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Asia Undercovered Round-up: 31 August 2022

Asia Undercovered Round-up: 31 August 2022

This week: Two political are held accountable in SE Asia, Pakistan faces multiple crisis, and could an Islamic climate right rise in Indonesia?

Undercovered last week

The United Nations finally released a report highlighting what we’ve known for far too long – there is widespread, state-led, forced labor in Xinjiang of ethnic Uyghurs, with similar conditions in Tibet. Unfortunately, its not the report we’ve been waiting for, from the High Commissioner for Human Rights, which remains in limbo (China Digital Times)

Big news from Pakistan as ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan has been charged under an anti-terror law, and faces potential jail-time. With unrest increasing and Khan vowing to fight what he sees as a political conspiracy against him, its likely to get worse before it gets better (NDTV).

Meanwhile, the country is also experiencing historic floods that have, so far, killed over 1000.

A crazy scandal in Indonesia, where the powerful national police are implicated in a sex-murder scandal that is having broad political repercussions. You have to read this piece in Asia Sentinel to understand what’s happening – it’s like a soap opera (h/t Thinksight)

Also worth reading: This fascinating piece by Rizky Alif Alvian on how Islamic radicals in Indonesia are using climate change as an issue to rally youth in the country, blaming the crisis on western secular capitalism. Coming soon: a radical climate right?

More worrying news from Kashmir, where the right to vote, which had been protected for Kashmiris to prevent dilution by migrants from other parts of India to the Muslim-majority state, has been overturned. This could lead to further loss of political power as India’s BJP government aims to integrate the restive region fully (Al Jazeera).

There is a drug crisis in the Pacific, as traffickers use the lightly-patrolled waterways as transit routes. In Policy Forum, Kuliniasi Ligaitamana Tukutukuwaqa argues for more information sharing and better security cooperation among the region to tackle this challenge.

Electoral Politics

Two big stories as political leaders were held accountable in Thailand and Malaysia.

First, despite his best efforts, former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak saw his conviction upheld. He will, unless political shenanigans get in the way, spend the next 12 years in prison for his role in the 1MDB scandal (Coconuts KL).

In a bigger surprise, Thailand’s Constitutional Court suspended Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha as it considers whether or not he has breached the eight-year term limit, as his reign started under the junta-government (SCMP).


The crisis in Eastern Europe is shining a light on just how limited India is as a geopolitical power, as it’s failed to put forth a consistent position. This piece in East Asia Forum explores the reasons why political will is lacking when it comes to pushing geopolitical ambitions.

And a great piece of work by several journalists at Nikkei Asia on China’s Belt and Road Initiative, the Sri Lanka debt crisis, and how Beijing’s plans for regional influence are facing strong headwinds from political and economic challenges in recipient countries.

Solutions Stories

For Behan Box, Eisha Hussain writes about a girls collective that is helping to prevent trafficking, which is a direct consequence of climate vulnerability, in the low-lying Sundarbans regions of east India. A great piece on how empowerment can be a form of resilience.

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.