Opinion

Our experts on Asia guide you through the big issues facing the region
  1. A humanitarian catastrophe is looming in India, threatening to overshadow the severe health crisis afflicting the country of 1.3 billion people as it experiences a three-week lockdown on account of the Covid-19 pandemic sweeping across the world.India’s teeming poor – two-thirds of the population who live on less than US$2 a day – have been the worst affected by the lockdown, which enters its sixth day on Tuesday. They find themselves quarantined with no access to food and face being brutally…
  2. More developing countries have imposed lockdowns as the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 infection soared in the last week. India has been under an unprecedented nationwide lockdown since March 25, with the country’s 1.3 billion people ordered to stay at home for at least 21 days. South Africa started a three-week lockdown on March 27 and brought in the military to ensure it is enforced. In Indonesia, President Joko Widodo, commonly known as Jokowi, so far has resisted calls to impose a…
  3. The central truth to emerge from the Covid-19 outbreak is that all human beings share a common destiny, as it is the first time the whole world has been ravaged by a single catastrophe since World War II.Never before has a pandemic or natural disaster had such a wide and deep impact on human life. Normal activity in the vast majority of nations has come to a halt, with massive school shutdowns, major events suspended or cancelled, most airlines grounded, many metro systems closed, cities locked…
  4. Washington’s US$2 trillion stimulus bill to combat the slowdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic is truly impressive for both its scale and the speed with which it is coming into force.Hailed as the biggest rescue package in US history, the bill – passed by the Senate last week and in the process of getting the nod from the House of Representatives – promises not only generous loans and grants to major industries and small businesses but also direct cash handouts to most adults who will…
  5. In February, when coronavirus cases were surging in mainland China and parts of Asia, the Indonesian government insisted that the country was coronavirus-free, despite at least 5,000 passengers arriving from China each day in January – particularly to Bali.Instead, it allocated US$725 million to boost tourism, with US$6 million as incentives for airlines and travel agencies, US$7.1 million for marketing, and around US$72 million for social media influencers to help promote the country’s tourist…
  6. There may be a silver lining to the Covid-19 pandemic for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose reputation as a capable leader is on the line. Abe’s approach to combating the coronavirus has been viewed unfavourably compared to the responses by leaders in Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, and even Italy and the United States – where widespread testing, social distancing, and lockdowns are under way. As coronavirus cases in Japan mounted, early opposition fault-finding with Abe gave way to…
  7. Singapore’s response to the coronavirus has been held up by many around the world as a model. As of this week, the country has had 558 cases and two deaths, and its infection rate is much slower than the rest of the world. The first thing that helped with its response was it was ready before the outbreak even occurred because of the Sars outbreak of 2002-03. It was aware then that its infrastructure wasn’t ready for an outbreak of this kind. So, in the years since, isolation hospitals were…
  8. The Covid-19 pandemic has forced economies into a tailspin, kicking off a long-drawn and painful downturn. We will soon start to see real, massive corporate and banking failures as well as individual bankruptcies that could last for the next two to three years. Singapore is saddled with long-term structural issues and short-term issues caused by the Covid-19 issue and the related panic it has created. The long-term issues the country already had will now create much bigger problems for…
  9. Most Australians have long taken for granted their right to cross state borders. They have treated them much as they do the often unmarked boundaries dividing their suburbs. Not any more. Australia has closed its international borders to non-residents. South Australia has announced it will close its borders, New South Wales is moving closer to lockdown over the next two days, with Victoria set to follow suit. The Tasmanian government is forcing non-essential travellers into 14 days of…
  10. Everything eventually ends. What will Southeast Asia and Asean look like when the novel coronavirus pandemic runs its course? Historically, all pandemics have had economic and political effects. This essay speculates about the long-term impact of the Covid-19 illness on Southeast Asia in three interrelated dimensions: economics, politics, and geopolitics.The coronavirus outbreak seems to have plateaued in China. Beijing first bungled by trying to cover up, allowing the virus to take hold in…