court cases against President Ferdinand Marcos Jr
Yet to reach the Philippines Supreme Court
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday May 19, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday May 16,
A few days ago, we held crucial elections in the country
and until now we are counting the results, not without recriminations
and eyebrows raised on certain aspects of the electoral process.
But setting reservations aside, the reported commanding lead of
presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr. over his rivals should
not detract from the fact that there are pending cases to disqualify
him, which may now reach the Supreme Court.
In the interest of the rule of law and the conduct of future elections,
the Supreme Court should rule on this game-changing issue of eligibility
and qualification of a candidate for president.
Its enthusiasm and mandate to confront the issue head-on should
not be dampened by the reported huge popular vote of the challenged
candidate, because the Court has said in 1989 in G.R. No. 87193
involving Sorsogon governor Juan Frivaldo on the issue of his citizenship:
The qualifications prescribed for public office cannot
be erased by the electorate alone. The will of the people as expressed
through the ballot cannot cure the vice of ineligibility.
It is hoped that the petitioners whose cases were dismissed by the
Commission on Elections only last May 10 will appeal to the Supreme
What is at stake is the imperative of upholding the supremacy of
the law on the eligibility of a candidate even over an electoral
Otherwise, in the future, through manipulation and duplicity, a
popular but unquestionably ineligible candidate may be allowed to
run in an election and, if victorious, will plead that we have to
bow to the will of the people.
Ancheta K. Tan,
Let the truth be told
Let the publishers publish
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday May 18, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday May 16,
The Manila Critics Circle, in no uncertain terms,
condemns the Red-tagging of the respected publisher Adarna House
by the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (Nica) and the
National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac).
Not only is Adarna House an award-winning publisher known to produce
only quality material, it is also a publisher devoted to the truth.
It is a disservice to our young readers to assume that they should
be exempted from learning about important events in Philippine history
like the imposition of martial law.
The truth does not plant hate and lies in the tender hearts
of our children, as Lorraine Badoy, spokesperson for NTF-Elcac,
has said. The truth does not subtly radicalize as
Alex Paul Monteagudo, the director-general of Nica, has stated.
Monteagudo said that the very issue of presenting martial law in
childrens books plants dissent and hatred in their minds.
Martial law is part of our history, as are its victims.
Like all true things, it is something they should learn from books
and make up their own minds about.
Furthermore, Adarna House is an innovative, privately owned, educational
publisher that should be encouraged to continue publishing such
excellent material and commended for its devotion to telling the
Philippine story to young children.
Let the truth be told. Let the publishers publish.
The Manila Critics Circle,
should not be part of rituals
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday May 17, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday May 8, 2022
Re: "Alpha-male idols," Bangkok
Post PostBag, April 29, 2022, "Never mind Nirvana,"
Bangkok Post PostBag, April 28, 2022 and "Fake
faith," in Bangkok Post PostBag, April 27, 2022.
Many comments made to Bangkok Post about my submissions about Thai
temples have been positive.
Yes, Ken Albertsen, we engage in rituals.
Rituals are mainly dedicated to the gods, goddesses and deities
we've created. They usually require money.
And Ye Olde Theologian, my friend, the rebirth is just a notion.
The reality is that we will not know anything after we are dead.
Consciousness is part of being alive.
My thanks to Millie Tan for pointing to S N Goenka's teachings.
I had the good fortune of attending a 10-day retreat with him in
Igatpuri, India, and also in the USA.
Yes, money should not be part of rituals.
Mr Goenka fully understood the path pointed by the Enlightened One.
Sadly, every religion now thrives on rituals and money is the driving
Therefore people keep visiting temples and so-called holy shrines
just like they go to hospitals.
Spirituality has turned into a costly prescription given by monks,
priests and pundits.
As Buddha said, this is the main cause of human suffering.
We do not spend time cultivating mindfulness and living in harmony
We need to learn the ways of Buddha to find our bliss ourselves,
not by running around to seek happiness.
has lost it's way
Southeast Asian Times, Monday May 16, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday May 11, 2022
Re: "Mental health guidance amid Covid",
in Bangkok Post Opinion, May 6, 2022 and "Semen
hazing will be probed", in Bangkok Post April
I find it interesting to see the topic of education being brought
up again and again in recent weeks.
Thai youth are thought to be frustrated at the "traditional"
methods of education they are currently exposed to.
During this time there has been a report of a naval officer who
forced conscripts to drink his semen, a cult leader who preached
eating faeces and drinking urine and phlegm as a cure to various
illnesses and a monk involved in a sex and payoff scandal.
There certainly does appear to be some trouble over what certain
people consider to be correct and normal.
All this makes the upcoming ceremony where chosen cows will forecast
this year's level of agricultural yield and rain to be rather benign
but it does seem that education has somehow lost its way.
Open letter to retiring Philippines
Senator Ping Lacson
Saying "the Philippines needs a son
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday May 15, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday May 13,
Dear Sen. Ping Lacson:
I understand that now that the elections are over, you expressed
your desire to spend time with your family.
That you should. Life is too short, and it should be spent with
your loved ones.
But I hope, in time, you would reconsider and not retire from politics.
Based on your long career as a public servant, I dont see
you as one who would even consider fading into the sunset.
When you ran in the national elections, you committed to serving
the Filipino people for six years.
I hope that even without the title of president, you can still serve.
It seems to me the title of leader may not be one for you to hold.
But the title of patriot is one for you to keep.
I believe you can be a voice for those who have none.
I believe you can be an influence for those who have no power.
I believe you can stand up for those who may be too scared to speak.
I did not vote for you, Senator Lacson, and perhaps I have no right
to send this letter.
But I hope you think of the one million men and women who did vote
And, difficult as it is, think of the voters you were not able to
convince but still need you.
And isnt that what a great patriot is all about?
While I feel we are facing one of our darkest hours, it will be
of some comfort knowing that you will not throw in the towel and
raise the white flag.
The Philippines needs a son like you.
Danielle Marie S. Lizares,
Pulling the plug means
letting the water flow
Freely out of the tank
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday May 14, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday May 8, 2022
Re: "Plug pulled on diesel cap,"
in Bangkok Post, Wednesday April 27, 2022.
As a non-native English speaker who had heard before what was going
on in this country, the headline looked alright at first glance.
But after more thought, it looked wrong.
So I chatted with my English friend living in Thailand who also
reads the Bangkok Post daily.
His response is that "pulling the plug" means letting
the water flow freely out of a tank.
His first impression was that the price of diesel would be reduced;
with the plug removed at the pump much more diesel would flow into
your motorcar tank for your money than before.
You cannot pull the plug on a cap!
He went on to say that "too many journalists try to show
they are cleverer than the readers by using big uncommon words."
"I have to use a dictionary to read the Bangkok Post sometimes!"
I would go for some simpler headline like "Cap on diesel
Religion should not be
a litmus test
For living on this planet
Southeast Asian Times, Friday May 13, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday May 11, 2022
Re: "No state business", in
Bangkok Post, PostBag, May 10, 2022.
Thanks, Burin Kantabutra for your defence of monks.
There is no concept of "expulsion" in Hinduism or any
other religion in India.
You may choose to belong to a religion and you can leave and join
some other. The same is the practice in the US.
True freedom of choice!
In the very first place, the whole concept of monks being celibate,
or unmarried is against the law of nature.
Sex is a natural function of the human body.
Forced celibacy is the root cause of all sex scandals involving
priests, monks, and pundits.
I had two very close Muslim friends in the US who frequented a bar
after work. They did not feel guilty about doing what a mainstream
American would do.
And they did not attend Friday prayers.
It was their personal choice.
Buddhists may choose to remain celibate when ordained as monks.
But there is nothing against getting married or having sex with
consenting adults. Religion should not be a litmus test for living
on this planet.
Bloomed branches of eternal
Thainess criminalise any
of less than perfect faith in Royal Thai Police
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday May 12, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Tuesday May 3, 2022
Re: "Police fail Tangmo test", in
Bangkok Post, Editorial, April 29, 2022.
If the efforts of the officers of the Royal Thai Police, whose selfless
service to the nation reliably doing whatever it took to eradicate
the baddies, is suffering the casting of wicked aspersions and downright
insinuation of truths, mere business as usual may not be enough.
Happily, the bloomed branches of eternal Thainess offer a more efficacious
Impossible though it be to credit anyone seriously entertaining
such a notion, should there indeed be as alleged some faintest sliver
of "distrust in the police" the solution is simple:
criminalise any expression of less than perfect faith in the Royal
That will immediately make them a perfectly revered Thai institution
universally trusted, respected and loved by all for generations
Joe Ferrari and his mentors would be proud, and that most impertinently
inconvenient video would never dare have come to light.
for jail term for non-compliance of
Data Protection Act
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday May 11, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday May 8, 2022
Re: "Panel seeks delay of Personal Data
Protection Act (PDPA) enforcement," in Bangkok,
Thursday May 5, 2022.
We shouldn't apply the "mai pen rai" attitude to
enforcing the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA), which will protect
the confidentiality of your name, address, transactions, and so
on when it comes into force.
As Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) committee chairman Thienchai
Na Nakorn notes, "The PDPA will create confidence among
foreign business operators conducting business in Thailand."
Singapore and the Philippines already have Personal Data Protection
Act (PDPA) counterparts that have jail terms for non-compliance.
Let's allow the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) to go into force
on June 1 as planned but suspend punishment for two years.
If by June 1, 2024 a given firm was still in violation, the punishment
would take effect in full.
Call for Thailand to shine
a light on
Sex trafficking of children
published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday May 8, 2022
"Dept fails noble task," in Bangkok Post,
Editorial, May 6, 2022.
It is a sad state of affairs when government officials and those
with trusted positions within society are all implicated in the
sex trafficking of children.
Who are children to turn to when they are in trouble or traumatised
when this type of situation is common?
Ever wonder why Thailand is on the ''Tier 2 Watchlist"?
What about going after the people who paid for sex with the children?
Should they also be charged?
After all, it is their actions that support such activity.
In my country, it is common for police to post images of people
charged with paying for sex - and this is with adults.
In order to get rid of such a scourge you need "shine light
on it" and use it as a disinfectant.
It seems this is another example of the government's promise to
end corruption falling flat.
We need to do much better for the children since they are the future.
If you cannot rely on the government to protect you as a child,
why would you expect them to be supportive of society as an adult?
surprise to learn failure of Myanmar military
To implement Five Point Consensus
Southeast Asian Times, Monday May 9, 2022
It comes as no surprise to learn of the
failure of the Armed Forces ( Tatmadaw ) of Myanmar, Commander-in-Chief
Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, to implement the Five Point Consensus
( Southeast Asian
Parliamentarians for Human Rights call on Myanmar military to implement
Five Point Consensus The Southeast Asian Times 6 May
) which ASEAN Leaders Meeting in Jakarta on 24 April 2021 had adopted
as a way forward following the brutal military coup .
I had predicted at the time that the rogue military rulers had no
genuine commitment to it.
We learn from the article that National Unity Government
( NUG ) deputy foreign minister Moe Zaw Oo said then we have
little confidence in ASEANs efforts .
He was right.
They knew the rogue military rulers of Myanmar a whole lot better
than the ASEAN mob.
One year later the rogue military rulers have become more entrenched
I doubt they will pay any heed to what the Southeast Asian Parliamentarians
Mark my word on this.
Philippine elections are
Than placing bets on the winning cock
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday April 8, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday April
Elections are not your typical cockfighting sport
where you place your bets on the winning cock and that is all that
Elections are much more than that as it is a manifestation of our
Hence, for elections to work properly in a democracy, every citizen
should be rightly informed.
Election debates are supposed to serve this purpose.
It is proven in the literature that debates have served as information
tools for the electorate.
They can also spark interest among citizens to engage in civic activities
and discuss issues.
Lastly, election debates can increase rational voting, which by
definition is a vote that is based on issue positions.
Relevant studies show how debates can persuade voters to consider
and acquire issue positions from their preferred candidate.
In other words, debates increase voters rationality.
This factor is crucial in a country considered rife with personality
These benefits tell us that debates are more than just strategic
tools for political campaigns.
It is used to bolster democracy by empowering the people.
Therefore, strategic withdrawals from debates can be seen as a deliberate
rejection of collective welfare in exchange for strategic, selfish
Given these things, Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos
Jr.s deliberate aversion to election debates is telling of
two things - his intention and character.
His intention is no doubt aimed at winning the presidential election
at all costs.
He wants to win no matter what, even if it means trading off his
integrity and being branded as a coward.
He wants to win even if the collective welfare is at stake.
For him, his familys return to power is of utmost priority.
More importantly, this speaks of his character.
His aversion to debates is by no mistake a sign of weakness.
He cant handle the heat.
Many netizens would point out how Marcos Sr., in comparison, was
eloquent and quick-witted.
Marcos Jr., on the other hand, does not seem eager to prove that
he can hold a candle to his father.
This could only mean two things. he is not his father or he simply
has no backbone.
Disturbingly, his current attitude also seems to imply that any
critical discourse or forms of dissenting opinion would not be welcomed
in a potential Marcos Jr. administration.
The narrative of positive campaigning, although it sounds
good, is no more than a façade - a veil that hides a fraudulent
attempt to undermine critics and create an image of an unquestionable,
benevolent dictator in the making.
John Jared Garcia,
Call for Philippines to
like in the United States
Southeast Asian Times, Friday May 7, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday May 3,
Randy Davids Why Filipinos vote the
way they do, May 1, 2022 is another excellent article
dissecting all the reasons and manner of the Filipino voters.
We, Filipinos, are very tribal, not just in voting, but most will
not admit it since the word tribal connotes something low
class like the indigenous people and African tribes.
When we meet Filipinos for the first time, we always ask where they
are from and what language they speak, and sometimes ethnic groups
they belong to like Kapampangan, Bisaya, Ilocano, etc.
Of course, this is true too in the West like when they describe
themselves as southerner, midwesterner, etc. but not as empathic
as Filipinos do.
They will vote for an Ilocano because his father is Ilocano even
if he does not speak Ilocano.
They will vote for a Bicolano because she/he is from that region,
so on and on.
Regarding the local government units, I personally think that the
system of the barangay, which I think is very similar to the community
boards we have in New York, is prone to abuse especially when money
is involved especially with ayuda (aid) during
the COVID pandemic. Some of the aid extended is blatant vote-buying
for this election.
I am sure that there is also some form of corruption in the community
boards but as a rule, there is really no money involved, maybe just
some form of minor lobbying.
Regarding the senatorial selection/voting, we have been voting for
eight senators for years.
Why dont we consider just voting regionally, i.e., two to
four senators per region just like in the United States, two senators
That way, the representation will be just and practical.
I enjoy reading Randy Davids articles about politics since
they make me think and because he gives a sociological, historical,
and psychological background.
Unlike other columnists, he is not endorsing any candidate.I hope
that the Filipino people will be guided in their choices on May
9 since this is the only country we know and love.
Ida M. Tiongco,
New York, NY
It aint over until
it is over
hope for candidates at the bottom of the poll
Southeast Asian Times, Friday May 6, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday May
Chess players know that a winning position and a huge
material advantage are no guarantees of winning the game.
Every endgame in chess is crucial.
A strong chess player may get the biggest surprise of his life when
he loses because he made a terrible game-losing move during the
I remember my chess coach telling me not to give up even when I
face an imminent checkmate.
Because my opponent might commit a blunder in his moves during our
endgame that may open an opportunity for me to win the game.
Whenever I play chess, I always keep in mind the saying It
aint over until it is over.
It is also uncalled for and rude in chess to tell your opponent
Such call is annoying and childish.
Quitting is a personal decision.
The universally recognized manner of expressing resignation in chess
is to tip the King on its side.
Similarly in our present situation, the final index of winning are
not poll surveys and huge political rallies.
There is still hope for candidates at the bottom of the poll. Remember,
the election isnt over until every vote is counted.
States hypocritical to ask International Criminal Court
To investigate Russian war crimes
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday May 5, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post Tuesday May 3, 2022
Re: "Investigation due", Bangkok
Post PostBag, April 28, 2022 and "US hypocrisy,"
Bangkok Post PostBag, April 26, 2022.
As usual my critics distort what I wrote on April 28.
The reason it is hypocritical for America to ask the International
Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate Russian war crimes is because
America took action against the International Criminal Court (ICC)
when they tried to investigate American war crimes in Afghanistan.
America also opposed the International Criminal Court (ICC) efforts
to investigate Israel's war crimes. I want the International Criminal
Court (I CC) o be allowed to investigate all war crimes and atrocities
whether committed by America, Russia or any other country in the
for investment in a solar park
In Papua New Guinea
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday April 4, 2022
First published in the National, Friday April 22, 2022
The Government and 21 provincial governments should
invest in a solar park to harness the vast sun power that is abundant
in Papua New Guinea.
One of the worlds best solar parks is the Mohammed Bin Rashid
Al Maltoum Solar Park in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, which covers
an area size of 77km.
This solar park has the capacity to supply 5,000 megawatts of electricity
which can supply electricity to a lot of provinces in Papua New
Papua New Guinea has a massive land mass for developers to select
a suitable site for such a renewable and sustainable project.
Papua New Guinea
is political persecution to prevent Aung San Suu Kyi
returning to an active role in politics
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday May 3, 2022
The military regime stole power from the democratically
elected, legitimate government of Myanmar in a brutal military takeover
in 2021 has through its kangaroo court convicted former
leader Aung San Suu Kyi of corruption and sentenced her to five
years in prison ( The Fiji Times 29/4 p. 41).
Independent legal experts and human rights groups have called her
trial on trumped up charges a farce .
It is political persecution pure and simple to discredit
the long time pro- democracy leader and Nobel Laureate
and legitimize the militarys seizure of power while
preventing Aung San Suu Kyi from returning to an active role in
Her persecution has all the hallmarks of the modus operandi of a
rogue military regime.
Only the intellectually challenged can fail to see that.
Former Papua News Guinea
PM Peter O'Neill
To be prosecuted over K3 billion loan
Southeast Asian Times, Monday May 2, 2022
First published in the National, Friday April 22, 2022
I refer to the article in The National accusing former
Prime Minister Peter ONeill obout the UBS transactions and
that he be referred to the leadership tribunal and the Independent
Commission Against Corruption (Icac).
The former prime minister, I believe had followed procedures and
proper channels and did not in any way involve in corrupt deals.
ONeill has done no wrongdoing in the K3 billion UBS loan.
The commission of inquiry (COI) report also points out weaknesses
in our system of government.
The UBS report tabled in parliament is astonishing due to the fact
that it is ten days away for the issuing of writs.
The governments survival tactics is now a subject of critics
and discussions as of the moment ONeills name made headlines.
At this moment onwards, our leaders are at a juncture of political
pressure and avenues are sought to survive the coming election.
Let me tell us that nature is watching and a sheep in the skin and
wolf inwardly are traits that is bad.
ONeill will still survive political accusations as he is innocent
and the commission of inquiry has found nothing wrong of him.
It is very surprising that ten days before issuing of writs, the
UBS results mentioned that ONeill be prosecuted.
This is a highly politised move and I believe it is not in the best
interest of Papua New Guinea.
Let us all wait and see what Icac has to say.
Justin Max Undi,
Papua New Guinea
it has to live with Russia
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday May 1, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday April 27, 2022
Re: "Ukraine Russia war becoming a nuclear
end-game", in Bangkok Post, Opinion, April 22,
Before the war escalates into becoming a nuclear end-game, four
things will happen to the detriment of the European Union.
First, a few million more Ukrainians will immigrate to the European
Union; second, there will be more deaths and destruction; third,
the United States and European Union policies will have a crippling
effect on the economies directly involved in this conflict; and
fourth, this crisis may lead to a direct Russian conflict.
All efforts to liberate Ukraine and prepare it to join the European
Union are insignificant.
Ukraine must realise that it has to live with Russia, its immediate
The United States and European Union must instead mediate peace
talks rather than supply more arms.
Ukraine is not Afghanistan or Iraq.
There is still time for Ukraine to learn from Brexit.
Joining the European Union will not turn it into a free and prosperous
It can be a free nation with its rich resources.
The option of a nuclear end-game will be devastating.
rescue of road accident victims
Should be a free public service in Thailand
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday April 30, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday April 22, 2022
Re: "One killed as rival rescue services
clash", in Bangkok Post, April 19, 2022.
Two rival emergency rescue foundations fought over market territory,
killing one worker.
But accident victims are helpless and should not be in a market
to be monopolised and delivered to the place paying the highest
fees - which would be private hospitals.
Rescuing road accident victims should be a free public service,
just like the police or fire-fighters.
Victims should be delivered to the nearest hospital - public or
private - able to treat them, perhaps as a Universal Coverage for
Emergency Patients (UCEP) emergency service.
Pride and vanity keeping
In the Presidential elections in the Philippines
Southeast Asian Times, Friday April 29, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday April 27, 2022
Re: "4 runners in presidential race refuse
to drop out", in Bangkok Post, April 19, 2022
Due to the poorly structured presidential election process in the
Philippines, the winning candidate only needs to obtain more votes
than each of the other candidates.
There is no run-off election between the two highest vote-getters.
Thus, a candidate can be declared president without a majority of
the electorate supporting him or her.
In the last election, Rodrigo Duterte won the election with less
than 40 percent of the votes cast, meaning more than 60 percent
of the voters preferred someone other than him to be the president.
By refusing to drop out of the upcoming May 9 election, the four
minor candidates, none of whom have a realistic chance of winning,
are essentially handing the election to frontrunner Ferdinand Marcos
If they would withdraw from the race in favour of the only viable
challenger to Mr Marcos, current Vice President Leni Robredo, there
would be a reasonable prospect of defeating the scion of the former
Unfortunately, pride and vanity are keeping unwinnable candidates
in the contest, with the likely result being another period of dubious
and shady government controlled by the corrupt Marcos clan.
Travel to and from Thailand
re-entry is made simpler
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday April 28, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday April 25, 2022
Re: "Tourists delay foreign trips"
in Bangkok Post, Business, April 18, 2022 and "Rules,
costs deter outbound travel" Bangkok Post, Business,
April 14, 2022
Analysts cited in these articles have failed to highlight what is
undoubtedly the biggest hurdle constraining outbound travel from
It is not the costs and rules imposed by other countries that discourages
Thai travellers from taking trips abroad.
Nor is it concerns over health and safety in other countries.
By far the biggest deterrent to outbound travel - and inbound travel
as well - is the uncertainty over regulations and the hassles involved
with returning to Thailand.
I know many Thais and foreign residents who are eager to return
to their pre-Covid travel habits of making multiple trips from Thailand
However, they are still deferring travel until re-entry to Thailand
is made simpler and less uncertain.
Solomon Island PM Manasseh
Wants a stronger hold on power
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday April 27, 2022
When I read in Terence Woods article
Solomons security shambles:What it says about us ( The
Fiji Times 26/4 ) that Solomon Islands prime minister Manasseh Sogavare
who wants a stronger hold on power is
Seen as the embodiment of a corrupt elite who is
unpopular in Honiara I knew the research fellow at the
Development Policy Centre at the Australian National University
had a good handle on the politics and geo-politics in the region.
His analysis cuts through the noise from the western media mob and
politicians regarding the Solomons-China security pact and gets
to what really matters for the people in the region.
His is a valuable contribution to the discourse.
of education and training of Thai monks
Responsible for distorting teachings of
Buddha in Thaland
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday April 26, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday April 25, 2022
Re: "Beliefs are no excuse to damage our
health", in Bangkok Post, ThinkBox, April 18,
I hope the authorities of the National Office of Buddhism (NOB),
monks, and the patrons of temples will pay attention to the issues
raised by Ms Sanyanusin.
Buddha's teachings are exact.
He emphasised that we should make truth our refuge.
We should use our minds to direct our behaviour and actions. Instead
of cultivating mindfulness, temples are embroiled in empty rituals,
buying and selling amulets, lotteries, caged birds, and accepting
material things, including hard cash in merit-making.
In many temples, the devotees are brainwashed and taken on a spin,
ride, or trance, reincarnating into Garuda, Naga, and other creatures
which have become part of the fable of Thai Buddhism.
Ms Sanyanusin is correct that the enlightened one who taught us
against rituals is now suffocated with the stench and smell of burning
incense, candles, rotting flowers, garlands, and food. Some monks
have also become experts in botoxing rituals for those who can pay.
In addition, there are scores of criminal cases against Thai monks.
The lack of education and proper training of monks is mainly responsible
for distorting the teachings of Buddha and harming the reputation
of Thailand as a Buddhist country.
Thai version of #MeToo
Southeast Asian Times, Monday April 25, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday April 20, 2022
Re: "Prinn's case, party's fault,"
Bangkok Post, Editorial, April 19.
Your editorial was spot-on in saying that the Thai version of #MeToo,
the global campaign to seek justice for victims of sexual assault,
has arrived and is in full swing when one of the country's prime
minister hopefuls has been accused of sexual harassment and multiple
As a long-time supporter of the Democrat Party, I am ashame, no,
disgusted is a better word, to learn that the party leader and party
executives refuse to recognise the mistake they have made and take
proper responsibility, because they are the ones who appointed this
person as party executive and deputy party leader.
A close aide to the party leader, a lady whose name is too stomach-churning
to mention here, has asked whether party executives should be investigated
for an individual's personal conduct.
What a shame and what irresponsibility for her to say such a thing.
That said, all party executives should resign en masse.
ASEAN cities have some
of the worst
Air pollution in the world
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday April 24, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post Friday April 22, 2022
Re: "Pondering Asean's future beyond 2025",
Bangkok Post Opinion, April 12, 2022
It is disheartening that Kavi Chongkittavorn's vision for Asean's
future fails to once mention environmental improvement and protection.
This reflects Asean's track record on the environment, which has
been anything but inspiring.
Major Asean cities have some of the worst air pollution in the world.
Asean countries count among the biggest contributors to global plastic
Waterways are clogged with debris and chemical discharge. Biodiversity
is under threat across Asean.
The region lacks ambition in committing to reducing greenhouse gas
emissions and has been slow to sign on to the Glasgow Leaders' Declaration
on Forests and Land Use.
Asean's main environmental thrust of the past two decades was the
Asean Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution, intended to reduce
forest fires and cut related transboundary haze pollution. Yet the
agreement has been a dismal failure.
Hopefully, Asean officials will include environmental elements into
their vision for the future.
Former Prime Minister
a bad precedent for the highest office
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday April 23, 2022
First published in the National, Friday April 22, 2022
The most corrupt and obvious unlawful act of former
prime minister Peter ONeill in rushing the controversial K3
billion UBS loan is criminal in nature as it bypassed certain processes
The manner in which ONeill acted is a form of dictatorship
He acted as if there were no other senior ministers available to
approach for a collective view and discussions.
This is something sinister and sets a bad precedent for the highest
office on this land.
What he did was a serious crime and he should pay the price that
serves as a lesson for future leaders.
Why are the law enforcing agencies such as the Attorney Generals
office, Ombudsman Commission, fraud squad and others not active
in prosecuting high profile culprits?
Papua New Guinea
Justice system in Thailand
be relied on for former Democrat Party leader
Southeast Asian Times, Friday April 22, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday April 20, 2022
Re: "Have faith in the justice system,"
InQuote, April 18, 2022
Prinn Panichapakdi, ex-Democrat Party leader charged with sexual
assault by many women wants us to believe that our justice system
can be relied upon.
But let's look at the record. The colonels and generals responsible
for Tak Bai (83 bodies) and Nong Chik (4 bodies) haven't even been
identified, let alone court-martialled. Praewa Thephasadin Na Ayudhya
(aka Rawinpirom Arunvongse) accidentally killed nine, yet served
not one day in jail. Red Bull heir Vorayuth "Boss" Yoovidhaya
has run free for a full decade. PM Prayut has swept under the rug
the report of ex-NACC commissioner Vicha Mahakun on reforming the
police and prosecutors with no apparent intention of resurrection.
When a hi-so, highly influential defendant tells us to have faith
in our justice system, that should add to our worries that justice
will not be done.
Thai Airways secures credit
While in bankruptcy
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday April 21, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday April 20, 2022
Re: "Leased 777-300ERs to join Thai's fleet",
Bangkok Post, April 8, 2022.
Thai Airways just announced the lease of three new planes each with
a three-class configuration, including First Class which is currently
unavailable on any routes serviced.
This acquisition begs questions:
While in bankruptcy, how can they secure credit for the leases?
What kind of fiscal shenanigans are at work here?
Undoubtedly theses planes have a state-of-the-art First Class at
the behest of those "senior people" who bemoan
the loss of their comforts and rarely pay for their seats.
The article in the Bangkok Post said that Thai Airways International
Public Company Limited (TG) is in the process of selling or has
sold 45 planes from the fleet
They have not sold a single one.
Why not retrofit some of the existing planes, as there are still
some in the fleet with many years left on the clock.
Surely a cheaper option.
The soap opera never ends and once again the taxpayer who owns a
substantial share is being abused.
Will it never end?
Rev Michael Palmer,
remains to be done by each one of us
Beyond the Philippines elections
Southeast Asian Times, Monday April 18, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday April 18,
Amongst those who support ABBB (Anyone but Bongbong),
there are two prevalent themes of lament.
First is the depiction of the vote as an existential struggle between
good, largely symbolized by the pink campaign, against evil, led
by a son whose campaign is based on the revisionist recounting of
his antecedents destructive corruption as a golden age for
The problem with the first is that the reality is not a simple binary
contest. Inequality, corruption, and patronage in our culture are
now so deeply ingrained over centuries and generations and in our
daily lives, that these forces have overcome and colored all of
us to some degree or another.
Leni Robredo, try as she will, will struggle against these forces.
There is more to our problem than a change in the government will
The most encouraging development in this election has been to witness
the rising tide of volunteerism that is now powering Leni Robredos
A rising tide of truth and holding leaders to account is a necessary
condition to our country rising from poverty and haplessness.
We need a change in culture as much as we need a better president.
The presidency is an opportunity to effect change, without which
victory is meaningless.
In the corporate world, there is the aphorism that culture beats
A leader embodies culture.
Our countrys culture is only the sum of how each one of us
behaves and what values we hold and live to.
A pervasive subservience to wealth and power is a national trait
inhibiting thoughtful discourse and accountability.
We all have a part in consciously deciding to make this change and
changing our behaviors to be more inclusive and equal, and demanding
the same from others, in our daily lives.
We should be always striving to move from a society of haves and
have-nots, to a community of inclusiveness, equality of opportunity,
and equality before the law.
The second theme is how lamentably ignorant the unenlightened masses
are that they know no better, that they fall so easily for the revisionism.
For all of us who are in a position to effect systemic change, the
question is, have we done enough that people can see the fruit of
In the absence of substantive differences in outcomes, why should
the polity prefer one fable over another?
This is not to diminish the case for clean government, but those
in our country who have no other recourse than to rely on the machinery
of the government, to even the odds for them in the struggle for
a better life, maybe have not seen sustained evidence that voting
for the good guy actually works.
Rather than call out ignorance, are we reflecting enough on the
failure to improve at a systemic level, the health, education, and
opportunity of the masses, and take it as a rebuke that we and the
system have not done better for those who number the most?
Nation-building is not done in six years, or every six years.
It is an ongoing work in progress of steadfast self-sacrifice, all
too sadly lacking if you examine our nations history of party
affiliation and the level of our political discourse, as well as
involvement and inclusiveness over history.
It starts with our vote, with our engagement, but can only be meaningful
if we appreciate that we cant just leave it to the winner
of the contest to make our life and our national communitys
Whatever the outcome, much remains to be done by each one of us,
beyond the elections.
superyacht in Fiji
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday April 19, 2022
We learn from The Fiji Times report
Amadea is here - Russian billionaires yacht in Fiji
( 13 April ) that Putin supporter Suleiman Kerimov,
a Russian oligarch who is currently sanctioned over Russias
invasion of Ukraine has docked his super yacht in Fijis
second port city Lautoka.
How has this been possible when one, such superyachts owned Russian
oligarchs who are big time Putin backers, have been sanctioned by
the USA, UK and Europe; and two, Fiji just voted in the UN for Russias
suspension from the Human Rights Council?
Could that be because of a perception on the part of the Russian
billionaire that Fiji being a coup country is a third world banana
republic where there is no solid democratic accountability, transparency
and public scrutiny of State action so he could get away with sailing
smartly into Fiji?
National Office of Buddhism shows that
Thai Buddhism's primary function is political
Southeast Asian Times, Monday April 18, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Tuesday April 12, 2022
of cloth, not paper", Bangkok Post Editorial,
April 9, 2022
When has the nationalistic religion known as Thai Buddhism, created
by and for powerful political players, ever been primarily about
the teachings of the Buddha, rather than the pursuit of power, property
and prestige in line with its political origins?
Why else would the original example of gifting literally gilded
temples and images to monks have been set, except to serve the very
secular goals of using the religion so endowed as a means to keep
the masses passive and peaceful underfoot as they contributed to
Why else would Thai Buddhism have political protection and control
at the highest level?
The very existence of such a thing as the National Office of Buddhism
shows that Thai Buddhism's primary function is political.
If Thai Buddhism is to move from worldly concerns towards following
the wise teachings of the Buddha, an essential reform is to free
it from state management. Annul the National Office of Buddhism
and other political control of the religion that it may independently
pursue and preach the wisdom of the Buddha to the great benefit
of those who will listen.
the fight for Philippines President
To Marcos vs. Leni
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday April 17, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday April
In my commentary, United we stand remembering
a hero March 26, 2022, I gave a subtle hint to the
presidential candidates not named Marcos.
I recalled the sacrifice of Salvador H. Laurel who gave up his ambition,
so Cory Aquino could become president in 1986.
Laurel was more qualified to become president then, a veteran lawyer,
honest politician, experienced public servant, and freedom fighter,
versus Tita Cory, a simple housewife.
Initially, Cory Aquino endorsed Laurel but later public clamor persuaded
her to run, putting Laurel in a dilemma.
Run and both of them would lose.
Laurel gave way to Tita Cory and sacrificed his ambition to become
a true hero.
Fast forward to today, and this time I will not be subtle.
It seems that the candidates against Marcos are dense and ambitious.
Masyadong bilib sa sarili. Sen.
Manny Pacquiao is raw and does not have enough experience in public
He needs ajinomoto seasoning.
Same with Isko Moreno.
He just started as mayor of Manila and should finish his first term
before aspiring for higher office.
Too ambitious. Sen. Panfilo Lacson is not corrupt and has more experience,
but he does not have public support.
The other candidates, whose names I refuse to recal, are just nuisance
As a senior citizen who has voted in 10 previous presidential elections,
I urge these three candidates to withdraw now and leave the fight
to Marcos vs. Leni, si Magnanakaw versus si Maganda.
This is the best chance for Leni to win.
Crispin C. Maslog,
Noise levels at Royal
Thai Air Force airbase in Udon Thani
No louder than singers in bars and karaoke
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday April 16, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Tuesday April 12, 2022
Re: "Jet blues in Udon Thani",
in Bangkok Post , April 4, 2022
Either there are flaws in the assessment of the noise levels generated
by fighter jets in neighbourhoods surrounding the Royal Thai Air
Force airbase in Udon Thani, or local people have no legitimate
cause for complaints.
According to the World Health Organization, sound levels less than
70 decibels are not damaging to living organisms, regardless of
how long or consistent the exposure.
Thus, the reported noise levels of 64.8-65.2 decibels are in no
way "too loud" or dangerous for local residents.
The noise levels measured in Udon Thani are essentially the same
intensity as a normal conversational voice, which measures about
60 decibels. Other common sources of noise are far greater.
Hairdryers, lawnmowers, motorcycles, and most power tools, for example,
register around 90 decibels. Music concerts and sporting events
clock in at about 110 decibels.
I'd venture to speculate that the acoustic assaults of promo girls
in department stores, amplified entertainment of singers in bars
and karaoke clubs, and the loudspeaker campaigning in support of
politicians that Thais seem to tolerate without complaint run far
in excess of 100 decibels.
I personally lived in an area used in training jet fighter pilots,
back in the days when such training regularly involved planes breaking
the sound barrier. The sonic booms and screeching of jets overhead
can indeed be very disturbing.
But if the noise levels in Udon Thani are no more than those being
reported, locals have nothing to whine about.
Don't preach to others
Those who have blood on your hands
Southeast Asian Times, Friday April 15, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post Thursday April 14, 2022
Re: "Asean tally", in Bangkok
Post, PostBag, April 11, 2022 and "Thais abstain
in UNHRC vote on Russia", in Bangkok Post,
April 9, 2022.
Korean War: 2.5 million civilian casualties Vietnam War: 2 million
civilian casualties Gulf War: 200,000 civilian casualties Afghanistan
War: 70,000 civilian casualties Iraq War: 66,000 civilian casualties.
Above are the civilian casualties from some of the recent wars that
America and Nato have fought.
Those who have blood on their own hands don't preach to others.
Since the start of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the US and its European
Nato allies have only stepped up their purchase of oil and gas from
Russia, while preaching to the rest of the world as to what it should
do. Ken Albersten is even willing to hug the military dictatorship
of Myanmar simply because they voted how he wanted?
Change in Pakistan happened
Without military playing any part
Southeast Asia Times, Thursday April 14, 2022
The popular Pakistani prime minister former legendary
cricketer Imran Khan was ousted in a no-confidence vote
in parliament .
Its a reminder that in politics fortunes can change rather
In the Pakistan context its good to know the change has happened
without the military playing any part in it as has often been the
case historically since the countrys formation ( for further
illumination see renown author and academic Tariq Alis book
Pakistan : military rule or peoples power ? )
Thai temple funds should
adhere to legal obligations
Applicable to bona fide businesses
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday April 13, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday April 8, 2022
Re: "'Temple swindler' assets to be investigated",
in Bangkok Post April 6, 2022.
If a close acquaintance of a temple's abbot can embezzle 190 million
baht from the temple's funds in less than four months, isn't it
time that these entities are subject to some sort of oversight?
They should be registered as a legal business/charity and thereby
obliged to adhere to all legal obligations applicable to bona fide
Misappropriating funds intended for temple or school improvements
is simply depraved.
I cannot see anyone arguing against introducing equitable regulations
in this area unless those making the argument have ulterior motives.
ASEAN members Laos and
To let Russia stay on the UNHRC
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday April 12, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Saturday April 12, 2022
Re: "Thai's abstain in United Nations Human
Rights Council (UNHRC) vote on Russia", in Bangkok Post
April 9, 2022.
Regarding Thursday's vote in the United Nations General Assembly
(UNGA) on whether to kick Russia off the United Nations Human Rights
Council (UNHRC), of the 11 countries within Asean, only Laos and
Vietnam voted to let Russia stay on the United Nations Human Rights
Six countries abstained, including Thailand, indicating they were
too cowed to vote for freedom
Three countries had the cojones to do what was right and vote in
favour of kicking Russia off the the United Nations Human Rights
Council (UNHRC), Myanmar, East Timor and the Philippines.
Those of us who watch these sorts of things were not surprised that
China voted to keep Russia on the United Nations Human Rights Council
(UNHRC), while India abstained.
We expected better from India, and were pleasantly surprised that
Myanmar voted for freedom for Ukrainians.
The global response to
Covid was tyranny
Plain and simple.
Southeast Asian Times, Monday April 11, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post Friday April 8, 2022
Re: "Covid-19's lessons for democracies",
in Bangkok Post, Opinion, April 5, 2022.
The global response to Covid was tyranny, plain and simple.
People were forced by threat of violence to comply with draconian
measures such as loss of economic liberty, being imprisoned at home
through curfews, and forced to be "research monkeys"
by coercing people to take untested medicine.
The government responses were motivated by political concerns of
exercising power and social control, not by scientific information
Even the WHO admits lockdowns, masks and jabs were ineffective against
a virus with less than a 1 percent rate of mortality.
More so if there are not any co-morbidities health issues present
with the infected.
An easy way to see this is with the government response to the one
of the major mortality factors, that is cancer!
There are more deaths every year from cancer than Covid can ever
Yet the collective global governance does not ban the usage of carcinogens
or declare "lockdowns" for commercial activity
that are carcinogenic.
Property seizures carried
out in Myanmar by military
Before accused found guilty in court
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday April 10, 2022
It is patently clear from The Southeast Asian Times
report Myanmar military held accountable for illegal
seizure of property ( 7 April 2023 ) Myanmar has fallen
into rogue rule under the military regime that grabbed power from
the democratically elected government.
How else is one to describe a regime that has seized more
than 54 homes and other properties belonging to civilians opposed
to the Armed Forces
( Tatmadaw ), the power grabbers when the Seizures
were carried out before the accused were found guilty in court?
This modus operandi of the Myanmar military junta is reminiscent
of the disgraceful confiscation and thieving done by the Nazi regime.
February 1986 revolution
cause for missing aplication
For Nobel Peace Prize for President Cory
Aquino in 1987
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday April 9, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday April 4,
We appreciate the commentary of Oscar Arias, the former
president of Costa Rica and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, which came
out on March 30, 2022.
But you may not be aware that it was his peace plan concerning three
countries that made us miss the Nobel award for Philippines President
Cory Aquino in 1987.
The February 1986 peaceful revolution made us miss the application
with the February. 28, 1986 deadline, and postpone our candidacy
The undersigned spent one year preparing the file, which was quite
First, we had the backing of many previous awardees, Lech Walesa,
Desmond Tutu, Irish, Catholic, Protestant girls, whom we had difficulty
tracing in the US.
Backing of parliaments, we got Mrs. Simone Veil for the European
Parliament, and universities, historical and cultural departments,
Notre Dame, the US, etc.
In the end, when Mrs. Aquino was informed, she asked our friend
Raul Manglapus, who was secretary of foreign affairs, to assist.
We had an impressive file, but came out second to President Arias,
with a very slim backing, but his peace plan concerned three Central
American countries, while we were concerned with one country - the
reason why we lost.
As far as we know unofficially, we came out second; there are some
300 candidates yearly.
It is too bad nobody took up the case to try the following year,
possibly with a better chance. We certainly had solid grounds as
Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi.
W A Mialhe De Burgh,
will only get worse
Until we start reducing greenhouse gases
Southeast Asian Tmes, Friday April 8, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, April 7, 2022
Re: "Chilly rain forecast for much of country",
Bangkok Post April 3, 2022.
The news mentioned that it would be up to 4C cooler and rainy in
most areas of Thailand until at least Monday of this week.
It should also be mentioned that it was up to 7C cooler and rainy
in some northern regions of the nation during the weekend.
I believe that this unusual weather pattern is more than just a
coincidence and is consistent with global warming, wherein extreme
weather patterns are expected to occur with greater frequency in
Things will only get worse unless we start reducing greenhouse gases
The just-released Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change (IPCC)
makes this clear.
If we want to reduce global temperature increases to 2C, global
greenhouse gas emissions must peak by 2025, and be reduced by a
quarter in 2030.
There will be net-zero greenhouse gas emitted by 2070 under this
In order to have a global temperature increase of only 1.5C, greenhouse
gas emissions must reach zero by 2050.
Thai Navy needs no engines in submarines
As showpiece on Children's Day
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday April 7, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post. Wendnesday April 6, 2022
Re: "Subs deal at risk: PM",
in Bangkok Post, April 5, 2022.
I don't understand why the prime minister and assorted lads are
so fussed about whether their desperately impressive subs have engines
The Royal Thai Navy's aircraft carrier needs no engine to passively
sit serving its purpose as a showpiece.
Why would their subs need engines at all to perform at the same
sub standard expected? They will look every bit as impressive for
Children's Day without.
Estate tax on Marcos inherited
Is six percent of P388.2 billion
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday April 6, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday March
Theres no doubt that one of the most serious
issues against the Marcoses in this election season is their unpaid
Originally amounting to P23.29 billion, it has now ballooned to
P203.82 billion, inclusive of interests and penalties.
The Marcos camp argues that there is nothing final on this issue,
while Marcos critics insist that the Supreme Court ruling on it
has long been final and executory.
It appears, then, that the high tribunal should be able to resolve
this controversy. But only at first glance.
Because, fortunately or unfortunately, under our system of government,
the Supreme Court is not like the legendary Muhammad who can go
down the mountain anytime to resolve a problem below.
There is reason to believe that the primary bone of contention here
is whether the controversial P23.29 billion estate tax was assessed
based on the value of assets and real properties that the Marcos
heirs had actually inherited from the elder Marcos, or whether the
tax base used was inclusive of the so-called ill-gotten wealth already
sequestered and eventually forfeited in favor of the government.
That said, may I offer a simple way to determine the truth behind
Consider this: the estate tax, also called inheritance tax, is six
percent of the value of the inherited assets and payable to the
Bureau of Internal Revenue.
Simple arithmetic easily tells us that the Marcos heirs had inherited
some P388.2 billion worth of assets which, needless to say, must
now be under their possession. On the other hand, there is another
kind of estate tax, otherwise called real property tax.
This is payable to the municipality, city, or province where the
assets or real properties are located.
Plain common sense should tell us that though computed at different
tax rates and certain other considerations, the estate or inheritance
tax and the estate or real property tax must be based essentially
on the same list of assets and properties. (Essentially because
the taxpayer may have assets other than those inherited). Otherwise,
something must be wrong, In turn, this clarification should be enough
to enlighten the electorate on the truth or myth behind this issue.
Rodolfo L. Coronel,
If Thailand wants to retain
US billion-dollar market
be prudent to assuage the concerns of the buyer
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday April 5, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday April 4, 2022
Re: "US solar panel probe draws protest
from ministry", Bangkok Post, Business, April 2, 2022.
The reaction by the government concerning the United States wanting
to ensure that China is not dumping solar panel-related technology
and parts does not look good.
When someone is "not" breaking rules, offering
transparency is a great way to disprove an allegation of cheating
To protest the inquiry or probe itself gives the impression that
something is being hidden or that the allegation is based in truth.
If Thailand really wants to retain a US billion-dollar market, they
would be prudent to assuage the concerns of the buyer rather than
protest a legitimate concern of a customer.
When your position is "to prepare a defence" rather
than proving through transparency, it makes one believe that there
is something off. I would like to see the Thai economy retain this
export potential but in order to do this I feel the government's
actions need to change.
Shanghai lockdown policy
swatting at flies
Southeast Asian Times, Monday March 4, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Thursday March 31, 2022
Re: "Half of Shanghai in lockdown to curb
Covid-19 outbreak," in Bangkok Post March 28, 2022.
While I wish the Chinese government all the best in their efforts
to manage Covid-19, I must say that I do not think a zero-Covid
approach really is in China's best interests anymore.
Frankly, much of the world is starting to move on now and has grown
accustomed to simply living with a manageable chronic illness.
The illness is simply here to stay until we develop a new generation
of vaccines and, as Covid-19 has a very low mortality rate, the
time has come to largely reopen and move on.
Our economies cannot sustain endless lockdowns.
I wish China well, but this policy is swatting at flies.
It discourages international travel on their airlines and will do
few people much good.
Jason A Jellison,
Call for United Nations
military adviser to advise
Role of the military in a democracy
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday April 3, 2022
After his courtesy visit to the Black Rock military
facility in Fiji ( UN Military Adviser pays a courtesy visit
to Black Rock The Fiji Times 28/3 ), can the United Nations
military adviser visit Myanmar to advice the military general who
grabbed power in a military coup from the democratically elected
government of Aung San Sui Kyi what the role of the military is
in a democracy?
That would be a very worthwhile visit for the United Nations military
adviser to make to have a military man to military man talk with
the rogue military ruler of Myanmar who has been engaged in terrorising
the people of Myanmar since his takeover.
How stupid are humans?
They destroy cities and cultures
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday April 2, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Thursday April 31, 2022
Re: "Odessa and Ukraine that was,"
in Bangkok Post, Opinion, March 29, 2022.
Alas, before Odessa, many other famous cities became the victims
of wars. Warmongers have destroyed the beautiful culture and heritage
of Beirut, Damascus and Baghdad.
A little search on Google will show that many other cities have
been damaged or destroyed by evil wars.
Old City of Dubrovnik, Croatia; Vijecnica (City Hall) of Sarajevo,
Bosnia; the Buddhas of Bamiyan, Afghanistan; Djinguereber Mosque
of Timbuktu, Mali; and the Great Mosque of Aleppo, Syria are a few
These sites became targets of unnecessary devastation and destruction
brought by ill-conceived wars.
And let us not forget Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
How stupid are humans?
They destroy cities and cultures which took a millennium to establish.
Do our ancestors, the chimpanzees and apes, have a better understanding
of the world?
Why is Julian Assange
Southeast Asian Times, Friday April 1, 2022
It is true that with his war of invasion in Ukraine
and the atrocities committed against the people of Ukraine Putin
undermines an international system which gives us all
an equal voice in the world and an ability to defend our own sovereign
interests ( Putins threat to the Pacific,
and our defence Advertisement, The Fiji Times 28/3 ).
Did Julian Assange not reveal a serious breach of the rules-based
international order in Iraq?
Why is he being persecuted for doing that?
Why the selective condemnation?
Mind your own business
In order to be civilized in Papua New Guinea
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday March 31, 2022
First published in the National, Thursday March 31, 2022
(mind your own business) is an abbreviation used by old civilisations
that usually bears fruitful impacts in life.
It is a reminder that drives one to divert their attention and concentrate
The multicultural societies like the US and Brazil are occupied
by individuals of diverse walks of life.
Although there are homosexuals, transgender and bestiality, to state
a few, they interact respectably together.
There are thousands of religious groups from Christianity to Muslim
and Scientology to Satanism.
Since they are civilised, they tolerate and participate collectively
as part of the society.
In 2015, the US president Barrack Obama spoke in the Rose Garden
of Whitehouse after the US supreme court declared that same-sex
couples have the right to marry anywhere in the US.
While commemorating the event, the president told the overwhelming
crowd that the nation was founded on a bedrock principle
that we are created equal.
After a few congratulatory statements, the president embraced the
then secretary of state and kissed him on stage to mark an exemplary
The boiling celebration was sparked by the aid of rainbow-coloured
fireworks that dyed the murky space, alongside an overflow of warm
individuals of various genders.
Another occasion erupted in 2017 when the Christians celebrated
Christmas Eve in the Whitehouse.
While encircling and devoting a holy-cross with a statue of Saint
Mary, the followers of Satanism also held their ritual, having worshipped
a gold-carved sculpture of a black-coloured snake that coiled around
an apple made of pure bronze.
Christians stormed out with frustrations as they approached the
They informed Satanism that they were celebrating the birth of Christ
and insisted on knowing the purpose of the ritual.
The Christians were told that if Satan did not intervene at the
beginning, life would not have come that far.
Others added that they havent recognised under the constitution
which forbids the free will of religions.
The responses defeated the Christians as they dissolved unnoticeably.
To cut a long story short, they presume that only God is righteous
to judge, otherwise it would be a breach of privacy and self-determination
But not in PNG society.
We are experts at privatising other peoples affairs.
This uncivilised personality enables one to consider what others
might think, which leads to exhaust both time and resources to please
It accumulates in breeding countless hypocrites, which handicaps
our progress at large.
In order to be a civilised and successful person, one must terminate
the trend to judge others and step on their own path to positively
Life is too short to be wasted on another life.
Papua New Guinea
Call for Commander-in-chief
of Myanmar military
be hauled before the International Criminal Court
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday March 30, 2022
We read in The Southeast Asian Times 27 March that
the Commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces ( Tatmadaw ) of Myanmar,
Sr Gen Min Aung Hlaing, said the National Unity Government ( NUG
), the Peoples Defence Force ( PDF ) and the Civil Disobedience
Movement ( CDM ) were terrorist groups.
But if you ask the people of Myanmar they will tell you its
the Myanmar military that has become a terrorist outfit under the
rogue ruler Sr Gen Min Aung Hlaing who grabbed power in a military
coup from the democratically elected government of Aung San Sui
The rogue military general should be hauled before the International
Criminal Court (ICC) for the killings and atrocities committed by
his military thugs against the people of Myanmar.
A Red Notice should be issued on him.
Now the EU and USA have
But to work with China and India
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday March 29, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday March 25, 2022
Re: "Sanctions aren't new, ask the Romans",
in Bangkok Post, Opinion, March 19, 2022.
Yes, it is indeed true that sanctions do not work. Cuba, Iran, N
Korea, and many other countries face sanctions imposed by Western
powers. In 1970 when India started to become a nuclear power, it
faced the same situation.
Mr Trump tried to impose sanctions on China during his tenure, but
it quickly backfired.
In all the cases cited above, the economic disruptions caused by
sanctions have prompted these countries to fight harder to defend
There is no doubt that the anger and anxiety brought by economic
disruptions can accelerate rather than conclude wars.
Unjust sanctions also generate long-term hatred towards countries
that create hardships for ordinary citizens.
We can clearly see that countries that were sanctioned have come
out stronger. Now the EU and USA have no choice but to work with
China and India.
They will have to get back to work with Russia to end the devastating
war in Ukraine.
The time has come for Western countries to stop abusing sanctions
and punishing countries that do not bow to their powers.
It is just a matter of time before they will be forced to work with
Afghanistan, Iran, Russia, N Korea and Cuba. Alas, these days, sanctions
are as useless as nuclear weapons that were one time signs of supremacy.
Call for new Commission
on Elections (Comelec)
decide Marcos Jr. disqualifications immediately
Southeast Asian Times, Monday March 28, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday March 21,
The reorganized Commission on Elections (Comelec),
with the recent appointment of its chair and two new commissioners,
seems to have a less than auspicious start, and still much less
of an assurance of a honeymoon period to prove itself trustworthy
Aside from the alarm raised by netizens regarding the lack of transparency
in the printing of the official ballots, which the commission later
rectified with a walk through, an exposé by a senator that
a commissioner was involved in a case of bribery, is not making
it easy for the new Comelec to prove its worth - if it is minded
Yet, it can redeem itself simply by acting swiftly and reasonably
in the promulgation of election rules and in the resolution of cases.
We saw the rules on the posting of election materials, and other
related issues, caused an uproar that prompted a court in Baguio
City to restrain their implementation.
And this came after the questionable act of a commissioner, who
delayed the issuance of the decision in one of the Marcos Jr. disqualification
cases in order to marginalize a colleague.
It could only have been done for a fiendish objective, because simple
courtesy would have moved one to do everything to make sure that
colleague is heard, not silenced.
At the moment, the final decision on one pending Marcos Jr. disqualification
case, and on motions for reconsideration in the others, is a challenge
to Chairman Pangarungan and a litmus test of his political will.
The disqualification cases should have been decided weeks ago so
that the aggrieved parties could have sought final relief from the
Supreme Court to settle all issues of eligibility and qualification
of a candidate before election day.
It should not be left undecided after election day, as this will
potentially cause a political crisis.
That there is silence on this subject at the moment reminds us of
the Ferolino playbook of delaying action for questionable reasons.
The new commission can stop this by deciding the Marcos Jr. disqualification
Will Chairman Pangarungan rise to the challenge?
Ancheta K. Tan,
Call for environmental
policies to be on agenda
next president of the Philippines
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday March 27, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Saturday March
We seldom hear politicians outrightly campaign for
In the recently concluded Philippines presidential debates at our
university, the University of Santo Tomas, I cannot help but be
alarmed that the questions posed to the candidates did not even
touch on environment-related platforms.
On top of this, green policies are not reflected in the candidates
It is high time that environmental policies should be part of the
mainstream agenda for the next president of the Philippines.
The absence of green policies has ramifications on ordinary peoples
lives. Although not seen in plain sight, the change in climate contributes
to armed conflicts across the world as states vie for limited resources.
The Philippines is ravaged by typhoons, earthquakes, and landslides
every year. People living in poverty are the most vulnerable and
bear the disastrous impacts of these catastrophes.
Yet, every year, its always the same news - deaths, destroyed
houses, damage to agriculture, crowded evacuation centers. Should
this always be the fate of the Filipino people?
What is toxic about this is that survivors of disasters are always
praised for their resilience when the government could have put
in place safeguards that protect and prepare them for such calamities.
This is why its crucial that the countrys next president
should have unwavering support and participation in green policies,
and honor commitments to international treaties.
As the Latin legal maxim says: salus populi est suprema lex, the
welfare of the people is the supreme law.
A president for the environment is a president for the people.
Philippine Society of
for withdrawal of Russian military from Ukraine
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday Match 26, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday March
The Philippine Society of International Law (PSIL)
joins the call of the United Nations and the Philippine government
in demanding the immediate, complete, and unconditional withdrawal
of Russian military forces from Ukraine.
Article 2(4) of the UN Charter prohibits states from using armed
force against the territorial integrity or political independence
of other states.
Russias act of invading and bombing, and maintaining armed
forces within Ukraine violates this prohibition.
Calling it special military operations or any
other term does not change the character of Russias actions
as a full-scale invasion and an unlawful use of force.
Moreover, international humanitarian law, including the Geneva Conventions,
directs the parties to an armed conflict to limit hostilities solely
against military objectives and not against civilians, and to minimize
incidental injuries against civilians.
The invasion of Ukraine has exacted grave human suffering among
innocent civilians, including children. Homes, hospitals, and schools
have been indiscriminately razed and destroyed by the hostilities.
Over three million Ukrainians have been displaced and have sought
refuge in neighboring states, and the prosecutor of the International
Criminal Court has opened an investigation on war crimes and crimes
The Russian invasion of Ukraine is the most brazen challenge to
the international legal order in recent history.
This is not to say that the UN Charter has not been stretched and
strained to legitimize the recourse to armed aggression in the past.
But the aggression against Ukraine, that is to say, the full-scale
armed invasion by one sovereign state against another state, without
the thinnest legal veneer, if allowed, will embolden future acts
of aggression by other states similarly disinclined to respect the
international rule of law, especially in the territorial and maritime
disputes in Asia.
With the fast escalating conflict in Ukraine, once again, the world
community finds itself on the precipice of a cataclysmic war.
The Philippine Society of International Law (PSIL) joins the international
community in calling for a return to the paths of diplomacy in order
to resolve soonest these disputes through peaceful means, and the
immediate cessation of hostilities and violations of human rights
and other acts that could amount to international crimes.
Philippine Society of International Law,
on alcohol sales on Buddhist holy days
authoritarian despotism in Thailand
Southeast Asian Times, Friday March 25, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday March 21, 2022
Re: "Regulate in moderation",
in Bangkok Post, Life, March 14, 2022
A personal devotion to the teachings of a religion is an excellent
reason for those so devoted to follow when making personal decisions
as to how they live their own lives.
Devout Buddhists might, for example, choose to abstain from drinking
alcohol on the holy days of Buddhism, just as they similarly abstain
from paying others to kill sentient beings on their orders merely
to enjoy some tasty animal flesh.
However, neither the personal religious beliefs of some, not even
of a majority, nor the teachings of any religion, are relevant to
forming public policy and law.
For the state to be persuaded by some group to force their personal
religious doctrines on all is to expose that religion as an authoritarian
despotism, something I do not think that the Buddha set out to create.
The ban on alcohol sales on Buddhist holy days is every bit as rationally
defensible as a universal ban on the sale and consumption of meat
on those days.
The retailers and restaurant owners petitioning for reform of the
laws regarding the sale and also advertising of alcohol are doubtless
acting from the capitalist profit motive, but that does not reduce
the cogency of their call for law reform.
Responsible mining accomodates
mining alters ecosystems irreversibly
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday March 24, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday March 18,
"Responsible mining" is an umbrella
term under which questionable features take shelter.
For example, the term accommodates the open-pit mining method, which,
no matter how responsibly it is carried out, alters an ecosystem
irreversibly; this is elementary science.
In fact, built into the DNA of mining is the risk of a host of potential
impacts, according to the World Resources Institute: habitat loss/fragmentation,
disturbance to wildlife, chemical contamination of surface and groundwater,
declining species populations, toxicity impacts to organisms, loss
of original vegetation/biodiversity, among others.
While mining companies can try to mitigate these scenarios, we must
calculate if they are worth the trouble.
The term also covers mining primarily for export.
Data from the Mines and Geoscience Bureau finds that almost all
of the minerals extracted in the Philippines are exported, thereby
using national patrimony to benefit not the Philippines but foreign
Mining also does not preclude social impacts. Mining in environmental
areas affects ecosystem services - potable water, protection from
storms, food - on which communities depend.
All this falls under the narrative arc of responsible mining, and
all sanctioned by law, through the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.
Thus, while we recognize the role of mining in modern life, we cant
rely on responsible mining to administer such an invasive undertaking.
Alternative minerals management (AMM), which views mining from a
whole-of-life approach, is a proposed framework for mining governance
in the Philippines. Alternative minerals management (AMM) is encapsulated
in a proposed bill filed in the 18th Congress by Senators Risa Hontiveros
and Grace Poe and Rep. Lawrence Fortun.
In Alternative minerals management (AMM), only so-called strategic
minerals, or minerals needed for national development, including
national industrialization, shall be marshaled. Mining that does
not serve this goal shall be disallowed. Strategic minerals shall
also be processed domestically, so they rise in value, bolstering
Crucially, Alternative minerals management (AMM), fills the void
left by the 1995 Mining Act in protecting the environment.
In Alternative minerals management (AMM),, the open-pit method is
prohibited, and mining in key biodiversity areas, critical watersheds,
critical habitats, and other such areas is forbidden.
Alternative minerals management (AMM), is also anchored in the climate
A mining project which is powered by a coal plant flies in the face
of the proposed moratorium on coal by the Department of Energy.
Mining must not slow down the Philippines shift to a low-carbon
Some believe mining is atavistic; a post-extractive future is gaining
traction in light of the oncoming climate catastrophe.
Its proponents argue:
How can mining be endorsed when every effort must be made to conserve
the environment and not destroy it?
A just minerals transition must thus be conceived to interrogate
the role of mining in the shift to renewable energy for the production
of solar panels, for example.
Every care must be taken not to inadvertently allow renewable energy
to destroy the environment it avows to conserve in the first place.
Alternative minerals management (AMM) then is a compromise.
Its a solution that allows mining but only under stringent
conditions, which the environment, as the source of our nourishment,
Responsible mining, which rolls off the tongue, is admittedly popular.
However, in alternative minerals management, the language for the
primacy of the planet and people over profit is clearly articulated
where in responsible mining, it has been lost in translation.
Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center,
Many ways that the Russian
Can become far more catastrophic
Southeast Asuan Times, Wednesday March 23, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday March 21,
In February.24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine.
A titanic struggle started which for now is confined within Ukraine
But the danger of a wider and far more destructive war is very real.
What if Russia, caught in a quagmire and reeling from the severest
sanctions in living memory, lashes out in an unexpected way - such
as by using chemical or even nuclear weapons in Ukraine, or by striking
at the three Baltic states?
What if Nato pushes its assistance to Ukraine too far and inadvertently
clashes with Russian forces?
There are many ways this war can become far more catastrophic.
All thats needed is a proverbial spark.
History is full of such sparks -sudden and momentous events that
have profound consequences for humanity.
The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian
empire, on June 28, 1914, set off the powder keg of World War I.
The invasion of Poland by Germany on September 1, 1939, triggered
the even greater horrors of World War II.
The bombing of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii by Japan on December 7, 1941,
pulled the United States into that same war.
More recently, the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, caused
a wounded and enraged the United States, together with its allies,
to attack Afghanistan and commence the so-called war on
Oftentimes, the belligerents do not even wish or intend to escalate
tensions, but they are somehow swept into a conflict that spirals
out of control.
Miscalculation by either side provides the spark which distinguishes
these armed conflicts from near misses like the 1962 Cuban missile
If the world is to avoid yet another devastating global conflict,
Russia and Ukraine, as well as the countries that support them,
need to be very mindful of what these potential sparks might be.
Dennis Joseph D. Judan,
Call for Thailand to propose
the framework of Asean and Indo-Pacific strategy
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday March 22, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday March 20, 2022
Re: "Thailand must take stand on Ukraine",
in Bangkok Post, Opinion, March 1, 2022.
I was so happy to see two former ambassadors saving the honour of
Thai diplomacy, which as a Dutch citizen living in Thailand I admire
so much. Indeed, neutrality, a status the Netherlands observed during
WWI, is often merely based on opportunism and lack of courage, unless
it produces initiatives like the International Committee of the
Red Cross (ICRC) based in Switzerland.
What I would understand is if Thailand wanted to be independent.
This does not only allow a country to take sides with the vulnerable
and support international law, as Thailand has done already in the
UN General Assembly.
An independent position would go much further than neutrality. Independence
needs inner strength and free, mutual collaboration.
The latter, although difficult in the domestic arena, Thai diplomacy
But since Dr Puey Ungphakorn's vision of the "Cradle to
Grave" welfare state and Dr Surin Pitsuwan's pioneering
advocacy of human security, it seems there has been little civic
inspiration toward common purpose but "security"
and "stability" in defence of the status quo.
Could Thailand propose the concept of "Eco-Peace" in
the framework of Asean and its Indo-Pacific strategy, as a counterforce
to rivalling dominant powers?
"Eco-Peace", based on global citizenship and common
care for ecology and in line with the UN secretary-general's Our
Common Agenda, a possible rationale for re-purposing the Trusteeship
Council could equally become a leading security concept for an emerging
Eastern European coalition, forming a buffer zone between Russia
and Western-Europe-cum-US-driven Nato.
Hans Van Willenswaard,
Russia's 19th century
Must be resisted
Southeast Asian Times, Monday March 21, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Saturday March 19, 2022
One half-baked theory put forward by certain people
regarding the current Ukraine crisis is that Western democracies
are somehow responsible for the invasion.
Nato is a defensive alliance.
The states of the former Soviet Union would not have wished to join
this alliance if they had not felt threatened by Russia, and we
are now seeing the perfect illustration of why that feeling of threat
was not misplaced.
Vladimir Putin did not invade Ukraine because of the various sins,
some real and some imagined, of America and the West.
He invaded Ukraine because he is a sociopathic and an increasingly
deranged despot sitting on top of a pile of rusting nuclear missiles
in a crumbling kleptocracy, with delusions that he might soon be
crowned the new Tsar of a Russian empire.Putin is responsible for
Putin's actions, and his rapacious, 19th-century tendency to devour
smaller nations must be resisted.
New Guinea calls for liquor ban
this year's election
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday March 20, 2022
Papuan New Guineas deputy Police Commissioner
has called for a total liquor ban during this years election
polling and counting period ( The Fiji Times 11/3 p. 36 ).
This is to ensure the election is safe and peaceful.
And, it will no doubt help if voters voted with a clear head !
The deputy Police Commissioners Call has received widespread
support for good reasons in the Papua New Guinea election context.
Wonder if we can use the Papua New Guinea model to ban somethings
in our election context like for instance big business political
Call for Philippines to
respond to Sino-Russo effort
To destabilize United States hegemony
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday March 19, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Sunday March 13,
As the 2022 Philippine presidential race gets underway,
the respective foreign policy agendas of the presidentiables must
receive closer scrutiny.
This national electoral issue is a highly critical policy area of
concern for the Philippine state.
In fact, Manila is by now urgently compelled to respond to the new
global strategic shift commenced by the latest China-Russia summit
in Beijing last February. 4.
In particular, the Sino-Russo bloc has just vowed to jointly confront
the destabilizing hegemony of the United States in both Europe and
Indeed, Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir
Putin strongly proclaimed their joint opposition to Americas
growing regional security threats threatening
international strategic stability.
Thus, given the direct security implications for Southeast Asia,
the Filipino electorate must already know and grasp how their next
head of state aims to effectively protect Philippine independence
and sovereignty in the years ahead.
Manila vitally strives to safeguard the countrys archipelagic
sovereignty within maritime Southeast Asia.
But geopolitical impacts, linked to the rising great-power competition
between America and China, are perilously roiling the vast realm
of the Southeast Asian Sea (aka the South China Sea).
This maritime areas strategically decisive environment is
also undermined by a host of bilateral and multilateral territorial
disputes involving the Southeast Asian Seas littoral states.
So, from Manilas outlook, the regional security environments
overall stability is largely viewed through the lens of the countrys
maritime zone, known as the West Philippine Sea.
Yet it is against this volatile external backdrop that certain presidential
candidates have brashly declared their plans to further militarize
Their bellicose external affairs stances were expressed during recently
Chiefly set through the international question of the Southeast
Asian Sea, these alarming foreign policy views are narrowly framed
within the reactionary limits of national-chauvinist and militarist
courses of action.
As such, these prospective Malacañang tenants intend to further
violate the peaceful, independent, and non-aligned foreign policy
provisions of the 1987 Philippine Constitution - by either commission
For instance, both Vice President Leni Robredo and Sen. Ping Lacson
assert the need for the Philippines to bolster its longtime military
alliance with America. Likewise, former senator Bongbong Marcos
Jr., Sen. Manny Pacquiao, and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno merely cite
generalities for regional peace - yet they loudly remain silent
on the presence of US military forces posturing against China from
So clearly, they all seek to preserve the Philippines as US imperialisms
premier tripwire-state in Southeast Asia today.
Therefore, given the same old, same old, an alternatively
progressive foreign policy path is crucially needed.
Thailands vote at UN against
the war in Ukraine
Nothing to lose but a small market of Russian
Southeast Asian Times, Friday March 18, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Thursday 17, 2022
Re: "Not our fault," Bangkok
Post, PostBag, March 15, 2022 and "Stuck in neutral,"
in Bangkok Post, March 13, 2022.
In the Russian-Ukraine war, Thailand can afford to take sides.
By its United Nations vote against war, it does not have anything
to lose but a small market of Russian tourists.
On the other hand, India has been a close Soviet ally since its
independence from the British empire.
During the 1970s, when India was developing its nuclear arsenal,
the US kept it out of its markets.
After Bill Clinton became president in 1992, India and China have
become strong economies, and therefore they no longer have to take
For Thailand, taking sides is a matter of convenience.
It has nothing to do with taking a high moral ground against the
war in Ukraine.
Just look at its stance regarding Myanmar.
As they say, "all politics is local".
After the fiasco in Iraq and Afghanistan, the UN has also lost its
military operation in Ukraine
Bears hallmarks of war crimes
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday March 17, 2022
What a euphemism calling Russias war of invasion in Ukraine
a special military operation ( The Southeast
Asian Times 15/3 ) when it bears all the hallmarks of war crimes
and crimes against humanity that we associate with fascist regimes?
Shame on those who describe the Russian war of invasion in that
Papua New Guinea calls
for a direct voice
In Parliament for direct influence
Southeast Asian times, Wednesday 16, 2022
First published in the National, Monday March 14, 2022
Papua New Guineas copy-paste constitution adopted
from the British and Australians is still in its colonial form,
wielding more powers to the rulers.
Whatever those in power prefer becomes the final solution and answer
The prime ministers post is typically occupied by a leading
party in Parliament, whereby ministry portfolios are shared among
affiliated party leaders under a common understanding.
So, when the Prime Minister wants to ensure its demands are met,
a direct call is made to the respective ministries to carry out
The prime minister remains the chairman to the National Executive
Council (NEC) and calls the shots in any situation.
The prime minister, through procedural-protocols, reserves the right
to hire and fire whoever works under him.
This system has made our prime minister's become systematic dictators.
Ministers, commissioners, managing directors, chief executive officers
and vice-chancellors have all been entangled by a strain of string
attached to the ruling government.
The National Executive Council (NEC) has the final say.
How can Papua New Guinea rely on the Ombudsman Commission when the
commissioner is selected and appointed by the National Executive
People under the National Executive Council's (NEC) reliance-sphere
are frequently engaged to uphold the highly-sensitive offices.
When functional, they honour and do what the National Executive
Council (NEC) says.
Failure to follow orders would lead to removal of powers and a new
official is substituted with the aim to do things according to the
National Executive Council's (NEC) liking.
This process is evident in every prestigious institution that provide
standardised operations for our nation.
For instance, the recent University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) students
protest that erupted against former Prime Minister Peter ONeill
was a dead-end.
As in the case of the students unrest, the Prime Minister gave directives
to the Police minister to contain it.
The command was then conveyed to the police commissioner and an
order was passed down to the National Capital District metropolitan
superintendent to quell the unrest.
The citys police commander mobilised his men and dispersed
the peaceful protest and labelled it an unofficial turmoil.
Although the protest was legal under the Constitution, the University
of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) vice-chancellor advised the students
to leave the agendas to the parliamentarians and concentrate on
This reflects how those in key positions always submit to the Prime
The structure of our systems is constrained under the knot tied
by our laws, which allows the Prime Minister to use our mandated
leaders as puppets.
Therefore, we need a direct voice in Parliament to guide our welfare.
Papua New Guinea should establish a mechanism such as the citizens
initiative, which will consist of voters who will have direct influence
Papua New Guinea
Build Build Build program
To address insurgency NTF-Elcac
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday March 15, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday March 11,
Im still undecided about who I should vote for
as president because their platforms arent clear to me.
To be honest, I dont care about the notions of dilawan
or Diehard Duterte Supporters (DDS).
What I am looking for in a presidential candidate is someone who
will continue the Build, build, build program
and the fight against insurgency (NTF-Elcac), because I believe
that development cannot flourish while we are still in a state of
I am a firm believer of the NTF-Elcac; I have not seen a more effective
method to address insurgency than a national unity in addressing
the root cause of insurgency, which is poverty and a lack of access
to government services.Build, build, build complements
the objective of NTF-Elcac, by hastening the development of public
services and creating additional job opportunities for former rebels.
Im also looking for someone who has plans to make the Philippines
a self-sufficient country, by which I mean having a cheap and adequate
supply of power and food.
For this reason, I am in favor of reopening the nuclear power plant
and prioritizing agriculture in rural areas so that we do not have
to face a shortage of rice and import food.
This development in agriculture will not only improve the lives
of our fishermen and farmers, but this will also have a negative
effect in the recruitment of the CPP-NPA.
I strongly believe that the Philippines is endowed with resources,
and that Filipinos are capable of utilizing them for the benefit
I understand that education and political experience are important
factors to consider when electing a leader.
However, I have seen far too many educated people in management
and executive positions who fail because they lack a strong vision
of making the world a better place.
John Paul B. Sandoval,
High hopes for Filipinos
to choose a president
With clean and pure intentions to serve
Southeast Asian Times, Monday March 14, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday March 4,
It is heartbreaking and disappointing to see people
still supporting the Marcoses at this point, knowing the crimes
their family did to this country and to our countrymen.
But our approach should always root from understanding.
Why do they still support them?
Is it out of necessity?
On the other hand, I still have high hopes that Filipinos will keep
their dignity and choose a leader who has a clean and pure intention
to serve the country, most especially the marginalized ones.
Let us not sacrifice our future and our country from having a good,
clean, and honest government by voting for robbers instead of a
leader who has served the marginalized, and genuinely and passionately
works for the country.
Doon tayo sa ipaglalaban tayo hanggang dulo.
Prynces Therese L. Lacdang,
Philippine Normal University,
dredging company contradicts recommendations
For sustainable development of
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday March 13, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday March
In 2021, the Dutch dredging firm Royal Boskalis Westminster
announced that it had won a $1.5 billion project in Manila Bay.
Boskalis intends to reclaim an area of 2,565 hectares of land on
the coast of Bulacan province - equivalent to more than 3,500 football
fields - upon which the Duterte administration is planning to build
the New Manila International Airport (NMIA).
Because it is such a high-risk project, Boskalis has applied for
a so-called export credit insurance from the Dutch State through
the export credit agency Atradius DSB.
Atradius decision regarding Boskalis request is expected
to be made soon and for this reason, we, a coalition of Philippine
and Dutch civil society organizations and scientists, call on the
Dutch government and Boskalis to withdraw from this controversial
The New Manila International Airport (NMIA) project is completely
at odds with the Netherlands climate ambitions.
What is particularly striking about Boskalis planned land
reclamation activities is that they completely contradict recent
recommendations from the Manila Bay Sustainable Development Master
Plan, which was recently developed by Dutch water engineers in collaboration
with the Philippine government.
The master plan, which was also funded by the Netherlands, provides
concrete recommendations for the sustainable development of Manila
With regard to the New Manila International Airport (NMIA) location,
the master plan states that it should in fact be designated as a
strict protection zone due to the areas vulnerable wetlands
and high biodiversity value.
The master plan advises against the construction of the New Manila
International Airport (NMIA) in that area.
Should the Dutch State decide to insure the Boskalis, it will effectively
be using Dutch public resources to undermine the master plan, which
was also funded with Dutch public resources, thus serving as a salient
and shocking example of policy incoherence.
Manila Bay is extremely vulnerable to climate change and is routinely
faced with floods brought on by land subsistence, sea-level rise,
storm surges, and hurricanes. The New Manila International Airport
(NMIA) project exacerbates these vulnerabilities with disastrous
implications for communities and ecosystems.
So far, hundreds of fishing families have been forced to make way
for the project, many of whom have been pressured to self-demolish
their own homes.
In addition, thousands of fishermen have been cut off from their
fishing grounds, upon which they depend for their livelihoods.
The planned land reclamation will also cause irreplaceable wetlands
to be wiped out, such as mudflats and mangroves that play a vital
role in carbon sequestration. The area is currently an important
spawning ground for various fish species such as sardines, and it
also serves as a refuge for protected migratory bird species within
the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, one of the worlds largest
Moreover, the New Manila International Airport (NMIA) development
will likely accelerate land subsidence in the region, which will
in turn exacerbate flooding in a much larger area.
Sand mining for land reclamation is also expected to have a disastrous
effect on marine life and fisheries elsewhere in the bay.
In recent years, the Netherlands has marketed itself as a world
leader in the field of climate adaptation.
The Dutch water sector, which Boskalis is part of, plays a key role
in this strategy. But climate adaptation means that communities
and ecosystems are made more resilient to the effects of climate
change, while projects like the New Manila International Airport
(NMIA) do the exact opposite.
We are calling on Boskalis and Atradius DSB to withdraw from this
project. Instead, the Netherlands should refocus its climate ambitions
toward policies that support sustainable, inclusive, and locally-driven
AGHAM Advocates of Science and Technology for the People,
AKAP KA M
Devralin Lagos-University of the Philippines,
Kalikasan Peoples Network for the Environment,
Oceana International Philippines,
Wild Bird Club of the Philippines
Malaysia calls for international
community to unite
affirming anti-war stance and safeguarding world peace
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday March 12, 2022
First published in Malaysiakini, Friday March 4, 2022
We, the undersigned Civil Society Organisations (CSOs),
hereby strongly condemn Russias aggression and stand in solidarity
with Ukrainians as a sovereign and independent nation.
We also condemn the Russian government for their action and brutality,
including arresting protesters against the war.
Russia's use of armed forces is an act of aggression and is against
peace and security, as enshrined under the fundamental principles
of the United Nations Charter, and may amount to a war crime and
a crime against humanity.
It has infringed the fundamental human rights of all Ukrainians
and endangered the safety of humans all over the world.
This crisis will render many Ukrainians as refugees, including women
and children, and trigger a humanitarian crisis in Europe and the
We urge Russia to immediately withdraw its troops from Ukraine.
The international community must unite in affirming its anti-war
stance and safeguarding world peace.
Genuine efforts and serious commitments must be made by all sides,
including Russia, Ukraine, the United States, the European Union
and Nato to achieve a successful peace talk and immediate ceasefire.
We also urge the international community to deliver humanitarian
aid to Ukraine to prevent more casualties immediately.
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram); KLSCAH Youth; Undi
18; University of Malaya Association of New Youth (UMANY)
Malaysian Action for Justice and Unity (MAJU); Kolektif Iklim; Dewan
Belia India Malaysia; Student Progressive Front UUM; People Like
Us Support Ourselves (PLUsos); Architects of Diversity Malaysia;
Centre for Independent Journalism; Pertubuhan Solidaritas; New Student
Movement Alliance of Malaysia; ENGAGE NETWORK; UTM - MJIIT Voices;
Voices of Youtharian; Demokrat Kebangsaan; Tunku Abdul Rahman Association
of New Youth; Citizen Lab; Unit Pendidikan Angkatan Muda Keadilan
Malaysia; Malaysians Stand with Ukrainians; Pertubuhan Serikat Rakyat
Malaysia; Democratic Action Party Socialist Youth Kota Kinabalu
(DAPSY Kota Kinabalu); Lyceum Society; Angkatan Mahasiswa UM; and
University of Malaya Student Union.
Thai national father HM
King Rama IX
Wants Lese Majeste law to be reformed
Southeast Asian Times, Friday March 11, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post Wednesday March 9, 2022
Re: "Ex-PM offers views on lese majeste
law", in Bangkok Post, March 7, 2022.
In responding to calls to amend our lese majeste law, we should
first consider the careful conclusions of he who was our foremost
expert on the Thai monarchy - our beloved national father, HM King
Our national father clearly wants these laws to be reformed, for
Thailand's law of lèse-majesté has one very prominent
critic: King Bhumibol.
who used his birthday address to convey
The king is a human being and as such should be subject to criticism..
Charges against those accused of lèse-majesté should
be dropped, and those held in jail for lèse-majesté
should be released...
The use of the lèse-majesté law ultimately damages
the monarchy' he said" Grossman and Faulder, King Bhumibol
Adulyadej: A Life's Work
Even today, we, led by politicians, constantly and deliberately
go counter to the late king's clear wishes.
We have allowed any of the 54.1 million adult Thais to lodge a Section
It's no wonder that Section 112 has often been weaponized for political
ends. Given King Rama IX's considered opinion above, I suggest that
this law cries out for thorough-going reform lest we "ultimately
damage the monarchy" further.
for ASEAN to join in global action to punish
military aggression against Ukraine
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday March 10, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday March 7, 2022
Re: "Might doesn't make right, unjust wars
will fail", Bangkok Post, Opinion, March 3,
We would certainly wish that "unjust wars will fail";
the ugly reality is that they have often succeeded.
It is not yet certain that Putin's war will not succeed.
It certainly seems, to cite another current example, that the war
against the Myanmar people that began a year ago with the military
coup has not failed.
In that pursuit of unjust gain by violence, both coup committers
and war wagers also wage a disinformation war by suppressing free
On a more optimistic note, the global response that seeks to non-violently
punish Putin's aggression is appropriate.
Let us hope it will prove victorious.
It is encouraging to see so many nations, organisations and even
international businesses unite in working to deny the aggressors
the economic fruits so dear to them.
Under Putin's repressive rule, the Russian people have been subjected
to financial inequality, as gross as that which has also come to
exist in Thailand; with the spoils going, no surprise, to those
close to and supportive of Putin.
As Mr Borrell explains, Thailand should join in the actions to punish
those using violence and intimidation to force their personal agenda
on entire nations.
If Asean and its individual member nations hold to any decent values
such as respect for democracy founded on just law or respect for
human rights protected by just law, it would unequivocally join
in the global actions to punish Russia's military aggression against
Even traditionally neutral Switzerland has joined in the non-violent
confounding of Putin's aggression.
But then, had Asean any commitment to such values, it would also
act to isolate and economically punish those who commit coups against
the people of Asean member nations.
of Catholic Bishops is unprecedented
perilous state of sociopolitics in Philippines
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday March 9, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday March 7,
The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines
(CBCP) pastoral letter on the May elections Radical
distortions of Edsa 1 alarm CBCP, News, February
26, 2022 is a loud wake-up call for Catholics and Filipinos as we
elect our national leaders this May.
To quote the bishops statement: We are appalled by
the blatant and subtle distortion, manipulation, cover-up, repression
and abuse of the truth, like: historical revisionism the
distortion of history or its denial; the proliferation of fake news
and false stories; disinformationthe seeding of false information
and narratives to influence the opinion of people [and] hide the
truth to malign and blackmail people.
Compared to their previous pastoral letters that simply reiterated
long-standing moral guidelines in electing the countrys political
leaders, this pronouncement by our Church leaders is unprecedented
and underscores the perilous state of the current sociopolitical
The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)
statement is the result of intensive communal discernment but still
begs the question: who is the source of the massive disinformation
People exercising their better judgment during this electoral season
would easily know which presidential campaign is engaged in this
But many rabid supporters of the leading candidate have become so
falsely indoctrinated by social media and oblivious to historical
facts that they easily fall for the pandemic of lies
generated by the camp of their beloved candidate. They are even
viciously purveying these lies.
Our good bishops have shown their firm resolve to exercise their
role as spiritual and moral guides to their flock, given the methodical
fabrication of lies and half-truths in social media and organized
attempts to obliterate the gains of the Edsa People Power Revolution.
But by directly naming the insidious forces behind the fake news
about martial law and the black propaganda directed at political
rivals, Church members would be even more confident of their moral
choice when they vote.
Many priests, religious and Catholic lay groups have endorsed Vice
President Leni Robredo in their individual capacities after assessing
the relative qualities of the leading candidates and weighing the
likely adverse impact of a Marcos victory.
Humanitarian crisis in
no differenct from Myanmar
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday March 8, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, March 6, 2022
to grant blanket protection to refugees", Bangkok
Post, March 4, 2022 and "Early implications
of Russian invasion", Bangkok Post, Opinion,
March 4, 2022.
European countries and Nato are still recovering from the hangover
of the old Soviet empire. It is wishful thinking that the EU and
the US will be able to save Ukraine. The rise of the far right in
France, Germany and other EU countries against immigration from
Asia, Africa and the Middle East exposes the hypocrisy of human
rights. The hostile and racist policies against immigrants and refugees
from these regions are now out the window to make way for allowing
millions of Ukrainians to settle in the EU unconditionally.
The humanitarian crisis in Ukraine is no different from what we
see in Myanmar, Palestine or Afghanistan. Sadly, Putin will still
be there. He has fans and friends like Mr Trump and many others
in Asia, including India and China. Yes, I agree that this time
the EU and the US will do lasting damage to the Russian economy.
But make no mistake, Mr Putin and his powerful clique are still
than 650,000 Russians have signed
A petition against the war in Ukraine
Southeast Asian Times, Monday March 7, 2022
To my foreign friends.
Russias war against Ukraine is not my war.
This is the war of an insane Russian leader whom we cannot stop.
This war is a real horror, and pain, and tears, and shame for me
and hundreds of my friends.
Almost all of us have relatives and friends in Ukraine.
My whole family is from Ukraine, and all my childhood was spent
I am writing this so that you do not equate this war with the Russian
All the best Russian people are against this war and are horrified
More than 650,000 Russians have already signed a petition against
The letter of Russian scientists against the war was signed by more
than 2,000 scientists.
More than 60 groups have signed a letter from Russian charitable
organisations to end the war.
There are petitions against the war by Russian teachers and cultural
The number of signatures for each such petition grows every second.
This war has broken the lives of all of us.
This war is not only killing Ukraine; it is also killing Russia.
I just wanted to tell you about it.
Russian Writers Union,
Specializing in Nature, Biology and Ethology
Hundreds of Thai's support
To protect security against threat of aggression
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 6 March 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Thursday 3 March 2022
Re: "Ultra-royalist pro-Putin stance a worrying
sign," Opinion, March 1..
This article is illogical, in some extent. In my humble opinion,
the number "hundreds" may be over-exaggerated or
over-extrapolated from the few such supporting messages seen by
The fact that there are a few or tens or even hundreds of "royalists"
coming out in support of Putin is no reason to conclude that all
or most of the "royalists" support Putin.
On the other hand, there are certainly hundreds of "royalists"
who do not agree with the move by Russia.
And there are hundreds who support Russia's right to protect its
security against the threat of aggression from over the fence, but
who are not royalists per se, like me and scores of my friends.
The fact that there are some Thais supporting the Russian move has
nothing to do with the fact that they happen to be perceived by
the writer as "far-right ultra-royalists".
Thus the "pro-Putin stance" is nothing to worry
Thailand remains neutral
In Russia-Ukraine conflict
Southeast Asian Times. Saturday March 5, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Thursday March 3, 2022
Re: "Neutral on Russia-Ukraine: PM,"
Bangkok Post March 2, 2022
The prime minister's insistence on maintaining neutrality in the
Russia-Ukraine conflict is no surprise given Asean's stance of neutrality
Meanwhile, two shining lights of democracy, the US and the EU, also
have no problems doing business with communist China or selling
weapons to rich Middle Eastern regimes.
France recently sold billions of dollars' worth of war machines
to Saudi Arabia. Where are the big drums of freedom and democracy?
In 1987, Turkey applied to join what was then the European Economic
Community, and in 1999 it was declared eligible to join the EU.
It's worth mentioning that Turkey's membership came with many conditions
because it is a Muslim country.
On the other hand, Poland and Hungary joined the EU in 2004 without
Even today, some of these Eastern bloc countries that are members
of the EU have little to do with freedom and democracy.
For decades, we have witnessed similar crises between Israel and
Palestine, Indian Kashmir, and the deep south of Thailand. Despite
decades of efforts, there is no peace in these conflict zones.
Thanks to the EU, Ukraine will now face the same fate.
It may become a proxy for the Russian regime resulting in unnecessary
deaths and destruction.
With its utter failures in Vietnam, the Korean peninsula, Iraq and
Afghanistan, the US should keep out of the Ukrainian conflict.
War between Russia and
impact on price of crude oil for Philippines
Southeast Asian Times, Friday March 4, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday March
I worked in the fuel industry for almost four years
as a sales representative and managed the smooth process of the
distribution from bulk plant to dealers to end-users.
Before I started working in the field, we had trainings to understand
the oil and gas industry and for us to be equipped in the business.
I was not the best student in our class but I have better understanding
of how oil and gas affect our lives.
Factors affecting the prices of crude oil was one
of the major topics.
We need crude oil to transport food from farm to market to your
houses and to your tables and to power our electric generators:
gasoline, diesel, LPG, asphalt, and lubricants.
The many lists of the factors include geopolitics.
The war between Russia and Ukraine will have a huge impact on the
prices of crude oil in the world market.
This means that the P60-P65 per liter diesel in Mindanao will increase.
This means that the electricity and transport costs will increase.
This basically means that the ordinary Filipino can hardly afford
I interact with farmers in my present job.
Last January, the cost of a live pig was P140 per kilo; a week ago,
it was P185 to almost P200.
If not mistaken, the price of the meat in meat shops has an almost
50-percent gross profit margin.
Thats P300 to P400 per kilo.
I hope its not too late for our government to strengthen the
agriculture sector so that we can have affordable food and we can
produce what we consume.
Joesam Bag De Quia,
Russian Federation points
finger at West
On expansion of Nato eastward
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday March 3, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday Febriary 28, 2022
Re: "West's unkept promises the problem,
not Russia", Bangkok Post, Opinion, February 26, 2022
and "US, Nato no bystanders", Bangkok
Post, Opinion, February 25, 2022.
The ambassador of the Russian Federation is right when pointing
a finger to the West, on the expansion of Nato eastward after the
end of the Cold War.
This point was well mentioned by Western media including the New
York Time's, Thomas Friedman.
However, the rest of his reasoning largely reflects what his president
has offered to sell the invasion, ie the purported "genocide"
of Russians in the eastern provinces of Ukraine.
Missing in the good ambassador's litany was the "de-nazification"
that his president and other government dignitaries have peddled,
apparently overlooking the irony of "de-nazifying" a country
whose president is a Jew.
Call for Ukraine
observe Minsk ll agreement
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday March 2, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday February 28, 2022
Re: "Maximum impact sanctions" and
"Kremlin wants whole of Ukraine but army failing, Britain
says", in Bangkok Post, February 26, 2022.
As the conflict in Ukraine enters a new phase, Western politicians
are busy making up stories to fit their eternal narrative "it's
all Putin's fault".
Casualties on both sides could easily have been avoided if Ukraine
had observed its responsibility under the Minsk II agreement and
if the West had understood and taken seriously Russia's concerns
about their relatives in Eastern Donbass and their own safety.
Instead, Western politicians and media have encouraged Ukraine's
aggressive stance against Russia and have turned a blind eye to
the atrocities committed against the Russian-speaking minority in
Luhansk/Donetsk committed by the neo-Nazi militias of the Right
Sektor and the Azov Battalion.
British media even went as far as to laud sniper Olena Bilozerska
as a heroic freedom fighter despite her having killed both armed
and unarmed people in the area which the Minsk II agreement covers,
and being well known in European neo-Nazi circles.
Meanwhile, the West has continued to supply money, weapons to these
militias which are part of the Ukrainian army.
Recently the President Zelensky suggested Ukraine should start developing
Putin previously has been begging for negotiations and some form
of agreement which all signatories would adhere strictly to.
If the West had intelligent leaders who acted in the best interests
of the people, not in best interest of the military industry and
global corporations, this could have been easily avoided.
Aaron Kauma Ariku, remembered
for his contibution
To Papua New Guineas independence
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday March 1, 2022
First published in the National, Thursday February 24, 2022
When it comes to understanding Papua New Guineas
political history, particularly the events that occurred somewhere
in Sydney, Australia, that resulted in the granting of independence
to Papua New Guinea, very little is known about a man from the Autonomous
Region of Bougainville who negotiated for Papua New Guineas
independence while studying in Australia.
Aaron Kauma Ariku, a former Papua New Guinea unionist in the early
1970s, was sent to Sydney on a short-term study programme by the
then chief minister, the late Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare.
However, before his studies in Australia, he was already in close
contact with Gough Whitlam, his fellow Australian unionist of Australias
labour party, who was also aspiring for the Australias prime
Sir Michael was close to Ariku since both of them started the Pangu
Patis Madang branch in the late 1960s when Sir Michael was
teaching at Tusbab in Madang.
Before Ariku departed, Sir Michael, knowing well that Arikus
fellow unionist was contesting Australias prime ministers
seat, whispered to Ariku and told him to use his union ties with
Whitlam to secure Papua New Guineas independence if Whitlam
became the prime minister of Australia.
All went well.
Young Airiku departed for Sydney.
He met Whitlam.
Ariku, who was outspoken, played a part by campaigning for his fellow
friend, Whitlam, among the students at university.
Whitlam then became the prime minister of Australia from 1972 to
He called Ariku and asked what he would prefer as a present for
It was that very moment that Airiku told him: I would like
Papua and New Guinea to be given independence.
Back home in Port Moresby, Sir Michael already knew that things
were looking good for Papua New Guinea when Arikus close friend
became the prime minister.
This is how Ariku played a significant role towards Papaua New Guineas
independence from Australia.
Last week in Madang, Ariku was buried at his wifes Furan village
outside of Madang town.
He died at 90 years and is survived by five children and his grandchildren
and great grandchildren.
Ariku, the man from Tonu village in Siwai, Bougainville, spent much
of his life as a senior public servant and a unionist.
In recognition of his service to Papua New Guinea, Bougainville
and Madang, Madang Governor Peter Yama and Madang Member of Parliament
Bryan Kramer provided financial support for funeral expenses for
Port Moresby (Pom),
Papua New Guinea
one should turn a blind eye to the atrocities committed
Marcos martial law years in Philippines
Southeast Asian Times, Monday February 28, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday February
My 65-year-old aunt, who witnessed the martial law
era, argued that the martial law years were the golden
era since there was peace and order in the country, and
Filipinos were disciplined at the time.
She added that, in Naga City, there were no human rights violations
as far as her memory could recall.
There are still Filipinos, including seniors from my own family,
who have romanticized the martial law years orderliness
and believe that Marcos was a great leader - totally disregarding
the human rights violations committed during the darkest era in
the countrys history.
What golden age when there is a lot of evidence
documenting the abuses, extrajudicial killings, corruption, and
violations of human rights during Marcos rule? The numbers
speak for themselves: 70,000 incarcerated, 77 disappeared, 3,257
extrajudicial killings, and 35,000 tortured, according to Amnesty
These atrocities were further corroborated by Primitivo Mijares,
media man of Ferdinand Marcos and author of The Conjugal
Dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos.
Mijares youngest son disappeared, was tortured, and eventually
found dead due to his fathers revelations in the said book.
This horrific tragedy that happened to Mijares and his son manifests
the brutal rule of Marcos.
The Martial Law Museum reported that the debt of the Philippines
skyrocketed to $28.26 billion in 1986 from $0.36 billion in 1961.
In addition, the infrastructures that Imelda Marcos bragged about
were funded by foreign loans that the present and future generations
have the burden of paying.
With these historical facts and data, no one should turn a blind
eye to the atrocities committed during the martial law years.
Now more than ever, it has become even more crucial for students
to seek historical truths about this period.
Students are now being targeted to believe in the lies of the Marcos
family through historical revisionism in our textbooks.
The youth who were not yet born at that time are likely to be susceptible
to such lies, while privileged adults can easily dismiss history
because they never experienced the cruelty and hardships under the
It is high time for all of us to be united on what is right. Filipinos
should dispel lies and apathy if we want justice to prevail, especially
now that the dictators son and namesake, Ferdinand Bongbong
Marcos Jr., aspires to be the president.
We, the students, must ensure that our educators preserve the historical
facts about martial law in our textbooks.
This is our responsibility: to preserve history, protect historical
truth, and advance Filipinos interest first.
Paolo Gabriel D. Jamer
The more we test for Covid-19
more Covid-19 infections we will find
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday February 27, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday February 23,
Re: "Antigen Test Kits (ATK) answer,"
in Bangkok Post, PostBag, February 23, 2022.
Khun Burin Kantabutra has always proposed many novel ideas in the
Post. However, I beg to politely differ with his suggestion in "Antigen
Test Kits (ATK) answer" for a disease which is already
basically everywhere in the kingdom.
In reality, due to previous limits on testing which all governments
have faced, we really have only detected a moderate, if not very
small percentage of the population which is Covid positive.
Having spent 25 years dealing with HIV/Aids as a volunteer nurse
(granted, a disease with different transmission methodology), one
of the lessons we learned in the Aids years was that for every positive
result we got, we had to assume that there was at least one other
positive result we often did not yet have.
As a rule of thumb, we often simply assumed that actual transmission
rates were three to four times higher than we recorded, because
testing then had limits, just as Covid testing today has.
Readers need to live with harsh reality that the more we can test,
the more Covid-19 cases we will find.
The number of cases might be far more that Thai public can probably
even imagine. The dream of massive Antigen Test Kits (ATK) testing
is at this time neither workable, nor a solution and is blinded
by a two-week incubation period.
Until we have a cure, the best we can do is simply manage cases
based on severity, expand access to food and medicine for the poor
and move on with life.
The mortality rate on Covid-19 is very low, and while anyone of
us could be a victim, most of us are far more at risk when we get
in a taxi or on a motorbike.
Jason A Jellison,
no longer boiled alive after 2024
At McDonald's Thailand
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday February 26, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday February 21, 2022
Re: "Billionaire Icahn blasts McDonald's
on animal welfare", in Bangkok Post, February 18, 2022.
While it's noted how horribly the pigs that Mcdonald's uses for
food are treated, their chickens don't have it any better.
McDonald's agreed to use suppliers who use a more humane method
of slaughtering the chickens so that they will no longer be boiled
alive in scalding water.
But that's not until 2024 and it will only involve 70 percent of
their chickens. People always tell me it's okay to kill animals
for food as long as they don't suffer.
Would it be okay to kill humans for food as long as they're not
Even while eating at places such as McDonald's and Kentucky Fried
Chicken where the animals killed for food suffer terribly.
Corruption has become
a swaggering Goliath
Philippines political culture
Southeast Asian Times, Friday February 25, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday February
It would be an invaluable public service in the encircling
gloom of disinformation and political dirty tricks - when even the
convicteds delusions of greatness are accepted - if the Inquirer
could be persuaded to publish a summary table of pandemic funding.
Perhaps an ongoing reporting?
We are in dire need of facts, particularly as the elections approach.
Thinking has to be fed, judgment improved, and, as someone said,
in a democracy people have a right to change their minds.
And without accountability, there can be no good governance.
I am reminded of Robert Sarnoffs definition of finance: It
is the art of passing currency from hand to hand until it finally
Let us at least be allowed to watch the trick.
Some basic questions to consider:
How much has come from the public purse?
What has been donated from other governments which ones, how much?
What has been contributed by international agencies which ones,
Which local corporations have contributed cash kind both and how
How much has been borrowed from banks give details?
Which government agencies have received funding and to which undertakings
have these been appropriated?
What balance remains and what are the projected uses for this?
I am sure there are other noteworthy points of reference that could
be raised by expertise. Bernard Levin writes passionately that
the terrible truth is that evil, when it is in arms, can be defeated
only by arming good.
Perhaps the Inquirer can assist with the latter.
Corruption has become such a swaggering Goliath in our political
culture that one almost gives up hope.
However, a few well-aimed stones might still do the trick.
A David could do it.
Religious of the Sacred Heart (RSCJ),
in Asian Countries has degenerated
dog fights, fistfights, hurtling chairs, brawls, beatings
Southeast Asian Times Thursday February 24, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday February 13, 2022
Re: "Can't beat question time," Bangkok
Post, Post, Script, February 7, 2022
Qestion time Q&A in British Parliament is the most significant
evidence of the merits and the purpose of a democracy.
It is also a sign of a civic society where leaders are held accountable
to their party and the constituents who elect them.
The British Q&A sessions must be added to one of the world's
wonders because it keeps our faith in democracy.
Sadly, there is no Q&A session in US institutions, but there
are intense partisan debates in the conference or committee hearings.
So far, the American House and Senate have maintained their grace
by calling the opposition members "My honourable friend"
However, the Senate filibuster in the United States of America has
become a spectacle designed to prolong the discussion and delay
or prevent a vote on a bill, resolution, amendment or other debatable
Usually, a filibuster session is amusing because the Senate hall
looks empty, and there is no one to listen to the chosen ones.
So much American democracy?
Democracy in many Asian countries has degenerated into dog fights,
fistfights, hurtling chairs, brawls, and beatings during elections
and in parliament sessions.
Some find it exciting to see a bloodbath in the halls of Asian parliaments.
Forget about Q&A sessions; Thai parliamentarians even do not
Fortunately, Thais need not worry when the government is a coalition
of the unwilling?
I must say that British democracy is the only hope that still kindles
and excites the minds and soothes the human spirit.
statesman Nai Pridi
Had rare and tremendous courage
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 23, February 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday 21, February 2022
Michael Jackson's song, Who's loving you starts like
"When I had you
I treated you bad and wrong my dear
And girl, since you went away
Don't you know, I sit around with my head hanging down
And I wonder who's loving you".
In Thailand, a statesman who is known simply as "Nai Pridi"
made a statement just before he died:
"When I had power, I had no experience; when I had experience,
I had no power".
The words from these two late gentlemen show us they had rare and
tremendous courage - to display to the world the mistakes they had
made in the past.
That's something most people of today don't care about.
Despite promises of unity
Philippines has become more divided
The Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday February 22, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday February
This February marks the 36th anniversary of the 1986
Edsa People Power Revolution.
It has been perceived as a national victory and reconciliation in
the face of adversity, struggle, and crisis.
The reconciliation for unity proved to be a key factor in restoring
our democracy and gaining our freedom, as well as bringing about
the change we desired in our society.
However, as time passes, our yearning for national unity is still
far from reality. Despite Edsas promises of unity and democracy,
we appear to have become much more divided.
It is not unity that has dominated, but animosity toward fellow
Filipinos that obviously threatens peace and stability.
Some continue to use the issues of the past as fuel to discredit
Isnt it better to just learn to forgive in order to strengthen
the call for reconciliation we forged and shared during Edsa while
recapturing and cultivating the sense of oneness in confronting
Reconciliation for unity and democracy is the true spirit of Edsa.
May it remain with us, keeping us awake and vigilant, especially
during this election season, to choose a leader who will strengthen
our nationalism and our anti-terrorism campaigns, as well as address
the nations ills, to ensure that the loss of freedom and democracy
will not be repeated.
In protecting our democracy and promoting sustainable peace and
development, there is no one to depend on but us Filipinos in unity,
along with our responsibility, regardless of the challenges confronting
our country, our differences of opinion and political colors.
So, as Filipinos, let there be dissenting social and political biases
among us, but let us be inspired and united by the spirit of democracy
and live in peace and harmony.
Erica T. Maniago,
Reforestation cannot replace
Of fertile forests in Thailand lost to reservoirs
Southeast Asian Times, Monday February 21, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday February 13, 2022
Re: "Dam plans threaten forests,"
in Bangkok Post, February 2, 2022.
We must not allow Royal Irrigation Department (RID) officials to
fool the public by touting claims that they will "reforest
an area at least twice the size of the forest lost to reservoirs".
Even if this were true, a highly dubious claim in light of past
reforestation failures, people need to recognise that tree plantations
are no substitute for destroyed rich natural forests.
It doesn't matter if Royal Irrigation Department (RID) plants twice
the area of forests they flood or 20 times the area, it is virtually
impossible to replace the ecological values of the fertile forests
that would be lost to reservoirs.
The promised planted forests will not contain the plant diversity
and habitats needed to sustain tigers, leopards, pangolins, hornbills,
elephants, gaur, civet cats, gibbons, binturong and the myriad of
other threatened species that depend on healthy native forests for
It should also be questioned why Royal Irrigation Department (RID)
wants to bring yet more agricultural land under irrigation.
Does the country really need to produce yet more rice that rots
in warehouses or is sold for low prices in international markets?
Thai PM accuses Thammasat
University in Bangkok
Of teaching courses that distort history
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday February 20, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday February 13, 2022
Re: "Don't believe all you read,"
in Bangkok Post Editorial, February 9, 2022
The Bangkok Post accurately outlines Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's
failures to respect basic principles of truth seeking and recklessly
accused the demonstration school of Thammasat University of teaching
courses that distorted history.
But the failure is a tad more profound.
The students and teachers at Thammasat demonstration school clearly
understand the importance of a critical review of current beliefs
in protecting us from retaining false beliefs.
Honest people who value truth and who do not wish to propagate fake
beliefs insist on a healthy discussion that considers other possibilities.
Unless intellectual and moral honesty are deemed by unjust law and
deluded social mores to be bad, Thammasat demonstration school,
following the sound example of historians who actively review Thai
history and society to better avoid mindlessly repeating fake claims,
is entirely in the right.
Philippines, Lebanon and
North Korea only three
World countries with ultra-strict bank secrecy
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday February 19, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday February,
Dindo Manhit in an article published last February
12 said: Everyone must fight corruption. It starts by electing
leaders who wont tolerate it at all.
Simply put, good leaders produce good results.
But given our chronicled and worsening corruption, the same conclusion
may also suggest that we have always been wrong in electing leaders,
through nearly two generations since the Edsa revolution.
Maraming korap kaya maraming mahirap.
In this month of hearts and flowers and lovers of every kind, it
is fitting yet relevant to revisit a piece of examination by Anna
Cristina Tuazon Love and elections, Safe Space,
February 2, 22 When choosing a life partner, youd want
someone who can dream - and know how to actualize that dream.
In politics, youd want a candidate who carries ambitious ideals
because this means they wont be too cynical to attempt to
change the current system that has preserved our inequalities.
At the same time, you would want someone who actually has a credible
plan. Wanting to change the system is simply not enough; they need
to understand deeply how the system works, appreciate its complexity,
and offer a systemic solution. Simple solutions like imposing bans
and taxes are not likely to solve anything in the long term.
We all want a corruption-free nation.
Every candidate promises the same. Ambitious ideal? Yes.
But have we been told by any candidate of a radical, credible plan
to root out this evil of dishonesty and deceit?
No. This should make us wary.
How can anyone realistically commit to financing or aiding basic
needs of the great many on food, shelter, education, health care,
jobs if 40 percent of peoples money is lost annually to corruption?
How can anyone attract the private sector, local and international,
to invest and create jobs if we are to remain a corrupt nation?
How can anyone put behind bar grafters in government, rent-seekers
in business, and elements of criminal syndicates if our laws of
today shield and favor them?
Is anyone, imbued not with self-interest or obligation to return
a favor, prepared and equipped to repeal the nearly century-old,
obsolete Republic Act No. 1405 or the bank secrecy law?
The law was enacted in 1955 to encourage individuals to deposit
their money in banks instead of hoarding them.
It declared banking a private matter.
Put simply, no one can go to your bank and ask for your bank balance.
While there are exceptions, securing them is not an easy task.
The easiest way is to waive the secrecy in writing, but its
not that simple.
As a matter of practice, banks will require the depositor to state
in his waiver the specific bank account, bank branch, name of depositor,
period covered by the transactions, and the name of the person authorized
to access the bank account. The only other option is to secure a
Imagine, then, the difficulty in going after persons suspected or
accused of corruption without any money trail.
The Philippines is among only three countries in the world Lebanon
and North Korea are the other two that have ultra-strict bank secrecy
There are stories affixed to banking transactions.
They are not just empty figures.
So, unless our next president and Congress realize and act on the
need to repeal this age-old law, no end to corruption will ever
be in sight.
This is the golden time to challenge candidates and to get commitment,
not after elections.
Else, we can all just end up fighting the same endless corruption.
system in Thailand needs review
Not school uniforms
Southeast Asian Times, Friday February 18, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post,Wednesday February 16,
Re: "Uniform rule needs review",
Bangkok Post Editorial, February 11, 2022
Our education system's among the bottom 13 in the world.
But what upsets us most?
Not its poor quality but the appearances of our students.
Our priorities are upside-down and we think things can't change.
But as Kenan Foundation Asia found, "countries as diverse
as Poland and Malaysia made significant jumps between 2015 to 2018,
dispelling the sticky myth that education systems cannot change.
With smarter investments, a focus on developing quality teachers,
and encouragement for students, education in Thailand can indeed
I suggest that half of the compensation for education staff, all
the way up to the education minister, depend on gains in average
scores from Pisa and other international tests of students under
that person's charge other things being equal.
If his students have gone from 300 to 400 points, for example, he's
accomplished more than if they've gone from 450 to 500 points.
This will motivate the best teachers to focus on the underprivileged
masses, for their low base means it's easier to make big gains.
It'll make the rural millions more productive and help close our
massive rich-poor gap.
Ministry of Education expenditures to schools prioritise those making
the highest average score gains, other things being equal, to motivate
For example, a school whose students have gone from 200 to 300 points
would get more per student than one whose scores have risen from
400 to 450.
Schools charge what the market will bear -with full scholarships
available for half of each class, fully merit-based and gender-blind.
This will greatly aid the disadvantaged and raise their education
Average test scores for Pisa etc be posted on the internet by school,
teacher and subject area but not by student, to aid parents' decision-making.
How do we improve on the above - and get Prayut to fulfil his seven-year-old
promise to fully reform education?
ASEAN prone to follow
Of stability based on purge, pride and progress
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday February 17, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, February 16, 2022
Re: "Myanmar poses Asian quandary",
in Bangkok Post, Editorial, February 13, 2022
Well, it has been a year and so far, Asean has nothing to show for
in ending the crisis in Myanmar.
We need to keep in mind that Myanmar and its immediate neighbours
have a common history of being ruled by coups, authoritarian regimes,
despots, and dictators.
Hence, I do not see that Cambodia, or for that matter, any of its
neighbours has any urgency or moral strength to restore democracy.
Democracy in Asean is like a balloon, it is easily burst with an
instant coup, arrests and imprisonments of elected officials.
As long as the military remains above the law, there is very little
hope of creating a civic society in Asean.
The region is prone to following the Chinese model of stability
based on purge, pride and progress.
Philippines Catholic church
no longer accepts
Donations destructive to environment
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday February 15, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday February
It is indeed a cause to celebrate and commend the
Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) bold and maybe
long-overdue decision to stop accepting donations from businesses
that are proven destructive to the environment in The bishops
bold move, Editorial, February 5, 2022.
It also urged other church organizations to withdraw not later than
2025 their resources from banks and other financial institutions,
which are without clear commitment to divest from fossil fuels.
In turn, Filipino Catholics are called to stand with their pastors
and assist them in this fight to save our common home.
While it is easier said than done, its expected impact on the financial
resources of the whole Church and the individual dioceses still
reeling from the significant drop in collections due to suspended
public Mass must have weighed heavily on them.
The Church mainly depends on in-person, pass the basket donations,
and the arancel system or fixed rates for baptisms, confirmations,
weddings, funerals, and offering of Mass intentions.
It must be noted that the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines
(CBCP) also gradually seeks to abolish the system as it can hinder
the poor from receiving Gods grace and blessings.
Regardless, the Church depends on divine providence and the generosity
of its members to meet its financial needs.
As Bishop Broderick Pabillo bravely said, The Church survives
on faith, not fees.
Be that as it may, it remains to be seen how the individual bishops
will walk this talk in their own dioceses.
In the exercise of its apostolic and pastoral role, the Catholic
Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) does not encroach on
the autonomy of the individual bishops whether to implement this
policy statement in the varying context and needs of their dioceses.
In this regard, we can only pray and hope that at least most if
not all the bishops shall find the courage and wisdom to change
the things that they can to promote that greater good which
the Church offers to humankind, especially through forms and programs
of the apostolate which are fittingly adapted to the circumstances
of the time and place (CIC, c. 447).
In a world where people listen to witnesses more than teachers,
the bishops cannot but lead by example!
Families in Thailand grieving
On Thaksin's war on drugs
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday February 15, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday February 13, 2022
Re: "Expansive gestures from hopeful leaders,"
in Opinion, January 10, 2022 and "Thaksin's war
on drugs a crime against humanity," in Opinion, December
I follow Khun Veera Prateepchaikul's column with much interest,
and been wondering if ever Thaksin's drug war can be tried by the
International Criminal Court.
The International Court of Arbitration (ICC) announced last year
their investigation into Duterte's deadly drug war, which he fashioned
from Thaksin's drug war.
I remember reading that a human rights group petitioned United Nations
High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR) to investigate Thaksin, along
with the late senator Kraisak Choonhavan writing this related piece
for the Bangkok Post.
I hope the Post can explore this issue with the International Court
of Arbitration (ICC).
So many families in Thailand are still grieving their loss.
for daily publication
Of Air Quality Index for Bangkok
Southeast Asian Times, Monday February 14, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post February 10, 2022
I suggest you publish the Air Quality Index numbers
every day for Bangkok and other cities.
One thing we should realise is there's nothing more effective and
fearful than seeing facts in numbers every day.
Hopefully, if they see it every day the government and public will
be forced to do something.
This is an urgent matter: no matter how developed you get or how
big your GDP, if basic air quality isn't good enough, we will only
become weaker as a human race.
As with Covid, we will have to live inside with masks and air purifiers
- a future no one wants for our children.
It should be your duty as journalists to inform people daily with
numbers and colour warnings, which is way more informative than
editorials and opinions.
Only two ASEAN states
are parties to International Convention
On Protection of the Rights of All Migrant
Southeast Asian Times , Sunday February 13, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Thursday February 10,
Re "Migrant workers get a raw deal,"
Bangkok Post, Opinion, February 7, 2022.
Fairness by host nations' legal systems is indeed crucial while
dealing with migrant workers.
From this perspective, it seems unacceptable to ignore the existence
of a comprehensive International Convention on the Protection of
the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families
(1990) which has been in force since 2003.
In accordance with this convention, state parties undertake to respect
and ensure all migrant workers and members of their families within
their territory, or subject to their jurisdiction, receive the rights
Regrettably, this convention was ratified by only 56 out of 193
UN member states. Only two Asean members (Indonesia and the Philippines)
are parties to this multilateral legal instrument.
It is only when this convention is taken seriously by all states
can it be asserted that real legal progress will have been achieved
in solving a crucial human rights problems.
Call for US to impress
on Fiji the importance
Of safeguarding democratic governance
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday February 12, 2022
My prayer for Fiji is that after the very serious
threat to its democracy, that America experienced in the post election
January 6 insurrection, the visiting US Secretary of State Anthony
Blinkin will impress on the leaders in Fiji and the region the critical
importance of safeguarding the integrity of the institutions of
good democratic governance.
The well-being of the people depend on that above all else.
We lose that we lose all else.
Unless justice is done
here and now
Many will go to their death underservedly
Southeast Asian Times, Friday February 11, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Thursday February 3,
Re: "Do not mistake ritual for repentance"
in Bangkok Post, Opinion, January 31, 2022.
Whilst true as Paritta Wangkiat writes that "taking a genuine
responsibility for our actions would be a good way to start atoning",
it is false to say that "at the end of the day, we all,
Pol L/C Norawich and his ilk included, will pay for our sins in
one way or another."
And that falsehood is a dangerous one.
The blunt reality is that unless it be done here on Earth by their
fellow human beings, justice will not be done.
Unless their fellow humans insist on justice in the here and now,
many bad people will prosper mightily, and will go to death undeservedly
rich, at ease, and respected by all.
At best, an improved historical awareness allows some material justice
to be done among the generations now living.
Their children cannot be guilty of the sins of the mother or father.
However, if a fortune was, for example, acquired unjustly, such
as by conquest or corruption, then that unjust initial acquisition,
like the fruits of the harms inflicted on those from whom it was
unjustly taken, does continue to affect later generations, and for
those very real present consequences of past injustice, reparations
can and should be made, especially by a due redistribution of wealth,
preferably by voluntary acts of those holding it, to better serve
distributive justice in the here and now by correcting the baleful
influences of historical wrongs.
This is why some narrowly defined forms of affirmative action can
also be just.
It is also held by those who value truth seeking and speaking that
the impartial quest for right understanding of history and its figures
is a good thing in itself, a value that, while often unkind to myth,
comports perfectly with justice as with truth.
To lobby Congress to approve military conscription
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday February 10, 2022
Vice-presidential aspirant Sara Duterte stated that
if elected, she will continue to lobby for a program that her father
struggled to implement as president, and that she will continue
to press for mandatory military service for young people.
Sara Duterte, the daughter of President Rodrigo Duterte and a reservist
in the Army, has stated that she intends to utilize the vice president's
office to lobby Congress to approve a military conscription law.
She wants all citizens over the age of 18 to be required to serve
in the military, which should include humanitarian assistance and
disaster preparedness training. Her proposal gathers different sentiments
on social media, including those netizens asking why the government
is anticipating war.
We need to be prepared, in my opinion, because we don't know when
or where an invasion will occur.
We lack the required credibility in defense, and we are unable to
protect our country effectively if we lack soldiers.
We can't let our country's defense go unnoticed. Filipinos must
also keep in mind that without a guarantee of security in our country,
we cannot have a stable economy with booming industries.
Amid security challenges such as China's presence in the South China
Sea, we may need to develop a reserve force to supplement the military.
Ann R. Aquino.
Cavite State University,
is a signatory to 1982 UNCLOS
UNCLOS provides regulations for South China
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday February 9, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday February
The stand of Ferdinand Bongbong
Marcos Jr. over the West Philippine Sea issue, particularly on the
Permanent Court of Arbitrations (PCA) 2016 ruling in The Hague
in favor of the Philippines that invalidated Chinas sweeping
claims over almost the entire South China Sea, is vague and truly
Asked on the issue by host Boy Abunda during The 2022 Presidential
One-On-One Interviews with Boy Abunda recently, Marcos
Jr. effectively dismissed the arbitral decision, claiming that arbitration
is no longer available to us and that the only option
left to us is to continue to engage the Chinese through
He further asserted that superpowers such as the United States and
the Soviet Union must not be involved in the dispute, saying that
the problem is between China and us.
In effectively asserting that the arbitral ruling could not be enforced,
he claimed that China was not a signatory to that arbitration
agreement, arguing that in arbitration there must be an
agreement between the two opposing parties agreement of
the two different parties were his exact words."
In fine, he sided with Chinas stubborn position that it was
not bound by the PCAs questioned ruling in that it was not
a party to the arbitration proceedings.
Marcos argument is misplaced.
In arbitration, there are at least three parties, the third or independent
party being called the judge or arbitrator. In simple terms, arbitration
is a way of settling disputes between parties who agree to submit
such disputes for resolution by their chosen judges or arbitrators.
The 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or UNCLOS
came into force on November 16, 1994, an international law that
provides a regulatory framework for the use of the worlds
seas and oceans, among others, to ensure the conservation and equitable
usage of resources and the marine environment and to ensure the
protection and preservation of the living resources of the sea.
It also addresses such other matters as sovereignty, rights of usage
in maritime zones, and navigational rights.
Article 287(3) of the law provides a procedure for the settlement
of the maritime dispute if, for instance, a member-state has not
expressed any preference with respect to the means of dispute resolution
under Article 287(1) thereof, or otherwise fails or refuses to cooperate.
The Peoples Republic of China signed and ratified the UNCLOS,
and therefore it cannot legally and rightly disclaim not to be a
party to the questioned case arbitrated and decided by the UN-backed
PCA pursuant to the provisions of this international law.
Diosdado "Dads" Calonge,
Call for all food factories
To be inspected
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday February 8, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday February 4, 2022
Re: "Cops raid sausage factory as kids
fall ill", Bangkok Post, Friday February 4, 2022.
Nine kids have developed a blood disorder after eating sausages
from an unnamed Chon Buri factory.
The factory owner admitted to making products without the required
permits for five years.
He didn't observe good manufacturing procedures, and displayed false
The case reeks of corruption, for how could the owner get away with
breaking the law for so long?
For starters, the head of the government's factory permit division
and his subordinate responsible for Chon Buri should be fired for
incompetence and investigated for corruption.
All food factories nationwide also should be checked to see if they
are qualified to make the products they sell.
and Thailand to face labour shortages
populations and ageing societies
Southeast Asian Times, Monday February 7, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday February 4, 2022
Re: "Worker shortages a 'new normal,'"
Bangkok Post, January 26 and "Shrinking Asia changing
global demographics," Bangkok Post Opinion,
Japan, Korea and many European countries are facing critical shortages
of labour as a result of stagnant or declining populations and ageing
China and Thailand are about to follow suit.
At the same time, population growth in many African countries and
the Philippines outstrips the ability of those countries to create
The win-win solution is for countries with labour shortages to relax
immigration to allow more foreign migrant workers from countries
with an excess of working-age individuals.
This should be an especially promising proposition for more developed
countries that currently have high labour costs.
Workers from less advanced economies would undoubtedly be willing
to work for far lower wages, filling vacant worker positions and
bringing down overall labour costs in the process.
Call for Papua New Guinea
Criminal Investigator Division
Office of the Public Prosecutor to be honest
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday February 6, 2022
First published in the National, Thursday February 3, 2022
There should be a stronger working relationship between
the criminal investigation division (CID) and police prosecution.
It is vital for these two sections in the Royal Papua New Guinea
Constabulary to work together to ensure better outcomes are achieved,
especially in courts.
Both CID and prosecution need to work closely to ensure good reports
are filed and presented in courts within the three months
timeframe that courts usually give.
The three months timeframe that the courts give is not a law
but it is the common practice.
From my experience, there have been times when serious cases are
thrown out of courts and this is all because police hand-up-briefs
are not ready for court within three months.
If investigators need more time to complete their investigations,
it is advisable to approach the prosecutors and inform them so that
they can then be in a better position to inform the court and ask
Prosecution and CID should discuss regularly and identify failures
and come up with solutions to move forward.
I am making my exit from the force as a prosecutor as well others
from different sections and we will be watching as citizens.
You have to move forward.
At the moment, there are corrupt practices creeping in.
Go very careful and avoid getting involved in such practices.
I encourage CIDs and prosecutors to be honest in their jobs in order
to get good results in court.
Papua New Guinea
for next Philippine administration
shy away from stereotypes in drug use policy
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday February 5, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday February
In a recent interview that was published in Inquirer.nets
Facebook page, presidential aspirant Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said he
cannot engage in drug use because that kind of lifestyle,
para lang yan sa mga walang ginagawa, walang trabaho.
He added that if you expect to produce good work, hindi ka
pwede sumailalim sa ganyang bisyo.
Nonetheless, he said he is in favor of legalizing marijuana for
medical purposes, citing several studies.
I recommend that he read the 2018 study of Prof. Regina M. Hechanova
Alampay of the Ateneo De Manila University.
The study, The Development of a Community-Based Drug Intervention
for Filipino Drug Users, was published by the Journal
of Pacific Rim Psychology.
Lets check his stereotypes:
That kind of lifestyle, para lang yan sa mga walang
ginagawa, walang trabaho.
In the study of Alampay, about half of the participants were
employed in manual and contractual work, such as construction, electrical,
Their primary reason for using drugs?
Work-related, i.e., Gives me more energy, I
can work better.
These individuals are gainfully employed.
They use drugs not for recreational purposes, like what Marcos implied.
Instead, they use drugs to keep their energy levels high at work.
This is understandable given that they are involved in manual labor.
If you expect to produce good work, hindi ka pwede sumailalim
sa ganyang bisyo.
In the same study, the oft-cited benefit of drug use was increased
energy and productivity.
Her study participants talked about energy trip that allowed them
to work longer and harder.
On bisyo, only 14 percent of participants had
scores indicative of full dependency and 39 percent had some symptoms.
Close to half had even no symptoms of drug dependence.
This shows that drug use per se will not lead to drug dependence.
Let us move beyond these stereotypes about persons who use psychoactive
drugs. It is unfortunate that the current drug war is built around
It has since led to the deaths of thousands of individuals without
due process of law.
The next administration should already shy away from these stereotypes
as bases for its drug use policy, and, instead, embrace community-based
programs that are based on sound research evidence.
Rejinel Camboa Valencia
Philippino's dream of
failures of Duterte administration
Southeast Asian Times, Friday February 4, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday February
The first sentence in Prof. Randy Davids column
last Sunday went: At least once every six years, we are invited
to dream that enduring social change, is at last, within sight.
As Filipinos, I think that we had been dreaming about this since
the revolutionary days up to now.
Except for a few years just before Commonwealth status was given
to us by the United States up to the pre-martial law days, we were
able to have parts of our dreams fulfilled.
We were led by politicians who as a rule were nationalistic, ethical,
educated, and cultured.
If you remember, when Rogelio dela Rosa first ran for senator, most
voters questioned his qualifications, being a movie star.
Right now, if you are an actor, TV or radio personality, or an athlete
like a boxer or a basketball player, you have an advantage over
the other candidates.
Our presidents then acted presidential in public, i.e., no swearing,
no bad words, no misogyny or sexism, and polished
in dress and attitude since he is the father or she is the mother
of the country.
Without endorsing anybody, he just dissected why the public voted
for Mr. Duterte who to the regular voters acted like a regular person
or common tao who will solve our everyday problems:
People just saw in him someone who could jolt the post-Edsa
ruling elites out of their smugness.
He also discussed the causes why Mr. Duterte has hardly
made a dent on the problems that he himself set out to solve.
I just wished that this time, Filipino voters will start to use
their minds since the future of the Philippines depends on them
who will elect our future leaders.
In spite of the Duterte administration failing the Filipino people,
I think that I can still dream, cant I?
Puwede pa ring managinip o mangarap.
Ida M. Tiongco,
Call for National Economic
and Development Authority (Neda)
To be raised in presidential candidate campaigne
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday February 3, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday February
The series of presidential interviews
on TV, radio, and social media lacks serious discussions on
the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs.
The term of the next administration, 2022-2028, is critical to the
achievement of the goals by 2030, the year the United Nations General
Assembly has targeted when it launched the SDGs in 2015.
According to the UN, the SDGs are the blueprint to achieve a better
and more sustainable future for all.
The goals address global challenges such as poverty, inequality,
climate change, environmental degradation, peace, and justice.
Actually, the Philippines through the National Economic and Development
Authority (Neda) has integrated the SDGs in the Philippine Development
The attainment of the SDGs supposedly in 2030 should pave the way
for the achievement of AmBisyon Natin 2040 per Neda. Ironically,
there is no legitimate administration presidential candidate so
this Neda plan will never be raised in the campaign.
The candidates have to promote most of the 17 goals or even half.
Vice President Leni Robredo is pushing for womens empowerment,
obviously; while Manila Mayor Isko Moreno earlier announced to create
more open and green spaces in Manila. The others are silent.
Maybe their campaigns do not see the SDGs as essential in the future
of the country.
This is to challenge the media, the Inquirer, and other groups which
will organize debates to choose several SDGs as talking points for
The more goals the candidates promote the better for the Philippines
in terms of compelling the government, private sector, and civil
society to take action.
Art Popoy Los Banos,
wants more sanctions against
Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) of Myanmar
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday February 2, 2022
I was not surprised to hear the UN Secretary General
Antonio Gutteres say on the eve of the one year anniversary of the
military takeover of the democratically elected civilian government
in Myanmar that there was almost universal international condemnation
of the coup but apart from that the international response was
" weak ".
This follows an all too familiar pattern . Gutteres said a lot more
needed to be done to sanction the Myanmar military's unlawful takeover
of power and its continue violent crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.
The big question is will that happen? Australian State is one of
those whose response has been weak.
And that damages Australia's international standing in upholding
But Australia's reputation has been somewhat salvaged by several
major corporations including Woodside mining no longer wishing to
do business with the Myanmar military junta.
That must become the norm to make it abundantly clear to the rogue
rulers of Myanmar that their power grab is totally unacceptable.
Japan is uniquely empowered
To rekindle pacifist non-alignment
The Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday February
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday January 23, 2022
Re: "Japan's post-Covid regional dilemma",
in Bangkok Post, Opinion, January 2, 2022.
As a member in good standing of Dr Thitinan's fan club, being always
appreciative of his trenchant rejection of our ruling elite's authoritarian
attempts to deny the Thai people's democratic aspirations, I hesitate
to question his analysis of Japan's role in our post-Covid world.
However, in answering his own question about what kind of great
power Japan wants to be, Dr Thititnan trudges down the same old
familiar Big Power, Big Stick path that has led the world to its
current near hopeless dead-end.
He bemoans Japan's lack of military might and veers toward favouring
the abrogation of Article 9 in Japan's so-called pacifist constitution.
But what if Japan were to choose a path to peace?
The words of Article 9 are spine-tinglingly inspirational: "...the
Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the
nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international
disputes...The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognised."
What if Japan were to reinvigorate its geostrategic role in the
world by reclaiming Article 9 in its foundational sense and offering
the nations of the world an alternative to Big Power rivalries and
trillions in wasteful military expenditures?
As the only country to suffer the horrors of atomic bombs, Japan
is uniquely empowered with the moral authority required to rekindle
pacifist non-alignment as the only sustainable model for international
And mighty Indonesia, with a history deeply rooted in non-alignment,
might be a willing partner on this journey. If only...
Need alot of electricity
Southeast Asian Times, Monday January 31, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday January 28, 2022
Re: "Clear as air," in Bangkok
Post, PostBag, January 26, 2022.
While I certainly agree that changes will need to be made to clean
up the air pollution, I am afraid I am going to politely beg to
differ with Kuldeep Nagi on the solutions being offered.
First of all, neither the affluent, nor the disabled, are giving
up their private gas-powered vehicles, and initiating such draconian
means might even initiate some kind of open revolt.
Electric vehicles seem like a nice solution, but a quick Google
search will show that many electric vehicles still need a lot of
electricity, and over the past decade, that has translated into
a global increase in coal-powered power plants and other polluting
forms of electricity.
While many of today's electric vehicles don't belch fumes, the eventual
rise in nuclear power to juice those vehicles up puts plenty of
pollution into the environment.
It just moves the pollution into someone else's backyard and increases
the chances of what would be the yet another major nuclear accident
in my remaining lifetime.
Perhaps what is best for Bangkok and many parts of Thailand with
high air pollution is a "mid-term" plan.
For example, we could do a lot by taking the diesel motors out of
Bangkok's red buses and simply replacing those motors with gasoline/natural-gas
powered motors until such time as we really do have better options.
We could also offer more financial incentives for car-pooling in
areas with consistently poor air quality.
We could use limited AI to improve the efficiency of our traffic
light system, and we could look at a long-term redesign of our roads
for young, healthy people who can bicycle rather than use electric
or gas-powered motorbikes.
However, with all due respect, if any reader thinks draconian measures
can be used to stop the sale and use of motorcycles and cars, they
are dreaming, and you'll still have even more pollution.
Finally, if Covid taught us one thing, it was not that there is
no time to waste, but rather that maybe it would be a good idea
to use common sense and not engage in risky experiments which have
been untried before.
Jason A Jellison,
Call for more information
On closure of Thailands insurance company
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday January 30, 2022
First published in Bangkok Post, January 28, 2022
Re: "TGH subsidiary ceases operation,"
in Bangkok Post, Business, January 27, 2022.
The Bangkok Post reports on the sudden closure of Southeast Insurance
company, owned by one of Thailand's richest families, apparently
due to concerns about paying out Covid claims.
But the article is rather thin on important details, such as: When
does this closure take effect - immediately?
Does this mean that existing insurance policies with Southeast Insurance
are null and void - leaving clients to scramble for new policies
Will Southeast Insurance refund existing premiums to its customers,
or will these simply line the pockets of the owner estimated net
worth: US$10.5 billion?
How about a
more informative follow-up article.
Call for social media
platforms to discuss
faced by candidates in Philippines elections
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday January 29, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday January
We are seeing a deluge of oftentimes uncouth exchanges
on Twitter, Instagram, and the other social media platforms between
and among the bunches of trolls favoring a candidate over another.
Some of the language used is even unprintable. But rarely do we
read from these exchanges a discussion on issues and the challenges
their candidates will have to face once elected.
What is their candidates platform of government for the next
six years on the following gut issues?
How will he/she solve unemployment the Philippine Statistics Authority
estimated it at 6.5 percent last November, or about 3.2 million
What concrete measures will they undertake, if elected, to provide
more jobs and not see an average of 1 million Filipinos leaving
for abroad every year to look for greener pastures?
How will they bring down the mounting public debtP11.92 trillion
as of Sept. 30, 2021?
How will they accelerate our economic development and industrialization
in the countryside where land and sea resources are untapped?
How will they get rid of the systemic graft in government offices
where connivance happens in high places and in broad daylight as
Senate inquiries have unearthed?
We expect the young and educated voters to at least find time to
ferret out the truth amid the nearly pointless internet exchanges.
After all, its their future thats at stake. They should
make the right and enlightened choice for their president.
Marvel K. Tan,
of death penalty in Papua New Guinea
line with 1977 UN General Assembly resolution
Southeast Asian Times, Friday January 28, 2022
First published in the National, Wednesday January 26, 2022
The Peoples Progress Party (PPP) has welcomed
the Parliaments decision to do away with penalty as a punishment
for serious crimes.
Death penalty was a draconian and primitive law that has not proven
to be a deterrent to serious crimes anywhere in the world.
Peoples Progress Party (PPP) has always opposed the death
penalty with one of its founding members of the party and former
Middle Fly Member of Parliament Warren Dutton who vehemently opposed
capital punishment in any form.
In the 21st Century, Papua New Guinea cannot be resorting to the
most primitive and barbaric act against Christian principles and
the belief that God is the giver and taker of life.
The repealing of death penalty in Papua New Guinea is in line with
the 1977 United Nations General Assembly resolution and desire to
progressively restrict the number of offences for which the death
penalty might be imposed, with a view to the desirability of abolishing
this form of punishment.
Peoples Progress Party
Australia wants Indo-Pacific
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 27 January 2022
Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, wants us
to believe the latest military alliance between Australia and UK
and US will ensure peace and security and all that in the Indo-Pacific
region, the new theatre of geo-politics.
I don't believe that.
But that's because I am a pacifist.
But has that kind of military mumbo-jumbo delivered peace and security
It has only profited the military-industrial complex.
It's a failed approach to world peace and what Morrison and like
minded leaders are advocating is more of the same failed approach.
It's irrational and a waste of valuable resources that should be
channeled to more important areas of human need.
Mafia style modus operandi
Is not confined to authoritarian regimes
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday January 26, 2022
When I read in The Southeast Asian Times
( Jan.24 ) article ' Whistleblower threatened after filing corruption
allegations against President Jokowi's sons with KPK ' that
Jakarta State University lecturer, Ubedilah Badrun, received threats
against his life I was not at all surprised.
This Mafia style modus operandi is not confined to authoritarian
For an insight into that see Bill Browder's book Red Notice :
How I Became Putin's No.1 Enemy ( 2015 ) which is ' A True Story
of High Finance, Murder, and One Man's Fight for Justice'.
This is something that regrettably happens fairly frequently in
democratic countries as well damaging the democratic credentials
of these countries.
The good part in this sordid story of the persecution of the public
spirited Indonesian whistleblower is that the Corruption Eradication
Commission (KPK ) spokesman, Ali Fikri, said " all reports
received from the public will be examined ".
That is as should be in a good democracy.
Independent oversight bodies must do what they are meant to do to
uphold good governance with fear or favour.
unwilling to do work
That migrant workers have readily accepted
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday January 25, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday January 24, 2022
Re: "Demographic doomsday"
in Bangkok Post, Business, Monday January 17, 2022
There's more than a touch of irony evident in this article about
the impending demographic cliff that Thailand is approaching.
On one hand, employers are lamenting a lack of workers and some
factories have even closed due to the so-called "labour
In the next breath, however, several economists are expressing concern
over what they perceive to be "soaring unemployment",
currently at a rate of 4.58 percent.
The reality, of course, is that many Thais are unwilling to do the
work that migrant labourers have readily accepted in the past.
Barring a greatly relaxed system easing labour mobility into Thailand,
the country will need to find ways to entice more Thais to accept
these jobs if some sectors of the economy are to survive.
To do that, however, requires employers to pay decent wages, provide
safe and comfortable working conditions and extend favourable benefits
Even then, it is questionable whether many Thais can be convinced
to accept employment in jobs that they have come to believe are
Thailand calls for qualified
transform corporate culture
Southeast Asian Times, Monday January 24, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday January 23, 2022
Re: "Billionaire takes bold stance on racism",
in Bangkok Post, Spotlight, January 16, 2022.
The courage of Luiza Trajano is what is needed in the people leading
the public and private sectors in Thailand.
On the birthday of Martin Luther Jr, who sacrificed his life fighting
racism in American society, we must recognise that racial discrimination
and prejudice remain the most dangerous pandemic in every culture.
Like in the USA and Brazil, these problems also exist in Thailand.
It is the elephant in the room no one wants to talk about.
So, forget about immigrants from Laos, Cambodia, or Myanmar.
Even well-to-do expatriates funnelling millions into the Thai economy
face all kinds of issues: double pricing, immigration hassles, job
discrimination, and workplace exploitation.
You seldom see foreigners residing in Thailand being involved in
the upper echelons of decision-making.
I am still waiting to see qualified foreigners being part of any
government agency. Diversity in the workplace is seen as a threat
to people in authority.
Thailand needs CEOs like Luiza Trajano to transform its corporate
culture through education and training programmes.
Otherwise, the elephant in the room will trample the economy; it
is just a matter of time.
Let the private sector
Run the lotteries in Thailand
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday January 23, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post Monday January 17, 2022
Re: "Panel set to probe high ticket prices",
in Bangkok Post, January 15, 2022.
The most effective way to control lottery ticket pricing is to move
sales online, as in the United States.
Thousands of e-commerce transactions are performed in Thailand every
day. Online ticket sales will be much simpler, more transparent
and easier to control.
In these countries, tickets could be purchased at any ATM or convenience
What about the vendors, many of whom are handicapped?
They are talented in other ways; for example, the finalist in last
year's Plaeng Ake singing contest was blind but has a beautiful
The government should help them discover their potential so they
can live to their fullest.
Last but not least, the Lottery Office has no business being a government-run
Let the private sector run it, with government supervision.
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,