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Asia Undercovered #54

More stories #Undercovered due to the Coronavirus outbreak: hundreds dead in Himalayan avalanches, journalist sentenced in Thailand, and India acquiring land in Kashmir.

Undercovered this week

First, an undercovered disaster. A cold wave in the Himalayas has caused avalanches which have killed hundreds in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Nepal.

Some positive news: a victory for justice in the Philippines, as the Amputuan family was sentenced to jail for their role in a 2009 that killed 58, including 32 journalists (Global Voices).

Meanwhile, in Thailand, journalist Suchanee Rungmueanpon has been convicted for the crime of...posting a tweet about a labor conflict.

Worth watching: India’s economic slowdown seems to be worsening, with many pointing blame at the BJP for its mismanaged demonetization program and a badly implemented GST tax. Is this why Modi has been focusing on distractions and nationalist battles? (Gurpal Singh, Madras Courier).

One that front: the Indian government is now seeking to acquire land in Kashmir to give to investors. Athar Parvaiz explores the environmental implications of handing over meadows and wetlands to private interests for The Third Pole.

Experts have been warning about this for years, and it’s finally happening. Tonle Sap, the most productive freshwater lake in world, is seeing record low catches as damn construction and climate change tranforms its hydrology – possibly forever. Credit given to this wonderful piece by Shashank Bengali in the Los Angeles Times.


The same laws that led to massive concentration camps and cultural genocide in Xinjiang have now been implemented in Tibet, leading some to worry a similar crackdown could take place there (Echo Xie, SCMP).

If you’re curious to understand how the Belt & Road project is playing out in Myanmar, where it intersects with numerous ongoing conflicts, then read this excellent piece by Khin Zaw Win in New Mandala.


In Malaysia another by-election, and another loss for the ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition, in a landslide.  One key reason – continued failure to implement promises policies after its May 2018 surprise victory (East Asia Forum).

Lighter note

In 1977, the Tashkent Metro opened in Uzbekistan. Until 2018, it was prohibited to take photos of the ornate Soviet project. Now, the stories the country’s tubulent history through this lovely photo essay of the metro by Flip Noubel.

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.