Call for Papua New Guinea
ratify results of Bougainville referendum
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 3 August 2021
First published in the National, Friday 30 July 2021
I want to raise this concern in relation the recent
Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) consultation between Prime Minister
James Marape and his counterpart Bougainville President Ishmael
Both parties resolved to find a political settlement for Bougainville
by 2025 and not later than 2027.
The question is whether this Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) resolution
is consistent with the Bougainville Peace Agreement and the Papua
New Guinea and the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) constitutions.
The two governments should cease discussing political settlement
They should continue discussing the shortest possible time frame
for Parliament to ratify the results of the referendum.
Fix a time for this current parliament to ratify the results of
Propose an act of parliament to specify a manner in which parliament
will ratify the referendum results.
Get parliament to convene to ratify the referendum results.
If parliament fails to master enough numbers to ratify the results
of the referendum, the people of Bougainville should accept the
If none of the above takes place, Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) needs
to reconvene consultation that will result in reaching a political
settlement similar to the ones enjoyed by Palau and the United States
or the Cook Islands and New Zealand.
This is the settlement that will cater for 98 per cent for independence
in which Bougainville and Papua New Guinea will remain as associated
Papua New Guinea
Duterte wants to be successor-president
God save the Philippines!
Southeast Asian Times, Monday July 2 August 2021
First Published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday July 30,
We have known all along that President Duterte has
very little respect, if at all, for the Constitution.
Not content with blatantly betraying the public trust reposed in
him to protect Philippine sovereignty by warmly welcoming China
to come in and trample our sacred shores, he also mocks the constitutional
mandate limiting his term to only six years and absolutely no more.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman has put in black and white what everyone
was already saying:
Mr. Duterte is shamelessly lusting for a power grab, Lagman:
Duterte wants to be successor-president with VP bid,
Philippine Inquirer July 18, 2021.
Knowing as a lawyer that the vice presidency is just a spare
tire post and there is absolutely nothing in it for him,
what in Gods name is Mr. Duterte really up to?
This is very ominous.
Since a VP bid for Mr. Duterte seems to be a sure thing
if the surveys are to be believed and they usually come true and
could carry his presidential manok or dummy to
victory with him, it is a foregone conclusion that he will have
the latter step aside pronto to give way to his succession.
And it will all be legal, albeit totally immoral.
God save the Philippines!
Jan Vincent L. Martinez,
Philippine President Duterte
obliged to cooperate
With International Criminal Court (ICC)
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday August 1, 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday July 30,
The Supreme Court has ruled: Withdrawing
from the Rome Statute does not discharge a state from the obligations
it has incurred as a member. Consequently, liability for the alleged
summary killings and other atrocities committed in the course of
the war on drugs is not nullified or negated here in Inevitable
fate, Philippine Inquirer, Opinion, July 27, 2021.
It was a unanimous pronouncement by the highest court of our land.
No one, not even any of President Dutertes appointees, dissented.
Only Palace spokesperson Harry Roque dissented
in defense of his boss, lamely arguing that it was obiter
dictum or, to his way of thinking, empty words in a 101-page
The petition questioning Mr. Dutertes unilateral withdrawal
was itself dismissed for being moot and academic
following the United Nations acceptance of that withdrawal.
The withdrawal was Mr. Dutertes desperate attempt to escape
criminal prosecution for his alleged crimes against humanity in
the conduct of his war on drugs, which has seen the slaughter of
tens of thousands of suspected drug users and pushers, including
Bottom line is, between 15 Supreme Court justices who were one in
ruling that Mr. Duterte is obliged to cooperate in the criminal
process, and Roque by his lonesome who disagreed that his boss is
not so obliged, is there ever any doubt in any right-thinking persons
mind whose word carries more weight?
So, is this really now the absurd, ridiculous extent to which the
former University of the Philippines College of Law professor is
willing to go in his obsequious service to his principal?
Angeli O Marconi
Morrison says 'sorry'
For his failings as PM of Australia
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 31 July 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday 26 July 2021
PM 'sorry' for slow vaccine rollout", in Bangkok
Post July 23, 2021.
It's refreshing to see the rare instance of a leading politician
actually take responsibility for his shortcomings.
While most leaders around the world are deflecting, pointing fingers
at others, and making excuses for poor outcomes related to the Covid-19
pandemic, the Australian prime minister has taken ownership of his
decisions and mistakes, including apologising for the slow pace
of vaccinations in his country.
The world needs more leaders who assume responsibility for their
decisions and actions and work to correct them rather than simply
make excuses for failings. It takes a real leader to accept responsibility,
admit errors, and move swiftly to remedy mistakes.
Neutral polling organisation
to evaluate police
More credible than police reporting on police
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 30 July 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Tuesday 27 July 2021
Re: "Deal struck to cut police graft",
Bangkok Post July 24, 2021
I laud new police chief Pol Gen Suwat and National Anti-Corruption
Commission (NACC) head Pol Gen Watcharapol in working together to
reduce graft in 88 Metropolitan Police stations in Bangkok.
This is to elevate operational quality and encourage better budget
allocation in hiring and human resource management.
But rather than stressing just self-assessment by the cops, Pol
Gen Suwat and Pol Gen Watcharapol should focus on the citizenry
whom they are supposed to serve in each precinct.
The reason is simple: if you want to know how delicious the food
is, you ask the diners - not the chefs. Asking anybody to evaluate
themselves is an obvious major conflict of interest.
A major and neutral polling organisation, such as the National Institute
of Development Administration (NIDA) or Suan Dusit polls, could
design and carry out the survey, and their reports would be far
more credible than if the police reported on themselves.
Also, the police and National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC)
should not reinvent the wheel.
Pol Gen Vasit Dejkunjorn's panel proposed in-depth police reforms
to then-Prime Minister Abhisit, and Khun Vicha Mahakun's committee
recommended thorough changes at the police and Attorney-General's
Office to PM Prayut.
Their work provides an excellent starting point in cleansing the
police of graft and should be used.
Duterte's bid for presidency
be for real
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 29 July 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday 27 July
In his column Isko vs Sara: The battle of
mayors July 20, 2021, Richard Heydarian seemed to make
the argument that presidential daughter Sara Dutertes reported
bid for the presidency with her father as running mate could be
for real, given that her philosophy of governance stands
in sharp contrast to her fathers, who is more visceral and
top-down in his decision-making.
Her independent-mindedness may therefore be her strongest suit against
critics who see her as no more than a dummy being used by her father
to extend his term and gain immunity from prosecution for another
six years via succession.
If Sara becomes - and stays - president, we may yet see the difference
and breathe a sigh of relief.
Or, she may just follow her fathers advice to step down and
be spared from all the hurtful political intrigues that come with
So if she dutifully resigns and her father takes over, who then
becomes vice president?
The line of succession allows the Senate president and the speaker
to succeed to the presidency only in default of the president and
the vice president.
There is no succession to the so-called spare tire
Section 9 of Article VII of the Constitution provides: Whenever
there is a vacancy in the Office of the Vice-President
President shall nominate a Vice-President from among the Members
of the Senate and the House of Representatives who shall assume
office upon confirmation by a majority vote of all Members of both
Houses of Congress voting separately.
Unlike the US Constitution which gives the new president the prerogative
of appointing anyone to fill his old post with the approval of Congress,
our Constitution limits the presidents choice to the members
Thus, if President Duterte does get recycled as president, he can
nominate either Sen. Bong Go or Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte to
fill the position he vacated, thereby placing any one of them in
the position to succeed him in the event he feels hes too
sick or tired to continue running the show.
And with either his son Paolo or best friend Bong as president,
Citizen Duterte can remain just as powerful and untouchable,
and may continue to dictate the terms of our elections even beyond
Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice
Stephen L Monsanto,
Thailand fines rapper
for accusing government
Of bungling Covid-19 crisis
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday July 28, 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Tuesday July 27, 2021
Re: "Rapper fined for govt slur",
in Bangkok Post, July 23, 2021
Rapper Danupa Milli Khanatheerakulat has been fined 2,000 baht for
"accusing the government of bungling the Covid-19 crisis".
She said the mismanagement has led to surging infection and death
Freedom of expression is guaranteed by our Prayut-drafted constitution,
and she was exercising that right.
Not only that, during the recent past, the curves of our confirmed
Covid-19 infections and deaths have been rising almost vertically,
ICU beds are almost full, and three bodies lay in Bangkok's streets
for hours before being collected.
Was she telling the truth?
Duterte to jet-ski in West Philippine Sea
defiance of China's claim over South China Sea
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 27 July 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 16 July
President Duterte has idiotized the Filipino voters
like no past president had, as shown by his "high approval
rating" to this day.
This is precisely why he has become so bold as to announce that
he is available for a second term by running for vice president,
with the obvious intention of immediately eliminating the dummy
he picks to run for president.
If the voters bought his improbable bravado about "jet-skiing"
to the West Philippine Sea in defiance of China, they would most
likely believe more of the false promises coming out of his mouth.
The framers of the Constitution had fixed the term of the president
to be no more than six years.
But they clearly failed to reckon with the shamelessness of a president
who wants to cling to power longer by any means, fair or foul.
Didnt they ever see how mischievous many of our politicians
have been - going up and down the ladder ad nauseam as they reached
their term limits, and getting away with it?
There is a saying:
If the letter killeth, the spirit that giveth life should prevail.
Now, is it the other way around?
The spirit killeth Mr. Dutertes bid for another term, but
the letter giveth it life!
The plain language of the Constitution does not prohibit his run
for vice president, and therefore allows itso scr*w the "spirit"?
God, please spare this country from more COVID-19 misery - and especially
from more of Mr. Duterte, who was said to be "praying"
for divine guidance if he should run for vice president or not,
despite having called Thee you-know-what. Let not his blasphemy
cause us all this suffering.
Hirap na hirap na po ang Pilipinas. Parang awa Nyo na po!
Nimfa Rina Ricafort,
loses another case
In recovery of Marcos ill-gotten assets
Southeast Asian Times. Monday 26 July 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday 20 July
As if the 2019 Sandiganbayan decision dismissing the
case for recovery of P200 billion in ill-gotten assets against the
Marcoses was not jaw-dropping enough, comes now the report that
the government has lost another Marcos case.
This makes people wonder:
What the hell is wrong with our judicial system?
It seems that when it comes to the Marcoses, Philippine courts are
more fixated on the hole in the donut rather than whats on
the dough - conveniently finding evidence that does not suffice,
instead of finding evidence that suffices.
Rogelio S. Candelario,
Can cause cost and value to diverge
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 25 July 2021
First Published in the Bangkok Post, Friday 23 July 2021
Re: "Three months on, govt inks Pfizer
deal," in Bangkok Post, July 21, 2021
"The government has signed a supply agreement for 20 million
doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine - the delivery is expected
in the fourth quarter of this year."
We've heard this before.
Public Health Minister Anutin also "expected" AstraZeneca
to grant Thailand more than its contracted supply so the government
could meet its jab target.
I don't trust what the government expects any more.
What is the specified delivery date in the contract?
Furthermore, "The value of the deal was not disclosed."
Why the big mystery?
The value should be public knowledge.
After all, the article references the US embassy website as saying
the 1.5 million doses of donated Pfizer vaccine are worth US$30
million about 984 million baht. That works out to 656 baht per dose
or 1.312 billion baht for the 20 million doses purchased.
But perhaps it's the cost of the deal that the government does not
wish to disclose - since it is often rumoured that ministerial "leakage"
can cause cost and value to diverge.
Is saying anything that
is positive about
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 24 July 2021
First Published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 22 July
We thank Solita Monsod for recognizing that there
are large benefits in our relationship with China in The
costs of appeasement, Get Real, July 17, 2021. She
also brought up the need to study net benefits vs costs.
Our difference then in outlook is in the valuation of these contributions
and the attribution of intentions.
Is saying anything that is positive about China necessarily appeasement?
We briefly share some alternative views.
The value of timely assistance in times when we confront life or
death is incalculable.
The quick ending of the Marawi siege is by no means attributing
this to Chinese or Russian donation of arms alone.
But planeloads were donated at a time when the US initially blocked
arms delivery but later released, just when we were at risk of becoming
an IS-run state.
The early donation of billions in lifesaving personal protective
equipment, medical supplies, and vaccines protected our frontliners.
It also allowed the start of our turnaround - value in the hundreds
of billions a month, with the help of medical workers, private donors,
and public servants.
For months, the US hoarded all vaccines, and countries like India
that waited suffered immensely.
Yes, we have to control poachers.
Why do Antonio Carpio and Albert del Rosario never mention that
the most frequent poachers are Vietnamese, or that Indonesians blew
up dozens of Filipino boats they claimed were poachers, or Malaysians
physically punished arrested Filipinos?
Yet we manage those issues and expand cooperation.
Has Professor Monsod calculated the million Filipinos dead in the
war with the US, the millions killed in wars worldwide, the various
sovereignty violations, including the US abandoning our claims on
Sabah - are these already justified by US benefits?
To calculate lost income as billions of dollars yearly is based
on theoretical potential and has no bearing on our practical reality.
Why do our children not dream of becoming fishermen?
Over 90 percent of our own coral reefs and coastal fish are endangered
as reported by World Resources Institute, the UN Environment Program,
our own fishermen.
Yes, we need to help and work together.
We are also in a deficit to Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, South
Korea, etc., because we consume more than we produce, and our people
and educated class dont have much interest in manufacturing.
Trade is mutually beneficial, we have the choice to not buy from
Industry players know Chinas technologies have enabled millions
of our people to afford smartphones and broadband.
Much of our improved internet coverage recently allowing our lives
to resume online is due to Chinese tech companies partnering with
our Filipino telecoms and upgrading the skills of our engineers.
How we approach issues productively rather than emotionally, to
uplift our people, is the goal of IDSI.
The first step is obtaining accurate facts, then using proven frames
of analysis that give good results.
Integrated Development Studies Institute (ISDI)
secession from Papua New Guinea
Ploy to salvage Government plunging popularity
Southeast Asian Times. Friday 23 July 2021
First published in National, Wednesday 21 July 2021
Gone are the days of Sir Noel Levi, Sir John Kaputin,
Kilroy Genia to name a few of our very own Henry Kissingers, who
graced the world of statesmanship with an aura of dignity and proudly
wore Papua New Guinea on their sleeves.
Those who ardently followed the Bougainville reconciliation and
peace process right from the beginning wouldnt miss former
Foreign Affairs minister Genias remarkable skills of negotiation
and statesmanship in finding a diplomatic solution.
Secession was never on the agenda.
Our leaders and negotiators at the time were so mindful in the peace
talks to never compromise the sovereignty of Papua New Guinea.
In every way possible, our unity in diversity as one nation, one
country and one people was defended right up to the hilt.
Not until in 1997 former prime minister, the late Sir William Skate
opened the flood gates to Bougainville self-determination.
Notorious Sir William with alleged connections to Port Moresbys
criminal underworld soon brought the country to its knees.
His erratic fiscal mismanagement jeopardised Papua New Guineas
standing with international aid donors and investors.
Coupled with economic mismanagement the country suffered in his
two-year rule through a prolonged drought, a tsunami that killed
some 2,000 people and the Asian financial crisis hurting the countrys
exports, Sir William needed something to salvage his dying popularity.
He set foot on Bougainville as the first Papua New Guinea prime
minister since the conflicts started in 1988.
Sir William committed to fast-track the peace process.
In mid-1999, he resigned to avoid a no-confidence motion.
Former United States president Abraham Lincoln once said: The
central idea of secession is the essence of anarchy.
Now it is stomach churning when lesser men, men not
grounded on smart statesmanship are attempting the Bougainville
Today, Prime Minister James Marapes government is no different
to Sir Williams.
Papua New Guinea is confronted with a worst ever economic recession,
now heavily relying on tax with the closure of all revenue streams,
blatant economic mismanagement killing off investor confidence,
public debts racing pass manageable thresholds, mine and business
closure leaving thousands out of job and an over sensitised Covid-19
pandemic with billions of emergency funding becoming the Governments
milking cow while imposing unnecessary restrictions.
Bougainville may again pose as a perfect sacrificial lamb to salvage
the Governments plunging popularity.
It is best for the country that Marape, a man standing at the very
shadow end of the statesmanship pool to not try grandstand the Bougainville
issue for political expediency.
Papua New Guinea
Call for lawyer to be
disbarred for defending
against Philippines fishermen
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday, July 22, 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday July 19,
Palace Pinocchio Harry Roque should
Once lawyering on behalf of some fisherfolk in Zambales and Pangasinan
who were being harassed in the West Philippine Sea by the Chinese
Coast Guard, he now brazenly lawyers for China in the fishermens
complaint against the bully that keeps on doing what it has been
doing all these years, to the detriment of their livelihood.
The editorial Whos parroting whom? July
16, 2021 took note of the fact that this time around, Roque has
taken up the cudgels for China despite evidence-based abuse
and bullying of those whom China considers interlopers in the South
China Sea, like his own former clients.
Many years ago, Roque had no problem branding China as a rogue
state for claiming that the West Philippine Sea is its
lake and, hence, part of its internal waters.
He vehemently denounced that claim as utterly bereft of
Now, in exchange for the dubious fame and fortune attached to his
main duty of sanitizing all the codswallop that President Duterte
spews in constant praise of China, Roque has no problem eating his
Lawyers have been disciplinarily dealt with for lesser instances
George Del Mar,
Russia is providing strong
To Asean's guiding role in Myanmar
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 20 July 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday 18 July 2021
Re: "Russia is back and it's a little bit
better," in Bangkok Post Opinion, July 13, 2021.
In his commentary, journalist Kavi Chongkittavorn said that "for
unknown reasons, Moscow has attracted admiration for its strong
tactics and unwavering support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad,
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and besieged Belarus President
Alexander Lukashenko, not to mention the annexation of Crimea".
Let me make these reasons clear.
Unlike other great powers' inconsistent double standards, and hidden
international manoeuvres, Russian foreign policy insists on observing
international law, adherence to governing rules, principles and
due procedures that accompany them.
Attempts to overthrow a legitimate government with the assistance
of illegal foreign military intervention, however motivated, correspond
to none of the above.
On the contrary, a limited Russian military presence as well as
support of Syria were entirely legitimate, since both had been requested
by the Syrian government.
Belarus is a Russian ally and closest partner.
Russia is engaged in building an allied state in accordance with
Threats to its stability by mobs in defiance of political procedures
are naturally detrimental to immediate Russian security and economic
For the same reason, the support for Venezuela was aimed at opposing
overthrowing an elected leader bypassing due political process rather
than helping Mr Maduro alone.
As for Crimea, before calling annexation, Khun Kavi forgot to mention
a referendum that won the unequivocal support of the peninsula's
entire population to reunify with Russia.
Russia is providing strong support to Asean's guiding role in Myanmar.
The Russian position is consistent with the provisions of the association's
five-point consensus; first of all, provisions regarding the cessation
of violence and the exercise of utmost restraint by all conflicting
parties and the development of a dialogue among them aimed at stabilisation.
Together with Asean, Russia shares the view that unilateral sanctions,
rhetoric of threats and any attempts to interfere in Myanmar's internal
affairs will have destructive effects and further polarise its society.
Hopefully, the expected appointment of Asean's special envoy for
Myanmar will be the next big step that provides necessary momentum
to Asean-Russia's joint efforts to settle the situation in that
It is for consistency, predictability and adherence to principles
that Russian foreign policy attracts admiration worldwide.
Court in Hague ruling
on South China Sea
but a piece of waste paper
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 20 July 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 16 July
The news item Govt urged to act immediately
on latest issues concerning West Philippine Sea, July
14, 2021 left us wondering whether we should laugh or cry.
There was supposedly public outrage over the Chinese ambassadors
remark that the Arbitral Award in favor of the Philippines was nothing
but a piece of waste paper, but seriously, whats
the fuss all about?
The Chinese envoy was just repeating what President Duterte had
said months ago Duterte on PH win over China: Thats
just paper; Ill throw that in the waste basket,
June 5, 2021!
Mr. Duterte himself saw no value in the Philippines victory,
so why blame China for agreeing with him totally?
Thanks to their duly elected president, our people deserve this
utter humiliation. Yet, despite knowing now that they had voted
for a president who couldnt care less about the public outrage
his subservience to China is causing, they continue to give him
very high approval ratings, which has only emboldened him to go
for another six years, by hook or by crook.
Duterte-Duterte tandem leads in Pulse Asia survey,
July 13, 2021 reads a recent news item.
Is there still any doubt what lies ahead for this country?
For the love of God, are there no more Filipinos in the current
regime decent enough to say enough?
Marcelo JR Garcis,
for investigation into misappropriation of funds
for PNG islander resettlement program
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 19 July 2021
First published in the National, Friday 16 July 2021
We have been following the news about the investigation
into the misappropriation of funds marked for the Manam Restoration
It is sad that the millions of kina allocated were allegedly misappropriated
by people in authority in Madang while the islanders suffered and
did not benefit from the funds that were released by the Government.
We in East Sepik are asking if an investigation of some sort can
be done into funds that were released for the Kadovar islanders.
They are currently temporarily settled at the care centre at Dandan,
along the Wewak eastern coast.
We ere told that K5 million was marked to help the islanders in
a possible resettlement programme.
However, we are not sure if the money has been released.
We have been asking questions for people in authority in Wewak and
East Sepik to tell us how the islanders could be helped.
So far, no one has responded to our questions.
We, the people in Wewak, are asking too about the long-term plans
for the islanders who are settling in Dandan.
Are they going to be living there forever?
If so, have the landowners agreed to this.
We want the people in authority to tell us that.
We are aware of the problems faced by Manam islanders who have been
resettled on the mainland.
We do not want our Kadovar islanders in Wewak to face the same issues.
As a start, we want an investigation into the money that was marked
to help with the Wewak islanders.
Was K5 million from the Government given?
If so, where is it?
How was it used?
Papua New Guinea
Military dynasty in national
monopoly of power in Philippines today.
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 18 July 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Sunday 18 July
Since 1986, the entire national security apparatus
of the nation has been sick.
The 1986 Edsa Revolution started it all.
The Air Force of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff who came from
the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (Philippines) (ROTC) was replaced
by Fidel V. Ramos, a US military academy graduate.
Thereafter, graduates of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) succeeded
him to the position of chief of staff.
Down the line, Philippine Military Academy (PMA) graduates started
occupying key positions in the national security apparatus.
Was there anything wrong?
Not at all, after all Philippine Military Academy (PMA) graduates
were well trained and well selected.
They came from the best of our youth, trained by the best military
But however good it was, there was a bad side.
It was the beginning of the military dynasty in the national security
apparatus that holds the monopoly of power today.
That monopoly of power has placed Philippine Military Academy (PMA)
graduates in almost all key positions, which has split the officer
corps in two: one for them and the other for the second-class officers
who came from the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (Philippines)
(ROTC) but occupy 70 percent of the officer corps.
With this structure, it is easy to see that morale had become a
rooted problem. Such a problem erodes the efficiency, effectiveness,
and efficacy of the organization. The indicators are there to see.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) has an unwholesome reputation.
Their generals go to jail.
The rank and file dont report for duty.
The Philippine Air Force (PAF) flight safety record is not something
to be proud of. Their mistah system doesnt work well.
I know. I was there for 35 years.
The Air Force of the Philippines (AFP), managed by Philippine Military
Academy (PMA) grads, has been fighting the insurgency for 70 years.
The public can judge for itself how well or unwell it has gone.
The truth of the matter is that in any organization where there
is monopoly of power, elitism will rear its ugly head.
Competition becomes extinct. Camaraderie disappears.
People lose the elan to strive for excellence.
It is as true today as it was in the days of Lord Acton.
That is why there is always the need for checks and balances as
enshrined in our Constitution. Seven years ago, there was a bill
in the Senate filed by five senators to establish separate academies
for the Air Force and the Navy to produce officers in the Air Force
of the Philippines (AFP) that would serve that all-important doctrine
of checks and balances.
Instead, the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) was reinvented to
become a tri-service academy.
The result: more of the same.
The graduates have continued to flood the entire security apparatus.
The monopoly of power is for us to see.
It is from one mistah to the next like a revolving door. The military
dynasty enshrined elitism in the entire national security apparatus.
Let it be said that the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) is not
an elitist school. Most of the cadets come from the middle class
and poor families.
Elitism is never a doctrine or policy in the Air Force of the Philippines
I sent two of my sons there, and we are not by any means an elitist
But the course of human events led the organization to what it is
Truly, the Air Force of the Philippines (AFP) Officers Corps is
now too powerful. It is a monster.
The public knows that. Sadly, there is nothing to provide checks
Lt., Gen. Antonio E. Sotelo,
the Air Force of the Philippines (AFP) (Ret.)
Call for US donated vaccines
To include vaccination of US citizens in
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 17 July 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, July 8, 2021
set for 1.5m US doses", in Bangkok Post,
July 8, 2021
While the US donation of vaccines to Thailand is welcome support,
many Americans are wondering why some of the vaccines being sent
here cannot be explicitly earmarked for US citizens residing in
China can do it.
France can do it.
Why can't the US do it?
Is the provision of vaccines to Americans too costly?
Is the operation too difficult?
Or, are American officials simply too uncaring?
Dismissed court justices
recieve retirement benefits
Despite justices found guilty of corruption
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 16 July 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer Tuesday 13 July
Once again, the Supreme Court has demonstrated how
generous it can be when it comes to dispensing taxpayer money like
an ATM in favor of people deemed more equal than
the rest of us.
Special people like former Sandiganbayan justice
Gregory Ong and the late chief justice Renato Corona have been allowed
to enjoy the whole package of retirement benefits despite having
been both found guilty of corruption during their public service
time in the bench (SC shows mercy for ex-justice
who fixed Napoles case, July 7, 2021; SC vindicates
Corona, grants full retirement benefits, February 9, 2021
If the Supreme Court has no better use of surplus cash in the tens
of millions being showered on those former magistrates, it could
have thought of the millions of Filipinos wallowing in abject poverty,
misery, and sickness amid this raging pandemic, now without much
help from a supposedly bankrupt government.
Not to be insensitive to the miseries of the
Ong and Corona families, but what greater acts of corruption did
the millions of Filipinos do to be treated to the spectacle of being
denied even just a sprinkling of similar financial aid from the
highest court of law and justice?
Chin Chin Katigbak,
Call for moral excellence
In 2022 Philippines
Southeast Asian Times Thursday 15 July 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 9 July
President Duterte has turned our country into a topsy-turvy
land defined by a culture of violence and lawlessness; extrajudicial
killings and human rights abuses; a crisis of confidence in institutions
such as the Supreme Court, the Senate, House of Representatives,
Commission on Elections, and local government units; wanton violation
of the Constitution and democratic system; suppression of the freedom
of speech and of the press; historical revisionism, political patronage,
and rampant militarization; jarring mass poverty, widespread corruption,
unaccomplished benefits for workers and the poor, and inferior health
programs; complaisant subservience to China; and the betrayal of
our country and people with his divisive, incompetent, autocratic
Such ills must not describe the next presidency.
We have a chance at real change in 2022.
Lets not elect/reelect the self-advancing wreckers of the
nations hard-earned democratic institutions - those mutilators
of our political-social-moral-economic fabric.
Miriam Defensor Santiago said that academic, professional, and moral
excellence are needed for the presidency. Vice President Leni Robredo
has these qualities, and more. We, the 1,000 plus-members, families,
and friends of Mga Apo Ni Tomas are ready for her presidency.
Pit M. Maliksi,
Call for differentiation
and state in Papua New Guinea
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 14 July 2021
First published in the National, Monday 12 July 2021
I am against the move by the Government to declare
Papua New Guinea a Christian Country.
I know some people are against it as well.
This move seems to be a practice of dictatorship.
We need to embrace the type of governance this country adapted since
Were a democracy.
Democracy promotes citizens rights to freedom of choice in
voting Members of Parliaments, rights to education, and rights to
choose to follow whatever religion that suits an individuals
Section 45 of our Constitution is one of the basis of democratic
laws and it guides the citizens rights to religious beliefs
So long as the creed and practices of a particular religion are
morally right, they can be allowed to practice their faith.
If we successfully declare Papua New Guinea a Christian country,
what would be its limits, restrictions or implications?
The non-Christians in the country should be advised on this.
As it is now, the move sounds dictatorial to non-Christian religions
such as Bahai, Islam and Judaism, which are already in Papua
In the case of Islam, I am a follower of Islam (reverted Muslim).
It was established in Papua New Guinea in 1982 as The Islamic Society
of Papua New Guinea Inc.
Currently, Islam in Papua New Guinea has nearly 6,000 followers
and is one of the fastest growing religion.
As the saying goes: You can take a horse to the river,
but cannot force it to drink the water.
The Government cannot deprive our democratic right to choose whatever
religion we want to follow.
Its a conviction that comes from the heart and cannot be replaced
with whatever external physical means. When we have to look at the
Bible, some teachings are yet to be understood.
Different people have different interpretations when it comes to
understanding certain messages in the Bible.
Different denominations have different practices. All in all, there
are so many bible versions (roughly more than 40 versions today),
which differs in so many verses.
Therefore, when we want to uphold certain agreed concepts or values
and practices, it will be much more complicated to come to a better
resolution. The Constitution itself is enough to provide a better
community, promotes individuals prosperity and our interactions
with other countries, if properly enforced.
It encounters every facet and dooms of morals and values that can
prompt a better and peaceful living.
Just look at Australia, it is better off with a democratic system
Religion and politics are two different controversial topics and
should be dealt with separately.
Political leaders should make a distinctive decisions as political
leaders and not religious leaders so as to minimise conflicts of
interest and opinions and to represent people well.
Abdul Ahemed (Muslim brother)
Papua New Guinea
Tons of used Covid-19
Getting into waterways
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 13 July 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 9 July
Dr. Wong Chen Seong of the National Centre for Infectious
Diseases of Singapore said that improper discarding of face masks
that are soiled or have a large amount of respiratory secretions
is a potential health hazard.
The virus on such masks that are left exposed is said to survive
for a few hours to a few days and even for months to years if kept
in a cold place.
According to Dr. Wong, one should wash his or her hands before taking
off the mask.
Remove it not under the chin but rather through the ear loops.
Next, fold the mask in half inward so the droplets from the mouth
and nose will not be exposed.
Fold it again to another half, then to another half until the mask
looks like a roll. Finally, wrap it with its ear loops and put inside
a piece of tissue before throwing it into a rubbish bin.
Associate Professor Alex Cook of National University of Singapore
also said that those infected with the virus should be
more mindful of where they discard their mask. It would be a good
idea to put it in a bag and throw it immediately in the trash rather
than leave it sitting exposed.
Experts say used face masks are getting into waterways, where they
reach fresh water and the marine environment.
Oceans Asia reported in February 2020 the presence of face masks
in waters off Hong Kong.
BBC has also reported that in Anilao, Batangas, scuba divers found
numerous face masks in sea corals and in other marine areas, posing
a danger to fish and other sea animals.
In my morning walks, I have seen face masks on streets, dogs biting
into face masks, and children playing with dirty masks.
Just recently, a friend forwarded a plea from garbage collectors
asking that homes segregate their face masks from other waste.
A study conducted by the University of Phayao, Thailand last year
showed that in 49 Asian countries including the Philippines, 16,659.48
tons of medical waste, mostly face masks, were being generated daily
during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In India, its 6,491.49; Iran, 1,191.04; Pakistan 1,099.30;
the Philippines, 353.03.
As we continue to grapple with the pandemic, we must do our share
to protect the environment.
We should also kneel harder in prayer that our garbage collectors,
like our other frontliners, may do their job well and will not get
Mario D. Dalangin,
Kapatirang Bihiya treasurer,
Call for Integrated Bar
of the Philippines
To redress death of Filipinos due to China's
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 12 July 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 8 July
While admitting that there is no law prohibiting President
Duterte from running for vice president, former Integrated Bar of
the Philippines (IBP) president Domingo Cayosa seemed to make the
argument that a challenge can be lodged with the Supreme Court in
case Mr. Duterte makes good that threat.
He warned that the process can be tedious and drawn out
No legal obstacle to Duterte VP run, but will his 16 million
voters back him again? lawyer, July 5, 2021, suggesting
it may not be resolved during Mr. Dutertes extended presidency
Our own takeaway is that the challenge will not be long and drawn-out,
but will be quickly disposed of for being pointless.
Take the case of former president Gloria M. Arroyo who ran for Congress
after her term expired. Has any lawyer ever doubted her right to
The Constitution plainly bars any president from seeking election
again to the same office, but not to any other office regardless
of his or her ulterior motive.
It all simply boils down to how the electorate will view such "lust
Cayosa should find better use of his influence and time by rousing
his colleagues in the currently moribund Integrated Bar of the Philippines
(IBP), whose only proof of life is felt in its vigorous effort to
collect the annual dues from its members.
He could rally them to do something more patriotic: to seek redress
in a court of law on behalf of about 1.5 million Filipinos sick
and the heirs of about 25,000 dead due to Chinas COVID-19.
More evidence is already coming to light, pointing to the military
arm of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as having ginned up the
virus in its Wuhan lab to make it more lethal and highly transmissible
to humans - a biological weapon, many are convinced, for all intents
The task is no doubt herculean and unprecedented.
There might arise the need for a special tribunal composed of the
best legal minds in the country to preside over a class suit that
could be deemed sui generis, as it seeks indemnification amounting
to an astronomical sum.
Suing a foreign political party or organization running a foreign
government whose satellite companies are doing business and holding
enormous assets in this country is fraught with extreme difficulties.
Only the cachet that the members of the Supreme Court hold can lend
credibility to such proceedings.
And while, as a rule, our Supreme Court has been declaring itself
not "a trier of facts," the truth of the matter
is it can disregard that rule any time it needs to. Indeed, if it
can take time out to act as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal
to receive evidence of electoral fraud as in Ferdinand Bongbong
Marcos vs. Vice President Leni Robredo, surely it can deviate from
its regular role and become a peoples tribunal
of sorts for a matter of so much more transcendental importance
and higher public interest than any case in its docket.
Isnt it time this course of action is put on the table for
Given their talent to think of the often unthinkable, has any group
of lawyers hereabouts ever thought of finding ways to hold the Chinese
Communist Party (CCP) accountable for what could well be the crime
of the century?
Or, are we all resigned to just suffering in silence and rolling
over as this pandemic continues to ravage our people and country
with no end in sight?
Elite Filipino lawyers and statesmen once found the great patriotism
and guts to go after China at the Permanent Court of Arbitration
(PCA), despite knowing that any judgment in the Philippines
favor was going to be unenforceable.
The message was what really mattered: The Philippines was not going
to be pushed around by a bully.
And yet, the ripple effect of that judgment has seen powerful countries
challenging Chinas ambition to exercise dominion over all
the islets, the waters, and resources within its nine-dash
line in the South China Sea, a claim the Permanent Court of
Arbitration (PCA) has ruled to be bogus.
We wont be alone.
More enterprising lawyers around the globe have commenced COVID-19-related
class actions against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its
surrogates in their respective jurisdictions since last year. In
around 40 countries including the United States, Great Britain,
Canada, litigations are ongoing for punitive damages aggregating
hundreds of trillions of dollars against the Chinese Communist Party
(CCP), with an eye on its businesses and cash-rich assets in their
What will it take for our own former Integrated Bar of the Philippines
(IBP) to wake up and start lawyering for the Filipino people? Or
is anybody even home?
Stephen L. Monsanto,
Permanent peace on Bougainville
When Bougainville gains independence
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 10 July 2021
First published in the National, Wednesday 7 July 2021
As the second consultation between Bougainville and
Papua New Guinea leaders progresses in Wabag, Enga, the people of
Bougainville are wondering whether Papua New Guinea will honour
their wishes for an independent Bougainville.
The people unanimously voted for independence in the recent Bougainville
The right to determine a political destiny by the people is a human
right, which is recognised under international law.
It is known as the right to self-determination.
Through that right, people can freely determine their socio-economic,
cultural and political future.
Through that right, the people of Bougainville were given the opportunity
to determine their political future of which they voted for separation
from Papua New Guinea.
Papua New Guinea, on the other hand, as a sovereign state, will
always want to safeguard its territorial integrity just as any other
It does not wish to see disintegration.
In fact, as a general principle under international law, no territory
within a sovereign state is allowed to disintegrate itself without
the consent of the mother state.
However there is an exception to this.
Where the mother state conducts itself in a manner that is contrary
to human rights practices or where the right to self-determination
of a particular people within the mother state is being deprived,
the mother state can no longer protect its sovereignty and territorial
In the case of Bougainville and Papua New Guinea, Papua New Guinea
lost its cause for protecting its territorial integrity and sovereignty
when it declared war on Bougainville and used its military to kill
20,000 Bougainvilleans and caused thousands to suffer for 10 years.
Human rights atrocities in Bougainville committed by the Papua New
Guinea Governments agents were serious that any state can
cause to its own people.
The pain and suffering that the people went through is still fresh
in the minds of the people.
About 20,000 Bougainvilleans who perished remain uncompensated while
Papua New Guinea compensated those soldiers that lost their lives
The Papua New Guinea Government needs to understand that it can
no longer preach about protecting its national unity when it already
lost its obligation to protect its territorial integrity over Bougainville.
Permanent peace on Bougainville and in Papua New Guinea will only
be attained when Bougainville gains independence.
South West Bougainville,
Papua New Guinea
creative arts industry
In desperate need of help
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 9 July 2021
First published in the Star, Wednesday 7 July 2021
The performance arts industry is facing a catastrophic
crisis because of Covid-19. This pandemic has reshaped the arts
world like it has never before.
As the post-pandemic future of the arts looks bleak, we end up with
the vicious question we keep asking ourselves How
do we move forward at least for the next three months?
When a performing arts centre plans to stay afloat for the next
three months instead of planning productions for the next one to
two years, it is a clear indication that things are beginning to
fall apart and yes, we are beginning to crumble.
With our governments lack of enthusiasm to address the pandemics
effect on the creative arts industry, what more to safeguard us
from tumbling over, we can only rely on ourselves to keep us alive.
This is nothing new to us, for we are all very much aware of the
situation unfortunately knowing does not make things any
easier to swallow.
Like an old wound, we continue to bleed.
As we lower down our anchor, we have decided on drastic changes
to stretch the duration of our survival.
After one year of struggling with a 30 percent salary cut, our team
is forced to endure another round of salary cuts, effective June
Also, the employment status of our team has been transformed from
full-time employment to contractual employment.
We are doing everything in our power to survive, unfortunately we
also need to prepare for the worst-case scenario.
We still need to brace for further impact if the economy doesnt
rise up soon enough or no assistance is found.
If that happens, we may be forced to make a follow-up salary cut
even when we find our salary barely enough to survive at the moment.
We are grateful to have a wonderful team who are in this difficult
journey with us. However, as the journey gets harder, we may have
to part ways with some of them.
It wont be easy to say goodbye to family, but this pandemic
has not made anything easy either. In fact, we have informed our
team that we will accept their decision if they do receive better
employment offers elsewhere.
We just cant drag them along as we sink.
We are doing our very best to stay alive, however we do not wish
to sugarcoat this very difficult situation.
Our survival is very much in a limbo; we do not even know if we
can make it past August.
Our fund is depleting and we are working very hard to get donations
and sponsorships in.
Unfortunately, nothing is helping much at the moment.
We are in desperate need of help.
Performing Arts Centre of Penang (penangpac)
China has become as capitalistic
As the United States of America
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 8 July 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday 7 July
Randy Davids column America and
China: A tale of two systems, Public Lives, July 4,
2021 strikes me as a challenge to our Filipino youth who are easily
swayed by the communist ideology for whatever reason - youthful
idealism, patriotic fervor, extreme poverty.
China has become as capitalistic as its biggest rival, the United
States of America, and even as imperialistic as shown by its bullying
of the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries in the South
It has been using its economic muscle to impose onerous and predatory
loans on developing countries that leave them dispossessed of their
patrimony in case of default.
It is quite perplexing, therefore, that our left-leaning youth movements
are still captivated by the Chinese model of development which,
as Randy David observed, only remains viable if fueled by an authoritarian
and highly centralized system of government and a fiercely market-driven
It is quite amusing to hear our street activists continuously denounce
US imperialism when our existential problem today is in fact Chinese
imperialism, a superpower encroaching on our territorial seas backed
up by military might.
How I wish the talents and energies of our young activists were
directed toward exploring solutions to our national problems that
harness democratic and Christian values and instincts and not those
driven by deep ideological conflicts, hatred, and class struggle
that leave no room for enlightened dialogue and peaceful coexistence.
Instead of constantly organizing mass actions and engaging in political
activities to create the revolutionary situation
that will tip the balance in favor of a new political order,
would not the intelligence, creativeness, and moral courage of our
youth be better put at the service of the country through productive
and nonviolent ways?
For instance, by being engaged in their chosen professional careers,
whether in business, industry, government, or even in the political
arena, our youth can channel their drive for excellence and patriotism
to redressing existing structures of injustice, inequality, and
discrimination, alleviating mass poverty, and helping build a better
Our society is fast collapsing under the weight of political corruption,
socioeconomic inequality, and decades-long armed insurgencies.
All these will fall on the laps of our youth, the next generation
of Filipinos, so that it is critical that they discern very carefully
the pathways that will save our nation from endless strife and social
There are a number of alternatives to choose from, but five decades
of debilitating and fruitless armed struggle modeled on a foreign
ideology has not worked, and we need to look elsewhere for the solution.
Former President Benigno
Simeon C. Aquino III
a narrative that could be used in next elections
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 7 July 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 1 July
So much has been said about former President Benigno
Simeon C. Aquino III in light of his untimely passing.
The various testimonies made us see a man who served his country
well the best that he could.
The accounts of a number of people who worked with him when he was
the chief executive offered the public a narrative that could be
used as a reference next year.
This should open our minds to what the presidency should be.
We have already seen 16 presidents - from Emilio Aguinaldo to Rodrigo
Duterte. The country has been offered a myriad of presidential styles.
There were those who managed the government well and there were
others who left office with controversies hounding them, even to
The presidency is still the office where we place our collective
aspirations as a country.
And it is in this perspective that we the electorate should envision
the kind of leader we need.
One who would help us achieve our goals and address our problems.
This discussion is very timely as we go to the polls next year to
elect a new president.
Names of potential presidential candidates are already floating
Some appear to be reluctant while others are
just waiting for the right time to throw their hat in the ring.
The electorate needs to vet each one of them thoroughly.
Go over their respective platforms and consider their stand on various
Once these are satisfied, vote for who you believe is best qualified
for the job.
A reminder: Please choose wisely.
Mark Jerome T. Bongalon,
President Noynoy Aquino
eye for an eye
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 6 July 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday 5 July
When I interviewed Noynoy Aquino end of August 1983,
just days after the assassination of his father, for Celebrity magazine,
I recall now what he told me then:
I am a biblical eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth guy.
If you hurt my mother, if you hurt my sisters, Ill get back
Amadis Ma. Guerrero,
raises safety concerns
Over pre-colonial buildings
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 5 July 2021
First published in the Star, Tuesday 29 June 2021
The collapse of the 12-storey beachfront condominium
building in Miami, Florida on June 24, killing at least nine people
and leaving 100 people still missing as of Sunday, should raise
concern over the safety of buildings in our own country.
Could a similar incident occur in Malaysia, where there are many
pre-colonial buildings that are still being occupied?
The Uniform Building By-Laws (UBBL) 1984 enacted under the Street
Drainage and Building Act 1974 stipulates that all new buildings
require submission of plans for approval prior to construction.
The plans must be submitted by a principal submitting person (PSP)
such as a professional architect or professional engineer.
UBBL 1984 stipulates the buildings structural requirements
related to the design and specifications of materials, loadings,
foundation and superstructure. It also governs the design, specifications
and construction of walls, floor and building structure and fire
requirements of a building.
Section 85A of the Street, Drainage and Building Act 1974 states
that for buildings exceeding five stories, the local authority may
by a notice in writing served on the owner of a building,
require the building to be inspected after the 10th year
commencing from the date the first certificate of fitness for occupation
in respect of the building was issued; and thereafter at intervals
of not more than 10 years from the date of the completion of the
last inspection of the building under this section.
The inspection must be conducted by a professional engineer registered
under the Registration of Engineers Act 1967.
Section 85A(6)(c) states that if, after having considered
the results of the visual inspection, the engineer reasonably suspects
or is of the opinion that there is a defect, deformation or deterioration
in the building or its structural elements as will or will likely
endanger or reduce the structural stability or integrity of any
part of the building he shall request for permission from the local
authority to carry out a full structural investigation on the building
including investigation in respect of its structural elements...
Furthermore, the Fire Services Act 1988 requires designated premises
to undergo an annual fire inspection before they are issued with
a Fire Certificate (FC) by the Fire and Rescue Department.
This shows that we have stringent laws and regulations in place
to ensure the safety of buildings, and it is of paramount importance
that they are strictly implemented and enforced.
All designated premises in Malaysia must be mandated to display
the Fire Certificate and all buildings that are more than 10 years
old must display proof that the periodic inspections have been carried
In the era of big data technology, it should be easy to compile
information on all buildings that are more than 10 years old. Compliance
with the regulations will ensure that buildings in Malaysia are
safe for occupancy.
TS. IR. Wong Chee Fui,
Thailand calls for flexibility
In purchase agreements with China
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 3 July 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday 2 July 2021
Re: "China confirms purchase of 20,000 tonnes
of rice," in Bangkok Post, Monday June 28, 2021.
It's reported that China agreed in 2015 to buy 2 million tonnes
of rice from Thailand.
The buyers later reduced the volume by half, to only 1 million tonnes
- and to date only three-fourths of that amount has actually been
When Thai officials speak of purchase agreements with China for
dubious items such as submarines, tanks, and high-speed train systems,
they emphasise the sanctity and rigidity of agreements made previously.
It seems that China is able to alter the terms of purchase agreements
quite easily; why is the same flexibility not possible from the
Duterte candidate for
Turned out to be the Manchurian candidate
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 2 July 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 1 July
Reading the news item Duterte on 2022 VP
race: If theres space for me there, then maybe
June 29, 2021 left us feeling like puking over the sheer hypocrisy
of it all.
Doesnt President Duterte ever tire of speaking with a forked
Sobrang pa-cute! Kunyari ayaw, pero sige na nga!
Hes recycling the same gimmick he used in 2016: Pakipot.
Sir, tama na po, kumita na po yan! He really has no choice but to
stay in power. Despite all his bravado about
taking full responsibility and bluster about going to jail himself
for the alleged EJKs committed by his minions, he now seems more
like desperately seeking a continuum of his immunity
as president, by hook or by crook, to escape criminal prosecution.
A win by the opposition in 2022 is for him not an option.
Mr. Duterte badly needs an absolutely reliable president
who will have no problem stepping aside for his immediate succession.
Only his daughter, Sara, fits the bill; or alternatively, his gofer,
Bong Go - both already seen to be positioning for the greatest hoax
this country has ever known.
Only Vice President Leni Robredo can beat Sara, if only she could
stop being so wish-washy about her intentions.
Shes said to be just thinking of running for governor in her
hometown instead. Seriously?
Now is the time for her to show what stuff shes made of.
Sara has already been brazenly campaigning.
So what the heck, shouldnt Leni be?
The stark contrast between the decency a Robredo brand of governance
offers and the unbridled vulgarity the Duterte brand has demonstrated
should now open the eyes of the more than 16 million Filipinos who
put their trust in a macho candidate in 2016
who turned out to be more Manchurian - more beholden
to a foreign country than to his own.
of Noynoy Aquino a foreshadowing
Of return to a respectable president
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 1 July 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, 29 June 2021
Im sure Im not the only one who has observed
that whenever our country is ruled by a corrupt, abusive, and tyrannical
president, an Aquino dies and rouses individuals and democratic
forces to fight for democracy.
During the Marcos dictatorship, the Left consistently fought for
the rights of the people, but it was only after the assassination
of Sen. Ninoy Aquino that thousands of Filipinos, especially the
middle classes, became active in the so-called parliament of the
streets and in the 1986 presidential election.
In 2004, former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo cheated her way
to the presidency Hello, Garci?.
Corruption became a way of life and repressive measures were implemented
by her Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff and
the Philippine National Police (PNP) to quell the various forces
opposing her administration.
The death of President Cory Aquino swept to victory her only son,
Noynoy Aquino, who instituted various social,
political, and economic reforms when he became president.
Today, we are led by a president under whose rule billions of shabu
still manage to slip in, thousands of petty pushers have died, fake
news abound, and servility to China is the norm.
Is the death of Noynoy Aquino a foreshadowing of the return of a
respectable president who will assert our rights against China,
open up the democratic space, and provide medical and health solutions
instead of police or military ones to the drug problem and the pandemic?
Raffy Rey Hipolito,
Not safe to be caught
up in traffic
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 30 June 2021
First published in the National, Monday 28 June 2021
The rise in crime in Port Moresby is a challenge for
the police .
In recent weeks, there has been a lot of crime.
People are living in fear
What are our authorities doing to address this?
It is not safe to be caught up in traffic.
It shows the city has become lawless and our leaders have not done
anything to address it.
The city is growing fast causing a lot of issues with traffic.
Vendors and thugs are taking control of the traffic.
We have to address this before it gets worse.
When you study the success of cities such as New York, the fastest
way to reduce major crime is to stop petty crimes.
Please hear the calls of our people in the city.
We are frightened.
We are worried.
If we want the country and our capital city to move towards a positive
future, we need to eliminate these elements that are holding us
Lets stop petty crimes now before we implement curfews and
other drastic measures to slow it down.
Concerned City Resident,
Papua New Guinea
Philippine President Duterte
Who are not vaccinated thrown in jail
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 29 June 2021
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 29 June 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday 28 June
During the incumbency of United States Republican
president Donald J. Trump, he submitted himself to a cognitive ability
test in response to critics who excoriated him about his competence,
i.e., to see if he is crazy or not.
He aced it and the doubt was settled, except for the hardliners
of the rival Democratic Party.
President Duterte wants Filipinos who have not been vaccinated against
COVID-19 be thrown in jail Amid scarcity, Duterte wants
COVID-19 vax refusers jailed, June 23, 2021, despite the
fact that there are not enough vaccines available to millions of
He would need to build the biggest jail in the world to contain
more than 100 million Filipinos.
Doesnt anyone think its time for Mr. Duterte to undergo
that same cognitive test?
Asking lang po.
Yvette San Luis-Petrocelli,
About the plight of indigenous
In Thailand's national parks
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 28 June 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Thursday 24 June 2021
hampers Unesco park quest", in Bangkok Post,
Opinion, June 17, 2021
I'm sure for many expats in Thailand the plight of indigenous forest
dwellers in Thailand's national parks is something of a mystery.
I had to study a map to, vaguely, discover where some of the disputed
lands were located.
It is not easy to understand what lies behind labyrinthine forest
affairs or state-sponsored policies of violence against the Karen,
or why laws were passed in 2019 enabling forest authorities to further
destroy their property.
In one's efforts to make sense of this murky business, what little
I have gleaned is thanks to the dedicated research and reporting
of Sanitsuda Ekachai.
It is reassuring that this senior Bangkok Post columnist recognises
her role entails more than rearranging pro-China hand-outs or acting
as a state sycophant in defence of the regime's persecution of members
of the pro-Democracy movement.
Forces of the Philippines
no mercy for Lumad children
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 27 June 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 25 June
We, an association of consecrated women in Mindanao,
express both lamentation and rage over yet another spilling of innocent
lumad blood on ancestral lands.
The blood of Angel and Lenie Rivas, and Willy Rodriguez, cry
out to the heavens for justice.
It is the same cry of Emerito Samarca, Dionel Campos, and Datu Bello
Sinzo who were massacred in Lianga, Surigao del Sur in 2015 by government-sanctioned
We grieve with their families and community and with the Diocese
of Tandag under the Most Rev. Raul Dael, who held a Dialogue
of Life with the Manobo of Lianga earlier this year.
Angel was a Grade 6 student of the Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao
del Sur (TRIFPSS) lumad school.
Willy and Lenie were members of the Malahutayong Pakigbisog alang
sa Sumusunod (Mapasu or Sustainable Struggle for Future Generations).
They were gathering abaca hemp to sustain their livelihood especially
in these dire pandemic times when they were mercilessly shot by
military men belonging to the 3rd Special Forces of the Philippine
The lack of mercy from their attackers is shown by the fact that
before they went to their farm, the victims had sought
permission from the military - an ironic situation because
as lumad they are supposed to exercise sovereignty and self-determination
in their own land.
The military fired upon them with full knowledge of their being
civilians going about their daily living.
This is, therefore, murder most vile.
Angel, Lenie, and Willy were presented as New Peoples Army
rebels as the militarys justification for the treacherous
It reflects the state policy of Red-tagging that leads to extrajudicial
killings, and extrajudicial killings justified by the Red-tagging
of its defenseless victims.
The Lianga massacre of 2015 is an example of the former, the Lianga
massacre of 2021 of the latter.
We are witness to this ever-widening policy of death and destruction
in the many communities where we live out our missionary work, especially
among poor farmers, the Moro, and the lumad. Land-grabbing of ancestral
lands, killings, forced evacuations, economic and food blockades,
forced and faked surrender of civilians, the
slander and harassment of community leaders, advocates, and support
groups these are clear transgressions against human dignity and
Our witnessing comes with the realization that the fullness of life
for the Manobo as envisioned by the Most Rev.
Ireneo Amantillo, the Bishop of Tandag during the dark days of martial
law when he pioneered the TRIFPSS school, necessitates a sustained
work for justice, the same principle lived out by the malahutayong
pakigbisog of Mapasu.
As consecrated women, we commit ourselves to this work of justice
for the Lianga massacre victims.
We affirm Gods love, mercy, and justice for them and their
We are not dismayed in the face of this violation of justice and
righteousness against the poor.
We take comfort in the certainty that the high officials who perpetrate
this violence and terrorism shall be made accountable to yet Higher
Ones over them.
The instrumentalities of human rights nationally and internationally
are higher levels of accountability.
The upcoming elections provide another arena for accountability
in terms of raising awareness and providing guidance in choosing
leaders that uphold life and human rights.
The peoples movement for social justice, while vilified and
violently repressed, journeys on even more resolutely to bring about
And, above all, we are strengthened in faith in our God of History,
who walks with the people in building the kin-dom of
solidarity, peace, and justice.
Sisters Association in Mindanao (Samin),
Call for Philippines nuclear
power plant to be converted
Into center for manufacturing organic oil
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 26 June 2021
First published in the Philipine Inquirer, Thursday 24 June
It is good that the Noynoy Aquino administration did
not consider reviving the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP).
Yes, we all agree, it is economical to operate a nuclear power plant.
But if it fails, it is also expensive and destructive.
If the power cost is only P1 while the cost of repairing damages
is P10,000 in case of failures, you dont need to study economics
at UP or Ateneo to know the difference.
I am not a licensed engineer to say that the strength of materials
has a certain period to remain unbreakable, or what we call in laymans
terms metal fatigue. But what about other factors
that cannot be seen by the experts like meteorites
dropping from the sky, or if Chinas relationship with
the Philippines changes and it decides to bomb our nuclear plant,
or we lack uranium because China and other suppliers do not want
Former president Ferdinand Marcos cronies - like Herminio
Disini - got fat commissions from Westinghouse.
Cory mothballed the plant, and to prove to the world that the Philippines
has integrity, she honored the countrys liabilities with Westinghouse.
Meanwhile, scrap scavengers, in connivance with people inside, had
methodically stolen most of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP)
essential parts, like titanium condenser tubes.
The Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) can be converted into a center
for manufacturing organic oil, because it is
very near Pampanga, Bataan, and Zambales that have millions of hectares
suited to plant jatropha, cassava, sugar cane, and malunggay.
Millions of jobs will be created, too.
About time we do something to erase the image that the Bataan Nuclear
Power Plant (BNPP) is a showcase of world-class corruption.
Isidro C. Valencia,
Support for criminal investigation
into Thai MP's
Conviction for smuggling herion into Australia
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 25 June 2021
First published in the Bankgok Post, Thursday 24 June 2021
Re: "MP takes legal action over Thamanat's
Aussie jail time", in Bangkok Post, 22 June
I fully support Seri Ruam Thai leader Sereepisuth Temeeyaves' demanding
a criminal investigation over Thamanat's conviction for smuggling
heroin into Australia: if the drugs came from Thailand, his offence
should have been illegal in Thailand, and he may not be eligible
to be an Member of Parliament or cabinet member.
Can Thamanat deny his handwritten confession - and was he really
smuggling "flour", as he vehemently told parliament?
Or should he come clean, confirm his heroin smuggling, but say that
since he's served his sentence, he should be given a second chance?
To uphold the rule of law, as he's vowed to do, PM Prayut should
move Capt Thamanat to an inactive post until the investigation is
over and appoint an impartial probe panel.
Call for Catholic church
To speak out against injustice
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 24 June 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday 22 June
I read with interest the letter Amid violence
and injustice, Church and media are no longer game changers
I agree that the Catholic Church since the passing of the
Cardinal Sin era has been reduced to a whimper in a vast howling
wilderness of violence and injustice with only a few prophetic voices
that are hardly heard or even disregarded by its very own constituency.
The Catholic Church must strongly speak out.
Those who think the Church should not get involved against the social
evils in our country have missed the Churchs teaching of prophetic
The Church is the conscience of the state.
When the state leads a wicked societal life, the Church, its conscience,
afford to become cowed and silent.
The Church is the states best critic.
The Church is not just called to issue a reflection of the evils
in society, but also to instruct the faithful on what to do when
confronted with such in light of the Gospel values and teachings
of the Church.
The Church is called to share the Gospel values to all and to shape
society when it is not following the path consistent with these
The Church is never called to popularity, but to faithfulness.
The Church can never be silent about social evils.
When it is or chooses to be, it ceases to be the real Church.
Reginald B. Tamayo,
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 23 June 2021
We read in The Southeast Asian Times ( June 22 ) that
citing " the situation in Myanmar " the United
Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said " we cannot
live in a world where military coups become the norm ... it is totally
He is absolutely right.
Just how totally unacceptable military coups are is something only
people who have lived through military coups know.
Military coups result in the deaths of innocent citizens.
The lives and livelihoods of the living are ruined.
People live in perpetual fear of the military mob in power and their
ruthless modus operandi which has no regard for human rights and
The country is taken backwards.
The tragedy is that often when a military coup happens after an
initial perfunctory condemnation the rest of the democratic world
return to business as usual with the post coup regime, including
the sale of military arms.
Will that change ?
That's the big question.
Port Moresby pokie machine
government to increase shared revenue
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 22 June 2021
First published in the National, Friday 18 June 2021
A number of site operators of pokies machines in Port
Moresby have taken offence to the National Gaming Control Board
(NGCB) bragging about increasing its revenues when its not
sorting out the long-outstanding issue of an equitable sharing of
current pokies revenues in the the National, June 15.
At the moment, the monthly revenue is shared 75 per cent to the
NGCB and 25 per cent to the site operators.
A further two per cent is taken out of the operators 25 per
cent share, leaving the operator with a mere 23 per cent or so each
The operator then has to pay for staff wages, security, rent, electricity,
water and repay bank loans.
That leaves a tiny 5 per cent or so of gross monthly revenue for
This has been raised to the NGCB chairman and chief executive so
many times in writing and in meetings but the board has not done
anything about this.
The issue of equitable sharing has not even been placed as an agenda
We, the operators, demand that the NGCB immediately address this
issue and make a determination.
A fairer equation is that 60 per cent of gross monthly revenue should
go to the site operators who bear all the costs of making this money.
Some Papua New Guinean businesses are operating pokies machines
and it is the Governments job to assist them with better revenue
so that they can grow family-owned businesses.
Even if the NGCBs 75 per cent is seen as taxation, it is massively
excessive by any standards in any country in the world.
Indeed, it may be argued that the Government, through the NGCB is
using site operators, some of whom are citizens of this country,
as slaves to increase its revenue.
Any forensic analysis of the boards costs of regulating the
pokies machines in this country will show that they are killing
Before the NGCB talks about casinos and any other forms of gambling,
it should deal with the pokies site operators issue for a
fair and equitable share of the monthly pokies revenue.
The site operators demand 60 per cent share of the monthly revenue
and 40 per cent to the NGCB.
Pokie machine site operator,
Papua New Guinea
for world to return to normality
For economic well-being of all
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 21 June 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday 16 June 2021
Re: "Sandbox shambles",
PostBag, June 8, 2021
Rocket Scientist touches on a global issue, not just a Thai one.
The inescapable fact is that Covid-19 has arrived and is here to
stay, in its various guises.
The world has to quickly function normally again for the economic
well-being of all. The poor have certainly suffered disproportionately
in the last 18 months.
This means that border restrictions and international movements
must be eased. We cannot continue with quarantines and expensive
multiple tests if this is to achieved.
Unless an instant free test can be devised, vaccinated people should
be allowed to travel freely.
Travel to well vaccinated countries should present no discernable
risk to those countries and the additional risk to unvaccinated
countries will be minimal.
If every country insists on three polymerase chain reaction (PCR)
tests for travellers, as is currently the case, that is six tests
for a return trip.
For a family of four, that is 24 tests, which is probably the cost
of the holiday.
That is just unrealistic long term.
are Asian values when the young
Are shot and killed for raising their voices?
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 20 June 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday 18 June 2021
Re: "Asean, China promotes
Asian values," Bangkok Post, Opinion,
It is not clear what Kavi Chongkittavorn means by Asian values.
The region is ruled by many dictators and despots who muzzle the
voices of young people, openly flout human rights, and put anyone
opposing them in jail.
Mr Kavi forgets that Soviet Union was one time a rival superpower
to the USA.
Its collapse teaches us one important lesson - smart leaders always
use self-serving ideology to come into power and remain in power.
It is no surprise that for more than a century communist and socialist
ideologies have been used to promote a false sense of pride in collectivism
and for promoting herd mentality.
Democracy has its own flaws, but it does allow dissenting voices
and the removal of despots through elections and voting.
Many Asean leaders also churn out their own unique models of governance.
China is in constant strife with India and the rest of the countries
in the so-called South China Sea.
The sad happenings in Hong Kong and Myanmar are right in front of
Where are the Asian values of consensus and inclusiveness when young
people are thrust in jail or shot and killed for raising their voices?
happened to funds
education in remote Papua New Guinea
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 19 June 2021
First published in the National, Wednesday 16 June 2021
Development is supposed to be embraced and delivered
to citizens in the remote parts of Nawaeb.
But the few engineers who are attached with local Member of Parliament
Kennedy Wenge and a few protocol officers are entertaining themselves
and their families.
The district funds are not changing the peoples life.
Can the Government check Nawaeb and blacklist those contractors
who cannot deliver?
Check the education projects in the district.
Students are expected to learn without disruptions, but there are
Nawaeb High School still has an incomplete science laboratory.
There are also other projects in other schools that are also incomplete.
What happened to the funding?
We should do away with contractors who are only good on paper.
Students are struggling.
Worried Nawaeb Citizen,
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea churches
Benefit from Casinos
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 18 June 2021
First published in the National, Wednesday 16 June 2021
I had goosebumps reading that National Gaming Control
Board chairman Clemence Kanau, said that churches also benefit from
the gambling industry in the country and should keep quiet
as the Government is working on establishing a casino at Paga Hill,
I see why many churches are not against this move.
Even if they have said something against this move, it is not loud
The churches who benefit from sponsorships and other financial support
from the National Gaming Control Board cannot speak up against the
building of this casino.
If it was some other issue, they would have been the first ones
to raise their concerns.
They probably want to remain quiet in fear of risking their chances
of getting more benefits from the National Gaming Control Board.
Where in the Bible does it say it is okay for churches to fund their
ministries from the proceeds of evil activities such as gambling?
Is the National Gaming Control Board chairman telling Papua New
Guinea that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob approves of his
wayward and misconstrued assumption that it is okay to compromise
The churches who knowingly remain silent on this development agenda
will equally be accountable before God.
Churches should not be funded through proceeds from evil activities
As a Christian, it sickens me to read this article.
May God Almighty rescue Papua New Guinea from the crooked people
and their crooked decisions.
Paliaima A Tanda,
Papua New Guinea
Thailand has a bloated
With a legion of decorated admirals and
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 17 June 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday 16 June 2021
Re: "Thailand's irresponsible runaway debt",
Bangkok Post, Opinion,
Almost all governments are now on a spending spree to cope with
the devastation caused by the Covid crisis.
Surprisingly, China is the only country to successfully avoid a
serious blow to its economy.
In the USA, the deficit, a favourite pillar of the Republican agenda
has completely vanished.
For stabilising the Thai economy efforts should now be made to prioritise
spending on major projects and reducing the lopsided reliance on
the tourism sector.
More attention should be paid to exports, innovation in green technologies,
education reforms and labour skill development.
It is quite amusing that a country like Thailand with no imminent
threats or enemies has a bloated military with a legion of decorated
admirals and generals who have never fought a war?
Prof Thitinan is correct that the government is leaving a massive
bill for younger Thais to repay over their lifetimes.
Fly too close to the sun
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday16 June 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday 9 June
In Greek mythology, there is the story of Icarus.
Icarus was given artificial wings made of wax and feather so that
he could fly. Daedalus, his father, warned that if Icarus flew too
close to the sun, his artificial wings would melt.
But Icarus, feeling the high of flying and unmindful of Daedalus
warning, soared too high and saw his wings melt.
He plunged into the sea and drowned.
This is a tale of hubris - or the excessive pride toward or defiance
of the gods.
This overbearing pride leads humans to follow paths that lead to
Some policemen have hubris in abundance, murdering hapless individuals.
The killing caught on cam of a 52-year-old woman and the alleged
accidental killing of a man with special needs muddied the already
dirty face of the police organization.
The saddest thing here is that its not only Zinampan, Nuezca,
and their ilk who end up the recipients of public condemnation and
mistrust, but also other officers who are law-abiding, loving, and
Two years back, I spoke before police trainees in a Philippine National
Police (PNP) training session.
I discussed their tenets of accountability, responsibility, and
respect for life. Spearheaded by the Couples for Christ and the
Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals, our session
allowed us to talk about these vital values.
The sad, harrowing events where policemen execute civilians who
cannot even defend themselves is downright deplorable.
What has led these humans to shed their humanity and descend to
animal behavior? This is a question that should be answered by policymakers
and leaders of the police force.
Zinampan once posted on Facebook that the sin of one is not the
sin of all.
But there is a need to reform and look into the psyche of these
Their hubris needs to be checked, because the actions of a few misguided
elements affect and undermine the thousands of other members of
Clemelle L. Montallana,
The rise of the military
in the political domain
Has shifted politics from where it should
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 15 June 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday 6 June 2021
Re: "PM shows he has political resilience,"
in Bangkok Post OpEd, June 4,
The analytical views of the columnist are appreciated from the vantage
point of politics.
There is no doubt that Thailand is a political economy, and the
truth that eludes us all is that the centre of focus had better
be on critical constituents of the Thai body politic.
The rise of the military in the political domain has shifted the
focus in Thai politics from where it should be:
First, with the farmers and with their markets which for a long
time have always been domestic.
That is no longer the case.
Farmers need to be encouraged to yield more for the sustainability
of Thais themselves and for world markets which are in need of their
The visionary King Rama IX tirelessly campaigned for farmers, saying
he and farmers were fighting against a greater enemy than communism
- which was hunger.
His self-sufficiency projects have benefited farming communities
and the kingdom at large.
No military weaponry or armaments can sustain us in the face of
impending global catastrophes such as land desertification through
global warming and rising sea water levels which are already hitting
so many countries.
Second, youth have always been the mainstay of innovative and novel
approaches to solving problems.
Politicians need to look at the needs of the youth more critically
and create avenues for them to progress in their studies and beyond
that in the social and political realms so they will learn how to
value and cherish their kingdom and their fellow beings.
We cannot trap our youth in cages. Through their forward-looking
policies, politicians and governments lead hope for youth.
Do not jail them in prisons for daring to learn, to think and grow.
Call for lockdown
death clusters in Thailand
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 14 June 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday 6 June 2021
An analogy that we often hear is that if you are walking
around without a mask, or not socially-distancing or refusing to
get vaccinated, it is the equivalent of driving drunk, because besides
yourself, you could kill someone.
Similar to having the coronavirus, you could also say that driving
drunk is "highly transmissible from person to person"
and that includes adults and children, since road accidents
in 2016 were the most common cause of death for Thai children aged
In 2018, as reported by the Bangkok Post, 90 percent of traffic
offences were for drink-driving and 40 percent of road fatalities,
4,498, resulted from people driving while under the influence of
Why doesn't that get more press for the other 51 weeks out of the
year aside from those "Seven Deadliest Days" of
Why is having one of the world's worst road-fatality rates 32.7
per 100,000 people in 2018 and so many deaths caused by vehicles
22,491 in 2018 not as big a deal as cumulative deaths by Covid-19
a total of 1,177 as of June 5?
Everyone on mass transit is checked (to see if they have a high
temperature of 37.8ºC or greater.
But we don't check people on the roads as diligently for signs of
Why aren't roads that have drink-driving death 'clusters' ever locked
In other words, why - when it comes to talking about or dealing
with these tragic road deaths - do we lighten up?
PDP-Laban party has deteriorated
its foundation against Marcos dictatorship
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 13 June 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 4 June
The ruling Partido Demokratiko PilipinoLakas
ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) party was established with the goal of opposing
The murdered Sen. Ninoy Aquino and former Senate president Nene
Pimentel coalesced their parties to take a principled stand against
the dictatorship of President Marcos.
But look at how the party has deteriorated.
Its current leaders are mobilizing their members to make it appear
there is a groundswell of support for a Duterte-Duterte tandem.
From its history and spirit of resistance, the PDP-Laban now wants
a continuation of the same administration that has initiated mass
killings, harassed media companies and personalities, and kowtowed
Raffey Rey Hipolito,
Violence begets violence
As Myanmar shows
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 12 June 2021
Violence begets violence.
This is illustrated so clearly in the Myanmar case.
Aung San Sui Kyi had for over three decades advocated peaceful pro-democracy
protest to bring about change in the entrenched military rule in
But now in light of the brutal military crackdown and killing of
pro-democracy protesters following the latest February 1 military
coup many from within Sui Kyi's political party and other civilian
protesters no longer regard peaceful protest as a viable option.
We learn from the SBS Dateline ( 8 June ) that many new generation
youth have gone to acquire armed resistance training with the Karin
military to equip themselves with the skills to fight the Myanmar
How is the country to benefit from the cycle of violence that now
It's a crying shame that the power- hungry, kleptomaniac military
generals in Myanmar have brought the country down to this counter-productive
state of violence.
New South Wales,
Duterte urged to run
As vice president in 2022 elections
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 11 June 2021
First published in the Philippines Inquirer, Monday 7 June
The ruling Partido Demokratiko PilipinoLakas
ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) party internal squabble is its problem, but
the groups resolution urging President Duterte to run as vice
president should be condemned outright.
It has to be named for what it is: a shameless maneuver to extend
Mr. Dutertes term beyond 2022.
The PDP-Laban is no ordinary party; it is the ruling faction whose
members include top officials of the country.
Mr. Duterte himself is the head of this party.
Hence, its resolution is a matter of public concern.
It is highly unlikely that PDP-Laban members would come out with
this unusual appeal without the implicit approval of the President
or his inner circle.
Mr. Duterte authorized the meeting and he had the chance to comment
or reject the resolution during his weekly televised address.
We fear that the ruling party is scheming to create a fake clamor
aimed at convincing Mr. Duterte to run in 2022.
It is appalling that the party in power is proposing an action that
would circumvent the constitutional provision prohibiting the reelection
of the incumbent president. The term limit was placed there because
of our painful experience during the Marcos dictatorship.
We do not want another president who will abuse his power and wantonly
use government resources to guarantee his reelection bid.
We had thwarted previous attempts to amend the Constitution which
would have removed term limits and allowed politicians and political
dynasties to remain in power.
The PDP-Laban resolution is the latest variant that seeks to perpetuate
the rule of the incumbent president.
Mr. Dutertes party should offer new candidates instead of
plotting the Presidents reelection.
For many Filipinos who sincerely want reforms in society, our best
option is to support not another Duterte candidacy, but the pursuit
of accountability and justice.
Bayan Metro Manila,
for Pacific Pearl Casino in Port Moresby
PNG running out of ideas to grow economy
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 10 June 2021
First published in the National, Thursday 3 June 2021
The approval by the Government for the establishment
of Pacific Pearl Casino at Paga Hill, Port Moresby, indicates it
has run out of ideas to grow the countrys economy.
There are more problems than benefits that this industry will bring
into the country. National Gaming Control Board (NGCB) chairman
Clemence Kanau mentioned that the industry would bring in much-needed
foreign exchange and employ about 10,000 people.
However, these benefits should have been quantified and released
for public consumption.
On the flip side, casinos around the world are sites where money
This is an avenue where drug lords, terrorists and organised gang
elements illegally channel their money to avoid being caught.
Without effective systems to monitor our international borders and
no tough laws on money laundering and drugs, our country will be
a haven for illegal activities to flourish.
It seems the recent major drug bust just outside Port Moresby, where
the accused are yet to be penalised, has not taught the Government
a lesson before approving the casino to be constructed.
The National Gaming Control Board (NGCB) in its media release, has
given the guarantee to the country that they would go out and source
the best international operator to run the casino.
But how much experience do they have in executing this task?
If Australias major casino operator, Crown Casino, can be
implicated in money laundering at their casinos in Sydney and Melbourne,
how much guarantee can the National Gaming Control Board (NGCB)
give this country that all will go well once the casino is in operation?
The National Gaming Control Board (NGCB) has no experience in effectively
running other gambling activities.
It has mentioned that they would look at legalising lottery, bingo
and online betting. These will add more misfortune to Papua New
Guinean families who are already suffering because of our struggling
The introduction of these gambling activities also contradicts the
current consultation processes on making PNG a Christian nation.
This confused Government is bringing more pain than gain to the
Papua New Guinea
The Philippines National
threat to the Philillipines not China
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 9 June 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday 7 June
The greatest threat to the Philippines is not China
or insurgent groups.
The greatest threat today against the Filipino people is the internal
gangrene of abuse and corruption happening inside the police system
of the Philippines.
This is an existential threat to the nation, and our leaders need
to act swiftly.
The recent murder of an elderly woman named Lilybeth Valdez in Quezon
City by a drunk policeman has once again brought too many painful
flashbacks of abuse committed by the Philippine National Police
and other law enforcement agencies.
In August 2017, the nation saw the murder of Kian delos Santos and
many others after him as unfortunate victims of the brutal drug
war, while uniformed coddlers of syndicates went scot-free.
In December 2020, just five days before Christmas, the shooting
of a mother and son in Tarlac shocked the entire nation.
Last February, law enforcers were killed during a supposed anti-drug
operation between the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Philippine
Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Commonwealth Avenue - a case that
up to now remains shrouded in mystery.
Even lowly barangay tanods (village watch) figured in mauling incidents
against civilians in several communities during the lockdown.
These examples of abuse clearly show a systemic malignancy pervading
the law enforcement and justice system in the Philippines. Did these
scalawags and miscreants manage to enter the service because of
the poor screening and recruitment policies of the government?
Or were these abusive officials once patriotic public servants who
were later on co-opted by the corrupt system inside law enforcement?
Whatever the case, the situation is unacceptable to the Filipino
It is of absolute necessity that our leaders act with vigorous resolve
to right what is wrong inside our law enforcement system.
Our existence as a nation depends on it.
Philippine President Duterte
accused of pursuing
A policy of appeasement towards China
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 8 June 2021
First published in the Philippines, 4 June 2021
I totally agree with Solita Collas-Monsod that Filipinos
should not feel they owe a debt of gratitude to China for its vaccine
donations, or for that matter for any seemingly friendly assistance
it has extended or plans to extend to our country
A victory for tobacco, a defeat for our children,
Get Real, May 29, 2021
This utang na loob chant that President Duterte
touts as his motivation for pursuing a policy of appeasement toward
China is just a smokescreen for his real intentions, which are nowhere
close to love of country and concern for the welfare of the Filipino
I cannot, of course, read the mind of Mr. Duterte, but as an ordinary
citizen I am able to observe facts and events during this administration
that stare us in the face and easily debunk any notion that the
Presidents partiality toward China, or more precisely toward
Xi Jinping, is driven by nationalism.
Look at some of these facts and how Mr. Duterte can only manage
to respond to them with deafening silence: the massive invasion
by Chinese Pogos of our communities and their corrosive moral effects
and rising criminality spawned by their presence; the mysterious
entry of huge drug shipments from China through the Bureau of Customs
that was never prosecuted, and the likely entry of more of such
shipments; the meteoric rise of presidential crony Dennis Uy who
has built a business empire in such a short period of time, and
who has partnered with Chinese investors to gain a strategic foothold
in the countrys telecommunications and natural gas industries;
the onerous infrastructure contracts the government has entered
into with China and, in the case of Kaliwa Dam, the displacement
of indigenous peoples from their ancestral lands.
And look at how his apologists, led by the sycophantic spokesperson,
fumble and lie in defense of Mr.
Dutertes untenable position on the West Philippines Sea, even
resurrecting the disgraced Juan Ponce Enrile in a desperate attempt
to gain public support.
There are rumors and speculations that Xi Jinping has long given
his assurance of support to the continuing stay in power of the
The coming national elections will truly be a test of our peoples
political maturity, and if there is enough of it to save the country
from a failed leadership that we ourselves allowed in 2016 to lead
the country into a treasonous and ungodly path.
Moves to constitutionally
make Papua New Guinea
A Christian country
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 7 June 2021
First published in the National, Friday 4 June 2021
Prime Minister, James Marape raised the hopes of Christians
with his mantra of Making Papua New Guinea
the richest black nation.
He has done so again with the move to constitutionally make Papua
New Guinea a Christian country.
On the other hand, Marape has also approved the construction of
a casino in the name of providing employment and generating revenue
for the Government.
What is happening?
Casinos are places where evil and forces of darkness rule and control
people to squander their hard-earned money.
Gambling is the reason for poverty and chaos in society.
Christianity is not practiced inside casinos.
I suggest you, Marape, stop your Christianity propaganda and allow
Western and Asian paganism to be included in the Papua New Guinea
May The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob rescue Papua New Guinea.
Paliaima A Tanda,
Papua New Guinea
Proposed NGO Act in Thailand
Mechanism to silence civil society
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 6 June 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday 2 June 2021
Re: "Dream on," in Bangkok
Post, PostBag, May 31.
The point about "Bangkok as a second Geneva" at
this moment in history is that we have to make it clear that divisions
in society will irreparably and dramatically deepen if the NGO Act
and amendment of the Official Information Act are sneaked through
parliament in a period when public social life in Thailand is debilitated
under a severe pandemic and chaotic "emergency rule".
It would nail down the total failure of reconciliation as the major
justification of the most recent coup d'état.
Thus the constitution of 2017 should likewise be invalidated.
Back to the constitution of 1997 and forwards to peacebuilding in
Post-Covid transformation is not only needed, it is possible.
"Bangkok: a second Geneva" is a metaphor we should
allow ourselves to nurture as a powerful dream.
Hans Van Willenswaard,
Malaysia Shows true leadership
With salary sacrifice
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 5 June 2021
We read in The Southeast Asian Times 2 June that Malaysia's
PM and all ministers and deputy ministers in his government will
forego three months salary to
" contribute to the Covid-19 National Disaster Relief Trust
That is showing true leadership rather than paying lip service to
It's a rare thing that kind of personal sacrifice on the part of
the political leadership anywhere.
Usually what we hear is the opposite.
How a political leader has used/abused his position to fill his
That is a much more common phenomenon.
In light of that the Malaysian people should feel proud of their
political leadership at this time of national struggle against the
I would be if I were a Malaysian citizen.
fresh and new leadership
After 2022 elections in the Philippines
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 4 June 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer Friday 28 May 2021
The Philippines will elect a new president in 2022.
Past elections have shown that those who get elected are the most
popular and/or backed by a well-oiled machinery at the grassroots
The voters in the provinces who make or unmake a president are controlled
and dominated by strongly held patronage/dynastic politics.
We witnessed how the Parojinog family of Ozamiz City, Misamis Occidental
built their political enclave and fortunes on drug running for two
decades, and the Ampatuans of Maguindanao who milked public works
funds for decades, ending in the tragic massacre of 58 people, including
the spouse of the opposition candidate and 32 journalists, in what
is now known as the Maguindanao massacre on November 23, 2009.
These family dynasties operated untouched and had their merry way
under the very noses of several administrations.
Unfortunately, it is not the individual voters honest choice
but that of mayors, governors, and congressmen that will decide
who will become the countrys next president.
That is a sad and irrefutable fact we see often.
Local politics makes or unmakes a president.
The 1992 elections saw the country having two excellent choices
for president: Gen. Fidel Ramos and Sen. Miriam Santiago.
Early on, Santiago was the runaway winner in most of the random
pre-poll surveys over Ramos.
But some wizened media people saw it differently: Administration
candidate Ramos would win by a small margin because, by experience
in elections, 60 percent was controlled by local politics; that
factored in when assessing winnability, and the
administration had that sewed up for him.
True enough, the overwhelming early lead of Santiago from the National
Capital Region and urban centers was slowly eaten up by the late
Mindanao and provincial results for Ramos.
The rest is history.
Havent we noticed that congressional haggling with Malacañang
over pork insertions facilitate legislation?
Theyre a must for congressional incumbents, and not to have
them in an election year will mean rough sailing for them, short
of political suicide.
We need to change mindsets with a new brand of leadership, or else
we perish in our own follies.
A fresh and new kind of leadership is exciting with the announced
broad political coalition in 1Sambayan as a winnable alternative
to the administrations stable of stale choices.
The make-up of the general electorate, however, dampens the little
enthusiasm we might have. Gut issues are still the overweening consideration.
Look at how many people, including wheelchaired senior citizens,
lined up till the wee hours of the morning to wait for their
What is worrisome and a challenging development for 1Sambayan and
right-thinking citizens is the huge unspent public funds totaling
around P4.2 trillion at the disposal of the administration from
now until the electoral spending ban on December 31, 2021.
We each might have our criteria of who should be our best choice
for a leader. However, we can brace ourselves to accept the predictable
fact of life that in this country, patronage politics will elect
the next president - your prudent choice or mine notwithstanding.
Marvel K. Tan,
Call for China to come
how the viral infections started in Wuhan
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 4 June 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday 1 June
The global community continues to reel under the scourge
COVID-19 has caused. As of May 25, more than 167 million infections
have been confirmed and more than 3.4 million have died, as more
infections and deaths are being reported on a daily basis.
Yet, after about a year and a half, no one knows for certain how
this pandemic started, despite what seems to be the worldwide consensus
that the virus came from Wuhan, China.
Whether it was nature from bats in its wet markets or culture from
the so-called gain-of-function research in its
lab that spawned it, the mystery has remained to this day. The worst
fear was that the virus from the Wuhan Institute of Virology was
manipulated to become a more lethal biological weapon
- the idea fueled largely by suspicions about Chinas pursuit
of its hegemonic intentions as evidenced by its relentless aggression
in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) and elsewhere.
China stonewalled all attempts to investigate how the viral infections
started in Wuhan.
It suppressed early accounts of those who knew what was going on
in its lab and silenced or disappeared witnesses, as the world cried
desperately for answers. Gathering sufficient facts and information
about the origin of the virus could help prevent another deadly
pandemic from happening again.
Indeed, experts agree that had China been more cooperative from
the start, the COVID-19 infections might have been contained.
Up to now, China has seemed to be under no moral or legal compulsion
to come clean.
It has remained as intransigent as ever amid all calls for transparency.
Nations - nay, the whole world - should now unite and take positive
steps against China to determine its culpability for this pandemic
and, more importantly, the reparations in the hundreds of trillions
of dollars it should make for all the deaths and economic devastation
the whole world has suffered and continues to suffer.
Its time to put the kibosh on all speculations.
A basic principle of law that is generally accepted in civilized
judicial fora says that evidence willfully withheld is presumed
adverse to the party withholding it.
This is based on plain, common sense.
A party who has nothing to hide should have no problem bringing
out such evidence when asked to produce it.
The more than 160 countries that boldly urged an investigation by
the World Health Organization of the origin of the virus, but got
nowhere near the truth because China denied access to necessary
data, should now formally take legal action before the International
Court of Justice and demand full disclosure of what China has been
hiding about COVID-19.
If, as China insists, it is without fault, it should welcome its
day in court instead of invoking technicalities the constant recourse
of scoundrels, as it did in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) case filed
by the Philippines against it before the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
While China may have gotten away with its arrogance and disdain
for the Arbitral Award in favor of the Philippines, no propaganda
can save it from the scorn of all the nations around the globe that
are still counting the deaths of their citizens due to its tortious,
if not malicious, breach of world health protocols.
After all this time, chances are China has already destroyed all
evidence - all the more reason to believe there was malice on its
Stephen L. Monsanto,
turned from Pearl of the Orient
To Sick man of Asia
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 2 June 2021
First Published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday 31 May
Despite serving three administrations, senior associate
justice Antonio T. Carpio didnt become chief justice.
Now retired, Citizen Tony is betting the credibility he has earned
by challenging Chinas false claims in the West Philippine
His new mission with 1Sambayan is to mobilize Filipino voters to
elect a true servant leader in the May 2022 elections.
Filipinos have been overtaken by neighbors who used to revere Asias
first democratic republic and sole Catholic nation.
Until the 1970s, the Philippines was much admired, even envied,
as Asias pacesetter.
But a series of bad leaders after Ramon Magsaysay turned the Pearl
of the Orient into the sick man of Asia,
and COVID-19 isnt helping the Philippine health and economy.
Thus, odds are stacked against 1Sambayan.
President Duterte still enjoys popular support and his anointed
successor will be hard to beat, considering the name recall, financial
resources, and campaign organization needed to win - and the fact
that opposition egos wont unite, even with 1Sambayans
But other factors are in play.
One more pandemic surge, if met by the same incompetent response
by lackeys like Duque and spokesmen like Roque, may be the straw
that breaks the camels back, galvanizing angry desertions
by the public.
Even the military might join in if a COVID-19 uprising brings economic
meltdown, since there appears to be no Duterte strategy to restart
The meteoric rise of community pantries shows that people power
could erupt any time.
If health and hunger keep oppressing patient Filipinos, a tipping
point could be reached soon.
Also, international tensions and digital disruptions add to uncertainty.
Chinas moves can spark a shooting war given the animosity
between Taipei and Beijing, and the competing claims over the West
The US, Europe, Japan, India, and Asean are all ready to block Chinese
moves that may block trade or risk an invasion of Taiwan or the
Disruptions wrought by artificial intelligence (AI) and other digital
technologies can dislocate economies and lead to desperate moves.
Mismanaged, the 2022 elections could involve Filipinos in a world
The potential for spontaneous combustion is too great.
We hope and pray that the servant leader sought by Carpio will emerge.
Jose Z. Osias,
million doses per month over six months
only inoculate 30 million Thai's
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 1 June 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday 31 May 2021
Re: "AstraZeneca jabs will be on time,"
in Bangkok Post 26 May 2021
Maybe it's time to put all of this planning, considering,
mulling, ordering and promising into some kind of perspective.
The first thing we need to do is stop talking about doses and start
talking about reality.
Each person will require two jabs.
So all this talk about 10 million doses per month over six months
from Siam Bioscience, in the long run, will only inoculate 30 million
Let's stop with all these inane promises and suggestions.
Inoculate 70 percent of Bangkok.
That's 7+ million people or 14+ million doses.
How about vaccinating 100 percent of Buri Ram Province.
That's 1.6 million people or 3.2 million doses.
Add to that sandboxes, walk-in shot clinics, Hua Hin, Phuket, and
who knows what else, and you've already used up three months' production
from Siam Bioscience, if they come through as promised.
democratic world condemns
in Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 31 May 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Saturday 29 May 2021
Re: "Cardinal appeals for end to killing,"
in Bangkok Post May 27, 2021.
When will the military regime led by General Min Aung Hlaing stop
killing innocent people?
Min Aung Hlaing is the military general who has used cowardly air
strikes on ethnic people.
The democratic world unequivocally condemns Min Aung Hlaing who
seized power from the elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi.
He seems to follow in the footsteps of previous dictators, Ne Win,
Sein Lwin, Saw Maung and Than Shwe.
The international community should not ignore the plight of Myanmar
and its people.
Myanmar people hope to receive assistance from the US, the UK, the
UN, Europe and democratic countries around the world to get their
elected government leader Aung San Suu Kyi free from the military
People have already lost respect for the military or army troops
that have killed innocent civilians.
Please help them.
Aung Chin Win,
No need for amendments
to the constitution
To make Papua New Guinea more Christian
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 30 May 2021
First published in the National, Thursday 27 May 2021
The Constitution is already sufficient in promoting
Christianity and any other religion for that matter, including our
Religions and denominations have coexisted for decades in Papua
New Guinea under the guidance of the Constitution.
There is absolutely no need for the Constitution to be amended to
make Papua New Guinea more Christian.
Making Papua New Guinea a Christian country via the Constitution
is totally irrelevant and a disproportionate attempt by our Government
in the face of current state of affairs in the country.
For such a constitutional amendment to be made that will have a
long-lasting impact in our society, there should be relational significant
events or situations in the country that would warrant such actions.
At the moment, there is nothing threatening our Christian faith,
except that our Government continues to steal from the people.
There are other more pressing issues that the Government should
be concerned about.
For instance; improving and strengthening the capacities of existing
State institutions to address pertinent issues of national concerns
such as corruption, lawlessness and environmental injustice to name
The risk of this proposition is that if it goes to pass, it will
set a disastrous ingredient in our Constitution that will have serious
implications in the future.
We do not know what ideals and values the Government have considered
or may consider to be Christian or to constitute Christianity.
For example; if the Government adopts all the values of one particular
denomination to be the true Christian values and legislate them
under this amendment, then in respect to question 4 of the consultation
questionnaire, there is a risk that certain practices and beliefs
of other denominations may be deemed un-Christian and, therefore,
people would be subjected to penalties through the courts.
Followers of traditional beliefs and practices may also become victims.
Given the lack of domestic jurisprudence on what constitutes acceptable
or recognised religious practices in Papua New Guinea, religious
violations, and its corresponding penalties, the enforcement and
adjudication of this would-be provision of the Constitution
is likely to be left open to arbitrary interpretations by the courts
and consequently, arbitrary retributions.
As such, it is safer to ensure this amendment in the first place
is not made.
As much as we want to be Christians or called Christians, it must
be through of our faith and by our deeds and not by a piece of legislation.
If the law is to enforce compliance with Christian values and principles,
what then would be the role of the church and the pastors?
The essence of evangelisation would then be lost, simply because
there would be less emphasis on the practice of faith by conviction,
self-reflection and spiritual connection to God.
It would be more a matter of compliance with the law and avoidance
Is that the kind of Christianity that the Government envisage?
Papua New Guinea
Bank of South Pacific
Listed on Australian securities exchange
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 29 May 2021
First published in the National, Wednesday 26 May 2021
The move by the Bank of South Pacific (BSP) to be
listed on the Australian securities exchange (ASX) is commended.
It is fitting to know that ASX is the eighth largest equity market
in the world.
It also the largest interest rate derivatives market in Asia.
For BSP to be listed is an implication of our banks expansion into
competitive market zones.
Credit goes to Bank of South Pacific (BSP) chairman Sir Kostas Constantinou
and chief executive Robin Fleming for your leadership in bringing
our local company to be listed on one of the largest security markets
in the world.
It is a move that I believe our citizens admire.
Sir Kostas previously announced that if the banks submission
to the ASX was approved, then Bank of South Pacific (BSP) shares
would be traded on PNGX and ASX.
Despite the financial threat that the Covid-19 pandemic has on our
emerging economy, Bank of South Pacific (BSP), with a strong leadership
team, have managed to perform exceedingly well.
Justin Max Undi
Papua New Guinea
Not for profit vaccines
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 28 May 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday 24 May 2021
Re: "Mission of misery", in
Bangkok Post PostBag, May 22.
In May 2020 a "not for profit" agreement was signed
between Oxford University and AstraZeneca, a joint British Swedish
company, to produce their Covid-19 vaccine "at cost".
It was also agreed that the technology would be shared worldwide
and that a "technology transfer service" would
be made available to any country where a viable manufacturer was
OU and AZ decided to forego the chance of making a huge profit,
as this was a humanitarian and charitable act.
And so Siam BioScience was selected in Thailand to produce and distribute
the OU/AZ vaccine in both Thailand and the region, and technology
and training were provided by AZ at cost.
Therefore it is sad to read yesterday's letter, "Mission of
misery", from Paul Williams, in which it is clear the government
is instructing hospitals to cut foreigners out of queues for vaccinations
on the ground that the limited supplies should be given to Thais
security coordination in Papua New Guinea
serious in constitutional duties
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 27 May 2021
First published in the National, Friday 14 May 2021
There appears to be a complacency in attitude displayed
by the key national security agencies.
While we understand that the challenges in the national security
coordination, its almost evident that the government security
coordination apparatus and the reporting is stuck in a myriad of
internal institutional politics, spilling over into the national
security scope, making it loo, as if everything has occurred because
of politics and the Governments lack of support.
My observation based on the general security attitude is that all
these security apparatuses and the institutions are not serious
in their constitutional duties.
Its now become more apparent that these instruments are not
supporting the Government and the prime minister properly.
It appears that decisions going to the prime minister through the
office of security coordination and assesment are not substantively
solid in the interest of the people, but structured to suit individual
That has to change for the good of this country.
Papua New Guinea
China to vaccinate its
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 26 May 2021
First published in Bangkok Post, Monday 24 May 2021
Re: "Govt rolls out three vaccine channels,"
in Bangkok Post May 21, 2021
Authorities have made it clear foreign nationals living and working
or retired in Thailand regardless of age and health condition are
a low priority for vaccination. Thai citizens are the main priority,
Now it seems the Chinese authorities have come to an agreement with
the Thai authorities to get up to 150,000 Chinese citizens living
and working in Thailand vaccinated.
This agreement seems to be based on China donating Chinese-made
vaccine which will allow Chinese citizens to be given priority for
It was reported that Chinese citizens started getting vaccinations
Many expats I know, like myself at age 70, are concerned about a
long wait to get vaccinated in Thailand.
Why can't the US, UK and EU come together and set up the same type
deal that China has made with Thailand.
If the US, UK and EU come together and donated vaccines to Thailand
this would improve the priority of US, UK and EU citizens to get
Myself, like all other expats I know, still pay taxes in our home
We need the US, UK and EU to come together and help get us vaccinated.
Overseas Filipino workers
Save Philippine economy
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 25 May 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 20 May
We have many government officials rewarded with high
salaries in government agencies and corporations, but what has the
government done to similarly reward overseas Filipino workers (OFWs)
whose dollar earnings have saved our struggling economy for many
They have suffered the loneliness of being far away from loved ones
for a long time. News reports of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs)
being victims of abuses by their foreign employers have become common.
As a result, many have returned home broken in body and spirit,
and the most unfortunate ones in coffins.
If our government bans the deployment of our workers in countries
with abusive employers, they would simply recruit workers from other
labor-exporting countries. Thus, it is time for our government to
ask the governments of other labor-exporting Asian countries to
join it in negotiating, as a group, with host-employer countries
for the protection of overseas workers and the punishment of abusive
employers. To prevent a common form of employer abuse, for instance,
they should be required to deposit in banks the salaries of overseas
Filipino workers (OFWs)
This will greatly prevent the nonpayment of workers salaries
by erring employers.
Marcelo L. Tecson,
Bonifacio Global City,
Thai gvernment under no
To save Thai Airways
Southeast Asian Times, Monday May 24, 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday May 19, 2021
Re: "State 'not obliged to save THAI",
in Bangkok Post, Monday May 17, 2021
I fully agree with THAI Acting President Chansin Treenuchagnon that
the government is under no obligation to save THAI, such as by putting
in more taxpayer funds or guaranteeing more loans or bonds.
The airline has been consistently losing money hand over fist when
its competitors were consistently profitable. It serves no national
purpose other than image - eg, PM Prayut correctly sent in a chartered
private carrier, not THAI - to evacuate Thais from Wuhan when Covid-19
We're desperately fighting the Covid-19 third wave, with the WHO's
director-general forecasting that worse is yet to come. Our government
coffers are running dry - and Thailand has now outpaced China in
the total number of Covid-19 cases. Surely we have not a satang
to spare for THAI.
The Finance Ministry should do all it can to facilitate matters
-but must not throw more taxpayer funds at it.
What will be, will be.
High time for Philippines
To grant amnesty to insurgents
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 23 May 2021
I applaud the House of Representatives for joining
President Rodrigo Duterte in granting amnesty to former rebels.
It is high time to grant amnesty to the country's main rebel groups,
including the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro
National Liberation Front (MNLF).
The majority of congressmen voted to pass resolutions supporting
Presidential Proclamations Nos. 1090, 1091, 1092, and 1093, which
offered amnesty to Muslim and communist insurgents who committed
crimes in the name of their political beliefs.
I am convinced that rebels need a second chance, and that this amnesty
would allow them to reintegrate into mainstream society under the
rule of law, including those who may have committed illegal acts.
I am sure that the Philippines will now maintain sustainable peace
thanks to the government's new initiative.
Denver Alex Ambrocio,
The Geneva of Asia
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 22 May 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday 19 May 2021
Re: "Implications of new draft law on NGOs",
in Bangkok Post Opinion, May 11, 2021
It is always useful to remind that Thailand has a long-held dream
to transform its capital into a second Geneva.
This community is larger and more diverse than in most countries,
because Bangkok is already a major United Nations diplomatic centre.
Diplomats have even nicknamed this city "the Geneva of Asia".
It is common knowledge that Bangkok is a major hub for multilateral
diplomacy, hosting a wide range of global and regional organisations.
There are all reasons to believe that after the Covid-19 pandemic
an already promising connection between the magic of multilateral
diplomacy and the City of Angels will be further strengthened by
an increasing number of prestigious global and regional conferences.
Nations to vote
On Arms supply
to Myanmar military
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 21 May 2021
UN to vote on halting Myanmar arms supply ( Canberra
Times 18/5 ) is good news for the people of Myanmar who have been
suffering brutal repression at the hands of their own military since
the military coup of February 2021.
Let's hope the 193 voting members do the right thing and stop the
arms supply to the rogue military.
Myanmar military proved
The enemy of the people
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 20 May 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday 19 May 2021
Re: "Myanmar issue a test for the govt",
Bangkok Post Editorial, May 16.
When it overthrew both the supreme law of their nation and the popular,
democratically elected government of the people, the out-of-control
Myanmar military proved itself the enemy of the people that it is
has for months now been assaulting both with weapons of war and
unjust law made up for that corrupt purpose.
Does the Bangkok Post's editor see not manifest parallels but significant
differences between the respective self-serving, self-enriching
and self-adulating sacred ones of Myanmar and Thailand?
Does the Bangkok Post's editor seriously expect so morally amazing
a Thai government as that of Prayut Chan-o-cha, who consistently
boasts a convicted heroin dealer elevated to high status in his
cabinet, to act according to any moral standard other than that
set these past seven years?
About genocide in West Papua
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 19 May 2021
First published in the National, Tuesday 6 April 2021
Over the years, armed clashes between the West Papua
National Liberation Army and Indonesian security forces have caused
the internal displacement of thousands of West Papuans.
Deadly attacks were repetitive in West Papua, inflicting suffering
on civilians who flee to the bushes to escape violence and raids
by Indonesian security forces.
In recent years, more West Papuans were brutally massacred for their
voice for independence.
Im deeply saddened by what our people across the border are
In recent years, there has been a series of deadly gun fire exchanges
in the highlands of Puncak Jaya, Nduga, Timika and Lanny Jaya.
The former Dutch colony has seen brutal bloodshed on for the sake
It is time to end the genocide.
West Papuans are humans.
It is worrying that Indonesias allies are silent about the
I urge countries from the Melanesian Spearhead Group to be more
vocal at the United Nations meeting in New York, United States
of America, come September.
Im also appealing to Indonesian President Joko Widodos
regime, through the Indonesian ambassador to Papua New Guinea, to
constructively address the grievances of West Papuans.
It is in line with Indonesias international human rights obligations
and the political commitments made in the Human Rights Councils
universal periodic review.
I am suggesting a renewal of calls for an independence referendum
amid repression in the Indonesian-ruled Melanesian province.
Justin Max Undi,
Papua New Guinea
Call for guidelines for
Covid-19 face masks in Malaysia
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 18 May 2021
First published in the Star, Saturday 15 May 2021
The wearing of face masks is a legal requirement in
public areas in Malaysia and around the world to control the spread
However, enforcement of the law on wearing face masks does not come
with instructions on how to dispose of them.
This is equally important not only to protect the environment but
also to curb the spread of the virus.
Waste management experts estimate that at least 10 million single-use
face masks are discarded daily in the country.
These masks cannot be recycled because they may be contaminated
and could potentially lead to indirect infections if they enter
the recycling system.
A large quantity of used masks end up on our roads and drains as
irresponsible people just discard them wherever they like.
Used masks must be placed in special bins and disposed in proper
places or incinerated.
The United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) has also advised
against open dumping or burning of medical waste, including face
masks, as this could cause serious health and environmental issues.
Hence, proper guidelines on how to dispose of masks must be circulated
widely to the public.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), face masks should
be discarded in the correct bin and not mixed
with general household waste.
The Brazilian Sanitary and Environmental Engineering Association
has come up with a guideline whereby used masks should be sealed
in two plastic bags, one inside another, before disposal.
As an extra precaution, when removing the mask, the user must ensure
that she/he touches only the elastic parts. Washing hands after
disposing of ones own mask is highly advisable.
A centralised waste collection system could also be enforced for
proper segregation at the household level.
This has been implemented in China.
It is important for the public to be aware that it is indeed a shared
responsibility among all to help stop the spread of the virus and
also to not incur or create a new issue along the way (environmental
pollution). It should start with the responsible disposal of masks.
The government, in particular the Environment and Water Ministry,
must play an active role in spreading awareness among the public
of the guidelines on proper disposal of face masks.
I call on the ministry concerned to not only spell out the rules/guidelines
but also allocate special bins to the local authorities for the
proper disposal of face masks.
Sri Lee Lam Thye,
Alliance For Safe Community,
Call for Papua New Guinea
take back PNG land from foreign nationals
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 17 May 2021
First published in the National, Friday 14 May 2021
Prime Minister James Marape should take back our land
from foreign nationals if he is really serious about taking back
Papua New Guinea.
Foreign nationals claiming to be title holders over land in Port
Moresby and others parts of the country are evicting Papua New Guineans
settling on vacant state land.
We are not from China or any other countries but we are treated
as foreigners in our own land by them.
So what does Take back PNG mean to Marape?
Why should a taxpayer living on state land be evicted by a foreigner?
I dont know if I can buy a piece of land in China or other
countries as I have never been outside of the country.
Many evictions have taken place over the years in Port Moresby and
other centres by foreigners in the pretext of development.
They have forced taxpayers out of their homes, school children out
of school and local small to medium enterprise (SME) operators out
What happened to the Governments settlements-to-suburbs plan?
Do we have a law that protects human rights?
I urge Papua New Guineans against voting in the next general elections
because the Government seems to be on their side and not ours.
It is their government, not ours.
Papua New Guinea
Buoys installed on Benham
Rise to assert
Philippine sovereignity over China incursions
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 16 May 2021
Although the Philippine rise is not a contested territory
unlike Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea, this should
not serve as reason for us to be complacent, since China is also
showing interest in the Philippine Rise, considering their ships
that have been spotted in the area in 2016 and during that time
the China Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that even UNCLOS is
in our favor, does not mean that the Philippine Rise is part of
They also named five underwater features in Philippine Rise implying
serious interest in that territory.
That is why the government's current move to install Modern lighted
ocean buoys at the Philippine Rise or Benham Rise is very important,
as the country faces challenges to its maritime territory between
In 2017, President Duterte said that he had ordered the military
to put up structures to assert the countrys sovereignty in
But, while we have not yet been able to construct structures, these
buoys will serve as a strong significant marker that these maritime
areas are part of the Philippine territory and it will heighten
our defense and claims to the Philippine Rise riches before
its too late.
According to the Philippine Coast Guard 10 modern buoys that were
designed and manufactured by the international marine aids to navigation
company Mediterraneo Señales Maritimas in Valencia, Spain
would be installed in the Philippine Rise.
The Benham rise was officially part of the Philippine Territory
after it was approved by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea
(UNCLOS) in 2012 and later renamed as Philippine Rise pursuant to
Executive Order 25 on May 16, 2017.
I hope that the governments actions over Philippine Rise even
the regular maritime air patrol and maritime surveillance of the
Armed Forces will continue to safeguard our maritime territory from
foreign incursions as well as protect our fishermen in the area
and secure their livelihood.
Thailand 5th in ASEAN
In Covid-19 vaccination per 100 people
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 15 May 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Thursday 13 May 2021
Re: "PR campaign to boost trust in Covid-19
vaccination," in Bangkok Post, May 11, 2021.
Lampang province has outshone all other provinces save Bangkok in
registering those aged over 60 with underlying illnesses for vaccination
Prime Minister Prayut, Minister Anutin and Lampang governor Narongsak
Osotthanakorn should work hand in glove to apply and adapt the Lampang
Lampang residents report that Governor Narongsak opened a hotline
for senior citizens so officials could help them register - which
was a big help for the elderly, who are often not very IT-conversant.
Also, this service was open until midnight!
Volunteers reached out to those to help to sign them up.
Many residents reported that they registered because they trusted
Governor Narongsak - so he and local celebrities could star in the
government's publicity campaign.
We're now 5th among the 10 Asean countries in terms of Covid-19
doses per 100 people, and vaccination is proceeding at a snail's
Sovereign rights over
West Philippine Sea
waved by President Duterte
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 13 May 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday 11 May
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana is obviously in
over his head when it comes to the countrys security issues
with China over the West Philippine Sea (WPS). Though admirable
for his sense of patriotism PH can be cordial with other
nations but not at the expense of sovereignty - Lorenzana,
in Philippine Inquirer May 2, 2021, his comments only have the effect
of raising eyebrows or dropping jaws, or both.Lrezanas credibility
is shot through and through in the face of his own commander in
chiefs oft-repeated pronouncements about our defense being
inutil to stop China from its acts of aggression
in the WPS.
Whatever is left of our sovereign rights over
those waters have been virtually waived by President Duterte, who
has thrown himself into the clutches - and mercy - of Chinese President
With Mr. Duterte exclusively dictating the terms of engagement
with China, nothing there may be worth defending anymore.
Should Lorenzana just resign to preserve his honor and integrity?
That sacrifice should send the message to all Filipinos - the ones
he has sworn to serve and protect - that Mr. Duterte has got it
all wrong: that war with almighty China is the only fate awaiting
us if he said no to Xi.
Democratic Taiwan has been saying no to communist China for decades
and still lives to this day to continue saying no!
How sad that Taiwans woman President Tsai Ing-wen seems to
have more balls than our macho president.
Rose Anne Bartolome,
Call for international
community to protect
The people of Myanmar from military repression
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 13 May 2021
Myanmar military declaration of groups opposed to
their takeover of the democratically elected civilian government
as " terrorist groups " is pure hogwash ( ' Myanmar
military declares groups against takeover of elected government
" terrorist groups" The Southeast Asian Times 12 May
The whole world (minus the Chinese state hierarchy ) know only too
well who are the real terrorist in Myanmar.
It's the Myanmar military which has no regard for the rule of law,
for democratic processes and governance and respect for human rights
and citizens rights in the country.
They have foisted rule by terror on the people of Myanmar.
They should rightfully be deemed a " terrorist group"
and not fit to be called a national military which serves and
protects the people.
It's a self- serving armed group which rules through the barrel
of the gun. It's the same as a terrorist group holding a country
The Myanmar military fools no one with its spurious claim that those
opposed to the military takeover are " terrorists".
It's a pretext to round up dissenting voices and even to summarily
execute opponents of the illegitimate military junta.
The international community must not allow this to happen. It must
protect the people of Myanmar from military repression.
More lawyers killed in
Philippines under President Duterte
under Presidents Marcos, Arroyo and Aquino
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 12 May 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday 10 May
The recent report from the Free Legal Assistance Group
(FLAG) on lawyers killed in the Philippines has been widely reported
in the media.
Unfortunately the report is flawed by its historical revisionism.
Whether intended or not, it cannot serve the purpose of understanding
the problem and attempting to deal with it adequately.
The basic flaw in the FLAG report is the claim that there were relatively
few lawyer killings, 28, from the Marcos martial law period (1972)
to the end of the second Aquino presidency (2010).
These numbers are wide off the mark.
My research in the pre-Duterte period focuses on the terms of President
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (2001-2010) and Benigno Aquino III (2010-2016).
Under Arroyo, there were at least 78 killings, almost three times
that reported by FLAG from 1972-2010.
Under Aquino, there were at least 41 killings compared to the 1
asserted by FLAG.
From that basic flaw comes the incorrect assertion by FLAG that
there have been more lawyer killings, 61, under President Duterte
than under the previous six presidents.
One thing FLAG got right is that the intensity of lawyer killings
is highest under the present regime.
My research indicates that under Mr. Duterte the rate is about 1.1
lawyer killed per month, compared to Arroyo (.68 ) and Aquino (.57).
Monitoring Committee on Attacks on Lawyers
International Association of Peoples Lawyers
for re entry permit
For China's rocket return to earth
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 11 May 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday 9 May 2021
Re: "Returning rocket will be safe",
in Bangkok Post May 8, 2021
Somebody should tell the Chinese Ministry of Foreign
Affairs that by allowing its rocket to crash on Earth, China is
interfering in the internal affairs of whatever country it lands
The nations of the world must rebuff and condemn this outrageous
violation of their sovereignty.
The rocket doesn't even have a re-entry permit, much less a visa.
I call upon UN Secretary-general Antonio Guterres to summon Chinese
Foreign Minister Wang Yi give him a proper dressing-down.
Should the rocket cause any damage to people or property, the Chinese
government must be subjected to severe sanctions.
Philippine President Rodrigo Dutere promise
reclaim the West Philippine Sea or not
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 10 May 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 7 May 2021
Who can forget the statement of then-Mayor Rodrigo
Duterte bragging that he would ride a jet ski and plant the Philippine
flag at the Spratly Islands?
Now he is saying he did not promise that he will reclaim the West
Philippine Sea. What is the meaning of planting the Philippine flag
Does it not mean asserting our rights over the islands?
If the President claims he did not promise anything about the West
Philippine Sea, it either proves he is a liar and he deceived the
people just to win the election in 2016, or he does not think thoroughly
and carefully before saying anything.
It is similar to his promise that he would solve the drug problem
in six months. Many were mesmerized and thought he would achieve
But it was all hot air.
Raffy Rey Hipolito,
Thai jailed in Australia
on drug charges is serving as
Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 9 May 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday 5 May 2021
Re: "Charter court rules Thamanat qualified
to serve as MP", Bangkok Post, May 5.
The Bangkok Post reported - as had been expected - that "the
sentence handed down by a New South Wales court in Australia is
not binding on Thailand.
"Therefore, Mr Thamanat is still qualified to be an MP and
a cabinet member under the constitution, the court ruled."
Folks, don't let the news mislead you that Thamanat did not commit
The court merely ruled that his conviction in Australia cannot be
used to constitutionally disqualify him from political posts.
The ruling literally means that even if a Thai national was convicted
of rape and murder in a foreign country, the conviction cannot be
used to bar him from serving as an Mwmber of Parliament, cabinet
member, or prime minister.
Let's go back to Thamanat.
''Newspaper in Australia reported that he had been jailed there
for four years on a drugs charge.''
As a result, the media can rightly refer to Thamanat as Deputy Agriculture
and Cooperatives Minister ... and a convicted drug dealer.
The Australia government
has done the right thing
Visa's to Myanmar nationals
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 8 May 2021
I applaud the government's decision to grant visa
extensions to Myanmar nationals living in Australia ( abc news 5/5
As someone who has come from a serial coup country I know only too
well what the extension would mean for the Myanmar people living
in Australia in light of the brutal military takeover in their home
country on February 1, 2021.
They would be exceedingly grateful.
The Australian government has done the right thing in this instance
and that has to be acknowledged with deep appreciation.
To defend national territory
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 7 May 2021
Much has been said about the West Philippine Sea situation,
and it is past time to remind everyone that this issue needs cooperation
from all parties involved.
It cannot be carried out solely by the Philippine Defense Department
and Armed Forces.
I agree with Secretary Delfin Lorenzana's comment that the Philippines
will continue to cooperate and be friends with China, but not at
the detriment of our sovereign rights.
This issue should be free of political overtones.
We're all interested in this.
We only have one country.
Now is not the time for squabbling; now is the time to work together.
Now is the time to send one clear message- defend the national territory.
Chiwarak has been on a hunger strike
In Bangkok Remand prison since his arrest
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 6 May 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Tuesday4 May 2021
Re: "Dept denies 'Penguin' seriously ill",
in Bangkok Post, April 30, 2021
How is it that an individual can go from Olympic-athlete measures
of vital signs related to blood pressure, temperature, heart rate
and oxygen saturation one day to a hospital bed the next?
The public is clearly being misled with respect to the condition
of imprisoned protest leader Parit "Penguin" Chiwarak.
After-effects of Covid-19
Will haunt Thailand for years
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 5 May 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday 3 May 2021
Re: "Vaccine bond answer?"
in Bangkok Post, Saturday
May 1, 2021
I commend Pony Issacsohn for an intriguing and innovative
economic initiative which could boost Thailand's prospects in fighting
Covid-19 and reopening the economy.
Alas, even if such a grandiose plan were successful, history shows
that the after-effects from Covid-19 in Thailand will probably haunt
the nation for years.
Looking back to 1918, medical after-effects from the Spanish Flu
carried on for decades and probably contributed to a premature end
The Great Depression in 1929 and the 30s elicited massively accelerated
social change and policy changes which really only started to ebb
in the 1990s and early 2000s. Clearly, such social effects shall
occur again now.
Moreover, the entire world including Thailand is soon to contend
with a "lost generation" of young people whose education
is probably damaged beyond repair; thus it will handicap their future
university and corporate opportunities, led to mountains of bad
debt, decimated businesses and lives already shattered.
Alas, while I commend the writer for a lovely dream, our reality
shall simply be an inevitable 100-year nightmare.
Jason A Jellison,
are now beyond America and China
Human extintion has already started
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 4 May 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday 3 May 2021
Re: "Kissinger warns of 'colossal'
dangers in US-China tensions", in Bangkok Post May 1,
Yes, engagement with China is necessary. American politics and policies
are partly responsible for the current situation.
For most of the last century, American politicians have referred
to "communism" as an eternal threat to their country.
Even in 2021, Cuba, a small island nation, is being punished for
More recently, al-Qaeda, the Taliban, the Islamic State, and ordinary
Muslims and Mexicans have been used as scapegoats and blamed for
its social problems and declining power.
As long as US elections are fought by creating external enemies,
it will remain embroiled in its own quagmire.
Sadly, Mr Kissinger's thinking is still rooted in the past.
One thing is for sure, the era of being a superpower based on nuclear
arsenal is over.
The nuclear weapons laced with AI are not a big threat.
Hence turning China into another enemy will not go very far.
The "colossal" dangers are now beyond America and
Bigger dangers are already here environmental degradation and the
These intertwined dangers require a new approach in diplomacy.
The process of human extinction has already started.
More than one-fifth of the global population is infected with the
Covid virus and more than three million people have already died.
The pace of environmental degradation is also taking its toll.
Hence all nations should be spending more money and efforts on education,
medical research, infrastructure, waste management, water and food
security, emergency response systems, and healthcare.
More than ever, diplomacy should be focused on global collaboration
The erosion of public
faith in Thai Buddhism
Due to repeated scandals is a sign of hope
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 3 May 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday 28 April 2021
Re: "Temple corruption erodes public faith",
in Bangkok Post, Opinion,
While I appreciated Thanthip Srisuwannaket's timely essay making
constructive suggestions for the salvation of Thai Buddhism from
itself, some deeper reforms might also be worth considering.
The clue is in Thanthip's first sentence: "As corruption
soars in predominantly Buddhist Thailand, its temples are also facing
a serious erosion of public faith due to rife corruption in the
closed, non-transparent clergy."
The fact is that as popular as it might be, it is false to claim
that Thailand is predominantly Buddhist.
It is not.
Thailand does not live according to the wise insights of the Buddha.
On the contrary, it lives under the tradition-bound, legalistic
sway of a religion known as "Thai Buddhism".
This religion was made up over the centuries to serve an elite who
wanted another prop for their ideology of control by legalism.
Thai Buddhism thus reflects too well the status quo of many decades,
if not centuries, that remains rampant.
Relevant to Thanthip's points, one example of the respect unreasonably
accorded monks of the nationalistic religion known as Thai Buddhism
is their treatment when found guilty of crimes, such as financial
corruption to steal public money.
They are disrobed.
This is wrong.
It is a manifestation of moral corruption, of dishonesty, that has
no place in a genuine respect for the Buddha's teachings.
It falsely pretends that monks cannot be criminals, that monks are
somehow holier than others: a manifestly false prejudice.
Going through a ceremony and putting on saffron robes does not make
anyone more moral, more decent or a more respectable person than
they were the day before, or than they will be the day after they
exit the monkhood.
What, really, is merit making according to the preaching of Thai
It is the trade in merit to get a better deal in the next life,
either for the devotee who contributes to the temple or does suitable
But for the rich of Thai society, as for the rich of medieval Europe,
the surest path to salvation in the next world is a generous donation
to a monastery, or even to a revered monk himself.
It is the corruption of the karmic bureaucracy by money or other
Naturally, when this example is entrenched at the heart of the national
religion, endorsed for centuries by those who profit from it, finally,
devout Buddhists sincerely believed in, and repeated the same attitude.
But as the Christian Reformation and later Enlightenment showed,
and as Thanthip Srisuwannaket optimistically suggests, reform is
I would suggest that a concrete step to help Thai Buddhism become
more Buddhist would be to put the Buddha's brilliant's teaching
known as Kalama Sutta in a prominent position in spreading true
Regular reading of and reflection on the Kalama Sutta could do much
to counter the too pervasively anti-Buddhist deference that make
people easily believe in authority merely because it is authority,
whether based on tradition, popular social consensus, accident of
birth, official position, or whatever.
None of these, as the Buddha bluntly reminds us, are inherently
reliable guides to right understanding; all should be constantly
subject to critical review and questioning, along with temple finances.
Seen in the right light, the erosion of public faith in Thai Buddhism
due to repeated scandals is a sign of hope.
It can lead to a reformation of Thai Buddhism so that Thailand might
indeed one day become a predominantly truly Buddhist nation.
Call for good hearted
help India in out of control pandemic
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 2 May 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post
Re: "India reports record spike in infections,"
in Bangkok Post April
Surely there must be some way that the wealthy countries, the US,
Canada, Australia, the UK and Europe can rush surplus medical oxygen
supplies to India.
I am Australian, I have heard nothing about supplies coming from
Too many people are dying, despite the fact they could be saved
in the first place.
I can only hope that people who work in the embassies read the Bangkok
Post. Such an operation should already be underway and I feel terribly
I have been visiting India from Australia and Thailand for the last
40 years, so what I see happening there now is very real to me.
This may seem a very naive contribution but what else can I say?
There must be some way this can be organised.
for investigation into fishy land deals
Papua New Guinea
published in the National, Monday 26 April 2021
The Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 31 April 2021
There was a notice in The National on page 39 on April
21, issued by the Lands and Physical Planning Minister John Rosso
under section 122 of the Land Act 1996.
The notice was addressed to FTM Holdings Ltd to show cause on why
the State lease should not be forfeited as it had failed to comply
with the conditions of the agreement.
But while this notice was published in the media, a private company
implicated in the recent National Housing Corporations evictions
in Lae fenced the property perimeters.
The property is now subject to being forfeited.
Why is this development allowed?
As per the notice, the property is owned by FTM Holdings Ltd so
how can another company be allowed by the Morobe physical planning
board to fence the land?
People in Lae know that this property was a single-quarters government
hostel occupied by young male public servants.
It is quite surprising as to how this government-owned property
is under FTM Holdings Ltd.
How did FTM Holdings Ltd obtain a lease over the property in the
Was the property properly advertised in the government gazette as
available for leasing?
Under what land board meeting was this property deliberated upon
for the grant to have been made to FTM Holdings Ltd?
Did FTM Holdings Ltd buy it from someone else?
Something fishy is going on with this land.
What is the motive behind this?
For those who are unfamiliar with the nature of forfeitures, after
the expiry of one month given to show cause, if the response is
insufficient to the ministers satisfaction, the forfeiture
process is commenced by gazetting the forfeiture in the government
After the above gazettal, the land then goes back to the State and
The ongoing fishy deal raises concerns of corruption and should
be looked into.
Papua New Guinea
difficult to see what superpower is source
in the region
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 30 April 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesay 28 April 2021
Re: "US not entrapping,"
in Bangkok Post, PostBag, April 22
Kuldeep Nagi is absolutely correct in pointing out that most of
the potential flashpoints in Asia are the result of high-handed
Chinese policies and actions.
With China's aggressive illegal attempts at hegemony in the South
China Sea in direct violation of international law, strong-arm bullying
of neighbours, trampling of human rights in Xinjiang, Tibet and
Hong Kong, debt-trapping tactics under the Belt and Road Initiative,
and disregard for downstream Mekong livelihoods through dam-building
and mismanagement of water resources, it is not difficult to see
what superpower is the source of instability in the region.
ASEAN leaders lack spine
for not refusing
Myanmar military attendance ASEAN meeting.
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 29 April 2021
When I first heard it - this talk of Southeast Asian
leaders reaching consensus with Myanmar's military coup leader on
ending violence in that troubled country - I knew straightaway that
it was bogus, false, and a con.
Now with the media report saying a man was shot dead by Myanmar's
security forces two days after that " consensus" proclamation
by ASEAN ( ' 'Myanmar forces kill protester : media ' Canberra Times
27/4/21 ), I know why I felt it was bogus and dubious from the very
But it should come as no surprise. Rogue rulers often even game
the United Nations mob!
Reaching a consensus on ending violence with the very military usurper
and perpetrator of the violence with his brutal military takeover
of the elected civilian government and violent crackdown and killing
of protesters opposed to military rule is absurd, hypocritical and
It only showed the ASEAN leaders lacked the spine to do the right
thing by the oppressed people of Myanmar by rejecting the military
dictator's presence at the ASEAN meeting.
Shame on them.
Call for ASEAN not to
Nations approach towards Myanmar
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 28 April 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Tuesday 27 April 2021
Asean had been lied to after the bloody 1988 people's
uprising, the 1990 election where the National League for Democracy
(NLD) won, and then this coup.
These are solid proof that the Myanmar military does not care about
elections and does not have ethics.
Being lied to once means the liar was good, twice means that the
person on the receiving end was not that careful and third time
means he was stupid to believe it.
In the meantime the people suffer.
We state to Asean that your judgement of the Myanmar military is
wrong and the approach it is taking to seek a solution is wrong.
Most importantly the people should not be made to suffer more.
Asean is reminded to look back at the approach they took for successive
coups and the results, and stay away from the worn-out approach
of "there needs to be a line of communication open".
There are lines directly open with the UN, and Asean must not block
the UN's approach.
This movement is not about one political party, one ethnic nationality,
nor one class of people.
It is about getting together to get rid of a dictatorship from its
roots and starting again from zero.
There is rule of law in the world and we will prevail.
President of Confederation of Trade Unions,
Thailand ranks 8th out
of 10 ASEAN countries
In percentage of population vaccinated
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 27 April 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday 26 April 2021
Re: "Pata calls for urgent vaccination strategy,"
in Bangkok Post, 23 April 2021.
Thailand made an all-time high: we had 2,839 new Covid-19 cases
yesterday. Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) chief executive
Mario Hardy said, "The Thai vaccination rate needs to be
at least 10 times faster than the current rate", for we
rank 8th out of 10 Asean countries in terms of percentage of population
Yet Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul insists, "The delivery
of vaccine is according to plan."
But Minister Anutin is the owner of Sinothai Construction, the contractor
of the long-delayed construction of our new parliament building.
The construction started in earnest in 2013, with the deadline for
opening in 2015. So, don't rely on Minister Anutin's promises.
This acceptance of poor performance is a direct result of widespread
corruption which we dare not confront.
For example, the current super-spreader, originating from nightclubs
in Thong Lor district, is due in large part to:
Six members of the elite who went to Cambodia and didn't quarantine
Two nightclubs that flouted health regulations and whose owners
have gone unpunished;
Political leaders, like the minister who tested positive for Covid-19
and refused to disclose his detailed timeline as required and the
Deputy Prime Minister who let the above minister get away with it;
The police who turned a blind eye to the mischief going on under
You and me, who let the bigwigs in uniform get away with it. We
sow the wind, we reap the whirlwind.
As Khun Samanea Saman in his April 23 letter noted, "From
all that I'm hearing from politicians and officials, it's time to
be worried - very worried!"
for Philippine President Duterte to step down
China invasion of West Philippine Sea
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 26 April 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 23 April
In the news item More netizens join call
for Dutertes resignation in Philippine Inquirer
April 20, 2021, more than 60,000 signatures - and still counting
- are said to be supporting the call for President Duterte to step
down due to his administrations dismal performance vis-à-vis
the pandemic and Chinas almost total invasion of the West
Philippine Sea, which now seems irreversible because of his own
declaration to the whole world that he is inutil
to do anything about it.
While that number may seem too insignificant to raise any alarm,
there is no gainsaying the fact that this administration has really
messed up its handling of COVID-19 and Chinas continued occupation
of the West Philippine Sea.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roques constant praise of
this administrations excellent job in any
aspect of governance is making people think the blabbermouth now
badly needs professional help for seeing things only
he can see.
And in response to the so-called fake news that
some military men planned to withdraw their support
Duterte says hes willing to step down if military, police
no longer support him, in Philippine Inquirer April 20,
2021, Mr. Duterte has made it clear that he really doesnt
give a hoot about what the netizens or the Filipino
people think as long as he has the military and the police under
his total control, not to mention the supposed assurance of his
beloved friend Chinese President Xi Jinping that
hes got his back.
During his first years as president, Mr. Dutertes focus seemed
mainly on how to keep himself in power.
He did what any two-bit dictator would do: doubling or tripling
the salaries of military and police personnel - the ones with the
And after their retirement, he kept them happy with lucrative jobs
under his continued control.
Its no wonder their loyalty is to him, rather than to the
This is exactly the same playbook the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos
had used to stay in power beyond his legitimate term.
But Mr. Duterte should realize that despite Marcos pampering
of and iron grip on the military and the police throughout martial
law, Edsa 1 happened.
Dino M. Capistrano,
Call for Thailand to grant
To the private sector to import vaccines
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 25 April 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday 23 April 2021
I would just like to point out the obvious here.
There are approximately 1,500 hospitals in Thailand, not counting
If each hospital can vaccinate 1,000 people per day which is not
an unreasonable number under the circumstances, that would result
in 1,500,000 people vaccinated per day or 45 million in a month.
We would be back to semi-normal within a month.
So what's the hold-up?
Because the authority has not granted permits to the private sector
to import vaccines, there are not enough vaccines in general.
Look at the US as an example.
On December 11, 2020 the US Food and Drug Administration issued
the first emergency use authorisation (EUA) for a vaccine for the
prevention of coronavirus disease.
The EUA allowed the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 Vaccine to be distributed
in the US.
That jump-started a far and wide vaccination programme.
Enough people have been vaccinated, of all ages and races, and that
has created enough data and samples to give a statistically significant
conclusion that all current approved Covid-19 vaccines are safe
Does the Thai FDA consider our current Covid-19 situation an emergency?
ML Saksiri Kridakorn,
Call for ASEAN to reject
Military rogue ruler from ASEAN meeting
Southeast Asian Times. Saturday 24 April 2021
I agree with David Brown ( Letter SEAT 22/4 ).
Myanmar's rogue military ruler General Min Aung Hliang should not
be invited to the ASEAN meet in Jakarta. He has no legitimacy .
An Interpol Red Notice should instead be posted for his arrest for
the slaughter of his own people to maintain his illegitimate hold
Members of ASEAN should show some spine and do the right thing by
rejecting the rogue rulers presence at the ASEAN meeting in Jakarta.
If anyone from Myanmar is to be invited it should be the NUG as
David Brown points out.The oppressed people of Myanmar deserve nothing
President Duterte speaks of Police
As if Police are his personal bodyguards
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 24 April 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer Thursday 22 April
The editorial Brute display of power
in Philippine Inquirer April 14, 2021 detailed recent incidents
of brutality against suspects regardless of the severity of their
This is the behavior emboldened by a tough-talking President who
puts justice into his own hands.
The President has made it a point to speak of the police as if they
are his own personal bodyguard to deploy at whim.
We have seen and heard the Philippine National Police say time and
again that it will do internal cleansing every
time a new chief takes the helm.
As commentators would say, lumang tugtugin na yan!
How can we even trust the institution when its current chief, who
himself violated simple health protocols during the first enhanced
community quarantine, was not even reprimanded, let alone sanctioned
for his clear mischief?
How can we exact the same standard on ordinary Filipinos when the
police can easily flex their muscle and brand any good reasoning
by citizens as resisting arrest or disobedience?
When every bit of law is stretched and used against helpless individuals
while it is conveniently waived for those in power?
What iota of trust do we have left for law enforcers who are supposed
to serve and protect us?
These cases of abuse are not unique to the Philippines. In many
countries, the abuse of police power is also rampant.
And who are the victims?
The poor, the voiceless, the marginalized, the oppressed.
The line our parents told us, Hala ka, huhulihin ka ng
pulis, was not merely a work of fiction.
Edward Joseph H. Maguindayao,
Treated radioactive discharge
Will not effect anyone healthwise
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 23 April 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post Wednesday 21 April 2021
We live in a nuclear-powered universe and nuclear
radiation is all around all the time.
There is additional radiation measured in sea water from Fukushima
but the levels are extremely low compared to natural sources.
It is important for people to understand that low levels of radiation
don't affect us because we're exposed to it all the time.
This is a communication problem, not a public health problem.
Discharges from Fukushima will not affect anyone healthwise and
there are reports that surfers have returned to the area.
It is important to know that prior to 2011, there was already cesium-137
in the ocean remaining from atmospheric nuclear weapons testing
that peaked in the 1960s.
Today, levels above 2.0 becquerels per cubic metre (Bq/m3) in the
surface ocean, indicate additional cesium from the Japanese releases.
Levels are still well below regulatory limits of 7,400 Bq/m3 set
for drinking water (US EPA).
By my calculations, even if levels increased to 10 Bq/m3, swimming
eight hours every day for an entire year, would only increase one's
annual dose by an amount 1,000 times less than a single dental X-ray.
The marine biosphere is much less sensitive to radioactive contamination
than the terrestrial biosphere.
This is due to: (1) shielding by water, (2) the huge mass and volume
available for dilution and (3) suppression by non-radioactive isotopes
that are omnipresent in seawater in high concentrations. Natural
radioactivity, notably from polonium, is a much larger contributor
to the radiation dose of sea life and indirectly also to humans.
for National Unity Government in Myanmar
To be invited to ASEAN summit on Saturday
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 22 April 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday 21 April 2021
The news that Myanmar's Senior General Min Aung Hlaing
will attend the Asean summit in Jakarta is distressing news, not
only for the suffering people of Myanmar, but for the credibility
- or what is left of it - of Asean itself.
By giving this mass murderer a platform at the summit, Asean is
giving de facto recognition to a regime that since it illegally
seized power on February 1 has killed more than 700 of its own citizens,
and the bodycount continues to rise.
Prime Minister Prayat Chan-o-cha and Min Aung Hlaing are too much
like kindred spirits for anyone to expect Thailand to take a stand
on this issue.
But how about Indonesia taking a stand and refusing to allow this
tyrant to land on its territory?
Or other members of Asean who might have with some some remnants
of dignity of propriety left, boycotting the summit.
What should happen is that representatives of the shadow NUG should
be invited to the summit. They have far more legitimacy as representatives
of the Myanmar people than Min Aung Hlaing.
seniors promised AstraZeneca
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 20 April 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday 19 April
As long-time Makati residents and business owners,
my wife and I have always been supportive of the Binays as leader
of our beloved city, from the time of Jojo Binay, and now his youngest
child, the hardworking Mayor Abby.
And we were so happy when she announced that we seniors after the
frontline health workers would be vaccinated with AstraZeneca after
it got the highest vote in a preference poll they conducted last
Our high spirits turned to disappointment, however, when, upon showing
up at the San Lorenzo Gym for our scheduled vaccination on April
13, we were told that we would be jabbed with Sinovac instead of
the promised brand.
We, along with a good number of San Lorenzo Village residents, decided
to walk out.
Why would we settle for a brand that has the lowest efficacy rate
among the World Health Organization-approved vaccines?
And Sinovac is not recommended for seniors!
As dutiful taxpayers, we wont settle for nothing less than
the best vaccine, because:
We dont believe in the quality of Sinovac and the intention
that comes with it from the Chinese government;
We are holding Mayor Abby to her promise.
San Lorenzo Village,
has fearlessly maintained
Protest against military takeover
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 20 April 2021
The people of Myanmar demonstrate the Plato quote
" Courage is knowing what not to fear ".
They have fearlessly maintained their protest against the military
takeover of the elected civilian government and are demanding the
restoration of democracy despite the brutal fascist military crackdown.
That's pure courage in facing tyranny without fear.
presence in office required
Despites approval of virtual AGM's
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 19 April 2021
First published on the Bangkok Post, Thursday 15 April 2021
While the government and stock exchange have graciously
approved virtual AGMs, protecting both shareholders and boards,
there are still processes that require physical presence at the
office at this time, such as sorting through paper proxies.
Thus, even if offices are being closed to protect employees, certain
members of staff are required to go in to deal with paperwork that
is still a requirement of the exchange and other authorities.
So many documents for the government and quasi-government institutions
are still required on paper, while the technology to digitalise
them is commonly available. No doubt plans are afoot to transform
the government over time, but we now know that the virus waits for
Any acceleration of this digitalisation would be welcomed by all
Papua New Guinea can never
be like China and India
Unless entrenched corruption in government
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 17 April 2021
First published in the National, Friday 16 April 2021
As late as the 60s and 70s, China and India were largely
at the backwater, illiterate in Western standards and poverty-stricken
with their respective governments grapping to contain and sustain
their huge population scattered over large land masses.
Today, they are a far-cry from that scenario and rubbing shoulders
with the Western world.
Both came up with the Covid-19 vaccine ahead of most advanced countries,
typifying innovated break-through in medical science.
Chinas Sinovac Biotech came up with Coronavac, while Indias
Bharat Biotech discovered Covaxin.
What is their magic formula that triggered advancements in science
It is the advancement in education, mass industrialisation, innovative
infrastructures and improvements in governance.
All these factors can transform any nations status and outlook.
Massive reforms have revolutionised these countries to what they
The human factor at the helm of societal structure makes all else
Mass education entails acquisition of knowledge and skills.
Of course, advancement comes through hard work but it is achievable
as long as the political will is there.
India and China have set a glaring paradigm for Papua New Guinea
to learn from.
However, unless we eliminate the deeply entrenched corruption in
our political and bureaucratic systems and embrace good governance,
we can never ever hope to be like China and India.
Papua New Guinea
Call for Philippine President
To be role model for children
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 17 April 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 16 April
So after two weeks of being missing in action and
engaging in his usual disappearing act, the President has finally
Not bothered a bit by his Houdini-style leadership,
President Duterte even justified his action: Noong nawala
ako ng ilang araw, talagang sinadya ko yun. Pag kinakalkal mo ako,
parang bata, pag lalo mo akong kinakantyawan e mas lalo akong gagana
Is this the president of a republic, or a spoiled brat?
Mr. Dutertes actuations, demeanor, and overall conduct are
unworthy of the Office of the President.
Instead of talking about the problems of the nation, he utilized
his time-tested technique of engaging in diversion.
Millions of our countrymen are unemployed and a great number have
lost their jobs and income due to the Enhanced Community Quarantine
(ECQ), but rather than using his power and virtual platform to unite
the people and give them hope and inspiration, the President instead
once again threw a tantrum.
"Dear President Duterte,
At home, we are told to respect one another. There are words that
we are not allowed to say. Sometimes I hear you on television. I
am shocked at how you curse and badmouth others. As president, dont
you think you should be a role model for good manners and right
conduct? I hope that you will change your attitude. Then maybe I
will respect you more.
I believe it is the right time for Filipinos to call out Mr. Duterte
and his enablers, to tell them that enough is enough.
If they cannot do their jobs, it is time for them to come clean.
In this time of crisis, what we need are leaders who will tell us
the truth and do the right thing.
The truth, in fact, is that the emperor has no clothes, and the
right thing for him to do is to resign.
Jose Mario De Vega,
University of the Philippines,
Call for Philippines to
lean on US
Against China's bullying
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 16 April 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 15 April
In the news item Row over Chinese vessels
wont hurt ties, COVID-19 vaccines supply - Duterte
in Philippine Inquirer April 7, 2021 we saw presidential spokesperson
Harry Roque having another field day lying through his teeth:
The row would be resolved through diplomatic channels and
The so-called expert in international law has
conveniently forgotten that the Philippines had already done that
at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague.
Nothing could be more diplomatic and peaceful
The Philippines won, but China simply sneezed at the arbitral judgment
declaring its claim over numerous islands in the West Philippine
Sea to be more imagined than real. China continued to build, build,
build on those islands while President Duterte continued to adore
Chinese President Xi Jinping and cautioned everyone in this country
against displeasing his best friend who, in his
mind, would go to war against the Filipinos at the slightest provocation.
What a friend, indeed!
Roque must think Filipinos are hopelessly dumb and cannot tell when
he is lying -which he does all the time to cover up his boss
reckless and indecorous utterances.
Talking diplomacy with China is like talking good manners with Attila
In geopolitics, the only way to deter a bullying superpower like
China from its ever-increasing aggression is for the Philippines
to lean on a greater superpower like the United States.
How else has Taiwan survived more than 70 years of mainland Chinas
continuing threat of invasion if not for its very cozy and well-entrenched
relations with the United States?
Arnulfo M. Edralin,
Thai Hotels profit from
alternative state quarantine (ASQ) programme
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 15 April 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post. Monday 12 April 2021
Re: "Rebranding for post-virus tourism",
in Bangkok Post April 6, 2021
The experiences of the Royal Rattanakosin Hotel and others remind
us that even in times of crises - perhaps especially in times of
crises - there are opportunities to profit.
The report indicating that Royal Rattanakosin is fully booked with
customers under the alternative state quarantine (ASQ) programme
makes one wonder what other entities are profiting from the pandemic.
call for new system of elections
Where money not necessary to win
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 14 April 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 9 April
Lawyer Alex Lacson, in his speech The Filipino
Dream which he delivered at the Universitas Foundation
last March 20, presented some recommendations to solve the problems
of our country.
He gave examples applied by successful countries such as Denmark,
among them regulating business so that employees can get a fair
share of their companies income to enable them to live a contented
life, and teaching the value of a good election system as part of
the curriculum in senior high school.
Unfortunately, I do not think our current government leaders would
be willing to give up their privileges and follow such a formula
for progress, because they run counter to their selfish interests.
And without the honest support of our leaders in Congress, we know
we cannot get such suggestions implemented through constitutional
Our politicians invest so much for their election, spending huge
amounts to win votes.
Naturally, they will try to recover their investments
and set aside more for their reelection.
The only way they can do this is through corruption, be it directly
robbing the government or using their position to gain lagay
Which means they will have no incentive to push for the right legislation
or their implementation.
Such initiatives would run counter to their primary but often illegal
objectives in office.
The only way we can remedy our situation is to have a new system
of elections where money is not necessary to win.
That way, the winning candidates will be satisfied with a reasonable
increase in compensation, which is a little more than what they
will get outside the government.
But why would our congressional leaders not want a system of elections
that is not expensive?
It is because their advantage in elections will no longer prevail.
The people will then be electing leaders who are competent and intelligent,
because they can no longer sell their votes.
Of course, changing our system of elections and governance will
not be easy. Changing our system by constitutional means is in the
hands of our current leaders. It may only be through a direct exercise
of our sovereign right as a people that we can change things.
Such an initiative is legitimate, and it is our only remaining road
As the Supreme Court ruled in 1987 when it decided on the legitimacy
of the Cory government: It is an inherent right of the
people to cast out their rulers, change their policy or effect radical
reforms in their system of government or institution by force or
a general uprising when the legal and constitutional methods of
making change have proved inadequate or are so obstructed as to
We seem to have no other alternative but to change the way we elect
our leaders. Or we will continue our path to downfall.
Col. Guillermo G. Cunanan (Ret.),
Papua New Guinea has lost
management of Covid-19 pandemic
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 13 April 2021
First published in the National, Friday 9 April 2021
The Government has lost the plot on managing the spread
in the Covid-19 pandemic.
The respective government authorities failed to put in place measures
to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
They are now introducing vaccinating our citizens without any proper
How can you go on injecting people with vaccines without proof of
the virus severity?
What are the side effects?
The Government should be spending these millions of Covid-19 funds
on boosting the capacities of provincial and districts hospitals,
clinics in local level governments and aid posts.
For example, Morobes nine district hospitals in Menyamya,
Bulolo, Huon Gulf, Markham, Lae, Nawab, Finschhafen, Tewai-Siassi
and Kabwum, should be upgraded with proper staffing and get the
World Health Organisation to help us out with combatting the Covid-19
and other diseases.
Let us not forget the Covid-19 pandemic is not the only disease
that can kill.
There are other dangerous diseases already in Papua New Guinea that
can destroy lives as well.
We have been going around in circles without any improvement.
Let us seek Gods wisdom and guidance and ask Him for forgiveness
I said that because the Covid-19 pandemic has penetrated the country
just years after former prime minister and Ialibu-Pangia MP Peter
ONeill illegally took over the late Grand Chief Sir Michael
Thomas Somares government.
Sir Michael never handed this country to any political leader in
a respectable manner.
And now, he is gone.
Yes, it is true that some of our parliamentarians confessed and
apologised to the Somare family in front of our founding fathers
casket but that was not good enough.
They should have apologised to him when he was alive.
Prime Minister James Marape must also apologise to us - many former
MPs - for not keeping his promise to bringing us to Port Moresby
to witness Sir Michaels funeral.
My wife and I spent our own money to look after many elderly people
who came to our family home to show respect to our founding father
and listening to the live broadcast of his funeral from start to
The 2017-2022 parliamentary term has been in total confusion that
has resulted in court battles and political fights between the Government
and the Opposition.
Our political leaders have lost their way.
Samson C Napo,
Former Bulolo MP 1992-2002,
Papua New Guinea
lead to demise of Thai tourism sector
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 12 April 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday 11 April 2021
Re: "Travel agents worried slow jab distribution
delays restart", in Bangkok Post April 6, 2021
Travel agents have good reason to be worried about
the lack of a clear strategy for full immunisation of Thailand's
What tourists in their right minds will be willing to travel to
a country with only 40 percent or 50 percent of its residents vaccinated
when other tourism destinations have 80 percent or more immunised?
The current clumsy half-measures with respect to vaccinations will
unfortunately lead to the likely demise of Thailand's once dynamic
Philippine President Duterte
hurls words at the US
But is silent about China
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 11 April 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 9 April
China is slowly eating up our territory, but President
Duterte remains quiet.
Many are confused as to why he is maintaining his position of quiet
I believe the problem stems from his life-long reputation of being
a tough guy.
He never runs away from a fight - backing down would mean loss of
He can hurl tough words at the United States and he is sure he would
not get challenged to a fight.
But if he stands up to China, he would immediately be confronted,
and he would have a fight that he realizes he cannot win.
He would have to back down and lose face.
Hence, it is easier to flaunt his friendship with China and assert
that all differences with a friend can be resolved through silent
We can only hope that Mr. Duterte and his group will be replaced
after the 2022 elections.
honor Marcos with a hero's burial
Is a mockery of justice
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 19 April 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer,
The editorial An excellent Filipino
March 1, 2021 paid tribute to the Atenean priest and lawyer,
Fr. Joaquin Bernas, SJ, who passed away on March 6, 2021: Those
who had the privilege of knowing him hailed Bernas for raising a
new generation of lawyers with a strong sense of social justice,
and for helping a country just coming out of 14 years of authoritarian
rule to again find its bearings as a democracy.
Needless to say, Ferdinand Marcos, who plundered this country for
decades, was absolutely no hero to Bernas.
In his column Q&A on the game-changing SC cases,
April 4, 2021 retired chief justice Artemio Panganiban reminded
us how three prominent Atenean lawyers - namely, retired justices
Arturo Brion and Mariano del Castillo and sitting justice Estela
Perlas-Bernabe - never learned their lessons from Bernas on social
justice. It is now on record that, to them, Marcos was
a hero and deserved to be enshrined at the Libingan
ng mga Bayani.
Truth be told, had the three Atenean justices voted according to
their conscience in light of their supposed moral upbringing, the
carcass of Marcos would have remained to rot where it had been for
decades - in a refrigerated coffin at an altar in his Ilocos hometown
far, far away from hallowed grounds.
They conveniently forgot that in many decisions of the Supreme Court
in the past, Marcos had been found guilty of massively amassing
ill-gotten wealth - indeed, a scoundrel through and through!
The gobbledygook those Atenean lawyers had used to justify their
decisions to honor Marcos with a heros
burial had caused this egregious mockery of justice to
be perpetually inflicted on a nation of believers in Edsa I, a phenomenon
the whole world hailed as the Filipinos finest hour.
Philippines will become
a province of China
If President Duterte wins another election
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 9 April 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday 7 April
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana was reported to
have taken a strong stand against the month-long
presence of Chinese vessels at the Julian Felipe Reef, accusing
China of planning to again occupy maritime features in the West
and saying he is no
fool to believe those vessels are there merely to seek
shelter due to bad weather China intent
on occupying West Philippine Sea-Lorezana, April 5, 2021.
For his part, Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. declared: Irrelevant
whether we possess commensurate military power to mean the challenge;
we will not yield but die - or trigger World War 3."
Not a bad outcome, living is overrated. Honor is. War drums
sounding like squeaks!
Do Lorenzana and Locsin still not get it?
Their boss, President Duterte, has been saying that he is inutil
when it comes to Chinas incursions in the West Philippine
As pathetic as that can be, that is the only way it will go in Mr.
Dutertes puny mind.
Honor, indeed, should have long compelled Locsin
and Lorenzana to resign. How can these honorable men
continue working for a President who has shed all honor
to become a puppet of the bully they are trying so hard to resist?
The handwriting is on the wall.
People, wake up!
If Mr. Duterte wins another six years come 2022 through stand-ins
like his daughter Sara Duterte or Bong Go who are already being
floated as presidential wannabes with him as their so-called vice
presidential candidate to circumvent the constitutional prohibition
against his reelection to the same office this country will become
a province of China, and everything else be damned.
Ulysses B. Uy,
Call for written rule
bestowing titles on Malaysians
Southeast Asian Times,Thursday 8 April 2021
First published in the Star, Saturday 3 April 2021
Looking at all the scandalous and embarrassing news
lately about the shenanigans of a few Datuks and Datuk Seris, one
feels that its really time that all authorities stop granting
such honours as Datuk, Datuk Seri, Datin Paduka and Tan Sri to individuals
from the non-government sector who are 39 and below unless on grounds
of exceptional cases that merit the award.
We have all seen how, from time to time, quite a number of such
young recipients brought dishonour not only to the titles bestowed
upon them but also embarrassment to those who gave them the awards
as well as other recipients who have remained honourable.
Federal and state honours must be awarded only to those who have
made contributions to society above and beyond the call of duty.
There cannot be that many among us who have contributed so much
to society or the state/country while still in their late 20s or
Thus, one salutes those states that have recently been quite stringent
in bestowing their honours.
This should always be the case, but a written rule or code would
ensure its a uniform practice.
Beauty Queen pleas for help
For Myanmar at pageant in Thailand
The Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 7 April 2021
When I read in the Reuter's article ' Beauty Queen
Takes Myanmar's Democratic Fight To International Stage ' ( 3 April
) that Myanmar's 22 year old model Han Lay used the platform at
an international beauty pageant in Thailand last week to make a
passionate plea for " urgent international help "
for her country, the same day that 141 anti-coup demonstrators were
killed in a brutal crackdown by the military rulers who she described
as " selfish and abusing their power ", I was awe
struck by her courage to speak out.
Now she is unlikely to be able to return safely to her home country
for her bold stance .What a huge sacrifice for such a young person.
What an inspirational role model this young beauty model for other
young people, both male and female.
She is clearly a conscientious person who has been deeply affected
by what is happening to the people of Myanmar at the hands of a
brutal and thuggish military junta.
She said at the pageant they are expected to maintain a permanent
smile on their face but how could she do that when her fellow citizens
were were being killed for standing up for their rights and fighting
for the restoration of the elected civilian government.
So far over 550 lives have been claimed in the two months since
the General's overthrew Aung San Sui Kyi's elected government.
The young model Han Lay told Reuters "I can say one thing
that we Myanmar citizens will never give up " the fight
for the restoration of democracy in our country.
I say all power to the people of Myanmar in their fight for democracy
and dignity. And, I hope the international community heeds her plea
for urgent help.
Call for written rule
For bestowing titles on Malaysians
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 6 April 2021
First published in the Star, Saturday 3 April 2021
Looking at all the scandalous and embarrassing news
lately about the shenanigans of a few Datuks and Datuk Seris, one
feels that its really time that all authorities stop granting
such honours as Datuk, Datuk Seri, Datin Paduka and Tan Sri to individuals
from the non-government sector who are 39 and below unless on grounds
of exceptional cases that merit the award.
We have all seen how, from time to time, quite a number of such
young recipients brought dishonour not only to the titles bestowed
upon them but also embarrassment to those who gave them the awards
as well as other recipients who have remained honourable.
Federal and state honours must be awarded only to those who have
made contributions to society above and beyond the call of duty.
There cannot be that many among us who have contributed so much
to society or the state/country while still in their late 20s or
Thus, one salutes those states that have recently been quite stringent
in bestowing their honours.
This should always be the case, but a written rule or code would
ensure its a uniform practice.
Aung San Suu Kyi
the best hope for Myanmar
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 5 April 2021
First Published in the Banfkok Post, Sunday 4 April 2021
Myanmar people from inside and outside the country
hope to get assistance from US, UK, Europe and other democratic
countries around the world for getting elected leader Aung San Suu
Kyi, who won the 2020 election free, from the military regime.
The military rulers in Myanmar have been killing innocent people
with no remorse.
If Myanmar is a democratic country, there will be no refugees and
no conflict within the country.
Ms Suu Kyi is the best hope for the people of Myanmar if they want
their country to be a democratic civilian government, rich in natural
She could also lead it to prosperity, rather than having the country
trapped in poverty.
For this reason, Myanmar people need help and the world should not
Chin Win Aung,
and Eve being Ethiopian blacks
out of the question in
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 4 April 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tursday 1 April
the best of times for Asian Americans,
by Ramon Farolan March 22, 2021: Indeed, it is not the best of times
for us and our Asian kin.
So we cried foul and offered our sympathies to the victims - primarily
Chinese, some Filipino brethren, and six Korean women - who paid
the ultimate price for the hate and name-calling fomented by Donald
But guess what, Mr. Farolan, we Filipinos could be our own worst
It is not difficult to hear and see our prejudices directed at blacks
and people of color.
We have our homegrown rednecks, and they need not come from the
boondocks. The most educated among us are as guilty and capable
of stereotyping, name-calling, and being openly prejudicial toward
our Asian brothers - Pakistanis, Indians, Koreans, and Chinese,
We can be outright hostile to blacks and dark-skinned Africans.
We constantly and openly judge others; the darker the skin, the
more prejudiced we become.
Our preoccupation with fair skin has even become the primary adjective
when describing a person iyong maputi; maganda, medyo
According to Filipinos, all the other beautiful attributes beside
fair complexion favor characteristics that are not Asian or black
- high-bridged nose, blue eyes, blond hair, etc.
I dont know whether we are the only country that sells whitening
But here, any talk of Adam and Eve being Ethiopian blacks is out
of the question.
Edwin De Leon,
Call for Filipinos to
wake up to China's
Trampling of their sacred shores
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 2 April 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 1 April
In the news item New potential irritant:
PH to raise China buildup on Zamora Reef on March 28,
2021, Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Sta. Romana was said to
be poised to raise grave concerns over Chinas new construction
activity on the island built by the Chinese on top
of Zamora Reef which is within the Philippines exclusive
economic zone at a top-level meeting by Filipino and Chinese officials
Why does our Department of Foreign Affairs keep saying things all
Filipinos know mean absolutely nothing, when it comes to matters
concerning Chinas creeping invasion in
the West Philippine Sea?
Its officials can waste all their saliva and the peoples money
confabulating with their Chinese counterparts in very expensive
venues regarding issues that only President Duterte and Chinese
President Xi Jinping have any say on.
And given Mr. Dutertes latest act of worshipping Xi after
the latter donated vaccines to fight the disease
it has spread around the globe, any such diplomatic
protest amounts to nothing more than a charade.
Thus, after surreptitiously taking the Julian Felipe Reef, which
is within our territorial maritime zone, as unofficial
recompense for such generosity in Friend,
indeed, Editorial, Philippine Inquirer March 26, 2021,
China is obviously targeting the Zamora Reef next.
When are people ever going to wake up to the irreparable damage
being done by this blatant trampling of their sacred shores?
Rogelio S. Candelario,
for unified coordinated military strike
oust the Myanmar coup-makers
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 2 April 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Tuesday 30 March 2021
Re: "Global criticism after bloodiest day
in Myanmar", in Bangkok Post, March 29.
It is naive to think that influential members of Asean will do anything
to stop the carnage in Myanmar.
It is also futile to think that Russia or China will come forward
to condemn the military and provide any help in restoring democracy.
Except for India which remains a fragile democracy, there is no
other country from the Middle East to Myanmar that has any moral
ground or economic interest to intervene in Myanmar.
The only way to stop the coups in the region is to oust the coup-makers
by a unified military strike coordinated by India, the EU, Australia,
the USA and others willing to join the coalition.
As they say, old regimes die hard. Myanmar needs to be liberated
from the clutches of the military just like Bangladesh was liberated
from the tyranny of the military junta of Pakistan in 1971.
Diplomacy does not seem to stick with the rulers of the region.
It is time that the military regimes in the region are imposed with
severe economic sanctions and are given a taste of external military
strikes and made to fear their own extinction.
attends Myanmar military
Annual Armed Forces Day celebration
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 1 April 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday 30 March 2021
In the March 29 Bangkok Post report, the Myanmar military
celebrated Armed Forces Day.
Thailand attended, to hear junta leader General Min Aung Hlaing
defend the coup and threaten that acts of "terrorism which
can be harmful to state tranquillity and security" were
With respect, Prime Minister, what were your representatives doing
there, partying in tuxedos?
You promised that you were no longer a military man, but a politician.
I cannot see that any change has occurred in the principles you
should follow as a Buddhist man.
Where is the compassion for those innocents being shot, because
they are "a threat to state tranquillity and security"?
for a coalition of the willing
take on the Myanmar military
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 31 March 2021
Is there any Coalition of the Willing to take on the
rogue military rulers of Myanmar and liberate the oppressed people
of Myanmar from the tyranny of militarism and fascism?
Or, will we in the international community be left to count the
daily civilian deaths - including death of children - from the brutal
military crackdown on anti-coup and pro-democracy protesters?
It's a sad and shameful indictment of the international community
if we can't act to end rogue military rule in Myanmar.
Call for cross-border
To prevent civil war
Southeast Asian Times Monday, 30 March 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post Sunday 28 March 2021
To: Attorney-General Wongsakul Kittipromwong, Office
of the Attorney-General, Thailand.
Right Livelihood Laureates and representatives of Right Livelihood
Colleges from all parts of the world, deeply concerned about the
worrisome increase in power of authoritarian regimes engulfing us,
in particular alerted by escalating violence against citizens and
arbitrarily imprisonments in the Southeast Asia region, laud the
They include students, human rights lawyers, young vocational trainees
in Thailand in their courageous struggle for freedom of expression
and the right to people's self-determination. In particular we hail
the formulation, debate and promotion of proposals for fundamental
reform of institutions and laws toward transformation of society
as a whole in order to achieve agreed sustainability goals and justice
for all citizens.
We support senior Right Livelihood Laureate Sulak Sivaraksa in his
continuous engagement with the young changemakers.
As well as his passionate appeal to the activists to strictly observe
non-violence and to exercise patience.
We are proudly aware that young people stand up globally against
denial of climate emergency, indifference to economic and social
inequality, and against the mere ignorance of cultural challenges
new generations face.
We encourage regional associations like the Milk Tea Alliance which
started from exchanges and solidarity among young activists in Hong
Kong, Thailand and Taiwan and is now spilling over to other parts
In the face of the cruel and barbaric coup in Myanmar, and the ongoing
farmers' protests in India against corporatisation of the agriculture
and food sectors, we support firm efforts to exercise our "responsibility
to protect" in a regional and global context of so lidarity
and non-violent intervention.
What the farmers - many of them women - are striving for, in the
spirit of Right Livelihood, is vital for the survival and dignity
of the rural population as well as for all families who celebrate
having food together, especially in crisis, in a spirit of sacredness
and care for Mother Earth.
Moreover, we encourage cross-border mutual assistance to prevent
civil war, international conflict, and a looming collective race
to the bottom. The group of activists in Thailand who have been
accused -- and even pre-maturely imprisoned -- of lese majeste,
sedition and disruption of security stands symbol for the courage
of the new generation to say NO to "business as usual",
unaccountable "stability" and "blind obedience to
authorities" which lead us on a development path that is far
from sustainable. We therefore call on the Thai authorities to uphold
their international Human Rights obligations and free these young
The undersigned Right Livelihood Laureates: Sulak Sivaraksa, Thailand,
Right Livelihood Laureate 1995; Angie Zelter, for Trident Ploughshares,
United Kingdom Right Livelihood Laureate 2001; Chico Whitaker, Brazil,
Right Livelihood Laureate 2006; Maude Barlow, Canada, Right Livelihood
Laureate 2005; Pat Mooney, Canada, Right Livelihood Laureate 1985;
Raul Montenegro, Argentina, Right Livelihood Laureate 2004; Sima
Samar, Afghanistan, Right Livelihood Laureate 2012; Medha Patkar,
India, Right Livelihood Laureate 1991; Andras Biro, Hungary, Right
Livelihood Laureate 1995; Anwar Fazal, Malaysia, Right Livelihood
Laureate 1982; David Shaw, Coordinator, Right Livelihood College
Santa Cruz; Nnimmo Bassey, Nigeria, Right Livelihood Laureate 2010;
Dipal Barua, former managing director of Grameen Shakti, Bangladesh,
Right Livelihood Laureate 2007; Alyn Ware, New Zealand, Right Livelihood
Laureate 2009; Paul Walker, United States of America, Right Livelihood
Laureate 2013; Fidelis Allen, Coordinator, Right Livelihood College
Nigeria; Wes Jackson, United States of America, Right Livelihood
Laureate 2000; Ruchama Marton, Israel, Right Livelihood Laureate
2010; Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, Uganda, Right Livelihood Laureate
2015; Campaign Against Arms Trade, United Kingdom, Right Livelihood
Laureate 2012; Colin Gonsalves, India, Right Livelihood Laureate
2017; Bianca Jagger, Nicaragua, Right Livelihood Laureate 2004;
Jacqueline Moudeina, Chad, Right Livelihood Laureate 2011.
accelerator of change in Patong
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 29 March 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday 26 March 2021
The hardship that Covid-19 brought upon the estimated
one million sex workers in the country also resonated heavily in
However, the local community including Non Government Organisations
(NGOs) like Swing our Museum and local businesses have joined hands
to provide help to those in need.
Patpong shed its skin several times.
It started in the 1950s as Bangkok's first modern central business
Silom and Sathon roads followed.
It hosted international news agencies, airlines and, somehow hidden
beneath these, foreign intelligence agencies and their affiliates
in the 1960s.
With the end of the Vietnam War, Patpong transformed into one of
the world's most famous entertainment areas.
Covid-19 is an accelerator of change, and we can see Patpong retransforming
into a vibrant yet authentic contribution to the subcultural scene
along the river, Charoen Krung and Chinatown.
It's time to shed the skin once more.
for respect for Malaysian Constitution
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 28 March 2021
First published in the Star, Friday 26 March 2021
I am an octogenarian who has lived through many major
events of historical significance, including the Pacific War, Japanese
Occupation, Malayan Emergency, birth of an independent Malaya, Indonesian
Confrontation, formation of Malaysia, separation of Singapore from
Malaysia, and the riots on May 13,1969.
I cannot understand the sudden surge in groups of irresponsible
elements that are currently hell-bent on creating racial and religious
tension in our country.
Frankly, I have never seen such discord and disrespect being openly
expressed without any regard for the feelings and sensitivities
of those who are targeted.
Time and again, these individuals or groups make inflammatory statements
that threaten to tear apart the social fabric of our society, which
is built on trust and mutual respect.
They undermine the governments efforts to foster goodwill
and greater understanding among the various races.
They resort to telling lies and sow seeds of discord to advance
their own agendas.
There is a large number of None Government Organisations NGOs in
the country committed to bringing down barriers and building bridges
to promote social cohesiveness and harmonious living.
But there are also evil and destructive forces at work to destabilise
the efforts of these NGOs.
There is no place in civil society for those who do not respect
the Malaysian Constitution and the cherished principles of the Rukun
Negara, our national ideology.
Perhaps the government should seriously consider legislating a Race
Relations Act to rein in these rabble-rousers.
Lets live and let live.
Call for India to invade
Liberate the people from military rule
Southeast Asian Times Saturday 27 March 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday 28 March 2021
Re: "Thailand must be a friend to Myanmar
people", Bangkok Post, Opinion, March 24.
Since he is a diplomat, it is not surprising that Kasit Piromya's
solution to the Myanmar problem is long on talk and short on action.
He decries Thailand's failure to take the lead in pushing Asean
to take action.
He urges Thailand to "publicly and proactively support efforts"
by other nations "to play a direct role in addressing the
disastrous situation in Myanmar", and favours the call
for "a special Asean leaders' summit to discuss the situation".
All of this is a call for more frothy talk while multitudes of Myanmar
people are being slaughtered by their own army.
What is needed is immediate action. But by whom?
The United States, Britain, and the European Union are far away
and preoccupied with their own problems.
Asean is toothless.
Thailand will do nothing, because just as there is honour among
thieves there is loyalty among military officers.
The Thai generals will never do anything to oppose their Myanmar
This leaves India as the last man standing if the murderous and
genocidal Myanmar junta is to be brought to justice.
In 1971, India played a vital role in ousting what was then West
Pakistan from its genocidal role in what was then East Pakistan
but is now known as Bangladesh.
What it did then it can do again.
I call on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to order the Indian
army to invade Myanmar, liberate the people from the junta's despotic
rule, hang the junta from the highest possible gallows, free the
thousands who have been arrested, and restore democratic rule.
Only thus can India fulfill its role as the dominant power in South
Asia and meet the demands of dhamma to crush evil, establish righteousness,
and liberate the oppressed.
This sounds extreme, but these are extreme times, and I can see
no other way to stop the ongoing genocide in Myanmar.
If anybody has a better idea, I'd like to hear it.
Democracy functioned under
Aung San Suu Kyi
Despite military stacked parliament
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 26 March 2021
First published in the New Straits Times. Wednesday 24 March
We demand Asean not to delay acting on Myanmar to
prevent its military repression of its own people and to turn it
into a regional conflict.
The betrayal of democracy by the coup should not be allowed to evolve
into more bloodshed of civilians.
The coup is not really a suprise.
Democracy was actually functioning marginally even during Aung San
Suu Kyi, leader of the country's erstwhile ruling party, the National
League for Democracy (NLD), who has done very little to bring about
meaningful change since she was designated State Counsellor.
The dismissal of the government by military decree and the imposition
of Min Aung Hlaing, the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, as an unelected
ruler, is unlawful , though it had been planned earlier.
The military only eased the NLD to participate and reclaim democracy
to Myanmar to placate for a reason to lift the western sanctions
on Myanmar. However there was no commitment for democracy.
Even Suu Kyi was subservient to the partial democracy by the military
when it comes to the Rohingya issue.
She allowed the military to continue the military's impunity on
Suu Kyi has positioned herself to being a mere icon in the party
but has done little to reform the government.
While Suu Kyi was hailed to become a de facto leader, she failed
miserably in championing the human rights of millions of citizens
who belong to marginalised ethnic groupslike Myanmar's persecuted
Rohingya - who were excluded from the ballot box.
Despite the celebration of Myanmar's fledgling democracy, international
conglomerates - mostly Western - rushed to Yangon, to cash in on
Myanmar's natural resources, left unexploited because of economic
sanctions imposed on the country.
The rush to capitalise on the so-called democracy only strengthened
The victory for democracy in Myanmar, was short lived amid a continuos
genocide reality by the junta.
Asean cannot dismiss the genocide of the Rohingya, a pogrom of murder,
rape and ethnic cleansing.
The junta's "cleansing" operations of Rohingya
Muslims cannot be erased from the history of the so-called civil
government under Suu Kyi.
The human rights violations in the country and the genocide intensified
in 2016-17 which continued unabated.
The culpability of Myanmar's ruling NLD party and of Suu Kyi personally
cannot be ignored.
The genocide at the hands of government forces and local militias
was not a mere communal violence.
It was a clear violation of international law, the worst ethnic
cleansing and crimes against humanity to the core.
Asean as an association of 10 member countries cannot allow human
rights violation to persist in its member states as this will have
ramifications in the region.
The rational of non-interference in internal affairs of a member
state cannot hold, as its spill over effect on the region is real.
Asean should foresee the cross border impact on the Myanmar situation.
The Rohingya issue is a recurring theme in the international media
as hundreds of thousands of refugees were forced to flee, mostly
The magnitude of their misery is glaring. Horrific Incidents of
rape and murder were documented by the UN and international human
The group of 57 Muslim countries, which took a landmark lawsuit
accusing Myanmar of genocide was filed at the UN International Court
of Justice in The Hague in 2019.
Suu Kyi's defiance to object international criticism and openly
defended her government and military is regretful.
Her testimony at the UN Court in December 2019, which she described
the genocidal violence of the Rohingya as "cycles of inter-communal
violence going back to the 1940s" is atrocious.
Asean should voice its stance clearly that the return to military
rule in Myanmar is objectionable.
However, equally, Asean must insist that Myanmar embraces true democracy
for all of its citizens, regardless of race, ethnicity or religion.
We demand the military brutal suppression against its own people
to cease immediately.
The more than 100 people gunned down by the armed forces must be
Those responsible must be taken to task for the killings of the
We demand the release of all the political detainees.
The crackdown operation to raid homes to detain the anti coup activists
Mohd Azmi Abdul Hamid,
President Malaysia Consultative Council of Islamic Organizations
treatment of Karen in Bang Kloi
Similar to treatment of Rohingya in Myanmar
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 25 March 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday 24 March 2021
Re: "Thai superiority complex harms Karen",
Commentary, Bangkok Post March 22
There are disturbing similarities between the Thai government's
treatment of the forest-dwelling Karen and the treatment of the
Rohingya in Myanmar.
I am not suggesting that the Thai government's treatment of the
Karen is as criminal and so totally inhuman as the fate of the Rohingya,
but the comparisons are nevertheless worrying.
The Rohingya are an Indo-Aryan ethnic minority of some 1.4 million
people who claim to have lived in what is now western Myanmar for
The previous military junta denied this claim and stripped the Rohingya
of their citizenship in 1982, restricted their right to free movement
and limited education opportunities for their children, among many
The more recent history of the Tatmadaw's atrocious treatment of
the Rohingya is a matter of public record that is best defined as
genocide, murder, rape and infanticide.
As Paritta Wangkiat points out in her commentary, the Karen have
lived in upper Bang Kloi for centuries, long before it was declared
a national park in 1981.
She says: "But park officials nevertheless criminalised
them for encroaching on the forest. The eviction was completed in
2011, in what is known as the Tanao Sri operation in which their
huts and rice barns were reduced to ashes."
How resonant is this with the Tatmadaw not only forcing some 750,000
Rohingya out of Myanmar and into neighbouring Bangladesh, but burning
their huts, their crops and appropriating their fields for use by
Most alarming, as Paritta reports, is Prime Minister Prayat Chan-o-cha's
response to reporter questions which was to say he did not blame
the indigenous community for demanding land rights, but condemned
"the people behind them", supposedly influencing
the Karens as part of a malicious effort to stir up conflict in
He went on to say: "Thai people are not happy with Karen
living in the forest ... because it is against the government's
forest conservation policy."
This reveals two major flaws in the thinking of the man who is meant
to be the leader of a united Thailand.
Firstly, it suggests that Karen are not Thai.
Secondly, it puts forward a spurious and unsupported argument that
"the people are not happy" with this.
How the hell does he know?
Has he bothered to ask them?
Lest we forget, the murder
of north Korean, Kim Jong Nam
Was carried out in Malaysia in 2017
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 24 March 2021
First Published in the Star Sunday 21 March 2021
I am writing in response to the decision by the North
Korean regime on March 19, 2021, to sever diplomatic relations with
As a Malaysian, I think the focus should be directed to the Malaysian
The decision made by the Federal Court to honour the extradition
treaty between Malaysia and the US is exemplary.
Extraditing Mun Chul Myong is the epitome of Malaysias relentless
commitment towards strict enforcement in United Nations-backed sanction
and global financial transparency.
Long has Malaysia been tarnished alongside other countries such
as Belarus, Russia and India as amongst the breeding grounds for
North Korean trans-boundary covert crimes.
In 2017, Glocom a Malaysian based tech company was
identified by the United Nations as a front-company supporting North
Koreas cybercrimes global network.
Lest Malaysians forget, the murder of the estranged half-brother
of Kim Jong Un Kim Jong Nam was carried out also in
Malaysia in 2017.
The murder has led to the suspension of diplomatic relations between
Thus, it is time for Malaysia to take a stern stand against the
illicit criminal activities believed to be sponsored by the North
Enough is enough.
North Korea has to understand that decision was taken against a
North Korean suspect, not against the North Korean government. Hence,
the sovereignty of the North Korean regime remains intact.
Moreover, Mun Chul Myong was not a North Korean diplomat; an esteemed
profession that is subject to another international treaty i.e.
the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961.
If Mun Chul Myong was a diplomat, the issue of diplomatic immunity,
amongst others, will come into play. In such a case, Malaysia will
address the issue tactfully to avoid the recurrence of the expulsion
of former North Korean ambassador Kang Chol as persona non grata
In either situation, Malaysia has to act objectively, and such objectivity
is guided by universal values such as the rule of law and natural
Mun Chol Myong has been afforded the right to a fair trial in Malaysia
up to the ultimate level, the Federal Court.
During the extradition proceedings, his defence lawyers stated that
their client was caught in the diplomatic cross-fire between North
Korea and the US, not between North Korea and Malaysia.
This is evident to show that Malaysia is not bowing to external
pressures as alleged by North Korea.
In fact, the proceedings in Malaysia are only for extradition purposes.
The actual criminal hearing will be conducted entirely in the U.S.
North Korea has to adjust her misconception of Malaysia as her enemy
since Malaysia, as a sovereign State, is merely assisting a legally
binding extradition treaty with the US.
As an isolated state with few friends, North Korea should keep her
neutral friends like Malaysia closer, especially during the post-Covid-19
In a globalised world, North Korea could not afford to be too naive
in diplomatic relations by resorting to a knee-jerk reaction such
as severing her diplomatic relations with Malaysia, a decision which
Pyongyang will later regret.
On the other hand, the Federal Court has lived up to its prestige
as the ultimate pillar of justice.
The decision has sent a reverberation not only in Malaysia but also
to the entire world.
To date, Mun Chol Myung is the first-ever North Korean suspect to
be extradited by any country in the world to the US, and Malaysia
is the first country in the world to manage to do so.
This is a feat that ought to be celebrated by all Malaysians.
As a nation, we have to acknowledge the independence, competency
and transparency of the Malaysian judiciary, which lately has been
under intense criticism following a number of decisions on high-profile
The extradition of Mung Chul Myong is the embodiment of such ethos.
The ground-breaking Federal Court decision has paved the way for
meaningful contributions to other stakeholders in international
relations and assisted in the growth of international law.
Member-states in Asean could leverage the decision as a strategy
in addressing the incessant presence of North Korean illicit activities
in the region; the same way how North Korea has exploited the region
as her hotbed for cybercrimes and evasion of economic sanctions.
North Korea has been manipulating the legal and institutional weaknesses
in the Southeast Asian region in achieving this end.
Therefore, Asean must manage issues related to North Korea collectively
via regionalism, and Malaysia has taken the first step through a
That giant leap was taken by the Malaysian judiciary and it truly
Mohd Ridwan Talib,
Lawyer, post-graduate student,
Faculty of Syariah and Law,
Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia.
Aung San Suu Kyi prime
Of Myanmar military persecution
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 23 March 2021
In light of the current brutal crackdown on its own
anti-coup civilian protesters by the Myanmar military, with over
230 killed and hundreds injured, one can now better understand and
appreciate what the former UN high commissioner for human rights
Zeid Raad Al Hussein meant when he slammed the Myanmar military
for conducting "
cruel military operation " against Rohingya Muslims,
who the Myanmar State basically didn't even recognise as citizens.
It was no exaggeration when Mr Zeid in September 2017 said the atrocities
committed by the Myanmar military was a " textbook example
of ethnic cleansing ".
The Myanmar military has demonstrated it is quite capable of that.
It is ironical that when Mr Zeid had made those claims at the time
of the persecution of the Rohingya Muslims and there was universal
condemnation of the conduct of the Myanmar military, State Councillor
Aung San Suu Kyi, the iconic leader of democracy, tried to defend
the Myanmar military.
Today she is herself the prime target of Myanmar military's persecution
following the military's takeover of the elected civilian government.
Call for Philippine President
Duterte to certify
Freedom of information (FOI) legislation
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 22 March 2021
First Published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 19 March
The recent report that Pasig City Mayor Vico Nubla
Sotto has been hailed as one of 12 international anti-corruption
champions should serve as a wake-up call for President Duterte.
It will be recalled that Sotto, in the early days of his term as
Pasig City top executive, issued an order that can be termed as
a local government version of a freedom of information (FOI) law.
This action of the mayor made him a trailblazing crusader against
graft and irregularities in public service. It also did not go unnoticed,
with the US state department now commending Sotto as one of the
worlds top anti-corruption leaders.
How about the Philippines national officials led by Mr. Duterte?
What is the administrations score on this matter?
Sad to say, it is still zero. Nada. Wala. Nothing.
If only the President had certified the necessity of freedom of
information (FOI) and the legislative branch of government did its
job, the problem of corruption could have long been a thing of the
Alas, the President did not give a damn that corruption still exists
What happened to the anti-corruption promise that he made during
the 2016 presidential campaign?
Corruption instead became more rampant; the financial scandal in
PhilHealth is a very embarrassing example.
Wake up, Mr. Duterte!
The people are so fed up. Gising!
Eusebio S. San Diego,
Kaguro and former president,
Quezon City Public School Teachers Association,
Lawmaking in Thailand
is a business enterprise
Engineered to serve military-big business
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 21 March 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday 19 March 2021
So the National Anti-Corruption Commission has suggested,
without any apparent irony, that MP Pareena Kraikupt has "violated
ethical standards expected from a lawmaker", in Bangkok
Post, March 17.
Many would agree with this assessment but exactly what is expected
Judging from the current crop of fine upstanding members, we can
assume that we should expect heroin smuggling; conspiring in and
then perpetrating the military overthrow of a democratically elected
government; the deliberate subversion of constitutional process;
"unexplained" great wealth; shady land deals in potential
development areas and the shameless betrayal of public trust by
way of colossal conflicts of interest which are now so routine as
to be almost completely ignored.
Lawmaking in Thailand is a business enterprise engineered to serve
the military-big business bureaucratic behemoth.
It is most certainly not a matter of public service.
Until, if ever, this poison is purged from our body-politic then
Thailand will continue its downward trajectory into irrelevance
as an ethically serious and credible player on the international
Lack of Indo-Pacific Quad
Will be conveniently blamed for inaction
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 20 March 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Thursday 18 March 2021
Re: "The Quad wakes up ... to take on threat
of China", in Opinion, Bangkok Post March 17.
I disagree with Gwynne Dyer that China won't be interested beyond
it's borders. China may well pursue adventurism if it sees benefit
in doing so.
But I do agree the Quad gives its members and particularly the US
a useful excuse to delay possible responses to China as none of
the members will be able to respond without first consulting other
members and gaining consensus.
The lack of Quad consensus will be blamed for inaction.
Call for international
community to act against
Rise of fascism in Myanmar
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 19 March 2021
We read in the Southeast Asian Times report ' Myanmar
military imposes death penalty for sedition under martial law '
( March 18/2021 ), that both the President of the National League
for Democracy ( NLD ) Win Myint and State Councillor Aung San Suu
Kyi who were arrested and locked up after the military takeover
of the elected civilian NLD government face sedition charge alongside
other charges. They therefore are subject to the death penalty under
the military imposed law.
There is only one reason for this pernicious law to be put in place
by the military junta.
It is a tool for political repression .
It is to facilitate the military's reign of terror by silencing
all dissent against the military takeover.
That's the sole ulterior motive and purpose of this military imposed
The international community must act without delay in ending the
rise of fascism in Myanmar and free the oppressed people of Myanmar
from tyrannical rule.
To delay is to abdicate our international responsibility.
Philippine President impervious
Of impossibility to respond to benevolence
Southeast Asian Times. Thursday 18 March 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday 16 March
The World Health Organization WHO has encouraged worldwide
vaccine diplomacy to help poorer countries.
Chinas response to the Philippines is not unique; other nations
have done likewise, without much fanfare, with the traditional reserve
It should not be beyond the centuries-old decorum of the Chinese
to insist that there is really no need for the Philippine President
to embark on rendering a personal thank you,
surely an extravagance at this period of desperately depleted resources,
with so many going hungry.
Whats a planeload of vaccines between friends anyway?
And it is not as though the Philippines has been short of gift-giving,
mostly in sufferance, from way back.
Theres the West Philippine Sea trespassing, the sourcing of
drugs, kidnappings and human trafficking, plunder of protected fauna,
corruption of immigration officials, etc.
Is this list not ample proof in aid of reality check, of why Filipinos
remain unconvinced by the hand of friendship extended?
Is there hope in altering the vision of the infatuated?
Someone did say that there is none so blind as he who would not
Is the President impervious to the sensibilities of people who are
embarrassed, betrayed, disgusted, and finding it nigh impossible
to respond to the benevolence of China with unqualified gratitude,
a gratitude that has been laid on with a trowel?
A devastating health crisis has sadly been politicized.
Fortunately there is W.H. Auden to turn to: The true men
of action in our time, those who transform the world, are not the
politicians and statesmen, but the scientists.
Indeed; theres the Mars landing to prove it.
Religious of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (RSCJ),
doing nothing about polution
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 17 March 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post Tuesday 16 March 2021
Your March 14 editorial, "Don't take toxic
air problem lightly", and Danny Marks' March 13 article,
"Transboundary haze control lacks political will"
are to be commended for their contribution to understanding the
pollution problem, especially in the North.
Both articles pointed to an agro company.
It is negligent in contributing adversely to the health of the nation,
and the wealth of the nation through the flailing reputation of
the North as a holiday destination.
The farmers have taken the blame while corporations are mainly behind
the pollution, and the government in the pockets of big businesses
are doing nothing.
Big man Grand Chief Sir
Passed away at 12 midnight
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 16 March 2021
First published in the National, Thursday 11 March 2021
As I was leaving for work on Friday February 26, my
brother called me and said: big man Grand Chief Sir Michael
Somare passed away at 12 midnight.
I hurried to Boram Airport to see a friend off and to confirm Sir
The Air Niugini flight at 10am from Port Moresby came with sad news.
I wept silently, looking at the two runways which will change the
face of Boram Airport this month to an international airport to
take jet planes such as 737 and 747 from around the world.
This was the dream of Sir Michael.
From 1968, growing up at Wewak Point Gavaman Compound, my late papa
Paul Bimpoli Kriosahi worked for the Australian colonial administration
as a linesman for the foreign power.
He used to tell us about Sir Michael, the Radio Wewak niusman who
was running for the House of Assembly that year.
My father said he would vote for Sir Michael and he was going to
In 1947, Sir Michael went to Boram Gavaman School with two men from
Haniak village, late John Sataro and late Peter Kambori, who took
him as their younger brother or hendi niong special child.
Sataro and Kambori ensured no one bullied or mistreated Sir Michael
in soccer games or in class.
That continued all the way to Finschhafen in Morobe when they parted
Sir Michael completed his certificate in teaching at Sogeri High
From our village of Haniak, stories of our two men attending Boram
and Finschhafen schools had adopted a young brother Sir Michael
from Karau village in the Murik Lakes, there was excitement and
high expectations to welcome him to the village amongst our tutuls,
luluais and kukurais chief for the barter system to be enhanced.
Today, our villagers are mourning him as one of their own. They
are mourning from dusk to dawn, abandoning their chores such as
gardening, hunting, sago scrapping and others.
That will continue until their kukurai is buried.
Chief, they will not forget you.
John Sebastian Kriosaki,
Papua New Guinea
The late PM Michael Somare
Said Japan was like a brother
to Papua New Guinea
Southeast Asian Tmes, Monday 15 March 2021
First published in the National, Thursday 11 March 2021
On behalf of the people of Japan and Japanese citizens
who are living in Papua New Guinea, I express sincere condolences
to Lady Veronica, Bertha, Sana, Arthur, Michael Jnr, Dulciana and
extended families of the late Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare.
He started his early education in his village of Karau, Murik Lakes,
in East Sepik at the Shibata School which was funded by a Japanese
army officer, Capt Yukio Shibata, early in 1944.
Shibata does not specifically remember Sir Michael the way Sir Michael
remembered Shibata, but he does remember a boy who was very intelligent,
quick and outgoing, a boy who produced a clever piece of writing
called Kaup is Japan.
Kaup is one of the Murik villages and Shibata has speculated that
Sir Michael might have been this clever boy.
Shibata taught the children Japanese classic stories such as Momotaro
and songs such as Akatombo.
When they met again in Tokyo in 1985 and in Wewak in 1986, both
Shibata and Sir Michael showed that neither had forgotten the words
of these traditional songs, even though the meanings had been lost
over the forty year period.
Sir Michael believed the Japanese were not only educating young
people but training them as future soldiers as well.
He had acknowledged that it was the Japanese who provided him with
his first formal education and that he appreciated the experiences
he had with Shibata and the Japanese, who were favourably different
from the white men he saw in Rabaul.
When Shibata was asked what he hoped the outcome of Sir Michaels
village school would be, he said he hoped it would help young people,
particularly those with leadership abilities, develop attitudes
that would suit them for self-determination.
Perhaps Shibata was being idealistic after the event because it
was difficult to assume that the Japanese would not have replaced
one form of colonial administration with another.
But it is worth noting that Sir Michael, in later years, was motivated
by a desire for self-determination, which would lead eventually
to the realisation of self-government and independence achieved
through political means.
Sir Michael had his first official overseas visit in 1977 to Tokyo,
Japan, after he became the first prime minister in September 1975.
Until his death, he made more than 10 official visits to Japan,
including receiving the Order of the Rising Sun the Grand Cordon
Imperial Prize from the Emperor of Japan Akihito in 2015.
He contributed immensely to the friendship between the people of
Japan and Papua New Guinea not only officially, but personally as
well, especially the few remaining Japanese soldiers late
Yukio Shibata, late Kokichi Nishimura, late Shizuka Kawabata and
his long term friend late Tadashi Nishigaki, who built the Japanese
war memorial on Mission Hill (Boys Town) in Wewak in 1969.
When Sir Michael received the highest rank of Emperors award,
he said the award was not only for him it marked the long
friendship between the people of Japan and the people of Papua New
He said Australia was like a father to Papua New Guinea but Japan
was more of a brother.
More than 600 Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) volunteers
have been in Papua New Guinea since 1980 and some volunteers remain
after their volunteer contract period ended.
They continued to work in Papua New Guinea.
A number of them were fortunate to meet Sir Michael, including me.
When he visited Japan in 2005, Paul David from Eastern Highlands
and I had the opportunity to meet him at the welcome reception in
I told Sir Michael about my ICT and educational achievements in
Papua New Guinea as a Jica volunteer from 1997 to 1999.
At that time, Paul had received a level one (4th grade) certificate
of the Japanese language and Sir Michael recognised and signed his
autograph on his certificate paper.
I am a long-term Papua New Guinea resident.
I have lived here for 24 years, which is nearly half of my life.
Most of my time is dedicated to improving ICT in education for Papua
New Guinea tertiary institutions.
On Sunday, my family and I attended the memorial service for Sir
Michael at his birth place in Rapindik, Rabaul.
Sir Michael had a grand dream.
He said: Our People and our future generations demand a
very different and better outcome. We have no choice but to do things
I will adopt his thinking, wisdom and dream and try to do my best
to provide better education through technologies the way Sir Michael
and Captain Shibata did before.
Arigato Gozamashita, Sayonara, Sana Somare-san.
Russell Deka Harada,
Japanese resident in Papua New Guinea,
Papua News Guinea
A coup is a coup
Myanmar is a coup in all manifestations
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 14 March 2021
The UN Security Council whilst calling on restraint
against the brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters failed to denounce
the Myanmar military takeover as a coup
( Reuters l11/3 ).
But the people of Myanmar know only too well what the military takeover
It's a fully fledged military coup with its trademark fascist brutality
and total disregard for human rights.
More than 60 protesters have been killed and some 2000 people detained
by the security forces since the Feb.1 takeover.
Clear thinking people around the world also know the true status
of the military takeover of power from the elected civilian leaders
is a coup in all manifestations.
war on drugs in the Philippines
a war on women
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 13 March 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 12 March
As the war on drugs rages on, it is easy to overlook
the long-term impacts of the punitive drug approach on the countrys
female incarceration rate.
As we marked National Womens Day last March 8, the University
of the Philippines Institute of Human Rights (UP-IHR) with the United
Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women)
placed a spotlight on the disproportionate effect of the drug war
to female incarceration and its gendered consequences.
In a series of webinars conducted by University of the Philippines
Institute of Human Rights (UP-IHR), it was revealed that in the
Correctional Institution for Women that struggles with a 125-percent
congestion rate, 63 percent (out of 3,364) of persons deprived of
liberty (PDLs) were placed behind bars for drug offenses.
Other offenses paled in comparison, as they only ranged no higher
than 19 percent of the total percentage.
This disparate figure highlights the governments focus on
criminalizing, as opposed to rehabilitating, even nonviolent drug
The governments approach profoundly impacts women, as there
have been notable failures in providing for gender-differentiated
needs for women deprived of liberty (PDLs), particularly mothers
with infants and young children.
Even after release, former women persons deprived of liberty (PDLs)
face both the stigma of incarceration and the prevailing bias and
discrimination against girls and women.
This intersectionality compounds the situation of women persons
deprived of liberty (PDLs) who may not be able to fully reintegrate
due to their prior status.
As of 2019, over 85-90 percent of those detained nationally are
inside due to drug-related offenses, and this figure will rise further
as the government doggedly continues with its punitive approach.
Unless people start realizing and voicing calls to shift the punitive
approach to treatment and rehabilitation, this war, in the words
of Deborah Sibila and Andrea Yatsco, may also be described as a
war on women.
Marvic C. Baguilat,
Senior legal associate,
University of Philippines (UP) College of Law,
The people of Myanmar
do not deserve
How they have been treated by ASEAN and
Southeast Asian Times, 12 March 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday 10 March 2021
The military should not govern.
The military should only defend their country and their fellow countryman.
What is happening these days is a shame for every civilised country.
The way that Thailand is obstructing Asean in condemning the coup
in Myanmar is proof that Thailand has become, like many others,
a client state of China.
The people from Myanmar are some of the most generous and friendly
people in the world.
They don't deserve how Asean and China treat them.
One day the situation might change - you can't kill the entire population
and put millions of people in jail.
I pray God will help these poor brave people.
community forgets Aung San Suu Kyi
On International Women's Day
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 11 March 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday 10 March 2021
The International Women's Day celebrations this year
have not been meaningful with the current detention of Aung San
Suu Kyi by the Myanmar military.
While agencies like the United Nations, the UN-ESCAP and many other
International Governmental, Non-Governmental and Civic groups have
hosted commemorations of International Women's Day, the one glaring
and odd omission was any reference to the unfair detention of the
Myanmar democracy icon and all her supporters in the National League
Perhaps all is not lost or dismal if the global community of leaders,
justice-loving people and campaigners for the rights of democratic
systems can still put pressure on the intransigent Myanmar military
to release Ms Suu Kyi, stop the killing and brutalisation of peaceful
protesters, and allow democracy to take its true place in Myanmar.
International Women's Day of 2021 could thus be truly commemorated
in a more meaningful way.
Women in the Philippines
Call for eradication of corruption
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 10 March 2021
First published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Monday 8
The Outstanding Women in the Nations Service
(TOWNS) strongly supports the call for the eradication of corruption
across all levels of society since it is an obstacle to achieving
a transparent, accountable, and participatory government and people-centered
The abatement of corruption requires the serious efforts of all
in the public and the private sectors.
As citizens, we need to stop offering bribes.
We need to be vigilant and vocal about corruption issues in our
We need to strongly champion the use of innovative strategies to
make government transactions more efficient and responsive and to
lessen or curb opportunities for corruption.
We must cultivate a culture of cooperation and compassion for one
another so we can thrive and succeed as a nation without leaving
We are inspired by Pasig City Mayor Vico Sottos anti-corruption
efforts, along with the inspiring stories of other upright mayors,
conscientious business persons, honest drivers returning sums of
money left in their vehicles, and even ordinary government workers
doing their jobs with fairness, diligence, and competence. These
are reasons to hope that corruption could be eradicated with our
individual and collective advocacies.
Our warmest commendation to all government officials around the
country who exemplify integrity, transparency, and accountability
in the performance of their jobs.
Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!
Call for condemnation
of China and Russia for blocking
United Nations condemnation of Myanmar coup
published in the Bangkok Post, Tuesday March 2, 2021
After two years of living in Yangon of Myanmar, I
had to agree with my brilliant French doctor who owns a home in
both countries Thailand and Myanmar, that the people of Myanmar
are so much more pleasant, friendly and generally nicer than your
average Thai person, and far less corrupt when dealing with their
This makes what is happening in Myanmar, courtesy of an illegal
military junta taking control of the country using arms and reprehensible
and indefensible criminal actions against an unarmed and peaceful
democratic civilian resistance, utterly heart-breaking and purely
evil in every way.
One of the problems faced by their nascent and promising democracy
was encouraging local nationals who are educated abroad as doctors
and the like, to return home to raise the quality of life in their
own country, rather than staying overseas to work.
That has been dashed by the recent military occupation.
When will the world rightly condemn, reject and contest the wicked
regimes of Russia and China - who repeatedly side with the criminals
at the United Nations and in everyday practice - and stand against
their attempts to control the people of their countries and the
wider world instead of allowing freedom of expression, assembly,
speech, movement and - well, you name it.
The world is walking blindly or mindlessly into an authoritarian
abyss from which there is no escape and no hope, unless we wake
up and read the writing that has been on the wall for a painfully
long time - left unread, or internalised and acted upon by an increasingly
politically illiterate populace.
How can we allow these superpowers to support these evil acts unopposed
in any tangible and life-saving way?
The Malaysian Bar calls
on Prime Minister
To advise the King to allow Parliament to
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 8 March 2021
First published in the Star, Saturday 6 March 2021
The Malaysian Bar calls upon the Cabinet to consider
advising His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to allow Parliament
to reconvene during the current Emergency period.
Parliament is the legislative authority of the federation, and its
vital role in preserving democracy cannot be understated.
The purpose of Parliament is not only to pass laws but also to provide
checks and balances to the function of the government as well as
to provide a voice for the rakyat.
On February 24,2021, the King decreed that Parliament may convene
during the period of this Emergency, upon the advice of the Prime
This is enshrined in subparagraph 14(1)(b) of the Emergency (Essential
Powers) Ordinance 2021 (Ordinance). It is therefore
inaccurate to assume that the Emergency Declaration precludes Parliament
The Malaysian Bar takes the view that Parliament should consider
holding a sitting physically with the number of attendees restricted
to that which is necessary to satisfy the quorum of 26 members of
Parliament divided equally between the government and opposition
Alternatively, Parliament could also consider arranging for full
online proceedings or to employ hybrid mechanisms, whereby some
MPs attend physically and others attend via online participation.
It is pertinent to note that Parliaments in other jurisdictions,
such as Britain, have been conducting proceedings virtually. Pursuant
to Article 62(1) of the Constitution, each House of Parliament is
allowed to regulate its own procedure. Such flexibility is important
during these unprecedented times.
Therefore, Article 62(1) of the Federal Constitution ought to be
given a purposive interpretation.
This will allow MPs to log in virtually, and this can be construed
as attendance for the purposes of achieving the necessary quorum
and for voting.
Pursuant to Standing Orders 90 and 99 of the Dewan Rakyat, the Speaker
of the House is armed with powers to make rulings or to suspend
This authority can be used to allow virtual proceedings or to overcome
any impediments that stand in the way of implementing virtual Parliamentary
proceedings during the Emergency period.
Even the Parliamentary Standing Order Committee should be able to
meet virtually to decide on any amendments to orders to pave way
and allow for online proceedings.
Malaysia has experienced the suspension of Parliament for two years
during the 1969 racial riots, and such a position is entirely untenable
in this day and age.
We must take into account the fact that our current Parliament is
well equipped with technological tools that did not exist more than
half a century ago.
Parliament must therefore do what many workplaces are doing in the
face of a pandemic: innovate expediently.
The Malaysian Bar acknowledges that health and safety are important
considerations during a pandemic, and against this grim backdrop,
virtual proceedings are the safest and most effective way to bring
parliamentary institutions up to date with the modern era.
We must adapt without compromising Parliamentary democracy to address
issues of national importance that affect the welfare and well-being
of the rakyat.
Call for private sector
to help Philippines
With vaccine distribution
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 7 March 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 6 March
I have just learned from a relative in the United
States who keeps track of vaccine distributions worldwide that the
reason the Philippines has still not received any vaccines from
Western producers abroad is because our government has been dithering
about agreeing to indemnify persons who may react badly to the vaccine.
Furthermore, President Dutertes fulminations against Western
countries not aiding poor countries like ours simply strengthens
the belief that the Philippines will keep on being a mendicant nation.
Obviously because this inept administration has been bungling its
way during this whole crisis, the private sector must step in to
help the country get immunized, as Guillermo Luz wrote in Business
Matters How the private sector can help in vaccination,
Bangladesh, which is among the most impoverished countries in Asia,
has beaten us to rolling out its vaccines, which only puts us to
Apparently, this country will continue being the perennial laggard
among our Asian neighbors.
for Thai PM to promote not curb
Non Government Organisations NGOs
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 6 March 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday 5 March 2021
The Prayut Chan-o-cha government apparently wants
to curb civil society groups and NGOs with unwarranted regulations,
such as restricting foreign donations to certain activities in Bangkok
Post, 4 March.
But we should promote - not curb - civil society, for NGOs can,
and should, complement the work of state agencies.
As former prime minister Anand Panyarachun put it: "Civil
society is a vital pillar of democracy. An active civil society
begins its engagement at the grassroots.
Community forums, clubs, issue-focused activist groups, charities,
cooperatives, unions, think tanks and associations fit under the
broad umbrella of civil society. These groups are the participatory
vehicles for sustaining grass-root democracy. Civil society provides
an important source of information for intelligent debate on matters
of public interest. Civil society also provides a mechanism whereby
the collective views of citizens can shape and influence government
By bringing into the public domain arguments and information as
a context for examining policy, a democratic government is forced
to present counterarguments or to modify its position. Such exchange
is healthy for democracy."
For example, Thai public health volunteers greatly helped in surveillance
and containing Covid-19.
Another example is PollWatch, established by then-prime minister
Khun Anand, consisting of 20,000 volunteers to curb vote-buying
and encourage democratic consciousness in the lead-up to the March
In the US, Mothers Against Drunk Driving has been a key player in
reducing US road fatalities due to drunk driving in half since its
1980 founding - an achievement that we have only dreamed about.
Help NGOs to strengthen Thai democracy.
Myanmar's neighbours including
for restoration of elected government
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 5 March 2021
Some of Myanmar's neighbours have called for the restoration
of democracy. Significant members of the international community
have called for the restoration of democracy.
But my guess is that military rulers who grabbed power in a coup
and locked up democratically elected civilian leaders are not likely
to heed the calls for the restoration of democracy.
They have too much special privilege ( which they have given themselves
) to lose. If anything the rogue military rulers will intensify
their brutal crackdown on pro- democracy protesters to entrench
themselves in power - again.
Time will tell.
Myanmar could be forced
To accept total Chinese patronage
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 3 March 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday 3 March 2021
The situation in Myanmar would seem to present a golden
opportunity for a useful bit of gunboat diplomacy.
What would be the likely result of an American carrier task force
standing off the coast in the Gulf of Martaban or Indian Ocean?
Perhaps joined by the new British aircraft carrier and French naval
Of course it is out of the question for a foreign invasion on the
However the Myanmar military might have cause to think again if
faced with the threat of having its assets and installations reduced
by air power.
Including its small air force and command and control capability.
No doubt all this will seem like fantasy to geopolitical realists,
but what is the likely alternative?
As things stand, the anti-dictatorship population are most likely
to lose the physical battle with their own military forces, accompanied
by horrible loss of life.
A general strike will be effective up to a point, but will probably
end up with eventual resumption of work at gunpoint, encouraged
by jailings and killings.
As things are now the likely winner will be China. Myanmar will
be forced to accept total Chinese patronage, given comprehensive
Western sanctions and a total arms embargo.
The big losers will be the people of Myanmar, with an intensified
military dictatorship, plus de facto control of their country by
The secondary losers will be the US, India, Japan, and regional
countries, who will see an even more emboldened China which will
more easily be able to bypass the Straits of Malacca for its exports.
Not only that, increased influence may see ports on the Andaman
Sea and Indian Ocean eventually become Chinese naval bases.
A timely move now by the Western powers would gain almost total
support from the Myanmar people, and if successful bring the country
firmly into the Indo/Pacific sphere of influence.
Unlike China the United
States seeks authorisation
From Philippines before sailing in territorial
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 3 March 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday 1 March
A visit is a short stay; a journey
to and stay or short sojourn at a place, according to Merriam-Websters
Collegiate Dictionary 11th Edition; also, to stay temporarily with
someone or at a place as a guest or tourist.
Per Oxford Lexico, it can also mean to go see someone or something
for a specific purpose.
China has converted what were once submerged features in the West
Philippine Sea (WPS) into island armed fortresses.
To make matters worse, it recently passed a law authorizing its
naval forces to fire on whoever enters what it calls its own body
of water, demarcated by the discredited nine-dash line.
Juxtapose that with the United States, which built military bases
in the country and ceremoniously turned them over to the Philippine
government at the end of the basing agreement.
Unlike China, the United States never grabbed any Philippine property
that would allow it to keep an eye on the Western Pacific Corridor.
US naval vessels, if they wish to, can slip in and out of the country.
Not being a rogue force, however, the United States would not do
what Chinese ships like Jia Geng and many others have done, romping
around the countrys territorial waters without prior authorization
from the Philippine government and breaking established maritime
rules like turning off their automatic identification system to
escape detection, showing a ringing contempt for our duly-constituted
In 2014, the Presidential Commission on the Visiting Forces (PCVF)
crafted an Omnibus IRR to systematize and smoothen the conduct of
military exercises in the country by visiting foreign military forces.
The Presidential Commission on the Visiting Forces (PCVF), together
with inter-agency representatives (I was one of them), pored over
the 1999 bilateral agreement with a fine-tooth comb and came out
with an Omnibus Policy that would ensure that our countrys
sovereignty was respected and our laws fully observed at all times.
Ted P Penaflor 11,
ASEAN conveniently turns
blind eye to Myanmar
Under ASEAN non-interference policy
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 2 March 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday 28 February 2021
Khun Bigart's frustration over Asean's failure to
stand with the people of Myanmar demonstrating against the recent
military coup is futile.
While it is true the Asean charter includes respect for human rights
and freedoms, the overriding principle that always prevails within
Asean is "non-interference" in member states affairs.
The non-interference tenet has allowed Asean to conveniently turn
a blind eye to human-rights violations, military coups, extra-judicial
killings, religious intolerance, and suppression of freedoms in
several of its member states.
No, Khun Bigart; the failure of Asean to respond to the military's
squashing of Myanmar's fledgling democracy is not going to cause
Asean's reputation to go down the drain.
The regional entity's reputation with respect to human rights went
down the drain, through the gutter, and into the cesspool long,
representative to United Nations
Calls for international community
to oppose military coup
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 1 March 2021
I salute Myanmar's UN envoy Kyaw Moe Tun for his courage
to speak truth to power in his address to the United Nations.
He said the international community must do all in its power to
oppose the military coup that overthrew the elected civilian government
in Myanmar ( SBS News 27 February ).
He could have taken the easier option, the politically expedient
option, of siding with and singing praise of the military generals.
But he is clearly a conscientious person who wants to be on the
right side of history which is to be on the side of the Myanmar
people and their democratically elected leaders.
Not the military usurpers who grabbed power to maintain their own
vested interests as opposed to the interests and the welfare of
the people of Myanmar.
The Myanmar military's imposed rule is like a Mafia state.
Nobody committed to human rights, the rule of law, good governance
and democracy should give legitimacy to the military coup in any
shape or form.
They should heed the envoy's message and oppose the coup.
Envoy Kyaw Moe Tun has shown himself to be a true representative
of the people of Myanmar and no moral coward.
We should draw inspiration from his bold and principled example.
Call for ASEAN to stand
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 28 February 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post Friday 26 February 2021
Re: "Myanmar needs help",
in Editorial, Bangkok Post, February 25
Asean has been talking about holding a meeting of its foreign ministers
for weeks. How hard it is to organise one?
It is pathetic and its reputation is going down the drain.
The Asean charter includes the respect for and protection of human
rights and fundamental freedoms, adhering to the principles of democracy,
the rule of law, and good governance.
It must stand up for almost 90 percent of the Myanmar civilians
peacefully demonstrating against the illegal military regime.
Myanmar doesn't need a new election - it just had one, deemed fair
by observers, including international observers, and people have
by China puppet states
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 27 February 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday 26 February 2021
If China gets its way and the Myanmar generals hop
into bed with them in exchange for power and riches, Thailand will
be surrounded by Chinese puppet states.
Those wheels are in motion at this very moment.
Myanmar military not a
For protection of Myanmar
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 26 February 2021
In an interview with Aljazeera on 22 February a spokesman
for Forces for Renewal for Southeast Asia ( FORSEA ) said the Myanmar
military was not a national military for the protection of Myanmar
and its people.
It was a terrorist organisation, a state within the state, with
unfettered power to use brutal force on the civilian population
to maintain its power and privilege .
Why would Australia have military ties with such a " terrorist
Whose interest is being served by such ties?
It's not just the people of Myanmar even mentally challenged people
can see that!
Call for PM scrutiny of
forged landowners names and identities
In Papua liquefied natural gas (LNG) project
southeast Asian Times, Thursday 25 February 2021
First published in the National Tuesday 23 February 2021
Landowners at Karimui-Salt Nomane want the Petroleum
Minister and Sinasina-Yonggamugl Member of Parliament Kerenga Kua
and his cohorts to right their wrongs regarding the much-anticipated
Papua liquefied natural gas (LNG) project.
Kua was alleged to have colluded with Karimui-Salt Nomane MP Jeffry
Kama, Chimbu Governor Michael Dua and a Chimbu businessmen by forging
names and identities of landowners.
The landowners are calling on Kua and the Department of Petroleum
to shed some light on their results of landowners identification
They request that Prime Minister James Marape scrutinise the remaining
process of Papua LNG landowners identification process so his vision
to Take Back PNG is implemented thoroughly, otherwise,
the Papua LNG project will be hijacked by crooks.
Papua New Guinea
The will of the people
Ignored by the Myanmar military
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 24 February 2021
The Myanmar story is straightforward .
The will of the people of Myanmar to give their consent on who they
want to govern them has been ignored by the military of Myanmar
who have decided to impose their will on the people of Myanmar by
They are a rogue military whose conduct is unacceptable by international
law and norms.
The people of Myanmar are now under tyrannical military rule.
What is the international community going to do about it?
The tortured and oppressed people of Myanmar are waiting anxiously
for any answer.
How many must be killed and maimed by the Neo-fascist rulers before
the international community decides to act, to intervene?
Let us at this critical time in the lives of the suffering people
of Myanmar remind ourselves of the warning Edmund Burke has left
us : evil only triumphs when good men do nothing.
Call to safeguard Thai
From fraudulent vaccine suppliers
Southeast Asian Times Tuesday 23 February 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday 22 February 2021
Re: "China arrests dozens over fake vaccines",
in Bangkok Post,
February 16, 2021
The emergence of fake vaccines and scam immunisations in China should
serve as a strong warning to Thailand and other countries eager
to put an end to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Unfortunately, whenever the opportunity arises, unscrupulous con
artists are quick to prey on people's hopes and desperations. Authorities
would be well-advised to safeguard Thai citizenry from fraudulent
vaccine suppliers and various other snake-oil purveyors.
In this sense, the adage "make haste slowly" seems apt
with respect to vaccination programmes.
Call for United Nations
To be dispatched to Myanmar
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 21 February 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday 21 February 2021
The people of Myanmar have demonstrated their endorsement
of the National League for Democracy and their massive rejection
of military rule.
The army junta has lost all vestiges of legitimacy and the spectre
looms of a bloodbath of innocent protesters at the hands of the
Now is the time for the United Nations to put into practice the
Resolution of the General Assembly in its Action for Peacekeeping:
We affirm the primacy of politics in the resolution of conflict
and the supporting role of peacekeeping operations therein, and
reaffirm the basic principles of peacekeeping, such as consent of
the parties, impartiality, and non-use of force, except in self-defence
and defence of the mandate.
We recall the importance of peacekeeping as one of the most effective
tools available to the UN in the promotion and maintenance of international
peace and security.
The people of Myanmar are at grave risk, as is also the United Nations
office, in addition to the some 500 United Nations local personnel
who do not enjoy the security of diplomatic status.
With the utmost urgency the Thailand Country Representative should
submit a Resolution to the Security Council to draw up an appropriate
mandate for a UN peacekeeping force to be dispatched to Myanmar
asap, to assure the protection of UN personnel.
Thereafter, the mandate could be extended with appropriate clearances
to include observer and reporting status relating to civilians.
Joseph Mullen (Dr)
Former UN Adviser to Myanmar and Civil Service Commission of Thailand
Sr Lecturer University of Manchester retd.,
for PNG Lands and Physical Planning Minister
explain Chinese ownership of public land
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 21 February 2021
First published in the National, Friday 19 February 2021
Lands and Physical Planning Minister John Rosso has
been vocal against land grabbing.
We want him to immediately investigate the land at the back of Gordon
Police Station and Medical Clinic.
There is construction on it now.
We suspect that the land was acquired fraudulently.
Why cant we expand the Gordon Police Station and the clinic
and build these two government infrastructures into modern state
of the art buildings to serve people of Moresby North West?
Gordon Police Station looks very old and needs maintenance and expansion.
The same goes for the clinic.
Why is this land given to a Chinese who has a history of acquiring
more than one piece of land in Port Moresbys Gordon suburb?
The man is said to own the land along Lapwing Drive, the reserved
park land behind Jabiru Drive residences and the land near Erima
Who is behind these deals?
Isnt this land grabbing?
Over to you Minister Rosso.
Papua New Guinea
Chinese Association accuses ASEAN of interference
call for Malaysia's monarchy to reconvene parliament
published in the Star, Thursday 18 February 2021
The Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 20 February 2021
Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) urges the 90 Members
of Parliaments (MPs) and ex-MPs from the ASEAN Parliamentarians
for Human Rights (APHR) who signed a statement calling on His Majesty
Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong to allow Parliament to
reconvene, to be more concerned about issues affecting the citizens
of their respective countries, especially with the Covid-19 pandemic
raging, instead of interfering with the domestic affairs of other
Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) has full confidence that Malaysia
is wise enough to deal with matters involving our own country.
There is no need for outsiders to have to worry or attempt to find
cheap political publicity.
Upon researching the list of signatories, we discovered that 65
of them are Members of Parliament (MPs), while another 25 do not
serve as lawmakers currently, and a majority of whom hail from the
Surprisingly, two-thirds of the 90 legislators who are supposedly
from 7 countries, are actually members of only 2 political parties.
In fact, the court had ordered the dissolution of one of the political
parties a few years ago.
Most of the signatories are opposition leaders in Thailand, whereby
47 individuals consist of 43 Members of Parliaments (MPs and 4 former
Almost all of them belong to one party.
Why are so many party leaders interested in Malaysia's internal
What is their real motive?
Meanwhile, all 12 signatories from Cambodia are former MPs from
a party that had been dissolved by the Supreme Court of Cambodia.
The only signatory from Singapore was an appointed Members of Parliament
(MP) who has since completed her tenure.
The declaration of a State of Emergency aimed at containing the
spread of the Covid-19 outbreak is an internal matter within Malaysia.
The government has also established a bipartisan Special Independent
Emergency Committee 2021 comprising of government and Opposition
Members of Parliaments (MPs) as well as experts in various fields
to assess the current situation during the Emergency and advise
His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. Therefore, the signatories
are reminded to respect the ASEAN Charter and to not meddle in the
internal affairs of other countries, even if they only represent
certain personal positions or organisations.
Dr Tee Ching Seng ,
Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA),
International Communication and Diplomacy Bureau,
President Duterte acting like 'kotong'
In attempt to extort 'barya' for VFA from
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 19 February 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 18 February
When President Duterte asked for payment from the
United States in exchange for the Visiting Forces Agreement, he
acted like a kotong cop hiding behind a tree
and extorting barya from a motorist even without
The Duterte administration is also trying to squeeze taxes from
ABS-CBN media despite the Bureau of Internal Revenues confirmation
that the network has paid its tax obligations.
On the other hand, the government refused to send a collection letter
to Manny Pacquiao for unpaid taxes worth billions of pesos.
It appears the government is trying to raise revenues on all fronts.
Is it because the public coffers are empty despite the government
having borrowed extensively over the past year?
Isidro C. Valencia,
of AICHR call on Myanmar military
To resolve election dispute through democratic
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 18 February 2021
First published in the Malasiakini, Monday 15 February 2021
We, the undersigned, former representatives to the
Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), are
gravely concerned over the coup staged by the Myanmar military on
February 1 against the elected civilian government.
Raids have been carried out by the military against members of the
government. According to credible news sources, hundreds of senior
National League for Democracy party members and government officials
including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint,
and Union Minister of the Office of the State Counsellor and former
Representative of Myanmar to the AICHR, Kyaw Tint Swe, as well as
protesters have been arrested and detained.
The removal and takeover of the civilian government that was elected
in a landslide victory by the people of Myanmar is contrary to the
principles of democracy, constitutional government, rule of law,
good governance, as well as respect for and protection of human
rights and fundamental freedoms enshrined in the Asean Charter.
Myanmar, as a member of Asean, is obliged to abide by the charter.
The coup also amounts to a serious breach of human rights of the
peoples of Myanmar as recognised by the Asean Human Rights Declaration.
The declaration that Myanmars government adopted binds Myanmar,
including its military.
The violent crackdown on the ongoing peaceful protests is further
evidence of widespread human rights abuses.
The coup staged by the military is a definite setback in Myanmars
process of democratisation and has far-reaching ramifications for
human rights in the region.
Not only will the coup destabilise the region, but it is also a
catalyst allowing the military to act unchecked to afflict the people
of Myanmar with the unacceptable malaise of dictatorship.
We, therefore, call for the following:
Myanmar military to immediately release all those currently arbitrarily
Myanmar military to resolve the election dispute through democratic
processes, enter into constructive dialogue with the stakeholders
in Myanmar to break through any impasse, and work towards reconciliation
and return of Myanmar to civilian rule consistent with the spirit,
will, and interest of the people of Myanmar.
Myanmar military to respect the human rights of the people of Myanmar
and refrain from any use of violence against peaceful assemblies.
Myanmar military to protect the voices of the people calling for
a fully democratic Myanmar in the manifestation of the founding
spirit and principles of the Asean Human Rights Declaration.
AICHR to exercise its protection mandate to look into the human
rights abuses in Myanmar.
Asean to convene a special meeting to discuss the situation in Myanmar
and to propose possible solutions for the crisis.
Sriprapha Petcharamesree, former representative of
Thailand to the AICHR
Seree Nonthasoot, former representative of Thailand to the AICHR
Edmund Bon Tai Soon, former representative of Malaysia to the AICHR
Dinna Prapto Rajaha, former representative of Indonesia to the AICHR
Rafendi Djamin, former representative of Indonesia to the AICHR
Barry Desker, former representative of Singapore to the AICHR
Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, former representative of Malaysia to the
Loretta Ann P Rosales,
Former representative of the Philippines to the AICHR,
call for lower electricity costs
Second highest in Southeast Asia
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 17 February 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday 16 February
February is celebrated as the Love Month. But for
millions of Filipinos struggling to make ends meet in this already
year-long COVID-19 pandemic, love is hardly felt.
Every day, we are faced with the economic challenges brought about
by the pandemic, further worsened by the rise in commodity prices
- including that which is very crucial to our lives: electricity.
Just last month, Meralco announced a price hike of P0.27 per kilowatt-hour.
This meant that a household consuming 200 kWh would be charged an
additional P55 in their electricity bill.
In the first week of February, consumers flocked to several Meralco
offices to protest this price hike and called out the company for
its abusive practices - for not complying with the promised extension
of its nondisconnection policy and continuing
to cut the service of some customers for nonpayment.
Filipino consumers deserve better.
The Philippines has the second highest electricity cost in Southeast
Asia, and amid the ongoing economic crisis and the high cost of
household utilities, service from these energy companies should
never be inefficient, expensive, or predatory.
The energy industry has been heartless all these years, sucking
us dry with high rates and sneaky charges.
Particularly at this time when surviving the global pandemic is
the topmost priority, it is crucial for the government to put into
heart the importance of implementing existing laws and policies
that are consumer-centered.
Kuryente.org urges energy suppliers to show our consumers some love
by bringing the cost of electricity down and providing the service
At the current rate of P10 per kWh, average earners would not be
able to make both ends meet, given the P537 minimum wage in Metro
Manila and much lower wages in the rest of the country.
While the Electric Power Industry Reform Act or Republic Act No.
9136 enforces open competition among producers and distributors
in the country, this law does not sufficiently lower the prices
of electricity in the Philippines.
Existing regulation guidelines must be improved and strengthened,
focusing on ways to significantly lower electricity fees so that
these will not significantly compete with other basic family needs.
A Social Weather Stations survey conducted in December 2020 asserts
that 91 percent of Filipinos are hopeful for the new year.
We at Kuryente.org believe that this optimism should be sustained
and maximized by allowing consumers to be a crucial part of decision-making
processes in the energy sector.
During this time when jobs are still scarce and millions of Filipinos
are experiencing the excruciating impacts of the pandemic, cheaper
electricity can allow more Filipinos the chance for a better year,
of the law applied to reciepients
Of pension over payments in Thailand
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 16 February 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Saturday 14 February
Re: "Pension drama didn't have to happen",
in Bangkok Post, February 7
Thai authorities invite ridicule and scorn for applying the "letter
of the law" instead of common sense in attempting to reclaim
pension overpayments sent to elderly recipients over the years.
It is absurd to expend yet more government resources to recover
these relatively small overpayments made to senior members of society
who deserve only to be respected and revered rather than hassled.
Considering that the overpayments were the result of bureaucratic
bungling rather than any wrongdoing by the elders themselves, it
would be most reasonable to write off the "losses"
and move on.
These overpayments are peanuts in comparison to the countless other
examples of government waste and fraud that go largely unchallenged
for Australia to abandon
Military ties with Myanmar
Southeast Asian Times, 15 February 2021
I agree with David Brown ( letter 6/2 and 12/2 ) and
disagree with Ray Ban ( Letter 14/2 ).
The potential leaders from Third World countries like Myanmar who
are likely to absorb the values of the host country ( Australia
and other western democracies ) through the military exchange, aid
and ties is more a myth than a reality.
It is driven more by what's politically expedient than what's right.
It exposes the hypocrisy inherent in the western countries purported
commitment to upholding democratic values and norms of good governance.
In Fiji the military men who acquired training in England instead
of absorbing the values of the host country carried out the military
Fiji's democracy has not recovered .
Many civil society activists and human rights defenders maintain
" return to parliamentary democracy " is a masquerade
and that the modus operandi of the police state is still very much
in place under the guise of democracy.
I can cite many more examples of this phenomenon where the desired
or expected outcomes did not materialise.
That in fact the appeasement relationship was counterproductive.
But I think the point is already made.
David Brown has a good grasp of the reality of the dubious relationship
cultivated by the existing military ties.
Such ties with rogue regimes should not be " reviewed ".
They should be abandoned altogether.
There is a need for a paradigm change in this area of international
Myanmar officers in Australia back home
short-sighted and counter-productive
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 14 February 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Saturday 13 February
I take a somewhat different view from that of David
Brown in his February 11 letter on what Australia's reaction to
the latest Myanmar coup should be.
Call me naive if you will, but I would suggest that a knee-jerk
decision to send the very limited contingent of Myanmar officers
in Australia back home is short-sighted and ultimately counter-productive.
Any real impact this would have on the crisis in Myanmar is negligible.
Is it not the case that these low-level exchanges between countries
with very different political systems have at their heart a hope
that the potential leaders of somewhere like Myanmar will absorb
some of the values of their host countries and that, incrementally,
change may evolve?
If the truth be told, why would Australia not cut ties with Thailand,
where the only real difference with Myanmar is that the generals
now wear suits?
And yet we stooge along on all the accepted pretence of "democracy",
trade and regional stability.
Foreign affairs are as complex now as it has been for thousands
At best, with the destructive power of current technology, both
cyber and firepower, the best we can hope for is that the personal
connections between powerful leaders will save us from mutual destruction.
And way down the line, I would rather imagine that the Myanmar officers
in Australia are still sharing a beer with their Aussie mates while
all this unfolds, rather than being packed off to be reabsorbed
into the brutal and rapacious arms of a military that knows only
what it has known for decades ... that might is right.
Papua New Guinea landowners
Agreements in big development projects
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 13 February 2021
First published in the National, Fridat 12 February 2021
I read headlines lately of big projects given approval
for development such as the Papua LNG and others.
Yesterday, Bank South Pacific expressed appreciation for millions
that it will benefit from.
Prime Minister James Marape has been moving this country with the
aim of taking back Papua New Guinea, which is fair enough
Ok Tedi has paved the way.
The people of this country have been suffering for years even with
big development projects.
People are suffering because there are no roads and other basic
The Government is still desperate to develop more LNG projects.
Can Marape tell us how much the landowners will get in terms of
Papua New Guinea is eager to see finalised benefits-sharing agreements.
We are fed up of being spectators in our own country.
Call for Australia to
cut military aid
the Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) of Myanmar
Southeast Asian Times Friday 12 February 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Thursday 11 February
It would appear the Australian and Thai governments
have much in common.
Instead of making decisions they decide to "review"
the situation, which no doubt means setting up a committee to examine
On February 5, PostBag published my letter accusing the Australian
government of hypocrisy in continuing to provide military aid to
Myanmar's Tatmadaw, and calling on the Morrison government to immediately
cease all aid to the Tatmadaw and to expel those officers now in
Australia receiving training.
This week two of Australia's most influential and respected newspapers,
The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age (Melbourne) reported that
Australia was "reviewing" its training and education
programmes with Myanmar's military, to which they have been committed
for the past five years.
Both newspapers quoted Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Marise
Payne as saying, "The government was also reviewing its
foreign aid commitments ... our relationships are predicated across
a number of areas, and military engagement -- albeit relatively
"That engagement is under review as a result of the events
of last week," the minister said.
What is there to review, Marise?
For God's sake, in the name of humanity, slam the door in the face
of these genocidal despots.
Call for investigation
into missing K300,000
For Papua New Guinea's youth program fund
The Southeast Asan Times, Thursday 11 February 2021
First published in the National, Tuesday 8 February 2021
I am calling on Northern Governor Gary Juffa to anwer
the following questions.
After nine years of being in office, please tell us about the status
of the provinces economy?
What are some measures you have put in place to address the endemic
corruption in the local level governments, districts and the provincial
administration, including the treasury offices in the province?
Why hasnt the education level in the province changed?
Why is it that the province continues to be last in the country
in terms of education?
What are your plans to accommodate all students who have dropped
out of schools in the province over the last 30 years as a result
of the very poor level of education system in the province?
Most of those students are now engaged in criminal activities.
Are you going to ask for an investigation into the K300,000 youth
programme fund missing under the care of one of your appointed official
in the provincial government?
Why are cash crops such as coffee, cocoa, coconut and vanilla among
others not developed in the province?
Whose responsibility is it to fix all the feeder roads in the province
including the Handarituru to Barevoturu, Sarimbo to Siai, Koipa
to Kiorota and Waseta to Kendata roads?
How do you feel when you travel and see improved living standards
of people from other provinces compared to Oro?
What do you say about that?
Why does the technical services division of the Oro administration
fill the potholes in Popondetta town with soil and sand that create
dust, which is a health hazard during dry weather?
call for increase in wages
poor and unemployed need immediate relief
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 10 February 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday 8 February
The workers and the poor need wage hikes from employers
and a new round of cash assistance from the government to cope with
the spikes in prices of food and job losses.
With prices of meat and vegetables seeing a steep price last month
while many more were laid off in the last quarter of 2020, what
the working poor and unemployed Filipinos need is immediate relief
through a combo -umento mula sa kapitalista at ayuda mula sa gobyerno.
We are calling for a P100 across-the-board wage hike for workers
to recover the lost purchasing power since the nominal wage of P537
in Metro Manila has already been eroded to P434 in real wage terms,
according to the National Wages and Productivity Commission.
The sharp decline in the purchasing power of wages is happening
in other regions, too.
For example, the nominal wage of P394 in Metro Cebu has already
been eroded to P320 in real wage terms.
Families of the unemployed and informal workers should also be given
a cash assistance of P10,000 a month.
Expenses for food comprise half of the budget of poor Filipinos,
thus the price hikes have a grave impact on nutrition, hunger, and
Before the pandemic, our own cost of living survey already reached
P1,300 a day, more than double the P537 minimum wage in Metro Manila.
We have advocated for the Apat na Dapat set of
measures to address the gap in wages and cost of living: wage hikes,
social security subsidies, tax exemptions, and price discounts.
In this light, we challenge Congress to drop the Charter change
bid and instead discuss the legislation of a minimum wage hike and
appropriation of cash aid for the poor.
In consideration of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses
and workers are merely demanding recovery of the value of their
real wages and not a real wage increase.
When the pandemic is over, workers will fight for their share in
the fruits of their labor.
From 2001 to 2016, labor productivity grew by at least 50 percent,
yet real wages did not grow at all.
Even before the pandemic, inequality was worsening due to the stagnation
of real wages while productivity was booming.
But the pandemic has worsened inequality as workers and the poor
have been devastated more than employers and the rich.
Poor Filipinos are reeling from the double whammy of job losses
and price increases.
No wonder the number of Filipino families going hungry ballooned
to 7.6 million, according to the September 2020 Social Weather Stations
This is almost double the 4.2 million hungry families in May at
the height of the lockdown.
This is due to the combination of forced leaves, mass layoffs, and
Thus, cash must be put in the pockets of the working poor, the jobless,
and the hungry.
This combo measure is similar to the stimulus program of newly elected
US President Joe Biden, who has announced a $15 per hour minimum
wage together with $2,000 in checks for taxpayers.
The Philippines should act just as boldly, since we have been ravaged
as much as the United States by failed policies to contain the pandemic.
for the United Nations to listen
the people of Myanmar
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 9 February 2021
Myanmar military tells United Nations election irregularities
led to political impasse ( The Southeast Asian Times 8 February
This is a spurious justification for the military coup and no amount
of spin by the Myanmar military can hide that fact.
Aung San Sui Kyi and her party do not need any election irregularities
to win ielections in Myanmar.
They have proved that previously when they won and the military
had denied them the right to govern by staging a coup.
The Myanmar military generals do not fool anyone with their fictitious
explanations for why they have grabbed power from the people's elected
representatives once again.
The Myanmar people know the truth.
The United Nations and other international parties should listen
to what the people of Myanmar tell them.
Not the military!
This letter is in solidarity with the people of Myanmar from someone
who lived under a military dictatorship in Fiji.
says the military take-over in Myanmar
Is Myanmar's business
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 8 February 2021
First published in Bangkok Post, Sunday 7 February 2021
So Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, on behalf
of the government, says "it's their internal affair"
(entire statement) while the rest of the world condemns the coup
Guess it is because we need their illegal workers here to do the
menial jobs that Thais do not want to do, or maybe it is because
they can be paid less to do the same work.
Or is it the thought that the military can do a better job of running
At any rate, with such an attitude, perhaps people in power here
should receive sanctions from the rest of the world for their lack
Any takers out there?
Power to the People,
Keeping animals in cages
for public amusement
Is ethically indefensible
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 7 February 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 5 February
Building a zoo to bolster biodiversity is akin to
chopping down trees to save forests.
Collections of animals in an inherently artificial environment do
nothing to foster the publics connection to the natural world
or cultivate respect.
Instead of money being squandered to keep animals in captivity,
resources could be used to reduce the factors contributing to the
decline of species in nature: habitat destruction, poaching, and
the exotic-animal trade.
If those root causes arent addressed and remedied, all the
cages in the world wont be enough to save animals at risk.
Theres growing recognition that keeping animals in cages for
the publics amusement is ethically indefensible.
Baguio should focus on its already bountiful attractions: its pine-clad
hills, appealing climate, and natural hot springs.
City leaders can promote hiking, camping, and bird watching - all
outdoor activities that connect people, especially children, to
That kind of forward thinking will benefit Baguio and biodiversity.
Senior vice president,
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals-Asia,
Call for Australia to
Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) of Myanmar
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 6 February 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday 5 February 2021
There is more than a whiff of hypocrisy in the Australian
government joining the international chorus of condemnation of the
The Australian Defence Department continues to provide military
aid to the Tatmadaw, including training for some of its officers
Admittedly the aid only amounts to about half a million Australian
dollars a year but it is disingenuous to argue, as does the Australian
government, that it is better to keep doors of dialogue open than
to close them.
How do you have "dialogue" with murderous, rapist,
All fair-minded Australians should call on the Scott Morrison government
to cease all aid to the Tatmadaw and expel the officers currently
Philippines catholic clergy
call on Justices of Supreme Court
declare Anti-Terrorism Act unconstitutional
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 5 February 2020
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 4 January
Dear Your Honors, Justices of the Supreme Court,
We, members and networks of the National Clergy Discernment Group,
a group of Catholic priests and religious spread all over the Philippines,
express our solidarity with our brothers and sisters of different
faith-traditions and secular movements in opposing the Anti-Terrorism
Act of 2020, also known as Republic Act No. 11479. In so opposing,
we add our reasoned conviction to these voices that urge you, members
of the Supreme Court of the Philippines, to declare the unconstitutionality
of RA 11479.
Terrorism and acts of terror do not exist as a national reality
in the Philippines, notwithstanding the very broad definition of
terrorism in RA 11479.
If there are identified terrorists doing acts of terror, as identified
by other nation-states and the United Nations, in the Philippines,
then these could only be a limited one confined to some small areas
One cannot make a law for the whole for the sake of a tiny exception.
One cannot make a law for a non-existent phenomenon.
RA 11479 in fact, by broadening the definition of terrorism and
terrorist acts, creates and conjures terrorism and terrorist acts.
Notwithstanding its expressed exemptions of terrorism in Section
4 of this law, still this exceptionalism can be curtailed, denied,
and suppressed under the same provisions of Sec. 4.
The inconveniences created by advocacies and protest actions in
various forms could be construed as acts intended to cause death,
damage to public facility, interference with critical infrastructure,
even with the use of weapons and inducing calamities.
Experience from the period of martial law and the dictatorship until
now must teach us a lesson:
The imprisonment, disappearances, and deaths of many workers for
change, peace-builders, ecological advocates, and human rights defenders
continue to occur, as committed by state security forces and clandestine
death squads with impunity.
The Anti-Terrorism Council created by RA 11479 is at the heart of
our opposition. The ATC exists as a plenipotentiary body with the
powers of the surveillance and intelligence team, the police and
the military enforcer, the prosecutor and the judge, the jailer
and the punisherall at the same time.
RA 11479 legitimizes the terror experienced by the people at the
hands of the state, its security forces and the death squads.
Pointing at the Communist Party of the Philippines, New Peoples
Army, and National Democratic Front of the Philippines as terrorist
enemies of the state, the military and police have lumped all legal,
non-combatant and unarmed members of the national democratic movement
as conspirators with the CPP-NPA-NDFP, which seek the overthrow
of the state.
In the guise of containing terrorist acts, they have massacred the
Tumandok tribes defending their ancestral land, massacred peasants
crying out for land reform, jailed workers demanding just family
wages, assassinated peace negotiators and human rights and ecological
defenders, bombed the farms of the lumad and closed their schools
to throw them out of their land and to make them docile, uncritical
slaves of mining, logging, and plantation companies.
And now, the red-tagging is obscenely led by the elements of the
military and police, targeting universities and schools, isolating
their members for the kill, and to turn bastions and arenas of critical
thinking, new ideas, and actions for freedom into prisons of submission
Soon, all types of opposition, critical thinking, and movement for
change will be classified as terrorism and terrorist acts.
And so today, we ask you to invoke the wisdom of history. First
they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out because I
was not a Communist; they came for Socialists, and I did not speak
out, because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade
Unionists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out, because I
was not a Jew. Then they came for me, and there was no one left
to speak for me.Pastor Martin Niemöller.
Please, declare RA 11479, the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, unconstitutional.
National Clergy Discernment Group,
Thailand abides by the
Of non-interferrence in Myanmar's internal
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 4 February 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Tuesday 2 February 2021
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon is quoted as
saying "It's Myanmar's internal affair."
This is not the first time that the principle of national sovereignty
has been invoked to justify a government's oppression of its own
We get it all the time from China whenever people criticise it for
persecuting the Uighurs, or the Tibetans, or the Hong Kongers, or
"This is the internal affair of China," snarls
the Chinese foreign ministry.
"China strongly opposes and resolutely rebuffs any attempt
to infringe upon its sovereignty."
Now we're getting the same codswallop from Myanmar.
Should the principle of national sovereignty be paramount in international
affairs? There's a higher principle that ought to prevail.
That is the idea that we are our brother's keeper, that what affects
one is the business of all, that the human species is one great
extended family, and that as human beings we have a duty to take
care of one another.
The principle of universal human responsibility ought to supersede
the more parochial principle of national sovereignty so beloved
by oppressive regimes.
"Mind your own business," growl those regimes.
"We're human beings," we ought to reply.
"You're oppressing other human beings. This is our business."
"Our business" applies to the Myanmar coup, the
Chinese persecution of the Uighurs and Tibetans, the Russian persecution
of Alexei Navalny and the American persecution of Julian Assange
and Edward Snowden.
There would be an improvement in the moral condition of the world
if nations would embrace this principle instead of cowering and
retreating into banal assertions every time a deviant nation oppresses
its own people.
Ye Olde Pedant,
Business as usual with
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 4 February 2021
Once again the rogue military rulers of Myanmar have
raised their ugly heads.
Once again western democracies go through the motion of condemning
the military coup.
Once again before the bad smell of the military takeover has subsided
the western democracies will be back to do business as usual with
the rogue regime.
Please correct me if I got that wrong.
Capitalism for socialists
in the USA
And for communists in China
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 3 February 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday 29 Jan
Re: "In the US, socialism is for the rich",
in Bangkok Post Opinion, January 28.
In the USA, capitalism is driven by consumerism.
The supply-side economy is in the grip of the stock market, banks,
and credit card companies.
Three major industries, healthcare, pharma, and insurance have become
so entrenched that 40 percnt -50 percent of the income of working
people ends up in their pockets.
The American version of socialism romanticised by the likes of Senator
Bernie Sanders basically feeds into the current trend where working
people with higher hourly wages and universal healthcare will fall
prey to the same Wall Street sharks - the big consumer industries.
The tech industry led by Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and
many others has successfully forced their hands in every American
As a result, the average debt of an American is the worst in the
In spite of all these problems, the rest of the world wants to sell
to the USA.
In this century, consumerism thrives while ideologies strive.
The real "socialism" in America will arrive on
the day the House and the senators would fall behind Mr Sanders
and work for the American people on minimum hourly wages.
Other than that, all this hoopla about "socialism"
is nothing more than an empty slogan, just like "communism".
To some, capitalism is the principal cause of inequality and poverty
in the world; to others, socialism is nothing more than snake oil.
For more than a century we have been told that socialism has failed
every place it has been tried.
However, in this new century, the rise of China is a testimony of
the failure of Western-style capitalism.
Now the Covid pandemic is forcing nations to rise above political
and economic ideologies and deal with the invisible enemy born out
of reckless exploitation of natural resources, air pollution, and
contamination of water and food around the world.
Call for Asean to adopt
Papua New Guinea
Hotline corruption model
Southeast Asian Times 2 February 2021
Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape has directed
that a hotline be established " for people to report cases
of bribery and corruption in the public service" .
He also pointed out " When you don't report you are perpetuating
corruption " ( The National 29 January 2012 ).
He couldn't be more correct.
Other countries in the region too should adopt that Papua New Guinea
model to fight corruption in the public service and in the corridors
New Guinea wants 10 million more
Tourists a year
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 1 February 2021
First published in National, Friday 29 January 2021
There is a lot of potential for Papua New Guinea with
The tourism sector has been given lip service and has not been fully
The tourism sector involves all citizens and needs people to be
part of it to ensure it grows.
The Government needs to set the direction for Papua New Guineans.
It needs to focus on our strengths and capabilities.
Our cultural diversity is already an advantage.
Papua New Guinea needs to take the opportunity of this modern era
to utilise technology to its advantage.
The Government needs to look into the sector in a holistic manner.
The current trend of technology has given many countries the advantage
to showcase their image to attract tourists.
The way of doing things should be reconsidered in order to build
By the use of platforms such as YouTube and Facebook, the country
can showcase our unique cultures and traditions.
Tourism, when tapped into fully, will help many Papua New Guineans.
Many businesses will thrive on it.
For instance, if we can increase the number of tourists into our
country by 10 million a year, Papua New Guinea can increase its
revenue by approximately K1 billion.
In order to realise this, we all have to work together.
Papua New Guinea
Muslim Youth Movement Malaysia applauds enforcement
the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 31 January 2021
First published in the Star, Friday 22 January 2021
With great hope, the Muslim Youth Movement Malaysia
(Abim) along with international communities celebrated the enforcement
of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) on January
Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) is a result
of a mutual agreement arising from several international conferences
and dialogues, including the three conferences on the Humanitarian
Impact of Nuclear Weapons in Oslo March 2013, Nayarit February 2014
and Vienna December 2014.
The Muslim Youth Movement Malaysia (Abim) is confident that the
enforcement of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
(TPNW) will have a positive impact on global peace, particularly
in saving human lives from the devastation of war involving nuclear
At the same time, the Muslim Youth Movement Malaysia (Abim) applauds
the commitment shown by Malaysia in becoming the 46th country to
ratify the treaty on September 30,2020.
Apart from the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW),
Malaysia has ratified almost all international treaties related
to disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.
This is a commitment by Malaysia as a proponent of a global peace
May all international citizens regardless of colour, religion, and
boundary of states live together in peace and enjoy their rights
to a better quality of life.
Muhammad Faisal Abdul Azia,
President, Muslim Youth Movement Malaysia (Abim),
threat of an asset freeze in the Philippines
Is the most troubling aspect of the anti-terrorism
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 30 January 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 29 January
When a country falls into dictatorship, it is more
prone to poverty.
Call it ill luck, karma, or whatever, the curse is there, irreversible
and unappeasable unless people wake up from the moral stupor of
consenting to one-man rule.
Take the case of an oil-rich country, formerly one of the richest
in the world and now one of the most impoverished.
The blame is laid upon its toleration of political dynasties, no-term-limit
presidency, dissolution of opposition parties, disenfranchising
of media, and the most dictatorial action of all-overturning of
free election results.
Who in his right mind would place money on a country where signs
of an impending dictatorship are waving like red flags?
Having to put up with a leaders moods, lies, moments of pique,
and other childish irrationalities is an extra risk an investor
would not likely take up.
It is therefore the height of irresponsibility on the part of a
leader to indulge in ego-driven speeches and actions that betray
a despotic disposition, as if he only had his die-hard supporters,
sycophants, and flatterers for an audience, when in fact the international
business community and the whole world are listening.
Especially if a return to martial law or a bill that bears a resemblance
to it is floated, the consequent disincentive could be fatal to
an economy already on the brink of collapse.
Granted a terror bill is well-intentioned; the question is, will
it be perceived favorably in the market? Isnt it naïve
to expect that its safeguards will be honored in a country with
a disgraceful track record of jailed dissenters, extrajudicial killings,
and selective justice?
The threat of an asset freeze is the most troubling aspect of the
anti-terrorism law. Once tagged as a suspect, you have to go through
legal red tape for authorization to withdraw money to fund your
business operations and feed your family.
Wont this inspire a repeat of the capital flights that crippled
the economy during the Marcos regime?
Did not this scenario of jinx-laden repercussions ever frighten
the Senate and the House of Representatives before allowing themselves
to be dictated upon to endorse that law?
Once the law is implemented in a manner that will undermine the
confidence of investors, traders, and depositors, the dictator wannabe
might as well lead his nation in singing a dirge for the economy.
to adopt Singapore model
and use of vehicles to reduce pollution
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 29 January 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday 27 January
Re: "Old solutions no answer to dust menace",
In Bangkok Post Opinion, January 25.
The only way to eliminate the menace of air pollution is to take
drastic action.First, Thailand must reduce the manufacturing and
sale of petrol-based and diesel-based vehicles. Second, the government
should increase the taxes on cars and trucks to 30 percent -35 percent.
Third, Thai banks should use more stringent income criteria to provide
loans to buy cars and trucks.
Fourth, enhance public transport nationwide by improving railways.
Fifth, the public and private sectors should curb the use of cars,
provide their employees with Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BTMA).
and Bangkok Sky Train (BTS) passes and give incentives for carpooling.
The government should also put a hefty fine on single-person occupancy
Lastly, wherever feasible, encourage people to work from home.
Adopting the Singapore model on the sales and use of cars will go
a long way.
The ongoing Covid crisis, combined with air pollution, has taught
us one lesson: We must keep our lungs safe and clean, for breath
Call for University Philippines
(UP) to restrict entrance
Of organisations that provoke armed revolution
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 28 January 2021
I am dismayed with the response of University Philippines
(UP) prioritizing their
so-called academic freedom instead of protecting their students
and preventing them from becoming a terrorist.
It was like the University Philippines (UP) doesnt even care
about those fallen University Philippines (UP) students in the battlefield,
disheartening that it makes me support the abrogation of the accord.
The accord is meant for the university to protect the students from
harm, for decades the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and
Philippine National Police (PNP) have conformed to the terms and
conditions of the accord but the university has been tolerating
the radicalization of the leftist inside the university.
University Philippines (UP) has been unfair and one sided considering
that they restricted entrance of the government forces but having
the guts to stomach the recruitment of rebels.
If it is for the purpose of academic freedom and peaceful learning,
University Philippines (UP) should restrict both sides and any other
organization that may inflict harm or provoke armed revolution inside
University Philippines (UP) definitely has bright students, topnotchers,
and was able to produce competitive and productive leaders of our
society now that is why, it is very important to keep the university
free from the armed rebels.
We have such talented and intelligent students that we cannot afford
to lose in the battlefield.
Although there were only a few students who turned out to be rebels
and died in the battlefield it should not be ignored and forgotten
as these few numbers already implies a problem of safety and security
in University Philippines (UP).
If we do not put an end to these, if we keep on ignoring these numbers
of dead combatants, more young blood of our future leaders will
be shed in the battlefield. The accord, as significant as it seems,
is merely a paper, incomparable to the lives of our Filipino youths.
Holy Trinity University,
Students deemed enemies
of the state
Await trial in Philippine prisons
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 27 January 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday 26 January
At a media briefing on January 20, Defense Secretary
Delfin Lorenzana showed a list of what he said were University of
the Philippines (UP) students who had joined the communist rebel
movement and subsequently died in encounters with the military.
Among those he named was my daughter, Myles Cantal Albasin, who
has been in detention for close to 35 months now.
Myles and five young men were illegally arrested in Mabinay town,
Negros Oriental, on March 3, 2018, by soldiers in what the military
claims was an encounter.
Although the Mabinay 6 tested negative in paraffin tests, they were
charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives, which
has become standard for those the state brands its enemies,
whether in drugs, politics, or dissent.
Today, we are still waiting for the courts ruling on our petition
for bail, hearings for which concluded in June 2019 with no opposition
from the prosecution.
When I saw the list handed out during the media briefing and Lorenzanas
tweet that showed Myles photo along with other young people
he was referring to, I feared for my detained daughters life
as well as our familys safety, given how, under this government,
such lists have become a tool of terror, a mark of death.
My fears were heightened when, toward evening,
I received a friend request on Facebook from a certain Matt
Florence, whose profile photo was of a foreign-looking
male with what appeared to be a Photoshopped hand aiming a gun.
My daughter has been incessantly vilified through videos and memes
on social media, and through tarps and posters in public places.
Have you now marked her, and we, her family, for death?
This is utterly despicable.
Facts do not matter to this government, which hides behind lies.
Lorenzana also lied about Rachel Mae Palang, whose photo appeared
alongside Myles in his tweet, who was not even from UP but from
Velez College in Cebu.
So why did she and Myles end up in his list?
But theres the rub.
With their vaunted billions in intelligence funds, it is hard to
believe this was a mere error.
I believe it was deliberate, intended to send a message.
Mr. Lorenzana, have you no respect for the dead anymore?
How can you continue rubbing salt on their families wounds
every time you parade their faces like trophies?
You say you are a parent, too.
Do you even feel their pain?
You were once a soldier.
Is there no more honor among warriors?
We are parents who dream of a land free from oppression, of a society
that upholds equality, and of a rule of law for all people and not
for a privileged few. We raised our children to explore and ask
and make up their minds.
We sent them to schools we know would open their minds and give
them the tools to scrutinize the world and seek to make it better.
Because of this, we respect their life choices.
Like all Filipinos, this pandemic has made our lives difficult.
Jail visits have been suspended.
It has been more than a year since we last saw Myles.
In the male dormitory of the Dumaguete City District Jail where
she is detained, a jail officer died and two others tested positive
We all know that face masks are essential to slowing the spread
of COVID-19. But the government has not supplied masks for everyone
in the jail.
And yet it has billions of pesos to spend against those it perceives
to be a threat to President Duterte and his ruthless administration.
On March 3, the Mabinay 6 will have been behind bars for three years.
Yet their trial has not even begun.
In a country where impunity for the violence and corruption plaguing
our people has become the norm, we take comfort in Gods protection
and divine intervention.
Still, we have waited long enough for justice to take its course.
We will no longer be silent.
Grace Cantal Albasin,
Malaysia wants to increase
severity of punishment
For Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgenders
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 26 January 2021
First published in Malaysiakini Saturday 23 January 2021
Recently, Deputy Minister of the Prime Ministers
Department Religious Affairs Ahmad Marzuk Shaary, issued a statement
about the governments intention to amend the Syariah Courts
Act 355 to push for more severe punishments on the lesbian, gay,
bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
KLSCAH Women is deeply disappointed and dissatisfied with this,
and firmly oppose the violation of their rights in the name of religion.
KLSCAH Women believes that this law amendment will encourage harassment
and violence against LGBT groups, placing them in far more dangerous
situations, which goes against the governments duty to protect
citizens from discrimination and violations of human rights.
Society, in general, believes that LGBTs not only violate the laws
of nature or moral standards but even regard it as a mental illness
and has been marginalised for a long time.
However, scientific communities have already proven that this is
not a mental illness, but a natural phenomenon.
On May 17, 1990, the World Health Organization (WHO) removed homosexuality
as a mental disorder, and no longer considered sexual orientation
to be any form of disease.
As a cabinet member, Ahmad Marzuk should have a clearer understanding
of the situation. Moreover, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin recently
suggested that Asean take a stronger stance against hate speech
on gender and sexual orientation at the first Asean Digital Ministers
Many countries have also passed legislation to protect the rights
This poses a critical question to the cabinet:
Why hinder progress, be unwilling to face the facts, and try to
impose your values on others?
LGBTs are neither against nature nor are they morally corrupt.
As members of society, everyone should be given equal treatment
For this reason, KSLCAH Women asks Ahmad Marzuk to stop discriminating
against LGBTs and government spending.
Inciting hatred based on sexual orientation not only violates the
core values of openness and tolerance but also creates many social
With the ongoing pandemic and floods, we hope Ahmad Marzuk prioritise
matters and deal with the most pressing issues that concern the
Ng Geok Chee,
Business is vital to socioeconomic
In Papua New Guinea
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 25 Juanuary 2021
First published in the National, Friday 22 January 2021
Gulf is one of the toughest provinces in Papua New
Guinea since most of the geography is covered by swamps and mangroves.
The basic needs and services in Kerema are missing.
Most of the schools and health centres and other government buildings
are deteriorating due to the geographical isolations.
The only positive outcome we could get to develop Gulf is via social
relationships and businesses.
Business is one of the vital element that will contribute more effectively
to the provinces socioeconomic and infrastructural growth
The national Trans Highway will serve this interest if we are to
see changes in our province.
If not, then Gulf will remain a stagnant undeveloped province as
it has since it was discovered by the European missionaries in mid
Trans Highway and other two national highways, the Magi and the
Okuk, were built purposely to provide services and development to
I do not agree with what the Gulf PMV Association acting president
Victor Posu said.
He said outsiders were taking their land and businesses
which the locals were supposed to manage themselves.
No one is taking your land.
It belongs to you.
You have every right to do anything you want on your land.
This is your home.
But if you cant meet the daily needs and wants of the Gulf
people, then they have the right to sell their land to people who
want to develop it.
This is business.
Business relationships cut through different ethnicities, races,
provinces, or countries.
You cant express your frustration by demanding other PMV operators
to cease operations; that is not business.
Silas Brownford Oro,
Papua New Guinea
Thai well-heeled elite
At top of social hierarchy
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 24 January 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday 22 January 2021
I must say Prof Thitinan Pongsudhirak in "What
the 'Pimrypie' sensation foretells", in Bangkok
Post, Opinion, January 22 correctly exposes the flaws of Thai
In spite of the superhighways, BTS Skytrain, malls, majestic wats
and palaces, Thailand remains rooted in its feudal past.
It is the same in a few other countries surrounding Thailand.
There is no doubt that for the well-heeled elite who remain at the
top of the social hierarchy, the poor people are there to be helped
and aided in a romanticised fashion, usually as a celebration.
The rural masses are kept uneducated and poor to bow and beg for
sustenance and survival.
Yes, if there are no masses of poor rolling on the floor for mercy,
what's the point of being the few at the top?
Yes, the view from the top of ivory towers without others looking
down makes some elite feel like gladiators and liberators?
It is often said that in a country badly governed, people with wealth
should be ashamed of their possessions.
Ms Pimrypie's work with the poor reminds me of a quote by John F
"If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it
cannot save the few who are rich."
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 23 January 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday 22 January 2021
We can clearly see that making gambling illegal is
not effective in stopping gambling among Thai people at all.
A complete ban is considered a measure that is too extreme without
taking into account the social context or the needs of the people
in the country.
Therefore, we see illegal gambling, illegal casinos or even the
underground lottery everywhere.
It is similar to e-cigarettes: many countries say they are less
harmful than cigarettes, yet our government makes them an illegal
product and lets the underground trade grow.
This money flows into the smugglers' pockets despite the fact that,
like many other countries that regulate e-cigarettes, we should
be able to collect taxes from these products and at the same time
reduce illness and death associated with tobacco use.
The situation indicates that state authorities may be involved in
aiding and abetting illegal gambling activities.
The same could apply to underground trade in e-cigarettes and the
government must find the appropriate solutions; a ban is not one
End Cigarette Smoke Thailand (ECST)
What's in it for Philippine
promoting China's Sinovac vaccine
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 22 January 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday 20 January
President Duterte has announced that when the Sinovac
vaccines arrive, health frontliners and other sectors would be the
first ones to be injected with the vaccine. He said he would be
vaccinated together with the police and soldiers, who are fifth
in the priority list.
If he claims that Sinovac is safe, maybe the President, Sen. Bong
Go, Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte, presidential spokesperson Harry
Roque, Solicitor General Jose Calida, and other flatterers of the
President should volunteer to be inoculated first with the China-made
This will surely boost the confidence of health frontliners and
other target participants of the Sinovac vaccine drive.
Why is the President insisting on Sinovac when there are others
vaccines that are less expensive and have a higher efficacy rate?
Whats in it for him and his minions that they persist in promoting
What gains will they receive?
Raffy Rey Hipolito,
Sweden is one of few countries
That has avoided recession
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 21 January 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Tuesday 19 January 2021
Re: "Don't knock the lockdowns" in
Bangkok Post PostBag, January 17. Before 2020 I had
never heard of lockdowns, which were first introduced in Wuhan,
China, a country many see as a totalitarian state.
It was copied almost all over the world as a way to stem the disease.
A few countries did not follow the Chinese path, including Sweden,
which was heavily criticised for leaving schools, restaurants, etc.
Preliminary statistics show that in 2020 around 97,000 people died
in Sweden during the year from all causes.
To put things in perspective, that is a similar tally to 1993, a
year with severe seasonal flu.
As the population has grown by over 1.5 million since then the mortality
in the total population stood at 1.1 in 1993 compared with 0.9 in
2020, indicating that that year's flu was more deadly than the current
Sweden is one of the few countries in Europe that has avoided a
recession so far but has, like everyone else, taken a hit.
The Covid-19 situation is by no means good, as in almost all of
Europe, and I am thankful for living in Thailand, which so far has
fared much better.
However, I also feel for all the millions of Thai people who have
lost their jobs and income from lockdowns and closing of borders.
So, I do not know where I stand at the moment on these lockdowns.
Things are almost never black and white ... except in chess.
to change colours
Papua New Guinea Flag
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 20 January 2020
First published in the National, Monday 18 January 2021
I would like to make a comment regarding our national
The black, red and gold is a misinterpretation and does not depict
Papua New Guinea well by representing the true colours of the bird
If you look carefully through a microscope, the colours of the bird
of paradise are brown, gold, black, green and white.
I suggest the flag be redesigned and incorporate these colours.
The red, black and gold is a replica of the flag of Germany who
colonised parts of New Guinea.
How can a grade six pupil who is still a child design a perplex
flag diligently without computers and internet in those days?
I doubt that, someone could have did it for her.
I suggest that the country change its name from Papua New Guinea
to Papua Niugini or otherwise East Irian, because West Irian is
across the border.
This is a personal perspective.
Philippine President Duterte's
Not interested in the presidency
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 19 January 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday 18 January
Sen. Risa Hontiveros and the Makabayan bloc did not
President Duterte does not really think that the presidency is not
for his daughter Sara.
He simply is trying to use his old line.
Remember in 2016 when he pretended that he was not running for the
He had a proxy and, at the last minute, he pretended that he was
pushed into the race.
But he had, in fact, been going around the country for two years
prior to the 2016 elections.
Now that he is President, now and then he would say that he wants
to resign from his position.
He tells the military, you rise and demand my resignation and I
will promptly resign.
He also says, I am not for term extension.
I will not stay a minute longer than my original term.
So now Sara says she is not interested in the presidency and is
asking the polling firms to exclude her from the surveys.
This means that Sara will be a serious candidate in 2022.
charm of Khao San Road destroyed
Rendered as exciting as 21st century shopping
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 18 January 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Saturday 16 January 2021
Re: "Tourist hub to get facelift",
in Bangkok Post, Tuesday January 12.
It seems that the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) is never
content to leave well-enough alone.
After largely destroying the character and chaotic charm of Khao
San Road, the Mahakan fort community and other areas of attraction
to foreigner visitors and Thais alike, they now have their eyes
set on "developing" the last remnants of authentic
shops, vendors and homes in the Bang Lamphu area.
With military precision surely no accident, BMA has brought "order"
to street vendors, ensured all shopkeepers strictly adhere to uniform
stalls, painted row houses in flawlessly coordinated colours, and
installed a perfectly laid pavement up and down Khao San Road -
in other words, rendered the area about as exciting as a 21st century
In the process, of course, they have killed the golden goose that
was the allure of the area to tourists.
Sad to anticipate that Rambutri and Tanao Roads will soon become
as sterile and unappealing as the "new" Khao San
Sad also that BMA is about to wipe out what had been a great source
of jobs and income for locals by ridding the area of its tourist
China's SinoVac Biotec
Cheapest vaccine in the world
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 17 January 2021
First published Bangkok Post, Saturday 16 Januray 2021
Re: "Questions over Chinese vaccine",
in Bangkok Post, 14 January.
I've maintained for a long time that the reason the Thai government
preferred the SinoVac Biotec Chinese vaccine was that it came cheaper
than the Western vaccines.
Malaysia is now also questioning the effectiveness.
This government under Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha's has
its nose so deeply imbedded in the Chinese government's backside
that it is difficult to be practical and go for what's best for
A Western vaccine costs a bit more but is also more effective.
Penny wise, pound foolish as we are taught, or should be taught
China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd give refund
Should Philippines authorities not approve
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 16 January 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 14 January
According to reports, the first batch of COVID-19
vaccines to be administered to Filipinos will arrive in February,
as part of a contract for 25 million doses to be delivered over
The government said the vaccine will only be used once it obtains
an emergency use authorization (EUA) from the Philippines
Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Given the managerial constraints, including the low prestige and
power of the Department of Health (DOH), the government is doing
well getting the much-needed vaccine into the country as early as
The stipulation that the vaccine will be put into large-scale use
only if the FDA issues an EUA is correct, and should protect the
population against undue risk of side effects.
But what happens if the FDA does not grant the EUA? Hopefully, the
procurement contract is conditional, meaning that Sinovac takes
back its vaccine if it is not approved, and returns payments made.
If the contract is not conditional, Filipino taxpayer money will
Based on cost estimates, 25 million doses would be more than P40
With such amounts at stake, there may be pressure on the FDA.
Therefore, it is essential that other branches of government protect
the integrity of the FDA, whatever the potential losses. As for
the FDA, it should be transparent about its decision-making, preferably
making the main criteria public.
Good communication about the regulatory process ensures trust among
The communication drive should be led by the FDA and the DOH.
There is no such thing as an absolutely 100-percent safe vaccine
(or drug or medical procedure).
As different new vaccines are rolled out, the DOH should set up
a system for monitoring side effects (phase 4 studies). If that
had been done for Dengvaxia, the sad debacle around the dengue vaccine
would have been avoided.
Allan Schapira, MD.,
to proposed amendments to Constitution
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 15 January 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday 13 January
Whatever justifications or diversionary antics the
present Congress may dish out to revive attempts to amend the 1987
Constitution, these will not be acceptable to our people still reeling
from the menace that is COVID-19 and its dreaded variant, and the
evil of official corruption and ineptitude.
Considering the credibility baggage that our so-called lawmakers
have been carrying so far, entrusting the critical task of amending
the Constitution to them or their constituent assembly may be likened
to throwing the already emaciated body of Juan dela Cruz into a
river teeming with rapacious crocodiles.
No to Cha-cha!
Manuel A. Collao,
for Papua New Guinea government report on progress
Of Wafi-Golpu mining project in Morobe
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 14 January 2021
First published in the National, Monday 11 January 2021
The people of Morobe and the country need clarification
from the Government and stakeholders on the progress of the multi-million
kina Wafi-Golpu mining project in Morobe.
Late last year, the Government, landowners and stakeholders in Morobe
held a three-day forum which they discussed the waste management
system and other issues related to the project.
The Government clarified that mining waste would be a major issue.
The Government resolved through the National Executive Council that
they preferred the deep-sea mine tailings placement (DSTP) method;
even though the majority of landowners and neighbouring local level
governments and coastal villages opposed it.
Other clarifications that need to be made known by the Government
Mining township location;
Access road to mine;
Waste pipeline route; and,
Legitimate landowners between three villages Hengabu, Yanta
and Babuaf a court case is still pending to identify the
legitimate landowners of the mining site.
Is the project meant to serve the peoples interest or is it
for political interests to gain support for the 2022 general elections?
Enough of the political games and give your people what they deserve.
Call for new law in Papua
To keep Member's of parliament at home
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 13 January 2021
First published in the National Monday 11 January 2021
A new law should be enacted for all Member's of Parliament
to be based in their respective electorates or provinces.
They should only fly into Port Moresby for parliament sessions.
Other than that, they should be in their respective electorates
The Member's of Parliament should be near their constituents to
identify their needs and address issues of their people.
Leaders are as shepherds; they should be close to the flock to feed,
protect and look into other needs of the farm.
While operating from Port Moresby, almost all Member's Parliament
are distracted from executing their primary responsibilities.
Member's of Parliament have more freedom in using public funds at
will and at any time but if they operate from their constituencies,
they wont misuse peoples money because they will fear
for their lives.
This would be a solution to end mismanagement of public funds by
MPs and governors.
populations to be vaccinated
Before low-income countries
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 12 January 2021
First published in the Star, Monday 11 January 2021
The recent approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna
vaccines by the US Food and Drug Admin-istration and the Oxford-Astra
Zaneca vaccine by Britains Medi-cines and Healthcare products
Regulatory Agency are a great milestone in the fight against Covid-19.
Large numbers of doses of these vaccines were bought by Western
countries before they were even approved.
It is estimated that 3.73 billion doses of these vaccines were bought
through advance purchasing agreements.
And an estimated five billion doses are still being negotiated.
This means that many wealthy populations will be vaccinated before
most people in low-income countries are vaccinated.
Fortunately, Malaysia to date has secured a supply of vaccines for
40 percent of its population.
But this is still much less than the 80 percent that must be vaccinated
to achieve herd immunity.
The United States aimed to vaccinate 20 million of its population
by the end of 2020. However, only five million Americans have been
vaccinated. This alarming trend of not meeting targets has also
been seen in Britain and Europe.
Why did this happen?
There are various reasons but the general agreement is that the
planning for the rollout of these vaccines in the United States
Initial vaccine doses went mostly to frontline healthcare workers,
meaning that administration of the vaccine shots were largely the
responsibility of the same hospitals that were also overwhelmed
by a flood of Covid-19 patients. Furthermore, the vaccine rollout
coincided with Christmas and New Year holidays. There was also an
additional administrative burden caused by the requirement for people
to register before being vaccinated.
The Western countries also have many people who are sceptical about
vaccines in general.
There was and is a lot of misinformation, especially on social media,
regarding the vaccines.
We can learn from these experiences and prepare better for the rollout
of vaccines in Malaysia.
The government recently outlined the National Vaccination Plan which
will start in February 2021.
It is a comprehensive plan that covers the process for vaccination
and involves a private and public partnership.
Hopefully, this plan will roll out without major hindrances.
At the same time, the government must continue to explain the vaccination
programme in an effective and transparent manner to calm any fears
among the people.
call on Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
To rely on opinion of peers in First World
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 11 January 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 8 January
Every country is looking to provide itself with enough
vaccines, shore up extra doses for eventualities, and be ahead of
This is selfish, perhaps, but the reality is that it looks like
its becoming to each his own.
It is better for a country to be assured of not running out of vaccines
until the 85-percent herd immunity is achieved, than be nitpicking
and speculating on the vaccines efficacy.
It would be naive to think political alliances are not going to
be set aside for ones own domestic priorities.
The hesitation by our own leadership in getting vaccines soonest
will be very costly to the nation in terms of lives lost and damage
to the economy.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Health
cannot wait for the vaccine suppliers to come to our doorstep to
submit the documents we require, especially with major countries
like the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and China already
vaccinating their people en masse.
If there are doubts about a vaccines applicability to the
Philippine environment, that should be resolved by our epidemiologists
and scientists in the soonest possible time, by consulting with
the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of these countries and with
guidance from the World Health Organization.
Time is not on our side.
The suppliers have enough problems meeting the huge demand for their
products to worry about our documentation requirements.
This is not an encouragement for haphazard shortcuts on the vaccine,
but to point out that there could be room for initiative with practical,
reasonable scientific reliance by our Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) on the opinions of their peers in First World countries, because
of the emergency we all are facing.
Marvel K. Tan,
Registration of illegal
Thailand could act like a magnet
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 10 January 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday 8 January 2021
Re: "Interior Ministry seeks cabinet nod
for registration of illegal migrant workers", in Bangkok
Post, December 29.
By an amazing transformation, the government is about to become
an employment agency!
That's surely what they are proposing under their registration scheme.
Not only will they allow registration of illegal migrants from Cambodia,
Laos and Myanmar and other countries to stay in Thailand.
They will even help those without work to get a job.
And who will they be recruiting for?
The truth is they'll be serving the interests of greedy bosses,
many of whom have for years flouted minimum wage, insurance and
safety regulations, as well as migration laws.
The chief offender is the construction industry.
Throughout the past 11 months, their employees have been a familiar
sight. Seemingly unaffected by lockdown, thousands of them have
been moved to and from building sites around Bangkok, squeezed like
sardines into the backs of small vehicles where social distancing
True, they have sometimes worn face masks.
But that prompts me to wish the government had been as successful
in ensuring the use of safety helmets as they have with face masks.
Too many die from work-related injuries in Thailand every year.
The powers-that-be describe their new scheme as an anti-Covid measure.
It will, they suggest, help them monitor the health status and whereabouts
of illegal migrants. But their scheme could act like a magnet.
Are they ready for the surge in illegal migration that will follow?
Besides, is it ever justified for a government to sanction breaking
It's bad enough when a country's rulers turn a blind eye.
In my view, the government will be sinking to a new low by positively
aiding and abetting illegality.
And it's yet another sticking-plaster solution where an attack on
root causes is required.
Meanwhile, a legion of businesses that follow the law scrupulously
have gone unaided during an immensely challenging year.
Linus AE Knobel,
Call for Senate inquiry
into illegal vaccinations
Not to be intimidated by Presidents Duterte's
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 9 January 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 8 January
I hope the senators would not be intimidated by President
Dutertes public threats and push through with their investigation
of the illegal vaccination of the Presidential Security Group (PSG)
This is not a question of whether they sacrificed their lives for
the sake of the President, but the need to uphold the rule of law.
The Presidential Security Group (PSG) is not above the law.
They are duty-bound to uphold the Constitution and the laws.
They are not the personal security of Mr. Duterte, but of all presidents
who will succeed him.
Unfortunately, Senate President Vicente Sotto III, instead of upholding
the law, is being lame.
Kahit pabalatkayo, hindi man lang nanindigan.
Have the courage to stand up to the rude and bullying occupant of
Malacanang, Mr. Senate President.
Raffy Rey Hipolito,
Misinformation about Covid-19
Can be as dangerous as the virus itself
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 8 January 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Thursday 7 January 2021
George N in his January 4 letter claims that the results
of a published study of mass screening in Wuhan "undermines
the need for lockdowns".
His claim is not supported by the authors of the study.
The study found 300 asymptomatic cases of Covid-19 in a screening
of around 10 million residents of Wuhan in late May, after the January-April
lockdown, which was far more restrictive than most countries could
Tracing of those in close contact with these 300 cases found no
George N and others have concluded that no asymptomatic case can
be a source of infection and that therefore lockdowns are unnecessary.
This conclusion is rejected by, among others, Prof Fujian Song,
of the Norwich Medical School of the University of East Anglia,
who conducted the study in collaboration with the Huazhong University
of Science and Technology in Wuhan. The report notes that "no
viable virus was found in the identified asymptomatic cases.
This means that these people were not likely to infect anyone else".
This is attributed to control measures, including lockdown.
But Dr Song warns that the results must not be interpreted thus.
The cases in Wuhan were "truly asymptomatic", showing
no signs of infection before or during the study.
"But there is plenty of evidence elsewhere showing that
people infected with Covid-19 may be temporarily asymptomatic and
infectious before going on to develop symptoms."
The results of a meta-analysis by statisticians from University
of Florida, Gainesville, University of Washington, Seattle, and
the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle have been subject
to a similar misinterpretation by opponents of lockdowns.
It should be warned that the spread of misinformation about Covid-19
can be as dangerous as the virus itself when it misleads the public
into potentially dangerous activities, such as ignoring lockdown
of Police says
Dirty cops are collaborating with criminals
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 7 January 2020
First published in the Star, Tuesday 5 Jan 2021
Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Badors
statement about the existence of dirty cops who are collaborating
with criminals is a serious allegation, more so when it comes from
the highest office in the police force.
Going by his constant and consistent emphasis on the gravity of
the situation, I am of the opinion that the matter at hand is more
worrying than at anytime in the past. Many of his predecessors have
acknowledged the same problems and made similar statements on the
need to weed out these black sheep within the ranks.
As the alleged deviant officers are able to make use of their police
powers for illegal intent, they are more potent than the common
But I believe there are only a few of such officers and that the
majority are performing their duties with integrity.
I trust the Inspector-General of Police would have the evidence
to back up his statement.
Who are these wolves in sheeps clothing and how are they working
These are basic questions that need to be asked.
An even more crucial question is whether the Inspector-General of
Police needs help in facing off these traitors.
Only meticulous investigations can identify them and subsequently
open more doors in the effort to rid the police force of its black
It is surprising that politicians on both sides of the aisle have
not sought further clarity on the matter so far.
We need answers and we need them fast as the integrity, pride and
honour of the police force is at stake.
An independent inquiry should be set up as soon as possible to get
to the root of the matter.
We owe an explanation to not only the personnel who are currently
serving dutifully and honestly but also to all those who have served
in the past with total dedication.
Why can't the Phillipines
be like Japan
With Japan's faithful adherence to Confucianism
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 6 January 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday 5 January
Each time I travel to Japan and see its beautiful
cities and high-rise buildings, I cant help but ask: What
makes this country strong?
I must admit this question takes away the delight of each trip,
because it makes me reflect on why our country cannot seem to move
up as a nation.
Nevertheless, I believe that Japans strength lies in the Japanese
peoples faithful adherence to moral (social) values.
Confucianism, the religion that shaped the Japanese culture, emphasizes
the importance of correct behavior and the cultivation of virtue
in a morally organized world.
Moral values are at the crux of the Japanese character, in effect
allowing Japan to face its challenges and rise as a nation.
Vaclav Havel, former Czech leader, said: Without commonly
shared and widely entrenched moral values and obligations, neither
the law nor democratic government nor even the market economy will
Our country is inundated with corruption, poverty, and strife; let
us do our part and make our country strong - let us make moral values
the guiding force of our lives and use them to conquer our adversities.
But what are moral values?
Moral values are the standards of what is right and wrong.
They direct us how to behave toward each other, as well as how to
understand and meet our obligations to society.
Some examples of moral values are honesty, trustworthiness, being
respectful of others, loyalty, and integrity.
Meanwhile, an immoral person is one who does wrong despite knowing
the distinction between good from evil.
And an amoral being is illustrated by an animal who is completely
ignorant of what is right and wrong.
Our countrys problems exist not because of bad luck or a faulty
alignment of the stars, so to speak.
Our problems lie in ourselves, the people of this country.
For a predominantly Christian nation, where virtue or morality is
emphasized, it does not make sense that many people steal, disrespect
their neighbors, lie to and deceive each other in record numbers.
Unless we take on moral values diligently, we may never attain the
best that we deserve as a people, much less become a strong nation.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said that it is the people of a nation and not
jewelry, gold, wealth, and resources that make a nation strong and
rich, for in all their actions they do not do anything that dampen
the image of their nation.
The task for us is to teach and instill among ourselves the importance
of moral values.
We need our institutions - the government, church, schools, and
media - to be involved in a concerted effort to curtail bad behavior
in our country.
One way to achieve this is for the government to create programs
and enact more laws that discourage erring/immoral behavior, and
reward good conduct.
Another is to add more courses in schools to inculcate courtesy,
integrity, and honesty in students.
Large amounts of public money are squandered in our country by individuals;
I am sure we can find ways to put such money to good use to fund
programs to instill correct conduct in our people.
This will bear a lasting and rewarding effect - making our nation
strong, and elevating us to greater heights as a people, becoming
relevant citizens of the modern world.
Julius D. Turgano,
Philippines threaten to
end US Visiting Forces Agreement
Over delivery of vaccines
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 5 January 2020
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Sunday 31 December
The Duterte administrations handling of the
COVID-19 vaccine is not just an issue of incompetence, but also
Imagine, it took 43 days for the Department of Health to approve
the shipment of vaccines from the United States.
Pfizer got tired of waiting and sent its vaccines somewhere else.
The President blamed the US and threatened to end the Visiting Forces
Then, our President admitted that most of the soldiers and officials
around him have already gotten their vaccine shots.
As President, he must provide leadership.
The responsibility rests at the door of Malacañang. He has
betrayed our trust in him by not buying vaccines promptly like our
neighboring countries have done.
It is selfish for politicians to get inoculated ahead, and let the
public be damned: Ive got mine, so screw you!
Jonathan C. Foe,
for Thai immigration and other services
be outsourced to the private sector
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 4 January 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday 3 January 2021
Re: "Impossible dream", in
Bangkok Post PostBag, January 2, 2021
Needless to say, all state-run institutions in Thailand are infested
with red tape and rampant corruption.
The lopsided rules and regulations created by inept bureaucrats
continue to harm the economy.
It is no surprise that the travel sector will not come back to the
pre-Covid era for the reasons covered by Mr Stephan in his letter.
His letter captures the mindset of the workforce employed in the
Sadly, this workforce is also a product of an educational system
that thrives on fuzzy logic.
Hence in most agencies, the left hand does not know what the right
hand is doing? As a consequence, the people working in these agencies
make up their own rules and laws.
In a nutshell, in spite of all its natural beauty and abundant resources,
an army of gatekeepers keeps the country in shackles of mediocrity
Thailand's private sector is one of the best in the region and should
be utilised to enhance the quality of services in the government
I am not sure why immigration and other services are not outsourced
to the private sector.
It seems the government has not learnt any lessons from the Thai
Philippines congress and
In Duterte administration underming civil
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 3 January 2020
First published in the Philippines, Thuesday 31 December 2020
This has been a terrible year because of the pandemic,
but there are people who made the lives of Filipinos more miserable.
The naughtiest is President Duterte, whose incoherent
late-night speeches did nothing to ease our worries.
His militarist mindset proved ineffective and counter-productive
in dealing with the health crisis, aside from enabling anti-communist
generals, red-taggers, and Cabinet secretaries who gifted us with
motorcycle barrier and dolomite
The police were the notorious pasaway, led by
a mañanita general, while many continued
to be accused of killing nanlaban drug suspects.
The police must explain the surge in extrajudicial killings despite
the imposition of strict lockdown measures in most barangays.
It is infuriating that supposedly independent institutions like
Congress and the courts were complicit in allowing the Duterte administration
to undermine our civil liberties. We remember how Congress voted
to reject ABS-CBNs franchise, the slow action and tone-deaf
response of the Supreme Court regarding the petition for the release
of elderly and pregnant political prisoners, and the controversial
issuance of search warrants by a Quezon City judge which the police
used to arbitrarily conduct raids and detain activists.
Thieves grabbed headlines throughout the year, from the pastillas
scam to the systemic corruption in PhilHealth.
But we survived the disastrous year of 2020, thanks to the heroism
of our health workers, relief volunteers, and government personnel
serving on the front lines.
We salute all those who continue to provide for our basic needs,
which also kept the economy afloat.
We thank the media for standing their ground amid the nonstop assault
on press freedom.
We recognize the role of human rights defenders in challenging impunity.
Our biggest tragedy of the year was the death of Baby River Nasino.
We continue to cry for justice, and we will greet the new year with
a resolve to fight harder for her and other innocent victims of
private hospitals charge patients
fee for purchase of vaccine
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 2 January 2020
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday 28 December 2020
Let's hope that the latest news that a private hospital's
attempt to attract bookings for the purchase of the Moderna vaccine
in Bangkok Post, December 28 is not a taste of things to come.
The bookings cost 4,000 baht with a price of 6,000-10,000 baht for
the vaccine, well beyond the means of ordinary Thais.
The Ministry of Health ordered it to take the ad down.
According to UK's Financial Times newspaper, Thailand has signed
a deal to produce the AstraZeneca vaccine in Thailand and it is
already in production by Siam Bioscience, a company owned by the
Crown Property Bureau.
To date there is no news of any country, already administering the
vaccine, charging patients.
We can but hope in the interest all Thais that the government will
follow this example and give the vaccine for free.
New Guinea women in uproar
government management of business ventures
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 1 January 2021
First published in the National, Tuesday 29 December 2020
In the past months, Morobe has witnessed an uproar
between its women leaders and the management of Morobe Resources
Holdings Ltd, the current business arm of the Morobe government.
That has brought to light the new business name and its current
management something many people of Morobe do not know about.
Many are only aware of such ventures under names Kumgie Holdings
and Morobe Sustainable and many are now curious to know what
happened to these ventures.
Is the provincial government operating all three businesses?
Can the Morobe administrator or the governor explain to the people
of Morobe how their money has been used to create such ventures
and the state of affairs of these corporate entities or which one
is currently operational?
After all, it is the money allocated towards the development agenda
of Morobe that has been diverted towards future revenue generation
through creating these ventures.
There should be transparency and accountability on the use of these
There should be annual reports each year so that the Morobe people
through Tutumang are kept informed of the financial affairs of these
Since the registration of the business arm from Kumgie to the current
Morobe Resources Holdings a few years back, there has never been
reports on its management and financial affairs.
The people of Morobe have been blindly taken for a ride for far
I kindly ask the governor to do the right thing by bringing to light
the current situation of the business arm.
As the deputy Pangu leader and the governor of Morobe, you will
only be practising what the party preaches by taking back what is
rightfully Morobes so I appeal to you to fix the affairs
of the business arm of Morobe by bringing transparency and accountability.
Please ensure that the process of selecting management and board
members for these business ventures are transparent so that qualified
people are appointed on merit.
Doing these will bring justice to the people of Morobe and
only then would the province have sustainable business ventures
where the people can be proud to associate themselves with and call
So governor, lets start 2021 by taking back Morobe.
Good Governance Advocate,
Papua New Guinea