for corrective action
fake vaccination certificates in Malaysia
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday January 22, 2022
First published in the Star, Tuesday January 18, 2022
With the latest arrest of six workers and the owner
of a private polyclinic in Gombak over the issuance of fake vaccination
certificates, it is apparent that corrective action needs to be
Hence, here are two suggestions that can be implemented to prevent
such incidents in the future:
Review the existing vaccination standard operating proceedure (SOP)
adopted by private clinics, as well as the list of authorised clinics
by following certain criteria and;
Enhance the supervision mechanism for authorised private clinics
and impose harsher punishments to issuers and users of fake vaccination
Within this month, there have been two arrests involving private
clinics for issuing fake vaccination certificates.
These 2 arrests are likely just the tip of the iceberg, causing
many to be worried that more may still be operating in the dark.
Therefore, the Health Ministry could review and tighten existing
regulations to filter the list of authorised private clinics based
on medical qualifications and their operating history, among other
Furthermore, to prevent the AntiVax group from gaining more traction,
all individuals involved in the issuance and usage of fake vaccination
certificates should be sentenced with harsher punishments to create
a deterrent effect.
The Covid-19 pandemic remains a real threat every day.
Thus, we urge all Antivaxxers to rethink their decision, get accurate
information on vaccinations and support the nations effort
to vaccinate the people and save lives.
Wong Siew Mun ,
Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA)
Thai roads are the most
In the world
Southeast Asian Times Friday January 20, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday January 12,
Re: "7 deadly days", in
Bangkok Post January 3, 2022
Time and again we are reminded that Thai roads are among the most
dangerous in the world.
Speeding, drunk driving and lack of common sense in general are
However, around 80 percent of all casualties are motorcycle riders.
It would be interesting to know how many accidents are caused by
careless motorists, and how many are due to irresponsible bike riding.
I suspect the latter account for many mishaps.
Wouldn't it be better to focus more on the reckless bike riders
in order to reduce casualties instead of running useless campaigns
during new year periods?
Helmets often seem unnecessary to these dimwits, and police seem
to regard them as a mere cash cow.
Why not introduce a more stringent motorcycle licence with appropriate
Seeing helmet-less 13-year-old children ride to school with three
piled on a bike is just asking for trouble.
All the while the police just look on.
The safety campaigns that are run now clearly aren't working. Time
to do better.
Hope for the best
But prepare for the worst
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday January 20, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday January
I have been living in the Philippines since 2004 and
I have come to love this country.
So I am concerned about who will lead the country after the May
A change of direction is desirable.
The next president will face very big tasks that whoever wins is
not to be envied. The biggest challenge is likely to be the COVID-19
pandemic, whose impact will be with us for a long time to come.
It is not yet certain whether the pandemic will end in an endemic
situation after the mild Omicron variant, and whether the concerns
about it will be negligible.
By the time a disease becomes endemic, a relatively large number
of people have already contracted it or been vaccinated.
The number of people who become seriously ill is then significantly
reduced compared to the acute phase of the pandemic.
In addition, there are foreign policy issues with China.
These must be solved in a diplomatic, peaceful way and that requires
a thinking president, not one with a macho demeanor and muscular
As far as the endless fight against corruption in this country is
concerned, we have made very little progress in the last six years;
President Duterte himself personally confirmed this.
Even military conflicts are not excluded from the incoming presidents
concerns. What if the conflict in Europe between Ukraine and Russia
escalates militarily and, in the end, even gets NATO involved?
What if China simultaneously attacks Taiwan with military means
and thus initiates its reunification through an invasion?
In such situations, we need a president who can keep us away from
A country hit hard by the coronavirus like the Philippines cannot
race into a war. The priority of the president should therefore
be the pandemic.
Many people are suffering from depression (I pay for this myself
and freely admit it) and afraid of losing their livelihood.
Financial problems are no longer just exceptional cases but the
It is about putting food on the table that counts.
During my internship as a scientific assistant in a biosafety laboratory
level 4, my professor said: Hope for the best, but prepare
for the worst.
There is nothing to add.
Dr. Jurgen Schofer,
pollution in Bangkok kills
in a year than from Covid-19
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday January 19, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday January 17, 2022
Re: "Haze cannot be ignored",
Bangkok Post, Editorial, January 12, 2022
It's laudable that the Bangkok Post editorial team continues to
keep alive the concern over the choking air pollution in Bangkok.
Although the editorial pleads that the "haze cannot be ignored,"
of course we can expect that it will be ignored.
By now, we know the pattern very well.
According to the State of Global Air 2020 Report, around 32,000
premature deaths in Thailand are attributed to air pollution each
year. Thus, in the past two years, foul air has caused more than
twice the number of premature deaths than Covid-19 during the pandemic.
Many of these deaths could be averted if reasonable actions were
taken to reduce air pollution. Where is the outrage over these deaths?
While we're kept in a state of near-panic and endless mitigating
gyrations over Covid-19, no apparent action is taken to avert the
air-quality health threat that is killing more people than the coronavirus.
political corruption underlies
The Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 18, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquier, January 17, 2022
The article of columnist Solita Collas-Monsod, The
Buwaya Problem January 8, 2022 is a well-argued
and evidence-based diagnosis that high political corruption is the
main culprit underlying our countrys socioeconomic syndromes.
It gave me three insights.
First, using the crocodile as a metaphor is a compelling way to
depict the breadth and depth of greed for political gain.
On the one hand, it is a fact that there are many similarities between
politicians and animals, and thus we can compare their behaviors.
On the other hand, it seems not fair to the crocodiles, and for
that matter, to other animals, when we, without qualifying, compare
the politicians behavior to theirs. Because while the crocodile
is wholly driven by pure instincts to grab its prey for lunch, the
corrupt political dynasts are driven by unbridled greed for power
under the guise of altruistic intent.
In addition, aside from the fact that there are politicians who
would not hesitate to go down to the level of animals to perpetuate
themselves in power, there are others who would unconscionably do
things animals themselves cannot do, such as the intentional killing
of the weak and the innocent, for their political gain.
Second, the article should provoke anger against the systemic injustices
committed on the poorest and vulnerable.
Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) wrote that he who is not angry
when there is a just cause for anger is immoral because anger looks
to the good of justice and if you can live amid injustice without
anger, you are immoral and unjust.
Moreover, the social injustice becomes more inexplicable because
we pride ourselves as the only Christian country in these parts
of the world.
Where have gone the values of social charity and justice that 500
years of Christianity taught and upheld as the way to genuine peace
Third, in a democratic society like ours, elections are the most
effective way to boot corrupt politicians out of power.
This coming May 9, 2022 national elections, we can only hope that
many of us will elect as president the one candidate who has the
proven integrity, probity, and competence to lead our country from
darkness into light. Matauhan na po sana tayo!
Noel G. Asiones,
public is paranoid
Southeast Asian Times, Monday January 17, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday 12, January
Re: "Heedless manhunt, Omicron marches
on", in Bangkok Post PostBag, January 10, 2022.
As I read the Second Secretary to India's remarks concerning the
Bangkok Post's recent coverage of an allegedly Covid positive foreign
couple who were allegedly taken off-guard by a surprise positive
Covid result and/or alleged miscommunication, I could not help but
sympathise with the secretary because the recent debacle really
reveals just how paranoid much of the Thai public still is regarding
The Bangkok Post's front page (online) article says that Thailand
had 7,926 known new cases yesterday.
As such, it was sad to watch this recent hysterical reaction to
this couple because there are almost certainly plenty of Thais and
local residents who are also Covid positive, asymptomatic and spreading
the disease without knowing it as I write this.
Getting two people into quarantine is probably not going to even
put a ping in Thailand's rising Covid numbers.
We are just going to have to accept that we have Covid throughout
most of the country.
It is here to stay, but the country's attitude towards Covid-positive
people presently gives potential foreign tourists and investors
every reason not to travel here.
Jason A Jellison,
for two law-abiding
Indian nationals in Bangkok
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday January 16, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday January 10, 2022
Re: "Couple spark Covid alert",
in Bangkok Post January 5, 2022
The report quotes Dr Apirat Katanyutanont, chief of Chon Buri health
office, saying he was in contact with the Embassy of India to help
"locate them", which is incorrect.
The report also published the phone number of Vibharam Laemchabang
Hospital asking the public to report their whereabouts, which in
fact launched a manhunt for two innocent law-abiding Indian nationals
who were available on the phone and in contact with Vibharam Laemgchabang
They could also be located on the Mor Chana tracking app installed
on their phones.
You may also note that the Embassy of India put out a tweet at 7.35pm
on Jan 4 saying that two individuals were in touch with the embassy
and were trying to get admitted to a hospital in Bangkok.
It is brought to your notice that Mr Ankit Sejwal and his spouse
Mrs Preeti Panwar left Chon Buri for the airport in anticipation
of a negative RTPCR result.
They were in fact in regular touch with Vibharam Laemgchabang Hospital
as they could not have boarded the flight without a negative RTPCR.
They, like any responsible citizen, isolated themselves once they
come to know about the positive RTPCR test.
Mr Ankit did not want to travel back to Chon Buri as it would have
put at risk the taxi driver, and he wanted to be admitted in Bangkok.
All throughout, he was in touch with the embassy, members of the
diaspora and the hospital.
The embassy too was in touch with the hospital and the health office
of Chon Buri.
It is unfortunate that a reputable newspaper like the Bangkok Post
did not bother to check the embassy website, nor did it reach out
to the embassy for comment before launching a virtual manhunt for
two fully vaccinated individuals.
They had travelled to Thailand on Dec 28 to spend the New Year,
having taken a RTPRC test before departure and after arriving in
Thailand, and following all rules and regulations.
This kind of reporting has a tendency to harm the reputation of
individuals and the countries to which they belong and is unacceptable
from an organisation of your repute.
You are free to verify all the facts from the sources/individuals
A Roy Chowdhury,
Second Secretary Embassy of India,
China trojan train
Southeast Asian Times Saturday January 15, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, January 13, 2022
Re: "Focus on Laos-China rail amid fruit
export hopes", Bangkok Post, Business, January
Like a Trojan Horse, whilst the new express train to Kunming will
export Thai produce, it does nothing without putting China's national
interest first and foremost. I think they have already saddled the
country with a huge debt.
Local elections in the
Are as important as general elections
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 14 January 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 13 January
While there is no lack of analysis at the national
level, the conversation on politics at the local level leaves much
to be desired.
One might be wont to think that voters hold the same standard for
elective positions at the national and local levels. But our experience
proves otherwise and may even surprise us.
We vote for a president, a vice president, a party list, and 12
senators at the national level.
At the local level, we vote for a district representative, governor,
vice governor, provincial board members, mayor vice mayor, and municipal
In the last presidential election, debates were organized for presidential
and vice presidential candidates spearheaded by the Commission on
Various media organizations dedicate segments to interview candidates
to know more about their platforms and to give them the equal airtime
that would otherwise be denied from them due mainly to the cost
of running advertisements.
But what about at the local level?
I hardly know of any organized debates that tackle platforms of
local candidates. The most that we can get are from social media
pages of individual candidates which have again become active after
the filing of certificates of candidacy.
Most recently, candidates have resorted to organizing online raffles
where participants watch a livestream.
Candidates giving tokens and dole-outs before an election have not
only had their stakes raised but have also morphed into new platforms
and methods adapting to technology and mobility restrictions.
As many scholars have pointed out, this is patronage politics.
Without actually devising plans that would address the problems
that have long beset their localities - housing, health care, employment,
public spaces, and many more - the people are kept begging in front
of local politicians.
Running for local elective positions has seemingly been reduced
to who can control the local coffers and give them away as if its
What is lamentable is that some politicians have created a cult
for themselves, thereby perpetuating themselves longer - in many
cases, literally carving out their names or initials on almost every
public infrastructure or dole-out possible.
By this, they not only remind voters of the current ruling politician
but also of family members who will soon enter the local political
arena to replace those whose term of office is ending.
What is more disheartening is that people have long been accustomed
to this practice and have come to accept this kind of reality of
This only shows why local elections are as important as national
polls, and should be given equal attention in the media because
politics at the local level shapes the kind of national leaders
we will have.
Edward Joseph Maguindayao,
in Australia's facilities
Locked up and languish in limbo
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 13 January 2022
Novak Djokovic'c court victory in overturning the
Federal Government's decision to cancel his visa without giving
him " procedural fairness" exposes the arbitrary
exercise of State power by the mob in power in Australia.
Djokovic had the means and the international high profile to successfully
challenge the Australian government decision.
Many refugees locked up and languishing in limbo ( some for 8 or
9 years ) in Australia's detention facilities don't have Djokovic's
Their predicament is an indictment on the Australian State's cruel,
unfair and inhumane treatment of people who sought our protection
from the political persecution they suffered in their homecountry
forcing them to flee.
It's a crying shame.
Nothing honourable about
Official visit to Myanmar
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 12 January 2022
We read in The Southeast Asian Times article '
Cambodia's official visit to Myanmar gives legitimacy to military
dictatorship says NUG ' ( 9 January ) that Cambodia's Prime
Minister Hun Sen was welcome on arrival in Myanmar on Friday 7 January
with " a guard of honour ".
It's a disgrace.
Giving legitimacy to a brutal rogue military regime that has been
committing atrocities against its own people - men, women and children
- since day one of its violent takeover of the democratically elected
government and locking up Aung San Sui Kyi, the leader of the peoples'
free choice, is morally repugnant.
There is nothing honourable about the Cambodian PM's official visit.
It's more a case of birds of the same rogue feather flocking together!
for China to delay
of 2022 Winter Olympics
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 11 January 11, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post Thursday January 6, 2022
Re: "Controversy greets countdown",
Bangkok Post Sports, January 4, 2022.
The National Hockey League (NHL) announced before recent Christmas
that its pulling out all of its players from participating in the
upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing in early February of this year.
This is a huge blow, considering that men's Ice Hockey is the signature
event of the Winter Olympics.
The Canadian Mixed Curlers soon followed suit, withdrawing from
the games also, in what is sure to be the first of many other withdrawals
from the Winter Olympics.
Now the CEO of the Canadian Olympic Committee(COC), David Shoemaker,
told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation(CBC), that he "is
worried whether the games can go ahead" as planned.
It should be noted that Canada was the first country to withdraw
from the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
So one would think that they would not be hesitant to withdraw also
from the upcoming games, and that nor would other Western European
nations be hesitant.
Being that the Omicron variant of Covid-19 has only recently cropped
up onto the scene and seems to be spreading quickly, and that the
Chinese government has already locked down entire cities in a bid
to control things, I think it is time for the Communist government
to seriously considering doing what Tokyo did at the 2020 Summer
Olympics, and delay the opening of the Winter games to later in
2022 or at another date.
If the Chinese government fails to do this, then there is a good
chance that some nations will voluntarily withdraw from the games.
Call for examination of
project themselves as would-be-messiahs
Southeast Asian Times, Monday January 10, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday January
I agree with columnist Randy Davids very interesting
analysis on the appropriation of the messianic motif in Philippine
politics The messianic motif in Philippine politics,
December 19, 2021.
More importantly, it provoked me to ask what must and can be done
to address the straightforward challenges we will face in the 2022
The least we can do when politicians project themselves as would-be
messiahs is to examine their previous performance and accomplishments
to ascertain their fitness for the public office they seek.
You will know them by their fruits, as Matthew
7:16 puts it.
But without fact-checking, it is most likely that ordinary voters
will be mesmerized by the highly questionable messianic narratives
that politicians brazenly peddle during election seasons.
Economic and moral factors would partly explain why people would
gravitate not toward those who are genuinely competent, experienced,
and accomplished, but more toward dysfunctional politicians who
sound like a broken record.
In light of the ills currently besetting our political landscape,
the usual questions How shall we vote? and How
can we help? have gained renewed traction and pertinence.
First, as many groups have already been voluntarily doing, let us
leave no stone unturned to unmask the false messiahs in our midst.
Second, let us actively campaign and fight for those candidates
who incarnate our shared dreams for a better future.
Third, since there is strength in numbers, let us set aside our
parochial divisions by joining groups and communities who share
the same advocacies and programs to turn the potentially catastrophic
political exercise in May 2022 into an opportunity to liberate our
country from its deep-seated economic, social, and political problems.
We owe these to our future generations.
Noel G. Asiones,
Covid-19 related law suits
so far been few
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 9 January 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 6 January
Everywhere around the globe, people are being punished
in varying degrees of severity or cruelty for breaches of public
safety and health protocols shoved down their throats on account
of COVID-19 and its seemingly never-ending mutations, the latest
of which being Omicron.
If that is not adding insult to injury, then what is?
But how come nobody is seriously thinking of punishing China for
being responsible for this pandemic in the first place?
As of December 2021, about 282,000,000 infections and about 5,500,000
deaths have been reported to the World Health Organization.
God knows how many more have not been reported.
China should be held to account for what now amounts to a crime
How many more millions have to die before the world starts kicking
COVID-19-related suits pending against China have so far been few
- all private initiatives with little or no leverage at all.
As their governments prefer to just sit this pandemic out, lawyers
and lawyers groups all over the world should unite and use
lawfare to thwart Chinas hegemonic intentions
which are bankrolled by its gazillions in wealth scattered around
Lawyers worth their salt know that freezing those assets within
their courts respective jurisdictions is the best way to go.
But no one has seen that happening.
Has China got the whole world by its balls already?
Stephen L. Monsanto,
Big Mac Index
Measures purchasing power parity
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday January 8, 2022
First published in Bangkok Post, Friday January 7, 2022
Re: "Prizes for fries", in
Bangkok Post PostBag, January 4, 2022
S Tsow posits that economists might be able to forego actual research
and instead visit McDonald's and price the fries in order to determine
a nation's economic status.
The Economist magazine is way ahead of him having established the
Big Mac Index in 1986.
From the Wikipedia entry: The Big Mac Index is a price index published
by The Economist as an informal way of measuring the purchasing
power parity (PPP) between two currencies and provides a test of
the extent to which market exchange rates result in goods costing
the same in different countries.
It "seeks to make exchange-rate theory a bit more digestible".
growth in Thailand
Measured by size of McDonald's french Fries
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 7 January 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday 5 January 2022
Re: "Large-size fries back on the menu",
in Bangkok Post Business, Friday December 31, 2021.
This article gives us a new standard to measure the economic status
of any nation. No longer will economists have to analyse reams of
data to figure out where a nation stands in the world economy.
All they'll have to do is visit their nearest McDonald's outlet
and examine the size of its french fries.
"Show me the size of your fries."
It would make a great motto for economists.
as usual for China
convicted former Malaysian PM
The Southeast Asian Times, Thursday January 6, 2022
We read in The Southeast Asian Times article
' China invites convicted felon former Malaysian PM Najib
Razak to World China Economic Forum ( WCEF ) ' ( 4 Jan.
2022) that the former rogue leader was " a guest speaker
" at that Forum held in Kuala Lumpur last week.
A former Malaysian diplomat described the invitation " an
insult to the nation ", saying " By giving him
an international platform China hopes to redeem the man and whitewash
The invitation is most certainly an insult to the nation when only
last month the Malaysian Court of Appeal upheld the High Court verdict
that found Razak guilty as charged of criminal breach of trust and
sentenced him to 12 years in prison.
But is anybody really surprised by China's action when it is a well
known fact that China has no qualms about embracing and doing business
as usual with fully fledged brutal dictators around the world ?
By contrast Najib Razak is just a big crook.
Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict
libraries to withdraw subversive books
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday January 5, 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday January
The removal of books with subversive content
from Philippines state university libraries confirms the nations
status as an underdeveloped country.
In fact, it lowers the level of our civilization.
These so-called subversive books, alongside books on anti-communism
and the local anti-communist movement in libraries, would have been
a good sign of cultural maturity.
University libraries must have an ample collection of books of various
persuasions and viewpoints for use by students and teachers for
their academic needs.
This will enrich the capability of our scholars to come out with
more objective, meaningful, and relevant research.
Reportedly, it was the National Task Force to End Local Communist
Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) through the military that harassed
library personnel to withdraw these subversive
materials more specifically, books authored by Jose Ma. Sison and
the National Democratic Front.
If the NTF-Elcac believes that the government has the right formula
for national development, it should not be afraid of books that
are accessible only to those in the academe being in university
If these agents of the state and preservers of the status quo believe
that what they are doing is for the good of the country, then they
should not be threatened by documents that present alternative socio-political-economic
analyses and alternative programs for the peoples welfare
and the nations development.
In fact, these kinds of books should be read by more people outside
of the academe, especially the rabid anti-communists, so they will
know what communism is all about its history, meaning, and the personalities
behind it and they will have an educated understanding of why they
are against it.
The government should be happy that groups and individuals are condemning
the withdrawal of the subversive books. It means there
are still Filipinos who value culture and reading. Instead of withdrawing
books from state university libraries, the government should focus
on the more basic problem of improving literacy among our people.
Julie L. Po,
Linangan ng Kulturang Pilipino,
is not widely known that AsreaZeneca vaccine
sold at cost US$4
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday January 4, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday January 3, 2022
Re: "Who Invented Covid-19 Vaccines? Drugmakers
Battle Over Patents", in Bangkok Post Business, December
In the 1940s, the research team in Oxford that researched and produced
penicillin went against all advice and did not patent it, saying
it was "for the good of mankind".
Instead they gave it to five large US companies to work on; one
of these became Pfizer.
Later on these same companies would not pass on the production details
as they said it was proprietary commercial information.
Eighty years on, again at Oxford, AstraZeneca announced it would
not profit from a pandemic and all its Covid vaccines are, at present,
"at cost", about US$4 (132 baht).
This is not widely known.
All the other manufacturers are making huge profits, charging $20
up and squabbling among themselves about patents' worth, apparently
billions of dollars.
It saddens me that the profit motive still seems to be the only
Profit is important, but not the only driver of progress.
Papua New Guinea parliamentarians
Love money more than justice
Southeast Asian Times, Monday January 3, 2022
First published in the National, Thursday December 30, 2021
The people of Papua New Guinea have been longing and
looking for justice leadership for the last 40 years.
Only two or three leaders who truly love justice are struggling
to restore and protect justice, but to no avail.
Almost all parliamentarians love money more than justice.
They continue to lust after desires of the flesh and cannot lead
from the front.
We know that leaders are divinely assigned to be the shepherds of
Instead, they continue to abuse the peoples office and the
leadership roles bestowed upon them through the ballot papers every
They knowingly mislead their people to slavery and guide to live
Their primary role of serving the peoples basic needs disappears
when they enter the house of the people.
The law and the leadership code for the elected leaders is seen
to be shelved under the cupboard collecting dust.
Member's of Parliament first priority appears to be accumulating
wealth for themselves.
Where is justice?
The law enforcement agencies and the heads of statutory bodies are
either compromised or threatened to stand up against such wrongdoings.
These key sectors are very well aware of this corrupt strategy,
but they cannot come out and speak the truth because they are afraid
of losing their jobs.
The time to elect leaders to lead us for the next five years is
just around the corner, so the citizens of this country should stand
firm and elect leaders who love justice more than money.
Papua New Guinea
year 2021 has been a tumultuous one
Filled with challenges.
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday January 2, 2022
First published in the New Straits Times, Friday December
The Spanish philosopher, George Santayana, famously
said: "Those who do not remember the past are condemned
to repeat it."
As we leave 2021, let us reflect on the disastrous events as a reminder
to increase our resolve for mitigation or prevention.
The year 2021 has been a tumultuous one filled with challenges.
Covid-19 continues to disrupt our daily lives as new variants manifest
themselves globally. It changed the way we live, it affects every
level of society and takes a toll on the economy.
Malaysia was initially commended for the steps she took to contain
Treat each other well with humility and respect to reflect true
Unfortunately, for reasons best known to those in the corridors
of power, we let our guard down so much so that the pandemic reached
unprecedented levels, recording high death and infection rates.
Just as we grapple with the pandemic, extreme weather caused by
a tropical depression resulted in the flood disaster in several
states leading to a number of deaths.
To the families of the victims, Ikatan extends our heartfelt condolences.
We also extend our sympathies to the thousands of families that
have been displaced.
While the flood victims were seriously traumatised, the rakyat by
and large note with frustration that the action by the powers that
be fell short of expectations and rescue efforts had shortcomings.
The disaster in Taman Sri Muda in Shah Alam, Selangor, and elsewhere
showed rescue efforts were badly managed.
It has opened our eyes to agencies that were initially not fully
prepared in dealing with the floods.
The coordination effort could have been better.
Indeed, the impacts of climate change have been made worse when
coupled with disasters stemming from man-made actions such as indiscriminate
development, encroachment into environmentally sensitive areas and
overdevelopment that had benefited a few but had adversely impacted
The government and development players must be fully committed to
a precautionary approach to development in order to protect and
cushion the impacts of disasters such as floods, landslides and
land subsidence upon our communities.
If there is one thing that reflects the true spirit of Malaysia,
it is the solidarity among the rakyat in times of crisis.
The front-liners of Covid-19, particularly healthcare staff and
the volunteers worked tirelessly round the clock.
Specific mention must be made of the numerous volunteers from non-governmental
organisations, or as individuals who braved the dangers to help
those affected by the Movement Control Order and also the flood
They are our unsung heroes.
The Fire and Rescue Department personnel, the armed forces and the
police also did their part.
The ordinary Malaysians have come together during the flood crisis
to help each other not blinded by race and religion.
It was so heartening to see Malaysians united to help fellow Malaysians
in the true spirit of voluntarism and "Keluarga Malaysia".
It shows that at heart, we are all Malaysians, caring, compassionate
and colour blind as we have strived to be.
The recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and the floods will take
time before we resume our normal lives.
We have to be strong to wade the metaphoric tide.
Let us take this opportunity for our leaders and citizens to self-reflect.
We live to learn well, and learn to live well.
We shall never carry into 2022 the mistakes of the past.
Life can only be understood backwords; but it must be lived forwards.
With that let us usher in the new year.
Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye,
Alliance for Safe Community,
Thai dreaming 2022
Marijuana-laced Covid-19 vaccine
Southeast Asian Times Saturday January 1, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday December 31, 2021
Re: "There have probably been better years",
in Bangkok Post PostScript, December 26, 2021
I must add two more guffaws to Roger Crutchley's list.
First, the scientists at a prestigious Thai university will successfully
develop their world-famous marijuana-laced Covid vaccine.
They claim that a high dose of this revolutionary vaccine will do
what Astra, Pfizer, and Moderna, and other vaccines have failed
When the sky is clear for the arrival of accidental tourists and
the porous Thai border opens for rich infiltrators and legal immigrants
from Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Vietnam, this vaccine will be
made available to the new arrivals for free.
Also, they will not be asked for any insurance or proof of money
in a bank account.
Secondly, a long-pending reform will happen.
The educational system will go on a new trajectory.
In the post-Covid era, schools, colleges, and universities will
not require uniforms. In addition, students will be allowed to bring
their portable devices and mobile phones into their classrooms.
They will be also be allowed to come to class twice a week. Thanks
to Covid, freedom at last. Happy New Year.
Did Filipino nationalist
Jose Rizal re-embrace
His Catholic faith
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 31 December 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 30 December
With the advent of historical revisionism, Filipinos
are confronted with so many doubts and questions.
Generations new and old are in constant struggle as to who holds
Every historical fact becomes a matter of debate.
Today, as we commemorate his death anniversary, let us reflect on
the following what-ifs and questions about Jose Rizal.
If Rizal did not die for our country on December 30, 1896, and he
succeeded as a volunteer doctor in Cuba, would the Philippines still
have gained independence from Spain?
If Rizal agreed to the Katipunans plan to rescue him from
execution, would he have become a key figure in Philippine history?
If Rizals son survived, what could have happened both to father
If Rizal did not die early, would he have become the President of
Rizals retraction is still a matter of debate.
If its true that he retracted, does that mean Rizal has no
Rizals marriage to Josephine Bracken is still in question.
Their marriage certificate was never produced.
If they were indeed married, does that mean Rizal re-embraced his
Many Filipinos believe that Rizal wanted the Philippines to remain
a province of Mother Spain.
If he didnt die in 1896, would he have supported Philippine
independence in 1898?
If Rizal is still alive today, do you think he can win as the president
of the Republic of the Philippines?
Lastly, if we fulfill Rizals request that we dont celebrate
his death anniversary, how can we promote the life and legacy of
the countrys foremost hero?
Order of the Knights of Rizal,
riches nor poverty
Are a clear indicator of spirituality
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday December 30, 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post. Tuesday December 28,
Re: "Power and the glory",
Bangkok Post, PostBag, December 26, 2021
Ye Olde Theologian mentioned that early Christianity glorified poverty
but such theology is not quite accurate.
The New Testament does warn against the love of money, but not money
Most folk quote this wrongly. Jesus said no man can serve both God
Helping the poor and being generous to those in need is a virtue.
In days of yore, monks took a vow of poverty to live simply and
to focus on ministry.
Taking the biblical teachings in context, nowhere is poverty encouraged.
It would be more accurate to say that Christianity teaches empathy
for the poor.
Balance this with the teaching that God blesses those who serve
and obey, and the fact that the vast majority who embrace the Christian
faith are uplifted economically anywhere on the planet, it would
be safe to say that neither riches nor poverty are a clear indicator
Cardinal Charles Bo eats
General Min Aung Hlaing
Southeast Asian Times. Wednesday 29 December 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Tuesday 28 December 2021
Re: "Uproar over cardinal's cake photo",
in Bangkok Post Saturday December 25, 2021
The photograph, published in newspapers and online media around
the world, of Myanmar Roman Catholic Cardinal Charles Bo holding
hands with Min Aung Hlaing as they cut a Christmas cake, is horrifying.
The report included the explanation that they were meeting to "talk
about peaceful and prosperous affairs".
This defies credibility. What "peaceful and prosperous affairs"
exist today in Myanmar, where we read that the Tatmadaw has
attacked and killed numerous civilians in an attack on the Karen
in Myanmar, burning their bodies in an attempt to hide the atrocity?
You have to go back to Pope Pious XII in the 1940s to find equal
acts of pious (pun intended) hypocrisy.
Before he was elected pope he was the Cardinal Secretary of State
to Germany when the Vatican and Germany signed the "Reichskonkordat",
which allowed the Vatican to sit back and watch Germany kill 6 million
The Catholic Church has made many attempts to rehabilitate this
notorious prelate, saying he was working behind the scenes to save
But it doesn't wash.
Neither does Cardinal Bo's talk of peaceful and prosperous affairs.
Fijian scholar against
tyranny of military dictatorship in Fiji
Dies in exile in Australia on Christmas
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday December 28, 2021
Australian National University (ANU) academic emeritus
Professor Brij Lal, Fiji's preeminent historian and recipient of
Order of Australia medal, died in exile on Christmas day without
being able to visit his home country and his friends and family
because he was banned in 2009 from returning to his birth country
by the post 2006 coup rogue rulers in Fiji.
His " crime" was that he had the courage of his
conviction to speak out against the coup in defense of democracy,
the rule of law, human rights and freedoms for the people of Fiji
against the tyranny of military dictatorship by the post coup political
rulers in Fiji.
A grave injustice was done to this true son of Fiji by the ruthless
post coup power grabbers.
Many people have since the ban was imposed spoken up for the cruel
and inhumane ban to be uplift particularly after Fiji's purported
return to " true democracy " following the first
post coup elections of 2014.
But it was all in vain.
The rulers ignored the calls for the lifting of the ban making bogus
claims about the professor being a threat to national security ,
peace and public order blah blah blah.
Those responsible must hang their heads in shame at the appalling
and undignified way they treated this most gentle, peaceful, humble
and brilliant Fijian scholar.
As a keen follower of Fiji politics I am not aware of any person
from within the ranks of the governing party in Fiji voicing an
objection to Professor Brij Lal's treatment?
Shows the moral cowardice of the mob who have aligned themselves
to the twin rulers of Fiji : Frank Bainimarama the coup leader turned
prime minister and Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, the Attorney-General and
" Minister for Everything".
It's a national disgrace.
Deserve assistance from the state
Southeast Asian Times, Monday December 27, 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday December 24, 2021
Re: "'High heels mob' wants wage relief
from state," in Bangkok
Post Thursday December 23, 2021
It is encouraging to see another group of informed Thai citizens
peacefully protesting for justice.
Thailand's famous sex workers are yet another group who suffer the
real harm that comes from bad policy leading to unjust law at the
behest of hypocritical social values.
The men with power and money want to buy sex cheap by exploiting
the poor, but at the same time want to pretend to be against such
Their work should be legal and respected as any other labour freely
chosen, from lawyering and cooking to engineering and teaching.
They should be paying taxes.
And in hard times, they deserve the same assistance from the state
as any other group of Thai citizens.
Removal of Pillar of shame
sculpture from Hong Kong
Removes memory of Tiananmen massacre from
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 26 December 2021
It is hardly surprising to learn from the Southeast
Asian Times article ' Tiananmen Square massacre enshrined
in Pillar of Shame sculpture removed from Hong Kong ' (
December 24,2021) that was done in the stealth of night at the University
of Hong Kong where the sculpture stood for over two decades as a
remainder of the evil deed of the Chinese Communist State against
its own people.
The sculpture was like holding a mirror to Chinese state fascism.
The removal of the sculpture under fictitious pretexts is but further
proof of the Chinese communist takeover of control in Hong Kong
and the obliteration of Hong Kong's independence, democracy and
The memory of the Tiananmen massacre has long been deliberately
erased in mainland China by the communist state.
The removal of the Hong Kong sculpture is an extension of that same
Chinese State design to erase public memory of its dark past and
to distort an integral part of China's history.
The removal of the sculpture compounds the shame.
Christmas will not be very
In Thailand for a long time to come
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 25 December 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday 24 December 2021
Re: "Covid policy flip flops,"
in Bangkok Post, Wednesday December 22, 2021,
While I agree that the Bangkok Post made a number of key points
regarding the government's unreliability on Covid-19 policy in the
face of new Covid variants,
I commend the prime minister for a sincere attempt at rebooting
tourism in a Covid-19 world with Test & Go.
Sadly, this virus will continue until a major medical advance is
Covid-19 is here to stay, and Thailand's economic future will probably
take decades to recover because our vaccines have proven too weak
to stop Covid-19.
For Thailand, barring a major medical advance, this means decades
of financial gloom and no matter who the prime minister is, it will
probably take several decades to undo the tourist industry carnage
and national financial damage.
Sorry, Thailand: Christmas will not be very merry for a long time
Jason A Jellison,
Call for Human Rights
Papua New Guinea
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 24 December 2021
First published in the National, Tuesday 21 December 2021
The recent eviction exercises carried out in Kamkumung
settlement, Lae, Morobe and Garden Hills settlement in Port Moresby
are a direct violation of human rights.
I urge the Ombudsman Commission, non-government organisations and
relevant government authorities to ensure the conduct of police
during the eviction exercises is investigated.
I see that our justice system is not fair anymore.
Evictions and abuse of human rights in Papua New Guinea reflects
a lack of political will on the part of the Government to promote
and protect the rights of the people.
The Government has not established a human rights protection institution
and the people continue to become victims of human rights abuse.
Set up a human rights institution in PNG to deal with human rights
Papua New Guinea
Political order in Hong Kong
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 23 December 2021
The recent Hong Kong election merely confirms what
keen Hong Kong watchers have known all along : that Communist China
has cloned its political order in Hong Kong.
That political order has scant regard for human rights and democratic
freedoms such as freedom of expression and a free press.
The people elected with Beijing's prior approval are there to do
Beijing's biddings, not to serve the best interest of the people
of Hong Kong. But is anybody really surprised that the Chinese State
has gone back on its word to arbitrarily imposed its sway over Kong
Kong even after having pledged to uphold Hong Kong's long standing
democratic political culture at the time of the handover of the
former British colony?
Nobody should be.
The Chinese State has a long history of imposing its political will
on different people and even its own.
ASEAN has failed
To uphold human rights and freedoms
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 22 December 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Tuesday 21 December 2021
Re: "Implications of Blinken's aborted
visit", in Bangkok Post, Opinion, December 17.
I think it is the responsibility of Asean to push for democracy
in Myanmar and stop the appeasement of Cambodia.
Yes, there is no doubt the USA will continue to support democracy
and human rights in Myanmar but reinforcing this message across
the block is not the responsibility of the USA alone.
Asean has miserably failed in its collective responsibility to uphold
human rights and freedoms.
Some Thai policy elites will perceive Mr Blinken's missed visit
as a snub to Thailand.
But in reality, Thailand is not very different from its neighbours
and the collective ideology of Asean is also no different from China.
As long as the military has the upper hand in governance, democracy
will remain a pipe dream.
Mr Blinken's visit to the region is too little too late to help
The disparity of wealth distribution
Rich and poor is well documented
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 21 December 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday 19 December 2021
The sheer unmitigated vulgarity of some Thai television
shows astounds me.
Tonight we were enjoying a casual dinner in front of the television
when Channel 3's The Red Ribbon came on.
Each episode of this programme is a tour of the house perhaps
"estate" is a better word and possessions of Thailand's
oligarchic plutocrats, in which they display their obscene wealth
for all to see.
Their luxurious homes, extensive manicured gardens, the swimming
pools, jacuzzies and spas, their antiques, their Parisian and Italian
designer clothes and extensive shoe collections some outdoing Imelda
Marcos, their million-baht carp fish collections and other exotic
pets, or their garages full of priceless antique or top-of-the-market
imported luxury cars, we get to see these, and more.
The disparity of wealth distribution between Thailand's rich and
poor is well documented.
The Credit Suisse Research Institute's "Global Wealth Report
2018", showed Thailand had the widest income inequality
An earlier report showed that 1 percent of Thais owned 58 percent
of the country's wealth, putting Thailand third behind Russia in
first place and India in second place.
Other reports differ, but all of them show the huge chasm between
the few rich and the many poor in Thailand.
I am puzzled as to the target market of this ostentatious programme.
It it aimed at their fellow plutocrats, with the sub-theme : "Ya,
ya, I am richer than you"?
Or is it aimed at the humble rice farmers sitting on the bare boards
of their humble homes, with the message: "Know your place,
peasant; don't upset the system."
Call for reduction
In population growth
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 20 December 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday December 19, 2021
The COP-26 climate control meeting failed to produce
the consensus needed to meet the targets on fossil fuel limits and
may not provide the solution.
To fill the gap, another approach would be to promote a reduction
in population growth.
This would result in consuming less foods, cars, clothes, plastic
waste, electricity and more.
To achieve a reduced birth rate, the generally accepted method involves
the increased promotion of contraceptives at lower or no cost.
Second is to increase awareness of the subject.
This simple, two-pronged approach could be implemented at a fraction
of the cost of the other proposals.
Thai minister admits land
for industrial park project
Resold by relatives at double to triple
Southeast Asian Times Sunday December 19, 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday December 17, 2021
Re: "The Chana Hustle," in Bangkok
Post, Dec 12, 2021
I fully agree that the Chana industrial park project in Songkhla
smells like rotten fish. Consider:
How good can the judgment of the minister involved be when he smuggled
"flour" into Australia, couldn't prove to Aussie customs
that the powder wasn't heroin, lied to the court by confessing to
smuggling heroin but served four years in Parklea Prison for it?
The Chana developer's holding a public hearing online when most
Songkhla locals aren't internet literate
Deputy Interior Minister Nipon Boonyamanee, key policymaker behind
this project, admits that his relatives gathered and resold land
for this project at double to triple the amounts paid just a month
earlier. No prizes for guessing where they got their inside information
Last December, Capt Thamanat signed an MOU with the Chana Rak Thin
group. He should live up to it, suspend the project, hold a public
hearing in person (with social distancing) near the proposed site,
and have an organisation acceptable to both parties conduct an SEA.
Supreme Court of the Philippines
Let Marcos Jr. off the hook
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday December 18, 2021
First published in Philippine Inquirer December 14, 2021
We agree with letter-writer Romano Montenegro in Philippine
Inquirer December 9, 2021 that the Court of Appeals erred horrendously
in deleting the imprisonment in the conviction of presidential aspirant
Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos Jr. and imposing only
the fines, thereby making that case look like a jaywalking
What were those Court of Appeals justices thinking?
They owe the Filipino people an explanation.
A Google search yielded their names: Gloria Paras, then 3rd division
chairperson and writer of that 1997 decision, with Lourdes Tayao-Jaguros
and Oswaldo Agcaoili concurring.
Could they not read the law where any lawyer or layman could see
that both imprisonment and fine should be imposed for any conviction
under the National Internal Revenue Code of 1977?
The Supreme Court likewise let Marcos Jr. off the hook so easily
by refusing to see how the Court of Appeals screwed the Filipino
It allowed the sudden withdrawal of Marcos Jr.s submission
without any consequence never mind the travesty of justice that
appeared on the face of his appeal.
Without that verdict of imprisonment, voters who were polled in
the latest surveys must have thought the anti-Marcos groups are
just making a mountain out of a molehill.
Yvette San Luis,
of batteries for electric vehicles
Southeast Asian Times, Friday October 17, 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Thursday December 16,
Re: "Village chief's fruitless fight for justice",
Opinion, Bangkok Post December 15, 2021
I am constantly amazed at the business culture here and how the
quest for profits overrides common sense and decency.
The fact that the first environmental civil lawsuit in Thailand
has yet to be resolved and adjudicated in a decade speaks volumes
about politicians and officials' claims to be good stewards of the
More effort and resources are spent over frivolous claims of verbal
defamation than directed towards actual actions that cause true
physical harm through commercial pollution.
Much of the industrial activity, such as making batteries for electric
vehicles, is outsourced here not for the stellar performance of
Thai workers, but because of the poor performance of environmental
protection guidelines and weak enforcement.
What good is business and jobs if the environment and people are
sacrificed in the process?
to the real world
Of third world politics
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday December 16 2021
I know the news report ' Thai MP holds ministerial
position despite drug trafficking conviction and imprisonment in
Australia ' in The Southeast Asian Times of 12 December
is meant to shock us because it is so patently wrong and absurd
for a personal with such a background to become a government minister
in a democracy.
But to tell you the truth I am not shocked or surprised.
I know for a fact that men who committed treason by carrying out
military coups against democratically elected governments have subsequently
gone on to install themselves as prime ministers.
Need I provide examples?
And, what's more mind boggling is how the international community
after expressing initial indignation at the rape of democracy go
on to accept the perpetrators as respectable leaders of their country
and return to business as usual with them because it is politically
So at one level there is nothing particularly absurd about the Thai
appointment of a convicted drug dealer as a government minister.
Welcome to the real world of third world politics.
Call for Catholic church
The hearts and minds of Filipinos to the
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday December 15, 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, December 10, 2021
Randy David argues that the almost magical attraction
felt by many Filipinos to Dutertes charisma
should not be attributed to ignorance and lack of reasoning ability
in Charisma and Rodrigo Duterte, November 28,
Competence and charisma can overturn conventional standards when
voters choose their leaders.
From a sociological perspective, the majority of the citizenry can
be mesmerized by a charismatic, even if corrupt and incompetent,
leader whose unconventional, irreverent, and narcissistic ways appeal
This can be traced to growing anti-elitist sentiments and a profound
longing for change ignited by deep frustrations over the broken
promises by past leaders.
But why is this charisma, which is illusory and
mostly contrived thanks to mass media, seemingly impervious to countercultural
and constructive influences from supposedly enlightened institutions
of society such as the church, schools, and media?
These watchdogs of morality and civility are expected to advance
life-giving values and neutralize the corrosive effects of iniquitous
and death-dealing systems.
Why have they failed to deliver?
As a Catholic, I have always wished that our religious institution
would finally wake up to its general ineffectiveness to convert
the hearts and minds of Filipinos to the Gospel values that ground
its existence and mission.
That we are the only Catholic nation in Asia and yet the most corrupt
testifies to this failure.
Understandably, the Catholic Church, as a human organization, has
had to deal with its own weaknesses and internal issues since its
founding, including endemic clericalism and even corruption.
And to be sure, many complex factors have contributed to our societys
But think of what the Church can do to combat the corruption, dishonest
self-promotion, lying, killing, and stealing perpetrated by evil
men and politicians in our society.
The Church can reach out to all its members through its extensive
network of local dioceses, parishes, and affiliated organizations.
It can match the geographical reach of even the most well-entrenched
It can effectively send out its messages of repentance, moral regeneration,
and spiritual salvation, which have reverberated throughout human
history and enabled the transformation of individual lives and communities.
The 2022 elections will be a watershed moment in our countrys
It has galvanized powerful forces of tyranny, deception, and plunder
never before seen in our history.
We need contradictory forces to stop them in their tracks.
I hope the Catholic Church will choose to wield its manifest influence
more resolutely to help its members discern authentic from fake
charismatic leaders, separate the grain from the chaff among all
the candidates, and direct the outcome of this political exercise
toward real social, economic, and political changes that rest on
humane and Christian foundations.
Court of Appeals ignored
the Tax law
In the Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos Jr. tax
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday November 14, 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday November
Practically all lawyers, law professors, and students
agree that it was wrong for the Court of Appeals after deciding
to affirm the conviction of Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos
Jr. by the Regional Trial Court in the tax evasion cases under the
National Internal Revenue Code of 1977 - to delete the prison terms
altogether and retain only the piddling fines imposed therein.
The facts were undisputed.
Presidential Decree No. 1158 (the National Internal Revenue Code
of 1977) explicitly provided for both imprisonment and fine as the
mandatory penalty for violation of any of its provisions.
No discretion is allowed the court to impose only one or the other.
The Court of Appeals justices were not ignorant of that law - for
reasons known only to them, they simply ignored the law.
It has given fillip to the argument that Marcos Jr.s conviction
was not that big a deal to serve as basis for the cancellation
of his certificate of candidacy for the highest office of the land.
To paraphrase Marcos Jr.s lawyer Estelito Mendoza: What
is clear and certainly beyond dispute is that the Court of Appeals
decision has not found BBM to have committed a crime involving moral
turpitude and no such inference can be made from (that) decision.
This is said to be self-evident from the very fact that the Court
of Appeals had totally junked the imprisonment meted out by the
When Marcos Jr. himself elevated that case to the Supreme Court
in 1997, the matter was laid open for cursory examination and evaluation.
If the Court had only done that minimum degree of due diligence,
it could have easily seen from the very bare allegations contained
in the appeal how the Court of Appeals had gone rogue in its disposition
of that case.
Despite Marcos Jr.s withdrawal of that appeal in 2001 presumably
for fear that he might get into more trouble, the high court could
have held the Court of Appeals justices concerned to account for
their temerity in making a mockery of the law. Mendoza would surely
have shied away from relying on that unlawful aspect of the decision
to boost his clients defense.
Now, it has become his wrecking ball to demolish the case against
While the Supreme Court may have been barred by that withdrawal
not to mention, double jeopardy from doing anything
about the Court of Appeals scandalous decision, it cannot
wash its hands of that mess.
Nothing stood in the way of citing the Court of Appeals justices
concerned to show cause why no disciplinary action should be taken
against them for that injudicious adventurism.
In failing to do so, the high court itself betrayed the trust the
public reposed in the judicial system, which is supposed to uphold
the rule of law without fear or favor.
If any credence is to be given the recent poll surveys among potential
voters, the son who idolized his father the corrupt dictator the
Filipino people kicked out of the country in 1986, along with his
whole family, but bestowed by the high court in 2016 the honor
of a heros burial is about to ascend to the same
throne by popular demand.
Thanks to the Court Appeals and the Supreme Court for contributing
a lot to this abomination.
Romanano M. Montenegro,
Call for United Nations
Assembly to invoke
Responsibility to protect Myanmar
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 13 December 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Saturday 11 December
Re: "Junta court hands Suu
Kyi 4 years for incitement," in Bangkok Post
7 December 2021.
In my opinion rather than just reacting, the international community,
including the UN, Asean, the UK, EU, China, US and others should
take the following actions:
Mobilise the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) with a motion
to invoke a "responsibility to protect"; to protect
the country's people from mass atrocity crimes committed by Myanmar's
military; with the eventual outcome of a peacekeeping mission on
the basis of the 2005 United Nations World Summit commitments.
The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) could then mandate the
United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to operationalise the initiative.
Hopefully, United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) decision would
force an abstention vote from both China and Russia in the Security
Strengthen, broaden and activate the wide array of sanctions already
passed by bilateral and multilateral bodies and have these applied
in a personalised manner to dependents of the senior Tatmadaw leadership,
particularly in educational institutions overseas (where they are
probably enrolled under assumed names).
Offer full diplomatic recognition to the National Unity Government
NUG), which is the parallel government of opposition and provide
civil, humanitarian and governance support within Myanmar..
Mobilise the Buddhist communities of Southeast Asia to challenge
the monasteries of Buddhist monks in Myanmar, with links to the
junta, to convince the leadership that the current time or circumstances
are not "propitious" for undertaking violent actions against
that former PM Najib Razak's guilty verdict
Upheld on International Anti-Corruption
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday December 12, 2021
It was most fitting that on International Anti-Corruption
Day (9 December ) 2021, The Southeast Asian Times carried a headline
report on the corruption case of former Malaysian PM Najib Razak
( ' Court of Appeal rejects claim that PM Najib Razak acted in
national interest in misappropriation of state funds').
The Malaysian Court of Appeal made the absolutely right decision
in upholding the High Court verdict that had found the former PM
Najib Razak,67, guilty of Criminal Breach of Trust in the misappropriation
of state funds.
The Court of Appeal correctly pointed out Razak's interest in the
state funds went " beyond his public office' and that "
Razak knew that funds deposited in his personal accounts were proceeds
from unlawful activities".
Rejecting Razak's claim that his actions were in " the national
interest" the court deemed it to be a " national embarrassment
It is mind boggling that the former PM should make such a perverse
claim in his defence.
The court of appeal upheld the validity of the High Court "
conviction in July 2021 on all seven charges and the 12 year jail
The court decision should serve as a warning to all leaders that
you can't use your position of power to engage in corrupt dealings
and expect to get away with it.
The long arm of the law will eventually reach you as has happened
in Razak's case. Justice was delayed but not denied. And, we must
acknowledge the role PM Mahathir Mohammed played in ensuring justice
He returned to politics after retirement on the platform to remove
Razak his former protege from the high office of prime minister
and to restore the public funds misappropriated by Razak.
Following his election in May 2018 as PM Mahathir Mohammed initiated
" the declassification of the 1 Malaysia development Bhd
(1MDB) audit report that
had been marked secret by the Najib Razak government under the Official
Secrets Act ".
Razak clearly intended to cover up his corruption with the devious
manipulation of state institutions and mechanisms. But failed when
he got booted out of power.
There is a cautionary tale in Najib Razak's disgraceful exit from
The King should be subject
Says the Thai King
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday December 11, 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday December 10, 2021
Re: "Royal pardon for prisoners,"
in Bangkok Post, December 6, 2021
I'm glad that 138,175 inmates will have their sentences reduced
due to royal pardons.
But in addition, there's another most meaningful way for us to show
our love and appreciation of the late HM King Rama 9 - and he's
specifically spelled out what he wishes done.
As the book King Bhumibol Adulyadej, A Life's Work: Thailand's
Monarchy in Perspective put it: "Thailand's law
of lese-majeste has one very prominent critic: King Bhumibol.
In 2005 King Bhumibol used his annual televised birthday address
to convey three concerns:
The king,' he said, 'is a human being and as such should
be subject to criticism;
Charges against those accused of lese-majeste should be dropped,
and those held in jail for lese-majeste should be released.
The use of the lese-majeste law ultimately damages the monarchy.'"
We've been using lese-majeste laws to muzzle critics even though
such usage "ultimately damages the monarchy".
We should put King and country above our petty vested interests.
Let's drop charges and release prisoners in all lese-majeste cases
each Father's Day.
Marcos Jr. campaigning
Of the Duterte brand of governance,
Southeast Asian Times, Friday December 10, 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday December
Kudos to Richard Heydarian for reminding Filipino
voters come May 2022 how this country has been taken for
a ride by China, whose pledges of investments
in return for President Duterte kissing President Xi Jinpings
ass have been more illusory than real After Duterte: Avoiding
Chinas pledge trap, November 30, 2021.
Heydarian noted, among others, that after all these years, Mr.
Duterte cant pinpoint even a single major concession by China
in the West Philippine Sea, where an armada of Chinese paramilitary
vessels have been harassing Filipino troops and fishermen on a regular
Neither can he point out any real big-ticket investment by his strategic
In other words, for more than five years now, the cunning president
of China has made a fool of our President, who for all his bravado
and braggadocio, is really so naïve and clueless.
Compared with other Asian leaders who are standing their ground
against Chinas bullying, our President slavishly kowtows to
Just about the only thing Mr. Duterte can boast of as a direct result
of his subservience to China is the fulfillment of its assurance
that China wont allow his ouster Inquirer.net,
May 15, 2018.
So, after Mr. Duterte, what will happen next? The next
Philippines president will have to avoid the same strategic blunders,
But if poll surveys are to be believed, theres a good chance
presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos will make it to Malacañang.
And Marcos Jr. has been campaigning for continuity
of the Duterte brand of governance, including the same stupidity
Rey Chavez Escobar,
San Sui Kyi trial and jail sentence
Is political persecution
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday December 9, 2021
The Aung San Sui Kyi trial and jail sentence is political
persecution, pure and simple, the rogue Myanmar military junta grabbed
power from her democratically elected government in a brutal military
coup in February 2021.
The bogus politically motivated trial reminds me of what I read
in the book, " Julian Assange : The Unauthorised Autobiography.
The Wikileaks founder and editor wrote " It amazes me to think
about how these guardians against 'offences' were themselves so
That is quite clearly the situation in Aung San Sui Kyi's trial.
It's no wonder there is all round condemnation of the trial and
Sui Kyi, including from the United Nations.
Hopefully the petitions
The Marcos presidential candidacy succeed
Southeast Asian Times Wednesday December 8, 2021
The news report ' Phillipines Electoral Commission
receives two more petitions against Marcos presidential candidacy
' ( The Southeast asian Times 4 December ), " bringing
the number of petitioners campaigning against the resurgence of
the Marcos family to seven" would come as no surprise to
people in the Phillipines and around the world who are familiar
with the legacy of the corrupt and tyrannical Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship
The last thing any clear thinking Filipino would want is another
Marcos in power in the country and the potential return to the dark
days of the Marcos era.
I hope for the sake of the people of the Phillipines that the petitions
to block the Marcos presidential candidacy succeed.
Philippines Catholic church
In prayers for peaceful and honest elections
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday December 7, 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday December
In preparation for the perennial challenges facing
our political exercises, the Catholic Bishops Conference of
the Philippines (CBCP) has endorsed an intercessory and petitionary
prayer for the May 9, 2022 national elections.
The prelates have asked their members to recite the prayer in all
Sunday Masses. According to former CBCP president Archbishop Romulo
Valles, the prayer takes off from the 16 values enshrined in the
preamble of the Constitution.
It is also a moral compass directing voters to choose only those
candidates who personify genuine filial fear of God and social charity
toward the vulnerable and marginalized.
The Catholic Church has been praying for peaceful and honest elections
for as long as we can remember.
But historical and deep-seated social injustices have remained largely
unaddressed despite promises made by politicians during election
So the question is: Beyond prayers and on-and-off advocacies for
fair and just elections, what programs must we collectively and
individually put in place to make our shared prayers for our benighted
country more realizable?
I will continue to pray with the Church that we love, and join hands
with all men and women of goodwill working so that the 2022 national
elections will genuinely reflect both the will of the people and
the will of the Lord who guides the destinies of nations.
Noel G. Asiones,
Thai in USA in 1960's
civil rights protests
to make political comment
Southeast Asian Times, Monday December 6, 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday December 3, 2021
Re: "Still an outsider," in Bangkok
Post, November 30, 2021
I beg to disagree with Khun Millie Tan, who says that a non-Thai
should not comment on our politics despite that person's having
a Thai wife and lived here for 18 years - unless he has Thai citizenship
and can protest and argue like a Thai.
Studying in the US Deep South during the 1960s civil rights crisis,
my letters to the editor were regularly published in the campus
newspaper, and I always signed myself as coming from Thailand; I
was the only Oriental on our picket line.
Never did anybody say that I should not comment.
I suggest that considering outside views can be highly beneficial
because they give insights which those immersed in the hurly burly
of daily activities may not see.
For example, my college roommate believed that his Southern Baptist
god had created Caucasians to be superior to all other races; I
hope that our daily interaction helped him see otherwise.
Or, on a national basis, why can some societies, like the Japanese
or Singaporean, value and practise honesty and integrity in public
life - while we Thais can give it only lip service?
Also, just as "No man is an island, entire of itself"
(John Dunne), so no country is figuratively an island.
For example, the Myanmar Tatmadaw patterns itself after our military,
and we seek more Covid-19 vaccines from the US.
To help others, or expect others to aid us, listening to their points
of view is essential.
We should ask from non-Thais only that which we ask from all critics:
be civil, constructive, and fact-based. Don't get personal.
Let the Morning Star fly
In West Papua
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday November 5, 2021
First published in the Malaysiakini, Wednesday December 1,
Sixty years ago, on December 1, 1961, the West Papua
national flag, the Morning Star, was raised for the first time on
West Papua's soil. The flag represents Papuans' dreams for a Free
Ever since the flag was first raised 60 years ago, the people of
West Papua have continuously been denied their fundamental right
Numerous West Papuans have committed themselves to the unfinished
battle for self-determination by a variety of actions, including
the hoisting of the Morning Star flag.
Since Indonesia's takeover of West Papua, the Indonesian government
has deemed hoisting the Morning Star flag as illegal, and anyone
who does so is at risk of imprisonment and punishment by the authorities.
Despite constant harassment, the people of West Papua maintain the
annual practice of raising the Morning Star flag on December 1.
Not long after the Morning Star flag was first raised in 1961, the
Papuans' dream of a Free West Papua was crushed by the 1962 New
The agreement to hand over power of West Papua to Indonesia from
the Dutch colonial government was part of the US Cold War plan to
distance Indonesia from the Soviet Union's influence.
It is crucial to note that the agreement was signed by the Netherlands
and Indonesia under the supervision of the United States and no
representatives from the indigenous Papuan community were involved.
In 1969, the "Act of Free Choice" became the "Act
of No Choice", with 1025 "representatives" being
handpicked by the military to vote in a "referendum"
held under the gunpoint of the Suharto dictatorship, formally
annexing West Papua to Indonesia.
The annexation and colonisation of West Papua was the result of
imperialist meddling to safeguard the international capital's interests
in the resource-rich region.
Since Indonesia's annexation of West Papua, an estimated 500,000
Papuans have been slaughtered in their quest for self-rule by the
oppressive Indonesian military.
The people of West Papua have undergone decades of violent subjugation
and a fear-based society.
The Indonesian military and police have systematically suppressed
Papuans by inciting racial sentiments.
West Papua has a long history of torture, extrajudicial murders,
and forced relocation.
In 2019, a wave of huge demonstrations erupted in West Papua in
reaction to police and racist right-wing mob assaults on Papuan
It was, however, greeted with another wave of brutal repression
from the authorities.
Since the 1960s, the Indonesian government has acted as a protector
of foreign capital's interests in West Papua. Freeport-McMoRan,
a giant US mining firm, signed an agreement with the Indonesian
government in 1967 to mine gold and copper in West Papua.
The extractive industries in the resource-rich region, which are
supported by the repressive Indonesian military and imperialist
powers, are not benefiting indigenous communities in West Papua
and have left a lasting scar on them as a result of continuous land
theft and systematic ethnic cleansing.
Numerous Papuans and Indonesians who backed West Papua's fight for
self-determination have been subjected to arbitrary arrests, detentions,
and prosecutions under Indonesia's oppressive laws throughout the
According to the Papuans Behind Bars, 2021 report, 418 individuals
were arrested during a one year period from October 2020 to September
2021, with as many as 106 persons still detained, the majority of
whom have been charged with treason by Indonesian authorities.
Despite living under oppressive circumstances, the Papuan people
gathered 1.8 million signatures for a petition calling for an independence
referendum, which they presented to the United Nations Special Committee
on Decolonization in 2017 and to the United Nations Human Rights
Office in 2019.
Nonetheless, the Indonesian government is mostly rejecting the Papuan
people's demand for a legitimate referendum separate from the 1969
"Act of No Choice".
On this historic 60th anniversary of the raising of the Morning
Star flag, we would like to reiterate our support for the struggle
for self-determination of the people of West Papua.
We urge the Indonesian government to:
Recognise and respect the right to self-determination of the people
of West Papua, including holding a referendum to decide on the future
of West Papua;
Stop repression against the people of West Papua who are voicing
out their demands for self-determination, including those who raise
the Morning Star flag;
Free all political prisoners from West Papua and those who supported
the Papuan cause for self-determination;
Protect the right to freedom of information, freedom of expression,
freedom of association and freedom of thought for the Papuan people;
Improve the lives of the people of West Papua by enhancing social
End racism against the people of West Papua.
We also reject all forms of imperialists meddling in the process
to achieve self-determination for the people of West Papua.
We call upon the people around the world to strengthen our solidarity
with the struggle of the Papuan people for self-determination.
Parti Sosialis Malaysia,
West Papuans refer to
the Act of Free Choice
As the Act of No Choice
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 4 November 2021
West Papua Council of Churches spokesperson, Dr Benny
Giay has called on the United Nations Human Rights Council to visit
Papua and see the prolonged suffering of Papuans for themselves
( The Southeast Asian Times 2 December ). Yes, the UN should do
that because it is part of the problem of the bogus 1969 referundum
and so called ' Act of Free Choice' which endorsed West Papua
as Indonesian territory without genuine regard for the West Papuan
peoples right to self-determination and the right to live with human
dignity as a free people.
It's no wonder the West Papuans disparagingly refer to the Act of
Free Choice as the " Act of No Choice"!
Why has the UN and the international community stood by and allowed
the Indonesian colonial penetration in West Papua to continue unchecked
for so long?
The prolonged suffering of the West Papuans should be a source of
shame for the UN and the international community.
Why would anyone
Invest in a virtual asset
Southeast Asian Times, Friday November 3, 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday November 28, 2021
Re: "Embrace adventure with care",
in Bangkok Post, Business, November 22, 2021
In reading about the brave new world of the digital universe, I
really struggle to understand the concepts behind the buying and
selling of virtual assets.
I conclude that buyers are essentially just purchasing tickets to
play games, akin to buying the online versions of Boardwalk or Park
Place in a virtual game of Monopoly.
Why would anyone pay good money for an imaginary asset?
Wake up people; you're not buying anything real.
Those who buy virtual land plots in Ekamai or elsewhere will never
recover their "investment" unless they can find
another sucker foolish enough to buy something of no intrinsic value.
It is highly likely that, sooner rather than later, the population
of suckers willing to buy worthless "assets" will
dry up and most investors will be left holding titles of no greater
value than titles to the Brooklyn Bridge or swamp land in Florida.
of Solomon Islanders worsens
Under PM Manasseh Sogavare
Southeast Asian Times Thursday November 2, 2021
We read in the article ' Protests Rocks Solomon
Islands: Here's What's Behind the Unrest' by The New York
Time's Australia bureau reporter Yan Zhuang (Nov 26) that Malaita's
premier Daniel Suidani, a vocal critic of the Solomon Islands prime
minister, said " Over the last 20 years Manasseh Sogavare
has been in power, the plight of Solomon Islanders has worsened
whilst at the same time foreigners have reaped the best of the country's
resources. People are not blind to this and do not want to be cheated
I wonder if that kind of perception of external influence in the
Solomons has any bearing on other Pacific island countries as well?
"Waltzing with a
An insight into Philippine presidency of
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday November 1, 2021
In her most illuminating letter ' Ferdinand
Bongbong Romualdez Marcos Jr. Fails to file income tax returns'
in The Southeast Asian Times 29 November, Marua Margarita
Aytona says " Marcos Jr. having enjoyed to the hilt the
privileges of being the president's son, imagine what he might be
capable of being and doing when he becomes president himself?".
I think there is very little to imagine.
The privileged son of a rogue president - which is what President
Ferdinand Marcos was - is now himself aspiring to become president
for one reason : to follow in his father's crooked footsteps.
See Raymond Bonner's book Waltzing with a Dictator for an insight
into Ferdinand Marcos' corrupt, crooked, dictatorial two decade
reign in power. Marcos Jr. knows only too well what plunder is possible
as the holder of the most powerful office in the country. He has
learned from a master Machiavellian politician, his father.
If the people of the Phillipines have not learned the hard lessons
from one Marcos in power then they have only themselves to blame.
I only hope thinking Filipinos will pay heed to what someone like
Marua Margarita Aytona says for the sake of good governance in the
Ban on Amnesty International
votes for opposition candidates
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday November 30, 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday November 28, 2021
Re: "Ex-red shirt boss seeks Amnesty ban",
in Bangkok Post, November
Regarding Seksakol Atthawong, an assistant minister at the Prime
Minister's Office, who is campaigning to expel Amnesty International
from Thailand ... is he serious?
Does he realise that worldwide Amnesty International has over 10,000,000
members, and over 150,000 members just in Germany?
Does he have any idea of what Amnesty International's objectives
are, or what they have accomplished?
Should he succeed in his endeavour I can guarantee that in the next
national election the opposition candidates will get millions more
Ferdinand Bongbong Romualdez
Fails to file income tax returns
Southeast Asian Times, Monday November 29, 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday November
The disqualification cases against Bongbong Marcos
Jr. all boil down to his failure to file income tax returns for
the years 1982 to 1985 and, naturally, failure to pay the taxes
for those years when his father still ruled the country under martial
law. What puzzles many is why he never bothered to do so given their
familys enormous wealth. Surely, the taxes supposedly due
were just a drop in the bucket.
Its pretty obvious, though. Hubris. Marcos Jr. must have really
thought he and his family were so above the law that no one could
tell them what to do and they could get away with any violation
of the law.
At that time, he was not just a spoiled child (brat) who might be
excused for lack of discernment. He was already an adult holding
Marcos Jr. having enjoyed to the hilt the privilege of being the
presidents son, imagine what he might be capable of being
and doing when he becomes president himself!
And come to think of it, is it possible that his sister, now senator
Imee Marcos, did not file any tax returns or pay any taxes during
all those years, too?
Hubris runs in the entire family, right?
Marua Margarita Aytona,
Call for Bougainville
to wake up
To the Pacific Labour Scheme
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday November 28, 2021
First published in the National, 25 November 25, 2021
While many provinces and districts in the country
are benefiting from the Pacific Labour Scheme to work in Australia
and New Zealand, Bougainville is missing out in a big way.
Recently, Milne Bays Esaala sent 100 young men and women
to pick fruits in Australia under the scheme.
This is a reflection of their hard working local member.
When will leaders in Bougainville wake up to create something better
for young Bougainvilleans?
Bougainvilles internal revenue stands as one of the lowest
in the country, yet our leaders are always good in talking and talking
with nothing to show for.
According to the National Research Institute report on Bougainvilles
income revenue, one of the recommendations was for Bougainville
to create opportunities to send its young unemployed youths to join
Who is going to implement this recommendation?
Why is the Bougainville Autonomous Government sleeping too much?
Why is the regional member for Bougainville sleeping too much?
When will Bougainville leaders start creating something better for
Bougainvilleans to earn money to boost Bougainvilles revenue
rather than depending on monies from the National Government?
Papua New Guinea
Covid-19 not the main
In the Philippines
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday November 27, 2021
The policymakers decision to cut the projected
budget of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict
(NTF-ELCAC) will impede progress efforts in the rural areas, particularly
in the communist terrorist infiltrated areas.
We already saw the effect of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration
We knew where the main roots of the insurgency came from.
We learned how to counter it, but still, those selfish lawmakers
focused only on the COVID cases.
The COVID-19 in the Philippines started 2 years ago, but the insurgency
which is hampering our countrys progress has been on-going
for almost 5 decades.
From my point of view, the administration has already done its part.
Making health protocol guidelines, giving relief goods and assistance,
and providing a vaccine for every Filipino.
The question is, did they consider this the main problem in this
How about those people who suffered from atrocities, extortion,
harassment, and killings by the communist terrorist group? They
are also our countrymen living in the far-flung areas who need help,
attention, and support from the government to have a peaceful community.
Dont they deserve some assistance?
Let us be just and distribute the benefits and advancement of government
projects to our fellow citizens.
They were the ones who had endured the most and required the greatest
They hope that legislators will put their political interests aside
and focus on the Filipino people who have suffered for so long.
Cybi Aariv R. Manto,
Agusan Del Norte.
Beware of false prophets
In Philippine elections
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 26 November, 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday 24 November,
Election season has begun. People have started going
crazy, including so-called servants of God.
Guard against churches, ministers, pastors, and priests who barter
their pulpits for offerings or donations from
candidates who buy votes.
They are those who exploit their members, pray over anointed
ones and raise their hands; those who solicit attention
or are lured by political courting during elections.
They invite/allow candidates or politicians to their prayer
meetings and sell their souls to the devil in exchange
for political favors and pieces of silver.
Dont believe their hints or endorsements.
They are wolves in sheeps clothing.
The churchs role is to guide the flock toward being filled
with the Holy Spirit and having the mind of God in electing the
right leaders for the nation.
However, the church getting embroiled in politics or endorsing candidates
is evil, because it always is apt to endorse not the will of God,
but the parochial agenda of the politicizing church and personal
interests of its false leaders - to the nations doom.
What does mobilizing millions of their cultic
followers exactly mean to these wolves except to dictate upon the
blind and muster votes to build political clout in the guise of
religion or a morality movement?
Leave them alone and so be healed and truly saved - through Jesus
Christ not religion..
For much of human history, religion may have been a necessary
evil, but why was it more evil than necessary?
Isnt killing people in the name of God a pretty good definition
of insanity? - George Washington.
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheeps
clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them
by their fruits
- Matthew 7:15-16
Reni M. Valenuela,
China and Russia noticeable
by their absence
At the COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow.
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday November 25, 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday November 24,
Re: "Stop this fake news",
in Bangkok Post, PostBag, November 15, 2021.
"A Reader" chastises the Bangkok Post newspaper
for saying that the Chinese and Russian governments did not send
delegates to recent the COP26 Climate Summit meeting in Glasgow.
Russia and China were about the only two major countries whose leaders
did not attend the summit. Mr Biden, Mr Johnson and other world
leaders were there. So why was not Mr Xi or Mr Putin?
Considering this was basically the "meeting of the century",
as important as any in our lives, it says a lot that the leaders
of these two countries, who are at the top of the world polluting
totem pole, did not attend the summit.
The headline might have been misleading, but the fact remains that
the leaders of China and Russia should have attended the summit.
Its just as well that both countries sent no delegates to the COP26
meetings, considering that almost every other major country, including
Unfitting for Philippines
to ask China's permission
To enter territory that Philipines has sovereign
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 24 November 2021
I am extremely dismayed over the news that Chinese
vessels had once again blocked two Filipino registered boats that
are destined to deliver supplies to our military personnel stationed
in Ayungin Shoal.
These bullies really have no respect for international law.
Its annoying how they accuse us of trespassing an area without
having secured consent from their government.
Are they out of their mind?
It is indeed unfitting to be demanding any sort of permission to
enter a territory that we have sovereign rights and jurisdiction
Nonetheless, it has given me little solace that the Department of
Foreign Affairs, has at least conveyed the countrys condemnation
of the incident to its counterpart in China.
Even if this type of protest is just always disregarded, still,
it is the best thing to do and a manifest insistence of our rights
towards something we are validly entitled to.
Rizal Technological University.
Coal sold as black gold
US, China, Australia and India
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday November 23, 2021
First Published in the Bangkok Post, Thursday November 18,
rich world's climate hypocrisy," Bangkok
Post, Opinion, November Wednesday 17, 2021.
Well, blaming rich countries for the past and the present emissions
will not solve any problems.
Yes, every country, including the US, China, Australia, and India
where coal is used and sold as "black gold" will
not stop using it.
It is quite possible that in a few years, in some cities in these
countries people will not be able to see the sun.
But who cares about the polluted sky as long as we have our space
station and thousands of satellites.
In every major economy, powerful corporate interests are clearly
intertwined with political leadership.
The rich countries, Asean, or Thailand are no different.
Thailand only pays lip service to the environmental crisis.
Everything related to environmental degradation is swept under the
rug of "sustainable development".
Sadly, the real change in environmental policies will only come
when we are face to face with death.
Unless governments around the world respond to environmental catastrophe
the way they are responding to the Covid-19 pandemic, nothing much
will change. Only urgent global action can avert this crisis, not
green hypocrisy or dubious policies of sustainable development.
To many sceptics, the chants of "net-zero" target mean
church welcomes budget cut to National Task Force
To End Local Communist Armed Conflict
Southeast Asian Times, Monday November 22, 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday 17 November
The Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP) welcomes
the decision of the Senate committee on finance to cut the 2022
budget of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict
(NTF-Elcac) from P28 billion to P4 billion, and to reallocate the
excess funds to the COVID-19 response.
However, P4 billion is still a very substantial amount for an agency
that, since its existence, has espoused a culture of hatred and
violence instead of a culture of dialogue and peace.
The NTF-Elcac has received billions of pesos in the wake of President
Dutertes unilateral termination of peace negotiations with
the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in 2017.
The government could have used these billions of pesos to address
the basic needs of our people, especially in this time of the COVID-19
This also raises the issue of transparency as even the Commission
on Audit has admitted having trouble auditing the expenses.
Contrary to its name, which is to end local armed conflicts, the
NTF-Elcac has become a hindrance to the promise of peace.
The NTF-Elcac is now the critical weapon in the governments
total war against what it calls terrorists.
This total war relies on the use of violent means. Consequently,
it only increases violations in human rights and international humanitarian
We are witnesses to the results of the governments total war
strategy as seen in the numerous killings, threats, harassment,
bombings, and restriction of movement of farming and indigenous
communities in remote rural areas.
A recent case was the aerial bombing in the Bukidnon hinterlands.
The NTF-Elcac has also become notorious for its rampant Red-tagging.
It is responsible for vilifying even church organizations, church
leaders, and members.
It is also responsible for the withdrawal of the publications of
the NDFP from several state universities, among them the printed
agreements related to the peace talks.
Based on our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the PEPP believes that
violence breeds injustice, which results in conflict.
This complicated conflict will not be solved by an all-out war,
not even a counterinsurgency program with billions in budget, if
the government does not address the roots that fan its flames.
Several personalities and groups have called for the task forces
For us church leaders, the most viable option for a just and lasting
peace is to forge a negotiated peace settlement coupled with meaningful
social and economic reforms.
Principled peace negotiations also require much, much fewer funds
and are less costly to life and limb, which would ultimately mean
more funds for our people who are mired in hunger and poverty amid
the COVID-19 pandemic.
We thus affirm that a peace process that addresses social injustices
is the will of God, and we will not stop working for it, starting
with the call to resume formal peace talks between the government
and the NDFP.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children
of God. (Matthew 5:9)
Ecumenical Peace Platform
Archbishop Emeritus Antonio J. Ledesma, SJ, cochair, PEPP/em>
Rt. Rev. Rex B. Reyes JR., cochair, PEPP
Bishop Reuel Norman O. Margiza, general secretary, National Council
of Churches in the Philippines
Rev. Dr. Aldrin Penamora, director, justice, peace & reconciliation,
Sr. Mary John D. Mananzan, OSB, OWGC-AMRSP-Women
BP Emetirus Deogracias S. Iñiquez Jr., DD, cochair, EBF
Call for Jesus Christ
to be Head of State
In Papua New Guinea
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 21 November 2021
First published in the National, Thursday 18 November 2021
Papua New Guinea is the only country in the world
where original King James Holy Bible is placed in heart of the legislative
house of Parliament which confirms our identity as a Christian nation
where God is our only source of life and all that we are blessed
With that being said, I strongly believe our country should make
King Jesus, who is God, Christ and Holy Spirit, the head of state
for the independent state of Papua New Guinea.
Because He is the Creator of Heaven and Earth and maker of angel
Our Constitution was drafted based on the Bible and its principles
and with the original King James Holy Bible in Parliament, to consolidate
these godly acts, we must legally make King Jesus the head of state
to fulfil the prophecies in the Bible that speaks about our country.
I am calling on all pastors, priests, laymen and Bible teachers
to study the Scriptures and advise the Government on this spiritual
development and well-being of our nation.
Make it happen for our spiritual benefit and good of our country.
Papua New Guinea
Shock to see due for redevelopment
Installed around Manila's Arroceros Forest
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 2o November 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 18 November
In May 2019, environmentalists heaved a sigh of relief
after years of consistent threats of losing Manilas last lung,
the Arroceros Forest Park.
We were assured by the new city authorities that the forest will
be preserved to help in the air quality of the city.
The Save Arroceros Movement, of which Pamanlahi is an active partner,
has been zealously crusading for the parks preservation.
Mayor Isko Moreno guaranteed not to touch the forest by signing
Manila Ordinance No. 8607.
However, this July, we were stunned to see billboards installed
around the forest announcing that it was due for redevelopment.
This move was made without due notice to the Save Arroceros Movement.
Immediately, the Winner Foundation, the forests main steward
and a partner of the City of Manila, sought an audience with the
But it was for naught.
Today, its a shock to see that the forest has given way to
a manicured theme park. In lieu of the felled trees, ornamental
plants have been hurriedly planted to landscape what
used to be a canopied forest, in time for the contractors
deadline in the first week of December.
Norma G. Atienza,
things related to environmental degradation are swept
Under the rug of sustainable development
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 19 November 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Thursday 18 November
Re: "The rich world's climate hypocrisy,"
Bangkok Post, Opinion, November 17, 2021
Well, blaming rich countries for the past and the present emissions
will not solve any problems.
Yes, every country, including the US, China, Australia, and India
where coal is used and sold as "black gold" will
not stop using it.
It is quite possible that in a few years, in some cities in these
countries people will not be able to see the sun.
But who cares about the polluted sky as long as we have our space
station and thousands of satellites.
In every major economy, powerful corporate interests are clearly
intertwined with political leadership.
The rich countries, Asean, or Thailand are no different.
Thailand only pays lip service to the environmental crisis.
Everything related to environmental degradation is swept under the
rug of "sustainable development".
Sadly, the real change in environmental policies will only come
when we are face to face with death.
Unless governments around the world respond to environmental catastrophe
the way they are responding to the Covid-19 pandemic, nothing much
will change. Only urgent global action can avert this crisis, not
green hypocrisy or dubious policies of sustainable development.
To many sceptics, the chants of "net-zero" target mean
claim that the Philippines Golden age
under the Marcos dictatorship is disputed
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 19 November 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday 16 November
Why do we keep saying never again
to what the Marcoses have done to the Philippines and to the Filipino
As if the plunder has stopped, or that the corruption has ceased.
The plunder continues only the methodology and the maneuvers have
changed. Plundered money buys sophistication.
It pays trolls.
It brokers Machiavellian alliances.
The right amount attracts the services of analysts, the military
and the police, and behavioral scientists, including psychologists.
As a former lady president famously said: Everyone has
The Marcoses have never admitted their guilt, notwithstanding convictions
by several courts.
They have never apologized to their victims.
There has been no reparation for the wrong they have done. They
have not returned the money they have stolen.
They continue to inflict harm on the country.
Isnt enough enough?
The escape to Hawaii courtesy of the Reagan administration was only
a comma, it did not put a period to the saga of evil that Ferdinand
E. Marcos began when he succeeded in having his conviction for the
murder of Julio Nalundasan overturned. His conviction for contempt,
Why are we wasting time and energy debating the moral turpitude
of Bongbong Marcos?
What morals are we talking about?
A discussion on amorality might do some good, but a conversation
on the morality of the Marcoses would serve no purpose.
They speak as if they were the countrys liberators even as
their behavior betrays predatory habits.
What golden age are they talking about?
They lie through their teeth about their competence and accomplishments
and urge the people to move on when, in fact, they constitute the
main obstacle for the country to be able to move on.
What could moving on back to the Marcosian golden age
To label the Marcos dictatorship as the countrys golden
age is a brazen lie.
Its sheer trollspeak and the height of revisionism.
Were still paying for the debts of the late dictator, his
widow and heirs, his cronies. And if plundered money would be allowed
to determine the outcome of the coming elections, the next generation,
and that after, would still be indebted.
Fr. Wilfredo Dulay,
Religious Discernment Group
Earth will incur more environmental damage
While the deck chairs are being rearranged
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 18 November 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Tuesday 16 November 2021
Re: "Nuclear power the answer",
Bangkok Post, PostBag, 14 November 2021
At the risk of incurring the wrath of fellow environmentalists,
I tend to agree with much of the unpalatable conclusion of "Climate
Realist" that we must continue to invest prudently in nuclear
power for a finite number of decades.
It's plain to see from the Glasgow climate conference that fossil
fuel reduction targets are not going to be met by 2050, let alone
Renewables and other technological solutions are not sufficient
to "break fossil fuels' back" in the short term.
Phasing out of subsidies and construction of coal-fired power plants
are steps in the right direction, but politically-driven decision-making
will inevitably impede progress in this regard.
The planet will incur even more damage while the "deck chairs"
are being rearranged.
With all due respect to Angela Merkel, I think her knee-jerk decision
after Fukushima to remove nuclear from Germany's energy mix was
one of the few major policy mistakes of her distinguished tenure.
For all its flaws, nuclear power remains a necessary bridging option
until irreversible momentum in favour of "green" energy
is achieved within the next few decades and even more progress is
made with hydrogen-based alternatives.
Don't be surprised
If Philippines nomination to UN succeeds
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 17 November 2021
Stephen L. Monsantos vehement opposition to
the nomination of President
Dutertes spokesperson legal adviser Harry Rogue to the International
Law Commission is understandable ( Letter, The Southeast Asian Times
Rogues track record in his own country according to Monsanto
This is endorsed by the Confederation of Lawyers of Asia and the
( COLAP) who consider Rogues bid an unmitigated insult,
disservice to all
the victims of human rights violations under the regime of President
Duterte. Monsanto applauds COLAP for having
the balls to call Rogue out publicly on his lack of personal integrity
and shameless hypocrisy.
I couldnt agree more.
How can such a person - deemed by many Filipinos to be a
Palace Pinocchio for his uncanny ability to twist the truth of almost
everything aspire to be part of a prestigious UN affiliated
body in Geneva?.
But let us not forget that it is not uncommon to find such types
sitting pretty in such UN bodies.
I will be the least surprised if Rogue gets in despite the strong
Call for nuclear power
to avoid exceeding
1.5ºC rise in temperature before
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 15 November 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday 14 November 2021
Re: "Reducing emissions not so easy,"
in Bangkok Post Opinion, November 10, 2021
Your readers might have guessed the author of this article, Bjorn
Lomberg, was once listed as one of "The 10 most respected global
His book, The Skeptical Environmentalist, was criticised
by the Union of Concerned Scientists as being "seriously
flawed and failing to meet basic standards of credible scientific
Like most climate crisis sceptics, Mr Lomberg first cites the obvious
with which all can agree:
We haven't done enough and reducing emissions is not easy. His only
solution: Ramp up research in new, cheaper low CO2 energy.
He seemingly ignores the fact that many renewable energy sources
are already cost-competitive with fossil fuels, especially so if
we factor in the price of carbon emissions, which we surely must
do in the near future.
Unfortunately, because governments have failed to respond to the
climate crisis in a timely manner, the global carbon emissions budget
remaining before we breach the dangerous 1.5º Celsius temperature
increase means that there must be a massive decommissioning of fossil
fuel power stations before 2030.
Of the electricity generated globally today, over 63 percent comes
from fossil fuels, with just over 10 percent coming from nuclear,
15.8 percent from hydro and the balance of some 10 percent from
solar, wind and other renewables.
To avoid exceeding the world's carbon budget for a 1.5ºC temperature
rise, we need to decommission a large portion of current base-load
fossil fuel electricity production by 2030, while not building any
new fossil fuel plants, and replace this firm capacity with power
from low or zero carbon sources.
This simply cannot be achieved by solar and wind alone, leading
us to the unpalatable conclusion that we must invest massively in
nuclear power, as countries like France have already done.
parties at COP26 Glasgow summit
climate change mitigation financing
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 15 November, 2021
President Joko Widodos claim at COP26 in Glasgow
of success in the
reduction of forest and land fires, the plan to rehabilitate 600,000
hectares of mangrove forest by 2024 and the phasing out of coal
fired power by 2040 for transition to renewal energy that was brought
forward from 2056, was all empty talk according
to Greenpeace Indonesia forest campaign spokesperson M Iqbal Damanik
( The Southeast Asian Times 6 November).
Who should one believe?
I think I will go with the Greenpeace campaigner.
The environmentalist organisation has a better grasp of the ground
realities in Indonesia from working with people at the grassroots
President Widodos claim strikes me as Indonesian State propaganda
attract big time climate funding.
That is not an uncommon strategy employed successfully by other
parties at the climate summit to solicit huge climate change mitigation
Will start to increase by 1.5C in 2030
Southeast Asian Times Sunday November 14, 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Thursday November 11,
"Don't climate blame", in Bangkok Post, PostBag, November
Kuldeep Nagi in "Don't climate blame" insists that
"the US and European countries have been polluting the environment
for more than a century", but China and India have only
done so for decades.
So he basically implies in his letter that it is only reasonable
for the US and Europe to do more stop climate change, than it is
for China, India or other South Asian countries.
Be that as it may, the fact remains that if all countries do not
do more now to fight climate change, the average temperature of
the earth will start increasing by 1.5C starting in 2030, and irreversibly
to 2C after that.
If anything, it is the countries of the southern hemisphere who
should be doing more, given that global warming affects them most,
what with the constant typhoons and floods we are now seeing here.
So it was disappointing to see that China and even Russia did not
send their leaders to the COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow last week.
Even Prayut went!
Mr Nagi ends his letter by saying that the "US must lead
by its actions, not empty rhetoric", when it comes to environmental
The reality though, is that "all" countries must
lead by actions, and not empty rhetoric, when it comes to stopping
into Department of Health (DOH) expenditure
To be conducted by Philippines Office of
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday November 13, 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday November
Jake Maderazo wrote: Please, senators and
congressmen, file those charges ASAP in the DOJ, the court, Ombudsman
and jail those Pharmally officers and their government accomplices
who will be proven guilty in Philippine Inquirer Tuesday
November 9, 2021.
He noted as the best development the announcement
of Ombudsman Samuel Martires that his office is already conducting
its own investigation on Pharmally transactions. This is the better
and quicker way of putting to jail the perpetrators, if any.
Honestly, we are not sure what rock Maderazo has been under and
is now crawling out of.
His faith in the Department of Justice, the Office of the Ombudsman,
and the courts is simply astonishing.
Pharmally is just laughing at those charges because it has, not
necessarily the best, but the most powerful defense lawyer in town:
President Duterte, who can tell Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra
to go jump in the lake and Ombudsman Martires to go fly a kite!
Like dreams brought to the doorstep of Mona Lisa, any charges will
just lie there, and die there.
And the courts, yeah right 20 years to come up with a final judgment,
and the billions of money stolen all gone.
Never mind the investigation being conducted in the House of Representatives
by the committee on good government and public accountability
What a joke!, which is all in aid of corruption.
The people are actually rooting for the Senate blue ribbon committee
to keep on pressing for answers regarding the plunder of pandemic
funds by Mr. Dutertes friends.
Like the previous Senate investigation into the venalities of then
presidential candidate Jojo Binay in 2016 which lasted all the way
to near election day, the ongoing probe into Mr. Dutertes
alleged complicity in Pharmallys shenanigans must be kept
in the minds of the voters for as long as necessary, before his
underlings do their dirty work of burying all evidence.
Ramon Norman Torrefranca,
your hands are not helping in paddling
Do not drag the boat by putting your feet in the water"
Southeast Asian Times, Friday November 12, 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Saturday November 7,
Re: "Consumer confidence growing amid recovery,"
Bangkok Post, Business, November 5, 2021.
The news report quoted the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce
(UTCC) as saying that "its consumer confidence index rose
to 43.9 in October, from 41.4 in September and 39.6 in August, hitting
a five-month high, while business sentiment rose for the first time
in seven months, boosted by a drop in new Covid-19 infections, the
easing of the lockdown restrictions, and the country's reopening
to fully vaccinated foreign tourists."
I welcome the report as good news indeed.
It indicates the government has been moving in the right direction.
An ordinary citizen like me would do what we can to help support
Yet the Bangkok Post editors seem to see the opposite, by again
unreasonably condemning the situation by printing a cartoon on the
opinion page the same day depicting a tiny "tourism industry"
trying in vain to lift up the huge Thai economy which is being dragged
by the much bigger Corona virus cell, with the economy nearly falling
off a high cliff.
I would like to offer my advice by quoting a wise man's words well
known in Thailand: "While your hands are not helping in
paddling, do not drag the boat by putting your feet in the water".
of Asia and the Pacific oppose Philippines nomination
United Nations International Law Commission
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 11 November 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 4 November
of Lawyers of Asia and the Pacific (COLAP) has opposed the nomination
of President Dutertes spokesperson legal adviser Harry Roque
to the International Law Commission (ILC), an adjunct to the United
Nations whose function is to initiate studies and make
recommendations for the purpose of encouraging the progressive development
of international law and its clarification.
The multinational lawyers group considers Roques bid
an unmitigated insult,disservice to all the victims of
human rights violations under the regime of President Duterte
(Asia-Pacific lawyers group opposes nomination of Roque
to UN commission, Inquirer.net, October 31, 2021.
Roque, with his wife in tow, has been reported to be in New York
for some time now to boost his chances for election to that 34-member
commission this November.
He dreams of being among the eight lucky lawyers from the Asia-Pacific
region to join the International Law Commission (ILC), for five
years at Geneva, Switzerland, and ensconced among other legal luminaries
from all over the globe in January 2023.
That trip is said to be official business, and
so all expenses appurtenant to that junket are
courtesy of Filipino taxpayers.
Why does Roque need to spend precious dollars to campaign?
Does he think the election by the United Nations General Assembly
ay puedeng daanin sa pambobola tulad dito sa Pilipinas?
In his own country, the highest office he could ever hope to get
elected to was as a party list
representative, a merciful mechanism designed for the benefit of
those who are generally deemed unelectable.
In the minds of many Filipinos, Roque has long earned the epithet
Palace Pinocchio for his uncanny ability to twist
the truth of almost everything that comes between his ears.
Consider the time he was bird-dogging Chinas creeping
invasion of swaths of West Philippine Sea (WPS) territories
over which international law grants exclusive economic rights to
the Philippines, which led him then to excoriate China as a rogue
But just when everyone thought his patriotism was beyond question,
like the quintessential chameleon, he changed his color and is now
virtually moonlighting as Chinas mouthpiece, justifying its
incursions into the West Philippine Sea as nothing but gestures
of neighborly concern and friendliness.
It wouldnt be a surprise if his colleagues in the International
Law Commission (ILC) (should he get elected, God forbid) are laughing
at the Philippines for having offered one who talks out of both
sides of his mouth as its best candidate.
But more egregiously, while the Rome Statute that created the International
Criminal Court (ILC) explicitly holds an offending head of state
accountable despite the latters governments withdrawal
from that covenant if the offenses complained of occurred prior
to such withdrawal, a view affirmed by the Philippine Supreme Court
itself (G.R. No. 238875, March 16, 2021)
Roque went rogue with his own theatrical dissent
from that unanimous decision. President Duterte should have
fired him already for his incompetence and ignorance of international
law, and for the embarrassing advice he was giving his boss all
How Roque got so drunk with his delusions and ambition for membership
in a very prestigious United Nations body given his dubious claim
to being an international law expert dishing
out wishy-washy opinions, and the flippancy with which he regards
the basic tenets of international law when they dont suit
his own selfish agenda, is beyond us. Kudos to the Confederation
of Lawyers of Asia and the Pacific (COLAP) for having the balls
to call Roque out publicly on his lack of personal integrity and
Extravagance and self
-aggrandisement are traits
Associated with leaders in poor developing
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday November 10, 2021
The Southeast Asian Times headline news report
Vietnams Public Security Minister eats a steak
at $1000 a bite at a London restaurant ( November
8), comes as no big surprise.
Extravagance and self-aggrandisement are traits frequently associated
with the leaders in poor developing countries even as their own
people struggle on a daily basis to make ends meet.
Thus it is hardly surprising to hear Vietnamese Pham Viet Duc say
Vietnamese are experiencing extreme hardship due to COVID-19,
but officials are enjoying themselves like world-class celebrities
And, Vietnamese Tommy Lee summed it up quite succinctly by pointing
out such practices by officials is not unusual
According to him theyve always spent their money
Its more likely their money is actually public money or even
It is pertinent that human rights activist Hoang Dung, who posted
the Minister of Public Security of Vietnam dinning on steak coated
with edible 24 carat gold on his face book, questioned
the claim that Vietnamese officials were entitled to a spending
allowance while on a business trip.
If its an entitlement its obscene and it stinks.
for Thailand to amend repressive laws
Eliminate coups and strengthen democratic
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday November 9, 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday November 7, 2021
Re: "Thailand can't have it both ways abroad,"
Bangkok Post Opinion, November 5, 2021.
Well, in today's world everything seems transitory but the image.
In spite of its stellar cousins, exotic temples, and pristine beaches,
Thailand's image abroad is overshadowed by its history of coup-installed
regimes, its poor human rights record, its travel industry embroiled
in prostitution, massage parlours, and rampant corruption.
Its arcane immigration and property ownership laws and exploitation
of foreign retirees is another matter.
Yes, doing business with Western democracies will require Thailand
to adhere to international norms and expectations.
Mr Thitinan is correct that Thailand's tainted image puts it in
the same bracket as Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos.
China, Russia, and other authoritarian regimes are not good role
models for Asean. And yes, there is no way for any repressive regimes
to become a shining light of hope for the rest of the world.
Hence Thailand must change its image first by amending its repressive
laws, eliminating coups, and refining and strengthening its democratic
mention of vegetarian and meat industry
At the UN Climate Change conference (COP26)
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 8, 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday 3, 2021
As far as I know at the so-called "climate
summit" words such as "vegetarianism"
and "meat industry" were not mentioned once.
This despite the fact that the UN has said the meat and dairy industry
causes more climate change than all forms of transportation combined.
The politicians know who "butters their bread"
(pun intended) so let the planet be damned.
Required one night hotel
stay on entry into Thailand
an unnecessary scam
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 6 November 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday 3 Novemner
I am tiring of reading the lie that the Bangkok Post
keeps printing for the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).
What do you call the one-night Safety and Health Administration
(SHA) Hotel required stay upon entry to get a Covid 19 test?
If that is not a mandated quarantine then please tell me what it
International standard by the International Air Transport Association
(IATA) is two doses of approved vaccine and a Covid-19 test within
72 hours before entry. That's all!
Thailand wants you to also feed the hotel industry, medical establishment
and insurance companies which is an unnecessary scam. Just more
Australian way of tackling climate change
Is the wrong way
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 5 November 2021
PM Morrisons purported Australian
way of tackling climate change is according to climate
experts, scientists, climate activists, civil society groups and
other world leaders the wrong way.
Allow me to borrow an analogy from our road warning sign
Wrong way, Turn Back.
Thats what Morrison and his political mob must do and do without
delay to get back on track with the rest of the world on how best
to approach this most pressing problem confronting humanity and
Morrison must stop acting the ostrich with his bogus Australian
Its a spurious way which clear thinking Australians have roundly
want US bases back
To help expel China from Philippine territory
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 4 November 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquierer Wedmesday 3 Novemeber
The present situation in the West Philippine Sea requires
a Philippine military pushback against China.
To expel China the bully from our countrys territory, we need
the help of the much more powerful superpower who is our true friend
and ally, the United States of America.
I propose that, upon takeover by the next Philippine president,
who must be competent, sane, pro-Filipino, pro-Western, and NOT
pro-China, the Philippines starts negotiations with the US for the
conditional return to the Philippines of US military bases the size
of the former Clark Air Force Base and Subic Naval Base, which were
removed in the 1990s.
The conditions for the return of the US bases must be:
The renegotiation of the PH-US Mutual Defense Treaty to clearly
specify that the US will immediately and automatically retaliate
when any foreign third party attacks Philippine territory, exclusive
economic zone (EEZ), or any Philippine aircraft, ship, or boat,
government-owned or private.
For the United States to immediately and automatically evict, using
whatever force is necessary, any foreign third-party intruder, civilian
or military, that enters or occupies any part of Philippine territory,
territorial seas, Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), or any island,
reef, shoal, rock, or sandbar that belongs to the Philippines.
China became aggressive and started occupying our territory, Exclusive
Economic Zone (EEZ) only after the United States bases were removed.
Without the massive American military presence and support that
will be provided by the proposed US bases in our territory, China
will one day just annex the Philippines as a colony or vassal state
and enslave the Filipino people under its hegemony.
I strongly appeal to all my fellow Filipinos to agitate for and
support the return of US bases.
Other countries also host US military bases, among them Japan, Italy,
These countries are indeed protected by the US defense umbrella.
The 2016 Arbitral Award by the Permanent Court of Arbitration places
the Philippines on high legal ground in this military pushback against
China. Furthermore, Chinas ancient maps show that Hainan is
Chinas southernmost territory.
Alongside and simultaneous with the return of the US bases, we must
also build strong military alliances with other friendly Western
nations, namely the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada, as
well as NATO countries; and also with friendly, like-minded neighboring
countries such as Australia, Japan, India, and South Korea.
Most important of all, with the US bases back and with additional
military support from our other allies, we could buy time to make
the Philippines militarily strong. Our government and the private
sector must exert an all-out effort to build and maintain our own
armaments/munitions manufacturing and naval shipbuilding industries.
In war and peace, these industries must provide our armed forces
with a continuous supply of indigenous modern warplanes, warships,
missiles, tanks, ammunition, and other advanced military equipment.
Through this military-industrial cooperation, the armed forces will
crush and defeat bullies and fight to win even decades-long protracted
wars against invaders.
The same industries can turn the Philippines into an arms-exporting
country, if and when we sell to other countries Philippine-made
Thousands of Filipino workers will be employed in these Industries,
reducing unemployment in our country.
Pedro I. Santos,
of participants in Tiananmen vigil in Hong Kong
A blot on China's political landscape
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday November 4, 2021
The Southeast Asian Times article Eight
charged under Beijing national security law for participating in
banned Tiananmen vigil in Hong Kong ( 3 November ) is
a blot on Chinas political landscape.
In todays world many countries acknowledge their dark past
and especially the atrocities committed against their own people.
That apparently is not the case with China which seeks to erase
the memory of the gruesome Tiananmen massacre of pro-democracy protesters
through State propaganda pretending the massacre did not happen
and the ongoing persecution of peaceful protesters who want that
part of Chinas brutal, authoritarian history remembered and
the victims honoured.
And, that remains Chinas national shame.
As one of the vigil keepers pointed out Commemorating
the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre is a just cause.
It most certainly is.
Nothing the Chinese communist state does can alter that reality.
on bottom of list of countries
When it comes to emission-reduction ambition
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday November 3, 2021
Firts published in the Bangkok Post, November 2, 2021
Re: "Embracing COP26 climate challenge",
Bangkok Post Opinion October 15, 2021.
Paritta Wangkiat is definitely on the right track in urging Thailand
to be bold and ambitious in moving toward net-zero greenhouse gas
But she is entirely too timid in calling for action from Thailand.
Few countries of the world have as much potential as Thailand to
rapidly move toward the net-zero target.
The country is blessed with abundant sunshine and wind that could
be captured to provide virtually emission-free electricity.
There are also large areas that could be planted with trees to soak
up carbon from the atmosphere.
Major gains could be achieved by accelerating the transition to
electric vehicles, expanded efficient public transportation, low-emission
agriculture, and cleaner operating factories.
Thailand is not without opportunities for accelerating progress
toward net-zero emissions.
Instead, it seems Thai officials and policy makers are without real
At the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow, countries will be
expected to make more robust commitments to strengthen and speed
efforts to reach net-zero carbon emissions.
All Thais should be embarrassed if as it now seems likely - the
country remains near the bottom of the list of countries when it
comes to emission-reduction ambition.
Port Moresby General Hospital
preparing for mass burials
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 2 November 2021
First published in the National, Thursday 25 October 2021
Many people are hesitant to get vaccinated because
of the amount of misinformation currently being circulated on the
social media platforms.
For those people who are hesitant, go and visit the general hospitals
in Port Moresby, Lae and Goroka and see for yourselves what is happening
More than 10 people are dying every week in these hospitals.
The Port Moresby General Hospital is currently preparing for mass
These hospitals are struggling with manpower, logistics, oxygen
and other things to assist the patients with the fight against the
Coronavirus (Covid-19) Delta variant.
Can those who are contributing to spread of misinformation be realistic?
Why are you sharing everything?
Think about yourselves, your family, your community and your country.
Yes, we have our democratic rights to say no to vaccines, but think
of those that are dying who were not vaccinated.
If we want to get back to some normalcy, follow the New
Normal direction of wearing masks, avoiding crowded areas,
sanitising your hands regularly and/or get vaccinated.
Our vaccinated population is around two per cent only while our
Melanesian neighbours Fiji, New Caledonia and Vanuatu, their vaccinated
population stands between 80 and 90 per cent.
I got vaccinated for my health, my familys safety and my employment.
If developed countries such as Australia and New Zealand could have
many months of lockdowns, who are we to ignore and avoid the directions
that could save our lives.
Anyway, buckle up for another lockdown.
Vaccinated Papua New Guinea Citizen,
Papua New Guinea
for freedom of information law
To curb graft and corruption in Philippines
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 1 November 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 28 October
For many, many years the people have been waiting
and hoping for a freedom of information (FOI) law.
But, despite President Duterte having promised during the 2016 presidential
election campaign that he would curb graft and corruption in government,
there has not been any determined and serious effort to address
That Mr. Duterte has failed miserably is evidenced by so many huge
anomalies that have surfaced during his administration involving
the Department of Health, the Department of Budget and Management,
PhilHealth and, needless to say, the Bureau of Customs.
This problem persists amid calls and pleas by well-intentioned individuals
and sectors in society that he must certify to the necessity and
urgency of an freedom of information (FOI) law if he really wants
to make corruption a thing of the past.
An freedom of information (FOI) law will nip in the bud any evil
scheme to defraud the government, since it will require the public
disclosure of any deals and transactions involving public funds.
It will also obligate government offices or agencies to respond
to public complaints and furnish people detailed information about
expenditures of earmarked money.
Lets study closely the stand of the presidential candidates
vis-à-vis corruption. How will they solve this long festering
problem? Are they in favor of an freedom of information (FOI) law?
Eusebio S. San Diego,
Former President, Quezon City Public School Teachers Association
Philippines St. Luke's
Medical Center Employees Association
by government mishandling of Covid-19 funds
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday October 31, 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday October
The St. Lukes Medical Center Employees Association
agrees with all the points raised by the Philippine College of Physicians
and other prominent health experts on the issues of corruption and
mishandling by the government of its COVID-19 response.
We understand the basis of the sentiments of these experts not just
as observers but based on their factual findings and experiences
in addressing the present health crisis.
We too are enraged that amid the crisis pummeling the country, some
roguish individuals are amassing wealth from the funds intended
for the COVID-19 response.
The mishandling of funds sourced from taxpayer money is a crime
that should not go unpunished.
Barring Cabinet members and other officials from attending hearings
conducted by the Senate blue ribbon committee does not only disrespect
the august chamber, but is also a clear attempt by the Duterte administration
to shield the executives of Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. and their
cohorts from possible persecution.
As union leaders who are at the forefront of protecting the rights
and general well-being of our members, we feel betrayed by these
allegations of rampant corruption, and are in concert with our health
experts call for an impartial investigation to unmask the
culprits and masterminds of this heinous crime against the people.
A grave injustice was committed against health care workers (HCWs)
when we were deprived of the benefits and rights accorded to us
by law. We are indignant that laws were passed in our name, but
were circumvented and violated by agencies that were supposed to
We know for a fact that our health experts are economically well-off
compared to us ordinary workers who kung hindi kami kakahig
ay hindi kami tutuka.
But we commend their bravery in speaking for the welfare of the
health community to which we all belong.
The conditions of health care workers (HCW) are at their worst,
especially in private hospitals.
We only have our unions to rely on for our rights and benefits,
and we are lucky enough that our employer, St. Lukes Medical
Center, has provided us other benefits that are more than what is
stipulated by law.
However, what about the greater majority of HCWs who are not represented
by unions or are non-unionized?
In one recent forum we attended in Laguna province, we were informed
by our fellow HCWs that they were uninformed of the mandatory benefits
they were entitled to under the Bayanihan law.
Terms such as special risk allowance, meals, accommodation and transportation,
and life insurance were alien to them, and they only got the information
from the news.
We salute the health experts for standing up on the issue of prevalent
and massive corruption amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
We join them in our common pursuit of truth and justice.
Roldan Jao Clumia,
St. Lukes Medical Center Employees Association
for recognition of Myanmar civilian government
Is an absolutley correct call
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 30 October 2021
We read in The Southeast Asian Times
29 October that the Association of Southeast Asian Parliamentarians
for Human Rights ( APHR ), chairman and Member of the Malaysian
Parliament, Charles Santiago called on ASEAN member states and governments
world wide to recognise Myanmars civilian National Unity Government
( NUG ) and to sanction the Armed Forces ( Tatmadaw ) of Myanmar
for the takeover of the elected civilian government in February.
Its an absolutely correct call.
We learn from a PBS NewsHour Myanmar torture report
on 28 October that torture has been the modus operandi of the military
and police since the takeover.
Its high time regional and the international community responded
in that way to make it crystal clear that military coups were totally
That is the only effective way to end coups by making sure the coup
makers did not benefit from their coups at the expense of the people.
It would be relevant to note the African Union has joined other
western democracies and the UN in condemning the military coup in
Sudan a few days ago.
That is as should be.
New South Wales,
in Thai cities
Not offered alms
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 29 October, 2021
First published in Bangkok Post, Sunday 24 October, 2021
Re: "Don't limit monks," Bangkok
Post PostBag, October 16 and "More Meditating, Less
Talking Please", in Bangkok Post PostBag,
Nowadays monks especially those living in the cities, live as monks
like another occupation, such that we don't feel like offering alms
because we don't know whether they are genuine monks or not.
We see monks shopping for mobile phones, buying amulets, buying
lottery tickets, etc. Monks study just to get the title "Phra
There are so much indulging in desire, so much attachment which
is not supposed to be as a monk.
They can't even understand the most basic teachings of the Buddha
-The Four Noble Truths and The Noble Eightfold Path.
Don't argue about now we are in the modern era.
If you really have the intention to be a monk, be a good one and
be enlightened and teach lay people to understand what the Buddha
There are many good monks around.
Don't smear others.
policy cannot stand
overwhelming moral imperative
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 8 October 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Tuesday 26 October 2021
Re: "Give Asean seat to Myanmar opposition",
Bangkok Post Opinion, October 22, 2021
Thais owe the Myanmar people an enormous debt of gratitude for two
reasons. Firstly, for their courage and bravery in showing us how
to resist a coup d'etat. Secondly, for teaching Asean that the so-called
principle of non-interference can no longer be allowed to stand
against an overwhelming moral imperative.
By recognising two competing claimants for the Myanmar seat at the
upcoming 38th and 39th Asean summits, and failing to reach the much
vaunted consensus by selecting either the
junta Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) of Myanmar or the National
Unity Government (NUG), Asean dealt a black eye to the Thai Ministry
of Foreign Affairs.
Forceful words from Indonesia and Malaysia at the emergency foreign
ministers' meeting on Oct ober15, combined with strong anti-junta
signals from Asean's major democratic partners, saw Thailand's defence
of the Armed
Forces (Tatmadaw) of Myanmar crumble, opening the way for
a similar scenario of rejection the next time the Thai military
stages a coup.
Given the intertwined history of our two countries across many centuries,
much of it marked by distrust and war, perhaps now is the time our
two people can learn from each other; how to consign our respective
militaries to their rightful subservient roles in democratically
elected civilian governments.
As the most coup-prone country in the world we need help.
for global solidarity
Glasgow climate change negotiations
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 27 October 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday 24 October 2021
Re: "Spirit of climate cooperation faces test
in Glasgow," in Bangkok Post Opinion, October 20
A fundamental question to be asked before the global climate change
negotiations in Glasgow is: Do wealthy countries really mean business
and are they sincere in their solidarity?
A meaningful, effective global cooperation on climate change is
impossible without global solidarity which cannot be spontaneous
even in cases of planetary crises.
Yet, we may express the hope that acting in a spirit of global solidarity
the 120 members of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of 77
and China will manage to reach a win-win situation in their negotiations
on the matter with the group of developed countries.
In this regard, an encouraging sign can be expected from an informal
UN diplomatic event scheduled in New York on 26 October on climate
action and focused on capacities at country level.
This event, titled "Delivering Climate Action - for People,
Planet & Prosperity", will highlight best practices
and achievements in renewables, in climate finance, and in adaptation.
The value of global solidarity cannot be promoted and enhanced without
robust diplomatic action at the bilateral, regional and universal
Tourism market in Thailand
Cannot be taken for granted
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 26 October 2021
First Published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday 20 October
Re: "Tourist fee could be nail in coffin",
Bangkok Post, Editorial, October 10, 2021
The Bangkok Post editorial is spot on in warning of the risks of
losing tourists to other markets as the world reopens after the
Thailand cannot take the tourism market for granted. Instead of
adding to the perceptions that Thailand is simply out to milk tourists
with exorbitant dual pricing, vague tourism development fees, over-pricing
by taxi drivers and various other scams, the country needs to review
every aspect of how international tourists are treated.
As the editorial pointed out, the tourism industry is restarting
with a clean slate after Covid.
Countries that make visa and entry procedures simple, ensure the
safety of visitors, offer quality tourism experiences and good value
for money, and genuinely make tourists feel welcome and appreciated
will come out on top in the competition for tourist numbers and
This is not the time for creating additional new schemes to fleece
sites endangered by construction of
Pasig River Expressway
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 25 October 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 22 October
The 19.3-kilometer Pasig River Expressway (PAREx)
has drawn flak from environmental and cultural groups who believe
many cultural sites will be jarred by the construction of the elevated
highway, thereby endangering historical sites such as Intramuros,
Fort Santiago, Arroceros Park, and many others.
Worse, it will suffocate the fauna of the Pasig River.
The positions of both sides appear to stand on valid arguments.
Scores of projects have been undertaken to rehabilitate the Pasig
River, both by civic organizations and the government.
Yet, the silt deposited on the river is a continuing problem, aside
from the negligence of the communities around it.
The river also catches floodwater and debris from Laguna de Bay.
It seems in our society one problem engenders another, and we cannot
get to the bottom of it all.
There has to be a more lasting heritage solution, not just to the
traffic congestion or the environmental pollution.
The reality is that the Philippines has a much bigger problem in
the unabated population increase of 1.5-2 million annually.
Urban life in Metro Manila will continue to be compromised by the
influx of more people from the provinces to find work and escape
Among the cities with the highest population densities in the world
are Manila, Pateros, and Mandaluyong.
Congestion will suffocate the entire Metro Manila soon.
It can only be arrested by the government developing other less
congested areas in the country to move work opportunities there,
such as vast Mindanao.
Marvel K. Tan,
Proves to have a functioning democracy
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 23 October 2021
The allegations of misappropriation, official corruption
and abuse of office against former PM Peter ONeill might have
been a case which was highly politicised as
ONeill contended ( Letter, The Southeast Asian Times 22/10).
But the fact that the case was thrown out by the court means Papua
New Guinea PNG has a functioning democracy with an independent judicial
system upholding the rule of law without fear or favour.
Thats something the people of Papua New Guinea PNG can be
proud of and other countries in the region can draw lessons from
to strengthen their democratic governance.
Exclusion of Myanmar Senior
General Min Aung Hlaing
ASEAN summit is long overdue
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 23 October 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday 20 October
Re: "Junta 'extremely disappointed' over
summit snub", in Bangkok Post, October 18, 2021
At last Asean has shown some intestinal fortitude and has excluded
the tyrant-despot Senior General Min Aung Hlaing from attending
its next summit.
This is long overdue, because in the past several members of Asian,
including Thailand and Malaysia, have heaped honours upon this most
despicable man, who has being playing Asean as a fool.
Just look at a photograph of him in his uniform, which is stretched
to breaking point with the weight of the medals, honours and awards
hanging around his neck and pinned on both chests.
These include The Most Gallant Order of Military Service; Honorary
Malaysian Armed Forces Order for Valor (1st Degree); Medal for Strengthening
the Military Commonwealth (awarded by Russia); Badge of Honor for
the Merits in the Field of Military-Technical Cooperation (whatever
that means); and most disturbingly the Most Exalted Order of the
White Elephant Knight Grand Cross (1st Class) and the Most Noble
Order of the Crown of Thailand Knight Grand Cross (1st Class), both
awarded by the Thai government.
There is not one award or medal for actual combat in defending Myanmar
from foreign invasion.
The fact is that he was born in 1956. a decade after Burma's fight
for independence from British rule and centuries after Burma's last
wars with Siam. The only combat experience he has is against his
own people, including the ethnic minorities of Kachin, Kayah, Kayin,
Rakhine and Shan et al.
against former PM Peter O'Neill
proven in Papua New Guinea court
Southeast Asian Times, Friday, 22 October 2021
First Published in the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday 20 October,
A stunning example of a life to draw inspiration from
when facing adversity is the life of former Prime Minister and Ialibu-Pangia
Member of Parliament Peter ONeill.
Travelling from Brisbane, Australia, with his family one Saturday
afternoon last May, police set up on him and took him in for questioning
on allegations of misappropriation, official corruption and abuse
of office over the purchase of two generators from Israel.
The allegations stem from a National Executive Council decision
When asked about his arrest, ONeill calmly said: The
case is highly politicised. I look forward to having my day in court
soon so that the truth can prevail and this injustice corrected
Springing up a surprise arrest and hastily filing of a police complaint
ended up marred in errors and the case was instantly thrown out.
That was the writing on the wall right there.
But that did not dissuade then-Police minister Bryan Kramer, who
filed a fresh complaint and took one whole year to gather evidence
and assemble witnesses for the case that was dismissed last Thursday.
Of all the allegations brought against ONeill, nothing to
date has been proven in court.
He is now free to concentrate on his Peoples National Congress
party and prepare for next years general elections.
Papua News Guinea
Why would someone intentionally
limit another's quest
For truth and understanding?
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 21October 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday 20 October,
limit monks", Bangkok Post Editorial,
October 16, 2021
The myopic decree to forbid Buddhist monks from expanding their
intelligence and studying subjects not directly related to Buddhism
will not preserve Buddhism or enhance a monk's awareness of reality.
In the 21st century, knowledge and information is increasing exponentially
and any institution desiring to stay relevant must address this
by expanding their knowledge base, not retarding it.
The Dalai Lama in his book The Universe in a Single Atom says that
Buddhism must incorporate Science.
If science shows a Buddhist tenet is wrong, then Buddhism must adjust
This flexible willingness to adapt is crucial in order to adjust
to change and we are certainly in a time of rapid change.
There are numerous fields of study from brain research to historical
trends of monasticism that would benefit a monk as he attempts to
Why would someone intentionally limit another's quest for truth
If Buddhism is to be a part of society's future here, it has to
adjust accordingly to the changes that society is encountering.
If not, it will swiftly be left out of the composition.
Already, most people I speak to claim they are Buddhist, but almost
none say they meditate.
If someone could be shown the science that documents the physiological
and psychological benefits of meditation practices, maybe they would
be more inclined to practise it personally.
Finally, what would Buddha do?
Would he say to avoid knowledge and wisdom and remain ignorant or
would he encourage seeking?
Politics in the Philippines
a family business
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 20 October 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday 19 October
The 2022 elections will once again provide proof that
politics in this country has become a family business.
It is a family business that is guaranteed by the Constitution on
one hand - they are elected by the people - and discouraged on the
other - prohibition against local dynasties - as may be
defined by law.
We have read stories of elective positions being unopposed or getting
token opposition from brave souls or nuisance candidates.
We have been desensitized at the sight of family members exchanging
positions regardless of qualifications for the new positions they
are gunning for.
We have seen new family members running for positions because mom,
dad, sister, or brother moved up to run for a national office.
In some instances, these new family members just relocated to the
place, having grown up in Metro Manila or abroad, and not knowing
the local culture or language.
Nevertheless, they are adored ang guapo or gandang
These political dynasties and agreements among politicians to effectively
divide the governance of local governments need to be destroyed
in order to give life to the constitutional mandate to the State
to guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service.
The barrier to entering public service has become too high for the
ordinary good Filipino citizen.
While these monopoly-minded politicians have gamed the system, we
are not without remedies.
First, let us not vote for these politicians.
Second, let us educate our friends and family members on the evils
of political dynasties.
Third, let us teach critical thinking to the next generation.
They are our only hope.
As they say, the only way for evil men and women to win is for good
men and women to do nothing.
Decision to exclude Myanmar
ASEAN summit is a good one
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 19 October 2021
We read in the Reuters article ASEAN
excludes Myanmar junta leader from Summit ( 18 October,2021)
that the foreign ministers from ASEAN took that unprecedented step
at an emergency meeting on Friday night .
The bold and rare step was taken to uphold ASEANs
credibility according to the Singapore foreign minister.
The decision is a good one and will restore ASEANs credibility
following the earlier one in April which allowed the junta chief
Min Aung Hlaing to attend and give assurances and agree to a roadmap
to restore peace .
Subsequent brutal crackdown on pro- democracy protesters in Myanmar
showed the military leader who carried out the coup against an elected
civilian government in February was not genuine in his commitment.
ASEAN had in good faith given the junta a chance to show it was
committed to returning the country to good democratic governance
but it has failed to do that.
So it is only proper that the junta chief be excluded to show him
in no uncertain terms that the conduct of the military junta was
for PNG police and defence personnel
To enforce ban on mass gatherings
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 18 October 2021
First published in the National, Friday 15 October 2021
The many ground breaking ceremonies are putting peoples
lives at risk.
The recent one in Menyamya, Morobe, by the Prime Minister James
Marape and his delegation showed hundreds, even thousands, of people
without face masks in a mass gathering.
Here we are talking about the spread of the Coronavirus (Covid-19)
and banning mass gatherings, yet on the other side, the total opposite
Let us put a stop to ground breaking ceremonies now.
The statistics show that the increase in Covid-19 deaths right after
Sept 16, which was celebrated in mass gatherings in many centres.
Marape himself, who was a guest of honour at Walume in Southern
Highlands and in Maprik, East Sepik, during the Independence Anniversary
celebrations was part of a crowd that had no regard for the Covid-19
The celebration at Uiversity of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) was even
worse with the Highlands traditional dance Waipa
consisting of more than 10 groups where people were holding
hands and jumping up and down.
The responsible authorities did not bother too much about the virus.
Now we have the same authorities concerned over the surge in Covid-19
It is a bit too late for that.
Despite the Covid-19 measures, Papua New Guineans have an attitude
The bulk of the population is semi-educated.
If you tell them what to do, they will not do it unless it is enforced.
Therefore, measures must be strictly enforced by relevant authorities
so that people will comply.
Put police and defence personnel on the streets so that people will
listen to them and follow.
Otherwise, it is all a waste of time and we cannot deny that.
Papua New Guinea
for Former PM Mahathir to explain
to defend sovereignty of Pulau Batu Puteh
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 17 October 2021
First published in the Star, Thursday 14 October 2021
Penang Deputy Chief Minister II Dr P. Ramasamy must
be taken to task for demanding that former prime minister Tun Dr
Mahathir Mohamad must answer for the colossal failure to defend
the sovereignty of Pulau Batu Puteh.
In a Facebook post, Ramasamy tried to clarify that it was not up
to the Pakatan Harapan government of Dr Mahathir to have decided
against the appeal on the grounds that they had no chance whatsoever.
He is attempting to divert all responsibility to Dr Mahathir. However,
his remarks score an own goal as they reflect the incompetence and
lack of political and administrative power of Democratic Action
Party (DAP) former ministers within the Pakatan Cabinet.
If Ramasamys remarks do not confirm the inadequacies of the
six Democratic Action Party (DAP) ministers namely Lim Guan Eng,
Anthony Loke Siew Fook, M. Kulasegaran, Yeo Bee Yin, Gobind Singh
and Teresa Kok in upholding Pulau Batu Putehs sovereignty,
they only suggest these six were in deep slumber in the Cabinet,
despite their mighty remuneration.
One cant help but wonder if PM7 Dr Mahathir made this unilateral
While Ramasamys remarks attempt to divert blame from Democratic
Action Party (DAP) he is advised to not use this crass method as
the party cannot evade responsibility.
In fact, responsibility for losing Pulau Batu Puteh does not rest
solely on Dr Mahathir; the entire former Pakatan government is equally
On February 2, 2017, Malaysia under the Barisan Nasional government
filed an application for revision of the judgment rendered by the
International Court of Justice on May 23, 2008 on Pulau Batu Puteh.
However, on May 28, 2018, it was the Pakatan government which decided
to withdraw this review application.
This withdrawal by the Pakatan government caused Malaysia to lose
our right to claim Pulau Batu Puteh.
Pakatans decision to drop the territorial claim is exactly
identical to the cabotage exemption approved by Democratic Action
Party (DAP) then transport minister Anthony Loke for foreign-registered
vessels to perform undersea cable maintenance in Malaysian waters.
Both these decisions disregard the importance of upholding national
Removing the requirement that foreign-registered vessels apply for
a Domestic Shipping Licence (DSL) before entering Malaysian waters
to repair undersea cables, sacrificing the sovereignty of our nation
and the safety of our citizens' data, are akin to derhaka, treason!
Tan Teik Cheng,
Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA)
Risk of radiation leaks
From struggling nuclear power plants
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 16 October 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Thursday 14 October 2021
Re: "Bitcoin miners eye nuclear power as
environmental criticism mounts", in Bangkok Post,
Business, October 3, 2021
As if the world didn't have enough reasons to reject the silliness
of cryptocurrency, we can now add the risk of radiation leaks from
struggling nuclear power plants that otherwise might thankfully
be shut down due to lack of demand for the power produced.
This seems to be an example of one dubious industry climbing into
bed with another.
The processing of cryptocurrency transactions requires voracious
amounts of electricity at a time when the world should be aggressively
trimming the unnecessary use of power.
Among the main attractions of cryptocurrency is the facilitation
of dodgy transactions and the avoidance of taxes.
Rather than trying to extend the life of unneeded nuclear power
plants and nurturing the sketchy cryptocurrency sector, the world
would be far better off letting both succumb.
state involved in lawyer killings
Lawyers advised to protect themselves
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 15 October 2021
First published by Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday 12 October
Your editorial Impunity gone berserk
October 9, 2021 contains much with which all would agree - the killing
of lawyers with impunity is a threat to the rule of law and therefore
to a democratic Philippines.
However, it seems that the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)
has also gone berserk.
The number of lawyers killed under President Duterte, now 69, is
lamentable, but it is nowhere near the 500-percent increase that
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) proclaims and which,
willy nillly, the media continues to trumpet unquestioningly.
Unfortunately, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) continues
to use the inaccurate numbers first produced by the Free Legal Assistance
Here are the numbers recorded by the Monitoring Committee on Attacks
on Lawyers of the International Association of Peoples Lawyers:
According to numerous monitoring groups, there were 18 lawyers killed
from the Marcos to Estrada presidencies, 83 under President Gloria
Macapagal Arroyo, and 47 under President Benigno Aquino III.
Thus, pre-Duterte there were at least 148 killings.
Your editorial cites the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)
claim that the number of lawyers killed since President
Duterte came into power in 2016 has skyrocketed by 500 percent.
That is obviously a claim that cannot be justified.
What is true is that at 1.1 lawyer killed per month, the rate under
Mr. Duterte far exceeds the rates under his two predecessors: Arroyo
at 0.74 and Aquino at 0.65.
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) would be well advised
to seek ways in which the lawyers can protect themselves.
Relying on the government, especially when state forces are involved
in lawyer killings, is rather like waiting for snow in Manila.
They might follow the example being set now in Nigeria where the
national Bar has called a temporary boycott of the courts, in similar
manner as in France, India, and Pakistan. Governments must be persuaded
to act, and not only expected to do so.
Monitoring Committee on Attacks on Lawyers
Call for ASEAN to rethink
On how to restore democracy in Myanmar
Southeast Asian Times Thursday October 14, 2021
It is absolutely wonderful news that the EU Parliament
has taken the decision to support the
National Unity Government (NUG) as
the legitimate representative of democracy in Myanmar ( The Southeast
Asian Times 13 Oct).
It has done the right thing by the oppressed people of Myanmar whose
will to chose their government democratically was overridden by
the military takeover at the beginning of the year.
Since then there has been a reign of terror in the country against
all pro-democracy activists.
They can now draw immense inspiration and courage to continue their
fight for democracy in Myanmar.
ASEAN on the other hand did the wrong thing by allowing the commander-in-chief
of the Armed Forces ( Tatmadaw ) of Myanmar, Sr Gen. Min Aung Hlaing
to attend the ASEAN Leaders Meeting in Jakarta.
That sends the wrong message.
It says the military takeover of a democratically elected government
is acceptable. Its not.
And, that should be made abundantly clear to the rogue military
leaders. ASEAN did not do that.
Its action gave tacit recognition, even legitimacy, to the
rogue military rulers of Myanmar.
Thats totally unacceptable. Lets hope the EU Parliament
decision will get ASEAN to rethink its position on how to restore
democracy in Myanmar .
Call for Papua New Guinea
To help take back Papua New Guinea
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday October 12, 2021
First published in the National, Monday October 11, 2021
I agree with Jack Anis Kukiwas comments in National
paper about the banks lending policy regarding the money from
the funds allocated by the Government for small to medium enterprises
The government should set the criteria for simple people to access
these funds instead of big and well established business to have
the upper hand over SME owners.
This kills the interest of the people and does not help with improving
The Government should come up with an alternative to help the majority
if it wants us all to play an active roll in taking back Papua New
Papua New Guinea
party looking for clone of President Rodrigo Duterte
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday October 12, 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday October
We will end up with many presidential candidates,
but will the best of them win? Even a lame foot can win a hundred
meters if the others collapse before the goal.
A choice in which the majority sees no other way out but to choose
between bad, worse, and worst is certainly not a great moment for
The one perceived as the least unsuitable by the citizens can win.
The ruling party is looking for a clone of Rodrigo Duterte.
The opposition - whose clone is it looking for?
Who actually wants to continue the politics of the last few years?
The problems have just gotten too big to sit things out any longer.
We need a government that renews social cohesion and an industrial
base that does not pay low wages and makes further cuts in social
We need more investments, better education, better pay for skilled
workers, the restoration of a performance-oriented welfare state,
and consistent promotion of future technologies.
If you instead let the middle class and the lower half of the population
pay for the mistakes of the past, you are committing a sin against
democracy and our future.
Dr. Juergen Schoefer, Ph.D. Cainta,
wealth and abuses of martial should be consudered
choosing the next president in 2022
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 11, October 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 8, October
If one is fully aware of the kleptocracy under the late dictator
Ferdinand Marcos and his wife Imelda, the revelation about the P203
billion in unpaid estate taxes by the Marcos family in Tax
debt of the Marcos estate, Philippine Inquirer, Crosscurrents,
September 30, 2021 would be revealing but no longer shocking.
It just tells us the kind of people that have been trying to regain
lost political power after looting government coffers dry during
their 20 years in power.
The way Imelda Marcos and her children have brazenly disregarded
the payment of their estate taxes shows how they have become used
to trifling with the rule of law in the country with so much impunity.
The ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses has long been proven to exist,
as declared by several Supreme Court decisions Do the Marcoses
have ill-gotten wealth?, With Due Respect, September 9, 2021.
And yet that continues to be vigorously denied by the Marcos heirs.
Equally disgraceful are arguments that exculpate the children for
the misdeeds of their father, conveniently overlooking the fact
that the Marcos children and their families have lived luxurious
and privileged lives on the fruits of their fathers plunder.
Did they ever wonder for a second where all the billions of money
And now they have been using this stolen wealth to make a grand
political comeback, with support from President Duterte who idolizes
his dictator-hero so much that he allowed Marcos burial in
the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
The Marcos wealth and the abuses of martial law are legitimate issues
that should be considered by our countrymen in choosing the next
president in 2022.
This is not indulging in blame game and politicking, even if political
opportunists are sure to surface during this political season.
We are very close to the next elections, and the countrys
future will be shaped by the kind of leaders we will have for the
next six years.
The electorate should scrutinize the track record of those who present
themselves as the best candidate that can save the country from
its current terrible situation.
Maybe we can start with the COVID-19 response of the Duterte administration,
which has been so mismanaged and corrupted as to enable overpricing
and manipulation in the procurement of COVID-19-related medical
supplies and cause so much human misery.
As voters, we cannot be so smug and indifferent as to turn a blind
eye to the corruption and misgovernance that have afflicted the
country, and so undiscriminating as not to recognize false and pretentious
leaders whether from the past or present who have brought this curse
upon the nation.
We have to demand accountability and even retribution for their
crimes against the people - by not electing them into office and
depriving them the opportunity to commit the same transgressions
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 10 October 2021
First published Bangkok Post, Friday 8 October 2021
Re: "Selling the family silver?",
in Bangkok Post, Editorial, September 27, 2021
Thailand does not allow direct foreign ownership of land. Since
I am a foreigner, this policy works against my interests as I would
love to own a freehold home in Thailand.
But I have always admired this Thai policy because it protects the
interests of Thai citizens. That is precisely what the government
should be doing.
In many countries worldwide, there are appalling numbers of empty
homes and properties purchased by investors.
They may not need to live there, and they may never intend to. But
when investors purchase property, it becomes unavailable for would-be
I also have a different point of view to offer. Market competition
can be beneficial and improve efficiency, but the global and domestic
economies must be considered separately to protect Thai citizens.
Foreign investors will gladly walk through any door you leave open.
As I mentioned, I would like to buy a freehold house.
What do you think would happen if investors were offered a choice
between apartments and land?
Would any foreigner ever buy another condo?
How many well-heeled foreigners might there be worldwide that are
capable of investing a few million dollars in an infrequently used
"vacation home" upcountry? And what would this scenario
do to the price of real estate for average Thais, not to mention
the poorest and most at-risk?
Thailand appears to be taking reasoned steps towards rebuilding
I am gratified that although there are differences of opinion about
what approaches to take and what to prioritise, there is a vibrant,
spirited debate and well-intentioned effort.
Please do not compromise Thai ownership of the country for a one-time
gain of foreign investment. Preserve Thai land for Thailand.
Papua New Guinea terms
of agreement with ExxonMobile
for Papua New Guinea
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 8 October 2021
First published in the National, Thursday 7 October 2021
The Governments negotiation team recently met
with ExxonMobil executives in Houston, Texas, United States.
Prime Minister James Marape, ExxonMobil president for up-stream
Liam Mallon and other executives were part of the meeting.
The gas agreement, as highlighted in the meeting, captures key fiscal,
regulatory and licensing terms negotiated over the last two months.
The terms set in the meeting are good for the country.
It is a commendable move Marape and the negotiation team.
The Government, under Marape, has made a bold decision which reflects
a win-win solution for the State and the developer.
The first negotiation failed.
The government had to find another way around.
I remember the original development plan, mooted in 2018, called
for the development of Pnyang as a one train liquefied natural
gas (LNG) addition to the existing two-train PNG LNG project.
In 2019, a set of fiscal terms of Papua LNG project was agreed upon,
but Pnyang segment of the plan collapsed last year when ExxonMobil
would not agree to the Governments push for increased benefits
and walked away from the negotiation.
Despite a dark moment, Peter Larden, the new managing director for
ExxonMobil PNG, said he hoped new negotiations would be fruitful.
The recent discussion of Pnyang gas agreement in Houston ended
with a better deal, a deal that is promising for our landowners
and the Government.
In addition to all the entitlements, the States take is at
63 per cent in the deal, compared to 49 percent in PNG LNG and 51
per cent in Papua.
This is made possible by increasing production levy of 3 per cent
and the State equity (including the commercial purchase) being at
32.5 per cent compared to just 19.5 per cent in the PNG LNG and
22.5 per cent in Papua.
I believe the prime minister has achieved a significant milestone
in the history of PNGs extractive industry.
The construction cost of both projects will exceed K25 billion.
I believe this would be a tremendous investment and our economy
should pick up once PNG produces and exports gas all the way to
What a deal.
Papua New Guinea
to become an economic power
The Southeast Asian Times, Friday 8 October 2021
First published in the National, Wednesday 6 October 2021
Bougainville President Ishmael Toroama should split Bougainville
into special free trade zones or economic corridors and encourage
manufacturing and downstream processing for all our commodities.
Develop and declare three seaports and airports of Buka, Kieta,
and Buin into world-class international entry and exit ports.
Redevelop Arawa town, which will become the capital city of Bougainville.
Satellite towns should be built in all the districts of Bougainville.
This is to ensure Bougainville has a strong currency and will allow
trade with other economies.
Ensure the central bank of Bougainville looks after and manages
all the wealth of Bougainville, including Bougainvilles sovereign
No foreign banks should look after and manage the wealth of Bougainville,
the central bank of Bougainville should do it.
The people should not be paper-figure observers, but be real custodians
and managers of their wealth.
Any foreign countries that want to have monetary trade with Bougainville
should come and do it in Bougainville.
With these suggestions, I hope Bougainville becomes an economic
power in the Pacific.
Bougainville can assist other countries in terms of development.
It can provide aid to other countries.
It should build world-class research institutions, health and education
Bougainville will not necessarily need a sophisticated military
force to protect its national security because it will use niche
diplomacy as a national security tool
It will only have a paramilitary unit in its police service to ensure
the safety of everyone and to respond to other internal security
Papua New Guinea
Slow tourism recovery
Forcast for Thailand
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 7 October 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday 6 October 2021
Re: "Collection of B500 fee from foreigners
starts next year", in Bangkok Post, Business,
October 4, 2021.
I have been stranded in Thailand since March last year.
I read the Bangkok Post almost daily, though in some places the printed
edition is not available.
I was reading many predictions by the boss of the Tourism Authority
of Thailand, Yuthasak Supasorn.
As an experienced tour guide and travel agent for 30 years, I have
been laughing all year about his forecasts for millions of foreign
Last year, my forecast was a slow recovery in April 2022. It looks
like I am not too far off.
Who protects the head of the Tourism Authority of Thailand TAT?
Is he a relative of Coup Minister Prayut (minister for everything)
or just related to a family of the Thai Tatmadaw?
In all Western countries he would have lost his job a long time ago.
Even in today's Bangkok Post article, it seems like he just rolled
his dice to any seven-digit number.
Believe me, there are many cheaper countries in Asia than Thailand,
which has a ridiculously high alcohol tax similar to Muslim nations
like Malaysia and Indonesia.
I've come to Thailand probably 100 times since 1993, when I spent
one night in Bangkok.
I had to, because of the famous song.
I stayed at the Dusit. It was still the Land of Smiles.
During my 19-month "Covid stay" here, the friendliest
people have been immigrant workers from Myanmar.
In 2019 I visited Vietnam four times, because for my nationality 15
days are visa-free.
I flew in to Ho Chi Minh, left via Danang, flew into Nha Trang, left
from Haiphong, etc.
As a writer (Lung Stib) to PostBag said in a letter more than a year
ago, Thailand is a failed state.
And I agree!
Call for Catholic politicians
To campaign on teachings of the Church
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 6 October 2021
First published in Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday 5 October
Time and again, Catholic bishops say there is no such
thing as a Catholic Vote. In fact, they do not
even endorse candidates or support politicians during elections.
But they continue to shepherd the flock and enlighten Catholic voters
on the prudent use of their freedom to select the next leaders of
Bishops are often quoted as saying that the faithful should vote
according to their conscience.
Catholics with their informed conscience, they say, are free to
discharge their grave and moral responsibility to vote their own
candidates according to the principles and teachings of the Church,
on the belief that an informed conscience leads to an informed vote.
Its about time the Church should catalog the performance of
Catholic politicians, especially on how they stand on issues of
We Catholic faithful may rather support a non-Catholic politician
who lives a public life reflecting the Gospel values than a Catholic
politician who openly opposes the teachings of the Church.
We therefore challenge Catholic politicians to become proxies of
the living Church and be moral exemplars and leaders of our times.
We ask them to stand by the commitment of the Church regarding the
political, social, moral, and economic issues besetting our society.
Their political actions and decisions should be reflective of their
enlightened faith and the teachings of the Church.
for investigation into Covid-19 vaccination
With empty syringe
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 6 October 2021
First published in the Star, Monday 4 October 2021
Deputy Health Minister I Datuk Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali
must be applauded for the quick reassurance he gave to the public
on the case of the empty syringe at a Covid-19 vaccination centre,
Dr Noor Azmi: Empty syringe was an accident, 12-year-old
boy got vaccine immediately after in The Star Saturday
2 October 2021.
He said it was a genuine mistake by the vaccinator, and described
it as an on-duty mistake or human error.
He was referring to a video, which went viral on social media, showing
a vaccinator at the Vaccination Centre in Universiti Malaya plunging
the wrong empty syringe into the arm of a 12-year-old child.
Despite the deputy ministers assurance that action against
the staff had been taken to ensure such an incident would not recur,
some questions still remain, and these must be addressed in order
to restore full confidence in the vaccination process among the
If one examines the video carefully, it can be clearly seen that
besides picking up the wrong syringe, the vaccinator did not press
This fact would cast doubts on the assertion that the episode was
And if she had pressed the plunger, the lack of resistance would
have immediately alerted her to the fact that the syringe was empty.
Having jabbed many a person, it is inconceivable that the health
worker could not have forgotten to press the plunger.
Saying that it was a mistake seems to be a convenient way to avoid
a full-scale investigation into what could be the tip of an iceberg.
It is therefore incumbent upon ProtectHealth, which conducted the
investigation and advised the health authorities, to do a complete
investigation to assuage the troubled rakyat.
We do not wish to see the laudable work done by the Health Ministry
so far sullied by any deliberate despicable act.
It seems to be a good move, as stated by the deputy health minister,
to allow parents to witness their childrens vaccination process,
but this is like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.
We want to know how many horses are now roaming
free, posing a threat to others as well as to themselves.
The public are concerned.
Did they really receive the vaccines?
Do they now have to go for antibody tests?
These are searching questions that cannot be answered in a cavalier
It calls for a full investigation and for the findings to be made
When we exhort the public to take the jabs, it is incumbent upon
us to keep them fully informed of the benefits and risks, if any,
along the way.
That is the responsible thing to do.
I concur with Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, chairman of Alliance for Safe
Community, when he said incidents of empty syringes being used during
the vaccination process should be viewed more seriously and should
not be swept under the carpet.
He also said these incidents could lead to those who had been vaccinated
doubting the integrity of their jabs.
He has asked, and I support him, that the authorities should quickly
release the results of investigations into previous allegations
of empty syringes.
Supreme Court ruled a hero's burial
For late President
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 4 October 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 30 September
In his column The Supreme Court as historian
in Philippine Inquirer September 23, 2021, retired Supreme
Court justice Antonio Carpio wrote: Those who seek to revise
the historical narrative of the Marcos plunder during martial law
will run against a formidable wall of authoritative decisions of
the Supreme Court which were rendered after the Marcoses were duly
Indeed, numerous decisions of the highest court of the land had
long settled the issue of whether or not the Marcos family was a
bunch of thieves after finding ill-gotten wealth in their Swiss
bank accounts amounting to almost $670 million, and ordering the
same forfeited in favor of the petitioner Republic of the
But not so fast, Justice Carpio.
The same Supreme Court virtually hailed the late dictator, Ferdinand
Marcos, a hero deserving to be buried at the
Libingan ng mga Bayani in its 2016 decision by a majority of nine
votes - three of them by Atenean justices, Arturo Brion, Mariano
del Castillo, both retired; and Estela Perlas-Bernabe, retiring
in May 2022.
That heros burial would never have happened
and Marcos carcass would have remained in a refrigerated coffin
had the latter three justices dissented or at least abstained as
the five dissenting justices had, resisting President Dutertes
importuning to accommodate the Marcoses, who had extended financial
support to his election campaign.
Dahil lang sa pera, niyurakan ang dangal ng Pilipinas.
We became the laughingstock of the whole world.
That 2016 decision being the latest from the Supreme Court concerning
the despicable rule of the late dictator, all those prior pronouncements
adverse or derogatory to Marcos seem to have become meaningless
now in the face of the heroism judicially bestowed
No wonder the Marcos heirs have now found the gall to rewrite history
to conform to the heroism of their disgraced patriarch.
And, to the disgust of many, this is all thanks to the three Atenean
magistrates who should be remembered for having been too confused
to tell the difference between a hero and a world-class thief.
Scarlet S. Sytangco.\,
ban in Thai restuarants
Gives rise to generation of state-at-home
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday October 3, 2021
First published in Bangkok Post, Friday October 1, 2021
As we slowly awaken from this Covid-19 nightmare,
I hope the government will learn lessons from its disastrous and
repeated alcohol restrictions.
Thailand's arcane alcohol laws conflict with its desire to become
a premium tourist destination.
The stupidity of restricting sales for three hours in the afternoon
speaks for itself.
The knee-jerk blanket ban on alcohol in restaurants has served not
only to fuel police corruption, but has also given rise to a whole
generation of stay-at-home alcoholics.
God knows what damage this has done to the health of the nation.
I do not call for a "free-for-all" over alcohol,
but we must stop the process of demonising it.
The recent hint that the tax on wine may be reduced is a step in
the right direction.
Please, no more nonsensical restrictions that continue to blight
Call for investigation
into Thai Airways
Purchase of Rolls-Royce jet engines
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 2 October 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Thursday 28 September
Re: "Thaksin linked to THAI's losses", in
Bangkok Post, September 18, 2021
It is unfortunate but not necessarily illegal when
national leaders make bad policy decisions.
Surely, Thai Airways THAI was not the only airline in the world
to purchase the A340 aircraft, which are now widely recognised as
The fact that the planes led to Thai Airways THAI losing large sums
of money for years after their purchase is not itself an indication
That said, I'm all in favour of investigating the background of
the purchase of the planes with a view to increasing transparency
and uncovering possible malfeasance. At the same time, it would
be very appropriate for investigators to look into deals that Thai
Airways THAI made for Rolls-Royce jet engines between 1991 and 2005.
If anyone needs reminding, in 2017, Rolls-Royce admitted to British
fraud investigators that bribes were paid to Thai intermediaries.
Sadly, Thai investigators never saw fit to probe the cases or even
request related evidence from Rolls-Royce or the UK Serious Fraud
Call for Covid-19 testing
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 1 October 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Saturday 25 September
Re: "Disease law set for change",
in Bangkok Post, September 22, 2021
Instead of requiring all foreigners to be vaccinated before entering
Thailand, which is no guarantee they are clear of Covid 19, why
not just test them before entering the country?
Hell, you could even test them on the airplane.
And if they test positive you can quarantine them until they recover.
My proposal is cost-effective and could help revive the tourism
But any suggestion that doesn't benefit the vaccine industry will
never be considered.
I am convinced that all this obsession with vaccines is about money,
not health. And if I'm wrong then why not go ahead with my proposal?
nations, cultures, customs and traditions
Are all at heart human fictions
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 30 September 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Tuesday 28 September
Re: "China's Xi warns of 'grim' Taiwan
situation in letter to opposition", in Bangkok Post
September 26, 2021.
More humans need to realise that countries and nations, along with
cultures, customs, and traditions, are all at heart only human fictions,
as historian Yuval Harari correctly explains in his justly famous
book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (2015).
Mindless faith in blind nationalism or spurious ethnic myths notwithstanding,
should be irrelevant to its right to self-determination today.
If the people on the piece of land called Taiwan, or Tibet, or Texas,
or Catalonia, or Australia, or whatever do not want to be Chinese,
or American, or Spanish, or British, or whatever, that is for them
to decide today constrained only by just contractual agreements
Should they wish the people currently occupying some piece of real
estate to remain within the same fiction that is a nation, it is
for China, the United States, or Britain to persuade those citizens
to freely remain in that organisational structure. Force or threats
of force already betray any pretence to respecting the rights of
for deportation of foreigners
In Papua New Guinea with illegal visas
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 29 September 2021
First published in the National, Friday 24 September 2021
I commend the taskforce team that includes officers
from Immigration and Citizenship Authority and police officers for
confiscating illegal visas from foreigners who knowingly abuse the
laws of this country and making a mockery out of it.
While the authority is making money from fines, these foreigners
should be detained at Bomana Immigration Centre and deported to
their home countries.
These foreigners know how weak our systems are.
What are fines compared to them living and running business illegally?
Paying a fine is too easy for some of them.
They will pay you, then what?
It is recommended these foreigners should be detained and be deported
Throughout Papua New Guinea, foreigners operate in groups, so the
more we become too relaxed by just collecting fines, more will take
advantage of our weak system and continue to live and operate illegally.
For example; if you go to Australia and your visa expires and you
continue to reside illegally and work, you will automatically be
deported and blacklisted from travelling back to Australia once
you are caught by Australian authorities.
The same should be done for foreigners in Papua New Guinea.
Our laws should be respected.
Papua New Guinea
Contract awarded to Pharmally
a sweetheart deal
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday September 28, 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday September
Congressmen said the Senate blue ribbon committees
investigation of the transfer of COVID-19 funds from the Department
of Health to the Department of Budget and Management is meant to
destroy the President.
Far from it.
The President himself said he requested Michael Yang, a Chinese
national and a long-time Davao businessman, to help Pharmally Pharmaceutical
Corp., a newly organized trading company with a capital of only
P625,000 and with no track record.
The award of the P8.7 billion contract to Pharmally is a sweetheart
deal. One who has P42 billion will not even think of talking to
a new entity with only P625,000 capital, no declared income, and
no track record.
The award to Pharmally is grossly disadvantageous to the government;
it calls for a thorough investigation for violation of the Anti-Graft
and Corrupt Practices Act.
In a similar situation, Malacañang would say: If
they have nothing to hide, they should let the hearings continue.
J. Ferrer, Jr.,
Manila streets renamed
United States in 1946
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 27 September 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 24 September
This is not the first time were renaming a street.
We do this rather often.
We renamed Forbes Avenue to Lacson Avenue, Divisoria to Salas Street,
Echague to Carlos Palanca, Morayta to Nicanor Reyes just to name
There are about 170 streets in Manila alone that have been renamed
after we gained independence from the Americans in 1946. Historian
Gregorio Zaide said this is a fruit of bigoted nationalism.
And yet up to now, people still use the name Divisoria, Forbes,
Echague, and Morayta.
This phenomenon shows both a lack of historical sense and collective
memory when we change the name and also the presence of both when
we still use the old names.
It would be good to foster in our people greater historical sense
and true patriotism in contrast to nationalism by preserving the
old names of our streets and using the names of people in our history
to name new streets.
If a street has had the same name for some generations, perhaps
it would be wiser not to change the name anymore.
As we can see, even if we change the name, the old one is still
used by the people.
Other countries seldom change the names of streets, so that some
street names are preserved even for centuries.
For example, the Via Appia in Rome was built about 300 BC.
It still exists, and it still has the same name.
The street and the name teach us a lot of history.
Fr. Cecilio L. Magsino,
day jail sentence for corruption
For Malaysian senior federal council
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday September 26, 2021
First published in the Star, Saturday September 18, 2021
Anti-Curruption campaigners were startled by the decision
of the Sessions Court in Butterworth last month to sentence a senior
federal counsel to jail for one day and a fine of RM130,000 after
he pleaded guilty to three charges of accepting bribes amounting
to RM700,000 last year.
They would have been quick to point out that in contrast, more severe
sentences have been meted out in cases of petty theft, such as on
a labourer in Terengganu who was jailed 15 months for stealing petai,
and on an unemployed man who was sentenced to 10 months jail
for stealing RM50 from a fund belonging to a mosque.
Under the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009,
punishment for corruption-related offences are imprisonment for
a term not exceeding 20 years, and a fine of not less than five
times the sum of the gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher.
The previous Anti-Corruption Act (ACA) 1997 carried a more severe
punishment, namely a mandatory jail sentence of not less than 14
days and not exceeding 20 years and fines amounting to five times
the bribe amount or RM10,000 (whichever is higher).
In comparison, under Section 406 of the Penal Code, penalty for
criminal breach of trust (CBT) is imprisonment for a term which
shall not be less than one year and not more than 10 years and with
The convicted person would also be liable to a fine.
For cheating, the penalty under Section 420 of the Penal Code is
imprisonment for a term of not less than one year and not more than
10 years and with whipping, and also a fine.
Corruption is far more serious when compared with other offences
such as criminal breach of trust CBT, cheating and even homicide
because it has far-reaching consequences.
Compared to, for example homicide, which generally involves the
offender and the victims family, corruption affects the wider
public as the money could otherwise have been used on healthcare
services or in the building of new schools and roads.
The theory of deterrence developed by Hobbes, Beccaria and Bentham
states that the more severe a punishment, the more likely
that offenders will desist from criminal acts.
Therefore, the one-day jail sentence for corruption cases should
It would be more appropriate under the Malaysian Anti-Corruption
Commission (MACC) MACC Act 2009 to impose a mandatory jail time
of at least two months with a minimum of two strokes of the rotan
plus a fine.
A heavier sentence coupled with a longer prison term with whipping
will open the eyes of the public to the fact that corruption will
surely lead to the ruin of not only the persons involved but their
entire family as well.
Datuk Seri Akhbar Satar,
Malaysia Association of Certified Fraud Examiners,
Senate digs up evidence
of plunder in investigation
Into shenanigans of President Dutertes
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 25 September 2021
First published in the Philippines, Tuesday 21 September 2021
The commentary Politics as farce
by Gino Paje in Philippine Inquirer, September 14, 2021 contended
that the ongoing investigation by the Senate blue ribbon committee
of the shenanigans of President Dutertes friends and associates
known as the Davao group is just politics,
given that the main investigators used to play footsie with Mr.
Duterte and are now eyeing elective positions in 2022.
However, regardless of their motives, the Senate probers are actually
doing a great service to the Filipino people.
They are destroying the myth that Mr. Duterte is an invincible opponent,
by exposing the massive corruption in his administration.
It has now become clear that hundreds of millions of public funds
intended to address a raging pandemic wound up in the pockets of
the Presidents greedy Davao group.
And the farther Mr. Duterte goes out of his way to protect his boys,
the more guilty as hell he looks.
But there is one thing that needs to be reckoned with in spite of
all the compelling evidence of plunder thats being dug up
in the Senate: Only the Department of Justice and the Office of
the Ombudsman are authorized by law to commence criminal prosecution
But with the officials running these government offices afraid of
displeasing Mr. Duterte, who else can hold the crooks accountable?
Thus, its all up to the electorate if they still want more
of the same, or they will finally save this country from going to
Rey C. Escobar,
The military and government
a functioning democracy
Southeast Asian Times, Friday Septemeber 24, 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday September 20,
Re: "Coup anniversary fizzer",
in Bangkok Post, Sunday September 19, 2021.
Gen Sonthi said "there are different types of democracy
and Thailand should find one that fits its needs".
It is true that democracy spans a range of institutional arrangements.
But functioning democracies share several principles: the people
elect the government; political institutions support and maintain
their choices; the government serves the country; the military and
the government are distinct, not overlapping, entities; and the
military serves the country, not the government.
Thailand has a long way to go before it can claim to be a functioning
Espionage comes to mind
with Chinese national appointment
As Philippine presidential advisor on economic
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 23 September 2021
First published in Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday 21 September
Michael Yang of the Pharmally scandal is a Chinese
national doing business in Davao City.
Mr. Duterte has trusted this man as a friend for decades, and in
fact appointed him at one point as a presidential adviser
on economic affairs.
How that patently unlawful designation was justified by Malacañang
is as clear as mud. Yangs connection with the Chinese Communist
Party is quite evident from the fact that a Chinese ambassador to
the Philippines was said to have had no problem sleeping over in
It would thus be the height of naivete for anyone to believe that
Yang is only a businessman.
Doesnt espionage come to mind?
Never mind the oxymoron, but is that part of the Armed Forces of
the Philippines doing military intelligence
okay with Yang traipsing the corridors of power and getting privy
to practically everything that President Duterte has been doing
all these years?
New normal industrial-era
Will weaken education mafia in Thailand
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 22 September 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday 20 September 2021
Re: "Classroom enhances the value of learning",
in Bangkok Post Opinion, September 18.
Mr Ferguson makes some excellent observations about the virtues
of classroom or on-campus teaching and learning.
We are the products of the industrial-era model of the brick-and-mortar
system where we had all kinds of experiences the good, bad, and
It is quite possible that in the "new normal," the
industrial-era model of education, focusing on time, process, and
teaching, will be eclipsed by online learning rooted in outcomes.
In the past two years of the pandemic, students have discovered
their potential to learn by themselves.
The drastic changes in their behaviour will not allow them to go
back easily to the usual conformity and compliance most instructors
in Thailand expect.
There is enough evidence to support the idea that the institutional
control of education will decrease, and the power of students will
With near-universal access to digital devices and the internet,
students will seek from the education sector the same things they
are getting from other sectors, such as the music, movies, gaming,
and eCommerce industries.
Online learning entities will drive up competition and drive down
The education mafia in Thailand which has been squeezing families
with its deceptive advertising and exorbitant fees for decades will
We should all come to terms with the fact that in the post-pandemic
era the dominance of degrees will diminish.
According to experts, non-degree certifications and diplomas and
"just in time" education will increase in status
and value. In reality, education is all about experiences, not necessarily
confined to schools or classrooms.
The "golden era of ivory towers" is over.
Online learning and students themselves will now drive reforms.
Face shields a symbol
of waste and corruption
Under Deterte administration
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 21 September 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 16 September
We echo the assertion of some senators that face shields
add little or even no protection against COVID-19 infections.
It adds to plastic pollution aside from being an unnecessary expense
We are outraged to learn in the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing
that the government procured overpriced face shields.
Face shields are important for medical workers, but under the Duterte
administration, these items have become a symbol of waste and corruption.
It is useless to convince the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management
of Emerging Infectious Diseases to reconsider its order for the
mandatory use of face shields, that is why they are now appealing
to local government units to stop requiring the use of face shields
in their respective jurisdictions.
The optional use of face shields will hopefully partially reduce
plastic garbage aside from removing an inconvenient financial burden
on our people.
We ask the government to make a concrete plan on how to properly
dispose of the plastic mess they had created, and to make officials
and so-called experts accountable for legitimizing the improper
use of public funds for an irrational pandemic policy.
Kevin Paul Aguayon,
Nilad Metro Manila Environmental Network,
Elite Card program to attract rich foreigners
to be a boondoggle
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 20 September 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday 19 September 2021
Re: "Govt to entice rich expats,"
in Bangkok Post September 15, 2021
Once again it shows how misplaced the Thai government's notions
If you have to invest $500,000, have a yearly income of $80,000,
buy $100,000 insurance, and have few thousand dollars of loose change
to enjoy yourself, why in the world would you relocate to Thailand?
Why not Portugal, Italy, Istanbul, or Mexico?
I must say that Thai officials do live in some La-La Land thinking
that rich people around the world are ready to flock to Thailand
with a load of money to rescue the Thai economy!
The Thai Elite Card programme touted to attract rich foreigners
has proved to be a boondoggle.
The Covid crisis has already hammered the Thai travel sector.
Sandbox and other novel experiments are not working.
So why come up with more of the same ideas?
Albert Einstein is widely credited with saying, "The definition
of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting
Instead, the government must pay more attention to expats who are
already inside. The retired foreigners who live here and own condos,
and are married to Thai women, and spending lots of money supporting
the Thai economy are subjected to 90-day reporting and the annual
pilgrimage to immigration offices.
Why not allow these insiders to own land and provide them work permits
and a 10-year visa?
The Thai government should entice this group to invest more, rather
than coming up with exotic ideas to attract new expats during this
Police torture of supects
Standard practice in Thailand
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 19 September 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Thursday 16 September
Re: "Anti-torture bill overdue,"
Bangkok Post Editorial,
September 14, 2021"
This bill was written primarily to prevent rogue officials from
But seriously, does the Bangkok Post leader-writer know for sure
that torture involving police is "rogue behaviour?"
Police putting plastic bags over the heads of suspects during interrogation
has been documented time and again.
It was even once demonstrated in parliament.
The group of policemen in the Joe Ferrari fatal torture clip didn't
seem at all surprised at the method being used; just another day
at the office.
Is police torture really rogue behaviour, or simply standard practice?
Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong"
Romualdez Marcos Jr.,
violation of separation of powers
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday September 18, 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday September
Bong Go Marcos is an incumbent senator.
Despite his election to that national position, he has remained
the most prominent member of President Dutertes presidential
Former senator Serge Osmeña has derisively called Go Dutertes
But Go is more than a caregiver.
He is, aside from being Mr. Dutertes gofer, a de facto Cabinet
member, right-hand man, enabler, and overall surrogate.
His being all of the above almost all of the time, and on Senate
time from where he draws handsome compensation, is a blatant violation
of the separation of powers. It smacks of out and out opportunism.
By acting as he does, Go demeans his exalted position as senator,
a mandate given to him as a gift by the Filipino people to whom
he owes a sacred obligation that must be discharged with utmost
honesty and fidelity.
Go should stop straddling the legislative and executive divide.
He should realize the blatant anomaly in what he is doing. It is
conflict of interest and corruption of the worst kind.
Go should resign forthwith from the Senate to become Mr. Dutertes
full-time caregiver, gofer, de facto Cabinet member, right-hand
man, enabler, and overall surrogate.
By doing so, he shall have reduced the number of Duterte lackeys
and toadies in the Senate.
US expat in Thailand looks
Chinese and Korean movies
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 17 September 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday 13 September 2021
I see Disney has cancelled Fox Sports Asia as it consolidates
its streaming platform.
The loss of this international sports broadcast outlet just adds
to the frustration of US expats who have already seen the demise
of Major League Baseball, Nascar Racing and NCAA college football.
This Fox channel provided coverage of the four Grand Slam tennis
tournaments, the F1 racing season and other international sporting
Not to worry though, True says we can depend on its eight branded
networks for quality sports programming. Currently being shown are
the NFL pre-season, which ended two weeks ago, the 2020/2021 NBA
season, which ended two months ago, and three tennis tournaments.
In addition, this 76-year-old US expat can look forward to a new
Chinese movie station, a new Korean movie station, a new kids station
and a new gaming-centred station.
We lost HBO and Showtime for Warner and Paramount.
Anyone see a trend here?
Duterte connected with contract awarded to
Pharmaceutical Corp for Covid-19 equipment
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 16 September 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday 14 September
The Davao connection is all over
the transfer of P42 billion COVID-19 funds from the Department of
Health to the Department of Budget and Management in March 2020.
Lloyd Christopher Lao, who hails from Davao, is a fraternity brother
of President Duterte, and is a former undersecretary in the Presidential
Management Staff under Christopher Bong Go, approved the supply
contracts with Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp.
Pharmally had a paid-up capital of only P625,000, and had no declared
income in 2019.
Pharmally officials were personally introduced to Mr. Duterte in
March 2017 by Michael Yang, his former adviser on economic affairs
who is also from Davao City.
The pattern is unmistakable: The Davao connection is entrenched
in government corruption.
All good men and women should stay focused on the Senate blue ribbon
committee investigation to see what other connections it can reveal.
Jose J. Ferrer Jr.,
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 15 September, 2021
With reference to the Reuters report India,
Australia security ties ( 12/9 )
I hope the security ties ( read, military and military intelligence
ties ) will not take away resources and Indian Prime Minister Narendra
Modis plan to build more public toilets for the people of
Mismanagement of Philippines
Trigger protest action from health workers
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 14 September 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 10 September
As Covid-19 has raged on, corruption in government
has also been exposed.
The report on the health departments mismanagement of P67
billion for the pandemic response has triggered protest actions
by health workers from public and private hospitals.
Their protest actions have gathered tremendous support and sympathy
from different sectors, the public, doctors, and other health professionals.
Even the World Health Organization has recognized the health workers
Who are responsible for the plunder of public funds?
It was to lawyer Lloyd Christopher Lao of the Procurement Service
of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) that Health
Secretary Francisco Duque III entrusted P42.4 billion of the Department
of Health (DOH) funds. President Duterte admitted he had appointed
Lao to the PS-DBM. Lao was Mr. Dutertes election lawyer in
Lao was also the assistant secretary at the Office of the Special
Assistant to the President, formerly headed by Sen. Christopher
What about Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp.?
This is a subsidiary company of Pharmally International Holding
Company; its executives are associates of Mr. Dutertes former
economic adviser Michael Yang, and these executives have active
criminal cases in Taiwan for alleged manipulation of stocks.
On March 17, 2017, Mr. Duterte was in a meeting with Pharmally executives
and Yang, as Malacañang video footage shows.
It is a big question why Mr. Duterte has been defending Yang, Duque,
and Lao while at the same time castigating the Commission on Audit
and the senators investigating the P42-billion anomalous transaction
of the DOH. He has admitted ordering Duque to transfer the amount
to fast-track the procurement of medical supplies without bidding.
Duque has also admitted his failure to execute a memorandum of agreement
with the PS-DBM.
Who will be made to account for what is turning out to be premeditated
plunder, in the words of Sen. Franklin Drilon?
As the Senate investigation continues, people are hoping that such
investigation will not only be in aid of legislation, but, more
importantly, will lead to convictions. I am one of them.
Ruth Elio, registered nurse,
National Council Health Alliance for Democracy Inc.,
calls on Philippines for support
Taiwan's participation in the United Nations vision
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 13 September 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 10 September
The 76th anniversary of the United Nations (UN) is
arriving when the world is still faced with the threat of the COVID-19
As highly-contagious variants of the virus continuously affect us,
the world needs a more effective UN to help recover from the COVID-19.
The UN responds by declaring the theme for this years General
Assembly, which is to be held in New York on 14-30 September 2021,
as Building resilience through hope to recover from
COVID-19, rebuild sustainability, respond to the needs of the planet,
respect the rights of people, and revitalize the United Nations.
The realization of UNs vision requires all of us at the table.
After almost a year of successfully containing the virus, Taiwan
experienced a surge of confirmed cases in mid-May this year.
Nonetheless, it has stabilized the situation with effective anti-pandemic
responses, and emerged as a more reliable partner to work with in
the global community on the fight against the COVID-19.
Taiwan has also dedicated itself to implementing the UN Sustainable
Development Goals (SDGs), and joins hands in pandemic response with
like-minded countries, including the Philippines.
Despite Taiwans effective response against the pandemic and
the important role it played in the global supply chain, the government
and people of Taiwan continuously face difficulties when attempting
to take part in the mechanisms, meetings and activities of the UN
This situation erodes the United Nations principle of universality.
Multilateral collaboration requires bilateral cooperation. As close
neighbors and maritime nations, Taiwan and the Philippines are enduring
partners which uphold the values of freedom, democracy, and the
rule of law.
The continued threat posed by the pandemic calls for the spirit
of bayanihan to bring everyone to the table.
We sincerely hope our Filipino brothers and sisters to voice their
support for Taiwans participation in the UN system.
The people of Taiwan need the international community to support
our aspirations and our right to fair treatment by the UN.
At the very least, stop turning us away at the door.
Taiwan can do much to help build a more resilient UN system.
Let Taiwan be Taiwan and it is the right time to bring Taiwan to
Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines.
Call for Hon. Senator
Emmanuel "Manny" D. Pacquiqo
To hang up his gloves
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 12 September 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 10 September
Your August 27 Philippine Inquirer, editorial,
Its time, Manny leads us to look
at the record of the accomplished boxer.
He was a Great Pretender as congressman, contending for Top Absentee.
For our people to elect him as Senator is a form of estafa.
As senator, while he occasionally criticizes the Palace, he had
two months preparing for his latest fight.
That time he could have devoted to proving his charges last June
of administration corruption.
But nothing, while our cynical people may be getting insensitive
to such claims over the decades.
Indeed, being a Great Pretender may be another form of corruption.
We dont advise that if anyone reaches a fork in the road to
Manny should hang up his gloves.
R.A.V. Saguisag Sr.,
People of Myanmar fight
against military repression
For right to live in freedom and human dignity
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 11 September 2021
On the deepening crisis in Myanmar I refer to the
article Call for Australia to make a stand in
The Fiji Times 9/9 ( first published on Devpolicy Blog from
the Development Policy Centre at the Australian National University).
Dont count on it.
Australia and the international community are good at paying lip
service on calls for the restoration of democracy following a military
The bottom line is after an initial expression of condemnation for
the takeover they find ways to return to business as usual with
the rogue regime to further their own vested economic interests.
They are driven by whats political expedient for them and
not whats right for the oppressed people of Myanmar and elsewhere.
Six months after the military takeover and brutal military crackdown
in Myanmar if Australia has not taken a solid stand what does that
The people of Myanmar will have to fight against the tyranny of
military repression and for their right to live in freedom and human
police officer accused of murder
mask on at press conference
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 10 September
First published in the Bangkok Post, Saturday 4 September
Ferrari' denies all accusations", in Bangkok
Post, August 29,
Watching from beginning to end on Thursday the press conferences
organised by the Royal Thai Police on the arrest of Police Colonel
Thitisan Utthanaphon - the suspect accused of torturing and murder
of a drug suspect - I couldn't help thinking something fishy was
First, at the first news conference to showcase the suspect in front
of the public, the police generals failed to remove the mask covering
the suspect's face.
This led to speculations and suspicion concerning the true identity
of the suspect. The suspect on display seemed to be smaller and
thinner than he should have been.
Second, during the second press conference late in the evening,
the suspect was not shown, but was allowed to answer questions via
a phone-in - it looks like the suspect has been given a chance to
Also, cross-questioning by reporters was not fully allowed. The
police generals who were present also refused to answer important
questions concerning the case.
Lastly, instead of improving its image through these press conferences,
the Royal Thai Police seems to have plunged to a new low.
It would have been better if this seemingly half-hearted and illusory
press conference never happened.
On waging war against its own people
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 9 September 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday 7 September
Amid the controversy over the Department of Health
and the Procurement Service-Department of the Budget and Management
anomalies that were flagged by the Commission on Audit, the issue
of the P28.1 billion budget being requested for the National Task
Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) has been
lost in the din.
It appears to us that this government is hell-bent on waging war
against its own people who are airing grievances over what they
see as a lack of government support in their hour of need, and even
for simply establishing community pantries as a means to help those
affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz was red-tagged when she asked
the private sector for assistance in preparing for the Tokyo Olympics.
The people involved in the community pantries were Red-tagged, too.
Their only sin was to help the needy amid the pandemic.
But while millions are suffering, those in government are swimming
in humongous funds that they allocate for themselves.
The irony of it all is, why is this government waging a war against
what it sees as local communists while at the same time cavorting
with Communist China?
If the government has not been remiss in its job of looking after
the well-being of its people, there will be little protest and few
If there is no corruption in government, there will be fewer poor
people in this country.
And if the problems mentioned above are nonexistent, there is no
need for that white elephant called the NTF-Elcac.
Wanted U.S. resources
in pivot to Indo-Pacific
To balance China's aggression policies
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 8 September 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday 5 September 2021
pivot to free, open Indo-Pacific", Bangkok
Post, Opinion, September 3, 2021.
Yes, after two decades of efforts to build democracy in a tribal
land, the US military has gone home.
There is no doubt that the Afghan clans and tribes will go back
to fighting among themselves.
This age-old pattern will unfold soon.
Any society where one holy book or scripture becomes the basis of
life is doomed. A society where people treat guns as ornaments will
As a consequence, they will hunt down each other and also harm the
It is happening in the USA.
It is quite customary in Afghanistan, tribal areas of Pakistan,
and many other countries.
An enlightened and liberal society can only be built through tolerance
to the diversity of faith, religions, cultures, and opinions. Nation-building
requires educated masses and robust economies.
Preserving the sanctity of human life is what is missing in the
Middle East, Africa, and other parts of the world.
The Taliban and the IS may gather steam from US withdrawal and may
again start new adventures into Southeast Asia.
Once again, Pakistan and Afghanistan will turn into a safe haven
for radicalised and extremist groups.
The whole region from India's northern territories, from Kashmir
to the border of Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and
China, will face the rise of Islamist radicals.
I also doubt the Biden administration will put resources in its
Indo-Pacific pivot to balance China's aggressive policies.
Just like the USA, China's incursions within the region will backfire.
It will also pay the price for its misadventures.
Waiting for Godot
In Pattaya and Phuket
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 7 September 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday 5 September 2021
Re: "Pattaya needs sustainability",
Bangkok Post Editorial, September 3, 2021
I agree: sustainability is the answer.
But is "sustainability" in Pattaya and Phuket only
achieved by resurrecting
"beer bar tourism?"
The current hope of a renewed Walking Street boom is like an expectation
for the return of dinosaurs.
Thailand is like the play Waiting for Godot on that score
an unfounded fantasy that may or may never be realised given the
rapidly changing realities of business/tourism travel internationally.
In the past 18 months of this Covid disaster we have only heard
from the government about restarting tourism.
Never a suggestion that, instead of filling defunct hotels and soapy
massage parlours, that we could build technical colleges as quickly
as temporary field hospitals, that would house and train Thailand's
youth with skills-based education to fill new factories and businesses.
It beats waiting for the beer bars to reopen. There's a future waiting
and a great political opportunity for the visionary.
In a plutocracy the plutocrates
to take care of themselves
Southeast Asian Times, Monday September 6, 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday September 1,
shots start 'next month'", in Bangkok Post
August 30, 2021
In countries where every human life is considered to have value,
governments, even those which are otherwise inept, regard it as
their responsibility to keep their populations alive. In the context
of Covid-19 this has meant doing everything possible to vaccinate
their whole population.
Because even the first shot of a vaccine can offer substantial protection,
the length of time between the two prescribed shots was lengthened
from three weeks to up to 12 weeks in some cases.
This was in order to ensure some protection for the greatest number
Compare the situation in an imaginary plutocracy.
There, the plutocrats' first duty is to take care of themselves.
They will handle the contracts for purchasing vaccines and, in the
process, increase their own wealth.
More importantly, they will ensure that they, their families and
friends are at the front of the queue for vaccinations.
They will get their second shots after three weeks because only
their lives are important, never mind the fact that the vast majority
of the population cannot get even their first jab.
Once they learn though that a third,
booster, vaccination can give them still better protection, they
will grab those too. In other words, to hell with the general populace.
So long as the betters, the important people, the elite, hi-sos
or whatever are taken care of, everything is hunky-dory.
Plastic bags drawn over
drug suspect's head
prevent him seeing police officers faces
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 5 September 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Saturday 4 September
Re: "Fears mount cops will shield 'Joe
Ferrari'", in Bangkok Post August 28, 2021.
"I covered the suspect's head with plastic bags to prevent
him from seeing officers' faces," says former Pol Col Thitisan
Utthanaphon, charged with murdering an alleged drug trafficker in
Ah, how we remember our childhood hours, playing games like Blind
Man's Bluff, where one child had to be blindfolded by wrapping multiple
plastic bags around their head!
Former Pol Col Thitisan is clearly not aware and as a high-ranking
police officer. How could anyone expect him to be aware that placing
a plastic bag over a suspect's head has been adjudicated by the
courts as attempted murder?
May I suggest that if the police wish illegally to hide their identity
in future interrogations, they wrap each other's heads in plastic
This may of course lead to the accidental suffocation of a few officers.
But then again, the loss of would-be anonymous torturers might actually
benefit the police in the long run.
World Bank reports that
the Philippines education system
Has much room for improvement
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 4 September 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 3 September
The Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) working
paper titled Foundational Mathematics and Reading Skills
of Filipino Students Over a Generation, which corroborates
the dismal findings on our basic education contained in the World
Bank (WB) report, WB apologizes for PH education report;
Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) echoes findings,
in Philippine Inquirer July 10, 2021 that aggrieved the Duterte
administration, particularly the Department of Education (DepEd),
has resurfaced on the internet after around a month of disappearance.
Was the temporary removal perhaps prompted by the reaction of the
government to the World Bank report?
It was taken down a few days after the World Bank bowed to the demand
of Education Secretary Leonor Briones and Finance Secretary Carlos
Dominguez III for the bank to apologize over the report and take
down the report from its website.
The Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) paper then reappeared
under the name of main author Takiko Igarashi and is no longer on
the website of the Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI).
Most interestingly, the last paragraph of the conclusion, which
contained the verdict of the authors on the effectivity of our education
system to impart foundational skills, has been deleted.
The missing paragraph is as follows: Considering the Philippines
status as a low-middle income country, improving the quality of
the education system must remain a matter of national priority.
The likelihood for the country to achieve high income status would
be determined, first, by its ability to ensure that all students
master foundational skills. Our findings, together with the results
from international assessments, show that the Philippines educational
system still has much room for quality improvement.
Before the arm-twisting of the World Bank, the DepEd leadership
went all out to discredit the article 70,000 Bicol pupils
cant read DepEd in this papers Feb. 17, 2020 issue.
It branded the report as exaggerated, inaccurate,
even malicious and shoddy.
In a press conference in Malacañang on that same day, Briones
argued that there could not be 70,000 nonreaders in Bicol because
the Philippine Informal Reading Inventory (Phil-IRI), the reading
diagnostic test that surfaced the nonreaders, is supposedly a tool
that determines if a student is reading and comprehending at his
grade level, and since the purpose of the Phil-IRI is to place reading
levels, all the takers are already readers.
Apparently, Briones did not read the Phil-IRI Manual 2018 which
she herself issued. Pages 6, 8, 696, and 697 of the manual say that
nonreaders are identified by their classroom teachers, with the
information passed on to the administrators of the Phil-IRI.
Not knowing how to read is different from being illiterate,
Briones also stated. No comment needed on that one.
Similarly, Undersecretaries Diosdado San Antonio and Nepomuceno
Malaluan questioned the data of the DepEd-Region 5 on the ground
that the Phil-IRI is only intended for Grades 3 to 6, and included
in the report are Grades 1 and 2 and high school students.
The two officials forgot that the subject of the report is the number
of nonreaders and not the classification of the entire Bicol studentry
into the different reading levels, thus the kind of tool used is
Like Briones, they, too, dont seem to know that nonreaders
are not identified by the Phil-IRI but by the classroom teachers
prior to the Phil-IRI process.
San Antonio and Malaluan were trying to say that in order for the
DepEd to detect that a child cant read, it needs an official
reading diagnostic test when any printed text, even that on candy
wrappers, can separate the literate from the illiterate.
Unfortunately, the unseemly, unprofessional, and immature reaction
of the top brass of the DepEd was effective in stopping the circulation
of information on the countrys reading crisis.
No subordinate official has dared to report to the media on the
subject since then. Given the ADBIs action on the working
paper, it also appears that our international partners were put
on notice by the vehement reaction of the government to the WB report,
and are now wary of putting out helpful findings and assessments
that could ruffle the feathers of the DepEd.
VIP's to recieve third vaccination
Millions of Thai's yet to recieve first
Southeast Asian Times, Friday Septemebeer 3, 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday September 1,
shots start 'next month'", in Bangkok Post,
August 30, 2021.
Starting in September through October third shots will be given
to the 3 million Thais who already received two doses of Sinovac
at least three months ago.
What about the 7 million Thais who thus far have only received one
dose and are being told they cannot get their second shot until
October and November?
My wife, who owns a restaurant in Bangkok, has her second shot of
AstraZeneca scheduled for late November, as do her entire staff,
and cannot open her place of business which has been closed for
now going on the eighth of nine months in 2021 because this government
has not provided the ability for her and her staff to be vaccinated
as they need to do to open.
And yet here they are giving third shots to all these others.
And what about the 40 million Thais who have not received their
first shot, let alone their second or now third?
The plan to use the precious Pfizer vaccine as a third shot booster
vaccines for anyone other than frontline workers, medical doctors,
nurses and hospital staff, is just another move by this obtuse government
out to please their hi-so ultra-wealthy VIP friends, themselves
and their oligarchy cohorts.
Making regulations that they themselves, this government, make impossible
for the average Thai business owner of eateries, restaurants and
pubs to meet, and then using the needed vaccines that will allow
them to meet these requirements as third shot boosters instead of
making sure all have at least one vaccine and getting those who
do not have, their second vaccine must be the priority of this government
Stop playing a life and death game with the people of Thailand in
order to please yourselves and your VIP friends and take care of
the Thais and foreign residents.
For once, do what is right for the people
Philippine President Duterte
the best communicator"
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 2 September 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday 1 September
In her column A
legacy of bad communication in Philippine
Inquirer August 16, 2021, Kay Rivera wrote: Among the
many legacies of this administration is one of truncated, illogical,
false, unhelpful communication, and it is a legacy that will continue
to color spokesperson Roques career, long after the need for
this blatant sycophancy has receded.
One would think a former University of the Philippines (UP) College
of Law professor would still have the slightest dignity to distance
himself from blatant lies. Yet Harry Roque found the gall to say
that President Duterte is the best communicator
What planet is he from?
Indeed, just when we thought nothing could beat the anecdote about
an ultra-loyal general during martial law who was said to have replied
from what floor, sir? when his commander in chief
ordered him to jump from a tall building, now comes Roque who would
probably sky-dive from a plane without a parachute if his boss told
him to do so.
Danica Monica R. Mortiz,
Call for Thailand to accept
to live with Covid-19
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 1 September 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday 29 August 2021
Why are we still locked down if covid-19 has become
I can no longer comprehend why we remain in lockdown into month
five if you start from April, and month six if you include January.
I won't even speak to pre-2021 as this experiment made sense then,
when clearly it is doing nothing to curb numbers now.
Yes they fluctuated slightly down these last few days but this is
based on opaque information given that many people are now self-testing
and not reporting their cases otherwise they have steadily increased
from April to now in a de facto lockdown.
If we all agree on a few points. Covid-19 is now endemic and is
not going to disappear no matter how hard we try, look at China,
Australia, and New Zealand the strictest of all nations.
We believe in the vaccines as an effective method of prevention
from serious illness last report was 81.4 percent of people in Bangkok
had received at least one dose of a vaccine according to the Centre
for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) English briefing on
Vulnerable populations should isolate if they choose until we have
Why are we still locking our children at home and not educating
them, let's not pretend virtual school is a reasonable method any
longer, closing our restaurants, hotels, and shops; blatantly wreaking
financial havoc for no reason at all?
We are now killing people with Covid-19, along with a widespread
mental health disaster, and financial challenges.
The world is collapsing around us and we persist like little mice
to think we can stop an unseen virus from entering our space when
we should be learning how to live with it.
Does Thailand really want to continue letting the baht devalue to
the point that we will be in an economic recession worse than the
Tom Yum Kung crisis of 1997? Let's accept the reality.
Let's focus on how to stay healthy to be ready for when we are,
in fact, infected, while continuing to engage in safe practices
such as mask wearing, hand washing, and some distancing, but not
at the behest of our lives, our education, our livelihoods, or our
mental and physical health.
for protection and promotion of rights of women
In Papua New Guinea Parliament
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 31 August 2021
First published in the National, Friday 27 August 2021
The Government has so far passed eight new bills in
Parliament, including the Oil & Gas Act Amendment Bill 2021
and MVIL Third-party Insurance Bill among others.
The decision to revert to the first-past-the-post voting system
which was abolished in 2007 in preference for the limited preferential
voting (LPV) system was voted against through a bipartisan support.
The LPV system was adopted because it minimised problems including
vote rigging and other inequalities that were identified in elections
prior to 2007.
The LPV system ensured that the elected MPs had wider mandate from
the electorate and province by redistributing second and third preferences
of losing candidates in each rounds to the leading candidates.
However, in a culturally diverse country such as Papua New Guinea,
inequalities often exist regardless of the voting system and its
often difficult for the election officers and security personnels
to mitigate vote rigging and the disenfranchisement of different
groups of voters.
One of the agenda to address inequalities in general elections in
the country has been alluded to the reserve seats for women in Parliament.
This agenda was tabled in Parliament by Dame Carol Kidu in 2009
after her observations of the limited number of female candidates
being elected into Parliament since 1975.
Despite the push to have reserve seats for women in Parliament,
the Government saw that the move was untenable due to an absence
of a supporting bureaucracy and the lack of financial capacity.
Since then the agenda has become a trivial agenda but discussions
are still continuing between different groups and the government
to ensure that the agenda is brought to fruition.
At this juncture, the Government should also consider amending the
Organic Law on Political Parties and Candidates (Olipac) to ensure
that more female candidates are endorsed by the political parties
as an alternative means to elect more female candidates into Parliament.
The Olipac has been recently amended to instil compliance, efficiency
and transparency, however, the practice of electing more male candidates
than females continue to be an issue with less women being elected
Hence, the Olipac should be amended to allow political parties to
endorse equal number of male and female candidates with the result
of increasing the probability of voting more female candidates into
The Government has been passing bills in its endeavour to fulfill
its Take back PNG slogan so importantly it should
consider the protection and promotion of the rights of women in
Parliament and elsewhere.
Papua New Guinea
Call for reform of Thai
To respect indivual right
Southeast Asian Times, Monday August 30, 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday August 27, 2021
Re: "Custody death clip sparks storm,"
in Bangkok Post, Wednesday August 25, 2021.
It comes as no surprise that the policeman accused of masterminding
the torture and murder of a drug suspect at a police station is,
in fact, "regarded as one of the best drug suppression officers".
It must be wondered for how long such extortion has been going on
in that police area.
It must also be wondered, given the prevalence of such accounts
of brutality and extortion, how widespread such practices are in
Thai society in general.
I also wonder what other evils lie secreted in closets protected
by repressive censorship from healthy public knowledge and open
Had the video of the man being tortured by these upstanding men
of law and order waging war against druggies not gone public, would
there have been even a pretense of seeking justice?
Perhaps if Thailand's drug laws, which have conspicuously failed
to reduce drug use, were reformed to respect individual rights,
we would see not only no big increase in drug use, but savings in
tax money and police resources.
Philippines general election
a catch-22 proposition
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 29 August 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 27 August
With no less than President Duterte perfunctorily
exonerating high-profile crooks in his government who squirreled
away or by their sheer incompetence, if not collusion, helped squirrel
away billions of public funds, juxtaposed with his boast that he
has sackloads of money to bankroll the election
of his candidates in 2022 Duterte to campaign for PDP-Laban
bets; to bring sackloads of cash, in Philippine
Inquirer July 17, 2021, it takes no rocket science to figure
out where that filthy lucre might be coming from.
And this, coming from the man who used to say he hates corruption
and cannot stand even just a whiff of it?
How is it that voters still give Mr. Duterte the highest approval
rating despite his colossal failures?
Can we really blame it on the mediocrity of the vast majority of
If that be the case, are not Vice President Leni Robredo and some
of the really brilliant members of Congress also products of that
We were trying to understand this dilemma from Richard Heydarians
The foolish myth of bobotante voters
in Philippine Inquirer August 10, 2021 in light of the inequality
in our society between those wealthy enough to buy the
electorate and those too poor to have qualms about selling
Alas, not much help there.
A great thinker like him seems just as bewildered.
Its a catch-22 proposition: Only an enlightened electorate
can produce good government.
But only good government can produce an enlightened electorate.
So where do we go from here?
Yvette San Luis-Petrocelli,
Thai protesters against
Don't have pro-civil rights administration
to turn to
Southeast Asian Tines, Saturday 28 August 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday 27 August 2021
As an American I'd like to respond to Burin's letter
August 25 in which he notes the non-violent tactics during the civil
rights movement in America worked better than the violent tactics
of protesters in Thailand.
He overlooks one important point - although America has a racist
history it is still a democracy and the governments in power during
that era the Kennedy and Johnson administrations were pro-civil
President Johnson, the Senate and the Congress used their government
power to enforce civil rights in the Southern states which resisted
In Thailand, it is the oppressors who rule.
Unlike the civil rights protesters of the 1960s, the Thai protesters
don't have a higher power to turn to.
While I am not promoting violence, non-violent protests are much
more effective in a country that has a Western-style democracy.
Bishops accuse Philippine
President Duterte of muzzling
Investigation into Department of Health
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 27 August 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday 23 August
Instead of reproaching the independent state audit
body for doing its job, President Duterte should have called for
an investigation on the alleged deficiencies of the Department of
Health (DOH) in the use of its P67.3-billion pandemic funds.
The Commission on Audit (COA) said the deficiencies in
the handling of the P67.3-billion pandemic response fund were caused
by noncompliance with pertinent laws, rules and regulations, and
undermined the timely and efficient response to the pandemic last
It said the DOH failed to utilize P59.124 billion of its
2020 budget and was unable to use as much as P11.8 billion of the
COVID-19 funds, which meant that these were not translated
into much-needed health supplies, equipment and services that could
have benefited both the health workers and the general public during
the critical times of the pandemic.
But what was more appalling was the reaction of the President who
said on national television that Commission on Audit (COA) report
The President even told Duque to ignore the COA report,
obviously unmindful that Commission on Audit (COA) is an independent
constitutional body whose mandate includes publicly disclosing expenditures
by state agencies.
One of Mr. Dutertes avowed commitments at the start of his
presidency was to rid the government of corruption.
He declared that he would fire officials with just a whiff
of corruption on them. Why is he now muzzling the agency that
guards against corruption, and shielding those who committed irregularities
in using public funds?
What all these reek of is colossal mismanagement, even clear and
present signs of corruption, that should warrant the resignation
In the best interests of the suffering Filipino people, he must
resign immediately even if his boss tells him not to.
And if the President cannot or will not rid government agencies
of corrupt officials, he must resign, too!
Bishop Emeritus Deogracias S. Iniguez Jr.,
Ft., Revd. Rex B. Reyes Jr.,
Bishop Joel E Tendero.
Bishop Ciriaco Francisco,
Bishop Dindo Ranojo.
calls on government
To manage sale and distribution of Covid-19
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 26 August 2021
First published in the Star, Saturday 21 August 2021
The Malaysian Pharmacists Society (MPS) is concerned
about the unregulated sale of Covid-19 self-test kits especially
via social media platforms including WhatsApp.
We are particularly concerned about the rampant sale of fake kits
as well as sales by unqualified sellers who are neither pharmacists
Fake Covid-19 self-test kits and wrong use of these kits would produce
inaccurate results such as false negatives that would not help in
combating the pandemic. Moreover, with more cases of brought in
dead (BID) being recorded, the government must act immediately.
Ideally, self-test kits should be provided free to the public.
But if the government is not able to do this, a mechanism to subsidise
the cost should be activated.
Malaysian Pharmacists Society (MPS) urges the government to manage
the sale and distribution of self-test kits efficiently via a subsidy
or price control mechanism. This would immediately curb and eventually
stop the sale of fake kits as well as sales by unqualified sellers.
Should a price control mechanism be the way, Malaysian Pharmacists
Society (MPS) urges the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry
to allow a grace period of one month before implementation.
This would assist pharmacists who have already purchased the self-test
kits at a higher cost to clear the more expensive stock.
If a grace period is not granted, Malaysian Pharmacists Society
(MPS) wants a subsidy or refund mechanism to be put in place to
prevent losses to pharmacists who purchased the stocks in good faith.
To benefit the public, the ministry must ensure that the price control
mechanism includes not only standardisation of the sale price but
Malaysian Pharmacists Society (MPS) also control of the cost price
from the supplier.
Malaysian Pharmacists Society (MPS) has received numerous complaints
from both the public and pharmacists of self-test kits that are
being sold online and via WhatsApp at extremely low prices and with
no guarantee of the product being genuine.
Currently, as the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry only
has a general complaints page on their website Malaysian Pharmacists
Society (MPS) would like to suggest that a dedicated page be set
up for complaints against fake products and sales by non-pharmacists
This would enable turnover of complaints to be handled quickly and
efficiently by the enforcement arm of the ministry.
It is critical that a mechanism to identify fake and genuine stock
of self-test kits be implemented to further protect the public.
Suppliers of self-test kits, the ministry and the Medical Device
Authority (MDA) should work on this immediately.
The ministry should also help to enforce the Medical Device Authority
(MDA) policy on conditional approval for importation and distribution
of Covid-19 self-test kits, which allows only licensed pharmacies
and healthcare facilities to sell the kits online.
President Malaysian Pharmacists Society,
payment required in Philippines
For Covid-19 admittance to Intensive Care
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 25 August, 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 20 August,
A close relative of ours in Quezon City who is over
60 years of age recently had her vaccine shots.
But some weeks later, and contrary to expectations, she was found
positive for COVID-19.
It was so severe that she needed to be hospitalized.
Her son drove her around as they looked for any hospital in Quezon
City that would admit her.
None could be found.
He had no choice but to bring her back home.
On the second day of her illness, her son brought her to the Philippine
General Hospital (PGH) in Manila and got her waitlisted
at the emergency Room (ER), which was already full.
On the third day, she finally got a room, but her condition so deteriorated
that she was immediately waitlisted for admission
to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), which was also full.
At around noon of the fourth day, her son inquired how much was
required to get his mother admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU)
the moment a vacancy would occur.
No information came until way past 6 in the evening, when he was
told that the bill was over a hundred thousand pesos.
He didnt have that kind of money on him, so would Philippine
General Hospital (PGH) accept his credit card, the credit limit
of which was more than enough to cover the bill?
He got the shock of his life: Philippine General Hospital (PGH)
does not accept credit cards, only cash!
A vacancy in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) finally occurred later
But no hard currency, no admission to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU)
was the final word.
The son only had P20,000 with him at that time, and he tearfully
pleaded with the hospital because banks were already closed.
Had people in charge of billing informed him much earlier that only
cash payment would do, he would have had no problem getting the
money from the bank before it closed.
Private hospitals do allow settlement of bills through credit cards.
So why cant Philippine General Hospital (PGH), a public hospital
funded mainly by taxpayer money?
Perhaps because a lot of its patients are not able to pay after
treatment, hence it needs to be segurista?
But Philippine General Hospital (PGH) losses are practically covered
and insured by Congress, which appropriates taxpayer money to keep
it going no matter what. On top of that, it is constantly the recipient
of hundreds of millions in donations from philanthropists here and
Its really no skin off its back if destitute patients abscond.
There is a hard and inconvenient lesson to be learned here for those
not familiar with Philippine General Hospital (PGH) protocols.
Anyone taking any sick relative to Philippine General Hospital (PGH)
that could potentially require Intensive Care Unit (ICU) treatment
had better bring along a bagful of hard cash because the countrys
premier public hospital appears to have not heard of the payment
facility known as credit cards.
Stephen L. Monsanto,
Duterte's communications skills
Revolve around the word "kill"
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 24 August 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday August
Of all the shameless lies Harry Roque has been dishing
out to the public, this one must surely take the cake: President
Duterte is the best communicator
he has no lapses
in his way of communicating
Roque asked: If Duterte good communicator why
do you have to explain him?" in Philippine Inquirer August
A "good communicator," indeed, whose vocabulary
practically revolves around the word "kill"?
Well, come to think of it, with tens of thousands already killed
under his regime, can anyone still doubt Mr. Dutertes "communication"
How the heck can Roque, the former human rights lawyer whose heart
used to "bleed" and eyes "shed tears"
for the downtrodden, live with those atrocities?
How he would worm his way back to the University of Philippines
(UP) academia to teach young idealistic students after Mr. Duterte
is gone would be one eyebrow-raising spectacle to watch.
Dino M. Capistrano,
to include concept of accountability
Thai education system
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 23 August 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday 22 August 2021
During the past few years, I've been advocating a
wake-up call for Thai society to try, learn and accept the concept
of "accountability" and simultaneously oppose,
reject and segregate "the conflict of interest".
Admittedly, I've not seen a light at the end of a tunnel.
There are two simple routes for us Thais to consider:
It's time that the government, Ministry of Education and those concerned
agencies ought to seriously start and include the concept of "accountability"
including responsibility in our education system, beginning as early
as elementary schools and up to higher levels.
The issue of "conflict of interest" should start
at a higher level because of its complexity.
We've been taught to follow "the phuyai" elders
It's time the phuyai in the government Education Ministry included,
judicial, congressional and business sectors, including those in
the "high social" echelons, must act in this regard
for the younger generations "to follow".
No less important is the leading role of the families, parents in
particular, in this regard.
It should be noted here that the adoption learning of "accountability"
and opposition to rejection of "conflict of interest"
will surprisingly put down the problems of injustice and corruption
in our beloved country.
By the way, the appointment of the current 250 senators in the Senate
and the Red Bull saga are clear examples of these two subjects accountability
and conflict of interest.
But it's the reverse.
The conflict of interest is clear-cut but there's no accountability
Please think about this my dear senators, police and Attorney-General
officials. Also, the Minister of Education.
Call for Philippines
adopt China's development model
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 21 August 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 20 August
This is regarding the commentary Learning
from an awakened dragon in Philippine Inquirer, July
21, 2021 by Roland Simbulan.
The transformation of China from an impoverished nation into a global
economic power in a matter of four decades was made possible by
the Communist Party of China (CPC), which enjoys monopoly under
a one-party system.
This enabled the Communist Party of China (CPC) to launch a strategic
vision that conceptualized policies and long-term plans and programs
through a combination of authoritarian rule and a market-oriented
economy based on state-led capitalism.
Our country, on the other hand, is under a democratic system of
government with a multiparty system characterized by personality
politics, with policies and long-term plans and programs that change
every six years.
The challenge is for us to call for strong leadership from our leaders,
especially the members of Congress which is the policy-making body,
and for them to institutionalize a strategy that envisions long-term
plans over 50 years.
Such plans will undertake reforms in the economic, social, and political
order to address the socioeconomic inequality and mass poverty in
the country, by adopting the mechanics of the Chinese model of development
into our democratic system of government.
for new Malaysian PM
people are counting on you to deliver
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 21 August 2021
First published in the Star, Thursday 19 August 2021
I have a message for the incoming prime minister:
Do not reset the good progress to date towards achieving
national herd immunity and the ongoing financial assistance to the
suffering rakyat and ailing businesses.
Whoever is selected, do not rejoice.
Instead, roll up your sleeves and take loads of vitamins because
you will be living on borrowed time and have nightmares even during
your daytime naps.
Your appointment letter will come with a mother lode of problems
that must be addressed and solved as soon as possible.
I would advise you to retain the Science, Technology and Innovation
minister and Finance minister, who are instrumental in driving the
vaccination and financial relief programme respectively.
You can also retain those ministers in charge of Youth and Sports,
Agriculture and Food Industries, etc, who can be entrusted with
supporting roles in the vaccination and financial assistance programme.
Please get rid of the non-performing ones.
You must quickly set up a unit in the Prime Ministers Office
comprising technocrats who have excellent problem-solving skills
to quickly devise sound plans to reduce the Covid-19 mortality rate
once herd immunity is achieved.
Until we reduce the mortality rate to an acceptable level, dont
waste your time and effort in developing plans to reopen the economy
or set up travel bubbles.
The months of September and October will be crucial in gauging whether
Malaysia is on track to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and economic
I wish you the best of luck and we, the rakyat, are counting on
you to deliver.
Mohd Shukri Abd Aziz,
calls for solar power
Instead of nuclear power
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 20 August 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday 17 August
Last July 8, Peter Wallace wrote in his column about
nuclear power plants being safe and that there are many countries
operating their nuclear power plants safely over the last 50 years:
the United States, Germany, Taiwan, Japan. etc.
I agree about recommissioning the Bataan nuclear plant.
As a chemical engineer, I can say that we have enough controls to
operate it safely.
However, reviving the Bataan plant will take at least five years.
Why not recommend the use of solar panels instead, per Republic
Act No. 11285 or the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act, which
requires building owners to use renewable sources like solar?
The Philippines is the only country in the world with 2,000 hours
of sun per year.
Germany went on to use solar panel systems on roofs and, in a short
period of time, four million houses have been generating power,
resulting in the shutdown of many coal plants.
In the United States, New York appointed an energy czar to speed
up the use of renewable energy.
Australia gives incentives to households that use solar batteries.
lberdrola Spain has made tremendous progress on the use of renewable
energy, becoming one of the top five electric utility companies
in the world.
Portugal and Spain have invested in photovoltaic battery storage
In the Philippines, solar energy can be a solution.
We can follow the Iberdrola strategy to use this renewable energy,
along with wind and hydroelectric plants.
Cesar V. Campos,
Cenel Development Corporation,
Philippine President Duterte
That he was bankrolled by China to win 2016
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 19 August 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday 17 August
In Duterte scoffs at claim that China
made him president in Philippine Inquirer,
July 21, 2023 President Duterte was said to be really pissed off
at former foreign secretary Albert del Rosario who virtually accused
him of having been bankrolled by China to win the 2016 election
and now becoming its puppet.
Mr. Duterte lashed out at Del Rosario and accused him in return
of being the one liable for treason, because
it was during his watch as top diplomat under the presidency of
the late Noynoy Aquino that Philippine ships withdrew from Scarborough
Shoal during the 2012 stand-off with China, which resulted in the
country losing control of the area to Beijing.
A little fact-checking is called for to see whose sense of history
got skewed. Aquinos former ambassador to Washington Jose Cuisia
Jr. was the point man involved and, therefore, knew whereof he spoke.
Mr. Duterte was then just mayor of Davao City, who knew nothing
and didnt give a hoot about international politics.
Cuisia said it was a US-brokered deal for China and the Philippines
to mutually withdraw from the contested area to avoid a potential
shooting war and pending a more peaceful solution to the conflict.
The Philippines complied in good faith, but China did not.
So how is that treason in the mind of Mr. Duterte,
who keeps reminding everyone he is a lawyer?
He has been pushing the narrative that it was wrong for the Philippines
to withdraw. Look whos talking. Hasnt he himself been
withdrawing even from mere conversations adverse
to China, out of fear of what China might do at the slightest provocation?
Ramon Norman Torrefranca,
Call for outdoor activities
In Covid-19 dark-red Thai provinces
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 18 August 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Saturday 14 August 2021
The risk of infection from Covid-19 is high but the
risk of dying from it is very low: 99.17 percent of those infected
in Thailand were cured as of August 12.
The danger is not of dying, but of getting infected.
The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that Covid-19 spreads
mainly through the air not surface infection.
At the Tokyo Olympics, with full vaccination, etc, of the 299 Covid-related
cases, very few involved athletes despite the inability to mask
or social distance in many sports. Even with no herd immunity, political
protests here or elsewhere have not resulted in super-clusters probably
due to the outdoor ventilation and fleeting contact between participants.
Let's experiment with outdoor activities in a few dark-red provinces
like dining, jogging, selling products or going to parks and zoos.
Some classes can be held outdoors, with teachers and staff being
fully vaccinated. If it works well, expand those activities and
Call for anyone for PM
But for former PM Najib Abdul Razak
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 17 August 2021
First published in the Malaysiakini, Friday 13 August 2021
I nearly choked on my lunch today when I read the
news that an Non-Government-Organisation (NGO) has submitted a memorandum
asking the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong to pardon Najib Abdul Razak and
appoint him as interim prime minister.
Do we want a Prime Minister who has been sentenced to 12 years in
prison and a fine of RM210 million, not to mention still facing
a litany of criminal charges?
Are we so bereft of prime ministerial candidates that we have to
shamelessly elevate a convict to become the most powerful man in
The current administration may not be perfect.
But to even entertain the notion of Najib's return is to scrape
the bottom of the barrel.
Even if we were to rule out Perikatan Nasional leaders as successor
to the prime minister, surely we can think of other leaders than
Lest we get carried away by the Bossku's rapid-fire daily social
media posts, a former "Malaysian Official 1" is
the man who led a nation the US labelled as kleptocratic for being
party to one of the most brazen heists of public funds in recent
The shenanigans sparked investigations by over a dozen countries
with the money trail littered with his fingerprints and that of
his fugitive co-conspirator, Jho Low. This is the same man whose
conviction was described as "the worst case of abuse of
position," by the judge who presided over and meted out
the sentence against Najib.
Do we still want to become a global laughing stock for bringing
back a convicted PM?
Have we not been shamed enough by the international media's reports
on how brazen the grand larceny was carried out right under our
noses during his administration?
Imagine what he will do upon his return.
Remember how ex-AG Abdul Gani Patail was unceremoniously removed
just as efforts were underway to charge Najib between July and August
2015 for corruption and abuse of power?
Not only was Najib spared from prosecution, but his enemies became
victims of a witch-hunt.
Who can forget the sight of boxes and boxes of designer handbags
seized by enforcement officers from posh condominiums?
Or the list of assets like luxury yachts, Monet paintings and prime
addresses in New York bought using money from 1MDB?
Can we trust this man again with our public funds which have been
running short due to the Covid-19 pandemic?
We certainly will not fall for tall tales about how his family's
fortunes were amassed from menabung sejak kecil (savings since young).
Or that Najib's family wealth was from his father's inheritance.
So please, we can have anyone as prime minister but not him.
I'd rather settle for a cat to be the Prime Minister than to see
Chai Xin Seng,
Bar calls on PM Muhyiddin Yassin
act in accordance with Federal Constitution
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 16 August 2021
First pulished in the Star, Saturday 14 August 2021
The Malaysian Bar takes the view that in light of
the ongoing political impasse in our country, the honourable thing
for the Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to do, is to act
in accordance with the Federal Constitution.
In his public address on national television on 13 August 2021,
the Prime Minister admitted that several Members of Parliament (MPs)
from the governing coalition had withdrawn their support for him,
casting doubt on whether he still commanded the support of the majority
of the Dewan Rakyat House of Representatives.
He went on to say that under such circumstances, he had two options
according to the Federal Constitution - namely to seek the consent
of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to dissolve Parliament and call for
a general election, or to resign.
It is thus clear that he himself acknowledges that his position
is no longer tenable.
He, however, went on to say that this situation notwithstanding,
no other Member of Parliament MP has shown that he/she commands
the support of the majority of the members of the Dewan Rakyat.
As such, if he were to resign, there would be no one to replace
And if he resigned, he would also have to tender the resignation
of the entire Cabinet, which would leave the country without a functioning
government at this crucial time of fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.
He expressed concern for the future of the nation. In order to avoid
this vacuum of governance and political leadership, he announced
a detailed list of constitutional and Parliamentary reforms, as
well as pre-legislative procedural and practical changes which he
was prepared to offer in exchange for support from Members of Parliament
from the Opposition in the upcoming vote of confidence.
With all due respect to the Prime Minister, the questions raised
by him reveal a misunderstanding of his position under the Federal
Constitution. The provision of Article 43(4) is clear:
If the Prime Minister ceases to command the confidence
of the majority of the members of the House of Representatives,
then, unless at his request the Yang di-Pertuan Agong dissolves
Parliament, the Prime Minister shall tender the resignation of the
The words are clear and the meaning and intent are beyond doubt:
If the Prime Minister no longer has the support of the majority,
unless at his requests the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to dissolve Parliament,
the Prime Minister must resign.
The Federal Constitution also does not provide that the Prime Minister
shall only tender the resignation of the Cabinet if there is another
MP that has emerged who can demonstrate that he/she commands the
confidence of the majority of the members of the Dewan Rakyat.
The question of who else might be called upon to try to form a government
and whether he/she has the requisite Parliamentary support and confidence,
is one that is accorded under Article 43(2) of the Federal Constitution,
to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
It is therefore not the place of the Prime Minister to usurp that
consideration to himself, or to pre-empt the decision and discretion
of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. Neither is it the place of the Prime
Minister to make that question the condition for his future actions.
The Prime Minister has repeatedly stated that he wants to comply
with the Federal Constitution and take the honourable route. In
his announcement, he stated that he believes that we will
heal this nation together and bring back its glory.
The Malaysian Bar is of the view that the best way that the Prime
Minister can begin the process of healing this nation and bringing
back its glory, is to honour and respect the words, spirit, meaning
and intent of the Federal Constitution, and to abide strictly by
When the Prime Minister does not command the support of the majority
of the Dewan Rakyat, the honourable and gracious route that the
Prime Minister should take is to step down, because that is the
right thing to do.
We further call upon all Parliamentarians to carry out their duties
in accordance with the Federal Constitution to ensure a functioning
government for the well-being of our beloved nation.
death toll in Papua New Guinea
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 15 August 2021
First Published in the National, Thursday 12 August 2021
During the coronavirus Covid-19 outbreak, there were
fears that Papua New Guinea would be hit hard because of our poor
health system and our Melanesian way of congregating.
Thousands died from the Covid-19, which caused Papua New Guinea
to impose lockdowns and strict measures.
Businesses, schools and peoples way of living were disrupted.
The economy stopped.
A year and a couple of months later, the since Covid-19 penetrated
our shores, our cases now stand just above 17,700.
However, what doesnt make sense is the Covid-19 death toll
in Papua New Guinea.
The death toll doesnt correlate to the fears and expectation
we had for the virus.
We were told that we would die in thousands, our health facilities
would be overwhelmed and our country would be in chaos.
But, so far, our death toll is just about 200.
I am not a medical expert, but from what Ive learnt through
the media about the rate of Covid-19 death tolls around the globe,
a 190-plus deaths in Papua New Guinea is confusing.
We have thousands dying per day with cumulative death tolls skyrocketing
to hundreds of thousands in the developed nations that are more
advanced in science and medical facilities with cutting edge technologies.
But a small country with a poor health system is recording less
deaths than expected.
This doesnt make sense.
Can we find out why were recording less infections and deaths?
Papua New Guinea
Whitewash in the works
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 13 August 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday 13 August 2021
Thailand's curse is its continuing lack of accountability
in the halls of power.
Juntas commit high treason by overthrowing elected governments by
force - then pardon themselves.
Vicha Mahakun submits two reports to fight the graft that allowed
Red Bull heir Vorayuth Yoovidhaya to get away with killing - and
PM Prayut hides them from the media.
Another whitewash is in the works - for PM Prayut plans that as
long as they "act honestly and decide based on empirical
evidence", those involved in procuring anti-Covid medical
equipment, medicines and vaccines cannot be sued.
If so, Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) head
Donald Duck and Minister of Public Health Mickey Mouse could not
be sued even though they lacked the competence to evaluate evidence
presented and so made gross errors.
In a special cabinet meeting in April, PM Prayut took on the authority
to manage any aspect of the Covid-19 fight himself.
Thus, no matter what anybody does related to Covid-19, PM Prayut
bears ultimate accountability - which cannot be washed away.
Thai Government advised
to help large companies
provision of Covid-19 test kits
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 13 August 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Thursday 12 August 2021
Re: "Uncertainty continues",
in Bangkok Post, Business, Monday, August 9, 2021.
The chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) proposes
that the government helps companies to pay for Covid rapid antigen
We are only a small company with 12 employees but of course the
company pays for the test kits.
But the big shots - the richest 10 of them just added almost a trillion
baht to their assets in the last 18 months - need government support
to buy test kits for their staff?
This is a small snapshot of what is wrong with the existing Thai
political and economic system.
Meanwhile, protest leaders are put in jail.
I would propose putting some of the sycophants and bad advisers
to the government in jail.
They do enormous damage.
But the real problem are of course the "important"
people they act up to.
Dont change the
Just kick out the failed captain
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 12 August 2021
First published in the Star, Friday 6 August 2021
Last year, as the Covid-19 pandemic took hold of the
world, the countrys democratically-elected government imploded.
Pakatan Harapan could not hold back from prioritising their politics,
positioning their heir-apparent to take over the seat of Prime Minister.
Then-Prime Minister Tun Mahathir lost his calm and tendered his
resignation after Dato Sri Anwar Ibrahim and his close supporters
kept pushing for succession.
This serves as a reminder, the cohort of politicians we have are
hard-wired to the fact that they need to consolidate power.
This has proven dysfunctional for the country as the oppositions
motivation is to add more political weight to sink the Perikatan
But these manoeuvrings are short-sighted ventures.
Our Prime Minister was the first to announce in November 2020 that
a General Election will be held once the Covid-19 situation is brought
This is the constitutionally right way to correct the political
error that has wounded our democracy.
Now, do we hear of any calls for that from any other leader? Very
little, if any.
The current rhetoric against the government is - dont change
the ship, just kick out the failed captain.
This will take us back to the uncertainty that we saw in the Sheraton
It takes a lot to remove the Prime Minister.
What will happen to the Cabinet then?
Some politicians are happy where they are.
Some political parties think they are underrepresented despite their
Some have ambition.
While these concerns may have their time and place, this certainly
isnt the right time to pursue politics.
A political stalemate is the last thing we need in Malaysia right
As we approach close to 20,000 cases a day, we have to admit that
we are all guilty of politics.
But we can also be guilty of pursuing peace.
But what is the cost of peace?
Perhaps, it will be at the expense of our politics.
No amount of politicking and jockeying for positions of power will
change the fact that we are in a race against time to suppress the
pandemic before it further mutates and claims more lives.
We need to remain focused on the task at hand to combat Covid-19,
protect livelihoods and secure a future where we can still have
a stable and safe society to return to.
We need to deliberate on what this stable and safe society means
If it is eradicating the pandemic to finally bring this matter to
a vote, then perhaps all we see with our politicians is unnecessary.
There are plenty of opportunities in the pipeline for our MPs to
make a political stand in the coming months.
The tabling of the Budget 2022.
The reading of the 12th Malaysia Plan.
The vote of confidence that was announced by the a Prime Minister
yesterday. These are the opportunities that politicians can take
to determine our future.
But right now, our people are falling sick and dying.
Right now, many are left jobless.
Right now, some even dont have enough to eat.
So as we are all guilty of our politics, we should use our energies,
resources, and influence to fight the pandemic.
This way, we can win this battle and all be guilty of peace.
Chan Quin Er,
Bounty from Chinese tourists
Could buy elections for President
Southeast Asian Times. Wednesday 11 August 2921
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday 9 August
The editorial Hollow fight,
August 5, 2021 in Philippine Inquirer took note of a report
from the Ateneo School of Government which showed that President
Duterte miserably failed to do the one major thing he promised during
his 2016 election campaign - to eradicate corruption in government
by the end of that year. The fact of the matter
is, it only got worse thereafter and is much worse today.
That Ateneo paper posited that such failure followed from
the presidential approach to governance that removed or weakened
the guardrails already proven necessary to control corruption.
Having institutionalized impunity, Mr. Duterte has grown very fond
of talking tommyrot, frequently saying he has fired corrupt officials
here and there when in truth he would just recycle
his favorite appointees to other lucrative posts.
The editorial failed to mention the one thing that made the Duterte
administration more prone to corruption: Ombudsman Samuel Martires,
who obviously continues to look after Mr. Dutertes interest.
Take the case of that continuing airport heist
by some 43 or is it now 86? Bureau of Immigration personnel in the
form of pastillas bounty from Chinese tourists
reportedly amounting to P40 billion.
Everyone is wondering why that scandal never got any prosecutorial
attention from the Ombudsman. Mischievous minds cant help
That kind of money could buy elections for president, vice president,
senators, and congressmen this 2022.
When will Filipino voters quit thinking like they were born only
Poverty could transform
Into a national tourist sandbox of danger
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 10 August 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post Monday 9 August 2021
Re: "The shame of Thai tourism",
Bangkok Post, Editorial, August 7, 2021.
I agree with the Bangkok Post's editorial on recent tourist deaths
and murders in Thailand, but I think the writer missed one point.
The article seems to place the burden for tourist safety almost
entirely on the government, and better policing.
Yet I must ask if tourists really will be as safe as they used to
be among the Thai people themselves, given the massive escalation
in Thai poverty brought about by Covid-19.
Poverty always escalates violent crime, and videos are emerging
showing starving Bangkok residents fishing in dirty canals for their
meals, or Thais going hungry in displays of blatant poverty elsewhere;
people waiting in breadlines, and many sleeping on the street.
Given these scenes, I ask if it really is possible for the government
to keep tourists as safe as they once were, as poverty usually breeds
desperation and increased violence.
So, with so much of Thailand steeped in abject poverty, I can't
help but wonder if those mounting levels of poverty might eventually
transform Thailand into a national tourist sandbox of danger.
Jason A Jellison,
Sedition Act denies Malaysians
Right to voice opinion
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 9 August 2021
First published in Malaysikini, Wednesday 3 August 2021
Being born and living in Malaysia for 22 years, the
current political instability truly disappointed me. I couldnt
see an end to it.
The economy is going down, and people are suffering. But the government
remains useless to cope with the ordeal.
So here we are, fighting for the future of Malaysia.
But the authority wanted to silence us with Sedition Act.
One of the founders of Misi Solidariti, Sarah Irdina Mohammad Ariff,
was arrested by the police a few days before the #Lawan protest.
She was released afterwards, but the motive is clear: to deter the
people from protesting the Perikatan Nasional government.
If voicing out discontent toward the government is deemed wrong,
does democracy still exist in Malaysia?
People should have the right to voice opinions.
However, the existence of the Sedition Act has denied us the right.
People should be the watchdogs, but who dares to speak loud when
there is a law to shut down the voice?
However, the government could not silence the people forever.
If they silence one, there will be others.
Like the case of Sarah, the arrest does not stop the youths from
attending the #Lawan protest.
We will unite even stronger against oppression.
I stand strongly with the #Lawan movement and the protesters.
Chong Xin Yi,
concrete will come out of appointment
Of ASEAN special Envoy to Myanmar
Southeastasian Times, Sunday 8 August 2021
To go through the ritual motions under its
five point consensus plan we are informed ASEAN
appoints Brunei diplomat Special Envoy to Myanmar ( The
Southeast Asian Times 6 Aug 2021 ).
Nothing concrete will come out of that. Just ask any pro-democracy
person in Myanmar.
A brutal military regime does not understand the language of democratic
engagement. That is not the way it operates.
Its not its modus operandi. Rule by dictatorial fiat and fear
The tentacles of the military junta needs to be cut to liberate
the people of Myanmar from ruthless repression and restore democratic
How to hold Philippine
Accountable for handling of pandemic
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 7 August 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 5 August
While the COVID-19 pandemic is a challenge that has
to be overcome, it is also an opportunity for us as citizens to
reflect about what we do as a society, what we value as a people,
and, more importantly, what we can do to change the social mechanisms
and our priorities as a nation.
This pandemic underscored the source of our collective misery and
disappointment: inefficient and corrupt leadership, disinformation,
and social inequality.
These factors have made it difficult for the country to manage COVID-19
better than our Asian neighbors.
There has been a shortage of testing kits and personal protective
equipment, as well as slow distribution of relief goods.
Disinformation has bred anxiety and panic.
Social inequality has highlighted the limited access of the lower
classes to health facilities, transportation, and digital technology
during lockdowns when movements are limited.
With the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine anew,
we have a limited window to make immediate changes.
We can monitor the actions taken by our government officials in
managing the crisis, and check the reliability of information that
we see and share on social media.
Through these, we can ensure that checks and balances in government
We have to reflect as a society:
How do we hold government officials accountable for the lousy handling
of the pandemic, poor health care facilities, and backward digital
For change to happen in our country, we have to take collective
Otherwise, any future crisis will remain a challenge to be overcome
and never an opportunity for ourselves and our society to transform
into something better.
University of the Philippines
Antigen rapid test kits
Repackaged at Thai Pharmacy
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 6 August 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Tuesday 3 August 2021
importance of testing",
Bangkok Post, Life, July 26, 2021.
Recently I went to my pharmacy to purchase a Covid-19 Antigen rapid
I asked for two kits and was given two clear plastic zip top bags
each with a sealed kit, sealed swab, solution tube and drip attachment.
I was charged 400 baht for each.
When I arrived home, I realised there were no instructions enclosed
so I searched the manufacturer and found, to my amazement, that
this kit normally came packed in a small cardboard box containing
two complete sets.
It would appear the pharmacy was buying the kits as packaged, opening
them, and repackaging them as individual units.
This increases the chance of cross contamination from handling and
allows them to sell the kits at a ridiculously high price.
If this is common practice it places the kit out of the reach of
Like failing to price control the green chiretta herb this opens
the door to price gouging.
Victims of pandemic in
Dumped at temple
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 5 August 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday 4 August 2021
Re: "Death rites pose deadly risk",
in Bangkok Post Saturday 31 July 2021.
I agree with the idea that monks, undertakers and other temple workers
should be among the first to be inoculated with anti-Covid vaccines.
In any ordinary situation, temples are a place where people normally
dump their pets such as dogs and cats which they no longer love.
But in a situation such as we are having today, as appeared on television
news a few days ago: a woman and her husband drove her octogenarian
father who was seriously sick with Covid-19 to a temple in Korat,
left him there, and quickly disappeared.
Hence, temples are not just a dumping ground for discarded animals
at the moment but live humans as well.
Time to ponder if the
Is truly Gods gift to the Filipino
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 4 August 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 29 July
Regarding the tangled web Stephen
Monsanto wrote about The question of succession,
Letters, July 26, 2021, it really started on the day more than 16
million Filipinos were first deceived by a small-time mayor who
became president of the entire archipelago with promises of better
things to come, which he now admits are impossible to fulfill after
almost 6 years in office.
President Duterte has been prone to making palusot
But his even darker side was his profanity, which was evidenced
by his total lack of respect for the leader of more than 1.2 billion
Catholics around the world when he denounced Pope Francis as a son
of a bitch for clogging up traffic and disrupting his
presidential campaign due to that once-in-a-blue-moon papal visit
in November 2015.
Anyone who might have thought Mr. Duterte would at least start minding
his tongue once he got elected to the countrys most exalted
post got it all wrong.
He has turned out to be the most incorrigibly foul-mouthed president
this country has ever had.
Its our misfortune that he speaks for all of us here and abroad.
This country prides itself in being the only Christian
nation in Asia, with around 86 percent of the population being Roman
So, what, dear Lord, have the Filipinos done to deserve this miserable
state of the nations affairs?
Well, for one thing, despite the unmitigated insult Mr. Duterte
had hurled at Pope Francis, people still voted for him.
The President later proved he had no problem calling their God stupid.
As incredible as it may seem, Mr. Duterte is said to have bagged
the highest approval rating more than 90 percent!
in recent surveys, a record no president before him had even come
close to obtaining.
And given the convoluted succession Monsanto
was talking about, Mr. Dutertes dynastic misrule may stay
longer than anyone is expecting.
Evangelist-turned-party-list-representative Eddie Villanuevas
fear that Mr. Dutertes unbridled blasphemy
may bring curses to this country should give
everyone pause, and time to ponder if the Duterte family is truly
Gods gift to the Filipino people.
Will Hail Marys work for any opposition candidate?
Jeremias H. Tobias,
Call for Papua New Guinea
ratify results of Bougainville referendum
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 3 August 2021
First published in the National, Friday 30 July 2021
I want to raise this concern in relation the recent
Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) consultation between Prime Minister
James Marape and his counterpart Bougainville President Ishmael
Both parties resolved to find a political settlement for Bougainville
by 2025 and not later than 2027.
The question is whether this Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) resolution
is consistent with the Bougainville Peace Agreement and the Papua
New Guinea and the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) constitutions.
The two governments should cease discussing political settlement
They should continue discussing the shortest possible time frame
for Parliament to ratify the results of the referendum.
Fix a time for this current parliament to ratify the results of
Propose an act of parliament to specify a manner in which parliament
will ratify the referendum results.
Get parliament to convene to ratify the referendum results.
If parliament fails to master enough numbers to ratify the results
of the referendum, the people of Bougainville should accept the
If none of the above takes place, Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) needs
to reconvene consultation that will result in reaching a political
settlement similar to the ones enjoyed by Palau and the United States
or the Cook Islands and New Zealand.
This is the settlement that will cater for 98 per cent for independence
in which Bougainville and Papua New Guinea will remain as associated
Papua New Guinea
Duterte wants to be successor-president
God save the Philippines!
Southeast Asian Times, Monday July 2 August 2021
First Published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday July 30,
We have known all along that President Duterte has
very little respect, if at all, for the Constitution.
Not content with blatantly betraying the public trust reposed in
him to protect Philippine sovereignty by warmly welcoming China
to come in and trample our sacred shores, he also mocks the constitutional
mandate limiting his term to only six years and absolutely no more.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman has put in black and white what everyone
was already saying:
Mr. Duterte is shamelessly lusting for a power grab, Lagman:
Duterte wants to be successor-president with VP bid,
Philippine Inquirer July 18, 2021.
Knowing as a lawyer that the vice presidency is just a spare
tire post and there is absolutely nothing in it for him,
what in Gods name is Mr. Duterte really up to?
This is very ominous.
Since a VP bid for Mr. Duterte seems to be a sure thing
if the surveys are to be believed and they usually come true and
could carry his presidential manok or dummy to
victory with him, it is a foregone conclusion that he will have
the latter step aside pronto to give way to his succession.
And it will all be legal, albeit totally immoral.
God save the Philippines!
Jan Vincent L. Martinez,
Philippine President Duterte
obliged to cooperate
With International Criminal Court (ICC)
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday August 1, 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday July 30,
The Supreme Court has ruled: Withdrawing
from the Rome Statute does not discharge a state from the obligations
it has incurred as a member. Consequently, liability for the alleged
summary killings and other atrocities committed in the course of
the war on drugs is not nullified or negated here in Inevitable
fate, Philippine Inquirer, Opinion, July 27, 2021.
It was a unanimous pronouncement by the highest court of our land.
No one, not even any of President Dutertes appointees, dissented.
Only Palace spokesperson Harry Roque dissented
in defense of his boss, lamely arguing that it was obiter
dictum or, to his way of thinking, empty words in a 101-page
The petition questioning Mr. Dutertes unilateral withdrawal
was itself dismissed for being moot and academic
following the United Nations acceptance of that withdrawal.
The withdrawal was Mr. Dutertes desperate attempt to escape
criminal prosecution for his alleged crimes against humanity in
the conduct of his war on drugs, which has seen the slaughter of
tens of thousands of suspected drug users and pushers, including
Bottom line is, between 15 Supreme Court justices who were one in
ruling that Mr. Duterte is obliged to cooperate in the criminal
process, and Roque by his lonesome who disagreed that his boss is
not so obliged, is there ever any doubt in any right-thinking persons
mind whose word carries more weight?
So, is this really now the absurd, ridiculous extent to which the
former University of the Philippines College of Law professor is
willing to go in his obsequious service to his principal?
Angeli O Marconi
Morrison says 'sorry'
For his failings as PM of Australia
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 31 July 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday 26 July 2021
PM 'sorry' for slow vaccine rollout", in Bangkok
Post July 23, 2021.
It's refreshing to see the rare instance of a leading politician
actually take responsibility for his shortcomings.
While most leaders around the world are deflecting, pointing fingers
at others, and making excuses for poor outcomes related to the Covid-19
pandemic, the Australian prime minister has taken ownership of his
decisions and mistakes, including apologising for the slow pace
of vaccinations in his country.
The world needs more leaders who assume responsibility for their
decisions and actions and work to correct them rather than simply
make excuses for failings. It takes a real leader to accept responsibility,
admit errors, and move swiftly to remedy mistakes.
Neutral polling organisation
to evaluate police
More credible than police reporting on police
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 30 July 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Tuesday 27 July 2021
Re: "Deal struck to cut police graft",
Bangkok Post July 24, 2021
I laud new police chief Pol Gen Suwat and National Anti-Corruption
Commission (NACC) head Pol Gen Watcharapol in working together to
reduce graft in 88 Metropolitan Police stations in Bangkok.
This is to elevate operational quality and encourage better budget
allocation in hiring and human resource management.
But rather than stressing just self-assessment by the cops, Pol
Gen Suwat and Pol Gen Watcharapol should focus on the citizenry
whom they are supposed to serve in each precinct.
The reason is simple: if you want to know how delicious the food
is, you ask the diners - not the chefs. Asking anybody to evaluate
themselves is an obvious major conflict of interest.
A major and neutral polling organisation, such as the National Institute
of Development Administration (NIDA) or Suan Dusit polls, could
design and carry out the survey, and their reports would be far
more credible than if the police reported on themselves.
Also, the police and National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC)
should not reinvent the wheel.
Pol Gen Vasit Dejkunjorn's panel proposed in-depth police reforms
to then-Prime Minister Abhisit, and Khun Vicha Mahakun's committee
recommended thorough changes at the police and Attorney-General's
Office to PM Prayut.
Their work provides an excellent starting point in cleansing the
police of graft and should be used.
Duterte's bid for presidency
be for real
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 29 July 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday 27 July
In his column Isko vs Sara: The battle of
mayors July 20, 2021, Richard Heydarian seemed to make
the argument that presidential daughter Sara Dutertes reported
bid for the presidency with her father as running mate could be
for real, given that her philosophy of governance stands
in sharp contrast to her fathers, who is more visceral and
top-down in his decision-making.
Her independent-mindedness may therefore be her strongest suit against
critics who see her as no more than a dummy being used by her father
to extend his term and gain immunity from prosecution for another
six years via succession.
If Sara becomes - and stays - president, we may yet see the difference
and breathe a sigh of relief.
Or, she may just follow her fathers advice to step down and
be spared from all the hurtful political intrigues that come with
So if she dutifully resigns and her father takes over, who then
becomes vice president?
The line of succession allows the Senate president and the speaker
to succeed to the presidency only in default of the president and
the vice president.
There is no succession to the so-called spare tire
Section 9 of Article VII of the Constitution provides: Whenever
there is a vacancy in the Office of the Vice-President
President shall nominate a Vice-President from among the Members
of the Senate and the House of Representatives who shall assume
office upon confirmation by a majority vote of all Members of both
Houses of Congress voting separately.
Unlike the US Constitution which gives the new president the prerogative
of appointing anyone to fill his old post with the approval of Congress,
our Constitution limits the presidents choice to the members
Thus, if President Duterte does get recycled as president, he can
nominate either Sen. Bong Go or Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte to
fill the position he vacated, thereby placing any one of them in
the position to succeed him in the event he feels hes too
sick or tired to continue running the show.
And with either his son Paolo or best friend Bong as president,
Citizen Duterte can remain just as powerful and untouchable,
and may continue to dictate the terms of our elections even beyond
Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice
Stephen L Monsanto,
Thailand fines rapper
for accusing government
Of bungling Covid-19 crisis
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday July 28, 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Tuesday July 27, 2021
Re: "Rapper fined for govt slur",
in Bangkok Post, July 23, 2021
Rapper Danupa Milli Khanatheerakulat has been fined 2,000 baht for
"accusing the government of bungling the Covid-19 crisis".
She said the mismanagement has led to surging infection and death
Freedom of expression is guaranteed by our Prayut-drafted constitution,
and she was exercising that right.
Not only that, during the recent past, the curves of our confirmed
Covid-19 infections and deaths have been rising almost vertically,
ICU beds are almost full, and three bodies lay in Bangkok's streets
for hours before being collected.
Was she telling the truth?
Duterte to jet-ski in West Philippine Sea
defiance of China's claim over South China Sea
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 27 July 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 16 July
President Duterte has idiotized the Filipino voters
like no past president had, as shown by his "high approval
rating" to this day.
This is precisely why he has become so bold as to announce that
he is available for a second term by running for vice president,
with the obvious intention of immediately eliminating the dummy
he picks to run for president.
If the voters bought his improbable bravado about "jet-skiing"
to the West Philippine Sea in defiance of China, they would most
likely believe more of the false promises coming out of his mouth.
The framers of the Constitution had fixed the term of the president
to be no more than six years.
But they clearly failed to reckon with the shamelessness of a president
who wants to cling to power longer by any means, fair or foul.
Didnt they ever see how mischievous many of our politicians
have been - going up and down the ladder ad nauseam as they reached
their term limits, and getting away with it?
There is a saying:
If the letter killeth, the spirit that giveth life should prevail.
Now, is it the other way around?
The spirit killeth Mr. Dutertes bid for another term, but
the letter giveth it life!
The plain language of the Constitution does not prohibit his run
for vice president, and therefore allows itso scr*w the "spirit"?
God, please spare this country from more COVID-19 misery - and especially
from more of Mr. Duterte, who was said to be "praying"
for divine guidance if he should run for vice president or not,
despite having called Thee you-know-what. Let not his blasphemy
cause us all this suffering.
Hirap na hirap na po ang Pilipinas. Parang awa Nyo na po!
Nimfa Rina Ricafort,
loses another case
In recovery of Marcos ill-gotten assets
Southeast Asian Times. Monday 26 July 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday 20 July
As if the 2019 Sandiganbayan decision dismissing the
case for recovery of P200 billion in ill-gotten assets against the
Marcoses was not jaw-dropping enough, comes now the report that
the government has lost another Marcos case.
This makes people wonder:
What the hell is wrong with our judicial system?
It seems that when it comes to the Marcoses, Philippine courts are
more fixated on the hole in the donut rather than whats on
the dough - conveniently finding evidence that does not suffice,
instead of finding evidence that suffices.
Rogelio S. Candelario,
Can cause cost and value to diverge
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 25 July 2021
First Published in the Bangkok Post, Friday 23 July 2021
Re: "Three months on, govt inks Pfizer
deal," in Bangkok Post, July 21, 2021
"The government has signed a supply agreement for 20 million
doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine - the delivery is expected
in the fourth quarter of this year."
We've heard this before.
Public Health Minister Anutin also "expected" AstraZeneca
to grant Thailand more than its contracted supply so the government
could meet its jab target.
I don't trust what the government expects any more.
What is the specified delivery date in the contract?
Furthermore, "The value of the deal was not disclosed."
Why the big mystery?
The value should be public knowledge.
After all, the article references the US embassy website as saying
the 1.5 million doses of donated Pfizer vaccine are worth US$30
million about 984 million baht. That works out to 656 baht per dose
or 1.312 billion baht for the 20 million doses purchased.
But perhaps it's the cost of the deal that the government does not
wish to disclose - since it is often rumoured that ministerial "leakage"
can cause cost and value to diverge.
Is saying anything that
is positive about
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 24 July 2021
First Published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 22 July
We thank Solita Monsod for recognizing that there
are large benefits in our relationship with China in The
costs of appeasement, Get Real, July 17, 2021. She
also brought up the need to study net benefits vs costs.
Our difference then in outlook is in the valuation of these contributions
and the attribution of intentions.
Is saying anything that is positive about China necessarily appeasement?
We briefly share some alternative views.
The value of timely assistance in times when we confront life or
death is incalculable.
The quick ending of the Marawi siege is by no means attributing
this to Chinese or Russian donation of arms alone.
But planeloads were donated at a time when the US initially blocked
arms delivery but later released, just when we were at risk of becoming
an IS-run state.
The early donation of billions in lifesaving personal protective
equipment, medical supplies, and vaccines protected our frontliners.
It also allowed the start of our turnaround - value in the hundreds
of billions a month, with the help of medical workers, private donors,
and public servants.
For months, the US hoarded all vaccines, and countries like India
that waited suffered immensely.
Yes, we have to control poachers.
Why do Antonio Carpio and Albert del Rosario never mention that
the most frequent poachers are Vietnamese, or that Indonesians blew
up dozens of Filipino boats they claimed were poachers, or Malaysians
physically punished arrested Filipinos?
Yet we manage those issues and expand cooperation.
Has Professor Monsod calculated the million Filipinos dead in the
war with the US, the millions killed in wars worldwide, the various
sovereignty violations, including the US abandoning our claims on
Sabah - are these already justified by US benefits?
To calculate lost income as billions of dollars yearly is based
on theoretical potential and has no bearing on our practical reality.
Why do our children not dream of becoming fishermen?
Over 90 percent of our own coral reefs and coastal fish are endangered
as reported by World Resources Institute, the UN Environment Program,
our own fishermen.
Yes, we need to help and work together.
We are also in a deficit to Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, South
Korea, etc., because we consume more than we produce, and our people
and educated class dont have much interest in manufacturing.
Trade is mutually beneficial, we have the choice to not buy from
Industry players know Chinas technologies have enabled millions
of our people to afford smartphones and broadband.
Much of our improved internet coverage recently allowing our lives
to resume online is due to Chinese tech companies partnering with
our Filipino telecoms and upgrading the skills of our engineers.
How we approach issues productively rather than emotionally, to
uplift our people, is the goal of IDSI.
The first step is obtaining accurate facts, then using proven frames
of analysis that give good results.
Integrated Development Studies Institute (ISDI)
secession from Papua New Guinea
Ploy to salvage Government plunging popularity
Southeast Asian Times. Friday 23 July 2021
First published in National, Wednesday 21 July 2021
Gone are the days of Sir Noel Levi, Sir John Kaputin,
Kilroy Genia to name a few of our very own Henry Kissingers, who
graced the world of statesmanship with an aura of dignity and proudly
wore Papua New Guinea on their sleeves.
Those who ardently followed the Bougainville reconciliation and
peace process right from the beginning wouldnt miss former
Foreign Affairs minister Genias remarkable skills of negotiation
and statesmanship in finding a diplomatic solution.
Secession was never on the agenda.
Our leaders and negotiators at the time were so mindful in the peace
talks to never compromise the sovereignty of Papua New Guinea.
In every way possible, our unity in diversity as one nation, one
country and one people was defended right up to the hilt.
Not until in 1997 former prime minister, the late Sir William Skate
opened the flood gates to Bougainville self-determination.
Notorious Sir William with alleged connections to Port Moresbys
criminal underworld soon brought the country to its knees.
His erratic fiscal mismanagement jeopardised Papua New Guineas
standing with international aid donors and investors.
Coupled with economic mismanagement the country suffered in his
two-year rule through a prolonged drought, a tsunami that killed
some 2,000 people and the Asian financial crisis hurting the countrys
exports, Sir William needed something to salvage his dying popularity.
He set foot on Bougainville as the first Papua New Guinea prime
minister since the conflicts started in 1988.
Sir William committed to fast-track the peace process.
In mid-1999, he resigned to avoid a no-confidence motion.
Former United States president Abraham Lincoln once said: The
central idea of secession is the essence of anarchy.
Now it is stomach churning when lesser men, men not
grounded on smart statesmanship are attempting the Bougainville
Today, Prime Minister James Marapes government is no different
to Sir Williams.
Papua New Guinea is confronted with a worst ever economic recession,
now heavily relying on tax with the closure of all revenue streams,
blatant economic mismanagement killing off investor confidence,
public debts racing pass manageable thresholds, mine and business
closure leaving thousands out of job and an over sensitised Covid-19
pandemic with billions of emergency funding becoming the Governments
milking cow while imposing unnecessary restrictions.
Bougainville may again pose as a perfect sacrificial lamb to salvage
the Governments plunging popularity.
It is best for the country that Marape, a man standing at the very
shadow end of the statesmanship pool to not try grandstand the Bougainville
issue for political expediency.
Papua New Guinea
Call for lawyer to be
disbarred for defending
against Philippines fishermen
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday, July 22, 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday July 19,
Palace Pinocchio Harry Roque should
Once lawyering on behalf of some fisherfolk in Zambales and Pangasinan
who were being harassed in the West Philippine Sea by the Chinese
Coast Guard, he now brazenly lawyers for China in the fishermens
complaint against the bully that keeps on doing what it has been
doing all these years, to the detriment of their livelihood.
The editorial Whos parroting whom? July
16, 2021 took note of the fact that this time around, Roque has
taken up the cudgels for China despite evidence-based abuse
and bullying of those whom China considers interlopers in the South
China Sea, like his own former clients.
Many years ago, Roque had no problem branding China as a rogue
state for claiming that the West Philippine Sea is its
lake and, hence, part of its internal waters.
He vehemently denounced that claim as utterly bereft of
Now, in exchange for the dubious fame and fortune attached to his
main duty of sanitizing all the codswallop that President Duterte
spews in constant praise of China, Roque has no problem eating his
Lawyers have been disciplinarily dealt with for lesser instances
George Del Mar,
Russia is providing strong
To Asean's guiding role in Myanmar
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 20 July 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday 18 July 2021
Re: "Russia is back and it's a little bit
better," in Bangkok Post Opinion, July 13, 2021.
In his commentary, journalist Kavi Chongkittavorn said that "for
unknown reasons, Moscow has attracted admiration for its strong
tactics and unwavering support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad,
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and besieged Belarus President
Alexander Lukashenko, not to mention the annexation of Crimea".
Let me make these reasons clear.
Unlike other great powers' inconsistent double standards, and hidden
international manoeuvres, Russian foreign policy insists on observing
international law, adherence to governing rules, principles and
due procedures that accompany them.
Attempts to overthrow a legitimate government with the assistance
of illegal foreign military intervention, however motivated, correspond
to none of the above.
On the contrary, a limited Russian military presence as well as
support of Syria were entirely legitimate, since both had been requested
by the Syrian government.
Belarus is a Russian ally and closest partner.
Russia is engaged in building an allied state in accordance with
Threats to its stability by mobs in defiance of political procedures
are naturally detrimental to immediate Russian security and economic
For the same reason, the support for Venezuela was aimed at opposing
overthrowing an elected leader bypassing due political process rather
than helping Mr Maduro alone.
As for Crimea, before calling annexation, Khun Kavi forgot to mention
a referendum that won the unequivocal support of the peninsula's
entire population to reunify with Russia.
Russia is providing strong support to Asean's guiding role in Myanmar.
The Russian position is consistent with the provisions of the association's
five-point consensus; first of all, provisions regarding the cessation
of violence and the exercise of utmost restraint by all conflicting
parties and the development of a dialogue among them aimed at stabilisation.
Together with Asean, Russia shares the view that unilateral sanctions,
rhetoric of threats and any attempts to interfere in Myanmar's internal
affairs will have destructive effects and further polarise its society.
Hopefully, the expected appointment of Asean's special envoy for
Myanmar will be the next big step that provides necessary momentum
to Asean-Russia's joint efforts to settle the situation in that
It is for consistency, predictability and adherence to principles
that Russian foreign policy attracts admiration worldwide.
Court in Hague ruling
on South China Sea
but a piece of waste paper
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 20 July 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 16 July
The news item Govt urged to act immediately
on latest issues concerning West Philippine Sea, July
14, 2021 left us wondering whether we should laugh or cry.
There was supposedly public outrage over the Chinese ambassadors
remark that the Arbitral Award in favor of the Philippines was nothing
but a piece of waste paper, but seriously, whats
the fuss all about?
The Chinese envoy was just repeating what President Duterte had
said months ago Duterte on PH win over China: Thats
just paper; Ill throw that in the waste basket,
June 5, 2021!
Mr. Duterte himself saw no value in the Philippines victory,
so why blame China for agreeing with him totally?
Thanks to their duly elected president, our people deserve this
utter humiliation. Yet, despite knowing now that they had voted
for a president who couldnt care less about the public outrage
his subservience to China is causing, they continue to give him
very high approval ratings, which has only emboldened him to go
for another six years, by hook or by crook.
Duterte-Duterte tandem leads in Pulse Asia survey,
July 13, 2021 reads a recent news item.
Is there still any doubt what lies ahead for this country?
For the love of God, are there no more Filipinos in the current
regime decent enough to say enough?
Marcelo JR Garcis,
for investigation into misappropriation of funds
for PNG islander resettlement program
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 19 July 2021
First published in the National, Friday 16 July 2021
We have been following the news about the investigation
into the misappropriation of funds marked for the Manam Restoration
It is sad that the millions of kina allocated were allegedly misappropriated
by people in authority in Madang while the islanders suffered and
did not benefit from the funds that were released by the Government.
We in East Sepik are asking if an investigation of some sort can
be done into funds that were released for the Kadovar islanders.
They are currently temporarily settled at the care centre at Dandan,
along the Wewak eastern coast.
We ere told that K5 million was marked to help the islanders in
a possible resettlement programme.
However, we are not sure if the money has been released.
We have been asking questions for people in authority in Wewak and
East Sepik to tell us how the islanders could be helped.
So far, no one has responded to our questions.
We, the people in Wewak, are asking too about the long-term plans
for the islanders who are settling in Dandan.
Are they going to be living there forever?
If so, have the landowners agreed to this.
We want the people in authority to tell us that.
We are aware of the problems faced by Manam islanders who have been
resettled on the mainland.
We do not want our Kadovar islanders in Wewak to face the same issues.
As a start, we want an investigation into the money that was marked
to help with the Wewak islanders.
Was K5 million from the Government given?
If so, where is it?
How was it used?
Papua New Guinea
Military dynasty in national
monopoly of power in Philippines today.
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 18 July 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Sunday 18 July
Since 1986, the entire national security apparatus
of the nation has been sick.
The 1986 Edsa Revolution started it all.
The Air Force of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff who came from
the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (Philippines) (ROTC) was replaced
by Fidel V. Ramos, a US military academy graduate.
Thereafter, graduates of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) succeeded
him to the position of chief of staff.
Down the line, Philippine Military Academy (PMA) graduates started
occupying key positions in the national security apparatus.
Was there anything wrong?
Not at all, after all Philippine Military Academy (PMA) graduates
were well trained and well selected.
They came from the best of our youth, trained by the best military
But however good it was, there was a bad side.
It was the beginning of the military dynasty in the national security
apparatus that holds the monopoly of power today.
That monopoly of power has placed Philippine Military Academy (PMA)
graduates in almost all key positions, which has split the officer
corps in two: one for them and the other for the second-class officers
who came from the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (Philippines)
(ROTC) but occupy 70 percent of the officer corps.
With this structure, it is easy to see that morale had become a
rooted problem. Such a problem erodes the efficiency, effectiveness,
and efficacy of the organization. The indicators are there to see.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) has an unwholesome reputation.
Their generals go to jail.
The rank and file dont report for duty.
The Philippine Air Force (PAF) flight safety record is not something
to be proud of. Their mistah system doesnt work well.
I know. I was there for 35 years.
The Air Force of the Philippines (AFP), managed by Philippine Military
Academy (PMA) grads, has been fighting the insurgency for 70 years.
The public can judge for itself how well or unwell it has gone.
The truth of the matter is that in any organization where there
is monopoly of power, elitism will rear its ugly head.
Competition becomes extinct. Camaraderie disappears.
People lose the elan to strive for excellence.
It is as true today as it was in the days of Lord Acton.
That is why there is always the need for checks and balances as
enshrined in our Constitution. Seven years ago, there was a bill
in the Senate filed by five senators to establish separate academies
for the Air Force and the Navy to produce officers in the Air Force
of the Philippines (AFP) that would serve that all-important doctrine
of checks and balances.
Instead, the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) was reinvented to
become a tri-service academy.
The result: more of the same.
The graduates have continued to flood the entire security apparatus.
The monopoly of power is for us to see.
It is from one mistah to the next like a revolving door. The military
dynasty enshrined elitism in the entire national security apparatus.
Let it be said that the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) is not
an elitist school. Most of the cadets come from the middle class
and poor families.
Elitism is never a doctrine or policy in the Air Force of the Philippines
I sent two of my sons there, and we are not by any means an elitist
But the course of human events led the organization to what it is
Truly, the Air Force of the Philippines (AFP) Officers Corps is
now too powerful. It is a monster.
The public knows that. Sadly, there is nothing to provide checks
Lt., Gen. Antonio E. Sotelo,
the Air Force of the Philippines (AFP) (Ret.)
Call for US donated vaccines
To include vaccination of US citizens in
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 17 July 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, July 8, 2021
set for 1.5m US doses", in Bangkok Post,
July 8, 2021
While the US donation of vaccines to Thailand is welcome support,
many Americans are wondering why some of the vaccines being sent
here cannot be explicitly earmarked for US citizens residing in
China can do it.
France can do it.
Why can't the US do it?
Is the provision of vaccines to Americans too costly?
Is the operation too difficult?
Or, are American officials simply too uncaring?
Dismissed court justices
recieve retirement benefits
Despite justices found guilty of corruption
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 16 July 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer Tuesday 13 July
Once again, the Supreme Court has demonstrated how
generous it can be when it comes to dispensing taxpayer money like
an ATM in favor of people deemed more equal than
the rest of us.
Special people like former Sandiganbayan justice
Gregory Ong and the late chief justice Renato Corona have been allowed
to enjoy the whole package of retirement benefits despite having
been both found guilty of corruption during their public service
time in the bench (SC shows mercy for ex-justice
who fixed Napoles case, July 7, 2021; SC vindicates
Corona, grants full retirement benefits, February 9, 2021
If the Supreme Court has no better use of surplus cash in the tens
of millions being showered on those former magistrates, it could
have thought of the millions of Filipinos wallowing in abject poverty,
misery, and sickness amid this raging pandemic, now without much
help from a supposedly bankrupt government.
Not to be insensitive to the miseries of the
Ong and Corona families, but what greater acts of corruption did
the millions of Filipinos do to be treated to the spectacle of being
denied even just a sprinkling of similar financial aid from the
highest court of law and justice?
Chin Chin Katigbak,
Call for moral excellence
In 2022 Philippines
Southeast Asian Times Thursday 15 July 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 9 July
President Duterte has turned our country into a topsy-turvy
land defined by a culture of violence and lawlessness; extrajudicial
killings and human rights abuses; a crisis of confidence in institutions
such as the Supreme Court, the Senate, House of Representatives,
Commission on Elections, and local government units; wanton violation
of the Constitution and democratic system; suppression of the freedom
of speech and of the press; historical revisionism, political patronage,
and rampant militarization; jarring mass poverty, widespread corruption,
unaccomplished benefits for workers and the poor, and inferior health
programs; complaisant subservience to China; and the betrayal of
our country and people with his divisive, incompetent, autocratic
Such ills must not describe the next presidency.
We have a chance at real change in 2022.
Lets not elect/reelect the self-advancing wreckers of the
nations hard-earned democratic institutions - those mutilators
of our political-social-moral-economic fabric.
Miriam Defensor Santiago said that academic, professional, and moral
excellence are needed for the presidency. Vice President Leni Robredo
has these qualities, and more. We, the 1,000 plus-members, families,
and friends of Mga Apo Ni Tomas are ready for her presidency.
Pit M. Maliksi,
Call for differentiation
and state in Papua New Guinea
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 14 July 2021
First published in the National, Monday 12 July 2021
I am against the move by the Government to declare
Papua New Guinea a Christian Country.
I know some people are against it as well.
This move seems to be a practice of dictatorship.
We need to embrace the type of governance this country adapted since
Were a democracy.
Democracy promotes citizens rights to freedom of choice in
voting Members of Parliaments, rights to education, and rights to
choose to follow whatever religion that suits an individuals
Section 45 of our Constitution is one of the basis of democratic
laws and it guides the citizens rights to religious beliefs
So long as the creed and practices of a particular religion are
morally right, they can be allowed to practice their faith.
If we successfully declare Papua New Guinea a Christian country,
what would be its limits, restrictions or implications?
The non-Christians in the country should be advised on this.
As it is now, the move sounds dictatorial to non-Christian religions
such as Bahai, Islam and Judaism, which are already in Papua
In the case of Islam, I am a follower of Islam (reverted Muslim).
It was established in Papua New Guinea in 1982 as The Islamic Society
of Papua New Guinea Inc.
Currently, Islam in Papua New Guinea has nearly 6,000 followers
and is one of the fastest growing religion.
As the saying goes: You can take a horse to the river,
but cannot force it to drink the water.
The Government cannot deprive our democratic right to choose whatever
religion we want to follow.
Its a conviction that comes from the heart and cannot be replaced
with whatever external physical means. When we have to look at the
Bible, some teachings are yet to be understood.
Different people have different interpretations when it comes to
understanding certain messages in the Bible.
Different denominations have different practices. All in all, there
are so many bible versions (roughly more than 40 versions today),
which differs in so many verses.
Therefore, when we want to uphold certain agreed concepts or values
and practices, it will be much more complicated to come to a better
resolution. The Constitution itself is enough to provide a better
community, promotes individuals prosperity and our interactions
with other countries, if properly enforced.
It encounters every facet and dooms of morals and values that can
prompt a better and peaceful living.
Just look at Australia, it is better off with a democratic system
Religion and politics are two different controversial topics and
should be dealt with separately.
Political leaders should make a distinctive decisions as political
leaders and not religious leaders so as to minimise conflicts of
interest and opinions and to represent people well.
Abdul Ahemed (Muslim brother)
Papua New Guinea
Tons of used Covid-19
Getting into waterways
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 13 July 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 9 July
Dr. Wong Chen Seong of the National Centre for Infectious
Diseases of Singapore said that improper discarding of face masks
that are soiled or have a large amount of respiratory secretions
is a potential health hazard.
The virus on such masks that are left exposed is said to survive
for a few hours to a few days and even for months to years if kept
in a cold place.
According to Dr. Wong, one should wash his or her hands before taking
off the mask.
Remove it not under the chin but rather through the ear loops.
Next, fold the mask in half inward so the droplets from the mouth
and nose will not be exposed.
Fold it again to another half, then to another half until the mask
looks like a roll. Finally, wrap it with its ear loops and put inside
a piece of tissue before throwing it into a rubbish bin.
Associate Professor Alex Cook of National University of Singapore
also said that those infected with the virus should be
more mindful of where they discard their mask. It would be a good
idea to put it in a bag and throw it immediately in the trash rather
than leave it sitting exposed.
Experts say used face masks are getting into waterways, where they
reach fresh water and the marine environment.
Oceans Asia reported in February 2020 the presence of face masks
in waters off Hong Kong.
BBC has also reported that in Anilao, Batangas, scuba divers found
numerous face masks in sea corals and in other marine areas, posing
a danger to fish and other sea animals.
In my morning walks, I have seen face masks on streets, dogs biting
into face masks, and children playing with dirty masks.
Just recently, a friend forwarded a plea from garbage collectors
asking that homes segregate their face masks from other waste.
A study conducted by the University of Phayao, Thailand last year
showed that in 49 Asian countries including the Philippines, 16,659.48
tons of medical waste, mostly face masks, were being generated daily
during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In India, its 6,491.49; Iran, 1,191.04; Pakistan 1,099.30;
the Philippines, 353.03.
As we continue to grapple with the pandemic, we must do our share
to protect the environment.
We should also kneel harder in prayer that our garbage collectors,
like our other frontliners, may do their job well and will not get
Mario D. Dalangin,
Kapatirang Bihiya treasurer,
Call for Integrated Bar
of the Philippines
To redress death of Filipinos due to China's
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 12 July 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 8 July
While admitting that there is no law prohibiting President
Duterte from running for vice president, former Integrated Bar of
the Philippines (IBP) president Domingo Cayosa seemed to make the
argument that a challenge can be lodged with the Supreme Court in
case Mr. Duterte makes good that threat.
He warned that the process can be tedious and drawn out
No legal obstacle to Duterte VP run, but will his 16 million
voters back him again? lawyer, July 5, 2021, suggesting
it may not be resolved during Mr. Dutertes extended presidency
Our own takeaway is that the challenge will not be long and drawn-out,
but will be quickly disposed of for being pointless.
Take the case of former president Gloria M. Arroyo who ran for Congress
after her term expired. Has any lawyer ever doubted her right to
The Constitution plainly bars any president from seeking election
again to the same office, but not to any other office regardless
of his or her ulterior motive.
It all simply boils down to how the electorate will view such "lust
Cayosa should find better use of his influence and time by rousing
his colleagues in the currently moribund Integrated Bar of the Philippines
(IBP), whose only proof of life is felt in its vigorous effort to
collect the annual dues from its members.
He could rally them to do something more patriotic: to seek redress
in a court of law on behalf of about 1.5 million Filipinos sick
and the heirs of about 25,000 dead due to Chinas COVID-19.
More evidence is already coming to light, pointing to the military
arm of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as having ginned up the
virus in its Wuhan lab to make it more lethal and highly transmissible
to humans - a biological weapon, many are convinced, for all intents
The task is no doubt herculean and unprecedented.
There might arise the need for a special tribunal composed of the
best legal minds in the country to preside over a class suit that
could be deemed sui generis, as it seeks indemnification amounting
to an astronomical sum.
Suing a foreign political party or organization running a foreign
government whose satellite companies are doing business and holding
enormous assets in this country is fraught with extreme difficulties.
Only the cachet that the members of the Supreme Court hold can lend
credibility to such proceedings.
And while, as a rule, our Supreme Court has been declaring itself
not "a trier of facts," the truth of the matter
is it can disregard that rule any time it needs to. Indeed, if it
can take time out to act as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal
to receive evidence of electoral fraud as in Ferdinand Bongbong
Marcos vs. Vice President Leni Robredo, surely it can deviate from
its regular role and become a peoples tribunal
of sorts for a matter of so much more transcendental importance
and higher public interest than any case in its docket.
Isnt it time this course of action is put on the table for
Given their talent to think of the often unthinkable, has any group
of lawyers hereabouts ever thought of finding ways to hold the Chinese
Communist Party (CCP) accountable for what could well be the crime
of the century?
Or, are we all resigned to just suffering in silence and rolling
over as this pandemic continues to ravage our people and country
with no end in sight?
Elite Filipino lawyers and statesmen once found the great patriotism
and guts to go after China at the Permanent Court of Arbitration
(PCA), despite knowing that any judgment in the Philippines
favor was going to be unenforceable.
The message was what really mattered: The Philippines was not going
to be pushed around by a bully.
And yet, the ripple effect of that judgment has seen powerful countries
challenging Chinas ambition to exercise dominion over all
the islets, the waters, and resources within its nine-dash
line in the South China Sea, a claim the Permanent Court of
Arbitration (PCA) has ruled to be bogus.
We wont be alone.
More enterprising lawyers around the globe have commenced COVID-19-related
class actions against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its
surrogates in their respective jurisdictions since last year. In
around 40 countries including the United States, Great Britain,
Canada, litigations are ongoing for punitive damages aggregating
hundreds of trillions of dollars against the Chinese Communist Party
(CCP), with an eye on its businesses and cash-rich assets in their
What will it take for our own former Integrated Bar of the Philippines
(IBP) to wake up and start lawyering for the Filipino people? Or
is anybody even home?
Stephen L. Monsanto,
Permanent peace on Bougainville
When Bougainville gains independence
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 10 July 2021
First published in the National, Wednesday 7 July 2021
As the second consultation between Bougainville and
Papua New Guinea leaders progresses in Wabag, Enga, the people of
Bougainville are wondering whether Papua New Guinea will honour
their wishes for an independent Bougainville.
The people unanimously voted for independence in the recent Bougainville
The right to determine a political destiny by the people is a human
right, which is recognised under international law.
It is known as the right to self-determination.
Through that right, people can freely determine their socio-economic,
cultural and political future.
Through that right, the people of Bougainville were given the opportunity
to determine their political future of which they voted for separation
from Papua New Guinea.
Papua New Guinea, on the other hand, as a sovereign state, will
always want to safeguard its territorial integrity just as any other
It does not wish to see disintegration.
In fact, as a general principle under international law, no territory
within a sovereign state is allowed to disintegrate itself without
the consent of the mother state.
However there is an exception to this.
Where the mother state conducts itself in a manner that is contrary
to human rights practices or where the right to self-determination
of a particular people within the mother state is being deprived,
the mother state can no longer protect its sovereignty and territorial
In the case of Bougainville and Papua New Guinea, Papua New Guinea
lost its cause for protecting its territorial integrity and sovereignty
when it declared war on Bougainville and used its military to kill
20,000 Bougainvilleans and caused thousands to suffer for 10 years.
Human rights atrocities in Bougainville committed by the Papua New
Guinea Governments agents were serious that any state can
cause to its own people.
The pain and suffering that the people went through is still fresh
in the minds of the people.
About 20,000 Bougainvilleans who perished remain uncompensated while
Papua New Guinea compensated those soldiers that lost their lives
The Papua New Guinea Government needs to understand that it can
no longer preach about protecting its national unity when it already
lost its obligation to protect its territorial integrity over Bougainville.
Permanent peace on Bougainville and in Papua New Guinea will only
be attained when Bougainville gains independence.
South West Bougainville,
Papua New Guinea
creative arts industry
In desperate need of help
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 9 July 2021
First published in the Star, Wednesday 7 July 2021
The performance arts industry is facing a catastrophic
crisis because of Covid-19. This pandemic has reshaped the arts
world like it has never before.
As the post-pandemic future of the arts looks bleak, we end up with
the vicious question we keep asking ourselves How
do we move forward at least for the next three months?
When a performing arts centre plans to stay afloat for the next
three months instead of planning productions for the next one to
two years, it is a clear indication that things are beginning to
fall apart and yes, we are beginning to crumble.
With our governments lack of enthusiasm to address the pandemics
effect on the creative arts industry, what more to safeguard us
from tumbling over, we can only rely on ourselves to keep us alive.
This is nothing new to us, for we are all very much aware of the
situation unfortunately knowing does not make things any
easier to swallow.
Like an old wound, we continue to bleed.
As we lower down our anchor, we have decided on drastic changes
to stretch the duration of our survival.
After one year of struggling with a 30 percent salary cut, our team
is forced to endure another round of salary cuts, effective June
Also, the employment status of our team has been transformed from
full-time employment to contractual employment.
We are doing everything in our power to survive, unfortunately we
also need to prepare for the worst-case scenario.
We still need to brace for further impact if the economy doesnt
rise up soon enough or no assistance is found.
If that happens, we may be forced to make a follow-up salary cut
even when we find our salary barely enough to survive at the moment.
We are grateful to have a wonderful team who are in this difficult
journey with us. However, as the journey gets harder, we may have
to part ways with some of them.
It wont be easy to say goodbye to family, but this pandemic
has not made anything easy either. In fact, we have informed our
team that we will accept their decision if they do receive better
employment offers elsewhere.
We just cant drag them along as we sink.
We are doing our very best to stay alive, however we do not wish
to sugarcoat this very difficult situation.
Our survival is very much in a limbo; we do not even know if we
can make it past August.
Our fund is depleting and we are working very hard to get donations
and sponsorships in.
Unfortunately, nothing is helping much at the moment.
We are in desperate need of help.
Performing Arts Centre of Penang (penangpac)
China has become as capitalistic
As the United States of America
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 8 July 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday 7 July
Randy Davids column America and
China: A tale of two systems, Public Lives, July 4,
2021 strikes me as a challenge to our Filipino youth who are easily
swayed by the communist ideology for whatever reason - youthful
idealism, patriotic fervor, extreme poverty.
China has become as capitalistic as its biggest rival, the United
States of America, and even as imperialistic as shown by its bullying
of the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries in the South
It has been using its economic muscle to impose onerous and predatory
loans on developing countries that leave them dispossessed of their
patrimony in case of default.
It is quite perplexing, therefore, that our left-leaning youth movements
are still captivated by the Chinese model of development which,
as Randy David observed, only remains viable if fueled by an authoritarian
and highly centralized system of government and a fiercely market-driven
It is quite amusing to hear our street activists continuously denounce
US imperialism when our existential problem today is in fact Chinese
imperialism, a superpower encroaching on our territorial seas backed
up by military might.
How I wish the talents and energies of our young activists were
directed toward exploring solutions to our national problems that
harness democratic and Christian values and instincts and not those
driven by deep ideological conflicts, hatred, and class struggle
that leave no room for enlightened dialogue and peaceful coexistence.
Instead of constantly organizing mass actions and engaging in political
activities to create the revolutionary situation
that will tip the balance in favor of a new political order,
would not the intelligence, creativeness, and moral courage of our
youth be better put at the service of the country through productive
and nonviolent ways?
For instance, by being engaged in their chosen professional careers,
whether in business, industry, government, or even in the political
arena, our youth can channel their drive for excellence and patriotism
to redressing existing structures of injustice, inequality, and
discrimination, alleviating mass poverty, and helping build a better
Our society is fast collapsing under the weight of political corruption,
socioeconomic inequality, and decades-long armed insurgencies.
All these will fall on the laps of our youth, the next generation
of Filipinos, so that it is critical that they discern very carefully
the pathways that will save our nation from endless strife and social
There are a number of alternatives to choose from, but five decades
of debilitating and fruitless armed struggle modeled on a foreign
ideology has not worked, and we need to look elsewhere for the solution.
Former President Benigno
Simeon C. Aquino III
a narrative that could be used in next elections
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 7 July 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 1 July
So much has been said about former President Benigno
Simeon C. Aquino III in light of his untimely passing.
The various testimonies made us see a man who served his country
well the best that he could.
The accounts of a number of people who worked with him when he was
the chief executive offered the public a narrative that could be
used as a reference next year.
This should open our minds to what the presidency should be.
We have already seen 16 presidents - from Emilio Aguinaldo to Rodrigo
Duterte. The country has been offered a myriad of presidential styles.
There were those who managed the government well and there were
others who left office with controversies hounding them, even to
The presidency is still the office where we place our collective
aspirations as a country.
And it is in this perspective that we the electorate should envision
the kind of leader we need.
One who would help us achieve our goals and address our problems.
This discussion is very timely as we go to the polls next year to
elect a new president.
Names of potential presidential candidates are already floating
Some appear to be reluctant while others are
just waiting for the right time to throw their hat in the ring.
The electorate needs to vet each one of them thoroughly.
Go over their respective platforms and consider their stand on various
Once these are satisfied, vote for who you believe is best qualified
for the job.
A reminder: Please choose wisely.
Mark Jerome T. Bongalon,
President Noynoy Aquino
eye for an eye
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 6 July 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday 5 July
When I interviewed Noynoy Aquino end of August 1983,
just days after the assassination of his father, for Celebrity magazine,
I recall now what he told me then:
I am a biblical eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth guy.
If you hurt my mother, if you hurt my sisters, Ill get back
Amadis Ma. Guerrero,
raises safety concerns
Over pre-colonial buildings
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 5 July 2021
First published in the Star, Tuesday 29 June 2021
The collapse of the 12-storey beachfront condominium
building in Miami, Florida on June 24, killing at least nine people
and leaving 100 people still missing as of Sunday, should raise
concern over the safety of buildings in our own country.
Could a similar incident occur in Malaysia, where there are many
pre-colonial buildings that are still being occupied?
The Uniform Building By-Laws (UBBL) 1984 enacted under the Street
Drainage and Building Act 1974 stipulates that all new buildings
require submission of plans for approval prior to construction.
The plans must be submitted by a principal submitting person (PSP)
such as a professional architect or professional engineer.
UBBL 1984 stipulates the buildings structural requirements
related to the design and specifications of materials, loadings,
foundation and superstructure. It also governs the design, specifications
and construction of walls, floor and building structure and fire
requirements of a building.
Section 85A of the Street, Drainage and Building Act 1974 states
that for buildings exceeding five stories, the local authority may
by a notice in writing served on the owner of a building,
require the building to be inspected after the 10th year
commencing from the date the first certificate of fitness for occupation
in respect of the building was issued; and thereafter at intervals
of not more than 10 years from the date of the completion of the
last inspection of the building under this section.
The inspection must be conducted by a professional engineer registered
under the Registration of Engineers Act 1967.
Section 85A(6)(c) states that if, after having considered
the results of the visual inspection, the engineer reasonably suspects
or is of the opinion that there is a defect, deformation or deterioration
in the building or its structural elements as will or will likely
endanger or reduce the structural stability or integrity of any
part of the building he shall request for permission from the local
authority to carry out a full structural investigation on the building
including investigation in respect of its structural elements...
Furthermore, the Fire Services Act 1988 requires designated premises
to undergo an annual fire inspection before they are issued with
a Fire Certificate (FC) by the Fire and Rescue Department.
This shows that we have stringent laws and regulations in place
to ensure the safety of buildings, and it is of paramount importance
that they are strictly implemented and enforced.
All designated premises in Malaysia must be mandated to display
the Fire Certificate and all buildings that are more than 10 years
old must display proof that the periodic inspections have been carried
In the era of big data technology, it should be easy to compile
information on all buildings that are more than 10 years old. Compliance
with the regulations will ensure that buildings in Malaysia are
safe for occupancy.
TS. IR. Wong Chee Fui,
Thailand calls for flexibility
In purchase agreements with China
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 3 July 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday 2 July 2021
Re: "China confirms purchase of 20,000 tonnes
of rice," in Bangkok Post, Monday June 28, 2021.
It's reported that China agreed in 2015 to buy 2 million tonnes
of rice from Thailand.
The buyers later reduced the volume by half, to only 1 million tonnes
- and to date only three-fourths of that amount has actually been
When Thai officials speak of purchase agreements with China for
dubious items such as submarines, tanks, and high-speed train systems,
they emphasise the sanctity and rigidity of agreements made previously.
It seems that China is able to alter the terms of purchase agreements
quite easily; why is the same flexibility not possible from the
Duterte candidate for
Turned out to be the Manchurian candidate
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 2 July 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 1 July
Reading the news item Duterte on 2022 VP
race: If theres space for me there, then maybe
June 29, 2021 left us feeling like puking over the sheer hypocrisy
of it all.
Doesnt President Duterte ever tire of speaking with a forked
Sobrang pa-cute! Kunyari ayaw, pero sige na nga!
Hes recycling the same gimmick he used in 2016: Pakipot.
Sir, tama na po, kumita na po yan! He really has no choice but to
stay in power. Despite all his bravado about
taking full responsibility and bluster about going to jail himself
for the alleged EJKs committed by his minions, he now seems more
like desperately seeking a continuum of his immunity
as president, by hook or by crook, to escape criminal prosecution.
A win by the opposition in 2022 is for him not an option.
Mr. Duterte badly needs an absolutely reliable president
who will have no problem stepping aside for his immediate succession.
Only his daughter, Sara, fits the bill; or alternatively, his gofer,
Bong Go - both already seen to be positioning for the greatest hoax
this country has ever known.
Only Vice President Leni Robredo can beat Sara, if only she could
stop being so wish-washy about her intentions.
Shes said to be just thinking of running for governor in her
hometown instead. Seriously?
Now is the time for her to show what stuff shes made of.
Sara has already been brazenly campaigning.
So what the heck, shouldnt Leni be?
The stark contrast between the decency a Robredo brand of governance
offers and the unbridled vulgarity the Duterte brand has demonstrated
should now open the eyes of the more than 16 million Filipinos who
put their trust in a macho candidate in 2016
who turned out to be more Manchurian - more beholden
to a foreign country than to his own.
of Noynoy Aquino a foreshadowing
Of return to a respectable president
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 1 July 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, 29 June 2021
Im sure Im not the only one who has observed
that whenever our country is ruled by a corrupt, abusive, and tyrannical
president, an Aquino dies and rouses individuals and democratic
forces to fight for democracy.
During the Marcos dictatorship, the Left consistently fought for
the rights of the people, but it was only after the assassination
of Sen. Ninoy Aquino that thousands of Filipinos, especially the
middle classes, became active in the so-called parliament of the
streets and in the 1986 presidential election.
In 2004, former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo cheated her way
to the presidency Hello, Garci?.
Corruption became a way of life and repressive measures were implemented
by her Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff and
the Philippine National Police (PNP) to quell the various forces
opposing her administration.
The death of President Cory Aquino swept to victory her only son,
Noynoy Aquino, who instituted various social,
political, and economic reforms when he became president.
Today, we are led by a president under whose rule billions of shabu
still manage to slip in, thousands of petty pushers have died, fake
news abound, and servility to China is the norm.
Is the death of Noynoy Aquino a foreshadowing of the return of a
respectable president who will assert our rights against China,
open up the democratic space, and provide medical and health solutions
instead of police or military ones to the drug problem and the pandemic?
Raffy Rey Hipolito,
Not safe to be caught
up in traffic
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 30 June 2021
First published in the National, Monday 28 June 2021
The rise in crime in Port Moresby is a challenge for
the police .
In recent weeks, there has been a lot of crime.
People are living in fear
What are our authorities doing to address this?
It is not safe to be caught up in traffic.
It shows the city has become lawless and our leaders have not done
anything to address it.
The city is growing fast causing a lot of issues with traffic.
Vendors and thugs are taking control of the traffic.
We have to address this before it gets worse.
When you study the success of cities such as New York, the fastest
way to reduce major crime is to stop petty crimes.
Please hear the calls of our people in the city.
We are frightened.
We are worried.
If we want the country and our capital city to move towards a positive
future, we need to eliminate these elements that are holding us
Lets stop petty crimes now before we implement curfews and
other drastic measures to slow it down.
Concerned City Resident,
Papua New Guinea
Philippine President Duterte
Who are not vaccinated thrown in jail
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 29 June 2021
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 29 June 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday 28 June
During the incumbency of United States Republican
president Donald J. Trump, he submitted himself to a cognitive ability
test in response to critics who excoriated him about his competence,
i.e., to see if he is crazy or not.
He aced it and the doubt was settled, except for the hardliners
of the rival Democratic Party.
President Duterte wants Filipinos who have not been vaccinated against
COVID-19 be thrown in jail Amid scarcity, Duterte wants
COVID-19 vax refusers jailed, June 23, 2021, despite the
fact that there are not enough vaccines available to millions of
He would need to build the biggest jail in the world to contain
more than 100 million Filipinos.
Doesnt anyone think its time for Mr. Duterte to undergo
that same cognitive test?
Asking lang po.
Yvette San Luis-Petrocelli,
About the plight of indigenous
In Thailand's national parks
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 28 June 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Thursday 24 June 2021
hampers Unesco park quest", in Bangkok Post,
Opinion, June 17, 2021
I'm sure for many expats in Thailand the plight of indigenous forest
dwellers in Thailand's national parks is something of a mystery.
I had to study a map to, vaguely, discover where some of the disputed
lands were located.
It is not easy to understand what lies behind labyrinthine forest
affairs or state-sponsored policies of violence against the Karen,
or why laws were passed in 2019 enabling forest authorities to further
destroy their property.
In one's efforts to make sense of this murky business, what little
I have gleaned is thanks to the dedicated research and reporting
of Sanitsuda Ekachai.
It is reassuring that this senior Bangkok Post columnist recognises
her role entails more than rearranging pro-China hand-outs or acting
as a state sycophant in defence of the regime's persecution of members
of the pro-Democracy movement.
Forces of the Philippines
no mercy for Lumad children
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 27 June 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 25 June
We, an association of consecrated women in Mindanao,
express both lamentation and rage over yet another spilling of innocent
lumad blood on ancestral lands.
The blood of Angel and Lenie Rivas, and Willy Rodriguez, cry
out to the heavens for justice.
It is the same cry of Emerito Samarca, Dionel Campos, and Datu Bello
Sinzo who were massacred in Lianga, Surigao del Sur in 2015 by government-sanctioned
We grieve with their families and community and with the Diocese
of Tandag under the Most Rev. Raul Dael, who held a Dialogue
of Life with the Manobo of Lianga earlier this year.
Angel was a Grade 6 student of the Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao
del Sur (TRIFPSS) lumad school.
Willy and Lenie were members of the Malahutayong Pakigbisog alang
sa Sumusunod (Mapasu or Sustainable Struggle for Future Generations).
They were gathering abaca hemp to sustain their livelihood especially
in these dire pandemic times when they were mercilessly shot by
military men belonging to the 3rd Special Forces of the Philippine
The lack of mercy from their attackers is shown by the fact that
before they went to their farm, the victims had sought
permission from the military - an ironic situation because
as lumad they are supposed to exercise sovereignty and self-determination
in their own land.
The military fired upon them with full knowledge of their being
civilians going about their daily living.
This is, therefore, murder most vile.
Angel, Lenie, and Willy were presented as New Peoples Army
rebels as the militarys justification for the treacherous
It reflects the state policy of Red-tagging that leads to extrajudicial
killings, and extrajudicial killings justified by the Red-tagging
of its defenseless victims.
The Lianga massacre of 2015 is an example of the former, the Lianga
massacre of 2021 of the latter.
We are witness to this ever-widening policy of death and destruction
in the many communities where we live out our missionary work, especially
among poor farmers, the Moro, and the lumad. Land-grabbing of ancestral
lands, killings, forced evacuations, economic and food blockades,
forced and faked surrender of civilians, the
slander and harassment of community leaders, advocates, and support
groups these are clear transgressions against human dignity and
Our witnessing comes with the realization that the fullness of life
for the Manobo as envisioned by the Most Rev.
Ireneo Amantillo, the Bishop of Tandag during the dark days of martial
law when he pioneered the TRIFPSS school, necessitates a sustained
work for justice, the same principle lived out by the malahutayong
pakigbisog of Mapasu.
As consecrated women, we commit ourselves to this work of justice
for the Lianga massacre victims.
We affirm Gods love, mercy, and justice for them and their
We are not dismayed in the face of this violation of justice and
righteousness against the poor.
We take comfort in the certainty that the high officials who perpetrate
this violence and terrorism shall be made accountable to yet Higher
Ones over them.
The instrumentalities of human rights nationally and internationally
are higher levels of accountability.
The upcoming elections provide another arena for accountability
in terms of raising awareness and providing guidance in choosing
leaders that uphold life and human rights.
The peoples movement for social justice, while vilified and
violently repressed, journeys on even more resolutely to bring about
And, above all, we are strengthened in faith in our God of History,
who walks with the people in building the kin-dom of
solidarity, peace, and justice.
Sisters Association in Mindanao (Samin),
Call for Philippines nuclear
power plant to be converted
Into center for manufacturing organic oil
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 26 June 2021
First published in the Philipine Inquirer, Thursday 24 June
It is good that the Noynoy Aquino administration did
not consider reviving the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP).
Yes, we all agree, it is economical to operate a nuclear power plant.
But if it fails, it is also expensive and destructive.
If the power cost is only P1 while the cost of repairing damages
is P10,000 in case of failures, you dont need to study economics
at UP or Ateneo to know the difference.
I am not a licensed engineer to say that the strength of materials
has a certain period to remain unbreakable, or what we call in laymans
terms metal fatigue. But what about other factors
that cannot be seen by the experts like meteorites
dropping from the sky, or if Chinas relationship with
the Philippines changes and it decides to bomb our nuclear plant,
or we lack uranium because China and other suppliers do not want
Former president Ferdinand Marcos cronies - like Herminio
Disini - got fat commissions from Westinghouse.
Cory mothballed the plant, and to prove to the world that the Philippines
has integrity, she honored the countrys liabilities with Westinghouse.
Meanwhile, scrap scavengers, in connivance with people inside, had
methodically stolen most of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP)
essential parts, like titanium condenser tubes.
The Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) can be converted into a center
for manufacturing organic oil, because it is
very near Pampanga, Bataan, and Zambales that have millions of hectares
suited to plant jatropha, cassava, sugar cane, and malunggay.
Millions of jobs will be created, too.
About time we do something to erase the image that the Bataan Nuclear
Power Plant (BNPP) is a showcase of world-class corruption.
Isidro C. Valencia,
Support for criminal investigation
into Thai MP's
Conviction for smuggling herion into Australia
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 25 June 2021
First published in the Bankgok Post, Thursday 24 June 2021
Re: "MP takes legal action over Thamanat's
Aussie jail time", in Bangkok Post, 22 June
I fully support Seri Ruam Thai leader Sereepisuth Temeeyaves' demanding
a criminal investigation over Thamanat's conviction for smuggling
heroin into Australia: if the drugs came from Thailand, his offence
should have been illegal in Thailand, and he may not be eligible
to be an Member of Parliament or cabinet member.
Can Thamanat deny his handwritten confession - and was he really
smuggling "flour", as he vehemently told parliament?
Or should he come clean, confirm his heroin smuggling, but say that
since he's served his sentence, he should be given a second chance?
To uphold the rule of law, as he's vowed to do, PM Prayut should
move Capt Thamanat to an inactive post until the investigation is
over and appoint an impartial probe panel.
Call for Catholic church
To speak out against injustice
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 24 June 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday 22 June
I read with interest the letter Amid violence
and injustice, Church and media are no longer game changers
I agree that the Catholic Church since the passing of the
Cardinal Sin era has been reduced to a whimper in a vast howling
wilderness of violence and injustice with only a few prophetic voices
that are hardly heard or even disregarded by its very own constituency.
The Catholic Church must strongly speak out.
Those who think the Church should not get involved against the social
evils in our country have missed the Churchs teaching of prophetic
The Church is the conscience of the state.
When the state leads a wicked societal life, the Church, its conscience,
afford to become cowed and silent.
The Church is the states best critic.
The Church is not just called to issue a reflection of the evils
in society, but also to instruct the faithful on what to do when
confronted with such in light of the Gospel values and teachings
of the Church.
The Church is called to share the Gospel values to all and to shape
society when it is not following the path consistent with these
The Church is never called to popularity, but to faithfulness.
The Church can never be silent about social evils.
When it is or chooses to be, it ceases to be the real Church.
Reginald B. Tamayo,
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 23 June 2021
We read in The Southeast Asian Times ( June 22 ) that
citing " the situation in Myanmar " the United
Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said " we cannot
live in a world where military coups become the norm ... it is totally
He is absolutely right.
Just how totally unacceptable military coups are is something only
people who have lived through military coups know.
Military coups result in the deaths of innocent citizens.
The lives and livelihoods of the living are ruined.
People live in perpetual fear of the military mob in power and their
ruthless modus operandi which has no regard for human rights and
The country is taken backwards.
The tragedy is that often when a military coup happens after an
initial perfunctory condemnation the rest of the democratic world
return to business as usual with the post coup regime, including
the sale of military arms.
Will that change ?
That's the big question.
Port Moresby pokie machine
government to increase shared revenue
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 22 June 2021
First published in the National, Friday 18 June 2021
A number of site operators of pokies machines in Port
Moresby have taken offence to the National Gaming Control Board
(NGCB) bragging about increasing its revenues when its not
sorting out the long-outstanding issue of an equitable sharing of
current pokies revenues in the the National, June 15.
At the moment, the monthly revenue is shared 75 per cent to the
NGCB and 25 per cent to the site operators.
A further two per cent is taken out of the operators 25 per
cent share, leaving the operator with a mere 23 per cent or so each
The operator then has to pay for staff wages, security, rent, electricity,
water and repay bank loans.
That leaves a tiny 5 per cent or so of gross monthly revenue for
This has been raised to the NGCB chairman and chief executive so
many times in writing and in meetings but the board has not done
anything about this.
The issue of equitable sharing has not even been placed as an agenda
We, the operators, demand that the NGCB immediately address this
issue and make a determination.
A fairer equation is that 60 per cent of gross monthly revenue should
go to the site operators who bear all the costs of making this money.
Some Papua New Guinean businesses are operating pokies machines
and it is the Governments job to assist them with better revenue
so that they can grow family-owned businesses.
Even if the NGCBs 75 per cent is seen as taxation, it is massively
excessive by any standards in any country in the world.
Indeed, it may be argued that the Government, through the NGCB is
using site operators, some of whom are citizens of this country,
as slaves to increase its revenue.
Any forensic analysis of the boards costs of regulating the
pokies machines in this country will show that they are killing
Before the NGCB talks about casinos and any other forms of gambling,
it should deal with the pokies site operators issue for a
fair and equitable share of the monthly pokies revenue.
The site operators demand 60 per cent share of the monthly revenue
and 40 per cent to the NGCB.
Pokie machine site operator,
Papua New Guinea
for world to return to normality
For economic well-being of all
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 21 June 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday 16 June 2021
Re: "Sandbox shambles",
PostBag, June 8, 2021
Rocket Scientist touches on a global issue, not just a Thai one.
The inescapable fact is that Covid-19 has arrived and is here to
stay, in its various guises.
The world has to quickly function normally again for the economic
well-being of all. The poor have certainly suffered disproportionately
in the last 18 months.
This means that border restrictions and international movements
must be eased. We cannot continue with quarantines and expensive
multiple tests if this is to achieved.
Unless an instant free test can be devised, vaccinated people should
be allowed to travel freely.
Travel to well vaccinated countries should present no discernable
risk to those countries and the additional risk to unvaccinated
countries will be minimal.
If every country insists on three polymerase chain reaction (PCR)
tests for travellers, as is currently the case, that is six tests
for a return trip.
For a family of four, that is 24 tests, which is probably the cost
of the holiday.
That is just unrealistic long term.
are Asian values when the young
Are shot and killed for raising their voices?
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 20 June 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday 18 June 2021
Re: "Asean, China promotes
Asian values," Bangkok Post, Opinion,
It is not clear what Kavi Chongkittavorn means by Asian values.
The region is ruled by many dictators and despots who muzzle the
voices of young people, openly flout human rights, and put anyone
opposing them in jail.
Mr Kavi forgets that Soviet Union was one time a rival superpower
to the USA.
Its collapse teaches us one important lesson - smart leaders always
use self-serving ideology to come into power and remain in power.
It is no surprise that for more than a century communist and socialist
ideologies have been used to promote a false sense of pride in collectivism
and for promoting herd mentality.
Democracy has its own flaws, but it does allow dissenting voices
and the removal of despots through elections and voting.
Many Asean leaders also churn out their own unique models of governance.
China is in constant strife with India and the rest of the countries
in the so-called South China Sea.
The sad happenings in Hong Kong and Myanmar are right in front of
Where are the Asian values of consensus and inclusiveness when young
people are thrust in jail or shot and killed for raising their voices?
happened to funds
education in remote Papua New Guinea
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 19 June 2021
First published in the National, Wednesday 16 June 2021
Development is supposed to be embraced and delivered
to citizens in the remote parts of Nawaeb.
But the few engineers who are attached with local Member of Parliament
Kennedy Wenge and a few protocol officers are entertaining themselves
and their families.
The district funds are not changing the peoples life.
Can the Government check Nawaeb and blacklist those contractors
who cannot deliver?
Check the education projects in the district.
Students are expected to learn without disruptions, but there are
Nawaeb High School still has an incomplete science laboratory.
There are also other projects in other schools that are also incomplete.
What happened to the funding?
We should do away with contractors who are only good on paper.
Students are struggling.
Worried Nawaeb Citizen,
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea churches
Benefit from Casinos
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 18 June 2021
First published in the National, Wednesday 16 June 2021
I had goosebumps reading that National Gaming Control
Board chairman Clemence Kanau, said that churches also benefit from
the gambling industry in the country and should keep quiet
as the Government is working on establishing a casino at Paga Hill,
I see why many churches are not against this move.
Even if they have said something against this move, it is not loud
The churches who benefit from sponsorships and other financial support
from the National Gaming Control Board cannot speak up against the
building of this casino.
If it was some other issue, they would have been the first ones
to raise their concerns.
They probably want to remain quiet in fear of risking their chances
of getting more benefits from the National Gaming Control Board.
Where in the Bible does it say it is okay for churches to fund their
ministries from the proceeds of evil activities such as gambling?
Is the National Gaming Control Board chairman telling Papua New
Guinea that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob approves of his
wayward and misconstrued assumption that it is okay to compromise
The churches who knowingly remain silent on this development agenda
will equally be accountable before God.
Churches should not be funded through proceeds from evil activities
As a Christian, it sickens me to read this article.
May God Almighty rescue Papua New Guinea from the crooked people
and their crooked decisions.
Paliaima A Tanda,
Papua New Guinea
Thailand has a bloated
With a legion of decorated admirals and
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 17 June 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday 16 June 2021
Re: "Thailand's irresponsible runaway debt",
Bangkok Post, Opinion,
Almost all governments are now on a spending spree to cope with
the devastation caused by the Covid crisis.
Surprisingly, China is the only country to successfully avoid a
serious blow to its economy.
In the USA, the deficit, a favourite pillar of the Republican agenda
has completely vanished.
For stabilising the Thai economy efforts should now be made to prioritise
spending on major projects and reducing the lopsided reliance on
the tourism sector.
More attention should be paid to exports, innovation in green technologies,
education reforms and labour skill development.
It is quite amusing that a country like Thailand with no imminent
threats or enemies has a bloated military with a legion of decorated
admirals and generals who have never fought a war?
Prof Thitinan is correct that the government is leaving a massive
bill for younger Thais to repay over their lifetimes.
Fly too close to the sun
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday16 June 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday 9 June
In Greek mythology, there is the story of Icarus.
Icarus was given artificial wings made of wax and feather so that
he could fly. Daedalus, his father, warned that if Icarus flew too
close to the sun, his artificial wings would melt.
But Icarus, feeling the high of flying and unmindful of Daedalus
warning, soared too high and saw his wings melt.
He plunged into the sea and drowned.
This is a tale of hubris - or the excessive pride toward or defiance
of the gods.
This overbearing pride leads humans to follow paths that lead to
Some policemen have hubris in abundance, murdering hapless individuals.
The killing caught on cam of a 52-year-old woman and the alleged
accidental killing of a man with special needs muddied the already
dirty face of the police organization.
The saddest thing here is that its not only Zinampan, Nuezca,
and their ilk who end up the recipients of public condemnation and
mistrust, but also other officers who are law-abiding, loving, and
Two years back, I spoke before police trainees in a Philippine National
Police (PNP) training session.
I discussed their tenets of accountability, responsibility, and
respect for life. Spearheaded by the Couples for Christ and the
Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals, our session
allowed us to talk about these vital values.
The sad, harrowing events where policemen execute civilians who
cannot even defend themselves is downright deplorable.
What has led these humans to shed their humanity and descend to
animal behavior? This is a question that should be answered by policymakers
and leaders of the police force.
Zinampan once posted on Facebook that the sin of one is not the
sin of all.
But there is a need to reform and look into the psyche of these
Their hubris needs to be checked, because the actions of a few misguided
elements affect and undermine the thousands of other members of
Clemelle L. Montallana,
The rise of the military
in the political domain
Has shifted politics from where it should
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 15 June 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday 6 June 2021
Re: "PM shows he has political resilience,"
in Bangkok Post OpEd, June 4,
The analytical views of the columnist are appreciated from the vantage
point of politics.
There is no doubt that Thailand is a political economy, and the
truth that eludes us all is that the centre of focus had better
be on critical constituents of the Thai body politic.
The rise of the military in the political domain has shifted the
focus in Thai politics from where it should be:
First, with the farmers and with their markets which for a long
time have always been domestic.
That is no longer the case.
Farmers need to be encouraged to yield more for the sustainability
of Thais themselves and for world markets which are in need of their
The visionary King Rama IX tirelessly campaigned for farmers, saying
he and farmers were fighting against a greater enemy than communism
- which was hunger.
His self-sufficiency projects have benefited farming communities
and the kingdom at large.
No military weaponry or armaments can sustain us in the face of
impending global catastrophes such as land desertification through
global warming and rising sea water levels which are already hitting
so many countries.
Second, youth have always been the mainstay of innovative and novel
approaches to solving problems.
Politicians need to look at the needs of the youth more critically
and create avenues for them to progress in their studies and beyond
that in the social and political realms so they will learn how to
value and cherish their kingdom and their fellow beings.
We cannot trap our youth in cages. Through their forward-looking
policies, politicians and governments lead hope for youth.
Do not jail them in prisons for daring to learn, to think and grow.
Call for lockdown
death clusters in Thailand
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 14 June 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday 6 June 2021
An analogy that we often hear is that if you are walking
around without a mask, or not socially-distancing or refusing to
get vaccinated, it is the equivalent of driving drunk, because besides
yourself, you could kill someone.
Similar to having the coronavirus, you could also say that driving
drunk is "highly transmissible from person to person"
and that includes adults and children, since road accidents
in 2016 were the most common cause of death for Thai children aged
In 2018, as reported by the Bangkok Post, 90 percent of traffic
offences were for drink-driving and 40 percent of road fatalities,
4,498, resulted from people driving while under the influence of
Why doesn't that get more press for the other 51 weeks out of the
year aside from those "Seven Deadliest Days" of
Why is having one of the world's worst road-fatality rates 32.7
per 100,000 people in 2018 and so many deaths caused by vehicles
22,491 in 2018 not as big a deal as cumulative deaths by Covid-19
a total of 1,177 as of June 5?
Everyone on mass transit is checked (to see if they have a high
temperature of 37.8ºC or greater.
But we don't check people on the roads as diligently for signs of
Why aren't roads that have drink-driving death 'clusters' ever locked
In other words, why - when it comes to talking about or dealing
with these tragic road deaths - do we lighten up?
PDP-Laban party has deteriorated
its foundation against Marcos dictatorship
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 13 June 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 4 June
The ruling Partido Demokratiko PilipinoLakas
ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) party was established with the goal of opposing
The murdered Sen. Ninoy Aquino and former Senate president Nene
Pimentel coalesced their parties to take a principled stand against
the dictatorship of President Marcos.
But look at how the party has deteriorated.
Its current leaders are mobilizing their members to make it appear
there is a groundswell of support for a Duterte-Duterte tandem.
From its history and spirit of resistance, the PDP-Laban now wants
a continuation of the same administration that has initiated mass
killings, harassed media companies and personalities, and kowtowed
Raffey Rey Hipolito,
Violence begets violence
As Myanmar shows
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 12 June 2021
Violence begets violence.
This is illustrated so clearly in the Myanmar case.
Aung San Sui Kyi had for over three decades advocated peaceful pro-democracy
protest to bring about change in the entrenched military rule in
But now in light of the brutal military crackdown and killing of
pro-democracy protesters following the latest February 1 military
coup many from within Sui Kyi's political party and other civilian
protesters no longer regard peaceful protest as a viable option.
We learn from the SBS Dateline ( 8 June ) that many new generation
youth have gone to acquire armed resistance training with the Karin
military to equip themselves with the skills to fight the Myanmar
How is the country to benefit from the cycle of violence that now
It's a crying shame that the power- hungry, kleptomaniac military
generals in Myanmar have brought the country down to this counter-productive
state of violence.
New South Wales,
Duterte urged to run
As vice president in 2022 elections
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 11 June 2021
First published in the Philippines Inquirer, Monday 7 June
The ruling Partido Demokratiko PilipinoLakas
ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) party internal squabble is its problem, but
the groups resolution urging President Duterte to run as vice
president should be condemned outright.
It has to be named for what it is: a shameless maneuver to extend
Mr. Dutertes term beyond 2022.
The PDP-Laban is no ordinary party; it is the ruling faction whose
members include top officials of the country.
Mr. Duterte himself is the head of this party.
Hence, its resolution is a matter of public concern.
It is highly unlikely that PDP-Laban members would come out with
this unusual appeal without the implicit approval of the President
or his inner circle.
Mr. Duterte authorized the meeting and he had the chance to comment
or reject the resolution during his weekly televised address.
We fear that the ruling party is scheming to create a fake clamor
aimed at convincing Mr. Duterte to run in 2022.
It is appalling that the party in power is proposing an action that
would circumvent the constitutional provision prohibiting the reelection
of the incumbent president. The term limit was placed there because
of our painful experience during the Marcos dictatorship.
We do not want another president who will abuse his power and wantonly
use government resources to guarantee his reelection bid.
We had thwarted previous attempts to amend the Constitution which
would have removed term limits and allowed politicians and political
dynasties to remain in power.
The PDP-Laban resolution is the latest variant that seeks to perpetuate
the rule of the incumbent president.
Mr. Dutertes party should offer new candidates instead of
plotting the Presidents reelection.
For many Filipinos who sincerely want reforms in society, our best
option is to support not another Duterte candidacy, but the pursuit
of accountability and justice.
Bayan Metro Manila,
for Pacific Pearl Casino in Port Moresby
PNG running out of ideas to grow economy
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 10 June 2021
First published in the National, Thursday 3 June 2021
The approval by the Government for the establishment
of Pacific Pearl Casino at Paga Hill, Port Moresby, indicates it
has run out of ideas to grow the countrys economy.
There are more problems than benefits that this industry will bring
into the country. National Gaming Control Board (NGCB) chairman
Clemence Kanau mentioned that the industry would bring in much-needed
foreign exchange and employ about 10,000 people.
However, these benefits should have been quantified and released
for public consumption.
On the flip side, casinos around the world are sites where money
This is an avenue where drug lords, terrorists and organised gang
elements illegally channel their money to avoid being caught.
Without effective systems to monitor our international borders and
no tough laws on money laundering and drugs, our country will be
a haven for illegal activities to flourish.
It seems the recent major drug bust just outside Port Moresby, where
the accused are yet to be penalised, has not taught the Government
a lesson before approving the casino to be constructed.
The National Gaming Control Board (NGCB) in its media release, has
given the guarantee to the country that they would go out and source
the best international operator to run the casino.
But how much experience do they have in executing this task?
If Australias major casino operator, Crown Casino, can be
implicated in money laundering at their casinos in Sydney and Melbourne,
how much guarantee can the National Gaming Control Board (NGCB)
give this country that all will go well once the casino is in operation?
The National Gaming Control Board (NGCB) has no experience in effectively
running other gambling activities.
It has mentioned that they would look at legalising lottery, bingo
and online betting. These will add more misfortune to Papua New
Guinean families who are already suffering because of our struggling
The introduction of these gambling activities also contradicts the
current consultation processes on making PNG a Christian nation.
This confused Government is bringing more pain than gain to the
Papua New Guinea
The Philippines National
threat to the Philillipines not China
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 9 June 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday 7 June
The greatest threat to the Philippines is not China
or insurgent groups.
The greatest threat today against the Filipino people is the internal
gangrene of abuse and corruption happening inside the police system
of the Philippines.
This is an existential threat to the nation, and our leaders need
to act swiftly.
The recent murder of an elderly woman named Lilybeth Valdez in Quezon
City by a drunk policeman has once again brought too many painful
flashbacks of abuse committed by the Philippine National Police
and other law enforcement agencies.
In August 2017, the nation saw the murder of Kian delos Santos and
many others after him as unfortunate victims of the brutal drug
war, while uniformed coddlers of syndicates went scot-free.
In December 2020, just five days before Christmas, the shooting
of a mother and son in Tarlac shocked the entire nation.
Last February, law enforcers were killed during a supposed anti-drug
operation between the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Philippine
Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Commonwealth Avenue - a case that
up to now remains shrouded in mystery.
Even lowly barangay tanods (village watch) figured in mauling incidents
against civilians in several communities during the lockdown.
These examples of abuse clearly show a systemic malignancy pervading
the law enforcement and justice system in the Philippines. Did these
scalawags and miscreants manage to enter the service because of
the poor screening and recruitment policies of the government?
Or were these abusive officials once patriotic public servants who
were later on co-opted by the corrupt system inside law enforcement?
Whatever the case, the situation is unacceptable to the Filipino
It is of absolute necessity that our leaders act with vigorous resolve
to right what is wrong inside our law enforcement system.
Our existence as a nation depends on it.
Philippine President Duterte
accused of pursuing
A policy of appeasement towards China
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 8 June 2021
First published in the Philippines, 4 June 2021
I totally agree with Solita Collas-Monsod that Filipinos
should not feel they owe a debt of gratitude to China for its vaccine
donations, or for that matter for any seemingly friendly assistance
it has extended or plans to extend to our country
A victory for tobacco, a defeat for our children,
Get Real, May 29, 2021
This utang na loob chant that President Duterte
touts as his motivation for pursuing a policy of appeasement toward
China is just a smokescreen for his real intentions, which are nowhere
close to love of country and concern for the welfare of the Filipino
I cannot, of course, read the mind of Mr. Duterte, but as an ordinary
citizen I am able to observe facts and events during this administration
that stare us in the face and easily debunk any notion that the
Presidents partiality toward China, or more precisely toward
Xi Jinping, is driven by nationalism.
Look at some of these facts and how Mr. Duterte can only manage
to respond to them with deafening silence: the massive invasion
by Chinese Pogos of our communities and their corrosive moral effects
and rising criminality spawned by their presence; the mysterious
entry of huge drug shipments from China through the Bureau of Customs
that was never prosecuted, and the likely entry of more of such
shipments; the meteoric rise of presidential crony Dennis Uy who
has built a business empire in such a short period of time, and
who has partnered with Chinese investors to gain a strategic foothold
in the countrys telecommunications and natural gas industries;
the onerous infrastructure contracts the government has entered
into with China and, in the case of Kaliwa Dam, the displacement
of indigenous peoples from their ancestral lands.
And look at how his apologists, led by the sycophantic spokesperson,
fumble and lie in defense of Mr.
Dutertes untenable position on the West Philippines Sea, even
resurrecting the disgraced Juan Ponce Enrile in a desperate attempt
to gain public support.
There are rumors and speculations that Xi Jinping has long given
his assurance of support to the continuing stay in power of the
The coming national elections will truly be a test of our peoples
political maturity, and if there is enough of it to save the country
from a failed leadership that we ourselves allowed in 2016 to lead
the country into a treasonous and ungodly path.
Moves to constitutionally
make Papua New Guinea
A Christian country
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 7 June 2021
First published in the National, Friday 4 June 2021
Prime Minister, James Marape raised the hopes of Christians
with his mantra of Making Papua New Guinea
the richest black nation.
He has done so again with the move to constitutionally make Papua
New Guinea a Christian country.
On the other hand, Marape has also approved the construction of
a casino in the name of providing employment and generating revenue
for the Government.
What is happening?
Casinos are places where evil and forces of darkness rule and control
people to squander their hard-earned money.
Gambling is the reason for poverty and chaos in society.
Christianity is not practiced inside casinos.
I suggest you, Marape, stop your Christianity propaganda and allow
Western and Asian paganism to be included in the Papua New Guinea
May The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob rescue Papua New Guinea.
Paliaima A Tanda,
Papua New Guinea
Proposed NGO Act in Thailand
Mechanism to silence civil society
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 6 June 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday 2 June 2021
Re: "Dream on," in Bangkok
Post, PostBag, May 31.
The point about "Bangkok as a second Geneva" at
this moment in history is that we have to make it clear that divisions
in society will irreparably and dramatically deepen if the NGO Act
and amendment of the Official Information Act are sneaked through
parliament in a period when public social life in Thailand is debilitated
under a severe pandemic and chaotic "emergency rule".
It would nail down the total failure of reconciliation as the major
justification of the most recent coup d'état.
Thus the constitution of 2017 should likewise be invalidated.
Back to the constitution of 1997 and forwards to peacebuilding in
Post-Covid transformation is not only needed, it is possible.
"Bangkok: a second Geneva" is a metaphor we should
allow ourselves to nurture as a powerful dream.
Hans Van Willenswaard,
Malaysia Shows true leadership
With salary sacrifice
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 5 June 2021
We read in The Southeast Asian Times 2 June that Malaysia's
PM and all ministers and deputy ministers in his government will
forego three months salary to
" contribute to the Covid-19 National Disaster Relief Trust
That is showing true leadership rather than paying lip service to
It's a rare thing that kind of personal sacrifice on the part of
the political leadership anywhere.
Usually what we hear is the opposite.
How a political leader has used/abused his position to fill his
That is a much more common phenomenon.
In light of that the Malaysian people should feel proud of their
political leadership at this time of national struggle against the
I would be if I were a Malaysian citizen.
fresh and new leadership
After 2022 elections in the Philippines
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 4 June 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer Friday 28 May 2021
The Philippines will elect a new president in 2022.
Past elections have shown that those who get elected are the most
popular and/or backed by a well-oiled machinery at the grassroots
The voters in the provinces who make or unmake a president are controlled
and dominated by strongly held patronage/dynastic politics.
We witnessed how the Parojinog family of Ozamiz City, Misamis Occidental
built their political enclave and fortunes on drug running for two
decades, and the Ampatuans of Maguindanao who milked public works
funds for decades, ending in the tragic massacre of 58 people, including
the spouse of the opposition candidate and 32 journalists, in what
is now known as the Maguindanao massacre on November 23, 2009.
These family dynasties operated untouched and had their merry way
under the very noses of several administrations.
Unfortunately, it is not the individual voters honest choice
but that of mayors, governors, and congressmen that will decide
who will become the countrys next president.
That is a sad and irrefutable fact we see often.
Local politics makes or unmakes a president.
The 1992 elections saw the country having two excellent choices
for president: Gen. Fidel Ramos and Sen. Miriam Santiago.
Early on, Santiago was the runaway winner in most of the random
pre-poll surveys over Ramos.
But some wizened media people saw it differently: Administration
candidate Ramos would win by a small margin because, by experience
in elections, 60 percent was controlled by local politics; that
factored in when assessing winnability, and the
administration had that sewed up for him.
True enough, the overwhelming early lead of Santiago from the National
Capital Region and urban centers was slowly eaten up by the late
Mindanao and provincial results for Ramos.
The rest is history.
Havent we noticed that congressional haggling with Malacañang
over pork insertions facilitate legislation?
Theyre a must for congressional incumbents, and not to have
them in an election year will mean rough sailing for them, short
of political suicide.
We need to change mindsets with a new brand of leadership, or else
we perish in our own follies.
A fresh and new kind of leadership is exciting with the announced
broad political coalition in 1Sambayan as a winnable alternative
to the administrations stable of stale choices.
The make-up of the general electorate, however, dampens the little
enthusiasm we might have. Gut issues are still the overweening consideration.
Look at how many people, including wheelchaired senior citizens,
lined up till the wee hours of the morning to wait for their
What is worrisome and a challenging development for 1Sambayan and
right-thinking citizens is the huge unspent public funds totaling
around P4.2 trillion at the disposal of the administration from
now until the electoral spending ban on December 31, 2021.
We each might have our criteria of who should be our best choice
for a leader. However, we can brace ourselves to accept the predictable
fact of life that in this country, patronage politics will elect
the next president - your prudent choice or mine notwithstanding.
Marvel K. Tan,
Call for China to come
how the viral infections started in Wuhan
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 4 June 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday 1 June
The global community continues to reel under the scourge
COVID-19 has caused. As of May 25, more than 167 million infections
have been confirmed and more than 3.4 million have died, as more
infections and deaths are being reported on a daily basis.
Yet, after about a year and a half, no one knows for certain how
this pandemic started, despite what seems to be the worldwide consensus
that the virus came from Wuhan, China.
Whether it was nature from bats in its wet markets or culture from
the so-called gain-of-function research in its
lab that spawned it, the mystery has remained to this day. The worst
fear was that the virus from the Wuhan Institute of Virology was
manipulated to become a more lethal biological weapon
- the idea fueled largely by suspicions about Chinas pursuit
of its hegemonic intentions as evidenced by its relentless aggression
in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) and elsewhere.
China stonewalled all attempts to investigate how the viral infections
started in Wuhan.
It suppressed early accounts of those who knew what was going on
in its lab and silenced or disappeared witnesses, as the world cried
desperately for answers. Gathering sufficient facts and information
about the origin of the virus could help prevent another deadly
pandemic from happening again.
Indeed, experts agree that had China been more cooperative from
the start, the COVID-19 infections might have been contained.
Up to now, China has seemed to be under no moral or legal compulsion
to come clean.
It has remained as intransigent as ever amid all calls for transparency.
Nations - nay, the whole world - should now unite and take positive
steps against China to determine its culpability for this pandemic
and, more importantly, the reparations in the hundreds of trillions
of dollars it should make for all the deaths and economic devastation
the whole world has suffered and continues to suffer.
Its time to put the kibosh on all speculations.
A basic principle of law that is generally accepted in civilized
judicial fora says that evidence willfully withheld is presumed
adverse to the party withholding it.
This is based on plain, common sense.
A party who has nothing to hide should have no problem bringing
out such evidence when asked to produce it.
The more than 160 countries that boldly urged an investigation by
the World Health Organization of the origin of the virus, but got
nowhere near the truth because China denied access to necessary
data, should now formally take legal action before the International
Court of Justice and demand full disclosure of what China has been
hiding about COVID-19.
If, as China insists, it is without fault, it should welcome its
day in court instead of invoking technicalities the constant recourse
of scoundrels, as it did in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) case filed
by the Philippines against it before the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
While China may have gotten away with its arrogance and disdain
for the Arbitral Award in favor of the Philippines, no propaganda
can save it from the scorn of all the nations around the globe that
are still counting the deaths of their citizens due to its tortious,
if not malicious, breach of world health protocols.
After all this time, chances are China has already destroyed all
evidence - all the more reason to believe there was malice on its
Stephen L. Monsanto,
turned from Pearl of the Orient
To Sick man of Asia
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 2 June 2021
First Published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday 31 May
Despite serving three administrations, senior associate
justice Antonio T. Carpio didnt become chief justice.
Now retired, Citizen Tony is betting the credibility he has earned
by challenging Chinas false claims in the West Philippine
His new mission with 1Sambayan is to mobilize Filipino voters to
elect a true servant leader in the May 2022 elections.
Filipinos have been overtaken by neighbors who used to revere Asias
first democratic republic and sole Catholic nation.
Until the 1970s, the Philippines was much admired, even envied,
as Asias pacesetter.
But a series of bad leaders after Ramon Magsaysay turned the Pearl
of the Orient into the sick man of Asia,
and COVID-19 isnt helping the Philippine health and economy.
Thus, odds are stacked against 1Sambayan.
President Duterte still enjoys popular support and his anointed
successor will be hard to beat, considering the name recall, financial
resources, and campaign organization needed to win - and the fact
that opposition egos wont unite, even with 1Sambayans
But other factors are in play.
One more pandemic surge, if met by the same incompetent response
by lackeys like Duque and spokesmen like Roque, may be the straw
that breaks the camels back, galvanizing angry desertions
by the public.
Even the military might join in if a COVID-19 uprising brings economic
meltdown, since there appears to be no Duterte strategy to restart
The meteoric rise of community pantries shows that people power
could erupt any time.
If health and hunger keep oppressing patient Filipinos, a tipping
point could be reached soon.
Also, international tensions and digital disruptions add to uncertainty.
Chinas moves can spark a shooting war given the animosity
between Taipei and Beijing, and the competing claims over the West
The US, Europe, Japan, India, and Asean are all ready to block Chinese
moves that may block trade or risk an invasion of Taiwan or the
Disruptions wrought by artificial intelligence (AI) and other digital
technologies can dislocate economies and lead to desperate moves.
Mismanaged, the 2022 elections could involve Filipinos in a world
The potential for spontaneous combustion is too great.
We hope and pray that the servant leader sought by Carpio will emerge.
Jose Z. Osias,
million doses per month over six months
only inoculate 30 million Thai's
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 1 June 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday 31 May 2021
Re: "AstraZeneca jabs will be on time,"
in Bangkok Post 26 May 2021
Maybe it's time to put all of this planning, considering,
mulling, ordering and promising into some kind of perspective.
The first thing we need to do is stop talking about doses and start
talking about reality.
Each person will require two jabs.
So all this talk about 10 million doses per month over six months
from Siam Bioscience, in the long run, will only inoculate 30 million
Let's stop with all these inane promises and suggestions.
Inoculate 70 percent of Bangkok.
That's 7+ million people or 14+ million doses.
How about vaccinating 100 percent of Buri Ram Province.
That's 1.6 million people or 3.2 million doses.
Add to that sandboxes, walk-in shot clinics, Hua Hin, Phuket, and
who knows what else, and you've already used up three months' production
from Siam Bioscience, if they come through as promised.