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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.
Covid-19 Has Changed Global Politics
Thursday, April 2, 2020
Covid-19 Has Changed Global Politics

Zhu Feng, Dean of the School of International Relations, Nanjing University, in Global Times (March 30, 2020)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Number 10)

Covid-19 Has Changed Global Politics

The global spread of Covid-19 virus is intensifying and threatens to trigger a global recession as well as political and civil unrest. As a result, the virus will bring major changes to global political and economic conditions.

These changes, however, will not stem from the virus itself but rather from the actions of the major nations that have been severely affected. States around the world must carefully review and learn from the way that other countries have managed the epidemic. The most important factor has been the concentration of state power. Nationalism has now become the key tool in tackling the virus.

In the post-virus era, the neo-statism that has emerged because of the pandemic will likely continue for a period of time to ensure the adjustment and development of various resources and people's livelihoods. While the system of international and regional governance will not be destroyed, it will have to adjust to this new statist approach.

While the United Nations global -governance mechanism has also been affected, its central role in international affairs remains irreplaceable. In particular, the role of World Health Organization (WHO) and other UN agencies in formulating and implementing rules and regulations related to biosafety and public health will become more paramount.

While a global economic recession is now inevitable, the structure of economic globalization means that countries should continue to maintain confidence in the global industrial supply chains even during the severe period of the pandemic. Looking ahead, it will be crucial to reduce the structural and regulatory shocks to the global economy. The recent statement by the G20 leaders has pointed the right direction with its emphasis on the need for countries to coordinate policies and strengthen cooperation.


What Did We Do To Baby River and Her Mother?
Wednesday, October 21, 2020
What Did We Do To Baby River and Her Mother?

Solita Collas-Monsod, broadcaster, economist, writer and minister of economic planning of the Philippines (1986-1989), in her Get Real column in Philippine Daily Inquirer (October 17, 2020)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: KAPATID on Twitter)

What Did We Do To Baby River and Her Mother?

The case of social activist Reina Nasino and her baby River (who, separated from her jailed mother, died three months after she was born) has placed the Philippine justice system, nay, Philippine society, under trial by public opinion. And the verdict, it seems, is that both have failed.

Reina and her two companions say that the firearms and explosives, the possession of which led police to arrest them for a non-bailable offense, must have been planted. Police say otherwise. The police, based on “evidence” that they could have planted, put Reina in jail – an overcrowded one.

Reina finds out she is pregnant, and throughout that pregnancy, she is seen only once by a doctor, and is given no pregnancy supplements. But when she asks to be released on compassionate grounds, she is turned down again and again. She asks that her baby be allowed in her care. The judge turns down her request, because the jailers say they do not have the resources or facilities to accommodate them. The jail authorities cannot afford to keep her but they will not let her go. Why not release her in the first place? What threat to society could this 23-year-old pregnant woman and new mother possibly have represented?

The collective decision was to keep her in jail – probably on trumped-up charges. Never mind the consequences to her health, and to her baby’s life. To top it all was that scene at River’s wake, where there were more guards than mourners. That is how we treat our children. That is how we treat our prisoners. Shame.


A Long Way Since 1962: The Relationship with China has Changed
Wednesday, October 21, 2020
A Long Way Since 1962: The Relationship with China has Changed

Sanjaya Baru, Distinguished Fellow, The United Service Institution of India and the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses, in The Indian Express (October 20, 2020)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: BMN Network)

A Long Way Since 1962: The Relationship with China has Changed

Fifty-eight years ago, Chinese troops entered the Indian territory to make a point. Historians and international relations scholars have spent half a century trying to explain that unexpected and first-ever war between the two Asian giants. The simple point that Mao Zedong tried to make at the time to Jawaharlal Nehru was that China did not regard India an equal. Fifty-eight years later, that is precisely the point that Xi Jinping has been trying to make to Narendra Modi.

In the 1950s, objective circumstances and material reality offered adequate reasons for Nehru to imagine that India was China’s equal and he, Mao’s. In 2020, Modi would be living in a make-believe world in case he harbored any such illusions. Xi wants him to get the message.

In the 1950s, and indeed till the turn of the century, there were good reasons for Indian leaders to view China as an equal. India under Modi finds itself in a better military and diplomatic space. The major power differential is economic and technological. Today, the Chinese economy is nearly five times the size of India’s in US dollar terms and almost two-and-a-half times India’s in purchasing power parity terms. In terms of Comprehensive National Power, which incorporates scientific and technological power and human capital formation, China out-ranks India many times over.

Xi’s confidence is based on the material foundations of Chinese power, requiring Modi to adopt a more cautious approach. For all the bravado of Modi’s domestic politics, he has so far walked a cautious diplomatic path, while keeping the powder dry. Modi cannot afford Nehru’s pretense for he can easily pay Nehru’s price. To regain global stature, India has to continue to focus on its domestic economic capability and human capital. There are no short cuts to global power and influence.


Amid the Pandemic, the Constant Battle Against Malaria
Tuesday, October 13, 2020
Amid the Pandemic, the Constant Battle Against Malaria

Elly Burhaini Faizal, Staff Writer, in The Jakarta Post (October 13, 2020)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Oberholster Venita/Pixabay)

Amid the Pandemic, the Constant Battle Against Malaria

Transmission of Covid-19 in Indonesia has continued unabated and expanded to malaria-endemic areas, especially the country’s eastern provinces, such as East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), Maluku and Papua, forcing authorities there to step up vigilance to prevent a double burden of disease. Plasmodium – a parasite that causes malaria in humans – can damage the immune system, which is why malaria patients are prone to other infections, including Covid-19. Health Ministry data in April revealed an upward trend of malaria incidences in Indonesia and an increasing number of high-malaria areas.

It will take more time and effort to combat the vector-borne disease because the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has laid a heavy burden on the healthcare system. With all attention and resources centered on Covid-19, the question is: Can Indonesia succeed in achieving its malaria elimination goal by 2030? There was a significant decrease in malaria cases from 2010 to 2014, according to Annual Parasite Incidence (API) data. But from 2014 to 2019, the control gains seemed to stagnate. Progress toward malaria control targets has stalled in some provinces, such as Papua, where a rise in the number of incidences has been reported. The high malaria incidence in some areas is a cause for concern particularly because there is no end in sight for the Covid-19 crisis.

Covid-19 poses a huge challenge to the malaria control and prevention program. Many health workers feared they would contract Covid-19 if they carried on with their field work. Similarly, the general public are reluctant to seek out health services for the same reason. Movement restrictions placed by authorities to curb the spread of Covid-19 had in fact affected the mass distribution of long-lasting insecticide bed nets, leaving the majority of at-risk communities unprotected from mosquito bites and increased transmission. Early and ongoing border restrictions between countries had resulted in disruptions to supply chains and raw material shortages, which later affected access to drugs and diagnostic tests for malaria.

With just only one decade left for the Asia-Pacific to achieve its malaria elimination goal, countries may need to take “unprecedented” measures to ensure malaria services such as case finding and disease treatment can continue running.


Learn from History to Meet the Needs of the Disabled
Tuesday, October 13, 2020
Learn from History to Meet the Needs of the Disabled

Kang Shin-wook, Commissioner of Statistics Korea (KOSTAT), in Money Today (October 5, 2020)

Summary by Soomi Hong (Photo credit: Design for Health)

Learn from History to Meet the Needs of the Disabled

October 9 is a national day for Hangul (the Korean alphabet). Although all Korean learn of King Sejong the Great, its creator, not many are aware that the venerated monarch was blind in his later years. Whereas the King sought to lift his people from illiteracy by creating a much easier way of writing, he himself had already lost his sight by the time Hangul was released to the public.

It is also not widely known that King Sejong actively promoted building an inclusive policy for the disabled. When his minister of interior who had a serious spine disability fell down the stairs during an official ceremony, it is said that the King had the stairs enlarged to not let the physical disability discourage his minister. King Sejong also approved giving official titles to musicians with disabilities and created professional public posts designed to give opportunities for the blind. Six hundred years ago, King Sejong was ahead of his time with his policy of inclusion.

According to the recent census, 26 percent (up by 4.5 percent from 2017) of respondents with disabilities ranked medical support as what they needed most, with 24.2 percent citing financial assistance and 18.7 percent (up by 8.7 percent from three years ago) help finding employment.

As the wise king sought to do six centuries ago, the hope is that statistics will help guide the implementation of policies for building a more inclusive and just society for all.


The Government’s Failure of Communication
Tuesday, October 13, 2020
The Government’s Failure of Communication

Fahd Husain, editor, in Dawn (October 10, 2020)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Prime Minister’s Office Islamic Republic of Pakistan)

The Government’s Failure of Communication

Faced with the most potent threat since coming to power, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party today runs the risk of tripping on what it has always considered its core strength. In the age of communication while fighting a war of communication, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s team may be falling victim to a failure of communication.

This failure can be encapsulated in three distinct points: (1) obsession with opposition at the expense of everything else; (2) obsession with opposition at the expense of everything else; (3) obsession with opposition at the expense of everything else. This everything else in turn can also be encapsulated in three distinct points: (1) failure to define core areas of strength; (2) failure to defend core areas of weakness; (3) failure to design the government’s vision in terms of what it is and not merely what it is not.

The fault lies not in its stars but in its strategy. Ever since he entered the political arena, Imran Khan had framed his identity in terms of what he was not – not corrupt, not dishonest, not a dynast, not in politics for business, not beholden to vested interests and not ready to compromise on principles for political expediency. He painted what he was not in reference to his predecessors. This framing was critical for his political branding.

It worked. But now the government is sagging under the weight of its innumerable spokespeople. The government’s army of ministers, advisers, special assistants and spokespeople have failed to communicate effectively because they are unable or unwilling to comprehend, contextualize and convey much beyond their bequeathed party DNA. It is easy to mock, taunt and sneer; not so easy to explain, elaborate and enumerate. The PTI is falling into its own communication trap.


Digital Space as Sex-Crime Scenes – Call Social Media to Account
Thursday, October 8, 2020
Digital Space as Sex-Crime Scenes – Call Social Media to Account

Vrinda Shukla, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Crimes Against Women and Children, Indian Police Service, in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, in The Indian Express (October 8, 2020)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes

Digital Space as Sex-Crime Scenes – Call Social Media to Account

With only three days to go before her wedding, the bride-to-be received a call from her fiancé. Nothing could have prepared her for what he had to say. Hundreds of links had suddenly appeared on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook flashing extremely obscene pictures of the woman. Thus began a terrible nightmare for the hapless woman, her sole solace the strength of character and commitment of the groom-to-be.

The couple approached the police. It was a classic case of revenge porn – an invasion of sexual privacy and a form of online harassment where the perpetrator, usually a disgruntled ex-partner, posts intimate photos, often to shame the subject. The consequences for victims can be extreme, encompassing honor killings, breakdown of relationships, destruction of reputation and career, and immense emotional trauma.

While the police may succeed in prosecuting the perpetrators of such crimes, it can do little to clean up the mess left behind on the internet, the root cause of the victim’s suffering. Reporting such content by victims to social media platforms is often of no avail. Facebook receives half a million reports of revenge porn each month.

The dissemination of such photos and videos deserves to be defined as a sexual violation. It will then be considered a serious offence and encourage victims to report such crimes. Demanding accountability from social media giants is more important. Several countries have proposed tough laws on the issue, including imprisonment of their executives in extreme cases of non-compliance of requests made by law enforcement authorities.

With India having the world’s largest population of young people vulnerable to new mutations of deeply scarring sex crimes, the public-interest litigation filed in the Supreme Court is critical to establishing an efficient mechanism to remove sexually graphic abusive content and to seek accountability from social media platforms.


The Very Important Persons: Our Beautiful Women
Wednesday, October 7, 2020
The Very Important Persons: Our Beautiful Women

F Sionil José, writer, in his Hindsight column in The Philippine Star (October 5, 2020)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Rey Baniquet/Presidential Communications Operations Office)

The Very Important Persons: Our Beautiful Women

With so many town fiestas and beauty pageants, it is perhaps not surprising that we have produced several beauties that have had global appeal. Indeed, our country is known for its beautiful women. But it is not just physical allure that makes them stand out. From way, way back our women were also leaders, strong and far ahead of most women in other countries. Our women were never fragile lilies. In our struggle against colonialism, they were revolutionaries, guerrillas. Now, they permeate all the professions.

In politics, we were never short of women who have served with commitment and virtue in government. Among them, in the postwar period, were first female senator Geronima Pecson; educator, writer and politician Leticia Ramos-Shahani; and academic, lawyer and political figure Miriam Defensor Santiago. Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives Loren Legarda and retired associate justice of the Supreme Court Conchita Carpio-Morales are my candidates in the next election.

To this list I will single out Vice President Leni Robredo, whose magnificent sangfroid blunted all the slings and arrows of outrageous criticism. It has been a custom in the past for vice presidents – the so-called spare tire – to be given high positions in government. But belonging to a different party from the president’s, Leni was not granted that kind of distinction. A lawyer and former member of Congress, she would have been ideal as secretary of the Department of Social Welfare. Like her husband Jesse, who was a virtuous public official, she could have brought transparency to a government that is fogged with corruption.

We have so many women making all the difference, performing interesting jobs that contribute to the development of this nation.  


Caution Required: Economic Cooperation with the US may Create Dependency
Friday, September 25, 2020
Caution Required: Economic Cooperation with the US may Create Dependency

Ko Yu-chih, Associate Professor, Department of Diplomacy, National Chengchi University, in China Times (September 24, 2020)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Wang Yu-ching/Office of the President, Taiwan)

Caution Required: Economic Cooperation with the US may Create Dependency

On August 9, US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar led a delegation to Taiwan. On September 17, a delegation led by Keith Krach, Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment, arrived in Taipei. The results of the two visits were mixed. Azar and Krach are the highest-ranking US officials to visit Taiwan since 1979. While Azar’s visit was open and formal, Krach’s was low-key and informal. This raises questions over the true intentions of the US.

The Azar delegation not only met President Tsai Ing-wen, but they also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) at the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC). Meanwhile, the Krach delegation’s itinerary was not confirmed publicly beforehand and the format minimized intergovernmental meetings.

Azar’s delegation visited to discuss Covid-19 and public health cooperation, while Krach’s delegation was engaged in “funeral diplomacy”, attending the memorial service of former president Lee Teng-hui. The subsequent exchanges with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on US-Taiwan economic cooperation took place on the sidelines.

The two delegations will provide a boost to the current government, given that Taiwan’s international recognition has been gradually reduced. The excessively low-key nature of the Krach delegation, however, highlights the caution of US diplomats in deepening economic relations and suggests that the Washington has no desire in provoking Beijing.

While Azar’s delegation signed a MoU, it did not cover vaccine cooperation, an area to which Taiwan is eager to contribute. Meanwhile, Krach’s delegation was particularly interested in Taiwan's screening of foreign investments. This could end up dragging Taiwan into the Sino-US trade war or giving the US the right to intervene in Taiwan’s investment review processes. The government must be cautious as this could ultimately make Taiwan more dependent on the US. 


Marcos Revisited: He Didn’t Have Strong Policies
Wednesday, September 23, 2020
Marcos Revisited: He Didn’t Have Strong Policies

Richard Heydarian, Research Fellow at National Chengchi University in Taiwan, in his column Horizons in Philippine Daily Inquirer (September 22, 2020)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Bro Jeffrey Pioquinto, SJ)

Marcos Revisited: He Didn’t Have Strong Policies

“Only in the Philippines could a leader like Ferdinand Marcos, who pillaged his country for over 20 years, be considered for a national burial,” lamented the late Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. “[Marcos] might have started off as a hero but ended up as a crook.”

What made Lee a legendary leader was his uncompromising work ethic, deep grasp of global geopolitics, ability to maintain optimal ties with both the West and the East, and zero tolerance for corruption and incompetence. Under his watch, Singapore developed one of the world’s centers of bureaucratic excellence. But even more impressive were his counterparts in neighboring Taiwan, South Korea and, later, post-Mao China. Unlike Marcos, or even Lee, the leaders of these countries oversaw the establishment of global brands and industries, from Hyundai (South Korea) to HTC (Taiwan) to Huawei (China).

So, what was the secret of their success? The first thing one notices is that it’s not about form of government or even type of regime. China remains a single-party communist regime, while Taiwan and South Korea, with their own unique presidential systems, have become even more dynamic since their transition to democracy in the 1980s.

Whether authoritarian or democratic, they have had remarkable economic performance. Clearly, it is not also about “race” or “culture” per se, since all of these countries were extremely poor just a few generations ago.

What is common in the success stories of these NICs (newly industrialized countries) is their well-organized, autonomous and competent bureaucracies, which have maintained national dynamism through proactive trade and industrial policies. The Philippines’ main problem is that it never had a “strong” state with a combination of “policy autonomy” and “functional capacity” to discipline the oligarchs and promote national interest.


With China as Backdrop, New Delhi’s Moscow Watch
Wednesday, September 23, 2020
With China as Backdrop, New Delhi’s Moscow Watch

Harsh V Pant, Professor of International Relations at King’s College London, and Director of Research, Observer Research Foundation (ORF), and Nivedita Kapoor, Junior Fellow, ORF, in The Hindu (September 22, 2020)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India)

With China as Backdrop, New Delhi’s Moscow Watch

As India-China tensions along their border continue to escalate, India pulled out of military exercises organized by Russia, where it was scheduled to participate alongside other Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) member states. While Covid-19 was cited as the official reason, the border situation with China likely prompted this decision.

In June, the Russian, Indian and Chinese foreign ministers met in Moscow after the violent border clashes between Chinese and Indian troops. The meeting ended with no communiqué. Moscow has been playing a quiet diplomatic role without taking sides. India and Russia are pragmatic players aiming to maximize strategic maneuverability. Both recognize the value of having a diversified portfolio of ties.

The combination of a changing regional order, closer Russia-China ties, and India’s alignment with the US and other like-minded countries to manage Beijing’s rise has the potential to create hurdles for India-Russia cooperation in Asia.

While India would like to secure Russian support in this changing Asian regional order, the latter has seen China become its key partner as relations with the West have hit a new post-Cold War low. India for its part has sought to include Russia in its vision of the Indo-Pacific that does not see the region as “a strategy or as a club of limited members”.

A world split into two blocs would be detrimental to the interests of both New Delhi and Moscow, making it imperative that contradictions in their respective policies are managed pragmatically while taking a long-term view of the strategic partnership. Although the evolving global order makes it difficult for India and Russia to pursue convergent policies, it does not preclude the relationship from retaining relevance. The strategic space both provide the other is critical and underscores the need to insulate their relationship from the vagaries of the international system.


Society Faces Challenges Beyond the Cycles of Protests
Tuesday, September 22, 2020
Society Faces Challenges Beyond the Cycles of Protests

Pravit Rojanaphruk, Senior Staff Writer, in Khaosod (September 19, 2020)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: from video by prachatai)

Society Faces Challenges Beyond the Cycles of Protests

The major anti-government protests will not only be about demands – but also about numbers, legitimacy, and how to coexist with those who disagree with you. Anyone can make demands or counter-demands, to their hearts’ content. Being able to achieve their goals without violence or suppressing others is another story.

Whatever the numbers both sides may claim, both the protesters and royalists have to bear in mind that they cannot escape or avoid one another. They cannot wave a magic wand in hope that there will be no more opposition and resistance to their respective “idealized” version of a desired Thai society.

Can there be a compromise, an accommodation of one another – or will it have to be another zero-sum game with no middle ground, with violence, a military coup or people’s revolt as the only outcome?

Thai history shows that change, including regime change, by force is much more common than peaceful transition and transformation. Now both sides, particularly the government of Gen Prayut Chan-ocha must ensure peace and guarantee the right to peaceful assembly.

To make the matter more complicated is the fact that even among the anti-government alliance, they seem to still differ on the priority of what should come first, Is it a new charter, new elections or monarchy reforms?

Many on the side of the protests are young. All sides do not need to repeat the same mistake of the violent past and instead seek a common solution that is peaceful. The time has also come for the young protest leadership to make its movement not just democratic by name but democratic and participatory and transparent in how it is being run.

Thai society faces challenges beyond protests and counter-protests. We have to learn how to deal with them and resolve them peacefully and democratically.


US-China Relations Prompts Shifts in the Semiconductor Sector
Friday, September 18, 2020
US-China Relations Prompts Shifts in the Semiconductor Sector

An Yuhua, Professor of Finance at Sungkyunkwan University Graduate School of China, in Digital Times (September 15, 2020)

Summary by Soomi Hong (Photo credit: SK hynix)

US-China Relations Prompts Shifts in the Semiconductor Sector

Despite the attempt of the US to gain the upper hand over China through aggressive trade policies, whether or not these measures actually serve American interests remains questionable. The US is leading in the global semiconductor industry, while Japan specializes in the supply of strategic chemical materials, the EU in lithography patents, Korea in dynamic random-access memory (DRAM), and Taiwan in foundry and packaging. Despite this landscape where each economy has its comparative advantage, China will now be forced to build an integrated semiconductor industry.

This is both good and bad news for the Korean semiconductor companies. On the one hand, China could potentially become an alternative source for Korean companies that heavily depend on Japanese suppliers and face the risk of a supply cut during political conflict. On the other hand, Chinese progress in memory technology could upend the current comparative advantage of Korean firms. Especially given the scale and massive support Chinese firms may enjoy, once Chinese technology catches up and there is a price war, it will only be a matter of time before South Korean players drop out.

Semiconductors are an indispensable economic base for the South Korean economy. Over the past 10 years, the US semiconductor business has seen increasing challenges from rising global competition. Even when TSMC, the Taiwan semiconductor company, beat the mighty Intel, there was not much the US could do to reverse the situation. In other words, the semiconductor business is shifting to Asia and, given the recent push from the US, there is a real possibility that China will rise to be number one in the world. Given the prospects for such a landscape, Korean firms must learn to look beyond their immediate technological advantage and rigorously prepare for the future to stay competitive in the global market.


Don’t Blame Foreigners for Unemployment
Friday, September 18, 2020
Don’t Blame Foreigners for Unemployment

Zhan Shaoxiang, financial officer, in Lianhe Zaobao (September 14, 2020)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Dickson Phua)

Don’t Blame Foreigners for Unemployment

As Singapore’s economic situation worsens and unemployment rises, the debate over whether government policies allow foreigners to steal jobs from locals has been reignited. But is this true?

First, it is necessary to look at Singapore’s economic environment in comparison to the rest of the world. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many industries are suffering, and layoffs have become inevitable for both foreigners and local. The public, however, has paid too much attention to the number of unemployed locals, overlooking the situation for foreigners.

Second, in response to Covid-19, the Singaporean government has launched a series of measures to assist businesses. This includes an employment subsidy program that supports local workers. Yet there has been no subsidy for wages paid to foreigners

Third, Singapore is an open economy as well as an important financial, service and shipping center. To maintain this international status, it is necessary to recruit talent from all over the world. Foreigners have provided Singapore with knowledge, technology and management expertise, which is now an indispensable asset.

Fourth, the government has spared no effort in attracting multinational companies to Singapore, creating more employment opportunities. It is understandable that many companies will require some employees to be local as they may have a better grasp of the business.

Finally, foreigners consume food, clothing, housing and transportation and also pay taxes. This has promoted the development of the local economy and created income and employment opportunities for locals. Without foreigners, many houses would become vacant and restaurants and cafes would have less business.

The Ministry of Manpower should not interfere too much with a company’s freedom to hire employees. Every worker, whether local or foreign, contributes to Singapore’s economic development. Locals should avoid making excuses for their own problems by blaming the government, foreigners or companies.


Does Taiwan Still Need the Kuomintang?
Friday, September 18, 2020
Does Taiwan Still Need the Kuomintang?

Lee Min-yung, poet and social critic, in Liberty Times (September 16, 2020)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory

Does Taiwan Still Need the Kuomintang?

The stated goal and mission of the Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang, or KMT) no longer exists. The KMT wants to fight on behalf of the People's Republic of China and give them the authority to rule Taiwan. On the other hand, the goal of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and some other Taiwanese parties is to establish Taiwan as a separate entity from the People’s Republic of China. While the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) used to be enemies who wanted to destroy each other, now they are allies. Today, the main enemy of the KMT is not the CCP but the ruling party in Taiwan, the DPP.

In the 1950s, the KMT was centered on Chiang Kai-shek who used martial law and white terror to deal with dissidents. Not only those involved in communism, but also those who reformed and defended Taiwan were persecuted. In 1971, due to the self-serving nature of the KMT, the Republic of China was officially expelled from the United Nations and replaced by People's Republic of China. As a result, any protection over Taiwan's national status was immediately lost. 

The KMT now views Taiwan as a bargaining chip and supports its absorption by the CCP. However, after the lifting of the martial law and democratization, the Taiwan people who have left the KMT, including the descendants of post-war immigrants, have spurned the KMT’s desire to sell off Taiwan. The peaceful revolutions carried out through elections has gradually shaped a new distinct Taiwan. Considering these developments, does Taiwan still need the KMT?


Biden Win a Boon or Bane?
Friday, September 11, 2020
Biden Win a Boon or Bane?

Kavi Chongkittavorn, journalist, in Bangkok Post (September 8, 2020)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Michael Stokes)

Biden Win a Boon or Bane?

If Joseph Biden wins the US election, Thailand must prepare a new strategy to "renew" and "reinvent" engagement with the US that will be tougher on issues related to China, human rights and democracy. The Biden administration's approach could be a boon or bane for Thailand, one of its five allies in the Indo-Pacific. With a new administration under the Democrats, the US State Department would again shape overall policy towards its benign ally.

Mr Biden would follow President Donald Trump's templates on China. Indeed, Mr Biden cannot appear to be soft on China, especially at this critical juncture. The US status as the most powerful country in the world has been severely challenged by China. It also happens at a time when Mr Trump's global leadership continues to falter as he continues to damage US credibility with his personal style of diplomacy and unpredictability.

Under a Biden presidency, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia will be high on the American agenda as the key countries in continental Southeast Asia that have close relations with China. For Thailand's future, it is imperative that the US and China have a stable relationship. The most important issue for Thailand is how to manage the two most powerful countries in the world to avoid any miscalculated risks. Healthy competition between China and the US will allow Thailand to balance its "win-win" approach more efficiently.

Southeast Asian countries cannot afford to become anti-Chinese as the United States has often been inclined to be. What the future US administration could do is to help the region to become more resilient and prosperous, so that these countries can engage their giant neighbor in the most efficient and beneficial way.