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Asia Undercovered Round-up: 15 Nov 2022

Asia Undercovered Round-up: 15 Nov 2022

This week: Key Asia climate and environment stories ahead of #COP, approaching elections in Malaysia and Nepal, and a call to release an unjustly-imprisoned Filipina journalist.

Undercovered last week

A huge tragedy in West Papua. The official cause of death is an accident, but many in the region, and around the world, are skeptical, and there are reports of Indonesian security forces possibly coercing the family

At the recent #SpliceBeta Conference, which I attended earlier this month, I met some of the colleagues of Frenchie Mae, a Philippines journalist who, in 2020, was arrested alongside 4 human rights defenders, and remains in-custody on what many believe are politically motivated charges. Read about her, and the growing call for her freedom, from the Altermidya Network.

Recently elected South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol has seen his approval rating fall rapidly in such a short time. One reason – his persistent attacks on the media, which are, according to Soyoung Kim, turning into open contempt for the media – and democracy itself (East Asia Forum).

Special: Climate and Environment

This week, the COP27 Climate Conference is taking place in Egypt. Asia happens to be the continent responsible for both the highest amount of GHG emissions, and some of the countries with the fastest-growing emissions. So this week, we will include some undercovered environmental stories.

Future growth in clean energy tech will require more minerals, including nickel. But for islanders in Sulawesi, Indonesia, nickel mining for electric vehicles, batteries, and other clean tech has devastated their landscapes, and livelihoods, profiting only those far from their shores (Eko Rusdianto Mongabay)

Also from Mongabay (who deserve praise for their great coverage of Asia), this piece on how Chinese-fleets have been illegally harvesting shark fins across the South China Region, using first-hand evidence from regional fishers working on those vessels (Philip Jacobson, Basten Gokkon)

Geopolitics and climate are often intertwined – this piece highlights how a Thailand-based energy company, Thai PTT Group, continues to own and operate natural gas fields in junta-controlled Myanmar, despite the atrocities taking place there. This tainted gas, fueling oppression, could be flowing into global supply chains (Prachatai).

Electoral Politics

The Thai Constitutional Court – famous for disbanding opposition parties for tiny violations while ignoring the gross un-democratic actions of the ruling coalition – will allow Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha to stay on as Prime Minister despite his having reached the 8-year term limit (Prachatai)

Elections are approaching in Nepal, and the viral #NoNotAgain, asking people to reject existing leaders in favor of new ones, is a sign of widespread discontent with traditional parties and jingoism, writes Amish Raj Mulmi for Kathmandu Post

China’s Communist Party Congress enshrined the patriarchy, with an all-male Politburo for the first time in 25 years. Xi Jinping’s regime is both racist, genocidal, and sexist (Oliver Young, CDT).

Approaching Soon: Elections in Malaysia (keep an eye out for a special issue soon). In this piece for Malay Mail, Soo Wern Jun writes about how the opposition is calling on people to not vote against something, but for something. Is that a strong enough message?

Solutions Stories

In Thailand, workshops are being help to restore bee populations, focusing on growing community and natural farming, writes Panus Danpitakkul in this illuminating piece about how solutions take time, and effort, to be implemented (HB Stiftung).

And I enjoyed this profile of female Afghanistan journalist Anisa Shaheed, who grew up under the Taliban, but only was able to pursue journalism after they were deposed. She is now, like many of her peers, in exile (IJNet).

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Asia Undercovered: Round-ups and in-depth analysis of the news, events, trends and people changing Asia, but not getting enough attention in the US media.