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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.

RCEP and CPTPP: Take on China to Shape the Regional Order
Wednesday, February 9, 2022
RCEP and CPTPP: Take on China to Shape the Regional Order

Endo Ken, Professor, Graduate School of Public Policy, Hokkaido University, in The Mainichi (February 4, 2022)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Foreign Ministry of the People’s Republic of China)

RCEP and CPTPP: Take on China to Shape the Regional Order

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement has come into effect. Now is the time for Japan to reconsider its risks and opportunities. Japan's national interest is to maintain a mutually beneficial relationship with China without alienating the US, Tokyo's ally. RCEP is a platform to pursue this interest. 

This is where the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) comes in. In this context, the CPTPP can be positioned as an additional framework of a higher order. China, which applied to join the CPTPP, has for the first time in a long time put itself in the position of being a "demandeur". This is not bad for Japan. After all, Japan is the leader of the CPTPP and has veto power as a current member so it has little to lose even if China does not join.

There is room for Japan and the rest of the world to take advantage of this opportunity to correct and mitigate the China problem. Tokyo should take this opportunity to move to prevent China from unilaterally deviating from universal rules. During the past decade or so, China has baffled many countries with its coercive economic diplomacy. In light of China's tendencies, this is a difficult enough task on its own, but it is also important to work to bring some relief to political and military matters as well. 

In urging a gradual reduction in the establishment of military bases, the flying of military aircraft, and the intrusion of (armed) fishermen and public vessels into politically disputed areas, it would do no harm to bring up the CPTPP membership application. To use a cold-hearted metaphor, take as much as you can before you let them into the room, and if the tactic does not work, let them stand in the hallway forever.


Political Challenges Posed by Mother-Tongue Education
Tuesday, January 25, 2022
Political Challenges Posed by Mother-Tongue Education

Josh Hong Man Fatt (唐南发), political commentator, in The Malaysian Insight (December 31, 2021)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Lan Rasso)

Political Challenges Posed by Mother-Tongue Education

The High Court has ruled that the use of Tamil and Mandarin in vernacular schools is constitutional. Conservative Malay nationalists, however, are likely to appeal or combine with other political and religious forces to challenge the right of children to receive education in their mother tongue.

The rise of far-right Malay forces stemmed from the weakened political position of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) since 2008. The far right has become more and more vocal since the Pakatan Harapan coalition came into power in 2018. Prior to this, opposition to mother tongue education mainly came from UMNO politicians including Mahathir Mohamad, prime minister from 1981 to 2003 and from 2018 to 2020, and Anwar Ibrahim, Mahathir’s deputy from 1993 to 1998 and now leader of the opposition.

Throughout his political career, Mahathir always publicly claimed that mother-tongue education hinders national unity. He also repeatedly promoted the Vision School initiative in a bid to promote national unity and integration, which was tantamount to supporting Malaysia’s extreme right-wing forces. Mahathir resumed these remarks after he became prime minister again in 20018. Even Teo Nie Ching, deputy minister of education under Mahathir, who had always been vocal on the subject of mother tongue education, dared not oppose his plans. 

The background of this lawsuit is a result of Malaysia’s turbulent political situation and the fact that no political party can lead, allowing far right forces to manipulate the emotions of Malay voters. In an era when Malay politics are increasingly divided, the possibility for right-wing organizations to cooperate with extreme politicians will only increase. The public should respond calmly to avoid making the situation worse.


An Optimistic Outlook for Exports in 2022
Monday, January 24, 2022
An Optimistic Outlook for Exports in 2022

Zhang Yangai, macroeconomics researcher, in Jiemian (December 6, 2021)  Summary by Alan Yang Gregory

An Optimistic Outlook for Exports in 2022

The outlook for China’s domestic exports was pessimistic during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic. The economy, however, has subsequently outperformed, with the year-on-year growth rate for exports (in US dollars terms) increasing from 0.5 percent in 2019 to 3.6 percent in 2020 – and 32.3 percent in January-October 2021. Contrary to the mainstream view that China's export growth rate will decline significantly, exports will maintain double-digit year-on-year growth in 2022 for the following three reasons: 

First, the pandemic’s trajectory remains uncertain. Despite the rapid increase in global vaccination coverage, the number of new confirmed cases observed worldwide continues to rise and fall in waves every 3-4 months. The recent emergence of the Omicron strain has triggered panic in global capital markets. If there is a super mutant strain in 2022, the recovery of overseas production will continue to be limited, which will increase import demand for Chinese goods.

Second, the safety and stability of China's industrial chain has been well demonstrated throughout the pandemic. This is conducive to boosting the popularity of Chinese enterprises to overseas customers and increasing exports, with the automobile industry serving as an example.  

Third, the pandemic has given many Chinese products opportunities to go global. The label “Made in China” is constantly improving, and Chinese brands are more and more associated with affordable quality. As the pandemic has limited some overseas production, some customers have been "forced" to buy Made-in-China products, highlighting China’s cost-effective advantage. This trend can be expected to continue in 2022.

Overall, assuming the global pandemic continues throughout 2022, the market share of Chinese exports may expand. This will mean that the export industry chain will continue to play an important role in China’s economic growth, supporting stable employment while also managing the risk of renminbi depreciation. 


Hosting World-Class Healthcare Requires More than an “International” Hospital
Tuesday, January 18, 2022
Hosting World-Class Healthcare Requires More than an “International” Hospital

Luther Lie, lawyer and Founder and President of the Indonesian Center for Law, Economics, and Business, in Media Indonesia (January 12, 2022)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Kementerian Badan Usaha Milik Negara, Republik Indonesia)

Hosting World-Class Healthcare Requires More than an “International” Hospital

Every year, nearly two million Indonesians travel abroad for medical treatment. As a result, the state lost revenue worth 97 trillion rupiah (US$6.8 billion). This is the reason for constructing the Bali International Hospital, President Joko Widodo said at the groundbreaking. The hope is that Indonesian citizens will no longer go abroad to get health services, and even foreigners will fly in. When medical facilities in countries such as Singapore and Malaysia are more sophisticated, with many doctors available, why choose Indonesia? 

Indonesia needs more than just international hospitals to capture health travelers, both domestic and international. First, if Indonesia is serious about becoming a center for medical tourism, a strategy is needed to acquire the most advanced medical technology. This could be the added value of the Bali International Hospital compared to reputable hospitals in other countries.

Second, Indonesia needs its sons and daughters to return to serve the country. The health minister has acknowledged that Indonesia has a shortage of doctors. At least 700 doctors died due to Covid-19. This is the time for Indonesian doctors who graduated abroad to return home. Many talented physicians want to return, but regulations make this almost impossible. But if doctors want to serve their homeland, why hinder them from doing so? 

If the government is serious about making Bali a world health-services center and attracting two million Indonesians as well as foreign tourists, we need more than just luxury facilities. The country's medical system needs a breakthrough: It should not be limited to just services but also needs to be supported by high-quality education, research and development.

Global technology and talent, especially Indonesian diaspora doctors, are the keys to improving the quality of the national health system. Indonesia needs more than just an “international” hospital to host world-class healthcare.


Eradicating Sexual Violence in Higher Education
Thursday, January 13, 2022
Eradicating Sexual Violence in Higher Education

Petrus Richard Sianturi, Founder and CEO of Legal Talk Society, in Koran Tempo (November 15, 2021)  

Summary by Made Ayu Mariska (Photo credit: Novrian Arbi/Antara)

Eradicating Sexual Violence in Higher Education

The Minister of Education, Culture, Research, and Technology's regulation for the prevention and handling of sexual violence in higher education is a beacon of hope for the protection of victims. Indonesian criminal law has not been very friendly to the victims. This regulation, however, will not be strong enough if the state still maintains loopholes that allow perpetrators to make retaliatory accusations against the victims. 

In many cases, perpetrators sue victims for libel because they can claim their name has been tainted and they know the victims do not have solid evidence. Libel reports by suspects of sexual violence need to be reconsidered so that the substance of the problem that needs to be resolved first, namely sexual violence, does get ignored. If the police shift their investigation to the libel case, the process gets muddied.

To avoid this situation, the state must first resolve allegations of sexual violence experienced by the victim even though there is a report by the suspect. Then, the viability of the libel case should be determined by the results of the investigations into the allegations against the perpetrator. This is to ensure that victims of sexual violence get a fair treatment of the case.

If these changes are made, the state can protect victims and help them recover. And it can move forward to eradicate sexual violence in any form, especially on a school campus.


Support China's Accession to the CPTPP
Thursday, January 13, 2022
Support China's Accession to the CPTPP

Li Wenlong, Senior Economist at the ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO), in Lianhe Zaobao (October 19, 2021)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Ministry of Commerce, Thailand)

Support China's Accession to the CPTPP

On September 16, 2021, China applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). A week later, Taiwan filed its own application. Singapore, Malaysia and Mexico have all expressed their support for China's accession. Meanwhile, Japan and Australia have shown no intention of supporting China's joining in the short term. Singapore, as a founding member with close relations with China, should play a more active role in promoting China's membership. 

Once China joins, the development prospects of CPTPP will improve for the following reasons:

First, China is already the largest trading country in the world and the Asia-Pacific region. Without China's participation, the CPTPP would not be a true Asia-Pacific trade agreement. 

Second, preventing China from joining goes against the concept of CPTPP as a free-and-open trade agreement. Instead, it would turn the CPTPP into a political tool used to confront and contain China. Owing to the political intentions of Japan and Australia against China, the ideological nature of the CPTPP has been strengthened. But other member states, including Singapore, do not want to conflict with China.

Third, the CPTPP is an important measure to promote further China's integration into Asia-Pacific and global trade. China has already conducted comprehensive research and evaluations and committed to high-level market opening that exceeds China’s current practices. 

Finally, support for China to join the CPTPP will also ultimately benefit Singapore. At present, China is Singapore's largest trading partner. By supporting China's accession, the bilateral trade relationship between Singapore and China can be consolidated further.


Christmas is Here Again
Thursday, December 16, 2021
Christmas is Here Again

Alex Eduque, philanthropist and columnist, in Manila Bulletin (December 11, 2021)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Wayne S Grazio)

Christmas is Here Again

This same time last year, though we tried our very best to keep up the festive spirit, things were much more subdued and grim. And while a lot has happened this past year, many things have still stayed the same.

If there is one thing we are more attuned with these days, it is rolling with the punches. We have accepted that change happens, and we are now more adaptable creatures. Change can be good when we do not resent it and readily accept it. Change is vital in enabling progress. And sometimes, we need to take a pause to internalize all of this. That is perhaps one of the gifts the lockdown brought us – the time to reflect and to realize. Life does indeed go on if we allow it to, and that the sun shines on us even when we least expect it.

The true meaning of Christmas is a prime example of tradition that will never change regardless of any situation. While the manner in which we choose to spend the holidays can differ, the core and the “reason for the season” will always remain the same.

We will look back at this pandemic as the time when the world literally came to a halt and our views of normalcy and routine changed completely. And although life has started to go on again, the question of whether we will ever return back completely to the normal we once knew still looms. When that day comes, I would like to keep the attitude of resilience, flexibility and open mindedness. This pandemic, if anything, taught me to count my blessings and appreciate the small things.


A Debate Over the Lèse-Majesté Law is Much Needed
Wednesday, December 15, 2021
A Debate Over the Lèse-Majesté Law is Much Needed

Pravit Rojanaphruk, Senior Staff Writer, in Khaosod (November 7, 2021)

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

A Debate Over the Lèse-Majesté Law is Much Needed

There has been an unprecedented flurry of reactions both in support and opposition to amending the controversial lèse-majesté law, which makes it a crime to defame, insult or threaten the king and other royalty. Protests by monarchy-reform groups have reiterated their year-long call for the abolition of, or at least an amendment to, the law. It was not long before parties, ruling and opposition, publicly took a stance. Any hope that the current parliament will table a proposal for debate was diminished when Prime Minister Gen. Prayuth Chan-o-Cha said he opposes any amendment of the law. “Do not destroy what we respect,” he said.

With elections widely expected by the middle of next year if not earlier, it is most unlikely that the proposal will even be tabled by the current parliament. For many who are passionate for or against the law, the next elections will not just be about how to solve the economic crisis but will partly be a de facto referendum on the law itself if not more.

Any expectations that all the opposition parties are solidly behind the proposal to amend the law were dashed when the parties met and said in a press conference that they take no common stance on the law but will respect each opposition party’s position on the matter.

To amend or not amend the lèse-majesté law, or even to abolish it, is a debate we need to have. We can start by the different groups trying to be more honest about where they stand. The perpetuation of a state of self-denial will not do Thailand any good.


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.


Omicron Will Influence the 2022 Election Campaign
Tuesday, December 7, 2021
Omicron Will Influence the 2022 Election Campaign

Jake J Maderazo, editor and columnist, in his Sharp Edges column in Philippine Daily Inquirer (December 7, 2021)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: US Department of State)

Omicron Will Influence the 2022 Election Campaign

The country is better prepared today against this variant, following its experiences on the Alpha, Beta and Delta waves. The government has administered 96 million vaccine doses or 86.4 percent of our total population of 111,050,000. Those fully vaccinated (two doses) stands at 38,700,000 persons, or 34.76 percent of the total population. The number of booster inoculations is also increasing. And unlike last year, people can even choose their preferred brands because of the government’s huge supplies.

The highly infectious Omicron variant will have a direct effect on the coming political campaign and its results. Even if found “milder” or deadlier than Delta, disruptions in our daily life will happen. Probably, we will see a repeat of lockdowns, return of face shields/masks and closed businesses due to higher alert levels next year. And this means limited campaigns, political rallies and stricter health protocols for candidates and supporters.

If Omicron is a milder, controllable variant, the administration candidates especially the incumbent mayors will have the advantage, being at the forefront of relief and successful vaccination of their citizens. But if Omicron becomes deadlier than Delta, then the government’s pandemic response becomes an election issue. This administration’s moves will be under microscopic scrutiny by voters. If cases zoom up again because of Omicron and hospitals are overwhelmed, then the opposition candidates in both national and local elections will have a better chance of winning.

When Omicron arrives, it is inevitable that we will again return to strict or very strict precautionary measures. Yes, it will be hard, but unlike last year, we now have available anti-Covid-10 drugs to avoid hospitalization and death. Also, our healthcare system is much now better following its Alpha, Beta and Delta experiences. We all must hope for the best.


Abe Shinzo’s No-Nonsense Message to Beijing
Tuesday, December 7, 2021
Abe Shinzo’s No-Nonsense Message to Beijing

Miyake Kuni, President of the Foreign Policy Institute and Research Director at the Canon Institute for Global Studies, in The Japan Times (December 2, 2021)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Anthony Quintano)

Abe Shinzo’s No-Nonsense Message to Beijing

During a virtual keynote speech on Japan-Taiwan relations at a forum organized by a Taiwan think tank, former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warned Beijing that an attack on Taiwan would be “economic suicide”. Beijing immediately lashed out at the former Japanese leader, denouncing Abe’s remarks as “openly nonsensical”,

Was Abe’s speech “openly nonsensical”?

As always, Abe was cautious in his use of words. He neither referred to the Republic of China nor Taiwan as an independent state. He neither called for its independence nor separation.

What might have alarmed China was Abe’s reference to an armed contingency. He said, “A Taiwan contingency is a Japanese contingency, and therefore a contingency for the Japan-US alliance. Beijing, President Xi Jinping should not have any misunderstanding in recognizing this.”

What Abe said is far from nonsensical. He wished for China to consider its ultimate national interests. He said that “any military adventure in Taiwan will have serious repercussions for the global economy” and therefore “China will suffer badly” because it is deeply involved in the global economy.

China will be or perhaps is already facing what I call “the middle-income trap with Chinese characteristics”. If China attacked Taiwan, China would immediately see its wealth and assets evaporate, which the nation and its people worked hard for over the past 40 years. Surely China does not wish for this.

Abe went on to say that “a military adventure against Taiwan is the way to economic suicide for China and would also have a significant impact on the world economy,” which China will continue to heavily depend on. If China’s political leaders are rational, they will clearly understand what Abe meant to say.


Police Use of Facial Recognition Technology is Dangerous
Wednesday, November 24, 2021
Police Use of Facial Recognition Technology is Dangerous

Anushka Jain, Associate Counsel at the Internet Freedom Foundation; Likhita, researcher and adviser at Amnesty International; and Matt Mahmoudi, artificial intelligence and big data researcher at Amnesty International, in The Indian Express (November 24, 2021)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Srinivas Kodali @digitaldutta on Twitter)


Police Use of Facial Recognition Technology is Dangerous

You desperately need to get to the pharmacy to stock up on essentials. As you walk there, almost every street you pass has cameras installed, watching closely as they attempt to identify your face and track your movements. You cross the street, only to be intercepted by police officers who demand that you remove your face mask. You ask why, but no one responds. Then, without explanation, you are lined up and an officer captures your face on a tablet.

This might sound like a scene from a film set in a dystopian world. In fact, this is an emerging reality for the people of Hyderabad, which stands on the brink of becoming a total surveillance city. According to police, more than 600,000 cameras have already been deployed in the city. 

Facial recognition technology identifies the distinct features of a person’s face to create a biometric map, which an algorithm then matches to possible individuals. The system searches across databases of millions of images, scraped without knowledge or consent, and often fails.

Yet, many police units in India today continue to acquire and deploy this dangerous and invasive technology. In India, these technological infringements on our human rights are particularly dire. The absence of any legal framework to govern data protection, especially in the context of personal biometric data, means that we are blindly turning our public spaces into sites of technological experimentation, where human rights are sidelined for profit and control.

The proposed Personal Data Protection Bill has been stuck for years in Parliament. Meanwhile, police forces and intelligence agencies have accelerated their unchecked personal data collection. Under the guise of the protection of women and children, huge amounts of public money are being spent on these technologies with no evidence of their effectiveness, further squandering precious public funds.


Introducing Electric Vehicles Will Not Be So Straightforward
Wednesday, November 24, 2021
Introducing Electric Vehicles Will Not Be So Straightforward

Liu Jia Ming, electrical engineer, in Lianhe Zaobao (September 23, 2021)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Choo Yut Shing)

Introducing Electric Vehicles Will Not Be So Straightforward

According to Singapore's transportation development blueprint, all internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles will be replaced by electric vehicles by 2040. Electric vehicles do not emit exhaust gas containing toxic particles. Meanwhile, natural gas can be used to generate electricity, meaning Singapore’s air will be much cleaner. In addition, electric vehicles will reduce noise pollution by at least a half. Scientists, engineers and designers should also take advantage of this opportunity to redesign vehicles to tackle traffic congestion. In the future, big data analysis, artificial intelligence and robot operations can all be integrated to support automated driving.

Eliminating ICE vehicles will not be straightforward. Apart from developing new driving skills, licenses, maintenance, safety, insurance and so forth, there is the question of what to do with neighboring countries and to ensure compatibility between charging systems. The batteries and electronic parts needed to produce electric vehicles rely upon toxic metals such as lithium and arsenic. As such, the pollution and negative impact of electric vehicles are either not yet apparent or have not yet been fully studied.

To achieve full environmental protection and carbon reduction, it is still necessary to explore other solutions. The mayor of Paris recently proposed the concept of the "15-minute city" with the goal of all urban residents being able to get what they need in a 15-minute walk or bicycle ride. Such an example is not only environmentally friendly but can also increase productivity and improve the balance between work and rest. Ultimately, this is not just a challenge for Singapore’s Ministry of Transport. It will require the synchronization of the urban economic development of the city across sectors and actors to succeed.


“Lucky and Chosen Malays” Should Help the “Unlucky” Ones
Wednesday, November 24, 2021
“Lucky and Chosen Malays” Should Help the “Unlucky” Ones

Mahathir Mohd Rais, Bersatu Segambut division chief, in The Malaysian Insight (October 25, 2021)

Summary by Made Ayu Mariska (Photo credit: zol m)

“Lucky and Chosen Malays” Should Help the “Unlucky” Ones

The “lazy Malay” narrative has spiked up recently. Among the weaknesses of the Malays that are often talked about are laziness, dependent way of life and lack of knowledge that led to their split into different groups of thought.

Although the Malays are given special protection and rights under the Constitution, their situation has not changed much. Many are still considered as low income and do not own property. This shows that privileges can turn into disaster if not taken care of properly.

The Malay community should learn to accept more changes to prove that they are able to compete and contribute to the country’s development. In addition, progress in the education system will help Malays free themselves from the shackles of the political, economic and social systems.

There are many Malay entrepreneurs in different sectors and some have even become millionaires, but the success of a few cannot be considered as the success of the Malays as a whole. While millions of “unlucky Malays” are still experiencing declining living standards due to either unemployment or lack of source of income, some groups of “lucky Malays” are comfortably enjoying growth in their personal wealth.

Injustice in this flawed economic system has long been manipulated by the “chosen Malays”. Their wealth increased even during the pandemic stemming from systemic failures in both policy and the legal system. Instead of harvesting the fruits of the system for their own good, “lucky and chosen Malays” should help the “unlucky Malays” who are less fortunate.

At the same time, the Malays should not be picky. They should seize all the opportunities and jobs available to gain knowledge and experience and close the gap that has been filled by immigrants or foreign workers. Success in uplifting the nation depends on their willingness to accept change.



Voters Choose the Presidential Candidate They Dislike Least
Wednesday, November 17, 2021
Voters Choose the Presidential Candidate They Dislike Least

Summary by Jeongyeo Lim (Photo credit: 이재명 https://blog.naver.com/jaemyunglee/221290825385)

Voters Choose the Presidential Candidate They Dislike Least

A poll shows that the public disapproves of all three candidates in next year’s presidential election – the ruling Democratic Party’s Lee Jae-myung (32 percent approval) and Yoon Seok-youl (28 percent) and Hong Joon-pyo (31 percent) of the opposition People Power Party. If votes were cast, the winner would be whomever people dislike the least.

The popular verdict on these hopefuls is unsurprising given their track records of controversies. Lee gave preferential treatment to the development of a particular area when he was mayor of Seongnam City in Gyeonggi Province. Yoon is suspected of stoking accusations against his rivals even as he claims to be the keeper of the rule of law and common sense. Hong is lampooned for openly hurling expletives at fellow politicians.

Political divisions are at the root of this situation where candidates with approval ratings below 50 percent are leading the presidential race. In our political environment there are more shameless "fighting cocks" than wholesome talents because the culture requires vindication over those with differing views rather than compromise or constructive competition. Enemies are to be scorched.

There can be no future in a country where the presidential race has deteriorated into a mud fight of hatred, and the public must choose their least disfavored candidate. Whoever takes office will be beleaguered with weak approval ratings and correspondingly lackluster administration. This would lead to a vicious cycle of imbalanced policies favoring the president’s supporters. Deepening schism is possible. Knowing full well how this might unravel our society, we must not blindly go down this path.

If the presidential candidates are truly the ones who seek to lead the nation, they must avoid shallow calculations to position themselves at the extremes of the political landscape. They must instead offer a vision that will unite the country.