Posted: May 20th, 2013 | Author: Lorenz | Filed under: Asia-Pacific, Elections, Government, Politics | Tags: Catholic Church, elections, philippines
There is an unusual sight that can be found if someone was to enter any cathedral nowadays, at the time of the mid-term elections, somewhere on the Philippines. The eye is caught by huge red and black banners asking the faithful Catholic community to choose between “Team Life” and “Team Death”. It was Bishop Vicente Navarra of Bacolod City in the central Philippines who coined the terms. The Catholic priest says the very soul of the nation would be at stake since a birth-control law was passed last year making it possible for the population to receive state subsidized contraceptives.
Condemned by the Catholic Church: Contraceptives and sex education
The issue at hand has is that in the past the church has through the Catholic teachings and a great impact on political decision making prevented thus far a law lake this. Bishop Navarra said that birth control was only the beginning and divorce, euthanasia, abortion and homosexual marriages will follow. Any politician who voted for the reproductive health legislation in the Philippines, known as the RH bill, was put on the list of “Team Death” by the church and every one voted against it belongs to “Team Life”. In fact the church has before 2012 successfully for a decade prevented the government from passing such a law. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: May 14th, 2013 | Author: Nina | Filed under: Asia-Pacific, Government, Governmental Policies, Human Rights | Tags: Cambodia, International Labor Day, Labor rights
Protesters marching towards the National Assembly building on May 1st, where they gathered to listen to speeches and present petitions to the government.
With regard to International Labor Day on May first, workers around the world united to protest over low pay, rising living costs and difficult working conditions. In Cambodia thousands of garment workers hit the streets of Phnom Penh. According to LICADHO, the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights, between six and seven thousand workers, union leaders, local communities, students, NGO’s and others marched to the National Assembly, calling for improvement of working conditions. In last weeks’ blog, the human rights situation in Cambodia was highlighted. According to the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF), an advocacy organization dedicated to achieve just and humane treatment for workers worldwide, one of the most violated human rights in the workplace is the right to associate freely around the world. That means that a large number of workers continue to be denied of their fundamental, internationally recognized right to freedom of association and collective bargaining. This limits workers to contribute actively to the improvement of workers’ rights in many aspects, although there are several projects and organizations present trying to contribute in favor of labor rights in the country. A stronger voice of the public could be the next step.
Cambodia is a member of the International Labor Organization (ILO) since 1969. Nevertheless, it is only since the 1990’s that the ILO has been an active partner in Cambodia’s economic, social and democratic recovery. The state of poverty is declining in the country; however rural poverty remains high, at 40 percent. According to the ILO, 85 percent of the population works in agriculture, forestry, fishing and in small and micro-enterprises. The sectors of garments and tourism are currently the main engines of growth, with garment manufacturing accounting for 85 percent of Cambodia’s exports and employing approximately 350,000 workers. According to Brett Eisenbrown, a fellow blogger and intern at ILRF, Cambodia has the reputation of being one of the more socially responsible nations when it comes to labor rights. That is because of the passage of the 1997 labor law that was co-written by the Cambodian Government, the ILO, and the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations. In addition, an independent Cambodian Arbitration Council was established in 2003, which now receives funding from the US Department of Labor to support its Better Factories Cambodia (BFC) Project. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: May 13th, 2013 | Author: Tingdong Lu | Filed under: Asia-Pacific, Economics, Government, Governmental Policies, Indonesia, International Business, International Relations | Tags: ASEAN Community, Asia, Factory Asia, low cost
Nike factory in Vietnam
These two simple words “Factory Asia” can visually define Asia’s growth performance over the last two decades. The first impression of Asia from Western aspect would be growing population that can provide cheap and abundant labor. However, the map of products produced and traded by Asian economies rapidly changed from low value sectors (i.e. agriculture) to manufacturing and services in recent years. According to the conference record from the 46th Annual Meeting of The Board of Governors in Delhi in May, 2013, developing economies in Asia have revealed remarkable growth over the past few decades. Meanwhile, strong growth combined with visible reductions in poverty has encountered a setback during the global financial crisis. Hence, in order to absolutely implement the innovation of Asian economy, the relevant actions and adjustments must be carried. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: May 8th, 2013 | Author: Lorenz | Filed under: Asia-Pacific, Human Rights | Tags: Buddhist, Muslims, Myanmar, Sanctions
In March 2013 a couple enters a goldsmith’s shop in Meiktila, Myanmar. It is not entirely clear what happened next, the only thing that is known is that a fight started between the Muslim goldsmith and the Buddhist couple that entered and the owner hit one of the customers in the head.
Muslim neighborhoods appear like images out of a war zone
The resulting consequences were horrific and unforeseen. Several mobs of Buddhists swarming through the streets equipped with wooden clubs and knifes killing Muslims, even children, and burning down buildings. The world watched in horror as videos show the brutal reality of the riots in which Buddhists in Meiktila basically started hunting down Muslims and burned down mosques. The violence started to spread to other towns as well. As a consequence the government quickly imposed curfews. President Thein Sein declared state of emergency and deployed between 600 and 700 police officers to get the situation under control. But the CNN reported of policemen standing by while rioters torched down buildings unable to cope with the situation. In the end more than 40 people were killed and over 12,000 Muslims were displaced from their homes. At the end of March the local police reported eight destroyed houses and a mosque in the Natalin township and 40 destroyed houses in the Zigon township as well as a destroyed mosque. A bizarre fact is that much of the existing tension has been spurred by Buddhist monks, of which some actually led parts of the mob. What has happened in Myanmar? Why would a situation like this occur and what is the appropriate way to deal with it? Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: May 7th, 2013 | Author: Nina | Filed under: Asia-Pacific, Elections, Government, Governmental Policies, Human Rights | Tags: Cambodia
Cambodia has experienced dreadful human rights records over the course of the last thirty years. The worst period was between 1975 and 1979 under the Communist Party of Kampuchea, the “Khmer Rouge”, who carried out crimes against humanity on a scale that left more than one quarter of the population dead. According to Craig Etcheson of the Equipa Nizkor, an international organization working for the respect and promotion of human rights in different topics and areas, the situation has improved markedly in Cambodia after the overthrow of the Khmer Rouge regime. However, although the Cambodian government has ratified 13 human rights instruments and the Constitution has incorporated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the impact of the 70’s still remains visible. Unfortunately, improvement has been unsteady and relative and a wide range of human rights abuses are often committed by State personnel. In November 2012 Cambodia signed the “ASEAN Human Rights Declaration”, which caused many concerns to human rights groups worldwide. The declaration seems to be incomplete since it misses out fundamental human rights. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: May 6th, 2013 | Author: Tingdong Lu | Filed under: Asia-Pacific, Economics, Government, Governmental Policies, International Relations, Politics | Tags: ASEAN, challenge, opportunity
The Member States of ASEAN Community
In the twenty-first session of the ASEAN summit, ASEAN leaders agreed to establish the ASEAN Community at the end of 2015. However, there are only less than three years before the deadline until now. Base on the blueprint of ASEAN Community, it should be possible to build a prototype of the community for ASEAN in the next 3 years, according to Liu Ming, Deputy Director of Institute of International Relations of Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. Nevertheless, although ASEAN has its own competitive advantages and opportunities, it is unpractical for ASEAN to establish a high integrated union like EU in a short term if the challenges cannot be dealt with properly
The ASEAN Economic Community goal consists of five aspects: accessibility of trade and investment, regional trade interdependence, economic related laws and a unified political system, the formation of the single market and production base, and to establish economic authority beyond its members. In fact, AEC can be considered as an upgraded version of free trade area, namely in the foundation of zero trade tariffs, which will make the freedom of movement about goods, services, investment and technology workers possible. However, there is still a long way for ASEAN to establish the political, economic and social – cultural community goals. Whether ASEAN can achieve the goal on schedule in 2015, in particular to found economic community, is still have a lot of questions. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: May 2nd, 2013 | Author: Marc | Filed under: Asia-Pacific, China, Economics, Government, International Business, Politics
The global economy is slowing down since the financial crises in 2007 and 2008, which still has a major impact on labor markets, financial institutions and currencies. Recently Cyprus´ economy had to be rescued by the European Union, as it was facing issues that the country could not overcome on its own anymore. Not only banks but also entire countries fail on meeting their financial obligations which frightens economist and the global community. Japan has been always known as a strong economy even though they faced trade and currency issues in the past. However, even Japan struggles to find its way out of its current economic situation which is dominated by slow growth, strong yen, slumping productions and export. It has to be asked if the economic reforms by the new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, called “Abenomics” will lead Japan out of its current recession. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: May 1st, 2013 | Author: Nina | Filed under: Asia-Pacific, Governmental Policies, Thailand | Tags: crushing ritual, elephants
Thailand has a long shared history with the elephant, which has remained a potent national symbol even today. Thailand’s forests have been home to Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) for centuries, however, the loss and fragmentation of habitat has resulted in plummeting numbers of wild elephants. The poaching of bulls for their ivory and the young calves captured to be trained for tourist shows, threaten the survival of the elephant in South East Asia. A recent visit of the author to the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai created awareness about how those beautiful creatures are treated. Even though it seems that the elephant has a high status in Thailand, it does not reflect in the way those animals are treated. University of Puget Sound researcher Nick Kontogeorgopoulos notes that; while there were approximately 100,000 elephants in 1900, today there are roughly 4,450 left in Thailand. Of these elephants, around 1,000 are wild and are mostly found in the Khao Yai National Park and Thungyai Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries. All the other elephants are domesticated. For the purpose of creating more awareness about the tradition of domesticating elephants in Thailand, this blog covers the history, purpose of domesticating elephants and the way that is still done today.
Historically, elephants were mainly used for transportation and war. Nevertheless, sometimes they were used as executioners, trained to crush condemned people to death. They were also the ceremonial mounts for royalty and those with high religious esteem. More recently, elephants were used in the timber industry. This took place until 1989 when the Thai government banned the logging industry. Thousands of elephants were then suddenly left without work. The situation forced many mahouts to take their elephants to Bangkok or other major cities to make money. In addition, elephants still remain a favorite for those visiting a zoo or circus. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: April 30th, 2013 | Author: Tingdong Lu | Filed under: Asia-Pacific, China, Government, Governmental Policies, International Relations, Military | Tags: aircraft carrier, China's navy, island chains, territory dispute
China's first aircraft carrier, Liaoning
For a long time, discussions about China’s aircraft carrier never stopped. The authorities also slowed cautious on this issue, because the western society always connects the aircraft carriers owned by China with the “China Threat Theory”. They believe China is eager to seek hegemony by building aircraft carriers and the development of Chinese military force will be a threat to global peace. All kinds of rumors about whether China has aircraft carriers were spread by the international community. However, military vessels can show the status of a country’s military development, therefore, it is unrealistic that China as a rising power would be without aircraft carriers. Hence, on September 29, 2012, the spokesperson of State Defense Ministry officially declared that the first aircraft carrier of China, Liaoning, went into service. China has been the10th country in the world to join the aircraft carrier “club”. This raises the question why China authorities are so determined to rapidly develop its naval force. The current territorial disputes must be one undeniable reason. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: April 12th, 2013 | Author: Nina | Filed under: Asia-Pacific, China, Governmental Policies, Thailand | Tags: CITES, Endangered species, illegal trade
After drugs and guns, the illegal trade of wildlife is the third most lucrative international smuggling business. Every year hundreds of millions of plants and animals are caught from the wild are sold for various purposes, such as food, leather, tourist souvenirs, wooden musical instruments and medicine. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has noted that while a great deal of trade is legal, a worryingly large proportion is illegal. This threatens the survival of many endangered species. Wildlife trade as such is not always a problem; nevertheless according to the WWF, it has the potential to be very damaging since it is the second-biggest threat to the survival of species, after habitat destruction. But why should overexploitation concern us and what is currently being done about it? Is banning trade of wildlife the solution to this problem?
Silver Coin for the International Coin Collection, 1997
There are many organizations which are involved to protect threatened wildlife and endangered species. Some examples are the WWF, TRAFFIC, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Conservation International and Wildlife Conservation Society. Overexploitation should concern us for the several reasons. According to the WWF, wildlife is vital for rural households, which might depend on local wild animals for meat, local trees for fuel, and both flora and fauna which provide components of traditional medicine used by most people in the world. The flipside is that it causes a natural imbalance. An example is overfishing; it affects fish species and causes imbalances in the whole maritime system. In addition, illegal trade is worrying because conditions of
transport are likely to be worse and it indicates the inability of countries to protect their natural resources. Overexploitation and illegal trade would not only cause extinction of species, but also serious disturbances to the complex web of life.
To illustrate the impact of illegal trade during the last decades, Economist article of 5 March 2013 provided some examples. For example, the population of tigers decreased by 50 percent since 1990, although it was banned since 1975. In 2012, 668 rhinos are thought to have been killed, despite the existence of a trade ban since 1976. In 2011 almost 24 tons of ivory were seized, which is the largest haul since the trade ban in 1989. More information on ivory trade in particular was given by my fellow blogger Malte. Read the rest of this entry »