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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.
For Food Security, Strengthen Domestic Production
Tuesday, June 1, 2021
For Food Security, Strengthen Domestic Production

Agus Yulianto, journalist, in Republika (May 24, 2021)

Summary by Made Ayu Mariska (Photo credit: Erlian Zakia Ayu Anggarani/Pixabay)

For Food Security, Strengthen Domestic Production

Located right on the equator, almost all of Indonesia, from Sabang to Merauke, has high levels of soil fertility. If the proper application of technology accompanies cultivation, then Indonesia can achieve food self-sufficiency and security. Indonesia, however, does not make optimal use of its natural resources so it still imports a significant amount of food meet its basic needs. The farmers’ lack of technology ultimately results in lower production and quality.

The national sugar needs are met by issuing import allowances to factories with industrial business licenses for entry into any port without the government’s permission. There has been no incentive to maximize domestic production. Indonesia is also importing increasing amounts of salt, soybeans, corn and garlic.

President Joko Widodo proposed importing rice in 2021. Due to criticism and pressure from several parties, however, Jokowi finally decided that there should be no imports until the end of this year unless there is an emergency that forces the government to maintain the national rice reserve stock.

So far, there has been initiative to strengthen the domestic food processing industry and increase the production of raw materials so that it does not always depend on imports, which are detrimental to local farmers as they put deflationary pressure on prices. The government, therefore, must change mindset. Food security should be reached by farmers maximizing domestic production. This would not only allow Indonesia to be independent from other countries’ production but it will also improve the livelihood of farmers.

Indonesia is a large nation with an incomparable abundance of natural resources. It must be appropriately managed for the welfare of the people and not for the wealth of the few people who take advantage of Indonesia's “deficient” conditions by importing.


With Great Power Comes Greater Irresponsibility: Big Tech Needs Regulation
Wednesday, June 23, 2021
With Great Power Comes Greater Irresponsibility: Big Tech Needs Regulation

Ram Madhav, Member of National Executive, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu nationalist volunteer organization, and Member, Board of Governors, India Foundation, in India Today (June 4, 2021)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes

With Great Power Comes Greater Irresponsibility: Big Tech Needs Regulation

Big Tech companies including social media giants have grown big and powerful. With size grew their indifference and intransigence too. Governments are increasingly finding it untenable. Countries like China, Russia and North Korea used their authoritarian regimes to take a hard-line against the tech giants. Several European countries have taken steps to limit the power of these Big Tech companies and protect the privacy of their citizens. Having experienced the unprecedented power of these companies including the audacity to ban the Twitter handle of the president of the country, the US has initiated hearings to look into the possible power abuse committed by Google, Facebook and Amazon.

The Government of India's response can be described as mild and moderate. Twitter should understand this from the fact that instead of dismissing its self-righteous statement accusing the Indian police of "use of intimidation tactics" and a "potential threat to freedom of expression for the people we serve", the IT Ministry thought it necessary to issue a lengthy three-page rebuttal.

We are living in a technology-intensive world. The 21st Century world has moved on from multipolarity to “heteropolarity”. A heteropolitan world is one in which international power is no longer limited to national governments. We are passing through a transition into the heteropolar world. There will be debates over actions of the governments. Tech giants controlling social media platforms stubbornly resist any regulatory efforts.

It is important to build a national consensus over the need for a rational regulation that would not affect free speech but helps protect the privacy and dignity of the individuals. Big Tech companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter cannot continue to resist these moves claiming self-regulation.


The President Must Welcome Full Investigation For Crimes Against Humanity
Tuesday, June 22, 2021
The President Must Welcome Full Investigation For Crimes Against Humanity

Mel Sta. Maria, Dean of the Far Eastern University (FEU) Institute of Law, in Rappler (June 17, 2021)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Greger Ravik)

The President Must Welcome Full Investigation For Crimes Against Humanity

The report of the International Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda “that there is a reasonable basis to believe that the crime against humanity of murder was committed” in the conduct of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, prompting her to finally ask the ICC to conduct a full investigation, is news in many parts of the world.

If ever it proceeds, President Duterte and all those named in the request for full investigation will be given due process. As the president’s followers would say, “You have nothing to fear, if you have nothing to hide.”

President Duterte must welcome this full investigation not only for the sake of his own name but for the country. Because if he is truly innocent, he will be rightfully vindicated and the country’s tarnished reputation corrected. He should not evade the process utilizing technical grounds. The investigation is good for the country.

There is a saying that justice must be done though the heavens fall. The case of a Philippine president as the subject of a request by an international prosecutor for full investigation for crimes against humanity is historic. Whether or not you are for it, let us all monitor this unprecedented development.


The Terrifying Cost of Enforced Modesty
Tuesday, June 22, 2021
The Terrifying Cost of Enforced Modesty

Pervez Hoodbhoy, physicist and writer, in Dawn (June 19, 2021)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: brewbooks)

The Terrifying Cost of Enforced Modesty

Implementation of the government’s Single National Curriculum (SNC) has started in Islamabad’s schools and for students the human body is to become a dark mystery, darker than ever before. Religious scholars appointed as members of the SNC Committee are supervising the content of schoolbooks in all subjects including science. In the name of Islamic morality they have warned publishers not to print any diagram or sketch in biology textbooks that show human figures without clothes.

For the teaching of biology this surpasses existing de facto prohibitions on teaching evolution, the foundational principle of biological sciences. Illustrations are crucial to explain the digestive system and human reproduction, as well as the mammary gland. Diagrams, sketches and human skeletal forms cannot be draped. Excluding these from schoolbooks reduces the teaching of biology to a farce.

Inhibitions about the human body, of course, have been around for much longer than SNC. It is just that henceforth there will be still more. When enforced, clerical interpretations of modesty cause people to suffer grievously. For example, ex-senator Maulana Gul Naseeb Khan roundly condemned diagnostic devices that can look inside women’s bodies because, “we think that men could derive sexual pleasure from women’s bodies while conducting electrocardiogram (ECG) or ultrasound”. Claiming that women would lure men under the pretext of medical procedures, the maulana’s party banned ECG and ultrasound for women by male technicians and doctors when in power in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Trained females, however, were not to be found.

By inviting mullahs to regulate biology textbooks the government has put Pakistan in reverse gear. Pakistan is not just in reverse gear; it is hell-bent upon moving backward as fast as possible. The kind of mixed-up, confused and ignorant generations the curriculum changes will produce in times ahead is absolutely terrifying.


Young Executives are Transforming the Corporate World
Monday, June 21, 2021
Young Executives are Transforming the Corporate World

Kim Yong-sub, director of Trend Insight & Business Creativity, in Hankyoreh (April 18. 2021)

Summary by Soomi Hong (Photo credit: Jeon Han/Korean Culture and Information Service)

Young Executives are Transforming the Corporate World

In an office, those with about four years of work experience are in their late 20s or early 30s. They typically oversee the operation but do not traditionally hold much power in the organization. A recent performance-evaluation scandal, however, shows that this traditional power structure might be in for a great shake-up.

The spark at semiconductor conglomerate SK hynix was started by a member of the junior staff who boldly sent an open email demanding transparency in the performance matrix system. Traditionally, such a “revolt” would have been easily dismissed, but as other young staff joined in applying pressure on management, dismissal was no longer possible. Despite their relatively insignificant individual power, this group collectively had clear leverage because of their numbers and their tactics.

The movement quickly spread to other conglomerates, including Samsung, LG and Hyundai. Young executives all over are now making collective demands for greater transparency and reforms. At LG Electronics, they set up the first-ever office worker union headed by somebody with only four years of experience. This movement is likely to continue and lead to an overdue transformation of the top-down management structure in most Korean companies, starting with demands for a greater transparency and the dismantling of the performance-matrix system that traditionally rewarded employees based on years of service and not merit.

The world is changing, and 20- and 30-year-olds are driving that transformation. They did not appear out of nowhere, but their impact will grow as they discover the bargaining power they have as a group in a traditional corporate world that for too long simply dismissed them.


The Government Is Taking A Risk Of Olympic Proportions
Monday, June 21, 2021
The Government Is Taking A Risk Of Olympic Proportions

Ito Takatoshi, deputy vice minister for international affairs at the Ministry of Finance of Japan (1999–2001), Professor of International and Public Affairs at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, and Adjunct Professor and Professor Emeritus at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS), in The Japan Times (June 18, 2021)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Dick Thomas Johnson)

The Government Is Taking A Risk Of Olympic Proportions

As of June 15, Japan had the second worst vaccination record among the 38 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, with 20.9 doses per 100 people. Contrast that with the United Kingdom’s 106.1 doses per 100 people and the US rate of 93.3 doses per 100.

Why is Japan lagging so far behind the rest of the OECD? For starters, the government was late in securing purchase agreements with vaccine producers, not least because the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare was reluctant to provide rapid emergency approval for the new vaccines.

Japan has a history of controversy over vaccine side effects. During the Covid-19 crisis, the authorities insisted that a clinical trial for vaccines be conducted in Japan before approval, even though large-scale randomized controlled trials had already been undertaken elsewhere. Another obstacle for Japan’s vaccination program is the rule that only medical doctors and nurses may administer doses.

Even if the state of emergency in Tokyo and Osaka is lifted as expected, there is no guarantee that another wave will not demand new lockdowns soon. With the Olympic Games scheduled to be held from July 23 to August 8, and the Paralympic Games from August 24 to September 5, such a wave could be more like a tsunami.

Without herd immunity (or something close to it) in Japan, hosting the Tokyo Games is a risky bet. Suga could win big: If the games are a success, and infections do not rise, he is more likely to be re-elected as the leader of his Liberal Democratic Party, at which point he might even call a snap general election. But that does not change the fact that he is willing to gamble with people’s health, livelihoods and lives.


Why It Is Necessary To Prohibit “Anti-Communism"
Monday, June 21, 2021
Why It Is Necessary To Prohibit “Anti-Communism"

Lo Man-tuen, Chairman of Wing Li Group (International) Ltd, Vice Chairman of the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, and Executive Director of the Hong Kong Association for the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification of China, in Ming Pao (February 22, 2021)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: David Dennis)

Why It Is Necessary To Prohibit “Anti-Communism"

Since the implementation of the National Security Law (NSL), the issue of “anti-communism” in Hong Kong has again garnered attention. The term specifically refers to those who deny the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) leadership. There are at least two reasons on why anti-communism must be prohibited in Hong Kong.

First, anti-communism poses significant harm to "one country, two systems". Opposing the basic system of the country led by the CCP is against "one country, two systems". If Hong Kong does not prohibit anti-communism, "one country, two systems" will not be able to guarantee stability or long-term development.

Second, on a practical level, the introduction of the NSL means that the issue of anti- communism can no longer avoided. This is because Article 1 of China’s Constitution clearly stipulates that “the socialist system is the fundamental system of the People’s Republic of China (PRC)." Articles 22 and 23 of the NSL state that "overthrowing and undermining the fundamental system of the PRC established by the Constitution" is a crime of subverting state power. As a result, anti-communist speech and actions are illegal and must be investigated in accordance with the law. Against this backdrop, “anti-communists” will no longer be eligible to run for elections or to enter the establishment of the Hong Kong. This will become political law, according to Article 6, paragraph 3, of the NSL.

Finally, school education in Hong Kong is Westernized and full of anti-communist content. The school system must therefore also prohibit anti-communism by eliminating relevant courses and ensuring that national education courses cultivate respect for the leadership of the Communist Party and are compatible with "one country, two systems". This is the basic premise of prohibiting anti-communism in Hong Kong and the Special Administrative Region government should attach great importance to it.


The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Globalization
Wednesday, June 9, 2021
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Globalization

Jung Jae-hwan, Professor of International Relations at University of Ulsan, in Asia Business Daily (April 6, 2021)

Summary by Soomi Hong (Photo credit: @bts_bighit)

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Globalization

It is no secret that Covid-19 is accentuating many pre-existing economic and social problems. Especially in the West, the racism problem is on the rise with the upsurge in violence against Asians. In the US state of North Carolina, an African-American man is reported to have shouted that “Chinese should go home”, while wielding an iron rod. In Atlanta, a white American man shot eight women, four of whom were of ethnic Korean.

On the other hand, only two days before the shooting incident, the boy band BTS gave a performance at the Grammy Awards and, the year before, a South Korean movie Parasite surprised the world by winning in four categories at the Academy Awards, or Oscars. Evidently, globalization is bringing more diversity but is also causing terrible side effects such as racism and nationalism.

While some reckon that the recent surge in violence against Asians is due to the pandemic and some efforts to blame China and Asians in general, it would be more accurate to say that the pandemic magnified existing problems rather than caused them. Prior to the pandemic, the world observed the rise of “Trumpism” in the US and Brexit, both of which were driven by xenophobia and anti-globalization rhetoric.

BTS and other popular phenomena that foster diversity and inclusiveness keep in check racism, xenophobia and nationalism. We would need to look after the people who are “left out” from the benefits of the globalization movement. These are the people who have lost their economic and social competitiveness and are most vulnerable to fall into the dark side of globalization. Without providing appropriate safety nets for this minority, the world will not recover from the negative side effects of globalization even after it overcomes the pandemic crisis.


Senior Ministers in the Government Now Seem to Believe Their Own Lies
Wednesday, June 9, 2021
Senior Ministers in the Government Now Seem to Believe Their Own Lies

Tavleen Singh, columnist, in The Indian Express (June 6, 2021)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Government of India)

Senior Ministers in the Government Now Seem to Believe Their Own Lies

It is time that Prime Minister Narendra Modi realized that when his ministers tell barefaced lies, they reduce his personal credibility. The home minister was not seen or heard during the worst days of Covid-19’s catastrophic second wave. He surfaced to declare that we “controlled the second wave in a very short time” and that India has “set a record in the world for fastest vaccination”. Does he know that out of 100 Indians only 15 are vaccinated, compared to 88 in the United States and 96 in the United Kingdom?

When it comes to shameless lies, the master is the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. He says his state is now a “Covid-safe zone”. Has he noticed the number of people dying in villages of fever and breathlessness without ever being tested for Covid-19? Has he noticed that his officials conceal Covid-19 deaths by handing people death certificates that simply state that they died of pneumonia or a heart attack?

The most tragic irony of all is that senior ministers in the Government of India seem now to believe their own lies. So, they appear routinely on television to declare that it is state governments who are to blame for the grim shortage of vaccines.

India is facing a health crisis bigger than any we have seen in more than a century and the only way to move forward is by rebuilding rural health facilities at supersonic speed. The prime minister needs the help of every chief minister to do this. When it comes to procuring vaccines, though, it is solely his job and he needs to do this with ultimate transparency. The one thing we do not need are for his most trusted lieutenants to be trying to erase the truth. It cannot be erased.


The Advantages of the Greater Bay Area National Strategy
Wednesday, June 9, 2021
The Advantages of the Greater Bay Area National Strategy

James Wang, Research Director at the Bay Area Hong Kong Centre, in Ming Pao (March 8, 2021)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: johnlsl)

The Advantages of the Greater Bay Area National Strategy

At the beginning of 2019, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) proposed that China actively promote the expansion of metropolitan areas including the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area. This national strategy will have a significant long-term impact on Hong Kong for several reasons.

First, Hong Kong will continue to be favored as an important area for the overall prosperity of China. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has recognized Hong Kong and Shenzhen jointly as the world's second largest city cluster in terms of innovation capabilities, further illustrating the important role Hong Kong plays in the region.

Second, as Hong Kong and Shenzhen are neighbours, this supports the development of a twin-city metropolitan area. At the end of 2019, Shenzhen’s population density was about 6,725 people per square kilometer, while Hong Kong’s was approximately 6,800 people per square kilometre. When combined, the two are the most densely populated metropolitan area in the world, surpassing even Tokyo with 6,100 people per square kilometre. Both cities therefore have a great deal to learn from each other in terms of city planning.

Third, Hong Kong will be able to cooperate closely with the other parts of the Greater Bay Area (particularly Shenzhen, Dongguan and Guangzhou) in addressing issues relating to environmental safety and carbon emissions. In addition, there will be a strengthening of collaboration in other important areas such as public health and epidemic control. Regional issues require successful cooperation. The many advantages of this national strategy will clearly outweigh the disadvantages.


Why Doesn't The UK Grant The Rohingya The Right Of Abode?
Tuesday, June 1, 2021
Why Doesn't The UK Grant The Rohingya The Right Of Abode?

Shih Wing-ching, Chief Executive, Centaline Group, and owner of the am730 newspaper, in am730 (February 26, 2021)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: KM Asad/European Union)

Why Doesn't The UK Grant The Rohingya The Right Of Abode?

On the grounds that Hong Kong people have been unfairly treated politically and are not granted their political rights, the UK government decided to allow those who hold or have the right to hold British National (Overseas) passports to qualify for right of abode in the UK. The British view this as a moral commitment to the people of a former colony.

The persecution that the Rohingya in Myanmar suffer is far more serious than that of Hong Kong people. If the UK is to perform its moral duties towards the people of Hong Kong, why not do so for the Rohingya, too? In fact, the British are more responsible for their situation. The British moved them from what is now Bangladesh to the northwest of Myanmar. Because the Rohingya are different from the Burmese in appearance, culture and religion, they have been unable to integrate successfully into Myanmar society. Ethnic conflicts have persisted. When it comes to the Rohingya issue, the British were the initiators.

Recently, the problems of the Rohingya have intensified. Myanmar’s government has sent troops to suppress them. Villages have been burned down and citizens killed. Their situation is far worse than that of the dissidents in Hong Kong. While dissidents in Hong Kong have lost their right to stand for election, the Rohingya do not even have the right to citizenship or survival.

The reason why the UK is unwilling to assist the Rohingya is simple: They have no assets to bring to the UK. Most of them have limited skills to earn a living and may become burden to the state. Hong Kong citizens who intend to immigrate to Britain must understand that the UK’s willingness to accept them is not based on morality or responsibility, but merely on political and economic calculations.


Own That Pain And Anger – Why Turn Away?
Tuesday, June 1, 2021
Own That Pain And Anger – Why Turn Away?

Vinita Dawra Nangia, Executive Editor, in The Times of India (May 16, 2021)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: PradeepGaurs / Shutterstock.com)

Own That Pain And Anger – Why Turn Away?

As the Covid battle roars unabated, all around is the sound of fading faith and breaking hearts. On social media – which in these times has fast transformed from the scourge of humanity to its greatest savior – you hear faint voices of hope gradually turn into doubt, fear and panic before quietly fading away, victims of this insidious virus that taunts humanity and mocks our bastions of security.

Helpless gazes turn to one another, but who amongst us knows any better than the next? Not even the most optimistic any longer hold out a glimmer of positivity. We have been defeated. What is gone is lost forever, and with it is gone our belief of invincibility and the arrogance of knowing all. We thought science and technology had all answers and were infallible predictors of future menaces, ready with antidotes. But of course, that was before an invisible virus taught us better. We debated whether we are the makers of our own destiny or mere puppets in the hands of Nature “red in tooth and claw”. As we helplessly wait for the scourge to end its torment – when it will – there is little left to speculation.

Sadness and desolation are all around, deeply entrenched in our hearts and souls. But at least it proves that we still feel – we feel for each other. As “the sea of faith” retreats with a last “melancholy, long, withdrawing roar”, we still hang on to our humanity, our empathy, pain and anger. And of course, we must! Let us own that pain and anger rather than turning our eyes away – why deny it with talk of positivity and hope, when we can clearly see hope retch and gasp for breath, miserably curled up in a dark corner?


Scrapping The Kuala Lumpur–Singapore High-Speed Rail Is Unwise
Tuesday, June 1, 2021
Scrapping The Kuala Lumpur–Singapore High-Speed Rail Is Unwise

Cheah See Kian, journalist and political analyst, in Oriental Daily News (January 15, 2021)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: MyHSR Corp.)

Scrapping The Kuala Lumpur–Singapore High-Speed Rail Is Unwise

After much controversy, the Malaysian government has announced that it would terminate the Kuala Lumpur–Singapore high-speed rail project. There are various theories as to why this happened. One is that Malaysia cannot cope with such a financial burden. Another is that Malaysia wished to contract domestic enterprises for the construction between Kuala Lumpur to Johor Bahru.

The original high-speed rail agreement was reached between the leaders of Malaysia and Singapore in 2013. The prime minister at the time, Najib Tun Abdul Razak, declared at the time that once the line was completed in 2026, it would only take 90 minutes to travel from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore. Estimates put the cost at between 80 billion ringgit (US$19.4 billion) and 140 billion ringgit (US$33.9 billion). Shortly after taking office in May 2018, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad stated that the cost could amount to 110 billion ringgit (US$26.7 billion) and, as a result, his government would suspend the plan.

The government has clearly not considered the economic multiplier and driving force of the project. It would be nonsensical to develop a high-spread railway from just Johor Bahru to Kuala Lumpur without the cooperation of Singapore. In the long run, Malaysia must look around the region so as to not fall behind. Neighbors such as Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam are all developing their own high-speed railways. In addition, in abolishing the project, the Malaysian government now has to compensate Singapore.

High-speed rail construction should not be regarded as a simple transportation tool or a single industry responsible for its own profits and losses. Instead, it should be viewed as a strategic industry with great significance and should be vigorously supported. The construction of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail would have actually driven development and been a symbol of progress.


The Economy Is Growing Faster Than The Mainland’s – So What?
Tuesday, June 1, 2021
The Economy Is Growing Faster Than The Mainland’s – So What?

主筆室 (pen name meaning “Chief Writer’s Room”), commentator, in Storm Media (February 8, 2021)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: bryan…)

The Economy Is Growing Faster Than The Mainland’s – So What?

In 2020, Taiwan's economic growth rate was 2.98 percent, marking the first time that it surpassed China in 30 years. While this achievement may appear worthy of celebration, it is important to not get too excited.

The key reasons why Taiwan’s growth rate surpassed China’s in 2020 was Taiwan’s successful control of Covid-19 combined with the impact of the Sino-US trade war. In addition, China suffered in the first quarter of 2020 as it struggled to control the epidemic. Obviously, Taiwan’s growth will not exceed China’s after normality returns.

While a higher growth rate is of course a good thing, Taiwan actually no longer requires a rapid growth. There are more important concerns such as the living environment. In addition, attention must be paid to future risks such as the worryingly high degree of unbalanced development. For example, while private investment is growing, semiconductors have an oversized role.

In terms of foreign international economic and trade relations, Taiwan’s marginalization has continued to worsen. In November 2020, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade agreement was signed but Taiwan was blocked from participating. Taiwan has also made no progress in joining regional economic and trade organizations such as Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). In addition, the shifts in Sino-US relations since US President Joe Biden took office remain unknown, and it is not clear whether they will benefit Taiwan.

There is no point, therefore, in celebrating surpassing China in economic performance under these extraordinary circumstances. Instead, more attention should be paid to how to address the risks and challenges ahead.


What is Really Behind the Calls to Cancel the Olympics?
Tuesday, June 1, 2021
What is Really Behind the Calls to Cancel the Olympics?

Miyake Kuni, President of the Foreign Policy Institute and Research Director at the Canon Institute for Global Studies, in The Japan Times (May 30, 2021)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Dick Thomas Johnson)

What is Really Behind the Calls to Cancel the Olympics?

I received my first Covid-19 vaccination. It gave me a new perspective on the pandemic. If we have the right organization with the right chain of command in place, we can not only address the spread of Covid-19 but also host the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The Asahi Shimbun, a major sponsor of the 2020 Tokyo Games, called in an editorial for the Olympic and Paralympic Games to be canceled – the only national paper calling for the games to be scrapped. The editorial made waves and raised several questions, including whether it is part of a political game aimed at weakening Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

The Asahi editorial urged Suga to make a decision on the cancellation, although the paper is aware that the authority to cancel the games belongs to the International Olympic Committee. This raises the question as to whether its position is motivated by politics rather than journalism. A general election must be called by this fall. Was the Asahi editorial part of a subtle attempt by the left-leaning paper to damage the ruling Liberal Democratic Party-led coalition and to help opposition parties?

Many ordinary Japanese are tired and stressed, having had to wear face masks as part of their daily lives since March 2020 and maintain proper social distance. They have been so frustrated that they are psychologically not prepared to hold the Olympics and Paralympics this summer. But this does not necessarily mean that all Japanese have lost confidence in the games.

Given the growing capability of the government to start controlling, if not containing, the Covid-19 pandemic, Tokyo should be able to handle the Olympics without exacerbating the spread of the virus. A narrative could even be framed that it would be proof that the world is overcoming the disease.


How Many More Body Bags Can We Take?
Tuesday, May 25, 2021
How Many More Body Bags Can We Take?

Beatrice Louise Gabon Santillan, 18-year-old high-school senior, in Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 25, 2021)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Robinson Niñal/Presidential Communications Operations Office)

How Many More Body Bags Can We Take?

After my mom had fully recovered from Covid-19, I thought the storm had passed. It turned out the worst was yet to come. On the night of Jan. 18, Covid-19 took the life of my beloved grandmother.

From the moment I saw my grandmother in a body bag carried by a vehicle meant for water deliveries with no memorial service, I knew that more could have been done to save her, and that so many others have undergone the same loss due to our country’s poor health care system and governance. It became clear to me that many people did not have a fighting chance to begin with. I realized that there is a bigger issue at hand.

The other viruses our nation is facing include an administration that is not proactive in dealing with the pandemic, politicians that “help” Filipinos but are really just documenting their actions to kickstart their campaign for the 2022 elections, and individuals who were given priority status in hospitals while other patients died out in the cold. The system has been broken for so long. This pandemic just shed even more light on its complete dilapidation. The leaders we placed into power have not done us any good, nor do they plan to. Their empty promises and selfish actions have only managed to push our nation further into decay.

People often tell me that I am young, and that I have much to understand about the system and how it is virtually impossible to change, but I beg to disagree. I am eligible to vote in the upcoming elections. Although casting my ballot will create merely the smallest change, if at all, it is a good place to start.