The Southeast Asian Times
NEWS FOR NORTHERN AUSTRALIA AND SOUTHEAST ASIA
LETTERS:

 

Thailands' King Rama 9 and England's Queen Elizabeth 11
Are of one mind in respect of criticism
The Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday September 27, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Saturday September 24, 2022

Re: "Gracious wisdom", Bangkok Post, PostBag, Tuesday September 20, 2022
I fully agree with Khun Felix when he wrote: "The Bangkok Post quotes my late queen's honest wisdom that 'There can be no doubt, of course, that criticism is good for people and institutions that are part of public life. No institution, city, monarchy, whatever, should expect to be free from the scrutiny of those who give it their loyalty and support, not to mention those who don't.'"
Bluntly and unequivocally well said.
Nor need more be said, save perhaps that Queen Elizabeth II welcomed the benefit of knowing to a percentage point the publicly varying degree of her own personal popularity and that of the institution which she graciously headed for seven decades.
Could any prefer incomprehension to such highly pertinent knowledge of reality?"
I note that it was our own beloved national father who said, in his 2005 birthday address broadcast: "The King is a human being and as such should be subject to criticism. Charges against those accused of lèse-majesté should be dropped, and those held in jail for lèse-majesté should be released. The use of the lèse-majesté law ultimately damages the monarchy."
(Grossman and Faulder, King Bhumibol Adulyadej: A Life's Work, Palace-approved.
Thus, the authors concluded that, "Thailand's law of lese-majeste has one very prominent critic: King Bhumibol."
I suggest that our King Rama 9 and England's Queen Elizabeth II are of one mind in that respect. Yet we Thais stubbornly continue to defy our national father's clearly expressed wishes.

Burin Kantabutra,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Medical establishment and vaccine industry
Has made billions out of Covid
The Southeast Asian Times, Monday September 26, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday August 24, 2022

Re: "Health Ministry defends Covid 5+5 policy", in Bangkok Post, Tuesday August 23, 2022.
Why should there be any quarantine at all for Omicron, which is a wimp?
Why not quarantine people with the flu since it kills more children than Omicron?
How about a quarantine for people with pneumonia at least for two days until the antibiotics kick or bronchitis?
All these diseases are far worse than Omicron or Covid.
Isn't it time to say to the medical establishment and the vaccine industry: Look you already made your billions of dollars giving millions of healthy people worthless, dangerous vaccines?
Now leave us alone and let us finally get on with our lives.

Eric Bahrt,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Fijian's glorification of Queen Elizabeth's funeral
Manifestation of the Stockholm Syndrome
The Southeast Asian Times, Sunday, September 25, 2022

The many glorifying reactions by descendants of the Girmitiyas, who were Indians brought to Fiji by Fiji’s British colonial rulers to work as semi-slave labourers on white owned sugar cane plantations, to the Queen and her funeral is a manifestation of the Stockholm Syndrome whereby people develop positive feelings towards their captors or abusers or oppressors.
The Queen represented a system of colonial oppression and exploitation.
It was in recognition of this phenomenon that Franz Fanon wrote in his critical post colonialism theory that decolonisation should begin with the freeing of the
colonial mind..

Rajend Naidu,
Sydney,
Australia



Bangkok is sinking
As sea levels rise
The Southeast Asian Times, Saturday September 24, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday September 5, 2022

Re: "Aiming way too high," in Bangkok Post, PostBag, Wednesday August 3, 2022.
Jason A Jellison's recent letter rekindled thoughts about Bangkok's future.
The city built on riverine clay is sinking a measurable amount each year, while sea levels rise.
There are no silver bullet solutions, but allow me to propose: Create a new city on higher ground.
New sites for capital cities have been found in at least half of the world's countries.
Even better, several cities near one another, with green spaces between.
Besides being places for many people to reside, cities encompass government offices, universities/schools, and religious centres.
Those three primary venues can comprise the three "nodes" of a new capital: with commercial, residential, sports/recreation areas, parks, energy generation, and transport corridors interspersed throughout.
Oh, and the inevitable airport or two.
Where, in the southern half of Thailand, is there ground higher than two metres above sea level?
I don't know, so the plan I propose could be arranged for somewhere in the North. Perhaps the suitable area is along the Mae Kok River, perhaps.

Ken Albertsen,
Bangkok,
Thailand




Non Government Organisations
Work in the worlds poorest countries
The Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday Sepyember 6, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday September 2, 2022

In some of the world’s poorest countries, governments and non government organizations (NGOs) carry out educational assistance in many ways through scholarships, the provision of school uniforms, school supplies and project materials, transportation subsidy, board and lodging, etc.
Even private organizations, big businesses, and schools and universities themselves grant scholarships to deserving students from poor families.
These interventions are implemented not only to help poor families defray educational costs, but also to recognize the aspiration of parents for their children to complete tertiary level academic or vocational in school as a means to rise from poverty.
Parents put a premium on education.
They believe graduates gain not only enhanced opportunities for gainful employment, but also the confidence and courage in their journey through life.
In the NGO world, after a year in a poor community for purposes of immersion, social investigation, integration, etc., a frontline NGO worker would already have a clear idea of the issues development and otherwise affecting the community or a section of it, and their causes and effects; the community’s prominent people and why they are politically and economically powerful for a long time; the types of interest groups to develop for future collective actions; the community’s natural disaster history, and those caused by human action; gender issues and how they are resolved, and by whom; human rights violated, how they are tackled, and by whom; how a community responds to disaster; how to build/strengthen community/interest groups; who in the local government unit community and town level and which government agencies will be involved in future collective actions; issues to prioritize and address; program strategies to adopt, and types of programs/projects to implement.
After three years or more of implementing projects, an NGO worker or an NGO itself is challenged to find out what progress has been made toward the achievement of program goals and objectives and how to measure it, and what types of community groups will be able to sustain the benefits of programs or projects, to what extent, and how, in case funding stops.
After another three years, a frontline NGO worker would have realized that family recipients of educational assistance in the form of a scholarship at the tertiary level (college or vocational) would have an economically secure future.
Education is the key to a better life. Other interventions are only key holders.
This is the time when recipients of educational assistance would have graduated from their technical or degree courses, found gainful employment, engaged in business, etc.
Thus, this is the time a frontline NGO worker can confirm that the result of the educational assistance project is sustainable.
The recipients of the educational assistance are the evidence themselves to demonstrate the project’s outcome or impact.
Of course, other interventions like cash transfer or cash/food for work ?allow families to overcome financial shocks, but not for long.
Every community with families who are afforded educational assistance, particularly scholarships, by an NGO has a success story to tell.
Recipients of educational assistance become professionals, private or government employees, NGO workers, entrepreneurs, overseas workers, political leaders, among others with gainful activities.
In short, not a few girls and boys have escaped poverty unlike their parents and forebears.
It is obvious that the benefits of educational assistance are long-term.
There is no doubt about its contribution to the personal and professional development of its indigent recipients.
This is on top of being able to decide for oneself and having more options and control over one’s life.

Nono Felix,
Manila,
Philippines




Financial loss for Filipino farmers
Instead of huge profits
The Southeast Asian Times, Thursday September 22, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday September 13, 2022

The unfortunate predicament of Filipino farmers incurring financial loss instead of generating huge profits from the abundant harvest is actually a perennial and recurrent problem that the Department of Agriculture (DA) has failed to resolve.
The plight of the tomato farmers in Bukidnon dumping their products rather than selling them to traders for prices lower than the cost of production was reported last July.
Last Friday, Sept. 9, the same situation happened to the garlic farmers in Batanes and cabbage growers in Benguet.
Notwithstanding the statement of Senior Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban who quickly absolved the Department of Agriculture (DA) while blaming the farmers, it is evidently clear that the recurrent problem actually reflects one of the most glaring failures of the Department of Agriculture (DA).
Undersecretary Kristine Evangelista must be held accountable in as much as she has served as the head of the Agricultural Marketing Assistance Services (Amas) and Kadiwa project director for the past six years.
Amas is essentially mandated to activate a market matching system wherein various agricultural products of farmers from different parts of the country end up in suitable markets with competitive prices.
Kadiwa, on the other hand, was supposed to facilitate wholesale transactions, especially for agricultural products with a huge production surplus. In this context, over-supply would have no adverse effect and wastage should have been prevented.
With huge budget allocations, the farmers and fisherfolks should have been accorded adequate marketing and logistical support through the Amas and Kadiwa.
Apparently, both offices only succeeded as instruments to justify fund utilization. But in terms of measurable accomplishment, both offices can only be described as total failures.

Joel Rullan,
Manila,
Philippines




Senators voting in Thailand parliament
Would be a gross conflict of interest
The Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday September 21, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday September 9, 2022

Re: "Senate must prove mettle", in Bangkok Post Opinion, September 7, 2022 and "Senate's PM pick role up for debate", in Bangkok Post, September 6, 2022.
I agree that it's very unlikely that senators will cede their power to join Members of Parliament in electing a prime minister.
However, Thailand claims to be a democracy with the monarch as head of state, and in a democracy, the decision of the majority of voters prevails either directly or through their elected representatives.
As Gen Prayut and Gen Prawit handpicked and appointed each senator without any say from elected officials, to have senators vote on those who appointed them would be a gross conflict of interest, for it would allow that person to win with just 1/6 of the popular vote.
If senators wish to retain their role in selecting the prime minister, they should recuse themselves when Gen Prayut or Gen Prawit are involved.

Burin Kantabutra,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Suggestions for a checklist
For disguised pro-China missives
The Southeast Asian Times Tuesday September 20, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, September 9, 2022

Re: "Leader's checklist", in Bangkok Post PostBag, August 28, 2022
I've been tempted in the past to reply to ML Saksiri Kridakorn's barely disguised pro-China missives but have so far resisted. The letter published in PostBag on Aug 28 has finally spurred me to act.
Some suggestions for the checklist:
Voting on a country's policy, leaders and political parties is fine; limiting the alternatives is not.
Providing feedback and expecting remedial action is fine; dictating outcomes is not.
Having a strong and growing economy with increasing living standards is fine; using slave labour is not.
Eradicating poverty is fine; sharing wealth unfairly is not.
Having a harmonious society is fine; stifling dissent and violating human rights is not.
Achieving food and national security and personal safety is fine; curtailing basic freedoms is not.
Treating all peoples internationally as equal is fine; oppressing minorities is not.
Having high-tech manufacturing is fine; using technology to control people is not.
Building state-of-the-art infrastructure and systems is fine; limiting access to urban populations is not.
Ubiquitous 5G communications is fine; controlling content on networks is not.
Never having been a colonial power is fine; trying to become one is not.

Sibeymai,
Bangkok,
Thailand



President Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos Jr
Direct beneficiary of his father’s dictatorship
The Southeast Asian Times, Monday September 19, 2022

When I read in The Southeast Asian Times ‘ President Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos Jr defends his father’s imposition of Martial Law ‘ ( 16 Sept 2022 )
I thought he would do that, wouldn’t he, seeing as he is a direct beneficiary of his father’s dictatorship .
But in his letter on the same day Daniel Aloc gives us an authentic account of Marcos Sr’s “ fascist dictatorship “ and “ the massive corruption and human rights abuse committed by his father’s regime “.
No amount of whitewashing and historical revisionism can alter the truth regarding the Marcos dictatorship which is well documented.
See Raymond Bonner’s book Waltzing with a Dictator for an insight .

Rajend Naidu,
Sydney,
Australia



Are weapons always the answer
New Zealand soldiers armed with quitars
The Southeast Asian Times, Sunday September 18, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday September 5, 2022

"Prayut kicks off defence exhibition," in Bangkok Post, Tuesday August, 30,
2022.
Another defence and security event has just finished. Sophisticated weaponry was on display for four days and no doubt found buyers from across the globe.
But are weapons always the answer?
I have just finished watching a documentary film called Soldiers Without Guns.
In it we see soldiers from New Zealand armed only with guitars who intervene and finally reconcile warring factions in a brutal civil war on the Pacific island of Bougainville.
Maori culture, which seems to be well integrated into mainstream New Zealand society, played a big part. This film offers a hopeful glimpse into a potentially more peaceful future.

Bangkok,
Thailand



Britain's Queen Elizabeth 11 - V - Myanmar's Aung San Sui Kyi
The Southeast Asian Times Saturday, September 17, 2022

In Britain the hereditary head of the country Queen Elizabeth was loved, admired, respected and honoured by millions in Britain and around the world.
She reigned as head of the country for 70 years.
In Myanmar the democratically elected leader of the country Aung San Sui Kyi who is loved, admired and respected by millions in Myanmar and around the world was removed from power by the military and thrown in jail - for life!
This is the two worlds of humanity.

Rajend Naidu,
Sydney,
Australia



Ferdinand Marcos Sr. 50th anniversary
Of declaration of martial law
The Southeast Asian Times, Friday September 16, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday September 14, 2022

This year’s commemoration of Ferdinand Marcos Sr.’s declaration of martial law on September, 21 will be a historic one not only because it will mark the 50th anniversary of the start of one of the darkest chapters in Philippine history, but it will also be the first under the administration of the late dictator’s son himself.
With President Marcos Jr. at the helm of power, rejecting historical revisionism has become even more imperative as the disinformation campaign to whitewash the massive corruption and human rights abuses committed under his father’s regime intensifies.
While there is more than enough evidence to debunk the lies about Marcos Sr.’s fascist dictatorship, the facts will not speak for themselves, so we must speak for them.
Now more than ever, we should uphold the truth and vocally oppose any attempts to distort the country’s history.
As Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel once said, “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
Reject historical distortion!
Never forget the horrors of martial law!

Daniel Aloc,
Manila,
Philippines




Call for Dr. Maria Rosario Vergeire
To be fully fledged Department of Health secretary
The Southeast Asian Times Thursday September 15, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday September 8, 2022

Dr. Maria Rosario Vergeire deserves to be the full-fledged Department of Health secretary.
Having her as an officer in charge limits her powers and responsibilities to impose public health measures in these crucial, almost post-pandemic times.
We know that appointment to the Cabinet requires the trust and confidence of the President.
But what about the trust and confidence of the people that Vergeire has earned while we are battling and enduring the scourge of COVID-19?
Give the woman her rightful place.

Jonas Cabiles Soltes,
Antipolo, Tinambac,
Manila,
Philippines



Papua New Guinea Freehold land acquired in the colonial era
Awarded to non-profit organisation such as churches
The Soitheast Asian Times, Wednesday September 14, 2022
First published in the National Monday September 12, 2022

Under the Torrens Title System, freehold land is said to be held against the whole world.
That is to say, the interest of a lessee in a freehold land is not subject to any authority for taxation purpose or expropriation purpose by any commonwealth state.
The owner of a freehold land enjoys a higher form of ownership and does not pay tax unlike the owner of a state lease land.
A freehold land has a fixed term of lease and when that lease expires it reverts to the traditional landowner or clan as a freehold land unlike the state lease land.
That does not mean the land becomes a customary land.
It still remains a freehold land under the original mode of acquisition, except that the freehold land reverts back to the traditional landowner or clan as ultimate owners to take custody of, as is the law.
With state lease land, upon expiry of the lease the land reverts to the state.
The State then has the power to lease the land again through the public tender process.
Most of the land acquired as freehold during the colonial era were awarded mostly to non-profit organisation such as churches for a well-intended reason.
Once the lease expires, such land must revert to the traditional landowners.
This position is confirmed by the decision of Justice (David) Canning over the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone (PMIZ) project land in Madang about two years ago over the dispute of ownership between the traditional landowners and the state.
Most of the land around the vicinity of Pacific Marine Industrial Zone (PMIZ) is freehold land and can only revert to the traditional landowner upon expiry of the lease.
For the Government to amend the laws governing freehold land will have many undesired outcomes.
Foremost, the landowners whose land is held under freehold lease will lose their total traditional inheritance to such land.
Secondly, such amendments can have a negative impact on freehold mortgaged property.
The owner of a freehold estate may no longer enjoy the protection he/she has under the freehold ownership and may eventually lose his security of tenure.
The best way forward is to identify freehold land whose lease is expiring soon or has expired and work with the traditional land owners to develop their land.
The mode of acquisition under freehold is the best form of ownership with security of tenure well intact and is attractive and is bankable.
The land remains a state lease but as a freehold interest, meaning at some point in the future the ultimate ownership of such land must still be vested in the traditional landowners.
The benefits under this form of ownership are similar to land registered under the Incorporated Land Group Act though it may vary.
In my opinion, traditional landowners whose land has been acquired and registered under freehold interest should be empowered to use their land for economic development rather than amending the laws.

Manevi Gene
Landmark Valuers & Consultants
Goroka,
Papua New Guinea



Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha
Was Prime Minister before April 6, 2017
The Southeast Asian Times, Monday September 12, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday September 9, 2022

Re: "Prayut's PM tenure 'ends 2025'," in Bangkok Post, Wednesday September 7, 2022.
With respect, the Meechai Ruchupan opinion is, of itself, a false application of post hoc ergo propter hoc, the concept that, after this, thereafter because of this.
It is erroneously creating a sequential relationship to a causal consequence.
Simply put, Section 264 of the constitution prescribes that the prime minister shall be the person who held that role the day before promulgation.
In essence, Mr Meechai's opinion provides unequivocal evidence the prime minister held that post the day before the April 6, 2017 promulgation; thus it is nonsense at law and in logic to suggest his tenure began from that date.

Stewart Charles
Bangkok,
Thailand



Tourism struggling in Asia
Except for Bali and the Maldives
The Southeast Asian Times, Sunday September 11, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday August 26, 2022

Re: "Troubled economies", in Bangkok Post, PostBag, August 23, 2022
While Jason A Jellison does have a point that most of the world's economies are still struggling when comparing their performances to pre-pandemic times, the fact is that tourism has almost returned to normal in many parts of the world.
Based on various publications that I have read, tourism has bounced back by up to 90 percent of pre-pandemic times in Western European countries and even many African countries, such as Egypt and South Africa.
The lone exception is Asia.
With the exception of Bali and the Maldives, most Asian countries have struggled to get tourism back to even half of what it previously was before the pandemic.
And what is the reason for this?
Well, most Asian countries still have various rules for inbound tourists in place, such as the necessity of taking antigen or PCR Covid tests for unvaccinated people, and even quarantine in some cases, among others.
In contrast, most of the rest of the world has opened up to everybody, regardless of whether they are vaccinated or not.
So, while I am in agreement with Mr Jellison that lengthening the amount of time which tourists will be able to stay in the country once they arrive is a good first step, it quite clearly is not enough.
I don't think that getting 45 percent of the number of tourists back from before the pandemic hit is much of an accomplishment, as the above implies.
More is needed to be done to strengthen both Thailand s tourist sector and economy.
Thailand needs to open itself up more to the rest of the world.

Paul,
Bangkok,
Thailand




Papua New Guinea polling and counting officials
Waiting for July election allowances
The Southeast Asian Times, Saturday September 10, 2022
First published in the National, Monday September 5, 2022

Can the electoral commissioner and East Sepik election manager explain to the polling and counting officials when they will be paid their election allowances?
Service providers and election officials have been waiting for almost two months after the return of writs.
The election manager and the returning officers have been issuing so many excuses when asked by election officials.

Frustrated service provider,
Wewak,
East Sepik Province
Papua New Guinea




Thailand and Vietnam to collaborate
To raise rice prices
The Southeast Asian Times, Friday September 9, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Tuesday September 6, 2022

Re: "Thailand to push for fairer rice prices", in Bangkok Post, September 4, 2022.
India, Pakistan, the US, Cambodia and other leading rice exporters must be smiling broadly at the news that Thailand and Vietnam are planning to collaborate to try to raise rice prices.
Global rice markets are highly competitive and there are many exporting countries to choose from.
Efforts by Thailand and Vietnam to increase the price of their rice exports will almost surely fail and will unfortunately likely result only in driving customers to alternative suppliers.
Additionally, since rice production costs in Vietnam are much lower than in Thailand, it is likely that at the first indication of loss of market share, Vietnam will back out of this new pricing arrangement, leaving Thailand in an even more disadvantaged position.
As has been noted repeatedly by agricultural economists and rural development experts in the past, impoverished rice farmers would be best helped by supporting their shift out of rice farming and into higher-value niche products and services.
If we truly want to support rice farmers, we should assist them to escape the poverty trap of rice farming itself.

Samanea Saman,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Papua New Guinea not the only country
That celebrates mediocrity
The Southeast Asian Times, Thursday September 8, 2022

I know where David Lepi is coming from when he laments “ Papua New Guinea is the only country in the world that celebrates mediocrity
( The National 2/9 ).
Let me assure you it isn’t. Ask any clear thinking person in Fiji and he or she will tell you it’s the same in post coup Fiji to cite just another example.
David Lepi is of course right we need to adopt what the African Nobel Laureate Chinua Achebe meant when said “ a true patriot will always demand the highest standard of his country and accept nothing but the best “.
We do our country and our people a grave injustice when we settle for mediocrity instead.

Rajend Naidu,
Sydney,
Australia




Call for Filipinos
To operate Small town lottery
The Southeast Asian Times Tuesday September 7, 2022
First Published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday September 1, 2022

This may sound crazy and absurd, but why not?
These two gambling activities are the favorites of ordinary Filipinos and have, in fact, resulted in broken families, loss of lives, broken dreams, etc., and many have been driven deeper into poverty.
Isn’t it possible to turn gambling into a more productive and life-enriching activity? Yes, it is totally possible and doable.
Firstly, there are two major elements present in gambling, the element of chance and the element of risk.
Therefore, if you remove these two elements, that activity ceases to be gambling.
But how?
Let the people themselves operate and manage small town lottery (STL) and “e-sabong” as a cooperative.
That is, your bets become your contribution or your investment in the businesses owned by the cooperatives.
If you are lucky, the prizes you receive are now called incentives, your incentives for investing.
If you are not lucky, your betting money is considered your contribution or investment in the cooperative.
At present, millions of pesos daily are wasted by ordinary Filipinos in these two gambling activities.
In 2018, before the pandemic, the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office’s revenues from small town lottery STL alone was P28 billion, and for e-sabong, it is about P650 million per month or P7.8 billion per year.
Some even say Atong Ang gets P3 billion per month from e-sabong.
Some of these money come from recipients of the 4Ps program who indulge in these two activities hoping to earn extra cash.
How many businesses and jobs could be created using these amounts of cash? First, let us define the profile of the micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in our country.
The MSME sector is considered the backbone of our economy, and around 70 percent of the country’s labor force is in this sector.
Micro enterprises are capitalized at P3 million and employ one to nine people. Small enterprises are capitalized from P3 million to P15 million and employ 10 to 99 people. Medium enterprises are capitalized at P15 million to P100 million and employ 100 to 199 people.
Therefore, using even just half of the revenues from STL and e-sabong, assuming the other half is for charity and expenses, you can establish 6,000 micro businesses per year and create 6,000 to 54,000 jobs per year.
For small enterprises, 1,200 to 6,000 business units and 60,000 to 118,800 jobs per year.
For medium enterprises, you create 180 to 1,200 business units and 35,800 to 120,000 jobs per year.
Depending on the needs of the community, you can create a combination of these enterprises.
Those enterprises are owned and managed by ordinary Filipinos through their cooperative.
Down the road, the cooperatives of ordinary Filipinos will be more than ready to challenge the dominance of large e-companies owned by foreign companies and by rich Filipino businessmen, and ultimately prevail.
When people in communities nationwide work together toward a common goal, progress and prosperity for all Filipinos cannot be far behind.

Ernesto M. Adaya,
Manila,
Philippines




Philippines Coach Chot Reyes should expect boos
When fans expectations are not met
The Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday September 6, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday September 1, 2022

My son RG and I watched on television the game between Gilas Pilipinas and Saudi Arabia in the Fiba World Cup Asian Qualifiers at the Mall of Asia Arena.
It was rude, inappropriate, and shameless when the home crowd booed Chot Reyes when he was introduced as head coach of Gilas Pilipinas, and every time he was flashed on the big screen.
A question though is asked can one know the intent of the audience when they booed the coach?
Some of the booing spectators may simply want to express their displeasure on his coaching style.
Others probably want to challenge him, not to give in to mediocrity, but rather for him to do more or give his all to ensure the victory of the team.
Both sides of the audience are within their rights to express their views through booing.
And so, Coach Reyes should expect more boos when he does not meet the expectations of the fans of Gilas Pilipinas and more boos when he coaches half-heartedly.
The booing of the crowd, after all, should be respected since it is a legitimate expression of speech.
It is their way of venting their frustration.
A word of advice to Coach Reyes: admit that you are in a tough spot; allow the basketball fans to express their views through boos but don’t take it too personal, since their boos are a good index that your coaching style matters to them.
Stay focused coach, keep going, and be inspired and motivated by their boos to make the Gilas Pilipinas a champion team.
That will be your legacy, especially to the boo-birds.

Reginald B. Tamayo,
Marikina City,
Philippines




Former Malaysian PM Najib Razak
A national disgrace
The Southeast Asian Times Monday, September 5, 2022

Rosmah Mansor, the wife of former Malaysian PM Najib Razak, has been sentenced to a decade in prison for seeking and receiving bribes in exchange for government contracts, just days after her husband was jailed for 12 years for corruption and abuse of office ( Reuters 3/9/22 )
This is a classic example of how power corrupts some people in power who are overtaken by greed and forget their true role as a leader.
Amassing wealth by hook and crook and at the expense of their own people and country become their modus operandi.
Such leaders are a national disgrace.

Rajend Naidu,
Sydney
Australia



Ukraine
Becoming a proxy for the Europe Union
The Southeast Asian Times Sunday September 4, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post Sunday August 21, 2022

Re: "Short on ideas", Bangkok Post PostBag, Sunday August 21, 2022.
Bruno, there is no easy alternative to Ukraine's current bellicose state of affairs.
It is you, not me, suggesting that Ukraine submit to Russia.
The occupying forces in Afghanistan were none other than the Soviet forces. After 9/11, the USA became the new occupier.
There are no winners in any war, period. Ukraine becoming a proxy for the EU and the USA will not turn into a winner either.
Of course, Russia is paying the price, but the rest of the world is also paying.
How many million Ukrainians must flee to the EU or the USA to declare victory?
So, both fighting factions must weigh the price of a long war.

Kuldeep Nagi,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Papua New Guinea State-owned enterprises are a disgrace
The worst delivery of services in 47 years
The Southeast Asian Times, Saturday September 3, 2022
First published in the National, Thursday August 25, 2022

The eagerly awaited appointments to the new cabinet have finally been announced putting an end to days of speculation, fake news and much interest from the voters.
With these new appointments comes a lot of hope that these ministers will be better than the previous ones.
Some are new and some have surprisingly remained the same.
The health minister, who is actually a doctor, is one to get excited about – Dr Lino Tom has delivered significant improvements in his previous roles.
While our country cries out for better health services and our service providers scream for better support from the Health Department, we hope Tom can start to fix the deep problems that are festering in the health sector.
Many have failed before so let’s hope he is the man for the job.
Minister Justin Tkatchenko is in charge of foreign affairs.
This gives hope that our representation to foreign countries can improve our reputation.
After a disgraceful election campaign full of embarrassment, we hope he is a man who makes things happen.
He has in his electorate.
Perhaps he can start to make it easier for Papua New Guinea people to travel to foreign lands.
The Member for Madang was given Immigration and Labour.
This is one of our most ineffective and inefficient departments.
Let’s hope he can start to help fix this area for the good of Papua New Guinea.
Yet there are always as many questions as there are good things.
Our State-owned enterprises are a disgrace with the worst delivery of services in our almost 47 years.
Yet the same minister remains raising questions as to why.
We know he is a power broker and leader of his party, but there must be a reason he was given this portfolio.
And it can’t be for good performance.
We had hoped we would see someone new who would make improvements. We now have a minister for agriculture, a minister for coffee, minister for livestock and a minister for oil palm.
What was one ministry is now four.
This is an important area for our country but will these ministers have enough work?
And does this mean we will have more public servants filling offices in Waigani to support them?
We hope not.
With the massive cost of public service, how will we look to make government more efficient?
These ministers now have this challenge.
We hope they are up to it.
Every new cabinet brings new hope.
We hope that these ministers know what serving the people means.
We hope that they know what to do to actually make a difference.
We hope that in five years our country is better off in the areas they are responsible to improve.
And we hope the Prime Minister doesn’t change his mind every six months and reshuffle ministers.
If a minister isn’t performing, move him out.
But don’t change these ministers for the next five years and we hope we will be better for it.

Hopeful Citizen,
National Capital District (NCD)
Papua New Guinea




Former PM Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha
Role model for a banana republic
The Southeast Asian Times, Friday September 2, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday August 26, 2022

Re: "Prime Minister pressured over defence role", in Bangkok Post, August 26, 2022.
Many of us who have lived in this country for many years have long ago learned that a sophisticated appreciation of irony is not a characteristic to be found commonly in Thai society.
But, even by the standards of our low expectations, the sycophantic blustering of army chief Gen Narongphan Jitkaewthae, heaping praise on Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha for simply obeying the constitution, the law and a court suspension order, as we are all expected to do, is beyond parody.
The object of Gen Narongphan's admiration is a man who perpetrated the military overthrow of a democratically elected government, engineered the abrogation of the then constitution, ruled by dictatorial fiat for many years, presided over the suppression and silencing of legitimate dissent and has failed to honour almost all the promises he made in his preposterous attempts to justify Thailand's umpteenth military coup d'etat back in 2014.
"A gentleman and role model," says Gen Narongphan.
Role model for a banana republic maybe.

Ludwig,
Bangkok,
Thailand




Sanctions have not been as effectve
Against Russia as hoped
The Southeast Asian Times, Thursday August 1, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday August 21, 2022

Re: "Battlefield decider," in Bangkok Post, PostBag, August 15, 2022 and "Is anyone going to win the Russian embargo game?" in Bangkok Post Opinion, August 13, 2022.
Although I agree with Kuldeep Nagi that we are living in perilous times, I don't clearly see how the Soviet and American invasions and occupations of Afghanistan are relevant to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The Afghanistan invasions lasted a matter of days and the remainder of the conflict was an insurgency against occupying forces.
Sanctions did not really play a role. Krugman was pointing out how they have not been as effective as hoped, except in restricting Russia's imports of electronic components needed for their most advanced weaponry.
What is conspicuous in its absence is that Mr Nagi does not express any explicit alternative to the present bellicose state affairs in the Ukraine.
Is he implicitly suggesting that Ukraine submit to Russian domination?
Is he expressing his own personal cri de coeur? Frustration? Not knowing what is to be done?

Bruno Sapeinza,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Taiwan and Hong Kong
Living under the CCP World class vision
The Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday August 31, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday August 21, 2022

Re: "China mate," in Bangkok Post, PostBag, Saturday August 13, 2022.
Fleetingly one hoped ML Sakiri Kridakorn might have something interesting to say about China's global intentions but it didn't take long for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) speak to emerge.
May one ask for a little more detail about the "false rhetoric on Xinjiang genocides?"
My own proposal, admittedly Western hegemony-influenced, would be to ask the citizens of Taiwan, Hong Kong and even Xinjiang, how they feel about living under the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) "world class" vision.

Yannawa David,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Call for Papua New Guinea to get rid of Australia's influence
In Papua New Guinea and the Pacific
The Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday August 30, 2022
Frist published in the National, Wednesday August 24, 2022

The ongoing war in Ukraine, the Taiwan issue and the current geo-political strategies created by the United States, Australia and their allies in countering China’s influence in the Pacific region are quite alarming in a sense that would raise some very serious concerns within the Pacific Islands community.
Pacific Islands countries should by now see the ugly truth that the so-called West which includes Australia, the US and Great Britain are the real evil that we must get rid of.
They are the main instigators of chaos that is currently gripping the world today.
They successfully created their media propaganda machines to justify their actions and disseminate fake news to justify their evil and wicked deeds.
Their ultimate goal is for all countries to submit to their dominion and influence.
Look what they did in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Yugoslavia and Libya.
They have killed thousands of innocent civilians, stolen their wealth, destroyed their economy and literally reduced those countries to a state of poverty where they are now relying on international aid and humanitarian assistance.
Take a look at what these same countries are doing in Ukraine.
They are pumping billions of Dollars’ worth of weapons just to keep the war going so they can get all the gas and oil contracts.
American corporations and financial institutions are conducting a rapid expansion into Europe, using the crisis in Ukraine to their advantage.
They never care about the countless Ukrainian lives lost every day.
All the countries that they set foot in the name of democracy and freedom are now in total chaos, poverty, inflation, debt, etc.
Their next target is Taiwan.
The current situation in Taiwan is developing at a very alarming rate where the possibility of war is inevitable in a couple of months or years.
They will do anything to have a confrontation with China over Taiwan just like what they did in Ukraine.
It will again be at the expense of the lives of the people of Taiwan.
So who do you think is next?
The Pacific, of course.
I guarantee that we will be their next victims, just like in World War 2.
Australia does not care about us – never did and never will.
If they care about us, we would have been better in terms of living standards and robust economy.
If they cared about us, Papua New Guinea would not have any problems getting a visa to travel to Australia.
If cared, the West Papua issue would have been resolved years ago.
We are nothing but a buffer zone to them. Any war with Australia will be fought in PNG, that is a fact.
Papua New Guinea is and will always be Australia’s battlefield, just like in World War 2.
It is time we start thinking of ourselves and our future.
We are in the process of moving from a bipolar to a multipolar world and we must take this opportunity to progress rather than to maintain the status quo.
It is time we look to other major partners like India, China and Russia.
It is time we own our United Nations vote rather than always becoming a kanaka to Australia and US and always vote for their UN resolutions.
It is time we cut ties with the so-called “friends with benefits’’ who never cared for us.
It is time the next government take it seriously and follow the path our Melanesian brothers from the Solomon Islands have done.
I commend and respect the people of the Solomon Islands and their leadership for their bold stance in deciding on their own the path they want to take through their bilateral relations with China.
Australia, the US and the UK have kept us in chains and never did anything to develop the pacific countries for so long and now they are barking like dogs telling us what to do and how to live.
It is time to get rid of Australia’s influence in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific once and for all.
Down with the West.
God bless Papua New Guinea!

Nationalist,
Port Moresby,
Papua New Guinea
UPNG


Apec meeting setting agenda
On increasing the regions population
The Southeast Asian Times, Monday 29 August, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday August 24, 2022

Re: "Low fertility tops 'Smart Families' agenda", in Bangkok Post, Tuesday Augus 23, 2022.
The Apec meeting seems to be setting its agenda on increasing the region's population under the guise of "Smart Families".
A more accurate euphemism might be "Breeding Units" or "Baby Factories".
Now that the world's population has passed 8 billion, with food and other resources stretched and most wild species under threat of extinction due to human encroachment, is it wise to exhort people to have more children to stimulate the economy?
Shouldn't sustainability be at the top of our agenda?

John Hail,
Bangkok,
Thailand


Call for Papua New Guinea to look to
India, China and Russia not Australia
The Southeast Asian Times, Sunday August 28, 2022
First published in the National, Wednesday August 24, 2022

The ongoing war in Ukraine, the Taiwan issue and the current geo-political strategies created by the United States, Australia and their allies in countering China’s influence in the Pacific region are quite alarming in a sense that would raise some very serious concerns within the Pacific Islands community.
Pacific Islands countries should by now see the ugly truth that the so-called West which includes Australia, the US and Great Britain are the real evil that we must get rid of.
They are the main instigators of chaos that is currently gripping the world today.
They successfully created their media propaganda machines to justify their actions and disseminate fake news to justify their evil and wicked deeds.
Their ultimate goal is for all countries to submit to their dominion and influence.
Look what they did in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Yugoslavia and Libya.
They have killed thousands of innocent civilians, stolen their wealth, destroyed their economy and literally reduced those countries to a state of poverty where they are now relying on international aid and humanitarian assistance.
Take a look at what these same countries are doing in Ukraine.
They are pumping billions of Dollars’ worth of weapons just to keep the war going so they can get all the gas and oil contracts.
American corporations and financial institutions are conducting a rapid expansion into Europe, using the crisis in Ukraine to their advantage.
They never care about the countless Ukrainian lives lost every day.
All the countries that they set foot in the name of democracy and freedom are now in total chaos, poverty, inflation, debt, etc.
Their next target is Taiwan.
The current situation in Taiwan is developing at a very alarming rate where the possibility of war is inevitable in a couple of months or years.
They will do anything to have a confrontation with China over Taiwan just like what they did in Ukraine.
It will again be at the expense of the lives of the people of Taiwan.
So who do you think is next?
The Pacific, of course.
I guarantee that we will be their next victims, just like in World War 2.
Australia does not care about us never did and never will.
If they care about us, we would have been better in terms of living standards and robust economy.
If they cared about us, Papua New Guinea would not have any problems getting a visa to travel to Australia.
If cared, the West Papua issue would have been resolved years ago.
We are nothing but a buffer zone to them.
Any war with Australia will be fought in Papua New Guinea, that is a fact.
Papua New Guinea is and will always be Australia’s battlefield, just like in World War 2.
It is time we start thinking of ourselves and our future.
We are in the process of moving from a bipolar to a multipolar world and we must take this opportunity to progress rather than to maintain the status quo.
It is time we look to other major partners like India, China and Russia.
It is time we own our United Nations vote rather than always becoming a kanaka to Australia and US and always vote for their United Nations resolutions.
It is time we cut ties with the so-called “friends with benefits’’ who never cared for us.
It is time the next government take it seriously and follow the path our Melanesian brothers from the Solomon Islands have done.
I commend and respect the people of the Solomon Islands and their leadership for their bold stance in deciding on their own the path they want to take through their bilateral relations with China.
Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom have kept us in chains and never did anything to develop the pacific countries for so long and now they are barking like dogs telling us what to do and how to live.
It is time to get rid of Australia’s influence in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific once and for all.
Down with the West.
God bless Papua New Guinea!

Nationalist,
UPNG



Call for Thai Prime Minister
To keep his word
The Southeast Asian Times, Saturday August 27, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday August 24, 2022

Re: "Prayut: I won't prolong my stay", in Bangkok Post, June 12, 2015 and "Pressure mounts on PM tenure", in Bangkok Post, August 22, 2022.
I'm delighted to hear ex-government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana recently emphasise that "The PM is a man of his word", for in June 2015, "PM Prayut Chan-o-cha reiterated his plan to end his tenure once new elections are held".
He said: "We will do what we can on reforms and hand over the baton after the elections."
PM Prayut, you are a man of your word, your ex-spokesman declared that you were a man of your word seven years ago.
The time's long past due to keeping your promise.

Burin Kantabutra,
Bangkok,
Thailand




Call on Thai PM Prayut to arrest
Red Bull heir in police hit and run
The Southeast Asian Times, Friday August 26, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday August 17, 2022

Re: "Search to be 'stepped up'", in Bangkok Post, Friday August 12, 2022
I thank Move Forward Party MP Theerachai Panthumas for following up on the government's "pursuit" of Vorayuth "Boss" Yoovidhaya, the Red Bull scion on the run to avoid prosecution in a 2012 hit-and-run case.
The Move Forward Party seems to be the only one interested in bringing this accused cop-killer to justice.
In April 2017, despite the RTP's inability to locate the fugitive, the Associated Press found him in front of his London apartment but the RTP failed to have him held for extradition.
In March 2018, Interpol mysteriously pulled its Red Notice for Boss from its website.
It could have been removed if Thailand withdrew its request for his arrest which the RTP denies doing. PM Prayut grabbed power eight years ago promising top-to-bottom reform, including of the police. There's no better time to start than now.

Burin Kantabutra,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Call for corruption in Thailand
To be reported to the media
The Southeast Asian Times, Thursday August 25, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday August 2, 2022

Re: "Tragedy, farce in Mountain B saga," in Bangkk Post, Opinion, Monday August 15, 2022.
We Thais give lip service to fighting corruption, and wait for a "white knight", a "khon dee", to lead us out of this morass. But there's no white knight. For example, Prime Minister Prayut grabbed power eight long years ago, saying that we desperately needed reform and claiming to be "The One" we needed.
But now his own administration is nose-deep in corruption.
To rid us of the rampant corruption which steals from each of us, you and I must be more politically aware, and active.
Report corruption to the media.
When a corrupt politician appears in public, turn your back on him.
Sign petitions posted on change.org. Keep asking Prayut when he's going to release ex-NACC commissioner Vicha Mahakun's report on corruption in the police and public prosecutor's office.

Burin Kantabutra.
Bangkok,
Thailand




Mismatch between state claim and actuality
Is phenomenon recognised across Asia-Pacific
The Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday August 24, 2022

The article ‘ Indonesian Corruption Watch rejects President Widodo claim corruption eradication is government priority ‘ in The Southeast Asian Times August 22 is very illuminating .
It tells us how conscientious citizens contest and guard against State falsehoods.
Indonesian Corruption Watch ( ICW ) researcher, Kurnia Ramadhana, said “ the president is trying his very best to cover up the government’s rotten track record by saying that the eradication of corruption continues to be its main priority” but “ the facts are the exact opposite . Ramadhana tells us “ the claim made by the head of state is the complete opposite of reality.
Corruption eradication has been increasingly sidelined, even brought down completely during the era of President Joko Widodo’s leadership “ ( see the article for details ).
This mismatch between what State leaders claim and the actual ground reality is a phenomenon people readily recognise right across the Asia-Pacific region.
It’s said eternal vigilance is the price of liberty and the protection and integrity of the open society.
That’s precisely what the Indonesian Corruption Watch ( ICW) does by exposing the falsehood of President Widodo’s claim regarding corruption eradication in the country.
Others in the region should draw inspiration from the Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW’s) bold example.

Rajend Naidu,
Sydney,
Australia

 

 

90 percent of Filipino children
Are unable to read at age 10
The Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday August 23, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday August 16, 2022

The banning of “subversive” and “anti-government” books by the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) is a shortsighted and arrogant move.
The World Bank recently reported that learning poverty in the country is at 90 percent; meaning, 90 percent of Filipino children are unable to read by age 10. Those in the field of education, including the academics within KWF, should be more alarmed by this, rather than the production of books that may not be congruent to their taste or thinking.
Now is an opportune time to recall the events in the late 1900s as we are about to celebrate National Heroes’ Day.
Back then, those who questioned or did not comply with the demands of government authorities were tortured, imsprisoned, and/or killed. Some were dispossessed of their properties and many, of their kins. These demands included the personal desires of those in power.
Suppressive measures taken by the government included the ban on the distribution of novels by Jose Rizal, which portrayed the plight of ordinary people in an unjust society.
It also banned the works of the other propagandists, which exposed the greed of those in power, corruption of government officials, and how it keeps the country in its moribund state.
Indeed, these censored readings enlightened the locals about their realities. However, the 1896 revolution led by Andres Bonifacio and the Katipunan was not waged because people read the banned materials. The people joined and supported the armed revolution because of the objective conditions in the sociopolitical and economic realm of the country and the people.

Julie L. Po,
Manila,
Philippines




Who is the Royal Thailand Air Force
Preparing to fight
The Southeast Asian Times, Monday August 22, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Thursday August 11, 2022

Re: "Air force insists on jet cash", in Bangkok Post, Monday August 1, 2022
The RTAF insists we include two F-35A fighters as part of replacing three decommissioned fleets.
Yes, "If you want peace, prepare for war" but who should we prepare to fight? As Sun Tzu said in The Art of War, "Water shapes its course according to the nature of the ground over which it flows; the soldier works out his victory in relation to the foe whom he is facing."
Who would we be facing?
Our forces should be arrayed in relation to those opposing us.
What is our long-term defence strategy?
All of our major military purchases should fit into that strategy but do we have one, or are we again muddling through?
I suggest that over the next decade our most likely flashpoint of armed conflict will not be with our adjacent neighbours, like Myanmar or Malaysia, but with southern terrorists and smugglers, including human traffickers.
If so, F-35As may not be as effective as slower-flying aircraft and drones.
In the region, the most dangerous flashpoint is the conflict between China and Taiwan.
If push comes to shove, who will we stand with: China or Taiwan?
If the former, why buy US arms, as the US will side with Taiwan?
If the latter, why are we buying Chinese subs?
First things first, RTAF. Who are we preparing to fight?

Burin Kantabutra,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Manila can never make it to the top 100
Most livable cities in the world
The Southeast Asian Times, Sunday August 21, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday August 17, 2022

The alternative title to this piece is “Manila is dead,” and I mean that in ways stated below.
Many capitals and major cities in the world started as settlements along riverbanks or outlets to the sea. In the olden times, this meant access to water for drinking, to fish in, as a means of disposal, and a means of transport.
It was by far the most convenient and easiest way for populations to grow and flourish, to trade and thrive.
Fast forward a thousand years, and we see the phenomenon of crowded urban centers with heavily polluted and silted waterways that pose health risks and no longer serve their ancient primary purposes.
Manila, or rather Metro Manila, is a historical anomaly born from as recent as the creation of cities around and beyond the grand plan of Manila.
We now have 16 cities and one municipality covering a relatively small area of 620 square kilometers for an estimated 15 million people.
These 17 unique local government units (LGUs) have become the root of many of the country’s systemic ills for several reasons. By extension, this also infects the rest of the country’s local government units (LGUs).
For one, there is extreme fragmentation of political organizations trapped in the same time and space, but which are forced to operate along artificial borders that are not rational. Moreover, there is a lack of scale for a cosmopolitan area of such political, economic, social, and cultural significance.
A case in point is the differentiated 17-color/number/imagined traffic scheme that drivers in Metro Manila must know by heart lest they be ensnared by 17 differently uniformed traffic personnel.
Woe to the delivery van driver who overlooks a particular number coding scheme in a specific area! Two, this brings us to a very ugly capital that can never make it to the top 100 most livable cities in the world.
Manila was recently ranked the 34th best city in the world for 2022, according to the results of the Time Out Index 2022. The index quizzed 20,000 city dwellers worldwide.—Ed.
Look around and see the rainbow of colors that is usually the choice of the winning mayor and the winning congressional representative.
Every election season, there is a new effort to impose a different color scheme on public facilities a waste of scarce paint and labor that could have gone to more meaningful, rather than just cosmetic, projects.
Enter the road signs and symbols that result in confusion and “kotong” (extortion, usually by cops) in the asphalt jungle.
There is an internationally designed and adopted system that is utterly disregarded, which makes commuting a challenge and more stressful for locals and tourists alike.
Three, there’s the limited three-year timeline for any well-meaning local chief executive to get anything of substance done. Never mind the nonperforming ones.
In 2022 and in a post-pandemic world, the biggest announcement from the Metro Manila Development Authority is that a U-turn along Edsa is to be closed or kept open. And how is the bus rapid transport system expected to work on Edsa, which does not have a consistent number of lanes throughout its stretch? The subway is just too expensive, given the porous underground on which Metro Manila sits, or is sinking into.
It is time to move the capital. Our neighbors have done so: Myanmar moved its capital politically from Yangon to Naypyidaw, a more central location from which to govern, and to get away from the constraints of the old city. Then, there’s the transfer of Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, to its new location an island and a strait away to Nusantara, far from the mouth of the Jakarta River with its worsening floods and congestion paralleled only by Bangkok and, of course, Manila.
In archipelagic terms, Indonesia is much more challenging.
The number of indigenous peoples and varied dialects and languages across many islands with more than one-time zone makes pinpointing the location of a new capital interesting, to say the least. But Indonesians were able to do it, and their new capital is now rising as a smart eco-city surrounded by a forest, even as we in Metro Manila look up to a tangle of electrical, telephone, and cable wires, and look down on potholes and constant diggings. Can we Filipinos do less than our Asean peers?
Let the search for a new capital begin with the country’s leadership—starting with the 17 mayors of Metro Manila raising the banner of the dreams, visions, and aspirations of 111 million Filipinos to save a dying metropolis.

Geronimo L. Sy,
Manila,
Philippines



Amnesty International has rightly caused
International outrage for criticising Ukrainian forces
The Southeast Asian Times, Saturday August 20, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday August 17, 2022

Re: "Amnesty's impartiality plays to Russia's advantage", in Bangkok Post Opinion, Friday August 12, 2022.
Amnesty International has rightly caused huge international outrage for criticising Ukrainian forces for "endangering civilians by launching counter attacks from populated areas near schools and hospitals".
Has Amnesty lost all sense of reality?
One of the first things the Ukrainians do when they are being bombarded by Putin's forces, is to instruct the population to leave.
We have seen countless times buses ferrying civilians from danger zones.
Ukrainian anti-aircraft/missile systems need to be installed in cities to protect them from the Russian onslaught.
If Ukrainian forces were only based outside urban settlements, Mr Putin's forces would simply sweep in unopposed.
Ukrainian forces need to be situated in the towns and cities they are asked to defend, rather than some piece of adjacent woodland where they can be bypassed.
A truly huge boost for Mr Putin and his army of internet propagandists.
He bombed hospitals in the Syrian conflict, where Russian forces would even target rescue workers who rushed to help patients in bombed hospitals with a secondary bombing campaign.
This is just a massive green light to Mr Putin to indiscriminately bomb hospitals and laugh at Western outrage, by saying well Amnesty told us they had troops.

JT,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Aung San Sui Kyi's trial and imprisonment
Is political persecution pure and simple
The Southeast Asian Times, Friday August 19, 2022

Aung San Sui Kyi ‘s trial and imprisonment is political persecution pure and simple. No two ways about it.
Aung San Sui Kyi sentenced to a further six years in prison by Myanmar’s armed forces military court ( Southeast Asian Times 17 August, 2022 ).
Is any body anywhere surprised by it?
That was expected from day one after the power grab by the Myanmar military. The trial by the kangaroo court under the political sway of the rogue rulers of Myanmar is just a farcical sideshow.
It was always the intention of the power grabbers to put the iconic pro-democracy leader the Nobel Laureate Aung San Sui Kyi away for good so that she no longer posed a threat to their hold on power.
The inaction by the international community only emboldened them to go ahead with their intended Machiavellian plan.
What a shame! A respected leader of the Myanmar people who won the right to govern following her party’s convincing election victory is put away in jail and the international community watches this gross injustice as impotent bystanders.
Shame, shame, shame!

Rajend Naidu,
Sydney,
Australia



Malaysia Federal Court rules road accidents victims
To be automatically compensated
The Southeast Asian Times, Thursday August 18, 2022
First published in the Star, Thursday August 11, 2022

I was totally surprised by the recent Malaysia Federal Court ruling that road accident victims should be automatically compensated without having to sue insurance companies, as published in a news portal on August 9.
The landmark ruling was delivered last week in a 140-page judgment that allowed appeals by eight different motorists, seven of whom were injured in crashes.
Insurance coverage and compensation is one of the topics in the Travel and Tours Enhancement Course (TTEC) module “Preparing for future shocks”, which is compulsory for travel and tour operators to attend if they intend to renew their company licence.
Industry players ought to be well-versed in motor insurance as their customers travel in tour buses, vans or cars.
Many operate their own fleet of tour vehicles, while others also offer cars for rent.
But many are clueless about vehicle insurance, particularly the terms and conditions stipulated in the policy.
I once challenged a major operator, who has been providing tour bus services for more than three decades, to name the insurance cover for passengers.
When he named legal liability to passenger (LLTP), I pointed out that this covers the driver’s liability, not the passengers.
In this case, injured passengers could only expect the insurance company to compensate for medical expenses, loss of income and other claims if the driver was found to be at fault.
Unlike personal accident insurance, which covers a specific sum for loss of life, limb, disablement and limited medical expenses caused by accidents without having to establish who was responsible, the legal liability to passenger (LLTP) kicks in only when the driver was at fault.
When it comes to claims for loss of income, the amount varies greatly, depending on the potential earnings of each victim until he/she reaches retirement age.
Hence, I was bewildered by the decision of the court that road accident victims should be automatically compensated by insurance companies.
It is not the practice of insurance companies to pay out more than necessary or hurriedly, particularly in accidents where the victims may be at fault.
Therefore, victims would have to sue and file a claim for the amount sought although it usually takes several years for a court to finally award compensation, compelling insurance companies to pay.
But insurance companies could appeal to a higher court, and some have successfully done so in the past.
But after this landmark decision, accident victims are more likely to be compensated even though some of the terms and conditions may be breached.
I certainly hope the legal fraternity, insurance companies or the General Insurance Association of Malaysia could clear the air for me and other interested members of the public.

YS Chan,
Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia




Fire at pub in Pattaya
Result of rampant corruption
The Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday August 17, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Thursday August 11, 2022

Re: "Don't skimp on pub safety", in Bangkok Post, Saturday August 6, 2022
Having lived in Thailand for almost 30 years now, based in Pattaya for the
last four, the latest fire at Mountain B pub in the province is, in my opinion, once again the result of rampant corruption by the authorities.
When I see discotheques in Walking Street, some accommodating 500
guests per night, one I know of with an entrance "tunnel" hardly two
metres wide, a disaster is looming.
In case of an accident, everyone would storm towards this entrance, the main fire exit probably 35m on the other end. I suspect such places are only able to operate, as someone in the administration (or many) is, "on the take", to let them operate under such hazardous conditions.
If I am correct, the law now would require them to close at 2am.
Most of them don't close before 5am.
Very popular ones outside of this area operate until 8am.
Guests at the wee hours are heavily intoxicated and are hardly able to move in disaster conditions.

Peter,
Bangkok,
Thailand




83 Bangkok pubs closed
For not meeting safety standards
The Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday August 16, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Thursday August 11, 2022

Re: "83 city pubs closed as fire toll hits 15", in Bangkok Post, August 7, 2022
To give credit where credit is due, my heartiest congratulations to Bangkok mayor Chadchart for rapidly working with local city police and temporarily closing 83 of the city's 400 pubs which didn't meet safety standards.
That's light years better than the normal government knee-jerk of giving orders for inspection, etc, but not informing us of results.
But what do Chadchart's closures mean?
Do those left open comply with all safety standards, including building codes, usage of fire-retardant materials, fire control systems, insurance coverage, etc?
If not, when will they fully comply?
How will patrons know which pubs are in full compliance and which are not?
Pol Maj Gen Atthasit Kitchalan, chief of Chon Buri police, is also to be
praised for quickly transferring senior cops pending investigation of why
Mountain B could operate without proper licences.
But were the moves just to move rogue cops out of the public eye?
For example, were any cops moved after the 2009 Santika pub fire, where 66 died, found guilty?
Why weren't effective steps taken to prevent a recurrence, like what happened
at Mountain B?
The Interior Ministry ordered provincial governors to regularly inspect
pubs and related businesses and report back monthly.
Given that the Bangkok Metrololitan Administration (BMA) inspected 400 pubs over the weekend, why the delay in reporting how safe the provincial pubs are?

Burin Kantabutra,
Bangkok
Thailand



Call to prepare Philipines young for peacebuilding
Not war like preparations via military
The Southeast Asian Times, Monday August 15, 2022
First pblished Philippine Inquirer, August 8, 2022

It is disturbing that one of the priorities of the new administration is the mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) and National Service Training Program (NSTP).
It rationalizes that the intention is to train the young for national defense, including disaster preparedness.
Loving our country and defending its sovereignty are both necessary and important. But is it not better to prepare our young for peacebuilding than conditioning them to warlike preparations via military methods?
The best defense we can secure for our country is to have healthy people: well-fed, well-housed, and well-educated. We must build a society where the dignity of work has a place in every heart of the populace, and where a living wage is provided to all workers.
If people are provided with social and basic services, they will pay these services back to our country and people.
Prepare our youth to love justice, do mercy, and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8).
The state should provide opportunities and conditions that would enable the youth to respect others and defend democracy.
They must be equipped with rationality and good governance-driven articulation for fighting corruption.
If the government wants the citizens to be prepared in times of disaster, the best solution it can provide is to reduce vulnerability and increase the capacity of the people.
Sound policies that are science-based, compassionate, humane, and pro-people must be imposed.
The program must include care for the environment and repeal laws that become instruments of nature’s destruction.
We only need to provide a sound economic system as a framework of social justice to prepare ourselves for disaster.
The government must address the issue of climate change by reducing its impact on communities.
Foremost, it must review corporate and business practices that plunder our natural resources for massive profit, leaving our natural resources in desolate condition.
Our youth must be oriented on studying history and society, including the roots of armed conflict.
Our primary goal must be geared toward peacebuilding based on justice.
It is fundamental for our youth to learn the ways of justice and unlearn the ways of quick-and-easy–solutions to our problems.
We must aim to nourish our youth’s patience and objectivity when it comes to addressing the roots of conflict.
The state must provide opportunities and conditions that would help them serve the people and love our country. A good government can serve as a good example, so the people’s loyalty is assured in the defense of our territories and sovereignty.
Repeat: Let us prepare our youth for peace based on justice and disabuse them of unjust war mentalities.

Norma P. Dollaga,
Manila,
Philippines

 

Papua New Guinea election related
Court cases piling up
The Southeast Asian Times, Saturday August 14, 2022
First published in the National, Monday August 8, 2022

Papua New Guinea just experienced an election like no other.
Democracy was not upheld nor was there respect for the laws that hold this nation together.
All in the name of power, people were killed, properties were destroyed and so many other election-related incidents were happening nationwide.
And now as we near the end, election-related court cases are now piling in.
As such, it would be sensible for court cases related to the election are published and made public.
No-one is above the law and a publication of the list of election-related court cases would be welcome.
This information, if made public, would relieve tension and the fear gripping people who are affected.

Affected Voter,
Goroka,
Papua New Guinea



All right thinking Australians agree with
Recognition of First Nation people in constitution
The Southeast Asian Times, Saturday August 13, 2022

Australia's new Prime Minister Anthony Albanese conceptualised it so succinctly when he said the recognition of the First Nation people in the constitution and giving them a voice in parliament would overcome “ the tyranny of powerlessness “ that they have historically felt.
All right thinking Australians would agree with that.

Rajend Naidu,
Sydney,
Australia



Nuclear has been in global decline
Longer than coal
The Southeast Asian Times, Friday August 12, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday August 5, 2022

Ms. Moira Gallaga’s letter extolling nuclear energy “Going nuclear: A sensible and practical option for the Philippines,” July 29, 2022 failed to provide any data to support her unrealistic claims.
Nuclear is neither sensible nor practical for any country even more so for the Philippines.
Nuclear power is not a climate solution.
A study in 2021 shows that the contribution of nuclear power to mitigate climate change remains and is projected to be very limited.
Current nuclear plans would only avoid at most 2-3 percent of global emissions, and this contribution is seen to decrease further by 2040.
In contrast, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change the world’s foremost authority on climate science says that wind and solar power can potentially deliver over 33 percent of the total emissions reductions necessary by 2030.
Nuclear will not give us energy security and will not provide adequate and reliable power for the Philippines.
Nuclear proponents consistently fail to mention the fact that the Philippines does not produce nuclear fuel.
We will still be subject to global supply shortages and price fluctuations of nuclear fuel and at a worse scale than coal, since only four companies in the world manufacture nuclear fuel.
Nuclear power’s inflexibility has also been cited by experts as incompatible with the Philippines’ energy profile, and will be even more incompatible as the country ramps up its renewable energy (RE) portfolio.
Nuclear power will not lower electricity prices for consumers.
In fact, it is the most expensive way to produce electricity.
Among all types of power plants, it is the most expensive to build and maintain. Slovakia’s Mochovce 3 and 4 nuclear power plants, at 470 megawatts each, cost a whopping 5.4 billion euros (or around P288 billion).
Meanwhile, the International Energy Association found that in 2020, renewables, particularly solar, were the world’s cheapest energy source.
The price of nuclear energy becomes even more unimaginably expensive when you include the costs for radioactive spent fuel storage, as well as nuclear accidents. The cost of clean up for Fukushima is estimated at 21.5 trillion yen (or around P9 trillion).
The recent earthquakes in Abra and Ilocos provinces, and the scale of destruction caused, should make nuclear proponents rethink what they are peddling.
If those provinces had nuclear plants, imagine how much worse the situation would have been given the lax regulatory culture in the Philippines where building construction is not adequately monitored, and where we can’t even effectively monitor air pollution from coal plants.
Nuclear is a sunset industry and has been in global decline longer than coal.
It is unfortunate and outrageous how the industry continues to find willing proponents in the Philippines who would put fanatical claims over fact, at the expense of climate action and human safety. The era of nuclear power is long gone, and RE is answering the call of the times.
The Philippine government should disassociate itself from all these false nuclear myths and carve out a safer, better path with renewables.

Khevin Yu,
Energy transition campaigner,
Greenpeace Philippines,
Manila,
Philippines




Who will Thailand stand with
China or Taiwan
The Southeast Asian Times, Thursday August 11, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday August 8, 2022

Re: "Air force insists on jet cash", in Bangkok Post, Monday August 1, 2022.
The Royal Thailand Air Force (RTAF) insists we include two F-35A fighters as part of replacing three decommissioned fleets.
Yes, "If you want peace, prepare for war" (Latin adage) but who should we
prepare to fight?
As Sun Tzu said in The Art of War, "Water shapes its course
according to the nature of the ground over which it flows; the soldier works out his victory in relation to the foe whom he is facing."

Who would we be facing?
Our forces should be arrayed in relation to those opposing us.
What is our long-term defence strategy?
All of our major military purchases should fit into that strategy but do we have one, or are we again muddling through?
I suggest that over the next decade our most likely flashpoint of armed conflict
will not be with our adjacent neighbours, like Myanmar or Malaysia, but with
southern terrorists and smugglers, including human traffickers.
If so, F-35As may not be as effective as slower-flying aircraft and drones.
In the region, the most dangerous flashpoint is the conflict between China and
Taiwan.
If push comes to shove, who will we stand with: China or Taiwan?
If the former, why buy US arms, as the US will side with Taiwan?
If the latter, why are we buying Chinese subs?
First things first, Royal Thailand Air Force (RTAF).
Who are we preparing to fight?

Burin Kantabutra,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Support for Cardinal Sir John Ribat statement
General Election 2022 worst in Papua New Guinea
The Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday August 10, 2022
First published in the National, Monday August 8, 2022

I support the statement by Cardinal Sir John Ribat that the General Election 2022 (GE22) is the worst election ever in Papua New Guinea.
And the blame should be laid squarely on whoever was in charge of GE22 preparations.
The Electoral Commission had almost three years to plan the implementation of GE22.
However, it takes money to run this national activity.
The futile effort to update the common roll (wards, local level governments, districts and provinces) was a ridiculous political statement.
Not all wards were covered and even for those that were covered, not every citizen was enrolled.
This showed the incompetency of those in charge.
Papua New Guinea must ask itself how most current Members of Parliament (MPs) were re-elected.
This election is marred with allegations of corruption, bribery, ballot box tampering, intimidation and other factors.
The country should not be blind by political propaganda and gimmicks.
Losing candidates are resorting to violence because something has forced them to act in this manner.
The security forces are alleged to be on the payroll of sitting MPs, EC officials (returning officers and assistant returning officers) are ardent supporters of sitting MPs and the court system is influenced by the Government.
Therefore, we can summarise that losing candidates are acting in this way because they and the people are feeling suppressed and have no where to facilitate their grievances.
This frustration may have compelled them to take the law into their own hands.
I do not support violence but I’m just pointing out a probable cause.
We have to reflect on economic facts to substantiate the performances of prime ministers.
Performances of the prime minister should be analysed through economic indicators such as the foreign exchange rate, import-export ratio, employment rate, inflation rate and the external balance deficit.
We must not be blindsided by political propaganda.
For the last three years, the FX rate is on a continuous decline, employment rate is at an all-time low and inflation is on the rise.
We, the ordinary citizens, are feeling the pinch.
Inflation will occur when we have external balance deficits.
When imports are more than exports, then we have more outflows of money and less inflows of money.
This will stimulate the increase in domestic prices of goods and services.
This is happening now.
Papua New Guinea , therefore, urgently needs someone like the late Sir Mekere Morauta to bail us out of this economic turmoil.

Charlie Ben,
Port Moresby,
Papua New Guinea


 

Call to put in place regulatory framework to ensure
Safety and security in use of nuclear energy in Philippines
The Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday August 9, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday July 28, 2022

Energy is a vital resource of any country.
Just as the human body needs the energy to function and get things done, it is essential in the functioning and growth of the country’s economy.
Its reliability, accessibility, and sufficiency can have direct effects on one’s quality of life.
The pressing need to address climate change and meet commitments made to reduce our carbon footprint, the war in Ukraine, and the pandemic, among other factors affecting the global economy, have all combined to create a multitude of issues, such as inflation and high gas prices, that have made life quite difficult for ordinary folk.
It also bears mentioning that even before the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, energy prices in the Philippines were already among the highest in the region.
In view of the multifaceted challenges faced by the Philippine energy sector, adding nuclear power to the country’s energy mix is a sensible and practical option. Nuclear energy provides a solution to meet commitments to reduce carbon emissions, as well as adequate and reliable power for development needs.
It also lowers electricity prices for consumers and enhances the country’s energy security by reducing its reliance on third parties and external factors.
In his first State of the Nation Address this week, President Marcos Jr. cited the need to reexamine the country’s strategy for utilizing nuclear power and adding it to the mix of energy sources needed to spur economic development while adhering to climate change commitments.
He also assured the International Atomic Energy Agency that the Philippines will observe pertinent regulations for the safe and secure use of nuclear energy.
With the President’s pronouncement, going nuclear is now definitely part of our country’s energy policy.
As for implementation, Executive Order No. 164 signed by former president Duterte can be viewed as a starting point, as it provides a national policy position from which the strategy of building nuclear power plants can be reexamined by relevant agencies.
There will be other key steps necessary to move forward with this policy, such as establishing an independent regulatory body, ratifying key global nuclear safety and security conventions and treaties, and passing legislation to update nuclear regulatory laws.
This means that the participation and support of both houses of Congress will be crucial.
The involvement of the legislative branch of government in this process will provide ample opportunity to put into place a robust legal and regulatory framework to ensure safety and security in the use of nuclear energy.
Given there will be resistance to the use of nuclear power from some sectors of society, the legislative arena provides ample opportunity for robust debate on the issue.
Mr. Marcos has yet to appoint an energy secretary, but whoever gets entrusted with that role will be crucial in putting everything together to enable the country to reap the benefits of nuclear energy.
This person should be able to work closely with other key agencies such as the Departments of Environment and Natural Resources, Trade and Industry, and Science and Technology. Hopefully, the right person would soon be chosen for the job.
This is an opportunity to get things done right for the benefit of all.
The success of advanced economies may be traced in part to their use of nuclear energy.
The Philippines is no longer a Third World country and is now a fast-rising, dynamic economy on the verge of achieving upper-middle income status. Let’s not fail to seize the moment.

Moira G. Gallaga,
Manila,
Philippines




Call for Philippines legislators to pass
Poverty Reduction Through Social Entrepreneurship bill
The Southeast Asian Times, Monday July 8, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday July 28, 2022

We are calling on legislators to prioritize the passage of the Poverty Reduction Through Social Entrepreneurship (PRESENT) bill to help more Filipinos recover faster from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The present Coalition, which is supported by Oxfam Pilipinas through the “Gender Transformative and Responsible Agribusiness Investments in South-East Asia” program, said the proposed policy measure aims to promote social entrepreneurship as a strategy for poverty reduction.
If passed, it will enable the creation and strengthening of social enterprises as transformational partners of the poor and marginalized.
Despite the comprehensive assistance given by social enterprises to the communities that they serve from training and jobs creation to entrepreneurship support and market intermediation they still face many challenges with the current policy environment.
In Mindanao, for example, the social enterprise Coffee for Peace has helped farmers, many of them from indigenous groups, develop high-quality coffee (through local innovations) that are not only export quality but have also gained a local following.
Through such intervention, more local farmers have entered entrepreneurship and are now sought after by different markets.
Before the previous Congress ended, the Senate committee on trade, commerce, and entrepreneurship had already directed the creation of a technical working group to reconcile the various versions of the proposed bill filed in the Senate.
A study by the Philippine Social Enterprise Network and the British Council, supported by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, showed that there were around 164,000 social enterprises more than 15 percent of all businesses in the country before the pandemic.
In 2020, a succeeding study by the Institute for Social Entrepreneurship in Asia showed that 55 percent of social enterprises experienced major downturns; 41 percent experienced some setbacks, and only 4 percent reported any positive impact.
Besides urging the deliberation of the social entrepreneurship bill in Congress, the PRESENT Coalition will also be working with the executive branch to mainstream provisions of the bill in government programs, even while the bill is being deliberated in Congress and local government units to develop localized social enterprise programs to assist the sector recover and build back fairer.

Poverty Reduction through Social Entrepreneurship Coalition,
Manila,
Philippines



Career of Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
Ended by Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force member
The Southeast Asian Times, Sunday August 7, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday July 26, 2022

When Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe was recently assassinated, world leaders were quick to laud him as a great statesman, echoing Japanese conservative and right-wing parties.
Indeed, Abe tried to revive Japanese militarism and “to make Japan great again,” starting with “Abenomics” to revitalize the Japanese economy.
But in doing so, Abe tried to distort his nation’s imperialist history by denying the atrocities committed by militarists against other countries.
Thus, he is also remembered for his historical denialism, in his controversial actions, policies, writing, and speeches that refused to acknowledge Japanese atrocities during World War II.
Since the end of World War II, a defeated Japan made amends to its former occupied nations in Asia through reparations, and various Japanese administrations have officially apologized for the horrific atrocities not just against captured soldiers as in the Bataan Death March, but especially against the millions of civilians in Japanese-occupied territories in China and Southeast Asia.
Who can forget the 1937 Nanjing Massacre as documented by Iris Chang’s “Rape of Nanking,” or Japan’s bloody “Rampage in Manila,’’ as described by American historian James Scott.
In both instances, hundreds of thousands of Chinese residents in Nanjing and Manila were massacred mercilessly including infants, while tens of thousands of women were raped.
Despite his own party’s official apology to all World War II victims in its 1993 Kono Statement, Abe as prime minister tried to whitewash these atrocities which he labeled as “fabrications.”
Instead, he attempted to portray an era of a glorious imperial past under the wartime emperor of Japan.
To us Filipinos, this already sounds all too familiar.
First, he made an effort to pressure textbook publishers in Japan to remove passages about Japanese army atrocities in China, Korea, and other parts of Asia during World War II.
As soon as he became a politician, he tried to exonerate the name of his maternal grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, who was imprisoned as a Class-A war criminal by American forces for three years, but who would later even become a post-war prime minister.
Rewriting Japanese history with a legacy of a glorious past was a means for him to allow Japan to remilitarize and take offensive military action abroad.
His highly publicized visit to the Yasukuni Shrine cemetery for war criminals was an attempt to exonerate them and cleanse Japanese historical atrocities, an act to deny that they ever happened.
Thus, he tried but failed to revise Article 9 of the Japanese constitution that would have remilitarized Japan, a move strongly resisted by the Japanese people.
Second, Abe’s denial of Japan’s World War II record included his refusal to acknowledge the existence of sex slavery the “comfort women” system by the Japanese army in occupied countries despite archival evidence by Japanese, American, and Asian scholars.
As a result, the Japanese government even put pressure on the Philippines so that a comfort woman statue put up in their memory was removed in Manila under the guise of a public works project.
Third, wanting to taunt China, Abe posed in a vintage fighter plane with numbers “731,” the notorious secret unit of the Japanese imperial army in Manchuria that conducted lethal chemical and biological warfare experiments on mostly Chinese and Russian prisoners.
The 731 ringleaders were later pardoned and absorbed in the US’ own postwar chemical and biological weapons program.
Japan’s wartime actions and atrocities are historical facts and justly demand atonement and historical accountability.
They cannot be denied or glamorized. They cannot be forgotten in the name of anti-communism as when Japanese war criminals were pardoned after show trials by the US.
This issue still divides Japan, but it also affects its foreign relations as it antagonizes its neighbors who were victims of Japan’s militaristic past.
Abe is credited for his Indo-Pacific strategy with the United States, Australia, and India, which committed Japan to a more aggressive role in the united front against China.
The irony of it all is that, even though he tried to remilitarize Japanese foreign policy, his career as a modern leader of Japan was ended by an ex-member of Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force.

Roland Simbulan,
Vice chair,
Center for People Empowerment in Governance,
Manila,
Philippines



Internet banking facilties in Thailand
For Thai's only
The Southeast Asian Times, Saturday August 6, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Saturday August 1, 2022

Re: "Not well saved," in PostBag, Saturday July 30, 2022.
In a letter to the Bangkok Post, Peter Jeffreys wrote about his experience with the Government Savings Bank.
After opening his account, he was told that internet banking facilities are for Thais only and are not allowed for foreign account holders.
Soon, PayPal Thailand will exclude all foreign account holders as well. This is a worrying trend and seems unfair to all the expats who live here for decades on proper visas and contribute to the economy.
What is next? Will we be excluded from all forms of electronic payments and ATM machines as well?
As Peter Jeffreys asked: What are they afraid of?

Bangkok,
Thailand



Thailand
Has thermal energy potential.
The Southeast Asian Times, Thursday August 4, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday July 29, 2022

Re: "Governor sows seeds for a green future", in Bangkok Post, Monday July 11, 2022.
A research group at Stanford University, California, USA did a recent study of data from 145 countries.
It found that 7 million people currently die annually from air pollution-related issues. They found that overall energy demands go down by 56 percent with all-electric systems powered by clean, renewable sources such as solar, wind and thermal. Note: Thailand has thermal energy potential.
Are there any hot springs in your region?
If so, that's indicative of thermal.
A switch from polluting fossil fuels to clean/renewable energy reduces the cost per unit of energy by 12 percent on average over fossils.
It wouldn't be cheap.
The study found that the overall upfront cost to replace all energy in the 145 countries, which emit 99.7 percent of world's smog, would be about $62 trillion. However, due to the $11 trillion annual energy cost savings, the payback time for the new system would be less than six years.
The new system could also create roughly 28 million more long-term, full-time jobs than jobs lost, worldwide.
Imagine you have a house with a leaky roof or an overflowing cesspool.
Of course it would cost a bundle to fix such major problems, but sometimes, one needs to make a large investment in order to save much more dollars or baht, in the long run.
What's more valuable than a clean and healthy environment and lifestyle?
It's more conducive to spirituality, also.
Which would you rather see: monks meditating in smog-filled temples or monks meditating in gardens with clean air?

Ken Albertsen,
Bangkok,
Thailand




Geopolitics in the South China Sea
By marker pen
The Southeast Asian Times, Thursday August 4, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday August 1, 2022

Re: "US carrier strike group returns to South China Sea," in Bangkok Post, July 29, 2022
For 500 years, from 1350 until 1850, maps of the world became more detailed, as more areas were "discovered".
Nearly all those world map improvements were drawn by European explorers.
Granted, there was the great Chinese admiral He, who purportedly explored as far as the upper-east-African coast. Yet as far as we know, Admiral He didn't leave any maps of his "discoveries."
However, a rare Chinese map of the world survives from the 16th century.
It was drawn by a Chinese person, with the able assistance of a Portuguese mariner.
The framed map, with its Chinese lettering, hangs in a museum in Milan, Italy.
It is the first known/extant world map drawn by an Asian.
Oddly, the map does not show any Philippine islands.
That region, on the Chinese map, is shown as empty sea.
One would think that a Chinese map of the world would show large islands which are not far from China itself.
This is further proof of how the contemporary "Nine Dash Line" map is questionable too.
A Chinese man, in the late 1940s, took a marker pen or brush and drew nine dashes around a sea in Southeast Asia, shown on a contemporary map - and declared all that territory as belonging to China.
It brings to mind how ex-president Donald Trump used a fat marker pen to draw a big loop on a map - signifying the route of a hurricane - despite no one at the US National Weather Service concurring.
Geopolitics by marker pen. Perhaps I'll get a paper map and draw a thick black line around it, and claim it as mine.
Wow, that would be a quick and easy way to gain real estate.

Ken Albertsen,
Bangkok,
Thailand




What Thailand needs is not short-term foreign capital
But long-term investment
The Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday August 3, 2022
First published in Bangkok Post, Monday August 1, 2022

Re: "Foreign ownership conundrum", Bangkok Post, July 29, 2022.
The responses to the Interior Ministry's proposal to let foreigners own one rai of land if they invest 40 million baht in Thailand reveal there are more important factors to consider than just land ownership.
Most important is the proposed solution doesn't address the problem.
Nipon Poapongsakorn of the Thailand Development Research Institute suggests foreigners would buy land mainly for short-term gain, yet "What Thailand needs ... is not short-term foreign capital, but long-term investment, startups, and service development to support the country's development in the long run."
Our competitors, like Vietnam, have comprehensive incentive packages, whereas we don't.
As Mr Nipon noted, "Our Eastern Economic Corridor scheme is the only selling point to draw Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), unlike Vietnam which boasts much clearer investment stimulus strategies and promotes overseas investment in several areas nationwide."
Lastly, he notes that our costs of doing business are higher and our provinces lack infrastructure.
Thailand needs a holistic approach with clear objectives.

Burin Kantabutra.
Bangkok,
Thailand




Obviously political if Philippine President
Sugarcoated the real state of the nation
The Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday August 2, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Sunday July 28, 2022

There are two parts in a speech: what was said, and what was not.
The first State of the Nation Address (Sona) of President Marcos Jr. took a detailed and provocative look at the ills of our society.
It was peppered with complex policy points which, I fear, may be beyond the comprehension of the average Filipino.
I cannot, however, blame the President, who himself, as claimed, prepared a complex speech simply because our problems are complex as well.
It would be “obviously political” if the President had sugarcoated the real state of our nation.
The speech was, indeed, meticulously prepared, like strong black coffee with no pretentious additives.
Beyond the complexity of the speech are stuff that were not said.
There may be reasons for this omission, and they may be deliberate or unintentional.
In any case, things unsaid in this week’s Sona may be considered uncomfortable truths that, when mentioned, would make the state of the nation unsound.
Allow me to mention a few:
Amendment of Republic Act No. 7160 known as the Local Government Code of 1991, to meet the challenging roles of local officials during the COVID-19 pandemic;
Effective and coordinated policies against graft and corruption;
Job security and putting an end to contractualization;
Better pay for teachers;
Solving drug use and addiction;
Poverty alleviation, and;
Addressing transportation and traffic issues.
Be that as it may, the President’s Staten of the Union Address (Sona) was well-written and well-delivered with a strong content.
I hope all the policies and strategies he mentioned are doable to ensure better living conditions in our country.
Let us help the President get things done. It is time to deliver.

Reginald B. Tamayo,
Marikina City,
Philippines



What's happening in Sri Lanka and Pakistan
Is no different from what's happening in ASEAN
The Southeast Asian Times, Monday August 1, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday July 29, 2022

Re: "No more money politics", in Bangkok Post Editorial, Tuesday July 26, 2022.
This timely editorial about dirty money in Thai politics can't be taken lightly.
The role of money in politics is on the rise in every system of governance.
Fund-raising machines are diluting democracy; elections are dominated by fake news, and the media blitz costing millions.
In some countries in the EU, corrupt practices have turned governance into Russian roulette.
To stay in power, many undemocratic regimes rely on abuse of power, such as a new constitution, manipulation, suppression, coercion, and rampant corruption.
The current sagas in Sri Lanka, Pakistan and many other countries are no different from what is happening in parts of Asean.
Any system of governance where leaders are bought and sold as cattle in an auction or are lured with a sack of green bananas to remain in power will only lead to becoming a banana republic, plain and simple.

Kuldeep Nagi,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Call for Philippines government to continue efforts
To end communist armed conflict
The Southeast Asian Times, Sunday July 31, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday July 22. 2022

This is in relation to an article about stopping the practice of exposing the communist-front organizations (CFOs).
Why would someone do such when it is a way to uncover the deceptions and lies of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF)?
Why would you stop exposing those who would only want to overthrow the government and have their selfish motives be effected?
The insurgency remains a serious national security concern.
But with the sustained peace and security activities in line with the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict’s efforts, the level of insurgency has been significantly reduced and its program objectives have gained headway since it was launched and embraced by the communities.
And one of its activities is debunking the lies of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) by exposing the communist-front organizations (CFOs) and how they operate and recruit their members using these organizations.
By exposing who they really are, we get to know what they are up to.
For the last five decades, they are still existing because of these deceptive recruitments that they are doing for all of the vulnerable sectors, especially the youth.
If these efforts will not be continued, then we will be again facing a big problem. It’s like we were already almost finished with winning the race but, all of a sudden, we stopped our cause because someone suggested stopping exposing those who would want to hurt and manipulate the lives of our fellow Filipinos.
I hope that all of the efforts in ending the insurgency will not simply be put to waste because of such a move.
I wish that both the national and local government authorities would continue their efforts in finally ending the local communist armed conflict.
I also enjoin everyone to stop supporting the lawless elements of our society.
It’s time to unite as one in our pursuit of freedom, peace, and stability.

Robert M. Marquez,
Lagangilang,
Abra,
Philippines




Call for Thailand to follow Singapore
Lee Kuan Yew allowed prostitution to be a profession
The Southeast Asian Times, Saturday July 30, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday July 25, 2022

Re: "No better, No worse," Bangkok Post, PostBag, Saturday July 23, 2022.
Felix makes excellent points in his letter.
Prostitution, sex, gambling, drinking and other vices are older than any religion or other institution on this planet.
The biggest hypocrisy is that outside its borders, Thailand is known as a popular destination for indulging in these vices.
There is another strange social anomaly in Thailand. Polygamy is not seen as a vice or considered immoral, sinful, criminal, degrading or a sign of deviant behaviour.
Until the end of the last century, Amsterdam, London and Paris were famous for their red-light districts.
Those with money would travel there for some fun and frolicking.
In the past two decades, Thailand has replaced them as a place for cheap thrills.
It is no accident the Bollywood biopic Gangubai Kathiawadi has inspired oppressed sex workers in Thailand.
This movie touches on the fabric of our society where hollow morals are used by the religious mafia, priests, pundits, police and politicians to subjugate people.
Thailand must follow the Singapore model, where Lee Kuan Yew allowed prostitution like any other profession.
We all know that criminalising consensual sex only leads to illegal drugs, gambling, money laundering and many other crimes.
Only good policies with checks and balances should go ahead. Criminalising human vices can go only so far. Felix, please note that many foreign tourists flocking to Thailand are looking for their favourite Gangubai.
Where there is a will, there is a way!

Kuldeep Nagi,
Bangkok,
Thailand




Stealing ballot boxes, buying votes, bribing election officials
Has not been reported in Papua News Guinea
The Southeast Asian Times, Friday July 29, 2022
First published in the National, Monday July 25, 2022

The latest criticism of the handling of security in the country came from an influential and populace citizen who lashed at the Marape-led government for its failure to tackle the worsening security situation and incessant killings in Enga and elsewhere around the country.
It is embarrassing that the Government is idly watching the terror unfold.
This is the characteristics of a leader that they have boasted about have run out of steam.
For the past two weeks, there has been tension over threats of protest in the province.
People have been observing the security challenge that has engulfed Kompiam-Ambum and Laigaip- Porgera.
People said Enga is drenched in blood and lately, it has turned into an human abattoir.
They say public infrastructure has been destroyed and that there’s a spike in crime.
This has all been followed by government and responsible authorities decrying the deteriorating state of affairs in the country.
Excessive measures were not imposed to restore any type of normalcy.
Electoral Commission and Police Department incited the course of a failed election and which compromised the entire process.
This is believed to be strategic corruption.
The Government and responsible authorities are to be blamed for the killings and displacement of thousands and destruction of millions of Kina worth of public facilities.
Corruption – stealing ballot boxes, buying votes, bribing election officials and security personnel – and an increase of ill practices during the election period have not been reported.
But the horror of these killings, and the frequency in which they occur, has.
And behind this chaos in the state of affairs is the Marape-led government.
So far, the Government failed to address many more official corruptions within the its circle in their last three years in office.
Citizens and the international community noted that our country is poorly managed – life has lost its value.
The Electoral Commission and police were suspected of bribery and our governing body watched idly without condemning the problems they have instigated.
Apparently, these law and order issues are surging under this present administration due to the absence of political will to combat corruption. People will support those who come with the initiative to procure arms because residents need to complement the efforts of security agencies.
Marape even tried increasing the number of our security personnel but it’s still inadequate.
You can do the math yourself (how many police officer/soldiers do we have?).
It will still not be enough.
So, if we fold our arms and decide to do nothing, we’ll be the ones to suffer most.
These are indeed trying times for the nation and for the Marape-led government, this is a time for deep reflection, given the groundswell of opposition against the administration, especially over worsening security issues in the country.
It has gotten so bad that there have been reports of intermittent cases of killing in Papua New Guinea.
In the last two weeks, in the Enga alone according to police report, dozens of people were killed and many more were badly injured.
It is frustrating, sad and disappointing to realise these people lost their lives all because someone wants power.
As a nation, we are at the crossroads.
If we don’t face our issues and tackle them head on, we are in for a far more dire future – one of uncontrolled lawlessness, violence, misery, anger, poverty and pain.
The apprehension of law breakers is crucial in the government’s efforts to end the reign of terror experience in Enga and the entire country these days.
As it is now, the country is morphing into an ungovernable state.

Nelson Wandi (yuu-yan),
Port Moresby,
Papua New Guinea



Scrapping China loans for Philippines infrastructure projects
Was not initiated by China
The Southeast Asian Times, Thursday July 28, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday July 26, 2022

The “scrapping” of the China loans for three infrastructure projects was not initiated by China, but by structural constraints.
Many critics forget that it is the Philippines that proposed and approved the projects.
The viability is our responsibility. China is not forcing us to borrow.
The Department of Finance (DOF) under then Secretary Carlos Dominguez III informed China Eximbank that the submitted loan applications for the three railway projects would be automatically withdrawn if not approved by May 31, 2022. Undersecretary Cesar Chavez also said, “DOTr understands that this is in light of the upcoming transition of government.”
The three projects were only approved by the Philippines in 2021-2022.
How many billion-dollar projects with other foreign lenders were funded that quickly?
Could it be that the provision inserted by the Department of Finance DOF was a practical move given that the Philippines shifts priorities between administrations?
To recall, the anti-Duterte, anti-China camps threw a continuous series of fake news and misinformation at China-funded projects, causing several years of delay. The debt trap narrative dominated the airwaves for years.
After several major projects by China were completed like the donated Binondo-Intramuros and Estrella-Pantaleon bridges or underway like the Kaliwa Dam and Chico River Pump Irrigation Project, the expert-critics then invented a new term “pledge-trap” to accuse China of falling short of delivery, without giving context that much of the delays can consider the Philippines’ own processing absorptive capacity as constraints (estimated 1 million shortage of labor in 2019), bureaucratic red tape, and right of way issues.
Have the other countries, especially the loudest critics, offered alternative funding sources?
The Kaliwa Dam has been in the planning stages for decades.
Before Rodrigo Duterte, the majority of billion-peso projects took 10 to 20 years to even get done, if at all.
Prime projects were given to Japan.
Did the critics compare the cost per kilometer of Japan vs. China?
Another China-funded Angat Dam, touted by P-Noy and the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System in 2012, was “finished eight months ahead of schedule resulting from efficient project management and advanced construction methodology of the China contractor.”
“Debt-trap” proponents do not compare the sorry record of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund loans in the Philippines, Latin America, etc., or that US banks brought the world to collapse in 2008, crushing several countries. On the so-called Sri Lanka debt trap, over 80 percent of its loans are from Japan, the US, and market borrowings; only 10 percent are from China.
Critics don’t point to the successful projects like the Piraeus port, now rising to be a top port in Europe, after being rejected by countries due to the warnings of the China debt trap.
On the interest on the loans, the Department of Defence (DOF) in 2019 released comparative data that showed Japan’s equivalent US dollar rate is actually 2.7 percent, higher than China’s 2 percent, debunking the opposition’s fearmongering that China was imposing onerous loans. Did the experts compare cost-per-unit, maintenance, consultant costs?
On China asking for 3 percent interest, where are the comparative interest rates of the other foreign lenders? How many are complaining about Filipinos being charged 10 to 20 percent per month on their micro-loans or the 3 to 5 percent monthly on credit cards?
Can the US or Europe banks also lend billions for our infrastructure needs at 3 percent?
Is it better to save 1 percent a year on interest or save 30 to 40 percent on project cost?
Negotiations are time-sensitive.
The rising cost of money, raw materials, inflation, global instability, and risks have changed the calculations.
Fake news makers and fake experts are the obstacles to our Philippines’ recovery and development.
Given the myriad of problems and our neighbors also speeding ahead by working with all countries including the US and China, we need to focus on the real challenges, not on bogeymen.
We should get the best deals for our country. Instead of being obstructionists, the critics can help by presenting better overall packages and showing some successful project propositions.

Austin Ong,
Integrated Development Studies Institute,
Manila,
Philippines



Call to limit term of sitting PNG candidate
To three consecutive terms
The Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday July 17, 2022
First published in the National Tuesday, July 25, 2022

The General Election 2022 is not getting any better, its getting worse.
In past elections, international observers made numerous recommendations for improvement, but the outcome in all elections demonstrates that these recommendations are collecting dust on the shelves of Waigani.
The Electoral Office and the Government of the day are accountable for not fulfilling their constitutional duty which has deprived its citizens’ democratic rights to elect their representatives.
These recommendations are fundamental for improvement and should have been addressed from day one.
If this had happened, it would have not lead GE22 to become the catalyst for breaking apart this nation that prides itself of its banner of “unity in diversity”.
A key contributing factor is the unintended negative outcome of the preferential voting system.
This system is supposed to reduce violence through the provision of making three choices instead of just one in the first past the post system.
The underlying features of this system is to elect the most popular person.
Naturally, the system favours the sitting candidate who is already the most popular person and with access to public funds, they can lure voters at all cost to remain in power.
As a result, more and more sitting candidates are beginning to be re-elected for more than three terms.
The net effect of this system does not provide opportunity for fair and equal distribution of leadership and power in each electorate.
As a consequence, we have election-related violence by supporters.
A proposed solution is to through constitutional reform, limit the terms of the sitting candidate to three consecutive terms.
In this way, when leadership and development opportunities are equally shared in the electorate, this may minimise chances of election violence.

Kelvin Waukave,
Port Moresby,
Papua New Guinea




Australia and New Zealand fail to question
Pacific Island Forum meeting on human rights
The Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday July 26, 2022

In his illuminating and insightful article ‘ Australia and NZ’s silence : Democracy and human rights in the Pacific ‘ ( The Fiji Times 23/7/22 ) Professor Biman Prasad highlights the failure of the two leaders from the Western world in the region to ask the hard questions at the recent Pacific Island Forum leaders’ meeting on the human rights, media freedom and democratic rights situation prevailing in the region in general and the host nation Fiji in particular given its unilateral decision to without grants to the premier regional university, USP.
Will leaders in Australia and NZ heed Professor Prasad’s caution to “ move away from a self-centred approach and adopt a more conscientious, long-term outlook in the region “?
Or, will they continue to act the ostrich on the status of governance, human rights and free speech - “ the building blocks of democracy in the region “ for fear of pushing the island countries “ further into the arms of China “?

Rajend Naidu,
Sydney,
Australia



Negative impact of censure debate
Will be forgotten in 7 days
The Southeast Asian Times, Monday July 25, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Tuesday July 19, 2022

Re: "People will forget in 7 days," Bangkok Post, InQuote, July 19, 2022
DPM Wissanu spoke the truth when he said that "People will forget within 7 days" about the negative impact of the censure debate on targeted ministers.
We knew full well when they stood for office that they were corrupt and incompetent, and the election was rigged with senators who owed their posts to a candidate, yet we choose them - so we're not surprised when the opposition shows us their corruption.
Voters should take their task seriously and vote only for those with integrity, vision and the ability to serve us.

Burin Kantabutra,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Under capitalist system
Businesses get bigger
The Southeast Asian Times, Sunday, July 24, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday July 15, 2022

Re: "At one's convenience", in Bangkok Post, PostBag, July 11, 2022 and "It's all about profit", Bangkok Post, PostBag, July 8, 2022.
Like the letter writer Bruno Sapienza, I go by instinct as a consumer and respond to convenience and competitive price. Sometimes I even exclaim, "Thank heaven for 7-Eleven!"
Under our capitalist system, inevitably businesses get bigger.
But there are rules governing when being bigger is against the public interest as Burin Kantabutr is well aware.
No one is allowed to corner a specific market by 50 percent or three top people by 75 percent .
With plenty of checks from people like Burin, that seems to be good enough, though enough is always in the eye of the beholder.

Songdej Praditsmanont,
Bangkok,
Thailand




President Ferdinand R. Marcose Jr. selection
Of administration got off to a good start
The Southeast Asian Times, Saturday July 23, 2022
First published in the Philipppine Inquirer, Friday July 15, 2022

I share Peter Wallace’s view that the Cabinet selection by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has been impeccable “A positive first step,” Bangkok Post, July 11, 2022.
On the one hand, Article VII, Section 16 of the 1987 Constitution says that the President “shall nominate and, with the consent of the Commission on Appointments, appoint the heads of the executive departments, ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, or officers of the armed forces from the rank of colonel or naval captain, and other officers whose appointments are vested in him in this Constitution.”
On the other hand, Book IV, Chapter 10, Section 44 of Executive Order No. 292, otherwise known as the Administrative Code of 1987, stipulates that secretaries of departments “shall be appointed by the President with the consent of the Commission on Appointments, at the beginning of his term of office, and shall hold office, unless sooner removed, until the expiration of his term of office, or until their successors shall have been appointed and qualified.”
Having said this, President Marcos Jr.’s right to choose who gets to join him in his Cabinet and serve at his pleasure.
Certainly, he only entrusts these Cabinet posts to those fittest and worthy to hold public office in his administration.
The President named probably the best and the brightest technocrats, with their immense knowledge and proven performance in bureaucracy and governance, to form and constitute the Cabinet of the executive department of his administration.
Indeed, the selection of the Cabinet of the President’s administration got off to a good start.

Reginald B, Tamayo,
Marinjina City,
Philippines

 


Call to reduce paper shuffling time in government
To contribute to Philippines debt repayment
The Southeast Asian Times, Friday July 22, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday July 15, 2022

The proposal of the Department of Budget and Management Secretary Amenah Pangandaman to reduce government bureaucracy and save P14.8-billion outlay in manpower budget is one urgent task for the new government to undertake, which we cannot disagree with.
The facts are that government dealings are subjected to one huge inefficient bureaucracy.
There were 1,862,543 permanent government positions for 2021.
“Salaries range from P25,900 (lowest average) to P76,300 (highest average, actual maximum salary is higher).”
The average monthly salary includes housing, transport, and other benefits. P48,800 per month average per worker totals a compensation outlay of P1.09 trillion annually.
There are several caveats, though, in retrenching employees:
It will add to the unemployment problem of 6-8 percent, which the government is already confronted with right now;
The mass poverty index of 23 percent could worsen if the micro, small, and medium enterprises cannot operate in full swing, post-COVID, to generate employment;
The shortage in basic staple food supplies of rice and meat, and the pressure of 6 percent general inflation, will be very social serious concerns, similar to Sri Lanka’s;
Depreciation of the peso and our trade imbalance will find the government groping for dollar funds to import oil and other vital industrial needs.
Assuming 20 percent of the bureaucracy is wasteful “paper-shuffling” time that can be reduced or removed from the budget, the savings could even be P218 billion annuall, quite a hefty contribution to debt repayment.
A 20-percent reduction or more, however, can be achieved without retrenching people at this time of great hardship to find work, but by merely reducing the workdays of the nonessential workforce by one or two days a week.
Moreover, the savings on the daily expenses of reporting to work will be substantial in family savings.
More scientific review, however, needs to be done with bureaucracy-wide time and motion studies that will confirm the redundancies.

Marvel K. Tan,
CPA,
Manila,
Philippines



Thailand aspires to the soft power eminence
Of South Korea
The Southeast Asian Times, Thursday July 21, 2022
First published in the bangkok Post, Friday July 15, 2022

Re: "Prayut focuses on 'prosperity'", in Bangkok Post, July 9, 2022.
A wise man once said, "For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush" (Luke, 6:43-44, KJV).
These words spoken 2,000 years ago are worth bearing in mind as we yet again hear Prime Minister Prayut Chan-cha preaching of "his administration's ambitious plan to drive Thailand into the heart of the 21st century" as he yet again "urged Thais to unite as one".
Both the claim and the call are contradicted by the odour of fruits never edible, now seriously beyond ripe.
Thailand aspires to the soft power eminence of South Korea, whose achievements are the outcome of liberal democracy.
The country in 1980 chose liberal democracy as replacement of a traditional uniformity that held back the nation's development.
Before 1980, Thailand and South Korea had much in common.
Both were developing slowly, wracked by political setbacks.
Thanks to the sacrifice of protesters now honoured as true patriots of the nation, South Korea, in contrast, took the opportunity to rid itself of retarding traditions in 1980.
South Korea has since had no shortage of rotten politicians of remarkable corruption, as every democracy must, but in South Korea, the old ways did not use that deceitful excuse to stamp out democracy itself. Rather, democracy was permitted to meet the challenge, and South Korea grew into the modern cultural and economic powerhouse that it is today.
Such are the fruits of liberal democracy.

Felix Qui,
Bangkok,
Thailand

 

Philippines New polymer banknotes
Not as tough as current paper bills
The Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday July 20, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday July 15, 2022

What the heck is wrong with the highest-paid “public servants” of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP)?
Why do they keep screwing things up, despite the millions in salaries, perks, and privileges they get paid every month for their much-vaunted “expertise” where money is concerned?
Not content with messing up coins that almost look the same despite their different denominations, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipina (BSP) has now messed up the paper bills!
The editorial "Furor over polymer,” July 14, 2022 noted: “The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) did say that these polymer banknotes were ‘tough,’ but even then, they should still be ‘valued and handled with care.’
Thus, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) enjoined Filipinos to not ‘excessively fold, crease, or crumple’ the banknotes as doing so could ‘leave permanent fold marks.’ Users were also told not to staple the notes or use rubber bands to keep them together instead of paper bands.”
When is the “folding” of those polymer banknotes “excessive”?
To what degree of “folding” is the Philippine National Police authorized to arrest violators with fines of up to P20,000 and jail time of up to five years?
Why do law enforcers appear so trigger-happy with their handcuffs on the ready to terrorize the people into complying with rules that make no sense?
And why, for crying out loud, are rubber bands a big no-no to keep those new bills together?
Who keeps “paper bands” in wet market places?
So, actually, they are not as “tough” as the current paper bills they are supposed to replace!
Sen. Koko Pimentel said: “Parang gusto pa yata nila ilagay sa frame yung bills para kunwari matibay”!
The new Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) governor, Felipe Medalla, himself made an absurd suggestion that “Filipinos ‘adjust’ to the new polymer banknotes by getting longer wallets. ‘Dapat ang wallet, singhaba ng pera para hindi i-fold.’
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) officials should be paid no more than P1 per month for all the crazy ideas they are ramming down the throats of Filipino taxpayers and consumers!

Rogelio S. Candelario,
Manila,
Philippines




Peoples power movement rids Sri Lankan of president
Same as president Marcos in the Philippines
The Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday July 19, 2022

History repeats itself when as Irish statesman Edmund Burke said “ Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it “.
That is what happened with Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa .
He made the same mistake Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos made by hanging onto power when the people wanted him gone .
He then had to flee when the people stormed his opulent palace in 1986.
A peoples power movement has done the same to get rid of the Sri Lankan President whose rule was characterised by authoritarianism and corruption same as Marcos reign of power.
Leaders should remember when the people no longer want them to rule it’s time to leave gracefully rather then wait to flee disgracefully.

Rajend Naidu,
Sydney,
Australia



MV Papua New Guinea
Is on the verge of sinking
The Southeast Asian Times, Monday July 18, 2022
First published in the Nationa, Mondayl July 11, 2022

Our development aspirations in a world driven by capitalism is only a pipe dream.
Some say we are only chasing the wind.
Why are we continuously bothered with economic growth and development in a district, province and nation ridden by corruption?
Simply because the gap between rich and poor will be widened and politician and people will forever be held at ransom.
Maybe the status quo will be improved or worsened every five years but the realities remain unchanged.
MV Papua New Guinea is on the verge of sinking – writings are on the wall for us all to read and comprehend.
If change was to be emanated, then views and approaches towards development has to be more holistic and sustainable.
With you all the great minds here, we can raise the bar in every province to invest in strategic assets; unique flora and fauna, landscapes, fast flowing rivers, rich cultural heritages and others.
We can add value to those assets by tapping into eco-tourism – a very lucrative industry.
The monetary returns will be far more exceeding than total revenues of all sectors put together.
Locally customised development index can be developed to measure all aspects of development than the traditional GDP which only measures economic growth.
Charting a new way forward amidst a very busy world is quite a tremendous task but we are also trying to internalise global externalities such as climate change.
For those provinces preparing to go into polls must look out for politicians with policies geared towards all aspects of development rather than conventional old school politicians with policies and campaign strategies around economic and infrastructural development.
Let’s be innovatively smart and think national, global and act local.
One way to do just that is divorcing your power at the polling booth.
Vote for service delivery and our children.

Alexander Kaupa,
Port Moresby,
Papua New Gunea



Japan has remained in the shadow of the USA
Since the end of World War II
The Southeast Asian Times, Sunday July 17, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday July 15, 2022

Re: "Remembering Abe and Japan's rise", in Bangkok Post Opinion, July 12, 2022.
Yes, Abe should be remembered and given credit for keeping Japan safe and overseeing a prosperous economy.
But Mr Kavi ignores the fact that Japan was the No 2 economy for decades before China took over. Since the end of World War II, Japan has remained in the shadow of the USA.
Besides its economic ties and investments, it never exerted itself as a world power player or global power broker the way China is.
In my view, China will also end up the way of Japan.
Its leaders lack the abilities, trust and credibility of scale required to be world leaders.
It is clear that just being a military power or a strong economy is not enough to turn a nation into a superpower.
Now governments need charismatic leaders who can influence global policies for the greater good of humanity.

Kuldeep Nagi,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Bureaucratic bandwagon. WHO, are a tool
Of the New Word Order brigade a la Mr Orwell
The Southeast Asian Times, Saturday July 16, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Mponday July 11, 2022

Re: "No laughing matter", in Bangkok Post, July 10, 2022.
In his letter Khun Nagi states twice that over 6 million people died of (from) Covid-19 during the worldwide pandemic.
I would make an educated guess that the figures he quotes are those provided by the World Health Organization (WHO).
I would remind Khun Nagi that those figures are intentionally inflated by the WHO's own directive on how data must be collected on deaths during the period from April 2020 to the latest figures released.
The WHO insisted that every death where the patient had tested positive for Covid-19 from 28 days before death must be included, be it the cause of death or a small contributing (or irrelevant) factor, and went on to use all deaths recorded "with" Covid as if it had been the cause.
Given the fact that the vast majority of casualties were older citizens, many of whom were already suffering from other life-threatening maladies, the figures are vastly inflated, thus enhancing the WHO's self esteem and, they believe, their right to pronounce worldwide edicts on health in the future.
In fact they have been trying to do just that this year by getting agreement from world governments to gain the authority to overrule all other bodies in dealing with pandemics in future.
Bureaucratic bandwagons like the WHO are a tool of the New Word Order brigade a la Mr Orwell.
Big executive salaries and expense accounts with plenty of backslapping junkets to go to, while Khun Somchai, you and I are expected to pay our taxes and obey without question.
Fear not the messenger, but be wary of the message and from whence it came.

Fireman Sam,
Bangkok,
Thailand




In a democracy satirist have the freedom
To mock the government
The Southeast Asian Times, Friday July 15, 2022

State reaction to political satire comes with the territory.
In a democracy satirist have the freedom to mock the government and political leaders and the Establishment without fear of political persecution.
So in America we have Jon Stewart doing that virtually full time.
By contrast in Egypt satirist Bassem Youssef was persecuted and put in detention for more than two years.
Authoritarian regimes are intolerant of satirists poking fun at the existing order and the leadership .
So what kind of political order does Fiji have 16 years after the 2006 military coup if “ it is terrifying that a bit of good humour ends up in court these days “? ( Kiran Khatri ‘ Freedom of speech ‘ letter FT 5/7 )
Your guess is as good as mine on this.

Rajend Naidu,
Sydney,
Australia



Corruption
Is part of everyday Papua New Guinea
The Southeast Asian Times, Thursday July 14, 2022
Frist published in the National, Monday July 11, 2022

Citizens of this beautiful and resource-rich country are now going into the polls to elect their political leaders for the 11th parliament, some 45 years after independence in 1975.
When I sit down and reflect and closely observe the start of the General Election 2022, I personally assume that at the end of this process, Papua New Guinea will achieve nothing but a failed election.
We must say that corruption is part of everyday Papua New Guinea.
In recent social media news, many serious allegations of election-related corruption was reported to have happened everywhere.
This is a clear sign of a failed election when a political office-holder or other government employees knowingly act in an official capacity to acquire illicit benefits or abuse power for personal gain, which is political corruption.
Many strategies have been undertaken by most experienced and learned elites and leaders in past governments in order to counter corruption but to no avail, because there is a systematic organised crime body in all our localities.
Anti-corruption agencies have not been given the full respect by ruling governments to date because those in power often make laws for their protection.
The endemic social and political corruption occur on different scales from petty corruption to corruption that affects the government on a very large scale which is happening regularly in virtually all places in Papua New Guinea from the villages up to the parliament.
In Papua New Guinea we are experiencing issues such as unemployment, political instability, greed for money, smuggling, fraud, squandering of public money, illegal business transactions, deception, poverty, gender inequality, ethnic fights and divisions, inefficient administrative structures, low political transparency, low economic freedom and high inflation, low levels of education, lack of commitment to our country which are factors attributed to corruption.
Papua New Guinea is at a crossroad.
The first President of United States of America, George Washington once said “human happiness and moral duty of every person on earth are inseparably connected”.
Let’s fight corruption.

Mike J Lucien,
Port Moresby,
Papua New Guinea



Papua New Guinea voter names
Not registered on Electoral Commission roll
The Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday July 13, 2022
First published in the Nationa,l Monday July 11, 2022

The General Election 2022 is by far the most chaotic.
Whatever that has transpired is enough for any interested citizens and corporate bodies to take the Electoral Commission, the National Executive Council (NEC) and National Statistical Office to court for failing to update citizens’ names in the common roll.
They must be answerable to the court as to what they were doing in the last five years.
Now, the citizens’ right to vote has been denied.
This is injustice caused by the above authorities who have failed miserably to fund, register and update the names in the common roll.
This is a call to take the Electoral Commission, the NEC, Census and National Statistical Office to court.
They have failed the citizens.
Many citizens stood in the queue to cast their vote only to find their names not there.
If a voter says he/she has voted in 2017, then the name should still be there, but this is not the case as voters find their names not in the common roll.
So, this is an appeal to citizens to take this matter to court.

Frustrated Voter,
Port Moresby,
Papua New Guinea



Developing national parks preferable
To buying tanks and subs
The Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday July 12, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Thursday July 7, 2022

Re: "True conservation", in Bangkok Post, PostBag, July 4.
ML Saksiri Kridakorn's letter was okay for the most part, but he closed it with this paragraph, "It is clear that the world domination policy of the USA and Nato through the use of arms has a much higher priority than building a greener world".
Huh? The USA and Nato are not trying to "dominate the world through use of arms".
In case you haven't noticed, it was Putin who mobilised Russian armed forces to go charging into a neighbouring country, with all guns blazing.
Does ML Kridakorn advise that Ukrainians should just lay on the ground in submission?
It's people like Putin who compel other countries to arm so heavily.
Without such mass and sudden aggressions, countries could dial it back and instead fund things like alternative energy and environmental husbandry.
Surely, developing national parks would be preferable to buying tanks and subs.
But humans are no more advanced, in dispelling aggressive tendencies, than army ants.
As a species, we're developed technologically, but are so undeveloped in curbing aggression, as to make a troop of baboons blush.
Even Buddhist monks (who are supposed to be the most peaceful folks among us) can erupt in sudden anger, with fists raised.

Ken Albertsen,
Bangkok,
Thaiand



No subsidies should be expected in Thailand
In losses incurred by private enterprise
The Southeast Asian Times, Monday July11, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Thursday July 7, 2022

Re: "Cuts both ways", in Bangkok Post, PostBag, July 4, 2022.
Strangely, Burin Kantabutra, a prolific PostBag writer, has missed my main point that it is not normal for a government to ask companies for "co-operation" in giving up their profits of hefty billions.
The appropriate way is to tax their windfall profits and not "bully" the enterprises to help its role in managing the nation's economy.
They are not asking for charity contributions for temples or hospitals.
Secondly, it is common knowledge that the losses incurred by private enterprises are their own making, and no subsidies can be expected from anyone in our capitalist world.
Thirdly, the phrase "too big to fail" was coined during the US financial crisis in 2008 when one large financial corporation was assisted by a somewhat biased treasury to avoid widespread contagion.
Despite facing a chorus of criticism that the repercussions could not be that wide-ranging, the after-events proved this to be the case.

Songdej Praditsmanont,
Bangkok,
Thailand




A warmer CO2 rich atmosphere
Makes life easier on earth
The Southeast Asian Times, Sunday July 10, 2022
First Published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday July 6, 2022

Re: "True conservation", in Bangkok Post, PostBag, Monday July 4, 2022
"The increase in carbon emissions stemming directly from the decision to escalate the war is accelerating humanity and the world to an irreversible point of no return for the greenhouse effect", parrots ML Saksiri Kridakorn. Unfortunately he is neither a climate scientist nor someone who has looked deeply into the so-called greenhouse effect.
Just as in the pandemic fraud germs are vilified when actually they are good for us, CO2 is also good for us - it is essential for life.
If one simply removes the politics and monied interests from these two hoaxes the truth is easy to discern. CO2 is not a pollutant.
A warmer CO2 rich atmosphere makes life easier on earth, just so, regular exposure to germs builds our immune systems.

Michael Setter,
Bangkok,
Thailand




Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte
Suggests mandatory military training in the Philippines
The Southeast Asian Times, Saturday July 9, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday July 7, 2022

The article on “Life skills for young Filipinos” in Second Opinion, Philippine Inquirer June 6, 2022 was very enlightening as to what young Filipinos must learn instead of or in addition to the suggested mandatory military training of Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte. Dr. Gideon Lasco enumerated these life skills from first aid, self-defense, biking, swimming, disaster preparedness, wellness and nutrition, basic psychosocial skills, sexual education, financial health, and digital literacy.
He ended it with a question about how the Department of Education will “help bring about the acquisitions of these vital skills.”
We should start with the basic Rs: “reading, ’riting, and ’rithmetic,” starting from grade school with good teachers, therefore, excellent teacher education. Emphasize especially to the young kids that teaching is a very noble, honorable, and rewarding profession so that these kids will be encouraged to be teachers themselves.
Improve teaching education by competitive entrance examinations, scholarships, and, of course, good stable salaries and benefits, and after graduation, a lot of free, good, and required continuing education series.
Foremost of all, make teaching a very honorable profession that the best students would aim to be educators themselves.
Once we have assumed the basic skills, then it will be easier to teach those other skills suggested by Dr. Lasco to the young Filipinos.
Good teachers first, then good students will follow.

Ida M. Tiongco,
New York,

USA



Spaces granted for approved protests in Bangkok
Is a small step in the right direction
The Southeast Asian Times, Friday July 8, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday July 6, 2022

Re: "City protest plan needs a few tweaks", in Bangkok Post Opinion, Monday July 4, 2022.
So indisputably true is it, Paritta Wangkiat's observation that the central government's "ongoing crackdown on protest leaders and participants as well as the use of excessive force to disperse street protests do not encourage public debates" seems a bit of an understatement.
The grant by Bangkok governor Chadchart Sittipunt of somewhat sequestered spaces for only approved protest is a small step in the right direction, but what Thailand more desperately needs if the alternating excesses of the likes of Thaksin and coup committers is to be consigned to history is just law. Law, that is, that rather than suppressing democratic principle enshrines it in the place of highest honour, as justice and democratic principle should be, over all other things in the political realm.

Felix Qui,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Nepotism is practiced in Papua New Guinea
In the public and private sector
The Southeast Asian Times, Thursday July 7, 2022
First published in the National, Tuesday July 5, 2022

Let me say this without fear and favour for the sake of mindset transformation.
Following up to the memorable day of the granting of independence for Papua New Guinea, Papua New Guineans prepared tirelessly for that great day.
On that day, September 16, 1975, the Australian flag was lowered and the colourfully designed flag of the “to be” an independent nation of diverse cultures was raised peacefully.
Papua New Guinea was declared an independent nation on that very day.
Papua New Guineans celebrated the day of independence with tears of joy, marches, traditional dances and singings, and many other celebrations.
Papua New Guineans were very happy because colonial rule has finally ended.
No more sugarcane and coconut labourers for colonial masters.
No more “yes masta” and “yes misis”.
No more cargo boys and men.
No more racial discrimination on our own land.
It is sad to learn that the citizens of the nation that its people were very joyful on their day of independence are now dividing the nation through provincialism, regionalism, and tribalism.
Corruption such as nepotism is being continuously practiced in both the public and private sector.
It is sad to see that jealousy and pride is dictating the lives of many Papua New Guineans.
The mentality that your tribesman/woman or your wantok must be given the first priority is not a uniting factor for our culturally diverse nation.
We are dividing the nation that has been united by our founders.
Indifferences created through provincialism, tribalism, and nepotism should be halted.
Diversity and inclusion should be promoted in both the public and private sector based on “merit”.
The true unification of the nation should be seen through diversity and inclusion in both the public and private sector.
Indifferences has slowed the progress of our nation – lack of teamwork.
Indifferences created among ourselves could create more political, economic, and social problems.
Indifferences cannot produce anything good for our nation’s growth and modernisation.
We have to do away with it.
This is a call to all those who are working in both the public and private sector.
Do away with indifferences and corruption and let us build our nation together.
Cast away all forms of jealousy and pride.
Youths in all provinces, students in all schools and in higher institutions, let us stand together and build our nation – Papua New Guinea.

Abel ToPidik Rudolf
DWU,
Papua New Guinea



Thailand running back to tourism
As fast as an acoholic runs to next bottle
The Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday July 8, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Thursday June 30, 2022

Re: "Young oppose elitist rule: Somkid," in Bangkok Post, June 28, 2022.
Somkid Jatusripitak is quite correct in his analysis of the political changes that our youth want. I wish him all the best. However, having lived here nine years, I know that it is very unlikely those changes will happen in my lifetime.
Folks, talk is cheap.
Actions, however, are very costly and freedom is paid for only with things we hold very dear. In Thailand, I think it would be fair to say that I hear nearly every younger Thai under about 45 years old talk about change and complain about how things are, but I see very few of them lift a meaningful finger to invoke change. Aside from an occasional rally, the action from society as a whole is usually to stand by silently as young people expressing alternate ideas are arrested, threatened, hit by their teachers or carted off to jail and all for just asking a question or expressing a new idea.
Moreover, rather than retool during the Covid years and broadly acquire new skills, I see the public preparing to run right back to tourism about as fast as an alcoholic can run to the next bottle of booze.
So, I wish Somkid all the best, but he needs to understand that as long as the public largely favours talk over action, nothing meaningful will change and Thailand's best days really are little more than nice memories and pretty songs. So, play it again Somkid.

Jason A Jellison,
Bangkok,
Thailand




Any weapons given to the Ukraine forces
Must be ones they know how to use
The Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday July 5, 2022
Frirst published in the Bangkok Post, Friday June 22, 2022

Re: "Arms for Ukraine", in Bangkok Post PostBag, June 18, 2022
I read with interest the letter of June 18 by ML Saksiri Kridakorn.
The first thing that came to my mind was "I wonder if he has any military experience and advanced weapons training?"
From his letter it seems he has no idea about weapons use.
Any weapons given to the Ukraine forces must be ones they know how to use.
I understand that, with some of the more complicated weapons so far delivered by the US, Ukrainians have come to the US to be trained in their use.
The more advanced the weapon the more careful training is needed.
This is true of weapons from the US or other Nato nations.
This is a time-consuming process.
The US policy is to give the Ukrainians weapons they know how to use!
ML Saksiri's comments on US policy are not in line with reality.
He needs to learn about the complications of very modern weaponry.

Braveda,
Bangkok,
Thailand




Covid-19 vaccines and mitigation measures
Do not work on the Public Health Minister of Thailand
The Southeast Asian Times, Monday July 3, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Thursday June 30, 2022

Re: "Anutin has Covid, absent from cabinet meeting", Bangkok Post , June 28, 2022.
Public Health Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, despite having been "vaccinated six times", has caught Covid.
In numerous previous letters to this forum, I have explained that the vaccines and mitigation measures do not work.
Many have criticised my efforts to counter the wholly unscientific narrative which attempts to legitimise experimental vaccines and the futility of wearing masks all day every day.
I predict that more and more evidence which proves my warnings to be true will surface in the days ahead.

Michael Setter,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Give Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. a chance to prove
To Filipinos that their votes for him are worth it
The Southeast Asian Times, Sunday July 3, 2022

The recently concluded National and Local Elections (NLE) 2022 last May 9 have resulted in the elected leaders for each place and the country as a whole based on the majority of votes from the Filipino citizens.
With due respect to how democracy works, it is with high hopes that we all come to respect the result of the election and start our effort as citizens.
Now that majority of the Filipino people have already decided who they want to lead them for the next six years, I hope that the rest will also support the next administration because after all, we are all Filipinos who want the Philippines to become a better country.
Plans and platforms are starting to be laid down as the government changes its leaders and had the transformation for the coming months.
With this, it is but right that the incoming administration shall continue those programs and legislations that have been started and were proven to be helpful and effective for the people.
There are so many programs that should or must be continued as it was seen that they became effective measures in resolving problems or in promoting unity in diversity in the grassroots areas.
Now more than ever, we must all need to set aside our political differences and do something that will be of help to our fellow countrymen and in the recovery of our country.
Given that we have been and are still in a health crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our country needs a lot of help from every one of us.
Let us unite and help in any ways that we know and not be part of the problems.
It is with a positive belief that we support the new elected leaders especially the incoming new leader of our country- President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.
Let’s give him a chance to prove to the Filipinos that their votes for him are worth it and will make the Philippines rise again.
Let’s be part of their plans and support their new and continuing programs or activities for working together is best towards sustainable development and faster recovery of our economy in this country as a whole.

Enrico S Dulay,
Norzagaray,
Bulacan,
Philippines



Weakening of currencies in the region
Consistent with policy normalization in US economy
The Southeast Asian Times, Saturday July 2, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday June 30, 2022

In the June 27 Bangkok Post editorial “Brace for the worst”, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) was said to be “not worried” about the peso-dollar exchange rate of P54.98 to $1, “the lowest in 17 years.”
BSP Deputy Governor Francisco Dakila Jr. explained: “We can see that the recent weakening of the peso along with other currencies in the region is consistent with more aggressive monetary policy normalization in advanced economies, particularly the US Fed.”
So, for instance, does the BSP worry about the unprecedented spike in oil products?
Of course not.
Its officials use service vehicles, charging all expenses for gas and maintenance to us, the taxpayers!
It is nothing short of scandalous that former BSP governor Benjamin Diokno earned more than P41 million in 2021, or almost P3.5 million per month, for his “public service.”
Dakila’s own monthly paycheck was about P1.5 million.
He and his super-rich BSP colleagues have no problem coping with the astronomical rise in the prices of practically everything in the market.
The editorial aptly pointed out the elephant in the room: Ordinary mortals “can only brace themselves from the impact of a weakening peso and surging fuel prices as there is very little the government can do to address their underlying external causes. Preparing for the worst is the call of the times.”
So, how about BSP officials and other “public servants” paid more than P1 million per month “moderate their greed” in times like this?
Most Filipinos can survive with just a fifth of what they rake in every month.
And isn’t the government practically bankrupt already?
How come megatons of money are always available to squander on bureaucrats who have not made life for Filipinos any better?
Saan ka pa makakakita ng “public servants” (mga utusan kuno) na sumusweldo ng ganoon kalaki habang “ang mga boss” kuno nila ay halos mamamatay na sa gutom dahil sa kakulangan ng perang pambili ng makakain?
Where else can you find so-called public servants earning so much while their bosses, the public, are almost dying from hunger?

Carmela N. Noblejas,
Manila,
Philippines



China bullies fishers in Philippines waters
Under guise of sustainable fishing
The Southeast Asian Times, Friday July 1, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday June 13, 2022

Re: "Washington backs Manila in fishing ban" in Bangkok Post June 4, 2022
It's the height of irony and hypocrisy that China issues unilateral bans on fishing in the South China Sea, purportedly to give marine resources an opportunity to recover from overfishing.
Considering that China has one of the world's most aggressive fishing fleets, regularly encroaches on the exclusive economic zones of other sovereign nations, and is widely recognised for overfishing in its own waters and around the world, it is rather disingenuous for China to bully small-scale Filipino fishers in their own waters under the guise of "sustainable fishing" regulations.

Bangkok,
Thailand



Philippines Jose P. Rizal
Perfect model for a life well-lived
The Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday June 30, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday June 21, 2022

Jose P. Rizal, born on June 19, 1861, in Calamba, Laguna, is one great Filipino who exemplifies the ideal man with a sense of purpose and meaning.
With great multitudes of his achievements in life, he serves as a perfect model for a life well-lived, not just for Filipinos but for all nationalities.
The Filipino race must be so proud of producing a man like Rizal when the country was oppressed and abused by colonizer Spain.
His life reminds us of how we should live as Filipinos.
His death reminds us of how our country was born out of love and sacrifices.
When I gaze at his statues, I look at his eyes and wonder:
Is he happy now?
Is he happy about what is happening to our country?
Does he still believe that the youth is the hope of our motherland?
Does he think he died in vain?
I look at my country and fellowmen and see Rizal in every Filipino who was abused and put to death.
I see him in every poor people because of corruption from our leaders.
I see his eyes in every youth wanting change for our country.
I see him in every Filipino who moves to another country looking for a better future and opportunity.
I see him in all the anguishes and fears of our people.
But, ultimately, I wish to see him in every Filipino who wants to dedicate their life to our country.
Rizal has lived a life worth remembering because he lived not just for himself but others and for our country.
And that made him different from the rest of us because he lived and died for this great idea called “love.”
And because of this love, a Filipino was born, a country was born.

Rado Gatchalian,
Sydney,
Australia


Lack of signatures in Senate Blue Ribbon Committee report
That accuses President Duterte of complicity in plunder
The Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday June 29, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday June 8, 2022

The Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. report in which President Rodrigo Duterte is accused of "complicity in plunder " by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee following a senate inquiry report into the Department of Health (DOH) expenditure of P72.5 billion, was not presented in plenary because it lacked the required number of signatures.
At least 11 signatures of the committee members were needed so that the committee chairman could sponsor it.
It is a generally accepted principle in a parliamentary procedure that a member who refuses to sign a committee report simply disagrees with its content, especially the committee’s conclusion and recommendation.
If this is the case, the member’s dissenting view should have been formalized in another written report known as dissenting or minority report.
I am in a quandary why members who refused to sign the committee report only made known at the 11th hour their dissenting view.
Section 22 of the Senate Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation says that “within fifteen (15) days after the conclusion of the inquiry, the Committee shall meet to begin the consideration of its Report.”
They had all the ample time to prepare the minority report from the time the panel draft was prepared up to the day of its presentation and approval by a majority vote of all the senators.
The report should have been approved en banc, I suppose, last June 1. Senate rules say that within 72 hours after the approval of the committee report, the dissenting report should have been made by the members who refuse to sign it.
Did we not just waste people’s money on this Senate investigation since we are deprived to know the content of the report of the blue ribbon committee?

Reginald B. Tamayo,
Manila,
Philippines


Are the EU and the West pressuring Thailand
To pick a side on Russia and the Ukraine?
The Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday June 28, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday June 22, 2022

Re: "Three myths that justify what cannot be justified", in Bangkok Post Opinion, June 17, 2022.
Just a few thoughts on Mr David Daly's piece on geopolitics.
Very interesting "myths" indeed that actually look like truth.
Is Ukraine being used as a proxy by the West to subdue Russia?
It is!
The article hasn't a single word about Nato and its role in igniting the conflict.
Why?
Are the EU and Western sanctions contributing to the rise of food prices?
Of course, they are!
If the EU cuts imports of oil, gas and fertilisers, introduces sanctions and disrupts payment schemes the prices will inevitably go up.
Are the EU and the West pressuring Thailand to pick a side on Russia?
This is exactly what the EU does here when it calls on Thailand to support the expulsion of Russia from different international organisations.
The UN, which Mr Daly cites often, warned about the risk of a global food crisis two years ago due to the pandemic, global supply chain disruption as well as short-sighted economic policies.
It's easy to accuse Russia of world problems simultaneously pushing "rules-based order".
Why not the UN Charter?
Who wrote the rules?
The EU?
Maybe the time has come to recognise EU mistakes?
No?
And who is waging an aggressive disinformation campaign then?

Pyotr Ivanovich,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Ukrainian military complaining about outdated weapons
From United States and Nato
The Southeast Asian Times, Monday June 27, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday June 19, 2022

Vital and timely information gained through espionage and interception of communications in warfare is well-documented and has decided the outcomes of many battles.
Having cracked the encryption code for both Germany and Japan in WWII, America enjoyed an immense informational superiority that, in the end, proved decisive.
This elementary warfare principle cannot be lost on America's military institution that has waged countless wars in the last century.
Today in Ukraine, over 25 percent of the population is ethnic Russian and some percentage is likely to be sympathetic towards the Russian cause.
Even if only a few percent, Russia is probably well informed about all of Ukraine's military movements at all levels.
This means that the transportation and deployment of any and all weapons sent to Ukraine by the United States and Nato have been easy targets for Russian missiles. Thus we see the quick destruction of these weapons as they arrived or as deployed.
Despite these well-known facts, "game-changing" weapons keep being sent to Ukraine.
It is a little late, but not surprising, that the Ukrainian military is just now complaining about how outdated these weapons are and that they are no match for Russian weapons.
With each new weapon shipment, it's becoming more clear that the USA has been using Ukraine just as an excuse to clear out its cache of old weapons and field test a few new ones just to keep Ukrainian fighting a lost cause. Other Nato countries have also offered or already sent WWII relics.
The USA's strategy was clear from the very beginning; make Ukrainians think that they would be welcomed into the EU and Nato; make them proxies in a war with Russia; make them believe that they can win; sanction Russia into oblivion, and run a disinformation campaign the likes of which has never been seen.
It's as though the USA's foreign policy and thinking are still stuck in the 1990s.
And it is especially mordant that it's the USA and Europe's economies that are now tanking, not Russia.

ML Saksiri Kridakorn,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Two Vice Presidents
In Philippines for 11 days
The Southeast Asian Times, Sunday June 26, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday June 24, 2022

Nobody but nobody ever takes an oath for the office of a President-elect or Vice President-elect!
Anyone in his/her right mind would typically wait until the post is vacant before taking an oath to embark upon the duties of such office.
So what was Sara Duterte-Carpio, a lawyer, thinking?
And for that matter, what the heck were President Duterte, another lawyer, and Supreme Court Associate Justice Ramon Paul Hernando thinking?
Duterte-Carpio drum beaters insist it was just theater as she is still really just a Vice President-elect, not vice president yet, a post Leni Robredo will continue to hold until noon of June 30.
But the story running in all newspaper reports says it all: Sara took her oath on June 19 as the “15th Philippine vice president,” 11 days before she can actually call herself that!
The oath itself speaks of the office of the vice president, whose function she is supposedly duty-bound to discharge immediately after taking such an oath.
So, two vice presidents for 11 days?
The title of another news report nailed it: “‘Queer coincidence’?
Duterte jokes two Dutertes to ‘sit’ as president, VP for 11 days” in Philippine Inquirer News, June 6, 2022.
We are unsure whether to laugh over this flippancy or cry over the mockery of what we hold dear in this country.
But, no matter how anyone may look at it, that oath-taking amounted to a usurpation of a public office, a crime involving aberrant behavior, if not moral turpitude!

Yvette San Luis-Petrocelli,
Manila,
Philippines



Singapore pensions for civil servants includimg PM's
Same as private-sector counterparts
The Southeast Asian Times, Saturday, June 25, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday June 19, 2022

Re: "MPs cause of pension bloat," in Bangkok Post, June 8, 2022.
I fully agree with this Bangkok Post editorial that Members of Parliament shouldn't get a generous pension especially if they win their seat just once or perform poorly.
But even if Members of Parliament were paid the pittance that most deserve, that wouldn't begin to solve the problem of pension payments due to hard-working civil servants.
As the editorial recognises, our entire civil service needed top-to-bottom reform decades ago.
I like the Singapore model, where civil servants including the prime minister were paid what their private-sector counterparts would have earned and had to deliver accordingly.
And, even a whiff of corruption wasn't tolerated!
The Bangkok mayoral elections have shown that driving for reform pays.
The provinces should similarly demand change and elect those who deliver including reform of the civil service.

Burin Kantabutra,
Bangkok,
Thailand




Will new Philippine leaders
Follow ill-advised pivot to China?
The Southeast Asian Times, Friday June 24, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday June 22, 2022

Good news?
Yes, it is because we played the game fairly and bravely resolved to move it forward.
The bad news is that wicked politicians, coddlers, vulnerable victims, and complicit voters won by foul means.
Unsurprisingly, this was one of the hardest battles and most serious, intractable challenges we’ve had to face.
Unfortunately, this country has long been tolerant of abusive oligarch politicians (the likes of the Arroyos, Estradas, Villars, Dutertes, and Marcoses), who’d move heaven and earth to get elected.
We were appalled at their untouchability and by the excuses that saved them from jail despite their high-profile corruption, plunder, and tax evasion conviction, the years of cyberbullying, mudslinging, and deception on social media, and now this: high-scale vote-buying, mind-conditioning survey firms, and a poll body packed with political appointees.
Compare that to the cases of indigent suspects who are herded straight to miserable congested cells, often without being given access to a lawyer and their day in court.
While other countries like France vigilantly guard their sovereignty and repel any intrusion or foreign influence even on their culture, our leaders sell us down the river for billions of pesos in unfulfilled promises of loans and investments.
Instead of using our arbitral win in our territorial claim over the South China Sea, President Duterte maintained a defeatist stance that has led to hundreds of Chinese military vessels occupying our reefs and shoals, while aggressively keeping Filipino fishermen out of their traditional fishing ground in the West Philippine Sea.
In a bid for continuity and stability, will our new leaders follow this ill-advised pivot to China?
Unfortunately, the incoming President’s overtures to our superpower neighbor are hardly reassuring.
But resist we did, even as social media trolls and rabble-rousers bullied us, peddled fake news, and revised history.
Before the May 9 elections, the number of enlightened professionals, workers, and committed youth had ballooned to millions, loudly proclaiming their newfound truths.
They also rallied around the candidate they perceived as standing up for their rights, a sincere, hardworking leader with a heart for the poor, and a record of can-do initiatives.
Sadly enough, she lost.
Her supporters would now have to trek a long and treacherous road to follow her lead of using this crushing loss not only to demand answers but also to raise questions when the new government fails to live up to its promises.
Tolerating treachery, incompetence, and opportunism may have gotten us to where we are now, but rest assured, we will not allow it to inhabit our future.
“Who are we, what are we, why are we” are all the questions we should ask ourselves, said Shakespeare.
Though the answer is far from celebratory at the moment, a look backward might yet define our way forward.

Pit M. Maliksi,
Manila,
Philippines



China fails to provide key data
Into WHO investigation of origins of Covid-19
The Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 23 June 2022

A new investigation from the World Health Organisation has determined that the origins of Covid-19, a virus which has killed more than six million people since 2020, is inconclusive because China failed to provide key data.
A number of top WHO insiders were upset that “ China sought to clamp down on research into the origins of Covid-19 “ ( Yahoo News 10/6 ).
Is anybody really surprised by the Chinese State behaviour?
We shouldn’t be because secrecy has always been the modus operandi of such a totalitarian state.
We need to remember that and not put our expectations on an unrealistic plane when dealing with the totalitarian Chinese State.

Rajend Naidu,
Sydney,
New South Wales



Thai Buddhism is touted as a pillar of the nation
Nothing could be more explicitly political
The Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday June 22, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday June 20, 2022

Re: "Respect the robe," in Bangkok Post, ThinkBox, June 13, 2022.
Patcharawalai Sanyanusin is doubtless sincere in that perfect faith she has in Thailand's National Office of Buddhism (NOB).
The problem is that the very existence of such an state institution as a the National Office of Buddhism (NOB) betrays the true nature of the religion known as Thai Buddhism: it is not Buddhism, but Thai Buddhism.
A religion that operates under the auspices of politicians to serve political purposes, as Thai Buddhism always has in exchange for grand temples and other gorgeous gifts, constitutes itself as a political tool wielded for political purposes by political players.
Indeed, Thai Buddhism is openly touted as a "pillar of the nation"; as a claim, nothing could be more explicitly political. No less political are those who most sedulously push that un-Buddhist "pillar of the nation" narrative about the religion.
If Buddhism in Thailand wishes to be respected as a religion that teaches and practises spiritual principles of worth, it needs to free itself from the tradition going back many generations of loyally serving political players who find it a most useful tool for achieving their purposes, which too often have nothing to do with the Buddha's wisdom. Are the gilded temples luring in tourists worth the spiritual cost?

Felix Qui,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Thailand is not a pioneer
In making cannabis legal
The Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday June 21, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday June 19, 2022

Re: "Let's clear up ganja haze," in Bangkok Post, Friday June 17, 2022
Are efforts really being made in Thailand to make the cannabis issue clear?
Thailand is not a pioneer in making cannabis legal.
If Thailand wants, it can benefit from the experiences of other countries with years of legalised cannabis.
No one reinvents the wheel.
Why do it with marijuana?
All the research necessary has been done and it's accessible.
Secondly, marijuana became illegal in Thailand in 1935.
But it's been a part of Thai culture for centuries and people in rural areas have continued to grow and use it, despite the prohibition.
Is the present debate a misinformation campaign from the alcoholic beverage industry or other interests?
Misinformation is often used to make people afraid.
Cannabis, like alcohol, needs to be regulated and those regulations enforced.
The recent incident at the TV station is a case in point.
Employees are not allowed to come to work drunk and the same should apply to cannabis.
However, the "staggering" part of the report is very dubious; it is, however, characteristic of cannabis-laced with other illegal substances such as "angel dust" (phencyclidine).
Alcohol, too, can and is adulterated with date rape drugs and with scopolamine in South America.
How many more countries need to legalise cannabis before the "haze gets cleared" in Thailand?
Walking along the riverfront in Phnom Penh, I've seen restaurants serving "happy pizzas".
It's illegal in Cambodia but apparently the law isn't enforced.

Bruno Sapienza,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Militarization of Mindanao makes it impossible
For indigenous peoples to return to ancestral land
The Southeast Asian Times, Monday June 20, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday June 16, 2022

The Promotion of Church People’s Response denounces the Duterte administration’s malicious “red-tagging” attacks against Church leaders for their ministries with the indigenous peoples’ of Mindanao at the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) Haran in Davao City.
This Church property has been a refuge for internally displaced “lumad” many times in past decades. However, in the last few years, militarization in the countryside and martial law in Mindanao have made it nearly impossible for many indigenous peoples to return to their ancestral lands.
As the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) Haran’s ministries were attacked in Red-tagging operations, fabricated and spurious charges were also lodged against Church leaders and human rights defenders who have responded to the urgent needs and safety of the lumad refugees.
We are glad to learn that the two counts of child abuse filed against Bishop Hamuel Tequis, Bishop Daniel Palicte, and other human rights defenders have been dismissed due to lack of evidence.
Since other cases filed against those involved in the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) Haran ministries are similarly fabricated and without basis, we continue to appeal for all cases against these leaders to be expediently dismissed.
The disease of red-tagging and warmongering in the Philippines seeks to rob our marginalized lumad kababayan of much-needed services as well as undermine their collective right to self-determination.
Given the reality that state human rights violations forcibly displaced indigenous communities and sent them toward the city center, the Church must continue to assert our right to religious freedom and engage in the task of providing a safe haven to those under threat.
We are not surprised that these same forces that attack the lumad also attack the Church that cares for them.

Fr. Rolly De Leon,|
Rev. Mary Grace Masegman,
Chairpersons
Promotion of Church People’s Response
Manila,
Philippines



Imperative that Members of Parliament be shown
To be squeaky clean in land ownership investigation
The Southeast Asian Times. Sunday June 19, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Thursday June 16, 2022

Re: "Bhumjaithai bigwig in hot water over Khao Yai plot," in Bangkok Post, Friday June 10, 2022.
Khun Kanokwan Vilawan, Bhumjaithai deputy secretary-general, and her father illegally own land in Khao Yai National Park, says the National Anti-Corruption Commission.
Members of Parliament must be role models and comply with the law.
Khun Kanokwan being in the cabinet makes it even more imperative that she and her fellow defendants be shown to be squeaky-clean.
The investigation must be undertaken by those free of conflicts of interest unlike the probe of Deputy Prime Minister Prawit's watches.
In that case, the investigation was personally directed by General Watchman's former direct report, who had been appointed to his present post by General Watchman.

Burin Kantabutra,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Royal Thai Police take more than a year
To report Iran spy incident in Indonesia
The Southeast Asian Times, Saturday June 17, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Thursday June 16, 2022

Re: "Iran spy puts cops on alert", in Bangkok Post, June 6, 2022.
It doesn't seem very clever to issue a "secret" order to police nationwide and then discuss it openly in the media.
One also has to wonder why it has taken the Royal Thai Police more than a year from the May 2021 reported spying incident in Indonesia before putting Thai police on specific alert.
Assuming that Thailand and Indonesia regularly share sensitive security information, it is almost certain that Thai authorities were aware of potential concerning Iranian-supported activities long ago.
Even without such specific warnings, Thailand should be ever-vigilant to avoid repeats of past terrorist bombings and other extremist activities emanating from any source.

Samanea Saman,
Bangkok,
Thailand




Imperative that Members of Parliament be shown
To be squeaky clean in illegal land ownership investigation
The Southeast Asian Times. Friday June 17, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Thursday June 16, 2022

Re: "Bhumjaithai bigwig in hot water over Khao Yai plot," in Bangkok Post, Friday June 10, 2022
Khun Kanokwan Vilawan, Bhumjaithai deputy secretary-general, and her father illegally own land in Khao Yai National Park, says the National Anti-Corruption Commission.
Members of Parliament must be role models and comply with the law.
Khun Kanokwan being in the cabinet makes it even more imperative that she and her fellow defendants be shown to be squeaky-clean.
The investigation must be undertaken by those free of conflicts of interest unlike the probe of Deputy Prime Minister Prawit's watches.
In that case, the investigation was personally directed by General Watchman's former direct report, who had been appointed to his present post by General Watchman.

Burin Kantabutra,
Bangkok,
Thailand



No mention of dangerous adverse effects
Of Covid-19 vaccines in Thailand
The Southeast Asian Times, Thursday June 16, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday June 13, 2022

Re: "Ministry set to ask for end to mask rule", in Bangkok Post, June 10, 2022.
Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, a former businessman, is keen to downgrade Covid-19 from its emergency status as a dangerous communicable disease to reduce the economic burden on the government in caring for the people of Thailand.
Unfortunately, no mention of the dangerous adverse effects of the vaccines is made. According to recent studies of data collected on vaccinated populations of Western nations, at least 2-3 percent of those vaccinated will have severe adverse events in their lifetimes which bear a causal relationship to being vaccinated.
Furthermore, data also reveals that in the UK which maintains a relatively reliable database nine out of 10 people who die of Covid have been vaccinated.
The Public Health Ministry told everyone to get vaccinated and a compliant Thai citizenry did exactly that.
Of the approximately 70 million Thais, at least 1.4 to 2.1 million will suffer serious consequences.
These include myocarditis, pericarditis, heart inflammation which can have lifelong and severe health implications, neurological disorders including Guillain-Barre Syndrome which causes paralysis and can be life threatening, blindness, Bell's palsy, shingles, thrombocytopenia, brain disorders, a wide variety of unusual cancers, reproductive disorders, and a further list of acknowledged problems too long for this forum.
One must ask the Health Ministry an important question: Who will pay?
Mr Anutin is already tip-toeing around this issue.
We can presume he will continue to do so until his two lips form the word tulips so many times that people will imagine everything is just flowers and fairy tales.
Of course, the primary qualification for Thai and all politicians is the skill of avoiding being held accountable for one's actions; nevertheless, the Bangkok landslide election gives us hope that voters will remove their failed national government soon.

Michael Setter,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Thai lawmaking process
Is barely fit for purpose
The Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday June 15, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday June 13, 2022

Re: "Don't post crime pics, warns govt", in Bangkok Post, Saturday June 11, 2022.
Not for the first time do we see the hastily made, careless, partisan and vested-interest-driven Thai lawmaking process at work.
With the new Personal Data Protection Act, would-be Joe Ferraris can suffocate and murder prisoners safe in the knowledge that any social media whistleblower who dares to post a video of the crime will himself be guilty of a criminal act.
The abuses of personal freedom which will inevitably follow from this legislation are as predictable as the tsunami of abusive cases which followed that earlier lamentable act of political repression, the Computer Crimes Act.
The Thai lawmaking process, with its lack of transparency, virtual absence of any public consultation or participation, partisan committee structures and total absence of any effective checks and balances as we know it, is barely fit for purpose.

Ludwig,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Complete break-down in law and order
During past three elections in Papua New Guinea
The Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday June 14, 2022
First published in the National, Friday June 10, 2022

Democratic process in the voting of candidates to becoming members of parliament is a thing of the past.
In the past, when the country was not largely exposed to the outside world with minimal usage and penetration of social media and related news feed outlets, democratic election processes were observed.
The rule of law was existent and people had the freedom to decide whom to vote.
The people voted freely and openly and the winners of the respective seats entered parliament with satisfaction.
In the past three general elections, we have seen electing and voting a member of parliament like a goldmine.
The past three general elections with the current one in progress could become demonic considering the recent events reported all around the country.
For the past 11 days of the total 49 days of the campaign period May 12 to July 1, we have witnessed and read Okapa MP Saki Soloma attacked at Okapa Station, former MP Philemon Embel escaping an assassination attempt in Southern Highlands and the cancellation of flights into the Kagamuga International Airport due to oil spill on the runaway.
From my understanding, the 11 days’ ordeal is the tip of an iceberg considering the enormity of tribal allegiance throughout the Highlands resorting to arms use and violence.
We are witnessing the continuous road blocks by people who live along the national highways, sea pirating continues without reporting, houses and properties burnt by drug addicts and homebrew consumers.
What we have now is a complete break-down in law and order during the elections, counting and declaration of candidates in the past three elections and something has to be done about it.
The Government through the leadership of Prime Minister James Marape has tabled the Firearms Amendment Bill 2022, which was unanimously endorsed by all MPs.
This significant piece of legislature provides a roadmap for development of Papua New Guinea.
The core breathtaking and of course an essential element of satisfaction from the law-abiding citizens is the call for a life imprisonment for those in possession of firearms.
The enforcement agencies are police and army and they must develop some solutions to minimise the use and also capture those in possession of those illegal and unlicensed firearms.
Some of us wanted a pretrial rescue mission whereby the uniformed men and women could go out in the communities during campaign trail warning people about the legal consequences of the possession of firearms.
It is very important that police and army must have effective ground intelligence to apprehend people suspected of in possession of firearms or based on sufficient evidence arrest those people.

Christopher Papiali,
Port Moresby,
Papua New Guinea




Singapore with no natural resources
Has one of the world's highest standard of living
The Southeast Asian Times, Monday June 13, 2022
First published in the National, Friday June 10, 2022

The Ambassador for the European Union Delegation AMD Jernej Videtic is spot on with his analysis of the failure by prime ministers, ministers, politicians, and department heads in managing the country’s finances prudently and honestly.
Our next door neighbour Singapore has no oil, gas, coffee, copra, timber and other resources taken for granted in Papua New Guinea.
However, it was able to acquire one of the world’s highest living standard and enviable employment stats after 45 years of independence.
After 45 plus years of independence, Papua New Guinea is in dire poverty despite the abundance of natural resources.
The problem is obviously dishonest and corrupt leadership.
I urge the country to vote for a new a prime minister who can prudently manage the country’s finances.
This can only happen if the leadership of the country is overhauled in the General Election 2022.
There is a vast pool of candidates with credible competencies in this election which gives hope to Papua New Guinea.
Let’s not shrug off this golden opportunity to decide individually and collectively on a new leadership for Papua New Guinea.

Concerned, Morata II,
National Capital District,
Port Moresby,
Papua New Guinea



Call for PNG parliamentarians
To say no to foreign sugar daddies
The Southeast Asian Times, Sunday June 12, 2022
First published in the National, Friday June 10, 2022

The vast majority of parliament leaders are without advice and have already sold the birthright of this nation and its decision-making in economic prosperity to the foreigners just for the greed of personal interest.
The leaders should take a firm stand and say no to foreign sugar daddies.
I support the letter by Voice of Wilderness in The National on Tuesday, June 7.
Transparent Advocate

Gregory Mitihata,
Port Moresby,
Papua New Guinea



Russian President Putin
Invited to attend G-20 in Indonesia
The Southeast Asian Times, Saturday June 11, 2022

So Russian President Putin is deemed to have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity arising from the atrocities committed in Russia’s war of invasion in Ukraine and he is “ invited “ to attend the G-20 meet in Indonesia ( Southeast Asian Times 8 June ).
What a weird world order we live in?
I wonder if that would have been the case if it was an African rogue leader?
Or, would an international arrest warrant issued for the African rogue leader to be hauled before the ICC to answer relevant charges ?
Why the double standard ?
Why the hypocrisy?

Rajend Naidu,
Sydney,
Australia



Ukrain president Volodymyr Zelensky
Begs for rocket system that could hit targets in Russia
The Southeast Asian Times, Friday June 10, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Thursday June 9, 2022

Re: "US to send advanced rocket systems", in Bangkok Post, Thursday June 2, 2022.
"We will provide the Ukrainians with more advanced rocket systems and munitions that will enable them to more precisely strike key targets on the battlefield in Ukraine," says Joe Biden.
Last time I looked, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky was begging for a rocket system that could hit targets on Russian territory.
By downsizing the type of system he is willing to provide, Mr Biden has doomed Ukraine to defeat.
Mr Zelensky will be able to defend his own territory, but will be unable to attack the territory of his enemy.
Essentially he will be fighting with one arm tied behind his back.
Biden's pusillanimity on this issue is yet another reason for Americans to feel ashamed.
First he turns the Afghans over to the tender mercies of the Taliban, then he pulls the rug out from under the feet of the Ukrainians.

Ashamed to be an American,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Birds of a feather
Flock together in Fiji
The Southeast Asian Times, Thursday June 9, 2022

With regard to Chinese foreign affairs minister Wang Yi’s recent Fiji visit,
the news report ‘ Restrictions on journalists a joint decision ‘ between the Chinese and Fijian governments ( The Fiji Times 7/6/22 ) sounds like a case of birds of the same ideological feather flocking together.

Rajend Naidu
Sydney,
Australia



 

School children with high grades
Stay at home in Papua New Guinea
The Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday June 8, 2022
First published in the National, Thursday May 31, 2022

The education system of Papua New Guinea is designed to fail a lot of students.
I know this opening line is a shock to a lot of readers but let me get this straight.
When we have less universities and colleges than high schools and secondary schools and also primary schools, what is that implying?
It simply means that whether we like it or not, we are already establishing the fact that we want more students at home than in school.
I have travelled enough countries to realise that what makes them great is their education system.
They have a lot of higher institutions to cater for their students.
Papua New Guinea, we have the potential to increase higher institutions if we set our priorities right.
I don’t know other leaders but for me, seeing a child at home with good grades as high as 3.0 GPA or even 3.4 GPA because of lack of space is not normal.
When I speak in schools, I ask grade eights if in primary school to put their hands up.
If there are 74 grade eights, I tell them my concern is not 74 grade eights starting off, but will they all pass grade 12 or better still secure spaces in higher institutions?
If we continue to ignore this issue of less higher institutions to cater for our students, we will send more students home who will create more nuisance for the country.

Glen Burua,
Port Moresby
Papua New Guinea




Tragic if the Philippines election celebrations of the victorious
Are overturned by Supreme Court disqualification verdict
The Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday June 7, 2022
First published in Philippine Inquirer, Thursday June 2, 2022

Regardless of whether or not the verdict in the last elections was fair is now water under the bridge.
Nevertheless, there remains yet a glimpse of faint hope regarding the issue of the disqualification of the forerunner in the said elections.
The case that the Commission on Elections decided under unacceptable and suspicious circumstances has finally reached the Supreme Court, the ultimate bulwark of justice.
The honorable members of the high court now face a stark challenge of weighing the mandate of clear applicable laws against some probable political constraints. But we may anticipate a correct verdict with optimism, considering the high esteem and regard that we hold for the integrity and uprightness of justices.
And to consider further that at stake is the welfare of the state.
It is, indeed, tragic if the celebrations of the victorious are overturned by a disqualification verdict.
But the law is the law, and justice must always be upheld. Judiciousness should allay the fears of bitterness and chaos.
For after all, right is might.

Gerry Maglaya,
Lawyer,
Pasig City,
Philippines

 

Myanmar military rulers categorically reject
Any interference from unfriendly countries
The Southeast Asian Times, Monday June 6, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday June 5, 2022

Re: "Will Myanmar's fate rely on Asean?", in Bangkok Post Opinion, May 27, 2022.
Marzuki Darusman, a former chair of the UN fact-finding mission on Myanmar, tries to describe Myanmar through one-sided information and unreliable facts and data.
We do accept that Myanmar people are encountering multiple challenges in their livelihood during the pandemic combined with the impact of conflict between the government and unlawful groups and some ethnic armed organisations.
In reality, the followers of unlawful associations named National Unity Government (NUG) and People's Defence Force (PDF) are extorting, threatening, killing local peoples including Buddhist monks, school teachers, villagers, administrative officers and innocent civilians if they do not support or cooperate with their brutality.
In Myanmar, the terrorists, the followers of People's Defence Force (PDF) and National Unitity Government (NUG), destroyed villages with the idea that the villagers were against them; they also set fire to the schools.
You absolutely disregarded on-the-ground evidence and actual facts.
You should look at the information from both sides precisely.
Some media are broadcasting one-sided views, propaganda for unlawful groups, and also disseminating fake news and disinformation as a destructive tool in their various sabotage attempts.
If you want to see peace and harmony in Myanmar, you have to develop a right perception on current issues.
Without this, can you make constructive suggestions and actions for Myanmar?
I don't know how much you know about the complexity of Myanmar, such as issues on insurgency, ethnicity, religion, the economy and society.
Being an outsider, how can you address those issues?
Under a pretext of democracy and human rights, the West is always disrupting Myanmar.
And nowadays some belligerent countries, with little knowledge of Myanmar, are attempting to interfere in the country's domestic affairs. Myanmar categorically rejects any interference from unfriendly countries.
If you want to see peace and development in Myanmar, please extend your helping hand, but do not make belligerent acts.
You know what happens in countries after being invaded by the West.
I believe that if you are a good friend of Myanmar, you will give constructive support to Myanmar.
Otherwise, you will make problems for Myanmar as always.
Any support of so-called National Unity Government (NUG) and People's Defence Force (PDF) will lead to more trouble, more chaos and more fighting in Myanmar. Day by day, minute by minute, the innocent people of Myanmar are being shot dead by the followers of People's Defence Force (PDF).
As long as a country gets along with the West, the West always supports them regardless of whether it is a democracy, monarchy or an authoritarian state.
No country is perfect.
That is why the international order is shifting further.
However, I will draw your attention to a current endeavour of Myanmar.
The government is extending an invitation to all ethnic armed groups to engage in dialogue for long-lasting peace in Myanmar.
Please stop disturbing our peace efforts.

Chit Swe,
Bangkok,
Thailand


Papua New Guinea's urban growth rate
Is higher than its population growth rate
The Southeast Asian Times, Sunday June 5, 2022
First published in the National, Tues May 31, 2022

The following discussion evaluates “managing urban growth”.
The letter stresses on the need for preparation of development plans to manage urban growth in the districts and provinces of Papua New Guinea.
Uncertainty remains on the exact rate at which the current population of Papua New Guinea is growing in-spite the fact that a national census was conducted in 2011.
Current research show that Papua New Guinea's urban growth rate is higher than its population growth rate at three per cent National Population Policy (NPP) 2015.
Urban growth is a core focus of the Government under polices such as, the Papua New Guinea National Urbanisation Policy and the National Population Policy.
Managing urban growth is a multi-cross cutting issue and includes a range of disciplines to define the specific challenges, roles and functions in planning with pragmatic approaches and solutions (Campbell and Fainstein, 2003).
This brings me to the last point, a way forward.
To achieve a more appropriate balance between urban and rural development and to promote a spatial distribution of population, economic growth and sustainable development, we need to integrate urban development plans with district economic plans of the towns and cities.
According to the Physical Planning Act (1989) a development plan is a written and illustrated policy statement and proposal for development over an area including the use of land.
Contents of the development plan are to improve the zoning of the development plan area.
By law four types of development plan are prepared in Papua New Guinea: a provincial development plan, urban development plan, local development plan and subject development plan.
Having an urban development plan in the planning and allocation of resources for service improvement grants or district services improvement grants enables greater transparency and accountability for the use of grants into priority areas of the districts.
Urban Development Plan is an important strategic planning and design policy statement for the districts to apply down to the local and ward level government.
It ensures economic growth of our townships, including all other forms of development runs parallel with detail forward land use planning.
The challenge is whether development plans can be successfully applied into smaller but rapidly changing rural and regional centres of Papua New Guinea.
A concern is whether or not members of parliament can see its importance and support preparations of development plans for improving towns and cities.
More research is required for new models that can be adopted and applied specifically to the different declared physical planning areas of Papua New Guinea.

Edward Pulagis (MPIA)
Urban and regional planner with
a Post Graduate Degree from the
University of Sydney, Australia
Port Moresby,
Papua New Guinea


 

Papua New Guinea students call on PM
For return to China to complete studies
The Southeast Asian Times, Saturday June 4, 2022
First published in the National, Tuesday May 31, 2022

We, Papua New Guinea students, who were studying in China but came back home because of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak in early 2020 are calling upon our good prime minister and Government to arrange for our return to China to complete our studies.
We heard that the China’s Foreign Minister, Wang Yi will be visiting Papua New Guinea on Thursday.
We were happy and excited to study in China.
It was our lifetime opportunity to study in a big and modern nation like China.
Unfortunately, we were forced to return home because of Covid-19 outbreak in early 2020.
We spent two years at home doing nothing.
This is the third year waiting.
We really don’t want to spend another year at home.
Most countries have started opening up international borders and governments have supported and facilitated on sending their students back to China since early last year 2021.
On March 21, Fiji and Solomon Islands students had returned to China.
This happened when their governments have met with Minister Wang Yi and arranged for their return.
This is an opportunity for the Government to negotiate our return to China to resume our studies.
Please, note that we do not want to wait for another two years or even another year waiting while governments from other countries are negotiating with minister Wang to send their students back to China.
We understand that our government is busy at this time when the country is going for the 2022 general election but we urgently call upon the government to arrange for us to return to China immediately to resume our studies.

Luand Nicodemus
On behalf of Papua New Guinea students waiting to return for studies
Port Moresby,
Papua New Guinea



Call for media access to China foreign minister's
Visit to Papua New Guinea
The Southeast Asian Times, Friday June 3, 2022
First published in the National, Tuesday May 31, 2022

The Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi is expected to visit Papua New Guinea on June 2-3.
Wang is visiting the Pacific on a 10-day trip.
Wang’s tour began last Thursday in the Solomon Islands.
He already visited Kiribati, Samoa and Fiji and will visit Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and East Timor next week, according to China’s foreign ministry.
Prime Minister James Marape confirmed last Monday that the Chinese embassy in Port Moresby had advised the Government of the foreign minister’s visit to Papua New Guinea this week.
The concern here is for the Papua New Guinea media to have full access to the meeting(s) that would be held during the visit.
When Wang visited the Solomon Islands last week, both the local and international media were given restricted access to him.
Journalists seeking to cover the Solomon Islands leg of the tour for international outlets said they were blocked from attending press events, while those journalists allowed access were extremely limited in their ability to ask questions.
In a democratic country like Papua New Guinea, media freedom should not be dictated on another government’s terms.
It would be a hindrance to our democratic principles.
I hope the media is not restricted when Wang visits Papua New Guinea.

For media freedom,
Port Moresby,
Papua New Guinea





We don’t want that authoritarian State tendency
In the Pacific island democracies
The Southeast Asian Times Thursday June 2, 2022

We learn from the news that ten Pacific island countries have rejected China’s trade and security pact ( SBS News 31/5, 6.30pm).
That’s probably a good thing .
If state officials stopping the media from taking photos during Chinese foreign affairs minister Wang Yi’s Fiji visit ( The Fiji Times 31/5 ) is anything to by, we are likely to witness more of that kind of State control should China penetrate Pacific island governance.
We don’t want that authoritarian State tendency in the Pacific island democracies.

Rajend Naidu,
Sydney,
Australia



Decades of disinformation made possible
The restoration of the Marcos family
The Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday June 1, 2022
First Published in the Philippine Inquiry, Monday May 30, 2022

The events of the past weeks were shocking, and that’s an underestimation.
The years of disinformation have become ingrained in this country’s soul that it brought back a rule that we once deposed.
It was a victory for all we protested against, and all the Bible told us not to do.
It’s beyond my imagination and beyond my grasp.
There is consolation in knowing many I know continue to put up a good fighta fight that I believed in for a long time.
I refused to believe this is our end, or that whatever hope we left is gone.
The moral arc of the universe got longer.
The day of reckoning was not yesterday, but will surely come.
But that’s all behind us now.
This will be a circuitous and rollercoaster ride from here on.
Maybe we maintain our silent mourning or persist in our loud protestations.
We could write essays and still feel at a loss for words. We want to cry but tears have become wanting.
We could feel the hatred that no clenched fist could sum up.
We could hug each other and say our prayers and still find no peace in our hearts the questions that linger and the anger that does not die.
As much as possible, I always relate how topics in our field would be perceived by the layman the common tao.
To us scholars, it’s easy to understand.
But to people outside our profession, their perception is based on what they are accustomed to.
In all we do, we remember the people who made our education possible.
And so, when decades of disinformation made possible the restoration of the family the Filipino people ousted 36 years ago, we face an existential crisis: what is the point of years of education when it can be falsely claimed?
What is the point of exams, of toiling day and night when the rich and powerful can easily breeze through the upper echelons of power?
It’s maddening.
I cannot claim to know what my students feel now but they are not the only ones who lost.
There is solidarity in knowing that no matter how deep our sorrow is, we are not alone.
But I do beg that they stay the course.
Make the events of the past weeks a reminder that resting on laurels is not an option. Sure, rest if we must, feel tired, feel the loss of hope.
May we find our way through the long fight greater than ourselves.
It’s always about standing and believing in the collective good over and above our individual whims.
As we usually say: Padayon.

Edward Joseph H. Maguindayao,
University of the Philippines,
Manila,
Phiippines


 

Humans are traficked
In and through Thailand
The Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday May 31, 2022
First publshed in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday May 25 2022

Re: "Human trafficking a 'regional issue'", in Bangkok Post, Wednesday May 24, 2022.
As the deluded Thai delegation to the US is pleading for an amendment of the forthcoming Trafficking In Person (TIP) report and blaming human trafficking as a regional problem, not as a fault of any individual state, one has to consider it as a big joke.
Also propagated by the real "Big Joke" aka Police General Surachate Hakparn.
Would he therefore please explain whose fault, hence which state is responsible for the sad and well documented fact that humans are trafficked in and through Thailand in such large numbers?
That is not a joke!

Miro King,
Confused,
Bangkok,
Thailand



The path to Nibbana is now filled with
Potholes of blind faith, empty rituals, rampant corruption
The Southeast Asian Times, Monday 30, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday May 18, 2022

Re: "Beliefs are no excuse to damage our health", Bangkok Post ThinkBox, Monday April 18, 2022.
I hope the authorities in the National Office of Buddhism (NOB), the monks, and the patrons of Thai temples will pay attention to the issues raised by columnist/writer Patcharawalai Sanyanusin.
Buddha's teachings are exact.
He emphasised that we should make truth our refuge.
He taught against rites, rituals, and pilgrimages.
Instead of cultivating mindfulness, Thai people are subjected to empty rituals, buying and selling amulets, lotteries, caged birds, and offering material things in merit-making.
The monks even engage in lofty rituals to please the spirits of the dead and promise a place in heaven.
In many temples, the devotees are brainwashed and taken on a spin, ride, or trance, reincarnating into Garuda, Naga, and other creatures which have become part of the fable of Buddhism.
The path to "Nibbana", as taught by Buddha, is now filled with potholes of blind faith, empty rituals, and rampant corruption.
Ms Patcharawalai is correct that the enlightened one who taught us against rituals is now suffocated with the stench and smell of incense, candles, rotting flowers, garlands, and food.
Thai monks have also become experts in botoxing rituals for those who can pay.
In addition, there are scores of criminal cases against Thai Buddhist monks.
There is no doubt that costly rituals, the flow of easy cash, and corruption are correlated.
Above all, the lack of education and poor training of monks is mainly responsible for distorting the teachings of Buddha and the reputation of Thailand as a Buddhist country.

Kuldeep Nagi,
Bangkok,
Thailand


 

"Politicians promise to build bridges
Even when there are no rivers"

The Southeast Asian Times, Sunday May 29, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday May 23, 2022

Re: "Job vacancy: Must be good at promises", in Bangkok Post PostScript, Sunday May 15, 2022
Yes, indeed.
You always wonder what the governor of Bangkok will concentrate on after winning the election.
Every 100 metres, you can see posters of smiling and grinning candidates.
One must wonder how many millions of baht is spent hanging these banners and posters on lampposts and ageing trees in every soi.
All those in this rat race have to think about their return on investment.
What comes to your mind?
Sure, corruption, contracts, hush money, kickbacks, and scandals.
Is there any other way to recoup this massive investment in electioneering madness?
Nikita Khrushchev of the old Soviet Union aptly said, "Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build bridges even when there are no rivers."

Kuldeep Nagi,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Thailands Suspreme Court should take
India's sedition law as a model
The Southeast Asian Times, Saturday May 28, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday May 16, 2022

Re: "India: Top court suspends sedition law", in Bangkok Post, Friday May 13, 2022.
India's sedition law has been often misused to suppress government critics, much like Thailands Lese Majeste S112 law.
The Indian court found that "The rigours of the law in question are not in tune with the current social milieu."
Precisely the way that Thai governments have applied the Lese Majeste S112 law.
Thailands Lese Majeste S112 law can stay on the book.
But those in power use it mainly to protect personal interests.
Thailands Supreme Court should take its Indian counterpart as a model and refuse to advance cases based on the Lese Majeste S112 law
By so doing, we will be following our beloved national father's advice that using les majeste laws "ultimately harms the monarchy".

Burin Kantabutra,
Bangkok,
Thailand


The West should make all diplomatic efforts
For Russia to give up rather than keep fighting
The Southeast Asian Times, Friday May 27, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday May 16, 2022

Re: "The West has got its Russian sanctions all wrong", in Bangkok Post Opinion, May 14, 2022.
Thanks for this timely analysis of the tug of war between the West and Russia.
It is now proven that unjustified sanctions on countries only lead to more hostilities.
It also damages the reputation of the West and sanctions on Iran, North Korea, China and Russia have only created resentment.
The same thing happened in the 1990s when the USA sanctioned India for testing nuclear weapons.
They did not work against India, Pakistan, Iran or North Korea, nor will they deter China or Russia.
Pouring money and weapons into Ukraine will only lead to more deaths and destruction.
The West should make all diplomatic efforts for Russia to give up rather than keep fighting.
While millions of innocent people were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, no country shouted about taking the USA to the International Criminal Court for genocide and war crimes.
Neither Hamid Karzai nor Saddam Hussain was given TV time on Western media to explain their stance.
Hence, all the noise about atrocities in Ukraine and war crimes against Russia further erodes the respect for Western nations and their media.
This blatant hypocrisy has further eroded faith in Western democratic principles and human rights. Sadly, the ongoing Western sanctions have made diplomacy more ineffective.

Kuldeep Nagi,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Claim that Chinese Embassy exploits and corrupts PNG media
Has implications for media in the region
The Southeast Asian Times, Thursday May 26, 2022

As someone who has always supported free press I am deeply disturbed to read that a Papua New Guinea Post Courier reporter has claimed that “ Chinese Embassy are exploiting and corrupting our media. I have evidence . Money has spoken and there is now no independence and integrity in Papua New Guinea media” .
He states further “ I have witnessed many journalists at the Post Courier and The National accept large sums of Kina, new phones, laptops and luxury trips to China, all off the books and in secret. The Chinese are willing to go to any length to corrupt us and buy our loyalty, more and more with success” ( source : Fijileaks 23/5/2022 ).)
Now this is a very damning indictment of the media in Papua New Guinea.
Can someone from the media council in Papua New Guinea tell us whether the reporter’s claim is true or false?
It has implications for the media elsewhere in the region.

Rajend Naidu,
Sydney,
Australia




Night shift differential pay for government workers
Is welcome legislation in the Philippines
The Southeast Asian Times, WednesdayMay 25, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday May 23, 2022

The recent signing of Republic Act No. 11701, which provides night shift differential pay for government workers, is a welcome development.
This legislation is a positive way of compensating public employees for being made to work at inconvenient times and acts as a deterrent against long or abnormal hours imposed by national government agencies, local government units, and government-owned corporations.
This pay also provides a mechanism for employers to provide a service or continue operation outside normal business hours where it is either profitable to do so or required due to a public service obligation.
Certainly, many employees would choose not to work long or unsociable hours if they were not adequately compensated, for example, those in Salary Grade 10 and below who could be left financially vulnerable if that extra pay is not available. These low-paid workers are extremely dependent on minimum pay rates but with differential may be able to top up their wages to a reasonable level.
Differential pay offers an economic incentive for people to work unsociable hours (i.e., evening shifts, early morning shifts, rotating shifts), which is considered intrinsic to the nursing profession.
Whether patients get sick at 9 a.m. on a Monday or 9 p.m. on a Saturday, they expect and need the best possible care from the health system.
While this new law is a boon to civil service, as well as the uniformed service personnel, the private sector is being set aside.
Despite the collective industrial strength of nurses in the private hospital sector, they continue to languish on low pay and unfavorable conditions of employment in their workplaces.

Jerome Babate,
Beta Nu Delta Nursing Society,
Manila,
Philippines




To serve is what the 31st Australian Prime Minister
Is meant to do in a democracy
The Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday April 24, 2022

In his victory speech Australia’s new prime minister Anthony Albanese said “ Tonight the Australian people have voted for change. I am humbled by this victory and I’m honoured to be given the opportunity to serve as the 31st Prime Minister “ ( Yahoo news 21/5 10.23 pm ).
It good to hear the new leader say he is “ honoured to be given the opportunity to serve “.
That is what a leader is meant to do in a democracy and not act as if he has the right to rule roughshod over the people.
It seems the Australian people have voted for a change for a better future for the country.

Rajend Naidu,
Sydney,
Australia



Climate change has not been
Philippines utmost priority
The Southeast Asian Times, Monday May 23, 2022
First published by the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday May 18, 2022

The world faces an urgent battle against climate change that ultimately reveals the foolish desire of humanity to call for accountability instead of action.
It’s not a question of “who did what?” or “who should do what?” but more of “what should we do?”
This global issue is of the essence, and a call for action should be expedient as the damage to the atmospheric spheres of the earth is seemingly irreversible.
Since 2007, human activities have elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations by 50 percent due to coal, oil, and gas production, emitting billions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year.
Its impact means a startling decline in our environment and many other sectors of our society.
Thus, with our so-called leaders choosing resiliency as a response, more climate change-related implications will continue to intensify in the following decades.
The climate crisis has not been our utmost priority.
In the Philippines, for example, platforms of aspiring presidential candidates in the recently concluded elections were more focused on the economic and agricultural sectors, unemployment, housing, and trade, to name a few.
Although these concerns are highly relevant, we cannot deny that most of these are also highly dependent on the country’s environmental state.
On the other hand, while government responsiveness and support are crucial factors in a climate movement, it is still highly expected from the public sector to initiate practical actions.
After all, our choice to help aid our environment does not lie within the approval of anyone.
We can do this by simply switching to renewable energy sources, planting more trees, and reducing energy use in our homes.
Being informed of the potential impacts alone and not creating feasible and relevant solutions is not far different from holding a loaded gun but not using it to fight in the battle.
Awareness, resiliency, and accountability are not enough. It’s high time that we promote a sense of urgency among others and join forces in taking immediate measures to make the world a safe place to live in. By the end of the day, our actions toward this matter say a lot about how we envision the future we want to have.
Let us save the earth not because we want to—but because we need to.

Anne Normane Pia G. Revita,
Manila,
Philippines



Only Marcos wealth can bring down the price
Of rice to P20 per kilo in Philippines
The Southeast Asian Times, Sunday May 22, 2022
First Published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday May 17, 2022

More than 30 million voters must have thought Ferdinand Marcos Jr. could bring prosperity to this nation with all the obscenely mind-boggling wealth estimated to be in the tens of billions of dollars his family has been hiding in secret domestic and foreign bank accounts all these years.
Ill-gotten or not, they really couldn’t care less as long as all that money is finally put to good use by Marcos Jr. whether in atonement for the “sins” of his father or for his own love for country.
For example, they probably sensed where he was coming from when he promised to bring down the price of rice to P20 per kilo, something economists decry as a blatant lie.
That can only happen through massive government subsidy.
But given the fact that the government has been practically bankrupted by the debts wantonly incurred by the Duterte administration, it has become wishful thinking. Only the Marcos wealth can make that happen.
But little known is the fact that Marcos Jr. had nothing to do with the Bangui Wind Farm, “the first power-generating windmill farm in Southeast Asia,” contrary to his claims.
Not a single centavo came from the Marcos family to fund that project as already fact-checked by several reports.
How then could Marcos Jr. have the gall to grab credit for that project and use it as a major part of his election campaign?
But then again, as his running mate, Sara Duterte, used to say, “all politicians lie.”
If you thought that Marcos wealth would come pouring down like the Niagara Falls once he got elected president, don’t hold your breath!

Chin Chin Katigbak,
Manila,
Philippines



Taiwan calls on WHO to repudiate
Inappropriate political interference
The Southeast Asian Times, Saturday May 2, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday May 18, 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc across the globe since it began in 2020.
It is very encouraging to learn that the Philippines is in full swing of economic recovery as nearly all indicators point to higher growth for the Philippines this year and in 2023.
The number of new COVID-19 cases also continues to decline nationwide, and we sincerely hope this trend can sustain its stability.
The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded the world that disease knows no borders. Having been left isolated and unsupported during previous epidemics, Taiwan deeply understands the importance of mutual assistance and strengthening resilience to creatively meet challenges.
Taiwan emerges as an indispensable partner on the path to global post-pandemic recovery and hopes to work with the World Health Organization (WHO) and nations worldwide to jointly overcome this crisis.
In line with this, Taiwan has been standing with the Philippines since the onset of the pandemic.
In July 2021, the Republic of China (Taiwan) donated 200 oxygen concentrators to help local hospitals in the Philippines enhance their capacity to treat COVID-19 patients.
In March 2022, Taiwan and the Philippines agreed to recognize each other’s vaccination certificates, which will certainly stimulate economic growth in the post-pandemic era.
These efforts exemplify Taiwan’s unwavering commitment to working with international partners in addressing public health threats while safeguarding our shared values of freedom, democracy, and rules-based international order.
However, due to political considerations, the WHO has been unable to uphold professionalism and neutrality.
By continuing to exclude Taiwan, WHO is severely jeopardizing global health. Taiwan stands firm in its commitment to engage in international health care cooperation and calls on the WHO to maintain a professional and neutral stance, and repudiate inappropriate political interference.
Only the popularly elected government of Taiwan can represent its 23.5 million people at WHO and protect their right to health.
While we congratulate the people in the Philippines on successfully holding the 2022 general elections, we sincerely hope that our Filipino brothers and sisters could also voice out their support for a beacon of democracy, Taiwan, to be invited to the 75th World Health Assembly and institutionalized, as well as regular participation in all WHO meetings, mechanisms, and activities.

Peiyung Hsu,
Representative,
Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines,
Manila,
Philippines



Call for Papua New Guinea state ministers
To stay away from meddling with public services functions
The Southeast Asian Times, Friday May 20, 2022
First published in the National, Monday May 16, 2022

All state ministers including the Prime Minister must not direct, command, threaten and abuse their department secretaries and chief executive officers/managing directors of state-owned entities or the top public servants.
Papua New Guinea continues to watch ministers playing the roles of their departmental heads and stooping low in making decisions which are not in their mandate as policy and lawmakers in Papua New Guinea.
Corruption commences at the stage where ministers confuse their roles deliberately and intentionally with those of government departmental heads of the public service machinery which is supposed to deliver efficiently services to our people funded from annual national budgets.
In the new Government, please we appeal to state ministers to stay away from meddling with public services functions.
Otherwise, we are crushing the public services system with ad hoc decision making and screw ups which will yield to decay in the foundation of the running this beautiful country of ours.

Samson Komati Yuimb,
Port Moresby,
Papua New Guinea


Pending court cases against President Ferdinand Marcos Jr
Yet to reach the Philippines Supreme Court
The Southeast Asian Times, Thursday May 19, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday May 16, 2022

A few days ago, we held crucial elections in the country and until now we are counting the results, not without recriminations and eyebrows raised on certain aspects of the electoral process.
But setting reservations aside, the reported commanding lead of presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr. over his rivals should not detract from the fact that there are pending cases to disqualify him, which may now reach the Supreme Court.
In the interest of the rule of law and the conduct of future elections, the Supreme Court should rule on this game-changing issue of eligibility and qualification of a candidate for president.
Its enthusiasm and mandate to confront the issue head-on should not be dampened by the reported huge popular vote of the challenged candidate, because the Court has said in 1989 in G.R. No. 87193 involving Sorsogon governor Juan Frivaldo on the issue of his citizenship: “The qualifications prescribed for public office cannot be erased by the electorate alone. The will of the people as expressed through the ballot cannot cure the vice of ineligibility.”
It is hoped that the petitioners whose cases were dismissed by the Commission on Elections only last May 10 will appeal to the Supreme Court.
What is at stake is the imperative of upholding the supremacy of the law on the eligibility of a candidate even over an electoral mandate.
Otherwise, in the future, through manipulation and duplicity, a popular but unquestionably ineligible candidate may be allowed to run in an election and, if victorious, will plead that we have to bow to the will of the people.

Ancheta K. Tan,
Lawyer,
Makati City,
Philippines


Let the truth be told
Let the publishers publish
The Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday May 18, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday May 16, 2022

The Manila Critics Circle, in no uncertain terms, condemns the Red-tagging of the respected publisher Adarna House by the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (Nica) and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac).
Not only is Adarna House an award-winning publisher known to produce only quality material, it is also a publisher devoted to the truth.
It is a disservice to our young readers to assume that they should be exempted from learning about important events in Philippine history like the imposition of martial law.
The truth does not “plant hate and lies in the tender hearts of our children,” as Lorraine Badoy, spokesperson for NTF-Elcac, has said. The truth does not “subtly radicalize” as Alex Paul Monteagudo, the director-general of Nica, has stated.
Monteagudo said that the very issue of presenting martial law in children’s books plants dissent and hatred in their minds.
Martial law is part of our history, as are its victims.
Like all true things, it is something they should learn from books and make up their own minds about.
Furthermore, Adarna House is an innovative, privately owned, educational publisher that should be encouraged to continue publishing such excellent material and commended for its devotion to telling the Philippine story to young children.
Let the truth be told. Let the publishers publish.

The Manila Critics Circle,
Manila,
Philippines



Yes,
Money should not be part of rituals
The Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday May 17, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday May 8, 2022

Re: "Alpha-male idols," Bangkok Post PostBag, April 29, 2022, "Never mind Nirvana," Bangkok Post PostBag, April 28, 2022 and "Fake faith," in Bangkok Post PostBag, April 27, 2022.
Many comments made to Bangkok Post about my submissions about Thai temples have been positive.
Yes, Ken Albertsen, we engage in rituals.
Rituals are mainly dedicated to the gods, goddesses and deities we've created. They usually require money.
And Ye Olde Theologian, my friend, the rebirth is just a notion.
The reality is that we will not know anything after we are dead.
Consciousness is part of being alive.
My thanks to Millie Tan for pointing to S N Goenka's teachings.
I had the good fortune of attending a 10-day retreat with him in Igatpuri, India, and also in the USA.
Yes, money should not be part of rituals.
Mr Goenka fully understood the path pointed by the Enlightened One.
Sadly, every religion now thrives on rituals and money is the driving force.
Therefore people keep visiting temples and so-called holy shrines just like they go to hospitals.
Spirituality has turned into a costly prescription given by monks, priests and pundits.
As Buddha said, this is the main cause of human suffering.
We do not spend time cultivating mindfulness and living in harmony with nature.
We need to learn the ways of Buddha to find our bliss ourselves, not by running around to seek happiness.

Kuldeep Nagi,
Bangkok.
Thailand



Education has lost it's way
In Thailand
The Southeast Asian Times, Monday May 16, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday May 11, 2022

Re: "Mental health guidance amid Covid", in Bangkok Post Opinion, May 6, 2022 and "Semen hazing will be probed", in Bangkok Post April 30, 2022.
I find it interesting to see the topic of education being brought up again and again in recent weeks.
Thai youth are thought to be frustrated at the "traditional" methods of education they are currently exposed to.
During this time there has been a report of a naval officer who forced conscripts to drink his semen, a cult leader who preached eating faeces and drinking urine and phlegm as a cure to various illnesses and a monk involved in a sex and payoff scandal.
There certainly does appear to be some trouble over what certain people consider to be correct and normal.
All this makes the upcoming ceremony where chosen cows will forecast this year's level of agricultural yield and rain to be rather benign but it does seem that education has somehow lost its way.

Lungstib,
Bangkok,
Thailand

 

 

Open letter to retiring Philippines Senator Ping Lacson
Saying "the Philippines needs a son like you"
The Southeast Asian Times, Sunday May 15, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday May 13, 2022

Dear Sen. Ping Lacson:

I understand that now that the elections are over, you expressed your desire to spend time with your family.
That you should. Life is too short, and it should be spent with your loved ones.
But I hope, in time, you would reconsider and not retire from politics.
Based on your long career as a public servant, I don’t see you as one who would even consider fading into the sunset.
When you ran in the national elections, you committed to serving the Filipino people for six years.
I hope that even without the title of president, you can still serve.
It seems to me the title of leader may not be one for you to hold.
But the title of patriot is one for you to keep.
I believe you can be a voice for those who have none.
I believe you can be an influence for those who have no power.
I believe you can stand up for those who may be too scared to speak.
I did not vote for you, Senator Lacson, and perhaps I have no right to send this letter.
But I hope you think of the one million men and women who did vote for you.
And, difficult as it is, think of the voters you were not able to convince but still need you.
And isn’t that what a great patriot is all about?
While I feel we are facing one of our darkest hours, it will be of some comfort knowing that you will not throw in the towel and raise the white flag.
The Philippines needs a son like you.

Danielle Marie S. Lizares,
Makati City,
Philippines

 


Pulling the plug means letting the water flow
Freely out of the tank
The Southeast Asian Times, Saturday May 14, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday May 8, 2022

Re: "Plug pulled on diesel cap," in Bangkok Post, Wednesday April 27, 2022.
As a non-native English speaker who had heard before what was going on in this country, the headline looked alright at first glance.
But after more thought, it looked wrong.
So I chatted with my English friend living in Thailand who also reads the Bangkok Post daily.
His response is that "pulling the plug" means letting the water flow freely out of a tank.
His first impression was that the price of diesel would be reduced; with the plug removed at the pump much more diesel would flow into your motorcar tank for your money than before.
You cannot pull the plug on a cap!
He went on to say that "too many journalists try to show they are cleverer than the readers by using big uncommon words."
"I have to use a dictionary to read the Bangkok Post sometimes!"
I would go for some simpler headline like "Cap on diesel price lifted".

Thanin Bumrungsap,
Bangkok.
Thailand



Religion should not be a litmus test
For living on this planet
The Southeast Asian Times, Friday May 13, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday May 11, 2022

Re: "No state business", in Bangkok Post, PostBag, May 10, 2022.
Thanks, Burin Kantabutra for your defence of monks.
There is no concept of "expulsion" in Hinduism or any other religion in India.
You may choose to belong to a religion and you can leave and join some other. The same is the practice in the US.
True freedom of choice!
In the very first place, the whole concept of monks being celibate, or unmarried is against the law of nature.
Sex is a natural function of the human body.
Forced celibacy is the root cause of all sex scandals involving priests, monks, and pundits.
I had two very close Muslim friends in the US who frequented a bar after work. They did not feel guilty about doing what a mainstream American would do.
And they did not attend Friday prayers.
It was their personal choice.
Buddhists may choose to remain celibate when ordained as monks.
But there is nothing against getting married or having sex with consenting adults. Religion should not be a litmus test for living on this planet.

Kuldeep Nagi,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Bloomed branches of eternal Thainess criminalise any
Expression of less than perfect faith in Royal Thai Police
The Southeast Asian Times, Thursday May 12, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Tuesday May 3, 2022

Re: "Police fail Tangmo test", in Bangkok Post, Editorial, April 29, 2022.
If the efforts of the officers of the Royal Thai Police, whose selfless service to the nation reliably doing whatever it took to eradicate the baddies, is suffering the casting of wicked aspersions and downright insinuation of truths, mere business as usual may not be enough.
Happily, the bloomed branches of eternal Thainess offer a more efficacious solution.
Impossible though it be to credit anyone seriously entertaining such a notion, should there indeed be as alleged some faintest sliver of "distrust in the police" the solution is simple: criminalise any expression of less than perfect faith in the Royal Thai Police.
That will immediately make them a perfectly revered Thai institution universally trusted, respected and loved by all for generations past.
Job done.
Joe Ferrari and his mentors would be proud, and that most impertinently inconvenient video would never dare have come to light.

Feliz Qui,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Call for jail term for non-compliance of
Personal Data Protection Act
The Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday May 11, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday May 8, 2022

Re: "Panel seeks delay of Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) enforcement," in Bangkok, Thursday May 5, 2022.
We shouldn't apply the "mai pen rai" attitude to enforcing the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA), which will protect the confidentiality of your name, address, transactions, and so on when it comes into force.
As Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) committee chairman Thienchai Na Nakorn notes, "The PDPA will create confidence among foreign business operators conducting business in Thailand."
Singapore and the Philippines already have Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) counterparts that have jail terms for non-compliance.
Let's allow the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) to go into force on June 1 as planned but suspend punishment for two years.
If by June 1, 2024 a given firm was still in violation, the punishment would take effect in full.

Burin Kantabutra,
Bangkok,
Thailand




Call for Thailand to shine a light on
Sex trafficking of children
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday May 8, 2022

Re: "Dept fails noble task," in Bangkok Post, Editorial, May 6, 2022.
It is a sad state of affairs when government officials and those with trusted positions within society are all implicated in the sex trafficking of children.
Who are children to turn to when they are in trouble or traumatised when this type of situation is common?
Ever wonder why Thailand is on the ''Tier 2 Watchlist"?
What about going after the people who paid for sex with the children?
Should they also be charged?
After all, it is their actions that support such activity.
In my country, it is common for police to post images of people charged with paying for sex - and this is with adults.
In order to get rid of such a scourge you need "shine light on it" and use it as a disinfectant.
It seems this is another example of the government's promise to end corruption falling flat.
We need to do much better for the children since they are the future.
If you cannot rely on the government to protect you as a child, why would you expect them to be supportive of society as an adult?

Darius Hober,
Bangkok,
Thailand



No surprise to learn failure of Myanmar military
To implement Five Point Consensus
The Southeast Asian Times, Monday May 9, 2022

It comes as no surprise to learn of “ the failure of the Armed Forces ( Tatmadaw ) of Myanmar, Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, to implement the Five Point Consensus “ ( ‘ Southeast Asian
Parliamentarians for Human Rights call on Myanmar military to implement Five Point Consensus
‘ The Southeast Asian Times 6 May ) which ASEAN Leaders Meeting in Jakarta on 24 April 2021 had adopted as a way forward following the brutal military coup .
I had predicted at the time that the rogue military rulers had no genuine commitment to it.
We learn from the article that “ National Unity Government ( NUG ) deputy foreign minister Moe Zaw Oo said then “ we have little confidence in ASEAN’s efforts “.
He was right.
They knew the rogue military rulers of Myanmar a whole lot better than the ASEAN mob.
One year later the rogue military rulers have become more entrenched in power.
I doubt they will pay any heed to what the Southeast Asian Parliamentarians say.
Mark my word on this.

Rajend Naidu,
Sydney,
Australia




Philippine elections are much more
Than placing bets on the winning cock
The Southeast Asian Times, Sunday April 8, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday April 4, 2022

Elections are not your typical cockfighting sport where you place your bets on the winning cock and that is all that matters.
Elections are much more than that as it is a manifestation of our democracy.
Hence, for elections to work properly in a democracy, every citizen should be rightly informed.
Election debates are supposed to serve this purpose.
It is proven in the literature that debates have served as “information tools” for the electorate.
They can also spark interest among citizens to engage in civic activities and discuss issues.
Lastly, election debates can increase rational voting, which by definition is a vote that is based on issue positions.
Relevant studies show how debates can persuade voters to consider and acquire issue positions from their preferred candidate.
In other words, debates increase voters’ rationality.
This factor is crucial in a country considered rife with personality politics.
These benefits tell us that debates are more than just strategic tools for political campaigns.
It is used to bolster democracy by empowering the people.
Therefore, strategic withdrawals from debates can be seen as a deliberate rejection of collective welfare in exchange for strategic, selfish interests.
Given these things, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s deliberate aversion to election debates is telling of two things - his intention and character.
His intention is no doubt aimed at winning the presidential election at all costs.
He wants to win no matter what, even if it means trading off his integrity and being branded as a coward.
He wants to win even if the collective welfare is at stake.
For him, his family’s return to power is of utmost priority.
More importantly, this speaks of his character.
His aversion to debates is by no mistake a sign of weakness.
He can’t handle the heat.
Many netizens would point out how Marcos Sr., in comparison, was eloquent and quick-witted.
Marcos Jr., on the other hand, does not seem eager to prove that he can hold a candle to his father.
This could only mean two things. he is not his father or he simply has no backbone.
Disturbingly, his current attitude also seems to imply that any critical discourse or forms of dissenting opinion would not be welcomed in a potential “Marcos Jr. administration.”
The narrative of “positive campaigning,” although it sounds good, is no more than a façade - a veil that hides a fraudulent attempt to undermine critics and create an image of an unquestionable, benevolent dictator in the making.

John Jared Garcia,
Quezon City,
Philippines



 

Call for Philippines to vote regionally
Just like in the United States
The Southeast Asian Times, Friday May 7, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday May 3, 2022

Randy David’s “Why Filipinos vote the way they do,” May 1, 2022 is another excellent article dissecting all the reasons and manner of the Filipino voters.
We, Filipinos, are very tribal, not just in voting, but most will not admit it since the word tribal connotes something “low class” like the indigenous people and African tribes.
When we meet Filipinos for the first time, we always ask where they are from and what language they speak, and sometimes ethnic groups they belong to like Kapampangan, Bisaya, Ilocano, etc.
Of course, this is true too in the West like when they describe themselves as southerner, midwesterner, etc. but not as empathic as Filipinos do.
They will vote for an Ilocano because his father is Ilocano even if he does not speak Ilocano.
They will vote for a Bicolano because she/he is from that region, so on and on.
Regarding the local government units, I personally think that the system of the barangay, which I think is very similar to the community boards we have in New York, is prone to abuse especially when money is involved especially with “ayuda” (aid) during the COVID pandemic. Some of the aid extended is blatant vote-buying for this election.
I am sure that there is also some form of corruption in the community boards but as a rule, there is really no money involved, maybe just some form of minor lobbying.
Regarding the senatorial selection/voting, we have been voting for eight senators for years.
Why don’t we consider just voting regionally, i.e., two to four senators per region just like in the United States, two senators per state?
That way, the representation will be just and practical.
I enjoy reading Randy David’s articles about politics since they make me think and because he gives a sociological, historical, and psychological background.
Unlike other columnists, he is not endorsing any candidate.I hope that the Filipino people will be guided in their choices on May 9 since this is the only country we know and love.

Ida M. Tiongco,
New York, NY


 

It ain’t over until it is over
Still hope for candidates at the bottom of the poll
The Southeast Asian Times, Friday May 6, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday May 4, 2022

Chess players know that a winning position and a huge material advantage are no guarantees of winning the game.
Every endgame in chess is crucial.
A strong chess player may get the biggest surprise of his life when he loses because he made a terrible game-losing move during the endgame.
I remember my chess coach telling me not to give up even when I face an imminent checkmate.
Why?
Because my opponent might commit a blunder in his moves during our endgame that may open an opportunity for me to win the game.
Whenever I play chess, I always keep in mind the saying “It ain’t over until it is over.”
It is also uncalled for and rude in chess to tell your opponent to resign.
Such call is annoying and childish.
Quitting is a personal decision.
The universally recognized manner of expressing resignation in chess is to tip the King on its side.
Similarly in our present situation, the final index of winning are not poll surveys and huge political rallies.
There is still hope for candidates at the bottom of the poll. Remember, the election isn’t over until every vote is counted.

Reginald B. Tamayo,
Marikina City,
Philippines



United States hypocritical to ask International Criminal Court
To investigate Russian war crimes
The Southeast Asian Times, Thursday May 5, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post Tuesday May 3, 2022

Re: "Investigation due", Bangkok Post PostBag, April 28, 2022 and "US hypocrisy," Bangkok Post PostBag, April 26, 2022.
As usual my critics distort what I wrote on April 28.
The reason it is hypocritical for America to ask the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate Russian war crimes is because America took action against the International Criminal Court (ICC) when they tried to investigate American war crimes in Afghanistan.
America also opposed the International Criminal Court (ICC) efforts to investigate Israel's war crimes. I want the International Criminal Court (I CC) o be allowed to investigate all war crimes and atrocities whether committed by America, Russia or any other country in the world.
Get it?

Eric Bahrt,
Bangkok,
Thailand

 

 

Call for investment in a solar park
In Papua New Guinea
The Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday April 4, 2022
First published in the National, Friday April 22, 2022

The Government and 21 provincial governments should invest in a solar park to harness the vast sun power that is abundant in Papua New Guinea.
One of the world’s best solar parks is the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maltoum Solar Park in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, which covers an area size of 77km.
This solar park has the capacity to supply 5,000 megawatts of electricity which can supply electricity to a lot of provinces in Papua New Guinea.
Papua New Guinea has a massive land mass for developers to select a suitable site for such a renewable and sustainable project.

John Samar,
Port Moresby,
Papua New Guinea


It is political persecution to prevent Aung San Suu Kyi
From returning to an active role in politics
The Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday May 3, 2022

The military regime stole power from the democratically elected, legitimate government of Myanmar in a brutal military takeover in 2021 has through its kangaroo court “ convicted former leader Aung San Suu Kyi of corruption and sentenced her to five years in prison “ ( The Fiji Times 29/4 p. 41).
Independent legal experts and human rights groups have called her trial on trumped up charges “ a farce “.
It is political persecution pure and simple to “ discredit “ the long time pro- democracy leader and Nobel Laureate and “ legitimize the military’s seizure of power while preventing Aung San Suu Kyi from returning to an active role in politics “.
Her persecution has all the hallmarks of the modus operandi of a rogue military regime.
Only the intellectually challenged can fail to see that.

Rajend Naidu,
Sydney
Australia



Former Papua News Guinea PM Peter O'Neill
To be prosecuted over K3 billion loan
The Southeast Asian Times, Monday May 2, 2022
First published in the National, Friday April 22, 2022

I refer to the article in The National accusing former Prime Minister Peter O’Neill obout the UBS transactions and that he be referred to the leadership tribunal and the Independent Commission Against Corruption (Icac).
The former prime minister, I believe had followed procedures and proper channels and did not in any way involve in corrupt deals.
O’Neill has done no wrongdoing in the K3 billion UBS loan.
The commission of inquiry (COI) report also points out weaknesses in our system of government.
The UBS report tabled in parliament is astonishing due to the fact that it is ten days away for the issuing of writs.
The government’s survival tactics is now a subject of critics and discussions as of the moment O’Neill’s name made headlines.
At this moment onwards, our leaders are at a juncture of political pressure and avenues are sought to survive the coming election.
Let me tell us that nature is watching and a sheep in the skin and wolf inwardly are traits that is bad.
O’Neill will still survive political accusations as he is innocent and the commission of inquiry has found nothing wrong of him.
It is very surprising that ten days before issuing of writs, the UBS results mentioned that O’Neill be prosecuted.
This is a highly politised move and I believe it is not in the best interest of Papua New Guinea.
Let us all wait and see what Icac has to say.

Justin Max Undi,
Port Moresby,
Papua New Guinea



Ukraine must realise
That it has to live with Russia
The Southeast Asian Times, Sunday May 1, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday April 27, 2022

Re: "Ukraine Russia war becoming a nuclear end-game", in Bangkok Post, Opinion, April 22, 2022.
Before the war escalates into becoming a nuclear end-game, four things will happen to the detriment of the European Union.
First, a few million more Ukrainians will immigrate to the European Union; second, there will be more deaths and destruction; third, the United States and European Union policies will have a crippling effect on the economies directly involved in this conflict; and fourth, this crisis may lead to a direct Russian conflict.
All efforts to liberate Ukraine and prepare it to join the European Union are insignificant.
Ukraine must realise that it has to live with Russia, its immediate neighbour.
The United States and European Union must instead mediate peace talks rather than supply more arms.
Ukraine is not Afghanistan or Iraq.
There is still time for Ukraine to learn from Brexit.
Joining the European Union will not turn it into a free and prosperous nation.
It can be a free nation with its rich resources.
The option of a nuclear end-game will be devastating.

Kuldeep Nagi,
Bangkok,
Thailand



The rescue of road accident victims
Should be a free public service in Thailand
The Southeast Asian Times, Saturday April 30, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday April 22, 2022

Re: "One killed as rival rescue services clash", in Bangkok Post, April 19, 2022.
Two rival emergency rescue foundations fought over market territory, killing one worker.
But accident victims are helpless and should not be in a market to be monopolised and delivered to the place paying the highest fees - which would be private hospitals.
Rescuing road accident victims should be a free public service, just like the police or fire-fighters.
Victims should be delivered to the nearest hospital - public or private - able to treat them, perhaps as a Universal Coverage for Emergency Patients (UCEP) emergency service.

Burin Kantabutra,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Pride and vanity keeping unwinnable candidates
In the Presidential elections in the Philippines
The Southeast Asian Times, Friday April 29, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday April 27, 2022

Re: "4 runners in presidential race refuse to drop out", in Bangkok Post, April 19, 2022
Due to the poorly structured presidential election process in the Philippines, the winning candidate only needs to obtain more votes than each of the other candidates.
There is no run-off election between the two highest vote-getters.
Thus, a candidate can be declared president without a majority of the electorate supporting him or her.
In the last election, Rodrigo Duterte won the election with less than 40 percent of the votes cast, meaning more than 60 percent of the voters preferred someone other than him to be the president.
By refusing to drop out of the upcoming May 9 election, the four minor candidates, none of whom have a realistic chance of winning, are essentially handing the election to frontrunner Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
If they would withdraw from the race in favour of the only viable challenger to Mr Marcos, current Vice President Leni Robredo, there would be a reasonable prospect of defeating the scion of the former Philippine dictator.
Unfortunately, pride and vanity are keeping unwinnable candidates in the contest, with the likely result being another period of dubious and shady government controlled by the corrupt Marcos clan.

Samanea Saman,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Travel to and from Thailand deferred
Until re-entry is made simpler
The Southeast Asian Times, Thursday April 28, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday April 25, 2022

Re: "Tourists delay foreign trips" in Bangkok Post, Business, April 18, 2022 and "Rules, costs deter outbound travel" Bangkok Post, Business, April 14, 2022
Analysts cited in these articles have failed to highlight what is undoubtedly the biggest hurdle constraining outbound travel from Thailand.
It is not the costs and rules imposed by other countries that discourages Thai travellers from taking trips abroad.
Nor is it concerns over health and safety in other countries.
By far the biggest deterrent to outbound travel - and inbound travel as well - is the uncertainty over regulations and the hassles involved with returning to Thailand.
I know many Thais and foreign residents who are eager to return to their pre-Covid travel habits of making multiple trips from Thailand each year.
However, they are still deferring travel until re-entry to Thailand is made simpler and less uncertain.

Samanea Saman,
Bangkok,
Thailand

 

 

Solomon Island PM Manasseh Sogavare
Wants a stronger hold on power
The Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday April 27, 2022

When I read in Terence Wood’s article ‘ Solomons security shambles:What it says about us ‘ ( The Fiji Times 26/4 ) that Solomon Islands prime minister Manasseh Sogavare who wants “ a stronger hold on power “ is “ Seen as the embodiment of a corrupt elite “ who is “ unpopular in Honiara” I knew the research fellow at the Development Policy Centre at the Australian National University had a good handle on the politics and geo-politics in the region.
His analysis cuts through the noise from the western media mob and politicians regarding the Solomons-China security pact and gets to what really matters for the people in the region.
His is a valuable contribution to the discourse.

Rajend Naidu,
Sydney
Australia




Lack of education and training of Thai monks
Responsible for distorting teachings of Buddha in Thaland
The Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday April 26, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday April 25, 2022

Re: "Beliefs are no excuse to damage our health", in Bangkok Post, ThinkBox, April 18, 2022.
I hope the authorities of the National Office of Buddhism (NOB), monks, and the patrons of temples will pay attention to the issues raised by Ms Sanyanusin.
Buddha's teachings are exact.
He emphasised that we should make truth our refuge.
We should use our minds to direct our behaviour and actions. Instead of cultivating mindfulness, temples are embroiled in empty rituals, buying and selling amulets, lotteries, caged birds, and accepting material things, including hard cash in merit-making.
In many temples, the devotees are brainwashed and taken on a spin, ride, or trance, reincarnating into Garuda, Naga, and other creatures which have become part of the fable of Thai Buddhism.
Ms Sanyanusin is correct that the enlightened one who taught us against rituals is now suffocated with the stench and smell of burning incense, candles, rotting flowers, garlands, and food. Some monks have also become experts in botoxing rituals for those who can pay.
In addition, there are scores of criminal cases against Thai monks.
The lack of education and proper training of monks is mainly responsible for distorting the teachings of Buddha and harming the reputation of Thailand as a Buddhist country.

Kuldeep Nagi,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Thai version of #MeToo
Has arrived
The Southeast Asian Times, Monday April 25, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday April 20, 2022

Re: "Prinn's case, party's fault," Bangkok Post, Editorial, April 19.
Your editorial was spot-on in saying that the Thai version of #MeToo, the global campaign to seek justice for victims of sexual assault, has arrived and is in full swing when one of the country's prime minister hopefuls has been accused of sexual harassment and multiple rapes.
As a long-time supporter of the Democrat Party, I am ashame, no, disgusted is a better word, to learn that the party leader and party executives refuse to recognise the mistake they have made and take proper responsibility, because they are the ones who appointed this person as party executive and deputy party leader.
A close aide to the party leader, a lady whose name is too stomach-churning to mention here, has asked whether party executives should be investigated for an individual's personal conduct.
What a shame and what irresponsibility for her to say such a thing.
That said, all party executives should resign en masse.

Vint Chavala,
Bangkok,
Thailand



ASEAN cities have some of the worst
Air pollution in the world
The Southeast Asian Times, Sunday April 24, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post Friday April 22, 2022

Re: "Pondering Asean's future beyond 2025", Bangkok Post Opinion, April 12, 2022
It is disheartening that Kavi Chongkittavorn's vision for Asean's future fails to once mention environmental improvement and protection.
This reflects Asean's track record on the environment, which has been anything but inspiring.
Major Asean cities have some of the worst air pollution in the world. Asean countries count among the biggest contributors to global plastic waste.
Waterways are clogged with debris and chemical discharge. Biodiversity is under threat across Asean.
The region lacks ambition in committing to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and has been slow to sign on to the Glasgow Leaders' Declaration on Forests and Land Use.
Asean's main environmental thrust of the past two decades was the Asean Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution, intended to reduce forest fires and cut related transboundary haze pollution. Yet the agreement has been a dismal failure.
Hopefully, Asean officials will include environmental elements into their vision for the future.

Samanea Saman,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Former Prime Minister Peter O’Neill
Sets a bad precedent for the highest office
The Southeast Asian Times, Saturday April 23, 2022
First published in the National, Friday April 22, 2022

The most corrupt and obvious unlawful act of former prime minister Peter O’Neill in rushing the controversial K3 billion UBS loan is criminal in nature as it bypassed certain processes and procedures.
The manner in which O’Neill acted is a form of dictatorship leadership.
He acted as if there were no other senior ministers available to approach for a collective view and discussions.
This is something sinister and sets a bad precedent for the highest office on this land.
What he did was a serious crime and he should pay the price that serves as a lesson for future leaders.
Why are the law enforcing agencies such as the Attorney General’s office, Ombudsman Commission, fraud squad and others not active in prosecuting high profile culprits?

Set Example,
Port Moresby,
Papua New Guinea



Justice system in Thailand
Can be relied on for former Democrat Party leader
The Southeast Asian Times, Friday April 22, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday April 20, 2022

Re: "Have faith in the justice system," InQuote, April 18, 2022
Prinn Panichapakdi, ex-Democrat Party leader charged with sexual assault by many women wants us to believe that our justice system can be relied upon.
But let's look at the record. The colonels and generals responsible for Tak Bai (83 bodies) and Nong Chik (4 bodies) haven't even been identified, let alone court-martialled. Praewa Thephasadin Na Ayudhya (aka Rawinpirom Arunvongse) accidentally killed nine, yet served not one day in jail. Red Bull heir Vorayuth "Boss" Yoovidhaya has run free for a full decade. PM Prayut has swept under the rug the report of ex-NACC commissioner Vicha Mahakun on reforming the police and prosecutors with no apparent intention of resurrection.
When a hi-so, highly influential defendant tells us to have faith in our justice system, that should add to our worries that justice will not be done.

Burin Kantabutra,
Bangkok,
Thailand

 

 

Thai Airways secures credit for leases
While in bankruptcy
The Southeast Asian Times, Thursday April 21, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday April 20, 2022

Re: "Leased 777-300ERs to join Thai's fleet", Bangkok Post, April 8, 2022.
Thai Airways just announced the lease of three new planes each with a three-class configuration, including First Class which is currently unavailable on any routes serviced.
This acquisition begs questions:
While in bankruptcy, how can they secure credit for the leases?
What kind of fiscal shenanigans are at work here?
Undoubtedly theses planes have a state-of-the-art First Class at the behest of those "senior people" who bemoan the loss of their comforts and rarely pay for their seats.
The article in the Bangkok Post said that Thai Airways International Public Company Limited (TG) is in the process of selling or has sold 45 planes from the fleet … Hogwash!!!
They have not sold a single one.
Why not retrofit some of the existing planes, as there are still some in the fleet with many years left on the clock.
Surely a cheaper option.
The soap opera never ends and once again the taxpayer who owns a substantial share is being abused.
Will it never end?

Rev Michael Palmer,
Bangkok,
Thailand

 

 

Much remains to be done by each one of us
Beyond the Philippines elections
The Southeast Asian Times, Monday April 18, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday April 18, 2022

Amongst those who support ABBB (Anyone but Bongbong), there are two prevalent themes of lament.
First is the depiction of the vote as an existential struggle between good, largely symbolized by the pink campaign, against evil, led by a son whose campaign is based on the revisionist recounting of his antecedent’s destructive corruption as a golden age for the country.
The problem with the first is that the reality is not a simple binary contest. Inequality, corruption, and patronage in our culture are now so deeply ingrained over centuries and generations and in our daily lives, that these forces have overcome and colored all of us to some degree or another.
Leni Robredo, try as she will, will struggle against these forces.
There is more to our problem than a change in the government will fix.
The most encouraging development in this election has been to witness the rising tide of volunteerism that is now powering Leni Robredo’s campaign.
A rising tide of truth and holding leaders to account is a necessary condition to our country rising from poverty and haplessness.
We need a change in culture as much as we need a better president.
The presidency is an opportunity to effect change, without which victory is meaningless.
In the corporate world, there is the aphorism that culture beats strategy.
A leader embodies culture.
Our country’s culture is only the sum of how each one of us behaves and what values we hold and live to.
A pervasive subservience to wealth and power is a national trait inhibiting thoughtful discourse and accountability.
We all have a part in consciously deciding to make this change and changing our behaviors to be more inclusive and equal, and demanding the same from others, in our daily lives.
We should be always striving to move from a society of haves and have-nots, to a community of inclusiveness, equality of opportunity, and equality before the law.
The second theme is how lamentably ignorant the unenlightened masses are that they know no better, that they fall so easily for the revisionism.
For all of us who are in a position to effect systemic change, the question is, have we done enough that people can see the fruit of good government?
In the absence of substantive differences in outcomes, why should the polity prefer one fable over another?
This is not to diminish the case for clean government, but those in our country who have no other recourse than to rely on the machinery of the government, to even the odds for them in the struggle for a better life, maybe have not seen sustained evidence that voting for the good guy actually works.
Rather than call out ignorance, are we reflecting enough on the failure to improve at a systemic level, the health, education, and opportunity of the masses, and take it as a rebuke that we and the system have not done better for those who number the most?
Nation-building is not done in six years, or every six years.
It is an ongoing work in progress of steadfast self-sacrifice, all too sadly lacking if you examine our nation’s history of party affiliation and the level of our political discourse, as well as involvement and inclusiveness over history.
It starts with our vote, with our engagement, but can only be meaningful if we appreciate that we can’t just leave it to the winner of the contest to make our life and our national community’s life better.
Whatever the outcome, much remains to be done by each one of us, beyond the elections.

Jay Mendoza,
Sydney,
Australia




Sanctioned Russian oligarch
Docks superyacht in Fiji
The Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday April 19, 2022

We learn from The Fiji Times report ‘ Amadea is here - Russian billionaire’s yacht in Fiji ‘ ( 13 April ) that Putin supporter Suleiman Kerimov, “ a Russian oligarch who is currently sanctioned over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “ has docked his super yacht in Fiji’s second port city Lautoka.
How has this been possible when one, such superyachts owned Russian oligarchs who are big time Putin backers, have been sanctioned by the USA, UK and Europe; and two, Fiji just voted in the UN for Russia’s suspension from the Human Rights Council?
Could that be because of a perception on the part of the Russian billionaire that Fiji being a coup country is a third world banana republic where there is no solid democratic accountability, transparency and public scrutiny of State action so he could get away with sailing smartly into Fiji?

Rajend Naidu
Sydney,
Australia



The National Office of Buddhism shows that
Thai Buddhism's primary function is political
The Southeast Asian Times, Monday April 18, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Tuesday April 12, 2022

Re: "Men of cloth, not paper", Bangkok Post Editorial, April 9, 2022
When has the nationalistic religion known as Thai Buddhism, created by and for powerful political players, ever been primarily about the teachings of the Buddha, rather than the pursuit of power, property and prestige in line with its political origins?
Why else would the original example of gifting literally gilded temples and images to monks have been set, except to serve the very secular goals of using the religion so endowed as a means to keep the masses passive and peaceful underfoot as they contributed to the coffers?
Why else would Thai Buddhism have political protection and control at the highest level?
The very existence of such a thing as the National Office of Buddhism shows that Thai Buddhism's primary function is political.
If Thai Buddhism is to move from worldly concerns towards following the wise teachings of the Buddha, an essential reform is to free it from state management. Annul the National Office of Buddhism and other political control of the religion that it may independently pursue and preach the wisdom of the Buddha to the great benefit of those who will listen.

Felix Qui,
Bangkok,
Thailand




Leave the fight for Philippines President
To Marcos vs. Leni
The Southeast Asian Times, Sunday April 17, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday April 14, 2022

In my commentary, “United we stand remembering a hero” March 26, 2022, I gave a subtle hint to the presidential candidates not named Marcos.
I recalled the sacrifice of Salvador H. Laurel who gave up his ambition, so Cory Aquino could become president in 1986.
Laurel was more qualified to become president then, a veteran lawyer, honest politician, experienced public servant, and freedom fighter, versus Tita Cory, a simple housewife.
Initially, Cory Aquino endorsed Laurel but later public clamor persuaded her to run, putting Laurel in a dilemma.
Run and both of them would lose.
Laurel gave way to Tita Cory and sacrificed his ambition to become a true hero.
Fast forward to today, and this time I will not be subtle.
It seems that the candidates against Marcos are dense and ambitious.
Masyadong bilib sa sarili. Sen.
Manny Pacquiao is raw and does not have enough experience in public service.
He needs ajinomoto seasoning.
Same with Isko Moreno.
He just started as mayor of Manila and should finish his first term before aspiring for higher office.
Too ambitious. Sen. Panfilo Lacson is not corrupt and has more experience, but he does not have public support.
The other candidates, whose names I refuse to recal, are just nuisance candidates.
As a senior citizen who has voted in 10 previous presidential elections, I urge these three candidates to withdraw now and leave the fight to Marcos vs. Leni, si Magnanakaw versus si Maganda.
This is the best chance for Leni to win.

Crispin C. Maslog,
Manila,
Philippine



Noise levels at Royal Thai Air Force airbase in Udon Thani
No louder than singers in bars and karaoke clubs
The Southeast Asian Times, Saturday April 16, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Tuesday April 12, 2022

Re: "Jet blues in Udon Thani", in Bangkok Post , April 4, 2022
Either there are flaws in the assessment of the noise levels generated by fighter jets in neighbourhoods surrounding the Royal Thai Air Force airbase in Udon Thani, or local people have no legitimate cause for complaints.
According to the World Health Organization, sound levels less than 70 decibels are not damaging to living organisms, regardless of how long or consistent the exposure.
Thus, the reported noise levels of 64.8-65.2 decibels are in no way "too loud" or dangerous for local residents.
The noise levels measured in Udon Thani are essentially the same intensity as a normal conversational voice, which measures about 60 decibels. Other common sources of noise are far greater.
Hairdryers, lawnmowers, motorcycles, and most power tools, for example, register around 90 decibels. Music concerts and sporting events clock in at about 110 decibels.
I'd venture to speculate that the acoustic assaults of promo girls in department stores, amplified entertainment of singers in bars and karaoke clubs, and the loudspeaker campaigning in support of politicians that Thais seem to tolerate without complaint run far in excess of 100 decibels.
I personally lived in an area used in training jet fighter pilots, back in the days when such training regularly involved planes breaking the sound barrier. The sonic booms and screeching of jets overhead can indeed be very disturbing.
But if the noise levels in Udon Thani are no more than those being reported, locals have nothing to whine about.

Samanea Saman,
Bangkok,
Thailand

 

 

Don't preach to others
Those who have blood on your hands
The Southeast Asian Times, Friday April 15, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post Thursday April 14, 2022

Re: "Asean tally", in Bangkok Post, PostBag, April 11, 2022 and "Thais abstain in UNHRC vote on Russia", in Bangkok Post, April 9, 2022.
Korean War: 2.5 million civilian casualties Vietnam War: 2 million civilian casualties Gulf War: 200,000 civilian casualties Afghanistan War: 70,000 civilian casualties Iraq War: 66,000 civilian casualties.
Above are the civilian casualties from some of the recent wars that America and Nato have fought.
Those who have blood on their own hands don't preach to others.
Since the start of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the US and its European Nato allies have only stepped up their purchase of oil and gas from Russia, while preaching to the rest of the world as to what it should do. Ken Albersten is even willing to hug the military dictatorship of Myanmar simply because they voted how he wanted?

VB,
Bangkok,
Thailand





Change in Pakistan happened
Without military playing any part
The Southeast Asia Times, Thursday April 14, 2022

The popular Pakistani prime minister former legendary cricketer Imran Khan “ was ousted in a no-confidence vote” in parliament .
It’s a reminder that in politics fortunes can change rather suddenly.
In the Pakistan context it’s good to know the change has happened without the military playing any part in it as has often been the case historically since the country’s formation ( for further illumination see renown author and academic Tariq Ali’s book Pakistan : military rule or people’s power ? )

Rajend Naidu,
Sydney,
Australia

 

 

Thai temple funds should adhere to legal obligations
Applicable to bona fide businesses
The Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday April 13, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday April 8, 2022

Re: "'Temple swindler' assets to be investigated", in Bangkok Post April 6, 2022.
If a close acquaintance of a temple's abbot can embezzle 190 million baht from the temple's funds in less than four months, isn't it time that these entities are subject to some sort of oversight?
They should be registered as a legal business/charity and thereby obliged to adhere to all legal obligations applicable to bona fide businesses.
Misappropriating funds intended for temple or school improvements is simply depraved.
I cannot see anyone arguing against introducing equitable regulations in this area unless those making the argument have ulterior motives.

Shane Simpson,
Bangkok,
Thailand



ASEAN members Laos and Vietnam voted
To let Russia stay on the UNHRC
The Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday April 12, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Saturday April 12, 2022

Re: "Thai's abstain in United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) vote on Russia", in Bangkok Post April 9, 2022.
Regarding Thursday's vote in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on whether to kick Russia off the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), of the 11 countries within Asean, only Laos and Vietnam voted to let Russia stay on the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
Six countries abstained, including Thailand, indicating they were too cowed to vote for freedom
Three countries had the cojones to do what was right and vote in favour of kicking Russia off the the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Myanmar, East Timor and the Philippines.
Those of us who watch these sorts of things were not surprised that China voted to keep Russia on the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), while India abstained.
We expected better from India, and were pleasantly surprised that Myanmar voted for freedom for Ukrainians.

Ken Albertsen,
Bangkok,
Thailand

 

The global response to Covid was tyranny
Plain and simple.
The Southeast Asian Times, Monday April 11, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post Friday April 8, 2022

Re: "Covid-19's lessons for democracies", in Bangkok Post, Opinion, April 5, 2022.
The global response to Covid was tyranny, plain and simple.
People were forced by threat of violence to comply with draconian measures such as loss of economic liberty, being imprisoned at home through curfews, and forced to be "research monkeys" by coercing people to take untested medicine.
The government responses were motivated by political concerns of exercising power and social control, not by scientific information and standards.
Even the WHO admits lockdowns, masks and jabs were ineffective against a virus with less than a 1 percent rate of mortality.
More so if there are not any co-morbidities health issues present with the infected.
An easy way to see this is with the government response to the one of the major mortality factors, that is cancer!
There are more deaths every year from cancer than Covid can ever cause.
Yet the collective global governance does not ban the usage of carcinogens or declare "lockdowns" for commercial activity that are carcinogenic.

Darius Hober,
Bangkok,
Thailand

 


Property seizures carried out in Myanmar by military
Before accused found guilty in court
The Southeast Asian Times, Sunday April 10, 2022

It is patently clear from The Southeast Asian Times report ‘ Myanmar military held accountable for illegal seizure of property’ ( 7 April 2023 ) Myanmar has fallen into rogue rule under the military regime that grabbed power from the democratically elected government.
How else is one to describe a regime that has “ seized more than 54 homes and other properties belonging to civilians opposed to the Armed Forces
( Tatmadaw )”
, the power grabbers when the “ Seizures were carried out before the accused were found guilty in court? “ ?
This modus operandi of the Myanmar military junta is reminiscent of the disgraceful confiscation and thieving done by the Nazi regime.

Rajend Naidu,
Sydney,
Australia



February 1986 revolution cause for missing aplication
For Nobel Peace Prize for President Cory Aquino in 1987
The Southeast Asian Times, Saturday April 9, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday April 4, 2022

We appreciate the commentary of Oscar Arias, the former president of Costa Rica and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, which came out on March 30, 2022.
But you may not be aware that it was his peace plan concerning three countries that made us miss the Nobel award for Philippines President Cory Aquino in 1987.
The February 1986 peaceful revolution made us miss the application with the February. 28, 1986 deadline, and postpone our candidacy to 1987.
The undersigned spent one year preparing the file, which was quite substantial.
First, we had the backing of many previous awardees, Lech Walesa, Desmond Tutu, Irish, Catholic, Protestant girls, whom we had difficulty tracing in the US.
Backing of parliaments, we got Mrs. Simone Veil for the European Parliament, and universities, historical and cultural departments, Notre Dame, the US, etc.
In the end, when Mrs. Aquino was informed, she asked our friend Raul Manglapus, who was secretary of foreign affairs, to assist.
We had an impressive file, but came out second to President Arias, with a very slim backing, but his peace plan concerned three Central American countries, while we were concerned with one country - the reason why we lost.
As far as we know unofficially, we came out second; there are some 300 candidates yearly.
It is too bad nobody took up the case to try the following year, possibly with a better chance. We certainly had solid grounds as Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi.

W A Mialhe De Burgh,
Manila,
Philippines

 

 

 

Things will only get worse
Until we start reducing greenhouse gases
The Southeast Asian Tmes, Friday April 8, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, April 7, 2022

Re: "Chilly rain forecast for much of country", Bangkok Post April 3, 2022.
The news mentioned that it would be up to 4C cooler and rainy in most areas of Thailand until at least Monday of this week.
It should also be mentioned that it was up to 7C cooler and rainy in some northern regions of the nation during the weekend.
I believe that this unusual weather pattern is more than just a coincidence and is consistent with global warming, wherein extreme weather patterns are expected to occur with greater frequency in the future.
Things will only get worse unless we start reducing greenhouse gases now.
The just-released Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change (IPCC) makes this clear.
If we want to reduce global temperature increases to 2C, global greenhouse gas emissions must peak by 2025, and be reduced by a quarter in 2030.
There will be net-zero greenhouse gas emitted by 2070 under this scenario.
In order to have a global temperature increase of only 1.5C, greenhouse gas emissions must reach zero by 2050.

Paul,
Bangkok,
Thailand



 

Royal Thai Navy needs no engines in submarines
As showpiece on Children's Day
The Southeast Asian Times, Thursday April 7, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post. Wendnesday April 6, 2022

Re: "Subs deal at risk: PM", in Bangkok Post, April 5, 2022.
I don't understand why the prime minister and assorted lads are so fussed about whether their desperately impressive subs have engines or not.
The Royal Thai Navy's aircraft carrier needs no engine to passively sit serving its purpose as a showpiece.
Why would their subs need engines at all to perform at the same sub standard expected? They will look every bit as impressive for Children's Day without.

Felix Qui,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Estate tax on Marcos inherited assests
Is six percent of P388.2 billion
The Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday April 6, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday March 29, 2022

There’s no doubt that one of the most serious issues against the Marcoses in this election season is their unpaid estate tax.
Originally amounting to P23.29 billion, it has now ballooned to P203.82 billion, inclusive of interests and penalties.
The Marcos camp argues that there is nothing final on this issue, while Marcos critics insist that the Supreme Court ruling on it has long been final and executory.
It appears, then, that the high tribunal should be able to resolve this controversy. But only at first glance.
Because, fortunately or unfortunately, under our system of government, the Supreme Court is not like the legendary Muhammad who can go down the mountain anytime to resolve a problem below.
There is reason to believe that the primary bone of contention here is whether the controversial P23.29 billion estate tax was assessed based on the value of assets and real properties that the Marcos heirs had actually inherited from the elder Marcos, or whether the tax base used was inclusive of the so-called ill-gotten wealth already sequestered and eventually forfeited in favor of the government.
That said, may I offer a simple way to determine the truth behind this issue?
Consider this: the estate tax, also called inheritance tax, is six percent of the value of the inherited assets and payable to the Bureau of Internal Revenue.
Simple arithmetic easily tells us that the Marcos heirs had inherited some P388.2 billion worth of assets which, needless to say, must now be under their possession. On the other hand, there is another kind of estate tax, otherwise called real property tax.
This is payable to the municipality, city, or province where the assets or real properties are located.
Plain common sense should tell us that though computed at different tax rates and certain other considerations, the estate or inheritance tax and the estate or real property tax must be based essentially on the same list of assets and properties. (Essentially because the taxpayer may have assets other than those inherited). Otherwise, something must be wrong, In turn, this clarification should be enough to enlighten the electorate on the truth or myth behind this issue.

Rodolfo L. Coronel,
Manila,
Philippines



If Thailand wants to retain US billion-dollar market
Would be prudent to assuage the concerns of the buyer
The Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday April 5, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday April 4, 2022

Re: "US solar panel probe draws protest from ministry", Bangkok Post, Business, April 2, 2022.
The reaction by the government concerning the United States wanting to ensure that China is not dumping solar panel-related technology and parts does not look good.
When someone is "not" breaking rules, offering transparency is a great way to disprove an allegation of cheating or malfeasance.
To protest the inquiry or probe itself gives the impression that something is being hidden or that the allegation is based in truth.
If Thailand really wants to retain a US billion-dollar market, they would be prudent to assuage the concerns of the buyer rather than protest a legitimate concern of a customer.
When your position is "to prepare a defence" rather than proving through transparency, it makes one believe that there is something off. I would like to see the Thai economy retain this export potential but in order to do this I feel the government's actions need to change.

Darius Hober,
Bangkok,
Thailand


 

China's Shanghai lockdown policy
Is swatting at flies
The Southeast Asian Times, Monday March 4, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Thursday March 31, 2022

Re: "Half of Shanghai in lockdown to curb Covid-19 outbreak," in Bangkok Post March 28, 2022.
While I wish the Chinese government all the best in their efforts to manage Covid-19, I must say that I do not think a zero-Covid approach really is in China's best interests anymore.
Frankly, much of the world is starting to move on now and has grown accustomed to simply living with a manageable chronic illness.
The illness is simply here to stay until we develop a new generation of vaccines and, as Covid-19 has a very low mortality rate, the time has come to largely reopen and move on.
Our economies cannot sustain endless lockdowns.
I wish China well, but this policy is swatting at flies.
It discourages international travel on their airlines and will do few people much good.

Jason A Jellison,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Call for United Nations military adviser to advise
Role of the military in a democracy
The Southeast Asian Times, Sunday April 3, 2022

After his courtesy visit to the Black Rock military facility in Fiji ( ‘ UN Military Adviser pays a courtesy visit to Black Rock ‘ The Fiji Times 28/3 ), can the United Nations military adviser visit Myanmar to advice the military general who grabbed power in a military coup from the democratically elected government of Aung San Sui Kyi what the role of the military is in a democracy?
That would be a very worthwhile visit for the United Nations military adviser to make to have a military man to military man talk with the rogue military ruler of Myanmar who has been engaged in terrorising the people of Myanmar since his takeover.

Rajend Naidu,
Sydney,
Australia



How stupid are humans?
They destroy cities and cultures
The Southeast Asian Times, Saturday April 2, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Thursday April 31, 2022

Re: "Odessa and Ukraine that was," in Bangkok Post, Opinion, March 29, 2022.
Alas, before Odessa, many other famous cities became the victims of wars. Warmongers have destroyed the beautiful culture and heritage of Beirut, Damascus and Baghdad.
A little search on Google will show that many other cities have been damaged or destroyed by evil wars.
Old City of Dubrovnik, Croatia; Vijecnica (City Hall) of Sarajevo, Bosnia; the Buddhas of Bamiyan, Afghanistan; Djinguereber Mosque of Timbuktu, Mali; and the Great Mosque of Aleppo, Syria are a few examples.
These sites became targets of unnecessary devastation and destruction brought by ill-conceived wars.
And let us not forget Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
How stupid are humans?
They destroy cities and cultures which took a millennium to establish.
Do our ancestors, the chimpanzees and apes, have a better understanding of the world?

Kuldeep Nagi
Bangkok,
Thailand

 

Why is Julian Assange
Being persecuted?
The Southeast Asian Times, Friday April 1, 2022

It is true that with his war of invasion in Ukraine and the atrocities committed against the people of Ukraine Putin “ undermines an international system which gives us all an equal voice in the world and an ability to defend our own sovereign interests “ ( ‘Putin’s threat to the Pacific, and our defence’ Advertisement, The Fiji Times 28/3 ).
Did Julian Assange not reveal a serious breach of the rules-based international order in Iraq?
Why is he being persecuted for doing that?
Why the selective condemnation?

Rajend Naidu,
Sydney,
Australia



Mind your own business
In order to be civilized in Papua New Guinea
The Southeast Asian Times, Thursday March 31, 2022
First published in the National, Thursday March 31, 2022

MYOB (mind your own business) is an abbreviation used by old civilisations that usually bears fruitful impacts in life.
It is a reminder that drives one to divert their attention and concentrate on self-matters.
The multicultural societies like the US and Brazil are occupied by individuals of diverse walks of life.
Although there are homosexuals, transgender and bestiality, to state a few, they interact respectably together.
There are thousands of religious groups from Christianity to Muslim and Scientology to Satanism.
Since they are civilised, they tolerate and participate collectively as part of the society.
In 2015, the US president Barrack Obama spoke in the Rose Garden of Whitehouse after the US supreme court declared that same-sex couples have the right to marry anywhere in the US.
While commemorating the event, the president told the overwhelming crowd that the nation was founded on a bedrock principle – that we are created equal.
After a few congratulatory statements, the president embraced the then secretary of state and kissed him on stage to mark an exemplary day.
The boiling celebration was sparked by the aid of rainbow-coloured fireworks that dyed the murky space, alongside an overflow of warm individuals of various genders.
Another occasion erupted in 2017 when the Christians celebrated Christmas Eve in the Whitehouse.
While encircling and devoting a holy-cross with a statue of Saint Mary, the followers of Satanism also held their ritual, having worshipped a gold-carved sculpture of a black-coloured snake that coiled around an apple made of pure bronze.
Christians stormed out with frustrations as they approached the group.
They informed Satanism that they were celebrating the birth of Christ and insisted on knowing the purpose of the ritual.
The Christians were told that if Satan did not intervene at the beginning, life would not have come that far.
Others added that they haven’t recognised under the constitution which forbids the free will of religions.
The responses defeated the Christians as they dissolved unnoticeably.
To cut a long story short, they presume that only God is righteous to judge, otherwise it would be a breach of privacy and self-determination if sued.
But not in PNG society.
We are experts at privatising other people’s affairs.
This uncivilised personality enables one to consider what others might think, which leads to exhaust both time and resources to please others.
It accumulates in breeding countless hypocrites, which handicaps our progress at large.
In order to be a civilised and successful person, one must terminate the trend to judge others and step on their own path to positively head out.
Life is too short to be wasted on another life.

Petrus Gand,
Social-Justice-Advocate,
Port Moresby,
Papua New Guinea



Call for Commander-in-chief of Myanmar military
To be hauled before the International Criminal Court
The Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday March 30, 2022

We read in The Southeast Asian Times 27 March that the Commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces ( Tatmadaw ) of Myanmar, Sr Gen Min Aung Hlaing, said the National Unity Government ( NUG ), the People’s Defence Force ( PDF ) and the Civil Disobedience Movement ( CDM ) were “ terrorist groups”.
But if you ask the people of Myanmar they will tell you it’s the Myanmar military that has become a terrorist outfit under the rogue ruler Sr Gen Min Aung Hlaing who grabbed power in a military coup from the democratically elected government of Aung San Sui Kyi.
The rogue military general should be hauled before the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the killings and atrocities committed by his military thugs against the people of Myanmar.
A Red Notice should be issued on him.

Rajend Naidu.
Sydney,
Australia


 

Now the EU and USA have no choice
But to work with China and India
The Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday March 29, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday March 25, 2022

Re: "Sanctions aren't new, ask the Romans", in Bangkok Post, Opinion, March 19, 2022.
Yes, it is indeed true that sanctions do not work. Cuba, Iran, N Korea, and many other countries face sanctions imposed by Western powers. In 1970 when India started to become a nuclear power, it faced the same situation.
Mr Trump tried to impose sanctions on China during his tenure, but it quickly backfired.
In all the cases cited above, the economic disruptions caused by sanctions have prompted these countries to fight harder to defend themselves.
There is no doubt that the anger and anxiety brought by economic disruptions can accelerate rather than conclude wars.
Unjust sanctions also generate long-term hatred towards countries that create hardships for ordinary citizens.
We can clearly see that countries that were sanctioned have come out stronger. Now the EU and USA have no choice but to work with China and India.
They will have to get back to work with Russia to end the devastating war in Ukraine.
The time has come for Western countries to stop abusing sanctions and punishing countries that do not bow to their powers.
It is just a matter of time before they will be forced to work with Afghanistan, Iran, Russia, N Korea and Cuba. Alas, these days, sanctions are as useless as nuclear weapons that were one time signs of supremacy.

Kuldeep Nagi,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Call for new Commission on Elections (Comelec)
To decide Marcos Jr. disqualifications immediately
The Southeast Asian Times, Monday March 28, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday March 21, 2022

The reorganized Commission on Elections (Comelec), with the recent appointment of its chair and two new commissioners, seems to have a less than auspicious start, and still much less of an assurance of a honeymoon period to prove itself trustworthy and credible.
Aside from the alarm raised by netizens regarding the lack of transparency in the printing of the official ballots, which the commission later rectified with a walk through, an exposé by a senator that a commissioner was involved in a case of bribery, is not making it easy for the new Comelec to prove its worth - if it is minded to.
Yet, it can redeem itself simply by acting swiftly and reasonably in the promulgation of election rules and in the resolution of cases.
We saw the rules on the posting of election materials, and other related issues, caused an uproar that prompted a court in Baguio City to restrain their implementation.
And this came after the questionable act of a commissioner, who delayed the issuance of the decision in one of the Marcos Jr. disqualification cases in order to marginalize a colleague.
It could only have been done for a fiendish objective, because simple courtesy would have moved one to do everything to make sure that colleague is heard, not silenced.
At the moment, the final decision on one pending Marcos Jr. disqualification case, and on motions for reconsideration in the others, is a challenge to Chairman Pangarungan and a litmus test of his political will.
The disqualification cases should have been decided weeks ago so that the aggrieved parties could have sought final relief from the Supreme Court to settle all issues of eligibility and qualification of a candidate before election day.
It should not be left undecided after election day, as this will potentially cause a political crisis.
That there is silence on this subject at the moment reminds us of the Ferolino playbook of delaying action for questionable reasons.
The new commission can stop this by deciding the Marcos Jr. disqualification cases immediately.
Will Chairman Pangarungan rise to the challenge?

Ancheta K. Tan,
Makati City
Philippines

 

Call for environmental policies to be on agenda
For next president of the Philippines
The Southeast Asian Times, Sunday March 27, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Saturday March 25, 2022

We seldom hear politicians outrightly campaign for environmental policies.
In the recently concluded Philippines presidential debates at our university, the University of Santo Tomas, I cannot help but be alarmed that the questions posed to the candidates did not even touch on environment-related platforms.
On top of this, green policies are not reflected in the candidates’ major campaigns.
It is high time that environmental policies should be part of the mainstream agenda for the next president of the Philippines.
The absence of green policies has ramifications on ordinary people’s lives. Although not seen in plain sight, the change in climate contributes to armed conflicts across the world as states vie for limited resources.
The Philippines is ravaged by typhoons, earthquakes, and landslides every year. People living in poverty are the most vulnerable and bear the disastrous impacts of these catastrophes.
Yet, every year, it’s always the same news - deaths, destroyed houses, damage to agriculture, crowded evacuation centers. Should this always be the fate of the Filipino people?
What is toxic about this is that survivors of disasters are always praised for their resilience when the government could have put in place safeguards that protect and prepare them for such calamities.
This is why it’s crucial that the country’s next president should have unwavering support and participation in green policies, and honor commitments to international treaties.
As the Latin legal maxim says: salus populi est suprema lex, the welfare of the people is the supreme law.
A president for the environment is a president for the people.

Eduardo Fajermo,
Manila,
Philippines


Philippine Society of International Law
Calls for withdrawal of Russian military from Ukraine
The Southeast Asian Times, Saturday Match 26, 2022

First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday March 25, 2022

The Philippine Society of International Law (PSIL) joins the call of the United Nations and the Philippine government in demanding the immediate, complete, and unconditional withdrawal of Russian military forces from Ukraine.
Article 2(4) of the UN Charter prohibits states from using armed force against the territorial integrity or political independence of other states.
Russia’s act of invading and bombing, and maintaining armed forces within Ukraine violates this prohibition.
Calling it “special military operations” or any other term does not change the character of Russia’s actions as a full-scale invasion and an unlawful use of force.
Moreover, international humanitarian law, including the Geneva Conventions, directs the parties to an armed conflict to limit hostilities solely against military objectives and not against civilians, and to minimize incidental injuries against civilians.
The invasion of Ukraine has exacted grave human suffering among innocent civilians, including children. Homes, hospitals, and schools have been indiscriminately razed and destroyed by the hostilities.
Over three million Ukrainians have been displaced and have sought refuge in neighboring states, and the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has opened an investigation on war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine is the most brazen challenge to the international legal order in recent history.
This is not to say that the UN Charter has not been stretched and strained to legitimize the recourse to armed aggression in the past.
But the aggression against Ukraine, that is to say, the full-scale armed invasion by one sovereign state against another state, without the thinnest legal veneer, if allowed, will embolden future acts of aggression by other states similarly disinclined to respect the international rule of law, especially in the territorial and maritime disputes in Asia.
With the fast escalating conflict in Ukraine, once again, the world community finds itself on the precipice of a cataclysmic war.
The Philippine Society of International Law (PSIL) joins the international community in calling for a return to the paths of diplomacy in order to resolve soonest these disputes through peaceful means, and the immediate cessation of hostilities and violations of human rights and other acts that could amount to international crimes.

Philippine Society of International Law,
Manila,
Philippines


Ban on alcohol sales on Buddhist holy days
Exposes authoritarian despotism in Thailand
The Southeast Asian Times, Friday March 25, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday March 21, 2022

Re: "Regulate in moderation", in Bangkok Post, Life, March 14, 2022
A personal devotion to the teachings of a religion is an excellent reason for those so devoted to follow when making personal decisions as to how they live their own lives.
Devout Buddhists might, for example, choose to abstain from drinking alcohol on the holy days of Buddhism, just as they similarly abstain from paying others to kill sentient beings on their orders merely to enjoy some tasty animal flesh.
However, neither the personal religious beliefs of some, not even of a majority, nor the teachings of any religion, are relevant to forming public policy and law.
For the state to be persuaded by some group to force their personal religious doctrines on all is to expose that religion as an authoritarian despotism, something I do not think that the Buddha set out to create.
The ban on alcohol sales on Buddhist holy days is every bit as rationally defensible as a universal ban on the sale and consumption of meat on those days.
The retailers and restaurant owners petitioning for reform of the laws regarding the sale and also advertising of alcohol are doubtless acting from the capitalist profit motive, but that does not reduce the cogency of their call for law reform.

Felix Qui,
Bangkok,
Thailand




Responsible mining accomodates open-pit mining
Open-pit mining alters ecosystems irreversibly
The Southeast Asian Times, Thursday March 24, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday March 18, 2022

"Responsible mining" is an umbrella term under which questionable features take shelter.
For example, the term accommodates the open-pit mining method, which, no matter how responsibly it is carried out, alters an ecosystem irreversibly; this is elementary science.
In fact, built into the DNA of mining is the risk of a host of potential impacts, according to the World Resources Institute: habitat loss/fragmentation, disturbance to wildlife, chemical contamination of surface and groundwater, declining species populations, toxicity impacts to organisms, loss of original vegetation/biodiversity, among others.
While mining companies can try to mitigate these scenarios, we must calculate if they are worth the trouble.
The term also covers mining primarily for export.
Data from the Mines and Geoscience Bureau finds that almost all of the minerals extracted in the Philippines are exported, thereby using national patrimony to benefit not the Philippines but foreign nations.
Mining also does not preclude social impacts. Mining in environmental areas affects ecosystem services - potable water, protection from storms, food - on which communities depend.
All this falls under the narrative arc of responsible mining, and all sanctioned by law, through the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.
Thus, while we recognize the role of mining in modern life, we can’t rely on responsible mining to administer such an invasive undertaking.
Alternative minerals management (AMM), which views mining from a whole-of-life approach, is a proposed framework for mining governance in the Philippines. Alternative minerals management (AMM) is encapsulated in a proposed bill filed in the 18th Congress by Senators Risa Hontiveros and Grace Poe and Rep. Lawrence Fortun.
In Alternative minerals management (AMM), only so-called strategic minerals, or minerals needed for national development, including national industrialization, shall be marshaled. Mining that does not serve this goal shall be disallowed. Strategic minerals shall also be processed domestically, so they rise in value, bolstering the GDP.
Crucially, Alternative minerals management (AMM), fills the void left by the 1995 Mining Act in protecting the environment.
In Alternative minerals management (AMM),, the open-pit method is prohibited, and mining in key biodiversity areas, critical watersheds, critical habitats, and other such areas is forbidden.
Alternative minerals management (AMM), is also anchored in the climate discourse.
A mining project which is powered by a coal plant flies in the face of the proposed moratorium on coal by the Department of Energy. Mining must not slow down the Philippines’ shift to a low-carbon development pathway.
Some believe mining is atavistic; a post-extractive future is gaining traction in light of the oncoming climate catastrophe.
Its proponents argue:
How can mining be endorsed when every effort must be made to conserve the environment and not destroy it?
A just minerals transition must thus be conceived to interrogate the role of mining in the shift to renewable energy for the production of solar panels, for example.
Every care must be taken not to inadvertently allow renewable energy to destroy the environment it avows to conserve in the first place.
Alternative minerals management (AMM) then is a compromise.
It’s a solution that allows mining but only under stringent conditions, which the environment, as the source of our nourishment, must deserve.
Responsible mining, which rolls off the tongue, is admittedly popular.
However, in alternative minerals management, the language for the primacy of the planet and people over profit is clearly articulated where in responsible mining, it has been lost in translation.

Maya Quirino,
Advocacy coordinator,
Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center,
Manila
Philippines



Many ways that the Russian Ukraine war
Can become far more catastrophic
The Southeast Asuan Times, Wednesday March 23, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday March 21, 2022

In February.24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine.
A titanic struggle started which for now is confined within Ukraine itself.
But the danger of a wider and far more destructive war is very real.
What if Russia, caught in a quagmire and reeling from the severest sanctions in living memory, lashes out in an unexpected way - such as by using chemical or even nuclear weapons in Ukraine, or by striking at the three Baltic states?
What if Nato pushes its assistance to Ukraine too far and inadvertently clashes with Russian forces?
There are many ways this war can become far more catastrophic.
All that’s needed is a proverbial spark.
History is full of such sparks -sudden and momentous events that have profound consequences for humanity.
The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire, on June 28, 1914, set off the powder keg of World War I.
The invasion of Poland by Germany on September 1, 1939, triggered the even greater horrors of World War II.
The bombing of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii by Japan on December 7, 1941, pulled the United States into that same war.
More recently, the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, caused a wounded and enraged the United States, together with its allies, to attack Afghanistan and commence the so-called “war on terror.”
Oftentimes, the belligerents do not even wish or intend to escalate tensions, but they are somehow swept into a conflict that spirals out of control.
Miscalculation by either side provides the spark which distinguishes these armed conflicts from near misses like the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.
If the world is to avoid yet another devastating global conflict, Russia and Ukraine, as well as the countries that support them, need to be very mindful of what these potential sparks might be.

Dennis Joseph D. Judan,
Manila,
Philippines



Call for Thailand to propose Eco-Peace
In the framework of Asean and Indo-Pacific strategy
The Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday March 22, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday March 20, 2022

Re: "Thailand must take stand on Ukraine", in Bangkok Post, Opinion, March 1, 2022.
I was so happy to see two former ambassadors saving the honour of Thai diplomacy, which as a Dutch citizen living in Thailand I admire so much. Indeed, neutrality, a status the Netherlands observed during WWI, is often merely based on opportunism and lack of courage, unless it produces initiatives like the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) based in Switzerland.
What I would understand is if Thailand wanted to be independent.
This does not only allow a country to take sides with the vulnerable and support international law, as Thailand has done already in the UN General Assembly.
An independent position would go much further than neutrality. Independence needs inner strength and free, mutual collaboration.
The latter, although difficult in the domestic arena, Thai diplomacy excels in.
But since Dr Puey Ungphakorn's vision of the "Cradle to Grave" welfare state and Dr Surin Pitsuwan's pioneering advocacy of human security, it seems there has been little civic inspiration toward common purpose but "security" and "stability" in defence of the status quo.
Could Thailand propose the concept of "Eco-Peace" in the framework of Asean and its Indo-Pacific strategy, as a counterforce to rivalling dominant powers?
"Eco-Peace", based on global citizenship and common care for ecology and in line with the UN secretary-general's Our Common Agenda, a possible rationale for re-purposing the Trusteeship Council could equally become a leading security concept for an emerging Eastern European coalition, forming a buffer zone between Russia and Western-Europe-cum-US-driven Nato.

Hans Van Willenswaard,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Russia's 19th century actions
Must be resisted
The Southeast Asian Times, Monday March 21, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Saturday March 19, 2022

One half-baked theory put forward by certain people regarding the current Ukraine crisis is that Western democracies are somehow responsible for the invasion.
Nato is a defensive alliance.
The states of the former Soviet Union would not have wished to join this alliance if they had not felt threatened by Russia, and we are now seeing the perfect illustration of why that feeling of threat was not misplaced.
Vladimir Putin did not invade Ukraine because of the various sins, some real and some imagined, of America and the West.
He invaded Ukraine because he is a sociopathic and an increasingly deranged despot sitting on top of a pile of rusting nuclear missiles in a crumbling kleptocracy, with delusions that he might soon be crowned the new Tsar of a Russian empire.Putin is responsible for Putin's actions, and his rapacious, 19th-century tendency to devour smaller nations must be resisted.

Nigel Woodward,
Bangkok,
Thailand





Papua New Guinea calls for liquor ban
In this year's election
The Southeast Asian Times, Sunday March 20, 2022

Papuan New Guinea’s deputy Police Commissioner has called for a total liquor ban during this year’s election polling and counting period ( The Fiji Times 11/3 p. 36 ).
This is to ensure the election is safe and peaceful.
And, it will no doubt help if voters voted with a clear head !
The deputy Police Commissioner’s Call has received widespread support for good reasons in the Papua New Guinea election context.
Wonder if we can use the Papua New Guinea model to ban somethings in our election context like for instance big business political party donations?

Rajend Naidu
Sydney,
Australia





Call for Philippines to respond to Sino-Russo effort
To destabilize United States hegemony
The Southeast Asian Times, Saturday March 19, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Sunday March 13, 2022

As the 2022 Philippine presidential race gets underway, the respective foreign policy agendas of the presidentiables must receive closer scrutiny.
This national electoral issue is a highly critical policy area of concern for the Philippine state.
In fact, Manila is by now urgently compelled to respond to the new global strategic shift commenced by the latest China-Russia summit in Beijing last February. 4.
In particular, the Sino-Russo bloc has just vowed to jointly confront the destabilizing hegemony of the United States in both Europe and East Asia.
Indeed, Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin strongly proclaimed their joint opposition to America’s growing “regional security threats” threatening “international strategic stability.”
Thus, given the direct security implications for Southeast Asia, the Filipino electorate must already know and grasp how their next head of state aims to effectively protect Philippine independence and sovereignty in the years ahead.
Manila vitally strives to safeguard the country’s archipelagic sovereignty within maritime Southeast Asia.
But geopolitical impacts, linked to the rising great-power competition between America and China, are perilously roiling the vast realm of the Southeast Asian Sea (aka the South China Sea).
This maritime area’s strategically decisive environment is also undermined by a host of bilateral and multilateral territorial disputes involving the Southeast Asian Sea’s littoral states.
So, from Manila’s outlook, the regional security environment’s overall stability is largely viewed through the lens of the country’s maritime zone, known as the West Philippine Sea.
Yet it is against this volatile external backdrop that certain presidential candidates have brashly declared their plans to further militarize Southeast Asia.
Their bellicose external affairs stances were expressed during recently aired interviews.
Chiefly set through the international question of the Southeast Asian Sea, these alarming foreign policy views are narrowly framed within the reactionary limits of national-chauvinist and militarist courses of action.
As such, these prospective Malacañang tenants intend to further violate the peaceful, independent, and non-aligned foreign policy provisions of the 1987 Philippine Constitution - by either commission or omission.
For instance, both Vice President Leni Robredo and Sen. Ping Lacson assert the need for the Philippines to bolster its longtime military alliance with America. Likewise, former senator Bongbong Marcos Jr., Sen. Manny Pacquiao, and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno merely cite generalities for regional peace - yet they loudly remain silent on the presence of US military forces posturing against China from Philippine soil.
So clearly, they all seek to preserve the Philippines as US imperialism’s premier tripwire-state in Southeast Asia today.
Therefore, given the “same old, same old,” an alternatively progressive foreign policy path is crucially needed.

Rasti Delizo,
Manila,
Philippines



Thailands vote at UN against the war in Ukraine
Nothing to lose but a small market of Russian tourists
The Southeast Asian Times, Friday March 18, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Thursday 17, 2022

Re: "Not our fault," Bangkok Post, PostBag, March 15, 2022 and "Stuck in neutral," in Bangkok Post, March 13, 2022.
In the Russian-Ukraine war, Thailand can afford to take sides.
By its United Nations vote against war, it does not have anything to lose but a small market of Russian tourists.
On the other hand, India has been a close Soviet ally since its independence from the British empire.
During the 1970s, when India was developing its nuclear arsenal, the US kept it out of its markets.
After Bill Clinton became president in 1992, India and China have become strong economies, and therefore they no longer have to take sides.
For Thailand, taking sides is a matter of convenience.
It has nothing to do with taking a high moral ground against the war in Ukraine.
Just look at its stance regarding Myanmar.
As they say, "all politics is local".
After the fiasco in Iraq and Afghanistan, the UN has also lost its role.

Kuldeep Nagi,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Russia's special military operation in Ukraine
Bears hallmarks of war crimes
The Southeast Asian Times, Thursday March 17, 2022

Wow!
What a euphemism calling Russia’s war of invasion in Ukraine a “ special military operation “ ( The Southeast Asian Times 15/3 ) when it bears all the hallmarks of war crimes and crimes against humanity that we associate with fascist regimes?
Shame on those who describe the Russian war of invasion in that manner.

Rajend Naidu,
Sydney
Australia



Papua New Guinea calls for a direct voice
In Parliament for direct influence
The Southeast Asian times, Wednesday 16, 2022
First published in the National, Monday March 14, 2022

Papua New Guinea’s copy-paste constitution adopted from the British and Australians is still in its colonial form, wielding more powers to the rulers.
Whatever those in power prefer becomes the final solution and answer to questions.
The prime minister’s post is typically occupied by a leading party in Parliament, whereby ministry portfolios are shared among affiliated party leaders under a common understanding.
So, when the Prime Minister wants to ensure its demands are met, a direct call is made to the respective ministries to carry out its missions.
The prime minister remains the chairman to the National Executive Council (NEC) and calls the shots in any situation.
The prime minister, through procedural-protocols, reserves the right to hire and fire whoever works under him.
This system has made our prime minister's become systematic dictators.
Ministers, commissioners, managing directors, chief executive officers and vice-chancellors have all been entangled by a strain of string attached to the ruling government.
The National Executive Council (NEC) has the final say.
How can Papua New Guinea rely on the Ombudsman Commission when the commissioner is selected and appointed by the National Executive Council (NEC)?
People under the National Executive Council's (NEC) reliance-sphere are frequently engaged to uphold the highly-sensitive offices.
When functional, they honour and do what the National Executive Council (NEC) says.
Failure to follow orders would lead to removal of powers and a new official is substituted with the aim to do things according to the National Executive Council's (NEC) liking.
This process is evident in every prestigious institution that provide standardised operations for our nation.
For instance, the recent University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) students’ protest that erupted against former Prime Minister Peter O’Neill was a dead-end.
As in the case of the students unrest, the Prime Minister gave directives to the Police minister to contain it.
The command was then conveyed to the police commissioner and an order was passed down to the National Capital District metropolitan superintendent to quell the unrest.
The city’s police commander mobilised his men and dispersed the peaceful protest and labelled it an unofficial turmoil.
Although the protest was legal under the Constitution, the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) vice-chancellor advised the students to leave the agendas to the parliamentarians and concentrate on studies.
This reflects how those in key positions always submit to the Prime Minister.
The structure of our systems is constrained under the knot tied by our laws, which allows the Prime Minister to use our mandated leaders as puppets.
Therefore, we need a direct voice in Parliament to guide our welfare.
Papua New Guinea should establish a mechanism such as the citizens’ initiative, which will consist of voters who will have direct influence in Parliament.

Petrus Gand,
Anticorruption Advocate,
Port Moresby,
Papua New Guinea



Build Build Build program effective method
To address insurgency NTF-Elcac
The Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday March 15, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday March 11, 2022

I’m still undecided about who I should vote for as president because their platforms aren’t clear to me.
To be honest, I don’t care about the notions of “dilawan” or Diehard Duterte Supporters (DDS).
What I am looking for in a presidential candidate is someone who will continue the “Build, build, build” program and the fight against insurgency (NTF-Elcac), because I believe that development cannot flourish while we are still in a state of long-raging chaos.
I am a firm believer of the NTF-Elcac; I have not seen a more effective method to address insurgency than a national unity in addressing the root cause of insurgency, which is poverty and a lack of access to government services.“Build, build, build” complements the objective of NTF-Elcac, by hastening the development of public services and creating additional job opportunities for former rebels.
I’m also looking for someone who has plans to make the Philippines a self-sufficient country, by which I mean having a cheap and adequate supply of power and food.
For this reason, I am in favor of reopening the nuclear power plant and prioritizing agriculture in rural areas so that we do not have to face a shortage of rice and import food.
This development in agriculture will not only improve the lives of our fishermen and farmers, but this will also have a negative effect in the recruitment of the CPP-NPA.
I strongly believe that the Philippines is endowed with resources, and that Filipinos are capable of utilizing them for the benefit of all.
I understand that education and political experience are important factors to consider when electing a leader.
However, I have seen far too many educated people in management and executive positions who fail because they lack a strong vision of making the world a better place.

John Paul B. Sandoval,
Manila,a
Philippines




High hopes for Filipinos to choose a president
With clean and pure intentions to serve Philippines
The Southeast Asian Times, Monday March 14, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday March 4, 2022

It is heartbreaking and disappointing to see people still supporting the Marcoses at this point, knowing the crimes their family did to this country and to our countrymen.
But our approach should always root from “understanding.”
Why do they still support them?
Is it out of necessity?
On the other hand, I still have high hopes that Filipinos will keep their dignity and choose a leader who has a clean and pure intention to serve the country, most especially the marginalized ones.
Let us not sacrifice our future and our country from having a good, clean, and honest government by voting for robbers instead of a leader who has served the marginalized, and genuinely and passionately works for the country.
Doon tayo sa ipaglalaban tayo hanggang dulo.

Prynces Therese L. Lacdang,
Philippine Normal University,
Manila,
Phiippines


 

Dutch dredging company contradicts recommendations
For sustainable development of Manila Bay.
The Southeast Asian Times, Sunday March 13, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday March 10, 2022

In 2021, the Dutch dredging firm Royal Boskalis Westminster announced that it had won a $1.5 billion project in Manila Bay. Boskalis intends to reclaim an area of 2,565 hectares of land on the coast of Bulacan province - equivalent to more than 3,500 football fields - upon which the Duterte administration is planning to build the New Manila International Airport (NMIA).
Because it is such a high-risk project, Boskalis has applied for a so-called export credit insurance from the Dutch State through the export credit agency Atradius DSB.
Atradius’ decision regarding Boskalis’ request is expected to be made soon and for this reason, we, a coalition of Philippine and Dutch civil society organizations and scientists, call on the Dutch government and Boskalis to withdraw from this controversial project.
The New Manila International Airport (NMIA) project is completely at odds with the Netherlands’ climate ambitions.
What is particularly striking about Boskalis’ planned land reclamation activities is that they completely contradict recent recommendations from the Manila Bay Sustainable Development Master Plan, which was recently developed by Dutch water engineers in collaboration with the Philippine government.
The master plan, which was also funded by the Netherlands, provides concrete recommendations for the sustainable development of Manila Bay.
With regard to the New Manila International Airport (NMIA) location, the master plan states that it should in fact be designated as a strict protection zone due to the area’s vulnerable wetlands and high biodiversity value.
The master plan advises against the construction of the New Manila International Airport (NMIA) in that area.
Should the Dutch State decide to insure the Boskalis, it will effectively be using Dutch public resources to undermine the master plan, which was also funded with Dutch public resources, thus serving as a salient and shocking example of policy incoherence.
Manila Bay is extremely vulnerable to climate change and is routinely faced with floods brought on by land subsistence, sea-level rise, storm surges, and hurricanes. The New Manila International Airport (NMIA) project exacerbates these vulnerabilities with disastrous implications for communities and ecosystems.
So far, hundreds of fishing families have been forced to make way for the project, many of whom have been pressured to self-demolish their own homes.
In addition, thousands of fishermen have been cut off from their fishing grounds, upon which they depend for their livelihoods.
The planned land reclamation will also cause irreplaceable wetlands to be wiped out, such as mudflats and mangroves that play a vital role in carbon sequestration. The area is currently an important spawning ground for various fish species such as sardines, and it also serves as a refuge for protected migratory bird species within the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, one of the world’s largest flyways.
Moreover, the New Manila International Airport (NMIA) development will likely accelerate land subsidence in the region, which will in turn exacerbate flooding in a much larger area.
Sand mining for land reclamation is also expected to have a disastrous effect on marine life and fisheries elsewhere in the bay.
In recent years, the Netherlands has marketed itself as a world leader in the field of climate adaptation.
The Dutch water sector, which Boskalis is part of, plays a key role in this strategy. But climate adaptation means that communities and ecosystems are made more resilient to the effects of climate change, while projects like the New Manila International Airport (NMIA) do the exact opposite.
We are calling on Boskalis and Atradius DSB to withdraw from this project. Instead, the Netherlands should refocus its climate ambitions toward policies that support sustainable, inclusive, and locally-driven adaptation initiatives.

AGHAM Advocates of Science and Technology for the People,
AKAP KA M
anila Bay,
Both ENDS,
CARE Philippines,
Devralin Lagos-University of the Philippines,
IUCN NL,
Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment,
Oceana International Philippines,
Wild Bird Club of the Philippines



Malaysia calls for international community to unite
In affirming anti-war stance and safeguarding world peace
The Southeast Asian Times, Saturday March 12, 2022
First published in Malaysiakini, Friday March 4, 2022

We, the undersigned Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), hereby strongly condemn Russia’s aggression and stand in solidarity with Ukrainians as a sovereign and independent nation.
We also condemn the Russian government for their action and brutality, including arresting protesters against the war.
Russia's use of armed forces is an act of aggression and is against peace and security, as enshrined under the fundamental principles of the United Nations Charter, and may amount to a war crime and a crime against humanity.
It has infringed the fundamental human rights of all Ukrainians and endangered the safety of humans all over the world.
This crisis will render many Ukrainians as refugees, including women and children, and trigger a humanitarian crisis in Europe and the neighbouring region.
We urge Russia to immediately withdraw its troops from Ukraine.
The international community must unite in affirming its anti-war stance and safeguarding world peace.
Genuine efforts and serious commitments must be made by all sides, including Russia, Ukraine, the United States, the European Union and Nato to achieve a successful peace talk and immediate ceasefire.
We also urge the international community to deliver humanitarian aid to Ukraine to prevent more casualties immediately.

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram); KLSCAH Youth; Undi 18; University of Malaya Association of New Youth (UMANY)’ Malaysian Action for Justice and Unity (MAJU); Kolektif Iklim; Dewan Belia India Malaysia; Student Progressive Front UUM; People Like Us Support Ourselves (PLUsos); Architects of Diversity Malaysia; Centre for Independent Journalism; Pertubuhan Solidaritas; New Student Movement Alliance of Malaysia; ENGAGE NETWORK; UTM - MJIIT Voices; Voices of Youtharian; Demokrat Kebangsaan; Tunku Abdul Rahman Association of New Youth; Citizen Lab; Unit Pendidikan Angkatan Muda Keadilan Malaysia; Malaysians Stand with Ukrainians; Pertubuhan Serikat Rakyat Malaysia; Democratic Action Party Socialist Youth Kota Kinabalu (DAPSY Kota Kinabalu); Lyceum Society; Angkatan Mahasiswa UM; and University of Malaya Student Union.


 

Thai national father HM King Rama IX
Wants Lese Majeste law to be reformed
The Southeast Asian Times, Friday March 11, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post Wednesday March 9, 2022

Re: "Ex-PM offers views on lese majeste law", in Bangkok Post, March 7, 2022.
In responding to calls to amend our lese majeste law, we should first consider the careful conclusions of he who was our foremost expert on the Thai monarchy - our beloved national father, HM King Rama IX.
Our national father clearly wants these laws to be reformed, for Thailand's law of lèse-majesté has one very prominent critic: King Bhumibol.… who used his birthday address to convey three concerns:
The king is a human being and as such should be subject to criticism..
Charges against those accused of lèse-majesté should be dropped, and those held in jail for lèse-majesté should be released...
The use of the lèse-majesté law ultimately damages the monarchy' he said" Grossman and Faulder, King Bhumibol Adulyadej: A Life's Work
Even today, we, led by politicians, constantly and deliberately go counter to the late king's clear wishes.
We have allowed any of the 54.1 million adult Thais to lodge a Section 112 complaint.
It's no wonder that Section 112 has often been weaponized for political ends. Given King Rama IX's considered opinion above, I suggest that this law cries out for thorough-going reform lest we "ultimately damage the monarchy" further.

Burin Kantabutra,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Call for ASEAN to join in global action to punish
Russia's military aggression against Ukraine
The Southeast Asian Times, Thursday March 10, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday March 7, 2022

Re: "Might doesn't make right, unjust wars will fail", Bangkok Post, Opinion, March 3, 2022.
We would certainly wish that "unjust wars will fail"; the ugly reality is that they have often succeeded.
It is not yet certain that Putin's war will not succeed.
It certainly seems, to cite another current example, that the war against the Myanmar people that began a year ago with the military coup has not failed.
In that pursuit of unjust gain by violence, both coup committers and war wagers also wage a disinformation war by suppressing free speech.
On a more optimistic note, the global response that seeks to non-violently punish Putin's aggression is appropriate.
Let us hope it will prove victorious.
It is encouraging to see so many nations, organisations and even international businesses unite in working to deny the aggressors the economic fruits so dear to them.
Under Putin's repressive rule, the Russian people have been subjected to financial inequality, as gross as that which has also come to exist in Thailand; with the spoils going, no surprise, to those close to and supportive of Putin.
As Mr Borrell explains, Thailand should join in the actions to punish those using violence and intimidation to force their personal agenda on entire nations.
If Asean and its individual member nations hold to any decent values such as respect for democracy founded on just law or respect for human rights protected by just law, it would unequivocally join in the global actions to punish Russia's military aggression against Ukraine.
Even traditionally neutral Switzerland has joined in the non-violent confounding of Putin's aggression.
But then, had Asean any commitment to such values, it would also act to isolate and economically punish those who commit coups against the people of Asean member nations.

Felix Qui,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Pronouncement of Catholic Bishops is unprecedented
Underscores perilous state of sociopolitics in Philippines
The Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday March 9, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday March 7, 2022

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ (CBCP) pastoral letter on the May elections “‘Radical distortions’ of Edsa 1 alarm CBCP,” News, February 26, 2022 is a loud wake-up call for Catholics and Filipinos as we elect our national leaders this May.
To quote the bishops’ statement: “We are appalled by the blatant and subtle distortion, manipulation, cover-up, repression and abuse of the truth, like: historical revisionism — the distortion of history or its denial; the proliferation of fake news and false stories; disinformation—the seeding of false information and narratives to influence the opinion of people [and] hide the truth to malign and blackmail people.”
Compared to their previous pastoral letters that simply reiterated long-standing moral guidelines in electing the country’s political leaders, this pronouncement by our Church leaders is unprecedented and underscores the perilous state of the current sociopolitical situation.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ (CBCP) statement is the result of intensive communal discernment but still begs the question: who is the source of the massive disinformation campaign?
People exercising their better judgment during this electoral season would easily know which presidential campaign is engaged in this wicked enterprise.
But many rabid supporters of the leading candidate have become so falsely indoctrinated by social media and oblivious to historical facts that they easily fall for the “pandemic of lies” generated by the camp of their beloved candidate. They are even viciously purveying these lies.
Our good bishops have shown their firm resolve to exercise their role as spiritual and moral guides to their flock, given the methodical fabrication of lies and half-truths in social media and organized attempts to obliterate the gains of the Edsa People Power Revolution.
But by directly naming the insidious forces behind the fake news about martial law and the black propaganda directed at political rivals, Church members would be even more confident of their moral choice when they vote.
Many priests, religious and Catholic lay groups have endorsed Vice President Leni Robredo in their individual capacities after assessing the relative qualities of the leading candidates and weighing the likely adverse impact of a Marcos victory.

Donato Soliven,
Manila,
Philippines



Humanitarian crisis in Ukraine
Is no differenct from Myanmar
The Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday March 8, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, March 6, 2022

Re: "EU to grant blanket protection to refugees", Bangkok Post, March 4, 2022 and "Early implications of Russian invasion", Bangkok Post, Opinion, March 4, 2022.
European countries and Nato are still recovering from the hangover of the old Soviet empire. It is wishful thinking that the EU and the US will be able to save Ukraine. The rise of the far right in France, Germany and other EU countries against immigration from Asia, Africa and the Middle East exposes the hypocrisy of human rights. The hostile and racist policies against immigrants and refugees from these regions are now out the window to make way for allowing millions of Ukrainians to settle in the EU unconditionally.
The humanitarian crisis in Ukraine is no different from what we see in Myanmar, Palestine or Afghanistan. Sadly, Putin will still be there. He has fans and friends like Mr Trump and many others in Asia, including India and China. Yes, I agree that this time the EU and the US will do lasting damage to the Russian economy. But make no mistake, Mr Putin and his powerful clique are still here.

Kuldeep Nagi,
Bangkok,
Thailand



More than 650,000 Russians have signed
A petition against the war in Ukraine
The Southeast Asian Times, Monday March 7, 2022

To my foreign friends.
Russia’s war against Ukraine is not my war.
This is the war of an insane Russian leader whom we cannot stop.
This war is a real horror, and pain, and tears, and shame for me and hundreds of my friends.
Almost all of us have relatives and friends in Ukraine.
My whole family is from Ukraine, and all my childhood was spent in Ukraine.
I am writing this so that you do not equate this war with the Russian people.
All the best Russian people are against this war and are horrified by it.
More than 650,000 Russians have already signed a petition against the war.
The letter of Russian scientists against the war was signed by more than 2,000 scientists.
More than 60 groups have signed a letter from Russian charitable organisations to end the war.
There are petitions against the war by Russian teachers and cultural figures.
The number of signatures for each such petition grows every second.
This war has broken the lives of all of us.
This war is not only killing Ukraine; it is also killing Russia.
I just wanted to tell you about it.

Alexandra Goryashko,
Russian Writers Union,
Russian academic,
Specializing in Nature, Biology and Ethology
Moscow
Russia


Hundreds of Thai's support Russia's right
To protect security against threat of aggression
The Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 6 March 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Thursday 3 March 2022

Re: "Ultra-royalist pro-Putin stance a worrying sign," Opinion, March 1..
This article is illogical, in some extent. In my humble opinion, the number "hundreds" may be over-exaggerated or over-extrapolated from the few such supporting messages seen by the writer.
The fact that there are a few or tens or even hundreds of "royalists" coming out in support of Putin is no reason to conclude that all or most of the "royalists" support Putin.
On the other hand, there are certainly hundreds of "royalists" who do not agree with the move by Russia.
And there are hundreds who support Russia's right to protect its security against the threat of aggression from over the fence, but who are not royalists per se, like me and scores of my friends.
The fact that there are some Thais supporting the Russian move has nothing to do with the fact that they happen to be perceived by the writer as "far-right ultra-royalists".
Thus the "pro-Putin stance" is nothing to worry about.

Thanin Bumrungsap,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Thailand remains neutral
In Russia-Ukraine conflict
The Southeast Asian Times. Saturday March 5, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Thursday March 3, 2022

Re: "Neutral on Russia-Ukraine: PM," Bangkok Post March 2, 2022
The prime minister's insistence on maintaining neutrality in the Russia-Ukraine conflict is no surprise given Asean's stance of neutrality about Myanmar.
Meanwhile, two shining lights of democracy, the US and the EU, also have no problems doing business with communist China or selling weapons to rich Middle Eastern regimes.
France recently sold billions of dollars' worth of war machines to Saudi Arabia. Where are the big drums of freedom and democracy?
In 1987, Turkey applied to join what was then the European Economic Community, and in 1999 it was declared eligible to join the EU.
It's worth mentioning that Turkey's membership came with many conditions because it is a Muslim country.
On the other hand, Poland and Hungary joined the EU in 2004 without any preconditions.
Even today, some of these Eastern bloc countries that are members of the EU have little to do with freedom and democracy.
For decades, we have witnessed similar crises between Israel and Palestine, Indian Kashmir, and the deep south of Thailand. Despite decades of efforts, there is no peace in these conflict zones.
Thanks to the EU, Ukraine will now face the same fate.
It may become a proxy for the Russian regime resulting in unnecessary deaths and destruction.
With its utter failures in Vietnam, the Korean peninsula, Iraq and Afghanistan, the US should keep out of the Ukrainian conflict.

Kuldeep Nagi,
Bangkok,
Thailand



War between Russia and Ukraine
Huge impact on price of crude oil for Philippines
The Southeast Asian Times, Friday March 4, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday March 3, 2022

I worked in the fuel industry for almost four years as a sales representative and managed the smooth process of the distribution from bulk plant to dealers to end-users.
Before I started working in the field, we had trainings to understand the oil and gas industry and for us to be equipped in the business.
I was not the best student in our class but I have better understanding of how oil and gas affect our lives.
“Factors affecting the prices of crude oil”
was one of the major topics.
We need crude oil to transport food from farm to market to your houses and to your tables and to power our electric generators: gasoline, diesel, LPG, asphalt, and lubricants.
The many lists of the factors include geopolitics.
The war between Russia and Ukraine will have a huge impact on the prices of crude oil in the world market.
This means that the P60-P65 per liter diesel in Mindanao will increase.
This means that the electricity and transport costs will increase.
This basically means that the ordinary Filipino can hardly afford food.
I interact with farmers in my present job.
Last January, the cost of a live pig was P140 per kilo; a week ago, it was P185 to almost P200.
If not mistaken, the price of the meat in meat shops has an almost 50-percent gross profit margin.
That’s P300 to P400 per kilo.
I hope it’s not too late for our government to strengthen the agriculture sector so that we can have affordable food and we can produce what we consume.

Joesam Bag De Quia,
Manila,
Philippines



Russian Federation points finger at West
On expansion of Nato eastward
The Southeast Asian Times, Thursday March 3, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday Febriary 28, 2022

Re: "West's unkept promises the problem, not Russia", Bangkok Post, Opinion, February 26, 2022 and "US, Nato no bystanders", Bangkok Post, Opinion, February 25, 2022.
The ambassador of the Russian Federation is right when pointing a finger to the West, on the expansion of Nato eastward after the end of the Cold War.
This point was well mentioned by Western media including the New York Time's, Thomas Friedman.
However, the rest of his reasoning largely reflects what his president has offered to sell the invasion, ie the purported "genocide" of Russians in the eastern provinces of Ukraine.
Missing in the good ambassador's litany was the "de-nazification" that his president and other government dignitaries have peddled, apparently overlooking the irony of "de-nazifying" a country whose president is a Jew.

Peter Hegenbarth,
Bangkok,
Thailand

 

Call for Ukraine
To observe Minsk ll agreement
The Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday March 2, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday February 28, 2022

Re: "Maximum impact sanctions" and "Kremlin wants whole of Ukraine but army failing, Britain says", in Bangkok Post, February 26, 2022.
As the conflict in Ukraine enters a new phase, Western politicians are busy making up stories to fit their eternal narrative "it's all Putin's fault".
Casualties on both sides could easily have been avoided if Ukraine had observed its responsibility under the Minsk II agreement and if the West had understood and taken seriously Russia's concerns about their relatives in Eastern Donbass and their own safety.
Instead, Western politicians and media have encouraged Ukraine's aggressive stance against Russia and have turned a blind eye to the atrocities committed against the Russian-speaking minority in Luhansk/Donetsk committed by the neo-Nazi militias of the Right Sektor and the Azov Battalion.
British media even went as far as to laud sniper Olena Bilozerska as a heroic freedom fighter despite her having killed both armed and unarmed people in the area which the Minsk II agreement covers, and being well known in European neo-Nazi circles.
Meanwhile, the West has continued to supply money, weapons to these militias which are part of the Ukrainian army.
Recently the President Zelensky suggested Ukraine should start developing nuclear weapons.
Putin previously has been begging for negotiations and some form of agreement which all signatories would adhere strictly to.
But no.
If the West had intelligent leaders who acted in the best interests of the people, not in best interest of the military industry and global corporations, this could have been easily avoided.

Jensen. K.
Bangkok,
Thailand



Aaron Kauma Ariku, remembered for his contibution
To Papua New Guinea’s independence
The Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday March 1, 2022
First published in the National, Thursday February 24, 2022

When it comes to understanding Papua New Guinea’s political history, particularly the events that occurred somewhere in Sydney, Australia, that resulted in the granting of independence to Papua New Guinea, very little is known about a man from the Autonomous Region of Bougainville who negotiated for Papua New Guinea’s independence while studying in Australia.
Aaron Kauma Ariku, a former Papua New Guinea unionist in the early 1970s, was sent to Sydney on a short-term study programme by the then chief minister, the late Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare.
However, before his studies in Australia, he was already in close contact with Gough Whitlam, his fellow Australian unionist of Australia’s labour party, who was also aspiring for the Australia’s prime minister’s seat.
Sir Michael was close to Ariku since both of them started the Pangu Pati’s Madang branch in the late 1960s when Sir Michael was teaching at Tusbab in Madang.
Before Ariku departed, Sir Michael, knowing well that Ariku’s fellow unionist was contesting Australia’s prime minister’s seat, whispered to Ariku and told him to use his union ties with Whitlam to secure Papua New Guinea’s independence if Whitlam became the prime minister of Australia.
All went well.
Young Airiku departed for Sydney.
He met Whitlam.
Ariku, who was outspoken, played a part by campaigning for his fellow friend, Whitlam, among the students at university.
Whitlam then became the prime minister of Australia from 1972 to 1975.
He called Ariku and asked what he would prefer as a present for supporting him.
It was that very moment that Airiku told him: “I would like Papua and New Guinea to be given independence”.
Back home in Port Moresby, Sir Michael already knew that things were looking good for Papua New Guinea when Ariku’s close friend became the prime minister.
This is how Ariku played a significant role towards Papaua New Guinea’s independence from Australia.
Last week in Madang, Ariku was buried at his wife’s Furan village outside of Madang town.
He died at 90 years and is survived by five children and his grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Ariku, the man from Tonu village in Siwai, Bougainville, spent much of his life as a senior public servant and a unionist.
In recognition of his service to Papua New Guinea, Bougainville and Madang, Madang Governor Peter Yama and Madang Member of Parliament Bryan Kramer provided financial support for funeral expenses for Ariku.

Joel Minsipi,
Port Moresby (Pom),
Papua New Guinea



No one should turn a blind eye to the atrocities committed
During Marcos martial law years in Philippines
The Southeast Asian Times, Monday February 28, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday February 24, 2022

My 65-year-old aunt, who witnessed the martial law era, argued that the martial law years were the “golden era” since there was peace and order in the country, and Filipinos were disciplined at the time.
She added that, in Naga City, there were no human rights violations as far as her memory could recall.
There are still Filipinos, including seniors from my own family, who have romanticized the martial law years’ “orderliness” and believe that Marcos was a great leader - totally disregarding the human rights violations committed during the darkest era in the country’s history.
What “golden age” when there is a lot of evidence documenting the abuses, extrajudicial killings, corruption, and violations of human rights during Marcos’ rule? The numbers speak for themselves: 70,000 incarcerated, 77 disappeared, 3,257 extrajudicial killings, and 35,000 tortured, according to Amnesty International.
These atrocities were further corroborated by Primitivo Mijares, media man of Ferdinand Marcos and author of “The Conjugal Dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos.”
Mijares’ youngest son disappeared, was tortured, and eventually found dead due to his father’s revelations in the said book.
This horrific tragedy that happened to Mijares and his son manifests the brutal rule of Marcos.
The Martial Law Museum reported that the debt of the Philippines skyrocketed to $28.26 billion in 1986 from $0.36 billion in 1961.
In addition, the infrastructures that Imelda Marcos bragged about were funded by foreign loans that the present and future generations have the burden of paying.
With these historical facts and data, no one should turn a blind eye to the atrocities committed during the martial law years.
Now more than ever, it has become even more crucial for students to seek historical truths about this period.
Students are now being targeted to believe in the lies of the Marcos family through historical revisionism in our textbooks.
The youth who were not yet born at that time are likely to be susceptible to such lies, while privileged adults can easily dismiss history because they never experienced the cruelty and hardships under the Marcos administration.
It is high time for all of us to be united on what is right. Filipinos should dispel lies and apathy if we want justice to prevail, especially now that the dictator’s son and namesake, Ferdinand “Bongbong“ Marcos Jr., aspires to be the president.
We, the students, must ensure that our educators preserve the historical facts about martial law in our textbooks.
This is our responsibility: to preserve history, protect historical truth, and advance Filipinos’ interest first.

Paolo Gabriel D. Jamer
Manila,
Philippines



The more we test for Covid-19
The more Covid-19 infections we will find
The Southeast Asian Times, Sunday February 27, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday February 23, 2022

Re: "Antigen Test Kits (ATK) answer," in Bangkok Post, PostBag, February 23, 2022.
Khun Burin Kantabutra has always proposed many novel ideas in the Post. However, I beg to politely differ with his suggestion in "Antigen Test Kits (ATK) answer" for a disease which is already basically everywhere in the kingdom.
In reality, due to previous limits on testing which all governments have faced, we really have only detected a moderate, if not very small percentage of the population which is Covid positive.
Having spent 25 years dealing with HIV/Aids as a volunteer nurse (granted, a disease with different transmission methodology), one of the lessons we learned in the Aids years was that for every positive result we got, we had to assume that there was at least one other positive result we often did not yet have.
As a rule of thumb, we often simply assumed that actual transmission rates were three to four times higher than we recorded, because testing then had limits, just as Covid testing today has.
Readers need to live with harsh reality that the more we can test, the more Covid-19 cases we will find.
The number of cases might be far more that Thai public can probably even imagine. The dream of massive Antigen Test Kits (ATK) testing is at this time neither workable, nor a solution and is blinded by a two-week incubation period.
Until we have a cure, the best we can do is simply manage cases based on severity, expand access to food and medicine for the poor and move on with life.
The mortality rate on Covid-19 is very low, and while anyone of us could be a victim, most of us are far more at risk when we get in a taxi or on a motorbike.

Jason A Jellison,
Bangkok,
Thailand

 


Chickens no longer boiled alive after 2024
At McDonald's Thailand
The Southeast Asian Times, Saturday February 26, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday February 21, 2022

Re: "Billionaire Icahn blasts McDonald's on animal welfare", in Bangkok Post, February 18, 2022.
While it's noted how horribly the pigs that Mcdonald's uses for food are treated, their chickens don't have it any better.
McDonald's agreed to use suppliers who use a more humane method of slaughtering the chickens so that they will no longer be boiled alive in scalding water.
But that's not until 2024 and it will only involve 70 percent of their chickens. People always tell me it's okay to kill animals for food as long as they don't suffer.
Would it be okay to kill humans for food as long as they're not tortured?
Even while eating at places such as McDonald's and Kentucky Fried Chicken where the animals killed for food suffer terribly.
What hypocrisy!

Eric Bahrt,
Bangkok,
Thailand




Corruption has become a swaggering Goliath
In Philippines political culture
The Southeast Asian Times, Friday February 25, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday February 23, 2022

It would be an invaluable public service in the encircling gloom of disinformation and political dirty tricks - when even the convicted’s delusions of greatness are accepted - if the Inquirer could be persuaded to publish a summary table of pandemic funding.
Perhaps an ongoing reporting?
We are in dire need of facts, particularly as the elections approach.
Thinking has to be fed, judgment improved, and, as someone said, in a democracy people have a right to change their minds.
And without accountability, there can be no good governance.
I am reminded of Robert Sarnoff’s definition of finance: “It is the art of passing currency from hand to hand until it finally disappears.”
Let us at least be allowed to watch the trick.
Some basic questions to consider:
How much has come from the public purse?
What has been donated from other governments which ones, how much?
What has been contributed by international agencies which ones, how much?
Which local corporations have contributed cash kind both and how much?
How much has been borrowed from banks give details?
Which government agencies have received funding and to which undertakings have these been appropriated?
What balance remains and what are the projected uses for this?
I am sure there are other noteworthy points of reference that could be raised by expertise. Bernard Levin writes passionately that “… the terrible truth is that evil, when it is in arms, can be defeated only by arming good.”
Perhaps the Inquirer can assist with the latter.
Corruption has become such a swaggering Goliath in our political culture that one almost gives up hope.
However, a few well-aimed stones might still do the trick.
A David could do it.


Virginia Calpotura,
Religious of the Sacred Heart (RSCJ),
Manila,
Philippines



Parliamentry sessions in Asian Countries has degenerated
Into dog fights, fistfights, hurtling chairs, brawls, beatings
The Southeast Asian Times Thursday February 24, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday February 13, 2022

Re: "Can't beat question time," Bangkok Post, Post, Script, February 7, 2022
Qestion time Q&A in British Parliament is the most significant evidence of the merits and the purpose of a democracy.
It is also a sign of a civic society where leaders are held accountable to their party and the constituents who elect them.
The British Q&A sessions must be added to one of the world's wonders because it keeps our faith in democracy.
Sadly, there is no Q&A session in US institutions, but there are intense partisan debates in the conference or committee hearings.
So far, the American House and Senate have maintained their grace by calling the opposition members "My honourable friend" during debates.
However, the Senate filibuster in the United States of America has become a spectacle designed to prolong the discussion and delay or prevent a vote on a bill, resolution, amendment or other debatable issues.
Usually, a filibuster session is amusing because the Senate hall looks empty, and there is no one to listen to the chosen ones.
So much American democracy?
Democracy in many Asian countries has degenerated into dog fights, fistfights, hurtling chairs, brawls, and beatings during elections and in parliament sessions.
Some find it exciting to see a bloodbath in the halls of Asian parliaments.
Forget about Q&A sessions; Thai parliamentarians even do not show up.
Fortunately, Thais need not worry when the government is a coalition of the unwilling?
I must say that British democracy is the only hope that still kindles and excites the minds and soothes the human spirit.

Kuldeep Nagi,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Thailand statesman Nai Pridi
Had rare and tremendous courage
The Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 23, February 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday 21, February 2022

Michael Jackson's song, Who's loving you starts like this:
"When I had you
I treated you bad and wrong my dear
And girl, since you went away
Don't you know, I sit around with my head hanging down
And I wonder who's loving you".

In Thailand, a statesman who is known simply as "Nai Pridi" made a statement just before he died:
"When I had power, I had no experience; when I had experience, I had no power".
The words from these two late gentlemen show us they had rare and tremendous courage - to display to the world the mistakes they had made in the past.
That's something most people of today don't care about.

Vint Chavala,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Despite promises of unity and democracy
Philippines has become more divided
The Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday February 22, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday February 21, 2022

This February marks the 36th anniversary of the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution.
It has been perceived as a national victory and reconciliation in the face of adversity, struggle, and crisis.
The reconciliation for unity proved to be a key factor in restoring our democracy and gaining our freedom, as well as bringing about the change we desired in our society.
However, as time passes, our yearning for national unity is still far from reality. Despite Edsa’s promises of unity and democracy, we appear to have become much more divided.
It is not unity that has dominated, but animosity toward fellow Filipinos that obviously threatens peace and stability.
Some continue to use the issues of the past as fuel to discredit fellow Filipinos.
Isn’t it better to just learn to forgive in order to strengthen the call for reconciliation we forged and shared during Edsa while recapturing and cultivating the sense of oneness in confronting today’s issues?
Reconciliation for unity and democracy is the true spirit of Edsa.
May it remain with us, keeping us awake and vigilant, especially during this election season, to choose a leader who will strengthen our nationalism and our anti-terrorism campaigns, as well as address the nation’s ills, to ensure that the loss of freedom and democracy will not be repeated.
In protecting our democracy and promoting sustainable peace and development, there is no one to depend on but us Filipinos in unity, along with our responsibility, regardless of the challenges confronting our country, our differences of opinion and political colors.
So, as Filipinos, let there be dissenting social and political biases among us, but let us be inspired and united by the spirit of democracy and live in peace and harmony.

Erica T. Maniago,
Central Luzon,
Philippines




Reforestation cannot replace ecological values
Of fertile forests in Thailand lost to reservoirs
The Southeast Asian Times, Monday February 21, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday February 13, 2022

Re: "Dam plans threaten forests," in Bangkok Post, February 2, 2022.
We must not allow Royal Irrigation Department (RID) officials to fool the public by touting claims that they will "reforest an area at least twice the size of the forest lost to reservoirs".
Even if this were true, a highly dubious claim in light of past reforestation failures, people need to recognise that tree plantations are no substitute for destroyed rich natural forests.
It doesn't matter if Royal Irrigation Department (RID) plants twice the area of forests they flood or 20 times the area, it is virtually impossible to replace the ecological values of the fertile forests that would be lost to reservoirs.
The promised planted forests will not contain the plant diversity and habitats needed to sustain tigers, leopards, pangolins, hornbills, elephants, gaur, civet cats, gibbons, binturong and the myriad of other threatened species that depend on healthy native forests for survival.
It should also be questioned why Royal Irrigation Department (RID) wants to bring yet more agricultural land under irrigation.
Does the country really need to produce yet more rice that rots in warehouses or is sold for low prices in international markets?

Samanea Saman,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Thai PM accuses Thammasat University in Bangkok
Of teaching courses that distort history
The Southeast Asian Times, Sunday February 20, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday February 13, 2022

Re: "Don't believe all you read," in Bangkok Post Editorial, February 9, 2022
The Bangkok Post accurately outlines Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's failures to respect basic principles of truth seeking and recklessly accused the demonstration school of Thammasat University of teaching courses that distorted history.
But the failure is a tad more profound.
The students and teachers at Thammasat demonstration school clearly understand the importance of a critical review of current beliefs in protecting us from retaining false beliefs.
Honest people who value truth and who do not wish to propagate fake beliefs insist on a healthy discussion that considers other possibilities.
Unless intellectual and moral honesty are deemed by unjust law and deluded social mores to be bad, Thammasat demonstration school, following the sound example of historians who actively review Thai history and society to better avoid mindlessly repeating fake claims, is entirely in the right.

Felix Qui,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Philippines, Lebanon and North Korea only three
World countries with ultra-strict bank secrecy laws
The Southeast Asian Times, Saturday February 19, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday February, 2022

Dindo Manhit in an article published last February 12 said: “Everyone must fight corruption. It starts by electing leaders who won’t tolerate it at all.
Simply put, good leaders produce good results.
But given our chronicled and worsening corruption, the same conclusion may also suggest that we have always been wrong in electing leaders, through nearly two generations since the Edsa revolution.
Maraming korap kaya maraming mahirap.
In this month of hearts and flowers and lovers of every kind, it is fitting yet relevant to revisit a piece of examination by Anna Cristina Tuazon “Love and elections,” Safe Space, February 2, 22 “When choosing a life partner, you’d want someone who can dream - and know how to actualize that dream.
In politics, you’d want a candidate who carries ambitious ideals because this means they won’t be too cynical to attempt to change the current system that has preserved our inequalities.
At the same time, you would want someone who actually has a credible plan. Wanting to change the system is simply not enough; they need to understand deeply how the system works, appreciate its complexity, and offer a systemic solution. Simple solutions like imposing bans and taxes are not likely to solve anything in the long term.”
We all want a corruption-free nation.
Every candidate promises the same. Ambitious ideal? Yes.
But have we been told by any candidate of a radical, credible plan to root out this evil of dishonesty and deceit?
No. This should make us wary.
How can anyone realistically commit to financing or aiding basic needs of the great many on food, shelter, education, health care, jobs if 40 percent of people’s money is lost annually to corruption?
How can anyone attract the private sector, local and international, to invest and create jobs if we are to remain a corrupt nation?
How can anyone put behind bar grafters in government, rent-seekers in business, and elements of criminal syndicates if our laws of today shield and favor them?
Is anyone, imbued not with self-interest or obligation to return a favor, prepared and equipped to repeal the nearly century-old, obsolete Republic Act No. 1405 or the bank secrecy law?
The law was enacted in 1955 to encourage individuals to deposit their money in banks instead of hoarding them.
It declared banking a private matter.
Put simply, no one can go to your bank and ask for your bank balance.
While there are exceptions, securing them is not an easy task.
The easiest way is to waive the secrecy in writing, but it’s not that simple.
As a matter of practice, banks will require the depositor to state in his waiver the specific bank account, bank branch, name of depositor, period covered by the transactions, and the name of the person authorized to access the bank account. The only other option is to secure a court order.
Imagine, then, the difficulty in going after persons suspected or accused of corruption without any money trail.
The Philippines is among only three countries in the world Lebanon and North Korea are the other two that have ultra-strict bank secrecy laws.
There are stories affixed to banking transactions.
They are not just empty figures.
So, unless our next president and Congress realize and act on the need to repeal this age-old law, no end to corruption will ever be in sight.
This is the golden time to challenge candidates and to get commitment, not after elections.
Else, we can all just end up fighting the same endless corruption.

Norman Cabrera,
President,
Kapatiran Party,
Manila,
Philippines




Education system in Thailand needs review
Not school uniforms
The Southeast Asian Times, Friday February 18, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post,Wednesday February 16, 2022

Re: "Uniform rule needs review", Bangkok Post Editorial, February 11, 2022
Our education system's among the bottom 13 in the world.
But what upsets us most?
Not its poor quality but the appearances of our students.
Our priorities are upside-down and we think things can't change.
But as Kenan Foundation Asia found, "countries as diverse as Poland and Malaysia made significant jumps between 2015 to 2018, dispelling the sticky myth that education systems cannot change. With smarter investments, a focus on developing quality teachers, and encouragement for students, education in Thailand can indeed improve".
I suggest that half of the compensation for education staff, all the way up to the education minister, depend on gains in average scores from Pisa and other international tests of students under that person's charge other things being equal.
If his students have gone from 300 to 400 points, for example, he's accomplished more than if they've gone from 450 to 500 points.
This will motivate the best teachers to focus on the underprivileged masses, for their low base means it's easier to make big gains.
It'll make the rural millions more productive and help close our massive rich-poor gap.
Ministry of Education expenditures to schools prioritise those making the highest average score gains, other things being equal, to motivate them.
For example, a school whose students have gone from 200 to 300 points would get more per student than one whose scores have risen from 400 to 450.
Schools charge what the market will bear -with full scholarships available for half of each class, fully merit-based and gender-blind.
This will greatly aid the disadvantaged and raise their education ambitions.
Average test scores for Pisa etc be posted on the internet by school, teacher and subject area but not by student, to aid parents' decision-making.
How do we improve on the above - and get Prayut to fulfil his seven-year-old promise to fully reform education?

Burin Kantabutra,
Bangkok,
Thailand



ASEAN prone to follow Chinese model
Of stability based on purge, pride and progress
The Southeast Asian Times, Thursday February 17, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, February 16, 2022

Re: "Myanmar poses Asian quandary", in Bangkok Post, Editorial, February 13, 2022
Well, it has been a year and so far, Asean has nothing to show for in ending the crisis in Myanmar.
We need to keep in mind that Myanmar and its immediate neighbours have a common history of being ruled by coups, authoritarian regimes, despots, and dictators.
Hence, I do not see that Cambodia, or for that matter, any of its neighbours has any urgency or moral strength to restore democracy.
Democracy in Asean is like a balloon, it is easily burst with an instant coup, arrests and imprisonments of elected officials.
As long as the military remains above the law, there is very little hope of creating a civic society in Asean.
The region is prone to following the Chinese model of stability based on purge, pride and progress.

Kuldeep Nagi,
Bangkok,
Thailand




Philippines Catholic church no longer accepts
Donations destructive to environment
The Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday February 15, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday February 10, 2022

It is indeed a cause to celebrate and commend the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) bold and maybe long-overdue decision to stop accepting donations from businesses that are proven destructive to the environment in “The bishops’ bold move,” Editorial, February 5, 2022.
It also urged other church organizations to withdraw not later than 2025 their resources from banks and other financial institutions, which are without clear commitment to divest from fossil fuels.
In turn, Filipino Catholics are called to stand with their pastors and assist them in this fight to save our common home.
While it is easier said than done, its expected impact on the financial resources of the whole Church and the individual dioceses still reeling from the significant drop in collections due to suspended public Mass must have weighed heavily on them.
The Church mainly depends on in-person, pass the basket donations, and the arancel system or fixed rates for baptisms, confirmations, weddings, funerals, and offering of Mass intentions.
It must be noted that the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) also gradually seeks to abolish the system as it can hinder the poor from receiving God’s grace and blessings.
Regardless, the Church depends on divine providence and the generosity of its members to meet its financial needs.
As Bishop Broderick Pabillo bravely said, “The Church survives on faith, not fees.
Be that as it may, it remains to be seen how the individual bishops will walk this talk in their own dioceses.
In the exercise of its apostolic and pastoral role, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) does not encroach on the autonomy of the individual bishops whether to implement this policy statement in the varying context and needs of their dioceses.
In this regard, we can only pray and hope that at least most if not all the bishops shall find the courage and wisdom to change the things that they can to promote that “greater good which the Church offers to humankind, especially through forms and programs of the apostolate which are fittingly adapted to the circumstances of the time and place” (CIC, c. 447).
In a world where people listen to witnesses more than teachers, the bishops cannot but lead by example!

Carmelo Pablo,
Manila,
Philippines



Families in Thailand grieving loss
On Thaksin's war on drugs
The Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday February 15, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday February 13, 2022

Re: "Expansive gestures from hopeful leaders," in Opinion, January 10, 2022 and "Thaksin's war on drugs a crime against humanity," in Opinion, December 13, 2013.
I follow Khun Veera Prateepchaikul's column with much interest, and been wondering if ever Thaksin's drug war can be tried by the International Criminal Court.
The International Court of Arbitration (ICC) announced last year their investigation into Duterte's deadly drug war, which he fashioned from Thaksin's drug war.
I remember reading that a human rights group petitioned United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR) to investigate Thaksin, along with the late senator Kraisak Choonhavan writing this related piece for the Bangkok Post.
I hope the Post can explore this issue with the International Court of Arbitration (ICC).
So many families in Thailand are still grieving their loss.

Sukanya Malcott,
Bangkok,
Thailand


Call for daily publication
Of Air Quality Index for Bangkok

The Southeast Asian Times, Monday February 14, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post February 10, 2022

I suggest you publish the Air Quality Index numbers every day for Bangkok and other cities.
One thing we should realise is there's nothing more effective and fearful than seeing facts in numbers every day.
Hopefully, if they see it every day the government and public will be forced to do something.
This is an urgent matter: no matter how developed you get or how big your GDP, if basic air quality isn't good enough, we will only become weaker as a human race.
As with Covid, we will have to live inside with masks and air purifiers - a future no one wants for our children.
It should be your duty as journalists to inform people daily with numbers and colour warnings, which is way more informative than editorials and opinions.

Rishi Jain,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Only two ASEAN states are parties to International Convention
On Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers
The Southeast Asian Times , Sunday February 13, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Thursday February 10, 2022

Re "Migrant workers get a raw deal," Bangkok Post, Opinion, February 7, 2022.
Fairness by host nations' legal systems is indeed crucial while dealing with migrant workers.
From this perspective, it seems unacceptable to ignore the existence of a comprehensive International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (1990) which has been in force since 2003.
In accordance with this convention, state parties undertake to respect and ensure all migrant workers and members of their families within their territory, or subject to their jurisdiction, receive the rights provided for.
Regrettably, this convention was ratified by only 56 out of 193 UN member states. Only two Asean members (Indonesia and the Philippines) are parties to this multilateral legal instrument.
It is only when this convention is taken seriously by all states can it be asserted that real legal progress will have been achieved in solving a crucial human rights problems.

Ioan Voicu,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Call for US to impress on Fiji the importance
Of safeguarding democratic governance
The Southeast Asian Times, Saturday February 12, 2022

My prayer for Fiji is that after the very serious threat to its democracy, that America experienced in the post election January 6 insurrection, the visiting US Secretary of State Anthony Blinkin will impress on the leaders in Fiji and the region the critical importance of safeguarding the integrity of the institutions of good democratic governance.
The well-being of the people depend on that above all else.
We lose that we lose all else.

Rajend Naidu,
Sydney,
Australia


Unless justice is done here and now
Many will go to their death underservedly rich
The Southeast Asian Times, Friday February 11, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Thursday February 3, 2022

Re: "Do not mistake ritual for repentance" in Bangkok Post, Opinion, January 31, 2022.
Whilst true as Paritta Wangkiat writes that "taking a genuine responsibility for our actions would be a good way to start atoning", it is false to say that "at the end of the day, we all, Pol L/C Norawich and his ilk included, will pay for our sins in one way or another."
And that falsehood is a dangerous one.
The blunt reality is that unless it be done here on Earth by their fellow human beings, justice will not be done.
Unless their fellow humans insist on justice in the here and now, many bad people will prosper mightily, and will go to death undeservedly rich, at ease, and respected by all.
At best, an improved historical awareness allows some material justice to be done among the generations now living.
Their children cannot be guilty of the sins of the mother or father.
However, if a fortune was, for example, acquired unjustly, such as by conquest or corruption, then that unjust initial acquisition, like the fruits of the harms inflicted on those from whom it was unjustly taken, does continue to affect later generations, and for those very real present consequences of past injustice, reparations can and should be made, especially by a due redistribution of wealth, preferably by voluntary acts of those holding it, to better serve distributive justice in the here and now by correcting the baleful influences of historical wrongs.
This is why some narrowly defined forms of affirmative action can also be just.
It is also held by those who value truth seeking and speaking that the impartial quest for right understanding of history and its figures is a good thing in itself, a value that, while often unkind to myth, comports perfectly with justice as with truth.

Felix Qui,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Philippines vice-presidential candidate
To lobby Congress to approve military conscription
The Southeast Asian Times, Thursday February 10, 2022

Vice-presidential aspirant Sara Duterte stated that if elected, she will continue to lobby for a program that her father struggled to implement as president, and that she will continue to press for mandatory military service for young people.
Sara Duterte, the daughter of President Rodrigo Duterte and a reservist in the Army, has stated that she intends to utilize the vice president's office to lobby Congress to approve a military conscription law.
She wants all citizens over the age of 18 to be required to serve in the military, which should include humanitarian assistance and disaster preparedness training. Her proposal gathers different sentiments on social media, including those netizens asking why the government is anticipating war.
We need to be prepared, in my opinion, because we don't know when or where an invasion will occur.
We lack the required credibility in defense, and we are unable to protect our country effectively if we lack soldiers.
We can't let our country's defense go unnoticed. Filipinos must also keep in mind that without a guarantee of security in our country, we cannot have a stable economy with booming industries.
Amid security challenges such as China's presence in the South China Sea, we may need to develop a reserve force to supplement the military.

Ann R. Aquino.
Cavite State University,
Philippines


China is a signatory to 1982 UNCLOS
UNCLOS provides regulations for South China Sea
The Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday February 9, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday February 8, 2022

The stand of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. over the West Philippine Sea issue, particularly on the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s (PCA) 2016 ruling in The Hague in favor of the Philippines that invalidated China’s sweeping claims over almost the entire South China Sea, is vague and truly disturbing.
Asked on the issue by host Boy Abunda during “The 2022 Presidential One-On-One Interviews with Boy Abunda” recently, Marcos Jr. effectively dismissed the arbitral decision, claiming that “arbitration is no longer available to us” and that the only option left to us is “to continue to engage the Chinese” through bilateral agreement.
He further asserted that superpowers such as the United States and the Soviet Union must not be involved in the dispute, saying that “the problem is between China and us.”
In effectively asserting that the arbitral ruling could not be enforced, he claimed that China was not a signatory to that ”arbitration agreement,” arguing that in arbitration there must be an agreement between the two opposing parties “agreement of the two different parties” were his exact words."
In fine, he sided with China’s stubborn position that it was not bound by the PCA’s questioned ruling in that it was not a party to the arbitration proceedings.
Marcos’ argument is misplaced.
In arbitration, there are at least three parties, the third or independent party being called the judge or arbitrator. In simple terms, arbitration is a way of settling disputes between parties who agree to submit such disputes for resolution by their chosen judges or arbitrators.
The 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or UNCLOS came into force on November 16, 1994, an international law that provides a regulatory framework for the use of the world’s seas and oceans, among others, to ensure the conservation and equitable usage of resources and the marine environment and to ensure the protection and preservation of the living resources of the sea.
It also addresses such other matters as sovereignty, rights of usage in maritime zones, and navigational rights.
Article 287(3) of the law provides a procedure for the settlement of the maritime dispute if, for instance, a member-state has not expressed any preference with respect to the means of dispute resolution under Article 287(1) thereof, or otherwise fails or refuses to cooperate.
The People’s Republic of China signed and ratified the UNCLOS, and therefore it cannot legally and rightly disclaim not to be a party to the questioned case arbitrated and decided by the UN-backed PCA pursuant to the provisions of this international law.

Diosdado "Dads" Calonge,
Manila,
Philippines



Call for all food factories in Thailand
To be inspected
The Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday February 8, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday February 4, 2022

Re: "Cops raid sausage factory as kids fall ill", Bangkok Post, Friday February 4, 2022.
Nine kids have developed a blood disorder after eating sausages from an unnamed Chon Buri factory.
The factory owner admitted to making products without the required permits for five years.
He didn't observe good manufacturing procedures, and displayed false product labels.
The case reeks of corruption, for how could the owner get away with breaking the law for so long?
For starters, the head of the government's factory permit division and his subordinate responsible for Chon Buri should be fired for incompetence and investigated for corruption.
All food factories nationwide also should be checked to see if they are qualified to make the products they sell.

Burin Kantabutra,
Bangkok,
Thailand


China and Thailand to face labour shortages
Declining populations and ageing societies
The Southeast Asian Times, Monday February 7, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday February 4, 2022

Re: "Worker shortages a 'new normal,'" Bangkok Post, January 26 and "Shrinking Asia changing global demographics," Bangkok Post Opinion, January 26.
Japan, Korea and many European countries are facing critical shortages of labour as a result of stagnant or declining populations and ageing societies.
China and Thailand are about to follow suit.
At the same time, population growth in many African countries and the Philippines outstrips the ability of those countries to create jobs.
The win-win solution is for countries with labour shortages to relax immigration to allow more foreign migrant workers from countries with an excess of working-age individuals.
This should be an especially promising proposition for more developed countries that currently have high labour costs.
Workers from less advanced economies would undoubtedly be willing to work for far lower wages, filling vacant worker positions and bringing down overall labour costs in the process.

Samanea Saman,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Call for Papua New Guinea Criminal Investigator Division and
Office of the Public Prosecutor to be honest
The Southeast Asian Times, Sunday February 6, 2022
First published in the National, Thursday February 3, 2022

There should be a stronger working relationship between the criminal investigation division (CID) and police prosecution.
It is vital for these two sections in the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary to work together to ensure better outcomes are achieved, especially in courts.
Both CID and prosecution need to work closely to ensure good reports are filed and presented in courts within the three months’ timeframe that courts usually give.
The three months’ timeframe that the courts give is not a law but it is the common practice.
From my experience, there have been times when serious cases are thrown out of courts and this is all because police hand-up-briefs are not ready for court within three months.
If investigators need more time to complete their investigations, it is advisable to approach the prosecutors and inform them so that they can then be in a better position to inform the court and ask for adjournment.
Prosecution and CID should discuss regularly and identify failures and come up with solutions to move forward.
I am making my exit from the force as a prosecutor as well others from different sections and we will be watching as citizens.
You have to move forward.
At the moment, there are corrupt practices creeping in.
Go very careful and avoid getting involved in such practices.
I encourage CIDs and prosecutors to be honest in their jobs in order to get good results in court.

Hove Genderiso.
Port Moresby,
Papua New Guinea



Call for next Philippine administration
To shy away from stereotypes in drug use policy
The Southeast Asian Times, Saturday February 5, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday February 2, 2022

In a recent interview that was published in Inquirer.net’s Facebook page, presidential aspirant Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said he cannot engage in drug use because “that kind of lifestyle, para lang ’yan sa mga walang ginagawa, walang trabaho.” He added that “if you expect to produce good work, hindi ka pwede sumailalim sa ganyang bisyo.”
Nonetheless, he said he is in favor of legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, citing several studies.
I recommend that he read the 2018 study of Prof. Regina M. Hechanova Alampay of the Ateneo De Manila University.
The study, “The Development of a Community-Based Drug Intervention for Filipino Drug Users,” was published by the Journal of Pacific Rim Psychology.
Let’s check his stereotypes:
That kind of lifestyle, para lang ’yan sa mga walang ginagawa, walang trabaho.”
In the study of Alampay, about half of the participants were employed in manual and contractual work, such as construction, electrical, and street-sweeping.
Their primary reason for using drugs?
Work-related, i.e., “Gives me more energy,” “I can work better.”
These individuals are gainfully employed.
They use drugs not for recreational purposes, like what Marcos implied. Instead, they use drugs to keep their energy levels high at work.
This is understandable given that they are involved in manual labor.
“If you expect to produce good work, hindi ka pwede sumailalim sa ganyang bisyo.”
In the same study, the oft-cited benefit of drug use was increased energy and productivity.
Her study participants talked about energy trip that allowed them to work longer and harder.
On “bisyo,” only 14 percent of participants had scores indicative of full dependency and 39 percent had some symptoms. Close to half had even no symptoms of drug dependence.
This shows that drug use per se will not lead to drug dependence.
Let us move beyond these stereotypes about persons who use psychoactive drugs. It is unfortunate that the current drug war is built around these stereotypes.
It has since led to the deaths of thousands of individuals without due process of law.
The next administration should already shy away from these stereotypes as bases for its drug use policy, and, instead, embrace community-based programs that are based on sound research evidence.

Rejinel Camboa Valencia
Manila,
Philippines



Philippino's dream of social change
Despite failures of Duterte administration
The Southeast Asian Times, Friday February 4, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday February 3, 2022

The first sentence in Prof. Randy David’s column last Sunday went: “At least once every six years, we are invited to dream that enduring social change, is at last, within sight.”
As Filipinos, I think that we had been dreaming about this since the revolutionary days up to now.
Except for a few years just before Commonwealth status was given to us by the United States up to the pre-martial law days, we were able to have parts of our dreams fulfilled.
We were led by politicians who as a rule were nationalistic, ethical, educated, and “cultured.”
If you remember, when Rogelio dela Rosa first ran for senator, most voters questioned his qualifications, being a movie star.
Right now, if you are an actor, TV or radio personality, or an athlete like a boxer or a basketball player, you have an advantage over the other candidates.
Our presidents then acted presidential in public, i.e., no swearing, no bad words, no misogyny or sexism, and “polished” in dress and attitude since he is the father or she is the mother of the country.
Without endorsing anybody, he just dissected why the public voted for Mr. Duterte who to the regular voters acted like a regular person or “common tao” who will solve our everyday problems: “People just saw in him someone who could jolt the post-Edsa ruling elites out of their smugness.”
He also discussed the causes why Mr. Duterte “has hardly made a dent on the problems that he himself set out to solve.”
I just wished that this time, Filipino voters will start to use their minds since the future of the Philippines depends on them who will elect our future leaders.
In spite of the Duterte administration failing the Filipino people, I think that I can still dream, can’t I?
Puwede pa ring managinip o mangarap.

Ida M. Tiongco,
New York,
NY



Call for National Economic and Development Authority (Neda)
To be raised in presidential candidate campaigne
The Southeast Asian Times, Thursday February 3, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday February 1, 2022

The series of “presidential interviews” on TV, radio, and social media lacks serious discussions on the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs.
The term of the next administration, 2022-2028, is critical to the achievement of the goals by 2030, the year the United Nations General Assembly has targeted when it launched the SDGs in 2015.
According to the UN, the SDGs are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.
The goals address global challenges such as poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace, and justice.
Actually, the Philippines through the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) has integrated the SDGs in the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022.
The attainment of the SDGs supposedly in 2030 should pave the way for the achievement of AmBisyon Natin 2040 per Neda. Ironically, there is no legitimate administration presidential candidate so this Neda plan will never be raised in the campaign.
The candidates have to promote most of the 17 goals or even half. Vice President Leni Robredo is pushing for women’s empowerment, obviously; while Manila Mayor Isko Moreno earlier announced to create more open and green spaces in Manila. The others are silent.
Maybe their campaigns do not see the SDGs as essential in the future of the country.
This is to challenge the media, the Inquirer, and other groups which will organize debates to choose several SDGs as talking points for the candidates.
The more goals the candidates promote the better for the Philippines in terms of compelling the government, private sector, and civil society to take action.

Art Popoy Los Banos,
Dubai,
UAE



UN wants more sanctions against
The Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) of Myanmar
The Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday February 2, 2022

I was not surprised to hear the UN Secretary General Antonio Gutteres say on the eve of the one year anniversary of the military takeover of the democratically elected civilian government in Myanmar that there was almost universal international condemnation of the coup but apart from that the international response was
" weak ".
This follows an all too familiar pattern . Gutteres said a lot more needed to be done to sanction the Myanmar military's unlawful takeover of power and its continue violent crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.
The big question is will that happen? Australian State is one of those whose response has been weak.
And that damages Australia's international standing in upholding democracy.
But Australia's reputation has been somewhat salvaged by several major corporations including Woodside mining no longer wishing to do business with the Myanmar military junta.
That must become the norm to make it abundantly clear to the rogue rulers of Myanmar that their power grab is totally unacceptable.

Rajend Naidu,
Sydney,
Australia

 

 

Japan is uniquely empowered
To rekindle pacifist non-alignment
The Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday February 1, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday January 23, 2022

Re: "Japan's post-Covid regional dilemma", in Bangkok Post, Opinion, January 2, 2022.
As a member in good standing of Dr Thitinan's fan club, being always appreciative of his trenchant rejection of our ruling elite's authoritarian attempts to deny the Thai people's democratic aspirations, I hesitate to question his analysis of Japan's role in our post-Covid world.
However, in answering his own question about what kind of great power Japan wants to be, Dr Thititnan trudges down the same old familiar Big Power, Big Stick path that has led the world to its current near hopeless dead-end.
He bemoans Japan's lack of military might and veers toward favouring the abrogation of Article 9 in Japan's so-called pacifist constitution.
But what if Japan were to choose a path to peace?
The words of Article 9 are spine-tinglingly inspirational: "...the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes...The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognised."
What if Japan were to reinvigorate its geostrategic role in the world by reclaiming Article 9 in its foundational sense and offering the nations of the world an alternative to Big Power rivalries and trillions in wasteful military expenditures?
As the only country to suffer the horrors of atomic bombs, Japan is uniquely empowered with the moral authority required to rekindle pacifist non-alignment as the only sustainable model for international relations.
And mighty Indonesia, with a history deeply rooted in non-alignment, might be a willing partner on this journey. If only...

Julian Spindler.
Bangkok,
Thailand



Electric vehicles
Need alot of electricity
The Southeast Asian Times, Monday January 31, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday January 28, 2022

Re: "Clear as air," in Bangkok Post, PostBag, January 26, 2022.
While I certainly agree that changes will need to be made to clean up the air pollution, I am afraid I am going to politely beg to differ with Kuldeep Nagi on the solutions being offered.
First of all, neither the affluent, nor the disabled, are giving up their private gas-powered vehicles, and initiating such draconian means might even initiate some kind of open revolt.
Electric vehicles seem like a nice solution, but a quick Google search will show that many electric vehicles still need a lot of electricity, and over the past decade, that has translated into a global increase in coal-powered power plants and other polluting forms of electricity.
While many of today's electric vehicles don't belch fumes, the eventual rise in nuclear power to juice those vehicles up puts plenty of pollution into the environment.
It just moves the pollution into someone else's backyard and increases the chances of what would be the yet another major nuclear accident in my remaining lifetime.
Perhaps what is best for Bangkok and many parts of Thailand with high air pollution is a "mid-term" plan.
For example, we could do a lot by taking the diesel motors out of Bangkok's red buses and simply replacing those motors with gasoline/natural-gas powered motors until such time as we really do have better options.
We could also offer more financial incentives for car-pooling in areas with consistently poor air quality.
We could use limited AI to improve the efficiency of our traffic light system, and we could look at a long-term redesign of our roads for young, healthy people who can bicycle rather than use electric or gas-powered motorbikes.
However, with all due respect, if any reader thinks draconian measures can be used to stop the sale and use of motorcycles and cars, they are dreaming, and you'll still have even more pollution.
Finally, if Covid taught us one thing, it was not that there is no time to waste, but rather that maybe it would be a good idea to use common sense and not engage in risky experiments which have been untried before.

Jason A Jellison,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Call for more information
On closure of Thailands insurance company
The Southeast Asian Times, Sunday January 30, 2022
First published in Bangkok Post, January 28, 2022

Re: "TGH subsidiary ceases operation," in Bangkok Post, Business, January 27, 2022.
The Bangkok Post reports on the sudden closure of Southeast Insurance company, owned by one of Thailand's richest families, apparently due to concerns about paying out Covid claims.
But the article is rather thin on important details, such as: When does this closure take effect - immediately?
Does this mean that existing insurance policies with Southeast Insurance are null and void - leaving clients to scramble for new policies elsewhere?
Will Southeast Insurance refund existing premiums to its customers, or will these simply line the pockets of the owner estimated net worth: US$10.5 billion?
How about a
more informative follow-up article.

Concerned Client,
Bangkok,
Thailand

 

 

Call for social media platforms to discuss
Issues faced by candidates in Philippines elections
The Southeast Asian Times, Saturday January 29, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday January 26, 2022

We are seeing a deluge of oftentimes uncouth exchanges on Twitter, Instagram, and the other social media platforms between and among the bunches of trolls favoring a candidate over another.
Some of the language used is even unprintable. But rarely do we read from these exchanges a discussion on issues and the challenges their candidates will have to face once elected.
What is their candidate’s platform of government for the next six years on the following gut issues?
How will he/she solve unemployment the Philippine Statistics Authority estimated it at 6.5 percent last November, or about 3.2 million unemployed Filipinos?
What concrete measures will they undertake, if elected, to provide more jobs and not see an average of 1 million Filipinos leaving for abroad every year to look for greener pastures?
How will they bring down the mounting public debt—P11.92 trillion as of Sept. 30, 2021?
How will they accelerate our economic development and industrialization in the countryside where land and sea resources are untapped?
How will they get rid of the systemic graft in government offices where connivance happens in high places and in broad daylight as Senate inquiries have unearthed?
We expect the young and educated voters to at least find time to ferret out the truth amid the nearly pointless internet exchanges. After all, it’s their future that’s at stake. They should make the right and enlightened choice for their president.

Marvel K. Tan,
Manila,
Philippines



Repealing of death penalty in Papua New Guinea
In line with 1977 UN General Assembly resolution
The Southeast Asian Times, Friday January 28, 2022
First published in the National, Wednesday January 26, 2022

The People’s Progress Party (PPP) has welcomed the Parliament’s decision to do away with penalty as a punishment for serious crimes.
Death penalty was a draconian and primitive law that has not proven to be a deterrent to serious crimes anywhere in the world.
People’s Progress Party (PPP) has always opposed the death penalty with one of its founding members of the party and former Middle Fly Member of Parliament Warren Dutton who vehemently opposed capital punishment in any form.
In the 21st Century, Papua New Guinea cannot be resorting to the most primitive and barbaric act against Christian principles and the belief that God is the giver and taker of life.
The repealing of death penalty in Papua New Guinea is in line with the 1977 United Nations General Assembly resolution and desire to progressively restrict the number of offences for which the death penalty might be imposed, with a view to the desirability of abolishing this form of punishment.

Sumasy Singin,
National President,
People’s Progress Party



Australia wants Indo-Pacific alliance
To ensure peace
The Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 27 January 2022

Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, wants us to believe the latest military alliance between Australia and UK and US will ensure peace and security and all that in the Indo-Pacific region, the new theatre of geo-politics.
I don't believe that.
But that's because I am a pacifist.
But has that kind of military mumbo-jumbo delivered peace and security anywhere?
It has only profited the military-industrial complex.
It's a failed approach to world peace and what Morrison and like minded leaders are advocating is more of the same failed approach.
It's irrational and a waste of valuable resources that should be channeled to more important areas of human need.

Rajend Naidu,
Sydney
Australia




Mafia style modus operandi
Is not confined to authoritarian regimes
The Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday January 26, 2022

When I read in The Southeast Asian Times ( Jan.24 ) article ' Whistleblower threatened after filing corruption allegations against President Jokowi's sons with KPK ' that Jakarta State University lecturer, Ubedilah Badrun, received threats against his life I was not at all surprised.
This Mafia style modus operandi is not confined to authoritarian regimes.
For an insight into that see Bill Browder's book Red Notice : How I Became Putin's No.1 Enemy ( 2015 ) which is ' A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man's Fight for Justice'.
This is something that regrettably happens fairly frequently in democratic countries as well damaging the democratic credentials of these countries.
The good part in this sordid story of the persecution of the public spirited Indonesian whistleblower is that the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK ) spokesman, Ali Fikri, said " all reports received from the public will be examined ".
That is as should be in a good democracy.
Independent oversight bodies must do what they are meant to do to uphold good governance with fear or favour.

Rajend Naidu,
Sydney,
Australia



Thais unwilling to do work
That migrant workers have readily accepted
The Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday January 25, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday January 24, 2022

Re: "Demographic doomsday" in Bangkok Post, Business, Monday January 17, 2022
There's more than a touch of irony evident in this article about the impending demographic cliff that Thailand is approaching.
On one hand, employers are lamenting a lack of workers and some factories have even closed due to the so-called "labour shortage".
In the next breath, however, several economists are expressing concern over what they perceive to be "soaring unemployment", currently at a rate of 4.58 percent.
The reality, of course, is that many Thais are unwilling to do the work that migrant labourers have readily accepted in the past.
Barring a greatly relaxed system easing labour mobility into Thailand, the country will need to find ways to entice more Thais to accept these jobs if some sectors of the economy are to survive.
To do that, however, requires employers to pay decent wages, provide safe and comfortable working conditions and extend favourable benefits to employees.
Even then, it is questionable whether many Thais can be convinced to accept employment in jobs that they have come to believe are beneath them.

Samanea Saman,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Thailand calls for qualified foreigners
To transform corporate culture
The Southeast Asian Times, Monday January 24, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday January 23, 2022

Re: "Billionaire takes bold stance on racism", in Bangkok Post, Spotlight, January 16, 2022.
The courage of Luiza Trajano is what is needed in the people leading the public and private sectors in Thailand.
On the birthday of Martin Luther Jr, who sacrificed his life fighting racism in American society, we must recognise that racial discrimination and prejudice remain the most dangerous pandemic in every culture.
Like in the USA and Brazil, these problems also exist in Thailand.
It is the elephant in the room no one wants to talk about.
So, forget about immigrants from Laos, Cambodia, or Myanmar.
Even well-to-do expatriates funnelling millions into the Thai economy face all kinds of issues: double pricing, immigration hassles, job discrimination, and workplace exploitation.
You seldom see foreigners residing in Thailand being involved in the upper echelons of decision-making.
I am still waiting to see qualified foreigners being part of any government agency. Diversity in the workplace is seen as a threat to people in authority.
Thailand needs CEOs like Luiza Trajano to transform its corporate culture through education and training programmes.
Otherwise, the elephant in the room will trample the economy; it is just a matter of time.

Kuldeep Nagi,
Bangkok.
Thailand




Let the private sector
Run the lotteries in Thailand
The Southeast Asian Times, Sunday January 23, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post Monday January 17, 2022

Re: "Panel set to probe high ticket prices", in Bangkok Post, January 15, 2022.
The most effective way to control lottery ticket pricing is to move sales online, as in the United States.
Thousands of e-commerce transactions are performed in Thailand every day. Online ticket sales will be much simpler, more transparent and easier to control.
In these countries, tickets could be purchased at any ATM or convenience store.
What about the vendors, many of whom are handicapped?
They are talented in other ways; for example, the finalist in last year's Plaeng Ake singing contest was blind but has a beautiful voice.
The government should help them discover their potential so they can live to their fullest.
Last but not least, the Lottery Office has no business being a government-run agency.
Let the private sector run it, with government supervision.

Burin Kantabutra,
Bangkok,
Thailand


 

Call for corrective action
For fake vaccination certificates in Malaysia
The Southeast Asian Times, Saturday January 22, 2022
First published in the Star, Tuesday January 18, 2022

With the latest arrest of six workers and the owner of a private polyclinic in Gombak over the issuance of fake vaccination certificates, it is apparent that corrective action needs to be taken immediately.
Hence, here are two suggestions that can be implemented to prevent such incidents in the future:
Review the existing vaccination standard operating proceedure (SOP) adopted by private clinics, as well as the list of authorised clinics by following certain criteria and;
Enhance the supervision mechanism for authorised private clinics and impose harsher punishments to issuers and users of fake vaccination certificates.
Within this month, there have been two arrests involving private clinics for issuing fake vaccination certificates.
These 2 arrests are likely just the tip of the iceberg, causing many to be worried that more may still be operating in the dark.
Therefore, the Health Ministry could review and tighten existing regulations to filter the list of authorised private clinics based on medical qualifications and their operating history, among other factors.
Furthermore, to prevent the AntiVax group from gaining more traction, all individuals involved in the issuance and usage of fake vaccination certificates should be sentenced with harsher punishments to create a deterrent effect.
The Covid-19 pandemic remains a real threat every day.
Thus, we urge all Antivaxxers to rethink their decision, get accurate information on vaccinations and support the nation’s effort to vaccinate the people and save lives.

Wong Siew Mun ,
Spokesperson,
Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA)
Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia


 

Thai roads are the most dangerous
In the world
The Southeast Asian Times Friday January 20, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday January 12, 2022

Re: "7 deadly days", in Bangkok Post January 3, 2022
Time and again we are reminded that Thai roads are among the most dangerous in the world.
Speeding, drunk driving and lack of common sense in general are mostly responsible.
However, around 80 percent of all casualties are motorcycle riders.
It would be interesting to know how many accidents are caused by careless motorists, and how many are due to irresponsible bike riding.
I suspect the latter account for many mishaps.
Wouldn't it be better to focus more on the reckless bike riders in order to reduce casualties instead of running useless campaigns during new year periods?
Helmets often seem unnecessary to these dimwits, and police seem to regard them as a mere cash cow.
Why not introduce a more stringent motorcycle licence with appropriate enforcement?
Seeing helmet-less 13-year-old children ride to school with three piled on a bike is just asking for trouble.
All the while the police just look on.
The safety campaigns that are run now clearly aren't working. Time to do better.

Tom Bundaberg,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Hope for the best
But prepare for the worst
The Southeast Asian Times, Thursday January 20, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday January 17, 2022

I have been living in the Philippines since 2004 and I have come to love this country.
So I am concerned about who will lead the country after the May 2022 elections.
A change of direction is desirable.
The next president will face very big tasks that whoever wins is not to be envied. The biggest challenge is likely to be the COVID-19 pandemic, whose impact will be with us for a long time to come.
It is not yet certain whether the pandemic will end in an endemic situation after the mild Omicron variant, and whether the concerns about it will be negligible.
By the time a disease becomes endemic, a relatively large number of people have already contracted it or been vaccinated.
The number of people who become seriously ill is then significantly reduced compared to the acute phase of the pandemic.
In addition, there are foreign policy issues with China.
These must be solved in a diplomatic, peaceful way and that requires a thinking president, not one with a macho demeanor and muscular strength.
As far as the endless fight against corruption in this country is concerned, we have made very little progress in the last six years; President Duterte himself personally confirmed this.
Even military conflicts are not excluded from the incoming president’s concerns. What if the conflict in Europe between Ukraine and Russia escalates militarily and, in the end, even gets NATO involved?
What if China simultaneously attacks Taiwan with military means and thus initiates its reunification through an invasion?
In such situations, we need a president who can keep us away from military adventures.
A country hit hard by the coronavirus like the Philippines cannot race into a war. The priority of the president should therefore be the pandemic.
Many people are suffering from depression (I pay for this myself and freely admit it) and afraid of losing their livelihood.
Financial problems are no longer just exceptional cases but the new normal.
It is about putting food on the table that counts.
During my internship as a scientific assistant in a biosafety laboratory level 4, my professor said: “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.”
There is nothing to add.

Dr. Jurgen Schofer,
Rizal
Philippines




Air pollution in Bangkok kills
More in a year than from Covid-19
The Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday January 19, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday January 17, 2022

Re: "Haze cannot be ignored", Bangkok Post, Editorial, January 12, 2022
It's laudable that the Bangkok Post editorial team continues to keep alive the concern over the choking air pollution in Bangkok.
Although the editorial pleads that the "haze cannot be ignored," of course we can expect that it will be ignored.
By now, we know the pattern very well.
According to the State of Global Air 2020 Report, around 32,000 premature deaths in Thailand are attributed to air pollution each year. Thus, in the past two years, foul air has caused more than twice the number of premature deaths than Covid-19 during the pandemic. Many of these deaths could be averted if reasonable actions were taken to reduce air pollution. Where is the outrage over these deaths? While we're kept in a state of near-panic and endless mitigating gyrations over Covid-19, no apparent action is taken to avert the air-quality health threat that is killing more people than the coronavirus.

Samanea Saman,
Bangkok,
Thailand



High political corruption underlies
Philippines socio-economic syndromes

The Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 18, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquier, January 17, 2022

The article of columnist Solita Collas-Monsod, “The ‘Buwaya Problem’” January 8, 2022 is a well-argued and evidence-based diagnosis that high political corruption is the main culprit underlying our country’s socioeconomic syndromes.
It gave me three insights.
First, using the crocodile as a metaphor is a compelling way to depict the breadth and depth of greed for political gain.
On the one hand, it is a fact that there are many similarities between politicians and animals, and thus we can compare their behaviors.
On the other hand, it seems not fair to the crocodiles, and for that matter, to other animals, when we, without qualifying, compare the politician’s behavior to theirs. Because while the crocodile is wholly driven by pure instincts to grab its prey for lunch, the corrupt political dynasts are driven by unbridled greed for power under the guise of altruistic intent.
In addition, aside from the fact that there are politicians who would not hesitate to go down to the level of animals to perpetuate themselves in power, there are others who would unconscionably do things animals themselves cannot do, such as the intentional killing of the weak and the innocent, for their political gain.
Second, the article should provoke anger against the systemic injustices committed on the poorest and vulnerable.
Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) wrote that “he who is not angry when there is a just cause for anger is immoral because anger looks to the good of justice and if you can live amid injustice without anger, you are immoral and unjust.”
Moreover, the social injustice becomes more inexplicable because we pride ourselves as the only Christian country in these parts of the world.
Where have gone the values of social charity and justice that 500 years of Christianity taught and upheld as the way to genuine peace and prosperity?
Third, in a democratic society like ours, elections are the most effective way to boot corrupt politicians out of power.
This coming May 9, 2022 national elections, we can only hope that many of us will elect as president the one candidate who has the proven integrity, probity, and competence to lead our country from darkness into light. Matauhan na po sana tayo!

Noel G. Asiones,
Manila,
Philippines



Thai public is paranoid
Regarding Covid
The Southeast Asian Times, Monday January 17, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday 12, January 2022

Re: "Heedless manhunt, Omicron marches on", in Bangkok Post PostBag, January 10, 2022.
As I read the Second Secretary to India's remarks concerning the Bangkok Post's recent coverage of an allegedly Covid positive foreign couple who were allegedly taken off-guard by a surprise positive Covid result and/or alleged miscommunication, I could not help but sympathise with the secretary because the recent debacle really reveals just how paranoid much of the Thai public still is regarding Covid.
The Bangkok Post's front page (online) article says that Thailand had 7,926 known new cases yesterday.
As such, it was sad to watch this recent hysterical reaction to this couple because there are almost certainly plenty of Thais and local residents who are also Covid positive, asymptomatic and spreading the disease without knowing it as I write this.
Getting two people into quarantine is probably not going to even put a ping in Thailand's rising Covid numbers.
We are just going to have to accept that we have Covid throughout most of the country.
It is here to stay, but the country's attitude towards Covid-positive people presently gives potential foreign tourists and investors every reason not to travel here.

Jason A Jellison,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Manhunt for two law-abiding
Indian nationals in Bangkok
The Southeast Asian Times, Sunday January 16, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday January 10, 2022

Re: "Couple spark Covid alert", in Bangkok Post January 5, 2022
The report quotes Dr Apirat Katanyutanont, chief of Chon Buri health office, saying he was in contact with the Embassy of India to help "locate them", which is incorrect.
The report also published the phone number of Vibharam Laemchabang Hospital asking the public to report their whereabouts, which in fact launched a manhunt for two innocent law-abiding Indian nationals who were available on the phone and in contact with Vibharam Laemgchabang Hospital.
They could also be located on the Mor Chana tracking app installed on their phones.
You may also note that the Embassy of India put out a tweet at 7.35pm on Jan 4 saying that two individuals were in touch with the embassy and were trying to get admitted to a hospital in Bangkok.
It is brought to your notice that Mr Ankit Sejwal and his spouse Mrs Preeti Panwar left Chon Buri for the airport in anticipation of a negative RTPCR result.
They were in fact in regular touch with Vibharam Laemgchabang Hospital as they could not have boarded the flight without a negative RTPCR.
They, like any responsible citizen, isolated themselves once they come to know about the positive RTPCR test.
Mr Ankit did not want to travel back to Chon Buri as it would have put at risk the taxi driver, and he wanted to be admitted in Bangkok.
All throughout, he was in touch with the embassy, members of the diaspora and the hospital.
The embassy too was in touch with the hospital and the health office of Chon Buri.
It is unfortunate that a reputable newspaper like the Bangkok Post did not bother to check the embassy website, nor did it reach out to the embassy for comment before launching a virtual manhunt for two fully vaccinated individuals.
They had travelled to Thailand on Dec 28 to spend the New Year, having taken a RTPRC test before departure and after arriving in Thailand, and following all rules and regulations.
This kind of reporting has a tendency to harm the reputation of individuals and the countries to which they belong and is unacceptable from an organisation of your repute.
You are free to verify all the facts from the sources/individuals concerned.

A Roy Chowdhury,
Second Secretary Embassy of India,
Bangkok,
Thailand

 

 

China trojan train
To Kunming
The Southeast Asian Times Saturday January 15, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, January 13, 2022

Re: "Focus on Laos-China rail amid fruit export hopes", Bangkok Post, Business, January 11, 2022.
Like a Trojan Horse, whilst the new express train to Kunming will export Thai produce, it does nothing without putting China's national interest first and foremost. I think they have already saddled the country with a huge debt.

Tony Jackson,
Bangkok,
Thailand


Local elections in the Philippines
Are as important as general elections
The Southeast Asian Times, Friday 14 January 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 13 January 2022

While there is no lack of analysis at the national level, the conversation on politics at the local level leaves much to be desired.
One might be wont to think that voters hold the same standard for elective positions at the national and local levels. But our experience proves otherwise and may even surprise us.
We vote for a president, a vice president, a party list, and 12 senators at the national level.
At the local level, we vote for a district representative, governor, vice governor, provincial board members, mayor vice mayor, and municipal councilors.
In the last presidential election, debates were organized for presidential and vice presidential candidates spearheaded by the Commission on Elections.
Various media organizations dedicate segments to interview candidates to know more about their platforms and to give them the equal airtime that would otherwise be denied from them due mainly to the cost of running advertisements.
But what about at the local level?
I hardly know of any organized debates that tackle platforms of local candidates. The most that we can get are from social media pages of individual candidates which have again become active after the filing of certificates of candidacy.
Most recently, candidates have resorted to organizing online raffles where participants watch a livestream.
Candidates giving tokens and dole-outs before an election have not only had their stakes raised but have also morphed into new platforms and methods adapting to technology and mobility restrictions.
As many scholars have pointed out, this is patronage politics.
Without actually devising plans that would address the problems that have long beset their localities - housing, health care, employment, public spaces, and many more - the people are kept begging in front of local politicians.
Running for local elective positions has seemingly been reduced to who can control the local coffers and give them away as if it’s their own.
What is lamentable is that some politicians have created a cult for themselves, thereby perpetuating themselves longer - in many cases, literally carving out their names or initials on almost every public infrastructure or dole-out possible.
By this, they not only remind voters of the current ruling politician but also of family members who will soon enter the local political arena to replace those whose term of office is ending.
What is more disheartening is that people have long been accustomed to this practice and have come to accept this kind of reality of dynastic politics.
This only shows why local elections are as important as national polls, and should be given equal attention in the media because politics at the local level shapes the kind of national leaders we will have.

Edward Joseph Maguindayao,
Manila,
Phiippines



Refugees in Australia's facilities
Locked up and languish in limbo
The Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 13 January 2022

Novak Djokovic'c court victory in overturning the Federal Government's decision to cancel his visa without giving him " procedural fairness" exposes the arbitrary exercise of State power by the mob in power in Australia.
Djokovic had the means and the international high profile to successfully challenge the Australian government decision.
Many refugees locked up and languishing in limbo ( some for 8 or 9 years ) in Australia's detention facilities don't have Djokovic's clout.
Their predicament is an indictment on the Australian State's cruel, unfair and inhumane treatment of people who sought our protection from the political persecution they suffered in their homecountry forcing them to flee.
It's a crying shame.

Rajend Naidu,
Sydney,
Australia



Nothing honourable about Cambodia's
Official visit to Myanmar
The Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 12 January 2022

We read in The Southeast Asian Times article ' Cambodia's official visit to Myanmar gives legitimacy to military dictatorship says NUG ' ( 9 January ) that Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen was welcome on arrival in Myanmar on Friday 7 January with " a guard of honour ".
What honour?
It's a disgrace.
Giving legitimacy to a brutal rogue military regime that has been committing atrocities against its own people - men, women and children - since day one of its violent takeover of the democratically elected government and locking up Aung San Sui Kyi, the leader of the peoples' free choice, is morally repugnant.
There is nothing honourable about the Cambodian PM's official visit.
It's more a case of birds of the same rogue feather flocking together!

Rajend Naidu,
Sydney
Australia



Call for China to delay
Opening of 2022 Winter Olympics
The Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 11 January 11, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post Thursday January 6, 2022

Re: "Controversy greets countdown", Bangkok Post Sports, January 4, 2022.
The National Hockey League (NHL) announced before recent Christmas that its pulling out all of its players from participating in the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing in early February of this year.
This is a huge blow, considering that men's Ice Hockey is the signature event of the Winter Olympics.
The Canadian Mixed Curlers soon followed suit, withdrawing from the games also, in what is sure to be the first of many other withdrawals from the Winter Olympics.
Now the CEO of the Canadian Olympic Committee(COC), David Shoemaker, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation(CBC), that he "is worried whether the games can go ahead" as planned.
It should be noted that Canada was the first country to withdraw from the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
So one would think that they would not be hesitant to withdraw also from the upcoming games, and that nor would other Western European nations be hesitant.
Being that the Omicron variant of Covid-19 has only recently cropped up onto the scene and seems to be spreading quickly, and that the Chinese government has already locked down entire cities in a bid to control things, I think it is time for the Communist government to seriously considering doing what Tokyo did at the 2020 Summer Olympics, and delay the opening of the Winter games to later in 2022 or at another date.
If the Chinese government fails to do this, then there is a good chance that some nations will voluntarily withdraw from the games.

Paul,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Call for examination of Philippine politicians
Who project themselves as would-be-messiahs
The Southeast Asian Times, Monday January 10, 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday January 6, 2022

I agree with columnist Randy David’s very interesting analysis on the appropriation of the messianic motif in Philippine politics “The messianic motif in Philippine politics,” December 19, 2021.
More importantly, it provoked me to ask what must and can be done to address the straightforward challenges we will face in the 2022 elections.
The least we can do when politicians project themselves as would-be messiahs is to examine their previous performance and accomplishments to ascertain their fitness for the public office they seek.
You will know them by their fruits,” as Matthew 7:16 puts it.
But without fact-checking, it is most likely that ordinary voters will be mesmerized by the highly questionable messianic narratives that politicians brazenly peddle during election seasons.
Economic and moral factors would partly explain why people would gravitate not toward those who are genuinely competent, experienced, and accomplished, but more toward dysfunctional politicians who sound like a broken record.
In light of the ills currently besetting our political landscape, the usual questions “How shall we vote?” and “How can we help?” have gained renewed traction and pertinence.
First, as many groups have already been voluntarily doing, let us leave no stone unturned to unmask the false messiahs in our midst.
Second, let us actively campaign and fight for those candidates who incarnate our shared dreams for a better future.
Third, since there is strength in numbers, let us set aside our parochial divisions by joining groups and communities who share the same advocacies and programs to turn the potentially catastrophic political exercise in May 2022 into an opportunity to liberate our country from its deep-seated economic, social, and political problems.
We owe these to our future generations.

Noel G. Asiones,
Manila,
Philippines



Covid-19 related law suits against China
Have so far been few
The Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 9 January 2022
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 6 January 2022

Everywhere around the globe, people are being punished in varying degrees of severity or cruelty for breaches of public safety and health protocols shoved down their throats on account of COVID-19 and its seemingly never-ending mutations, the latest of which being Omicron.
If that is not adding insult to injury, then what is?
But how come nobody is seriously thinking of punishing China for being responsible for this pandemic in the first place?
As of December 2021, about 282,000,000 infections and about 5,500,000 deaths have been reported to the World Health Organization.
God knows how many more have not been reported.
China should be held to account for what now amounts to a “crime against humanity”!
How many more millions have to die before the world starts kicking China’s ass?
COVID-19-related suits pending against China have so far been few - all private initiatives with little or no leverage at all.
As their governments prefer to just sit this pandemic out, lawyers and lawyers’ groups all over the world should unite and use “lawfare” to thwart China’s hegemonic intentions which are bankrolled by its gazillions in wealth scattered around the globe.
Lawyers worth their salt know that freezing those assets within their courts’ respective jurisdictions is the best way to go.
But no one has seen that happening.
Has China got the whole world by its balls already?

Stephen L. Monsanto,
Manila,
Philippines




Big Mac Index
Measures purchasing power parity
The Southeast Asian Times, Saturday January 8, 2022
First published in Bangkok Post, Friday January 7, 2022

Re: "Prizes for fries", in Bangkok Post PostBag, January 4, 2022
S Tsow posits that economists might be able to forego actual research and instead visit McDonald's and price the fries in order to determine a nation's economic status.
The Economist magazine is way ahead of him having established the Big Mac Index in 1986.
From the Wikipedia entry: The Big Mac Index is a price index published by The Economist as an informal way of measuring the purchasing power parity (PPP) between two currencies and provides a test of the extent to which market exchange rates result in goods costing the same in different countries.
It "seeks to make exchange-rate theory a bit more digestible".

Mike Newman,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Economic growth in Thailand
Measured by size of McDonald's french Fries
The Southeast Asian Times, Friday 7 January 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday 5 January 2022

Re: "Large-size fries back on the menu", in Bangkok Post Business, Friday December 31, 2021.
This article gives us a new standard to measure the economic status of any nation. No longer will economists have to analyse reams of data to figure out where a nation stands in the world economy.
All they'll have to do is visit their nearest McDonald's outlet and examine the size of its french fries.
"Show me the size of your fries."
It would make a great motto for economists.

S.Tsow,
Bangkok,
Thailand

 

Business as usual for China
With convicted former Malaysian PM
The Southeast Asian Times, Thursday January 6, 2022

We read in The Southeast Asian Times article ' China invites convicted felon former Malaysian PM Najib Razak to World China Economic Forum ( WCEF ) ' ( 4 Jan. 2022) that the former rogue leader was " a guest speaker " at that Forum held in Kuala Lumpur last week.
A former Malaysian diplomat described the invitation " an insult to the nation ", saying " By giving him an international platform China hopes to redeem the man and whitewash his criminality".
The invitation is most certainly an insult to the nation when only last month the Malaysian Court of Appeal upheld the High Court verdict that found Razak guilty as charged of criminal breach of trust and sentenced him to 12 years in prison.
But is anybody really surprised by China's action when it is a well known fact that China has no qualms about embracing and doing business as usual with fully fledged brutal dictators around the world ?
By contrast Najib Razak is just a big crook.

Rajend naidu,
Sydney,
Australia

 

 

National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict
Harrasses libraries to withdraw subversive books
The Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday January 5, 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday January 4, 2022

The removal of books with “subversive content” from Philippines state university libraries confirms the nation’s status as an underdeveloped country.
In fact, it lowers the level of our civilization.
These so-called subversive books, alongside books on anti-communism and the local anti-communist movement in libraries, would have been a good sign of cultural maturity.
University libraries must have an ample collection of books of various persuasions and viewpoints for use by students and teachers for their academic needs.
This will enrich the capability of our scholars to come out with more objective, meaningful, and relevant research.
Reportedly, it was the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) through the military that “harassed” library personnel to withdraw these “subversive” materials more specifically, books authored by Jose Ma. Sison and the National Democratic Front.
If the NTF-Elcac believes that the government has the right formula for national development, it should not be afraid of books that are accessible only to those in the academe being in university libraries.
If these agents of the state and preservers of the status quo believe that what they are doing is for the good of the country, then they should not be threatened by documents that present alternative socio-political-economic analyses and alternative programs for the people’s welfare and the nation’s development.
In fact, these kinds of books should be read by more people outside of the academe, especially the rabid anti-communists, so they will know what communism is all about its history, meaning, and the personalities behind it and they will have an educated understanding of why they are against it.
The government should be happy that groups and individuals are condemning the withdrawal of the “subversive” books. It means there are still Filipinos who value culture and reading. Instead of withdrawing books from state university libraries, the government should focus on the more basic problem of improving literacy among our people.

Julie L. Po,
Linangan ng Kulturang Pilipino,
Manila,
Philippines



It is not widely known that AsreaZeneca vaccine
Is sold at cost US$4
The Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday January 4, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday January 3, 2022

Re: "Who Invented Covid-19 Vaccines? Drugmakers Battle Over Patents", in Bangkok Post Business, December 31.
In the 1940s, the research team in Oxford that researched and produced penicillin went against all advice and did not patent it, saying it was "for the good of mankind".
Instead they gave it to five large US companies to work on; one of these became Pfizer.
Later on these same companies would not pass on the production details as they said it was proprietary commercial information.
Eighty years on, again at Oxford, AstraZeneca announced it would not profit from a pandemic and all its Covid vaccines are, at present, "at cost", about US$4 (132 baht).
This is not widely known.
All the other manufacturers are making huge profits, charging $20 up and squabbling among themselves about patents' worth, apparently billions of dollars.
It saddens me that the profit motive still seems to be the only consideration.
Profit is important, but not the only driver of progress.

Darhid Pattaya,
Bangkok,
Thailand



Papua New Guinea parliamentarians
Love money more than justice
The Southeast Asian Times, Monday January 3, 2022
First published in the National, Thursday December 30, 2021

The people of Papua New Guinea have been longing and looking for justice leadership for the last 40 years.
Only two or three leaders who truly love justice are struggling to restore and protect justice, but to no avail.
Almost all parliamentarians love money more than justice.
They continue to lust after desires of the flesh and cannot lead from the front.
We know that leaders are divinely assigned to be the shepherds of their people.
Instead, they continue to abuse the people’s office and the leadership roles bestowed upon them through the ballot papers every five years.
They knowingly mislead their people to slavery and guide to live in bondage.
Their primary role of serving the people’s basic needs disappears when they enter the house of the people.
The law and the leadership code for the elected leaders is seen to be shelved under the cupboard collecting dust.
Member's of Parliament first priority appears to be accumulating wealth for themselves.
Where is justice?
The law enforcement agencies and the heads of statutory bodies are either compromised or threatened to stand up against such wrongdoings.
These key sectors are very well aware of this corrupt strategy, but they cannot come out and speak the truth because they are afraid of losing their jobs.
The time to elect leaders to lead us for the next five years is just around the corner, so the citizens of this country should stand firm and elect leaders who love justice more than money.
Fight corruption.

JML,
Port Moresby,
Papua New Guinea



The year 2021 has been a tumultuous one
Filled with challenges.
The Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday January 2, 2022
First published in the New Straits Times, Friday December 31, 2021

The Spanish philosopher, George Santayana, famously said: "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
As we leave 2021, let us reflect on the disastrous events as a reminder to increase our resolve for mitigation or prevention.
The year 2021 has been a tumultuous one filled with challenges.
Covid-19 continues to disrupt our daily lives as new variants manifest themselves globally. It changed the way we live, it affects every level of society and takes a toll on the economy.
Malaysia was initially commended for the steps she took to contain the pandemic.
Treat each other well with humility and respect to reflect true nobility
Unfortunately, for reasons best known to those in the corridors of power, we let our guard down so much so that the pandemic reached unprecedented levels, recording high death and infection rates.
Just as we grapple with the pandemic, extreme weather caused by a tropical depression resulted in the flood disaster in several states leading to a number of deaths.
To the families of the victims, Ikatan extends our heartfelt condolences.
We also extend our sympathies to the thousands of families that have been displaced.
While the flood victims were seriously traumatised, the rakyat by and large note with frustration that the action by the powers that be fell short of expectations and rescue efforts had shortcomings.
The disaster in Taman Sri Muda in Shah Alam, Selangor, and elsewhere showed rescue efforts were badly managed.
It has opened our eyes to agencies that were initially not fully prepared in dealing with the floods.
The coordination effort could have been better.
Indeed, the impacts of climate change have been made worse when coupled with disasters stemming from man-made actions such as indiscriminate development, encroachment into environmentally sensitive areas and overdevelopment that had benefited a few but had adversely impacted the masses.
The government and development players must be fully committed to a precautionary approach to development in order to protect and cushion the impacts of disasters such as floods, landslides and land subsidence upon our communities.
If there is one thing that reflects the true spirit of Malaysia, it is the solidarity among the rakyat in times of crisis.
The front-liners of Covid-19, particularly healthcare staff and the volunteers worked tirelessly round the clock.
Specific mention must be made of the numerous volunteers from non-governmental organisations, or as individuals who braved the dangers to help those affected by the Movement Control Order and also the flood victims.
They are our unsung heroes.
The Fire and Rescue Department personnel, the armed forces and the police also did their part.
The ordinary Malaysians have come together during the flood crisis to help each other not blinded by race and religion.
It was so heartening to see Malaysians united to help fellow Malaysians in the true spirit of voluntarism and "Keluarga Malaysia".
It shows that at heart, we are all Malaysians, caring, compassionate and colour blind as we have strived to be.
The recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and the floods will take time before we resume our normal lives.
We have to be strong to wade the metaphoric tide.
Let us take this opportunity for our leaders and citizens to self-reflect. We live to learn well, and learn to live well.
We shall never carry into 2022 the mistakes of the past.
Life can only be understood backwords; but it must be lived forwards.
With that let us usher in the new year.

Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye,
Chairman,
Alliance for Safe Community,
Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia

 

 

Thai dreaming 2022
Marijuana-laced Covid-19 vaccine
The Southeast Asian Times Saturday January 1, 2022
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday December 31, 2021

Re: "There have probably been better years", in Bangkok Post PostScript, December 26, 2021
I must add two more guffaws to Roger Crutchley's list.
First, the scientists at a prestigious Thai university will successfully develop their world-famous marijuana-laced Covid vaccine.
They claim that a high dose of this revolutionary vaccine will do what Astra, Pfizer, and Moderna, and other vaccines have failed to do.
When the sky is clear for the arrival of accidental tourists and the porous Thai border opens for rich infiltrators and legal immigrants from Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Vietnam, this vaccine will be made available to the new arrivals for free.
Also, they will not be asked for any insurance or proof of money in a bank account.
Secondly, a long-pending reform will happen.
The educational system will go on a new trajectory.
In the post-Covid era, schools, colleges, and universities will not require uniforms. In addition, students will be allowed to bring their portable devices and mobile phones into their classrooms.
They will be also be allowed to come to class twice a week. Thanks to Covid, freedom at last. Happy New Year.

Kuldeep Nagi.
Bangkok,
Thailand