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Asia Undercovered #19

This week: Election news from Taiwan, India and the Philippines, dredging the Mekong, and some good and bad Lunar New Year stories.

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Undercovered this week

First, the good - some timely Year of the Pig journalism from Martin Choi on how many hog breeds are disappearing across China (South China Morning Post).

Now, the bad: How not to celebrate Lunar New Year – force Uyghur Muslims to eat pork and drink alcohol, as Radio Free Asia reports is happening in Xinjiang. Absolutely horrible but, sadly, not surprising.

Also on a serious note – two Thai dissidents were recently killed in Laos, leading some to fear that anti-royalists are being targeted for assassination (Claudio Sopranzetti, Al Jazeera). Also worth reading – Thanthawut Taweewarodomkul op-ed in Prachatai on why Thai exiles can’t easily go wherever they please.

At the center of the rise of Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines has been the resurgence in attempts to promote the cult of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Excellent reporting by Mariejo Ramos for the Inquirer.

Clamping down on the press is a big part of this and the government is moving forward on efforts to shut down Rappler, the last bastion of independent investigative journalism (SEAPA).

Apple’s privacy blitz is mostly empty words argues Mathew Ingram. For those of us watching how the tech giant openly cooperates and shares user data with China, this is no surprise.


Relations between Singapore and Malaysia are souring due to maritime disputes and the resurgence of long-held grudges, and the role of new Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad (East Asia Forum).

Taiwan is ahead of the game on Chinese tech companies. They blocked Huawei and ZTE back in 2013, and are now compiling a list of tech companies that pose a threat to the mainland (Stratfor).

China wants to dredge the Mekong to make it easier for large ships to traverse. But local opposition in Thailand is putting a wrench in these plans as concerns rise about environmental and social costs (Andrew Stone, Third Pole)


The results are in and it looks like the Bangsamoro Organic Law, which will create a new autonomous region in the Muslim-majority southern regions of the Philippines, will pass. Good analysis on what this means by Steven Rood (East Asia Forum).

India is going through its worst water crisis since independence. Rina Chandran asks in Madras Courier why it is not yet an election issue that 600 million people are facing acute water shortages

One thing that opposition parties are doing – planning a common economic blueprint. This could be a sign that a united, anti-Modi front could emerge before coming Parliamentary elections.

Could Taiwan’s ruling DPP ditch Tsai Ing-wen as a candidate? If so, I would be shocked. The next Presidential race is in January 2019 – well before the US race that’s already dominating headlines (Brian Hioe, New Bloom).

A Korean in Tajikistan

Lastly, a profile of the last Korean woman left in Tajikistan, the legacy of Soviet-era relocation policies. An enjoyable read about how history has shaped Asia from Global Voices.

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.