3 min read

Asia Undercovered Round-up: 31 May 2023

Asia Undercovered Round-up: 31 May 2023

This week: Thailand stunning election results, the opposition wins in East Timor, and how a massive solar project will impact communities in South India.

Thailand Elections Update

So, in what was a stunning result, the progressive, young-oriented Move Forward Party won the most seats in the elections, including nearly sweeping the capital, Bangkok.

Now, there will several weeks, if not months, of negotiation to form a new government, with the military-appointed senate a key barrier to a coalition getting enough votes. Here’s a good overview and key takeaways from Ken Mathis Lohatepanont for Thai Enquirer.

Did you see our Thailand pre-election backgrounder, which highlighted key players and issues? It’s for paid tier members only, subscribe for access to that, and much more.

Also undercovered last week

Not getting enough attention: There has been a surge in communal violence in the northeast India state of Manipur. One outlet doing great, in-depth reporting of the conflict is Scroll.in, and you can follow their coverage here.

Earlier this month, a Philippines labor activist, Elizabeth “Loi” Magbanua left her home in Manila and ever since, she and one of her colleagues have not been seen. Asian Labour Review published this interview with her partner, Ruth Manglalan, on Loi, her work, and her commitment to workers.

We’ve long highlighted the unjust jailing, now six years long, of Philippines Senator Leila De Lima for, essentially, daring to call out former President Rodrigo Duterte’s violent war on drugs. She’s been acquitted on two of the three charges, but remains jailed until the final cases are tried (APHR)

Meanwhile, in Pakistan, another labor-focused story, this one on how the horrific 2022 floods have made working conditions for women in the agricultural sector, who have long been overlooked, much, much worse (Haroon Janjua, Asia Democracy Chronicles).

In Japan, warming waters are devastating marine ecosystems, leading to record low fish hauls for farmers. Nyri Bakkalian looks at how fishers are being impacted, and what can be done to protect their livelihoods (Unseen Japan).

Worth reading. This piece in MorningStar, which highlights how an uncontacted tribe on an eastern Indonesian island could be impacted by a potential mining project on their native land, which has been granted without their approval.

Electoral Politics

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has been arrested and charged with corruption. With elections months away, what does all this mean? Ayesha Jalal provides some analysis for The Conversation.

And in East Timor, the opposition party, led by independence hero Xanana Gusmão, won the most seats in Parliament. This means his party, the National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction will likely control both Parliament and the Presidency (Rappler).


A coal corruption scandal is gaining attention in Mongolia, after news broke that coal was being exported without customs registration, potentially costing the government as much as $13 billion in revenue. This could have widespread impacts for energy geopolitics across Asia (East Asia Forum).

China’s foreign minister met Myanmar’s junta chief in Nay Pyi Taw, the highest ranking official to do so, and another sign that the Chinese government wants to build strong relations with the junta, despite their widespread human rights crimes (Frontier Myanmar).

Reporting Done Right

Really enjoyed this piece in The New Yorker by Meera Subramanian, which takes us to the site of one of the world’s largest solar farms in South India, and how the local community has both been adversely impacted, but also, for some families, benefited from the project.

As the energy transition grows, we need more outlets to commit resources to reporting on the deep impacts that large scale solar, wind, and other clean technologies will have, particularly in Asia, the world most populous continent and contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Otherwise, we’re only telling half the story.

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.

Read more about this newsletter. If you like it, please subscribe.