaccine deployed in Thailand. The National Communicable Disease Committee approved mixed vaccination, using Sinovac for the first dose and AstraZeneca for the second, with three to four weeks in between, to increase immunity to the Delta variant.

The Ministry of Public Health released a report on the effectiveness of the Sinovac from a study in Thailand that the efficacy of the vaccine against the Alpha and the Delta variants was 90 percent and 75 percent, respectively. The World Health Organization (WHO), however, warned against mixing and matching Covid-19 vaccines from different manufacturers. This led to public confusion, as well as criticism about the cross-vaccination plan, which consequently raised concerns over the efficacy of the Sinovac vaccine and driven demand for the Moderna version. Citizens have been willing to bear the increased cost of purchasing an alternative vaccine from private hospitals.

A weak vaccine is a vaccine that cannot work effectively in society as a result of unclear information and lack of transparency in procurement and distribution. To boost society’s immunity, the government should build trust and strengthen the legitimacy and acceptability of vaccines.


Minimum Wage Single Standard is an Anachronism
Wednesday, April 13, 2022
Minimum Wage Single Standard is an Anachronism

Park Nam-gyu Park, Professor of Business Administration at Seoul National University, in Munhwa Ilbo (April 07, 2021)

Summary by Paul Forien (Photo credit: Jeon Han/Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Korea)

Minimum Wage Single Standard is an Anachronism

The Minimum Wage Committee has launched its review for next year's minimum wage. It is, however, unlikely that its members will easily draw a conclusion because of the clear differences in position among the representatives of the various interests including government, employers and workers. 

Giver price rises it would be great if workers could comfortably raise their hourly wages as they have called for. It is by no means simple, however. For a minimum wage increase to create a sustainable economic virtuous cycle, three important prerequisites must be met. The first is an increase in worker productivity. If the rate of productivity growth cannot catch up with the wage increase of workers, the company will have difficulties surviving in the market. 

Second, there must be enough jobs to pay more than the minimum wage. Most of the minimum-wage jobs are at companies in the lodging/food, sports/leisure-related services, agriculture, forestry and fishery industries, where competitiveness is weak. Firms in these sectors often have a hard time surviving even with the smallest wage increases, which may lead to job losses. 

Third, the demand for minimum-wage labor in the market must exceed the supply. Otherwise, those with jobs, whether by ability or luck, may be adversely affected by the policy, receiving higher than appropriate market wages. The current labor market shows very high disparities in terms of diversity and complexity which make it more difficult to have a practical effect on the minimum wage determined by a single standard.

Considering all the reasons above and that contracts between employers and workers are economic transactions in the private sector, classifications of the minimum wage by industry or region could be outdated. It is necessary to re-examine whether government involvement in the market is required and to restart a debate about the minimum wage.


Taking a Principled Stance and Imposing Sanctions on Russia
Thursday, April 7, 2022
Taking a Principled Stance and Imposing Sanctions on Russia

Teo Chee Hean, Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security of Singapore, in Lianhe Zaobao (March 26, 2022) 

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: President of Ukraine)

Taking a Principled Stance and Imposing Sanctions on Russia

Singapore has always been a strong advocate of international law and the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter. All nations, large and small, must respect their sovereignty, political independence, and territorial integrity. Singapore, therefore, strongly condemns Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Any violation of these core principles, wherever and whenever it occurs, must be taken seriously.

This has been Singapore’s consistent position. In 1983, Singapore voted against the US invasion of Grenada at the UN General Assembly. We also voted against the invasion of Cambodia at the UN General Assembly from 1979 to 1989. Just because Singapore voted against the US in 1983 does not mean they are their enemies. Meanwhile, just as Singapore voted against the invasion of Cambodia, this does not mean the country supported the Khmer Rouge regime. 

Singapore rarely imposes sanctions on other countries without a binding decision or direction from the UN Security Council. Given the unprecedented severity of Russia's aggression in Ukraine and Russia's unsurprising veto of the Security Council's draft resolution condemning its aggression, Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan announced on February 28 that Singapore would implement sanctions on Russia. Unlike those of many other countries, the sanctions and restrictions are targeted and designed to limit Russia's ability to wage war against Ukraine.

There are a few things Singapore can learn from this conflict: First, conflict never arises without a reason. As every conflict has its historical roots, States should find ways to reduce the precursors of conflict and make every effort to resolve disputes through peaceful means. Second, Singapore should continue to create and develop structures such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) that work to bridge the divide in the region and promote cooperative behavior. 


Government Policies Need to be Clearly Explained to the Public
Thursday, April 7, 2022
Government Policies Need to be Clearly Explained to the Public

Dominic Lau Hoe Chai, President, Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia, in Oriental Daily News (April 1, 2022)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Uwe Aranas/CEphoto)

Government Policies Need to be Clearly Explained to the Public

Many new policies are set to be introduced. As the country reopens its borders and enters its post-pandemic recovery phase, the government is focusing its energy on the implementation of policies for economic recovery, which must be clearly explained to the public.

The government has increased the minimum wage to RM1,500 a month for certain companies. While the new minimum wage is certainly a good thing for migrant workers, it is not a good thing for employers without an increase in employee productivity. This policy clearly has far-reaching implications and must be discussed openly before implementation.

Other proposals include the reduction of the speed limit to 30 kilometers per hour in central Kuala Lumpur.  The view of the Kuala Lumpur City Council is that lowering the speed limit in busy areas of the city will improve road safety in these areas and reduce crashes and fatalities. The government, however, has not provided a channel to hear opinions of the public. 

In addition, the US has accused Malaysian government-linked companies of using forced labor and initiated a ban of oil palm exports. Forced labor is a serious issue and will tarnish Malaysia's reputation. Considering this, as a Ministry with close ties to the public, the Ministry of Human Resources has a duty to communicate and any decisions and actions that have a direct impact on Malaysians.

Any policy implemented or proposed by the government has a potentially profound impact on the public. All policies should be properly explained so that the public can truly benefit from it.


Pushing Putin Into a Corner Will Backfire
Wednesday, April 6, 2022
Pushing Putin Into a Corner Will Backfire

Vikram S Mehta, Chairman, Brookings India, and Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution, in The Indian Express (April 4, 2022)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: President of Russia)

Pushing Putin Into a Corner Will Backfire

Discussion of the genesis of the Ukraine crisis and the extenuating circumstances behind what is an egregious breach of the territorial integrity of a sovereign independent nation has limited value. What is now required are conversations on how to prevent a further escalation of this conflict. India should play a role in driving such conversations. Its decision to abstain from the UN resolutions condemning Russia should give it negotiating heft with Putin; also, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on friendly terms with him; and as the forthcoming chair of the G20 in 2023, India can claim standing.

Putin has failed to achieve his objectives. He has not succeeded in overrunning Ukraine, in changing the regime in Kyiv, or in securing a Russian sphere of influence. In the face of such a massive setback, what will Putin do next? Will he look for a face-saving way out of the corner? Or might he compound his original sin by escalating the conflict? 

The conundrum is how to get him to look at the world through a different lens – how to get him to accept “defeat” without having to concede he has been defeated. There are no simple answers. A good start would be to set out what should not be done. Putin must not be squeezed into a corner. US President Joe Biden’s saying that Putin must not be allowed to stay in power was injudicious. So too were the comments that countries that buy Russian crude oil will find themselves on the “wrong side of history”. The effort now should be to create avenues for a face-saving backdown. India has the credibility and international clout and PM Modi has a personal equation with Putin. These should be leveraged to end this humanitarian tragedy.


Do NOT Use Nuclear Weapons!
Wednesday, April 6, 2022
Do NOT Use Nuclear Weapons!

Akiba Tadatoshi, mayor of Hiroshima from 1999 to 2011, in The Mainichi (March 4, 2022)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes

Do NOT Use Nuclear Weapons!

As a former mayor of Hiroshima, Japan, I call for Russian President Vladimir Putin and the world leaders to declare immediately that no nation will use nuclear weapons in this conflict! I also call for Prime Minister Kishida Fumio, who is from Hiroshima, to visit Moscow to meet President Putin and attend the United Nations Security Council meeting to explain why, by conveying the cry of the hibakusha (atomic bomb survivors) of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

I want to share the sense of urgency that the hibakusha and Japanese citizens felt when President Putin made the first of the two statements that we interpreted as a threat to use nuclear weapons. It compelled me to start an online signature collection campaign titled, "Do NOT Use Nuclear Weapons! -Message from Japan-" via Change.org.

Threatening to use nuclear weapons is a clear violation of international law. It is evident to everyone that the situation of Russia does not qualify as an "extreme situation of self-defense," so there is no doubt that it is a violation of international law.

I ask President Putin and other world leaders to declare immediately the nonuse of all nuclear weapons and ensure to fulfil their most fundamental responsibility as members of the human race. This is the responsibility of all the countries with nuclear weapons, not just Russia.


The Government Should Formulate A Long-Term Strategy For Carbon Neutrality
Tuesday, April 5, 2022
The Government Should Formulate A Long-Term Strategy For Carbon Neutrality

Simran Sawhney, research analyst, and Yang Jingwen, assistant operations manager, Civic Exchange, in Stand News (December 15, 2021) – original article longer available

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region)

The Government Should Formulate A Long-Term Strategy For Carbon Neutrality

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, has pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. In October 2021, the government issued the "Hong Kong Climate Action Blueprint 2050", outlining a mid-term goal towards carbon neutrality. Yet, the blueprint only focuses on the continuation and improvement of existing policies. The government should instead formulate a science-based, long-term comprehensive climate policy.

The government should seek to develop long-term carbon reduction strategies which should include researching low-carbon power generation technology, exploring the possibility of applying hydrogen energy, carbon capture and storage (CCS), energy storage and other technologies.  

The government should also consider setting up an inter-departmental working group to formulate a green hydrogen energy policy for Hong Kong. As the current technology in this area remains expensive and immature, the government should consider providing subsidies and formulate carbon pricing to reduce the cost 

Meanwhile, as Hong Kong’s renewable energy resources are limited, fossil fuels will still be required for power generation. This means that CCS technologies will be indispensable. Again, the cost of such technology remains prohibitively expensive for commercial application. The government and power companies, therefore, should actively participate in relevant R&D projects to help promote its development. 

As more types of energy become available, balancing power supply will become more challenging. The government needs to consider different options, including improving Hong Kong’s domestic power-grid links, connecting the China Southern Power Grid, and increasing energy storage capacity to maintain a stable power supply. 


Problem with Partitions: Excessive Covid-19 Measures in Schools
Wednesday, March 23, 2022
Problem with Partitions: Excessive Covid-19 Measures in Schools

Ralph Yau, Founder of Infinity Montessori Academy, in am730 (October 29, 2021)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: @KashungWis on Twitter)

Problem with Partitions: Excessive Covid-19 Measures in Schools

An Olympic athlete took a group photo while visiting a primary school. Netizens were surprised to see that, in this photo, transparent plastic partitions had been installed on the front, left and right sides of each student’s desk. The Education Bureau only recommends – but does not require – the installation of such partitions in classrooms. Instead, students are required to wear masks and socially distance. The use of such partitions is a prime example of excessive-prevention and fails to consider the needs of students themselves.

The transparent plastic partitions are low quality and will have an impact on students’ vision. The brightness of the light passing through the partitions is also greatly reduced. Research has found that the incidence of myopia in school children is now 2.5 times that before the epidemic. It is believed that these plastic partitions are contributing to vision damage in a similar way as wearing a pair of very low-quality glasses. If students cannot see clearly, they will be less able to study.

Some British and American scholars have claimed that partitions not only have no effect on preventing the spread of the virus but can also become a means for the virus to spread. As the partitions obstruct the air flow, ventilation will be unable to introduce fresh air. Contaminated droplets therefore risk being concentrated in this "dead zone".

All partitions in the classroom should be removed. Hong Kong children deserve better. Yet now, they are lagging behind. Schools should follow educational principles, while the authorities should explain the relevant measures to parents, so as to not have a negative impact on children’s learning and development.


The War in Ukraine: What is the Impact on the Economy?
Wednesday, March 9, 2022
The War in Ukraine: What is the Impact on the Economy?

Jan Carlo “JC” Punongbayan, senior lecturer at the School of Economics of the University of the Philippines, in Rappler (March 4, 2022)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Caltex)

The War in Ukraine: What is the Impact on the Economy?

Some presidential and vice-presidential candidates have been non-committal on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. When Ferdinand Marcos, Jr, was asked for a statement, he said he did not have to take a stand because our country was not involved, except for concerns about Filipinos in Ukraine and Russia. His running mate, Sara Duterte, said we should always be "neutral" if the interests of the Philippines are not involved.

This view is erroneous. The Philippines is part of the global economy, and Russia's occupation of Ukraine is already having an impact. Filipinos have already felt the effects. The price of oil is rising. While the Philippines does not import oil directly from Russia, we still have to deal with the higher costs. In February, inflation remained at 3 percent. But gasoline prices rose by 32.1 percent and diesel by 46.4 percent.

In 2020, only 9 percent of Philippine imports of wheat came from Ukraine. Because of the war, wheat production in Ukraine and Russia is likely to be reduced, and wheat prices are rising in global markets. If the price of our imported wheat goes up too much, the price of flour and bread may also increase. 

According to JP Morgan Chase, the Ukraine crisis could reduce the growth of the Philippine economy by 0.4 percent this year. The Philippines has an interest in the Russian occupation of Ukraine. And if we are neutral, are we then essentially siding with Moscow? Yet, our government condemned the occupation at the emergency special session of the United Nations General Assembly.

In May, vote for a candidate who understands the place of the Philippines in the global economy and politics – and above all, one who has a stand. Candidates should not be neutral. 


The Ukraine War is a Tragedy That Could Have Been Avoided
Wednesday, March 9, 2022
The Ukraine War is a Tragedy That Could Have Been Avoided

Moon Chung-in, Chairman, Sejong Institute, in Hankyoreh (March 6, 2022)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: President of Ukraine)

The Ukraine War is a Tragedy That Could Have Been Avoided

The primary cause of the war in Ukraine is the military adventurism and the victim mentality of a cold-blooded dictator. But can the US and the West be completely absolved of responsibility? 

Harvard University scholar Stephen Walt had predicted that the US and the West’s aggressive values-based foreign policy could provoke Russia to invade Ukraine. Walt said that while security reasons were given for the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) eastward, in reality, it was oriented toward spreading the values of freedom and democracy. It was, therefore, not hard to predict that Putin would regard such movements as tending to isolate Russia and threaten his rule and that he would respond with harsh military action.

What set the tinderbox alight, however, was the miscalculations of the leaders – not only Putin’s unhinged decision to invade, but also Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s immature initial response and failure at managing the crisis and preventing a war. He exacerbated the situation by sending conflicting messages, dangling NATO membership before his supporters, promising neutrality to Russia, and appealing for nuclear armament to the West. He complicated the crisis with contradictory rhetoric, warning the outside world about an impending invasion and asking for military aid even while he told the Ukrainian people to stay calm because there was little chance of an invasion. Another misstep was Zelensky’s naive expectation of military assistance from the US and NATO.

People can hold various opinions about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But if the US and the West had been more prudent about changing the status quo in Russia’s sphere of influence, if Ukraine’s domestic politics had been more unified, and if the Ukrainian president had been more adept at crisis management, this tragedy could have been avoided.


Livestreaming E-Commerce: Cracking Down on Tax Evasion
Wednesday, February 23, 2022
Livestreaming E-Commerce: Cracking Down on Tax Evasion

Ge Changyin, Associate Professor of Accounting at the China Agricultural University, in Jiemian (December 22, 2021)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Weibo)

Livestreaming E-Commerce: Cracking Down on Tax Evasion

China is the fastest-growing and largest market for livestreaming e-commerce in the world. While livestreaming services prosper through their innovative business models, how they earn their income differs from that of other traditional enterprises.

Viya and Li Jiaqi are superstar influencers in this market. The Zhejiang Provincial Tax Service recently disclosed that Viya had evaded taxes amounting to RMB643 million and underpaid RMB60 million in taxes between 2019 and 2020. She was fined RMB1.3billion, representing the largest penalty issued to a livestreamer and sending a clear message that the government will not tolerate tax evasion. 

Here are some ways to address the emerging problems: 

First, it is important to acknowledge that the obligation of taxpayers is to pay their taxes according to the law. One of the main functions of taxation is to address income disparity, and the Viya case is a lesson for every taxpayer. Second, the nature of livestream e-commerce should be categorized as business income rather than individual income, with a maximum tax rate of 35 percent. Third, local commercial departments should bear the responsibility of ensuring compliance of registered companies so that they are not used for tax avoidance. 

To crack down on evasion, China’s taxation authorities should thoroughly investigate these livestreaming businesses and introduce targeted provisions where necessary.


Only by Turning Up to Vote Can Society’s Views Be Heard
Wednesday, February 23, 2022
Only by Turning Up to Vote Can Society’s Views Be Heard

Chen Duanhong, Dean of the Hong Kong and Macau Research Institute of Peking University and Vice President of the National Hong Kong and Macau Research Association, in HK01 (December 13, 2021)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Gaugear Msierpllo)

Only by Turning Up to Vote Can Society’s Views Be Heard

Many have been pessimistic about the voter turnout rate for the Hong Kong Legislative Council elections on December 19, 2021. Whatever happens, there is no doubt that these polls are a testament to the Hong Kong spirit.

Hong Kong should cherish the special constitutional arrangement of “one country two systems”. Indeed, according to Article 23, the central government has been generous to delegate exclusive legislative power to Hong Kong. Yet, many have been slanderously criticizing the central government and causing trouble in the political arena and the media to gain power and seek wealth.

One of the key considerations for China to implement “one country, two systems” was to protect Hong Kong's capitalist society. The Basic Law exists to secure prosperity and stability, which has been supported by entrepreneurship and the Hong Kong spirit.

A perfect democracy must recognize multiple electoral units, not just individual citizens. The design of the political system must reflect diversity and consider the interests of all sectors of society. The functional representation system is a unique characteristic of Hong Kong’s democratic system. It includes all industries, with most practitioners are represented. 

Some people think that the new electoral system has expanded functional representation and squeezed the proportion of constituency direct elections, thus prompting voters not to participate in elections Clearly, there remains tension between functional representation and equality so a balance must be found. But it is only through turning up to vote that society’s preferences can be heard.


The Government Should Do More than Lower the Voting Age
Wednesday, February 23, 2022
The Government Should Do More than Lower the Voting Age

Feng Zhenhao (冯振豪), postgraduate student, in Oriental Daily News (January 9, 2022) 

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Firdaus Latif)

The Government Should Do More than Lower the Voting Age

Malaysia has officially lowered the voting age from 21 to 18. This decision has prompted the reorganization of Malaysia’s political landscape and should have a positive impact. Ultimately, lowering the voting age is a sign of progress as it means the elderly can no longer monopolize public opinion. It will also ensure that the space for public discourse on issues is more diverse and open. Yet, Malaysia still lacks progress in many other policy areas.

With rising prices and a slow economic recovery, young voters are more likely to worry about their own livelihoods than educate themselves on public affairs. These voters will therefore be more likely to be coaxed by the rhetoric of a specific party. Malaysia’s ruling party has already looked to adapt to this new situation by providing aid, financial incentives and tax cuts for young people. Yet, these measures merely attempt to convey the message that the ruling party is friendly to young people, but do not show that it truly understands their needs. 

Instead, the government should tackle the root causes of the challenges facing young people rather than the symptoms of the problems. Some examples include the raising the minimum wage, establishing more comprehensive and more accessible medical insurance, and setting up academic research projects for college students. In other words, policies that effectively help young voters become independent and plan their future.

The government must go further than simply lowering the voting age and instead demonstrate sensitivity to generational change. This can only be done through listening to voices in society and then formulating the necessary policy measures.