Opinion

Our experts on Asia guide you through the big issues facing the region
South China Morning Post
  1. The term “human rights” is properly a feature of the modern world, but people have been calling out cruelty for centuries. Who gets blamed for human tragedy reveals a lot about how a nation values human life.Western nations, chief among them the United States, have long assumed the promotion of human rights as one of their natural duties, but in recent years some have questioned their qualifications for doing so.Last Fall in the journal Foreign Affairs James Goldgeier and Bruce W. Jentleson…
  2. When Malaysia’s King Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah declared a state of emergency in January, his message to the MPs was unequivocal: cut the politicking and focus on tackling the Covid-19 pandemic. Yet MPs from the Perikatan Nasional government and the Pakatan Harapan opposition did exactly the reverse, soliciting defections to boost their parliamentary support. While Covid-19 infection rates continue to rise, politicians’ power-grabbing behaviour may have a deep impact on the country’s political…
  3. MR PINK Quentin Tarantino’s classic movie Reservoir Dogs opens with an entertaining exchange among a group of criminals about paying a tip to the waitress. Mr Pink, the tritagonist in the plot, protests that he doesn’t believe in paying tips unless the waitress had “really put forth the effort”, and that he thought she hadn’t the common sense to refill his coffee more often. Mr Blue and Nice Guy Eddie countered the point, saying that he was being mean since waitresses earn so little and rely…
  4. On December 30, 2020, all 27 member states of the European Union agreed to the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment with China after seven years of negotiation. The deal, known as the CAI, is being portrayed in Western media as a strategic victory for China over a naive, desperate Europe – one that took place in the lead up to Joe Biden’s inauguration as president of the United States. Europe’s leaders, critics argued, had limited the options for the Biden administration and given too many…
  5. With a rapidly ageing population and a fast shrinking labour force, China is under rising pressure to completely remove its much-maligned birth controls to defuse a ticking demographic time bomb.These days any public comment the government makes on the hugely sensitive subject could easily ignite a national debate.The latest example came on February 18, when the National Health Commission – which is in charge of family planning – published on its website a statement saying it encouraged the…
  6. In August last year, as the Covid-19 pandemic raged through much of Asia, I wrote a cover story for the Post’s This Week in Asia magazine about esoteric developments surrounding the South China Sea dispute that were mainly being parsed by legal wonks.At the time, the likes of Vietnamese ocean law scholar Trang Pham told me to closely monitor which countries were issuing notes verbale – or diplomatic notes – to the United Nations with regards to China’s “nine-dash line” claim.By December, the…
  7. India is faced with a conundrum in its relations with neighbouring Myanmar, following the February 1 military coup that ousted the fledgling civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi. New Delhi’s policymakers have long maintained that they do not believe in commenting on, let alone interfering in, the internal affairs of other states. To that end, for example, New Delhi refrained from criticising the brutal Tiananmen Square events in 1989, and it has also maintained a studious silence on the…
  8. For many, 2020 was a year postponed. While we were focused on coping with the Covid-19 virus, we lost ground on other critical issues, including plastic pollution and climate change. The waste-management and recycling value chain in South and Southeast Asia has ground to a halt while the use of single-use virgin plastics has soared. The situation is untenable for the long run and the environmental impact is sobering. As we inch closer to the promise of mass vaccination and kick off 2021 in the…
  9. On Thursday, the Philippines will mark the 35th anniversary of the largely peaceful insurrection that overthrew dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos in 1986. The uprising captivated the global media and garnered international praise, showing that an authoritarian ruler could be overthrown by millions of civilian protesters. Among its most iconic images were nuns holding flowers and kneeling in front of government soldiers. Even where the origins of the term were forgotten, Philippine “People Power”…
  10. Facebook’s “news ban” in response to Australia’s proposed media bargaining code has been hard to miss if you have spent any time on social networks in the past day or so. The social media platform has effectively halted all posting of links from Australian news pages and stopped people in Australia from posting or viewing international news as well.The change happened overnight, and may be undone if either Australia or Facebook backs down. But if the current situation continues, it may leave…