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Asia Undercovered #31

This week: Jakarta’s (not really) being moved, Thailand election results, and more worrying news from Xinjiang.

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A mini-rant on Jakarta being “moved”

Sometimes, a story from Asia gets international attention. Unfortunately, it is often for the wrong reasons. Last week, it was news that Indonesia wants to move its capital, Jakarta.

Immediately, stories and social media posts by outlets including Think Progress, Washington Post, & Business Insider popped up making the false connection between Jakarta sinking and moving the capital. Others made the preposterous unfounded claim that Jakarta – the ENTIRE CITY – was going to be relocated. Their source was this BBC story that broke the news. It only mentions sinking as a concern, and does not state that this is a reason for the move. Reporters who rarely write about Asia placed their own assumptions and biases onto Indonesia’s capital without doing even a tiny bit of background research or interviewing someone on the ground.

Here’s the reality: Jakarta the city will not be relocated. What might move (and it’s a big if) is the capital – or, functions of government. Think Australia’s Canberra, Brazil’s Brasilia, or even Washington D.C., – new cities built to host the central government. At most, you’ll see government ministries relocate to another island. The rest of Jakarta, and the almost all of its population, will remain. And this all has nothing to do with sinking or sea level rise (which are separate, important issues that need addressing).

/endrant. Now onto this weeks issue.

Undercovered this week

CNN tried to report in Xinjiang, getting harassed. Meanwhile, former detainee Sayragul Sauytbay shares her experiences of the horrific conditions in camps – torture, starvation, and forced assimilation. It’s long past time for world leaders to act.

For Uyghur women living outside of China, the lack of communication with loved ones, and the fear of reprisals for saying something wrong, result in massive emotional stress. Despite this, some are fighting back. Wonderful reporting from Coda Story.

Meanwhile, Chinese influence on those trying to highlight the situation in Xinjiang can reach even New York City.

The Gecko Project and Mongabay undertook two years of reporting on corruption in the palm oil, coal, and land sectors in Indonesia publishing several important pieces of investigative journalism. In this reflective piece, they look back on the long journey and what it means.

MalaysiaKini spent months working on this interactive feature on the 1969 riots that changed Malaysia. An excellent and important piece of journalism.

Nepal puts three journalists under investigation. Their crime? Publishing news about the Dalai Lama’s health, which is, Asia unc, a violation of Nepal’s “One China” policy (Kathmandu Post).


The final round of voting is underway in India, and results should be out in about two weeks. Fake news, propaganda, and disinformation were rampant throughout and after the campaigning period. Amogh Dhar Sharma asks for Scroll if anything can be done to hold them accountable.

The death tolls from Indonesia’s election keeps rising. Now, over 500 election workers perished, more than died in recent terrorist attacks in Surabaya or even Sri Lanka. Now the hard part – figuring out how to ensure something like this never happens again (Indonesia at Melbourne).

And Thailand’s elections results are out. Surprise – pro-junta parties “won” enough seats to form a ruling coalition that will likely change little. Pro-democracy parties are planning to challenge the results (The Guardian).

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.