2 min read

Asia Undercovered #45

This week: CCTVs in India, land disappearing in Bangladesh, insights into West Papua tensions, and a sad loss for the Philippines.

A new perspective

Most stories about the Hong Kong protests focus on either the opinions and ideals of locals, westerners, or mainland Chinese. But what about the several hundred thousand migrant workers who also call the city-state home? This piece by Mong Palatino in Global Voices gives us an important and unique Filipino perspective on the movement.

Undercovered this week

Bones found in a dam in Thailand have been identified as the remains of an ethnic Karen activist who was kidnapped nearly five years ago. The news is heightening calls for an investigation, as there is evidence of state or police involvement in the crime (Prachatai).

As India creeps towards authoritarianism, there has been an increase in the use of CCTV cameras under the guise of crime prevention. Manasa Rao argues that technology cannot substitute for policies that address the social, psychological and economic that drive crime (The News Minute).

Here’s a rare story from the Pacific. The tiny Cook Islands is considering a name change to remove the reference to its colonial namesake. I wonder if this might push The Philippines (named after King Philip) to once again consider doing something similar (NZ Herald).

In Bangladesh, every year thousands of hectares of land are disappearing, destroying the livelihoods of thousands of rural people. A great story by AZM Anas for The New Humanitarian.

The Conversation published insightful pieces on West Papua, explaining some of the reasoning behind the tensions. First, Ariel Heryanto looks at why the reaction from many Indonesians has been tinged with ultra-nationalism, while Jenny Murno explores the origins of racism against ethnic Papuans and its ubiquity of this in Indonesia.

Al Jazeera reports on an important, unexplored angle of the Uyghur crisis – how China controls the narrative, both abroad, but also within the country.


El Nino is fueling drought – accentuated by years of development – across Asia. Jonathon Zubrzycki explores the politics of water across the continent, and why different countries are responding different to water shortages (Monsoon Project)


In Taiwan, the KMT has become the pro-China party. So why do the country’s indigenous peoples so often side with them? An interesting insight into one of the many crucial constituencies ahead of next year’s election (Taiwan Insight).

Sadder note

Gina Lopez, a longtime environmental activist and even a short-lived environment secretary, died last week at the age of 65. She tried to do a lot to help the Philippines, but political forces limited her impact (Mongabay).

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.