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Asia Undercovered 15 May 2020

Asia Undercovered 15 May 2020

Undercovered this week

There’s a locust crisis hitting parts of Asia, especially Pakistan. There, farmers fear crop losses, which could devastate already-struggling rural regions, writed Jan Khaskheli in The News.

Another journalist has been killed in the Philippines. This time, it was community radio reporter Cornelio Pepino in Negros Oriental province. The archipelago remains one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists (Benar News).

A few weeks ago I shared a story about the clash between police and civilian protesters in Dong Tam, Hanoi, Vietnam. This piece from Toan Le argues that this episode reflects the limits of grassroots democracy to regulate and resolve conflicts between the state and society (East Asia Forum)

Worrying news from Indonesia. Parliament has just passed a pro-business mining law that, among other things, removes a limit on the size of mining operations and allows automatic permit extensions up to 20 years (Hans Nicholas Jong, Mongabay).

The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army has made a surprising resurgence in Myanmar. The questions is – it is a legitimate revival, or a made-up excuse for the national military to further increase operations against ethnic Rohingya in Arakan (Asia Times).

I found this excellent feature by Andrew Haffner in Southeast Asia Globe incredibly informative. It explore the worrying impacts of antibiotic overuse in the region, with drugs entering waterways and leading to potential drug-resistance.


Could Malaysia see another new government soon? Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has a razor thin majority, and dissent is already appearing in his fractious coalition, writes Shannon Teoh in Straits Times.


Taiwan refused to deport a Filipina caregiver, and outspoken critic of President Rodrigo Duterte. She likely faced prison – or worse – has she been forced to return (Global Voices).

And there’s a new rift between Indonesia and China over this video reported in Korean media showing a burial at sea aboard a Chinese ship. This follows issues around Chinese vessels fishing in Indonesian waters earlier this year.

Solutions Stories

First, a wonderful piece from Antonia Timmerman on Taiwan’s women environmental activists, who have been raising awareness of trash, waste management, and other issues on the island nation for nearly three decades (SCMP)

Not really a solutions story, but the photos from this visual piece in National Geographic of the living root bridges of Meghalaya, in North-east India, are stunning (h/t Asia Tech Review).

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.