Opinion

Our experts on Asia guide you through the big issues facing the region
South China Morning Post
  1. Amid soaring Covid-19 cases, the prolonged political crisis in Malaysia since a parliamentary coup in February last year came to a head on Tuesday when a state of national emergency was declared for the first time since 1969. At the time, parliament was suspended after racial riots broke out between Malays and Chinese in Kuala Lumpur, leaving almost 200 people dead. It only reconvened in 1971.Under a state of emergency, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and his cabinet now have powers to make…
  2. Over the past two weeks, the rest of the world has watched aghast as the United States degenerates into its biggest political crisis in recent memory.The implications of the mob attack on the Capitol building, widely seen as the most hallowed temple of American democracy, by thousands of supporters of the US President Donald Trump, will continue to reverberate around the world for a long time to come.The most immediate fallout is the serious erosion of American exceptionalism in which prominent…
  3. In between the lockdowns and quarantines, the days and months when time dilated into infinity, and the dawning hope of vaccines, there has been one constant: essential workers.The term is wide-ranging, encompassing frontline health care workers alongside the people employed in supermarkets and petrol stations, sanitation workers, and those who deliver food and the flood of packages we’ve all ordered online. The inclusion of these previously disparate jobs under a pandemic-induced banner of dire…
  4. It was September 20 when a new variant of Covid-19 was first identified in the English county of Kent. Yet public acknowledgement of this highly transmissible new strain did not come from Britain’s health secretary, Matt Hancock, until December 14.Had this happened in China, Western media outlets would have been quick to allege a “cover-up” – but in the event, the UK’s almost three-month delay in notifying the world went largely unremarked upon by much of the West, including Australia.This…
  5. Where Southeast Asia is concerned, academics tend to assume China to be a monolith that enjoys an asymmetrical power balance towards its southern neighbours. Yet the literature often ignores the status of the contemporary Chinese state as fragmented, decentralised and internationalised.The influence that an increasingly globalised China exerts in Southeast Asia is much more complex than one would expect from a typical great power in the West – particularly given the long history of Chinese…
  6. The violent group that laid siege to the US Capitol on January 6 carried symbols expressing the purpose of their insurrectionist campaign to derail Joe Biden’s electoral certification.Alongside US flags, anti-Semitic banners and Confederate battle flags flew the yellow-and-red striped flag of the former South Vietnam.This confounded many onlookers. One Reddit user wondered why the mostly white “anarchist mob” had “co-opted” South Vietnamese iconography.Why are so many Vietnamese in the US pro…
  7. SAKANA, SAKANA, SAKANA!When I first went to Japan as an “alien” in the 1980s, my British palate was confronted with all manner of strange food – and I reached the hasty conclusion that the Japanese couldn’t cook for toffee. As a young banker fresh off the boat I sought refuge in Indian restaurants or in one of the few affordable French and Italian places introduced by like-minded culinary hostages – the locals could at least boil spaghetti and had a ketchup-based sauce called “Napolitan”.During…
  8. Led by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the heads of several South Asian countries pledged to cooperate through last year on regional security, with counterterrorism efforts at the top of their agenda. The move was made as the effects of three attacks in the region over the past decade continued to resonate: the 2014 attack on an army school in Peshawar by the Pakistani Taliban that killed 135 schoolchildren, the 2016 storming of an upscale bakery in Dhaka by a local militant group, and…
  9. Systemic corruption in Chinese courts is an open secret. This is particularly so in commercial litigation cases in which judges are known to rule in favour of the plaintiff or the defendant, largely based on whoever can offer the bigger bribe.But the evidence of such rampant corruption has been scarce as the authorities tend to shield details of misconduct by corrupt judiciary personnel from public view, acutely aware of the danger of eroding public trust in judicial fairness and integrity.This…
  10. The Philippines is currently embroiled in a vaccine scandal as it investigates the unauthorised use of a Chinese-made coronavirus vaccine last year.Last week, President Rodrigo Duterte’s security team admitted that several soldiers had injected themselves four months ago with a Chinese Covid-19 vaccine not yet approved by Philippine regulators.Even though Duterte has pushed back against legislative attempts to probe the unauthorised use, the Senate is expected to proceed with an inquiry next…