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Asia Undercovered: 1 April 2020 (Covid-19 Free)

Asia Undercovered: 1 April 2020 (Covid-19 Free)

Welcome to the first Covid-19 free edition of Asia Undercovered. But first, a warning - be vary of glowing China coverage. It’s partly how we got into this mess.

Undercovered this week

Haze has become a pervasive problem in Thailand. This report from Bangkok Tribune finds that the countries biofuels policies – primarily sugarcane for blending with fuels – might be playing a role, as burning is leading to increased pollution (May Thazin Aung).

A different type of smoke is causing a health crisis in Indonesia: tobacco. Even as evidence grows that stunting and other public health challenges are connected to smoking, the country remains a laggard when it comes to tobacco control (Indonesia at Melbourne).

Ethnic Vietnamese in Cambodia have faced hardships for decades. This piece in SCMP by Sen Nguyen illuminates their stories of struggle.

An anti-damn protester in Kayin State, Myanmar has been issued an arrest warrant for merely speaking out. The criminalization of environmentalism continues (Myat Moe Aung, Myanmar Times).

Meanwhile in Taiwan, New Bloom covers a new report that finds that the country’s fishing industry continued to have widespread migrant labor abuses, despite years of exposes and attention.


Taiwan remains of Asia’s least understood democracies. Case in point

More context on the ongoing shifts in the KMT and the post-election environment in Taiwan, read this piece by Gerrit van der Wees in East Asia Forum.

Meanwhile, East Timor is still facing a legislative crisis over last month’s resignation of Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão. Jarryd de Haan reports for Future Directions.

Solutions Stories

If you feel like me, you could use some solutions stories right now, and despite what’s happening around the world, they exist. First, read this inspiring effort by women in Sumatra to preserve a World Heritage forest – and protect their food security (Jakarta Post).

Second, a great feature by Magdalena Rojo in Southeast Asia Globe about Tuenjal Deetes, a hill tribe leader who, after years of struggle, has won citizenship rights for the Lisu people who live near the Thai-Myanmar-Lao border.

Asia Undercovered:  Journalist Nithin Coca’s weekly roundup of the news, events, trends and  people changing Asia, but not getting enough attention in the US media.