This week, news in Asia is a mixed bag of bad news and some even worse news, unfortunately, and some of the news is tied to US politics and motivations.
So, do you remember the fire at the Bangladeshi clothing factory a few weeks ago? Turns out, like so many tragedies, it could have been prevented. However, in the interest of the bottom line, proper fire safety measures were not put in place. Global brands like Wal-Mart and Sears say they had no idea that some of their clothing came from Tarzeen Fashions, though critics do no understand how the retailers did not know where their products came from. According to Occupy America, documents found in the factory wreckage indicate Wal-Mart and Gap blocked moves to upgrade the fire safety systems in the factory.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has lowered its growth projections for Asian markets in 2012-2013. The revision is due in part to sluggish projected growth for India’s economy, the debt woes in the Euro zone and the “fiscal cliff” crisis in the US.
Police in Vietnam broke up anti-Chinese rallies in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City over the weekend. Over 20 activists were detained by police as hundreds of people gathered to protests China’s aggressive actions over the mineral rich South China Sea. The protestors were intercepted by police as they approached the Chinese embassy. Loudspeakers proclaimed, “The Communist Party and government are resolutely determined to defend our country’s sovereignty and territory through peaceful means based on international law.”
A US drone attack was said to have killed three Taliban operatives in Pakistan. The US government has long argued that the use of drones is too effective to give up, but they are very unpopular in Pakistan and becoming increasingly unpopular in the US. Many contend that the “collateral damage” is simply too high as it has been reported that innocent men, women and children are killed by the missile strikes. An upcoming documentary entitled, Drones Exposed, focuses on the children killed in the drone attacks and those left behind.
Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra will preside over the national launch of a Leadership Academy for Muslim Women at Government House on Tuesday. Though Thai women make up half of the population in the Southeast Asian nation, they compromise only 16 percent of Thailand’s Parliament and only four percent of political positions in towns in villages across Thailand. Only one Muslim woman holds a seat in Parliament. The program will have two focuses; one is to equip young Muslim women to take on leadership roles in their communities. The second is to develop skills for women who want to pursue higher political offices.
President Benigno Aquino III has placed the Philippines under a “state of national calamity” after Typhoon Pablo devastated the region. The president ordered an enquiry about the high death toll despite early typhoon warnings.
This piece deals with the old misconceptions of North Korean refugees as being motivated less by political ideals than by economic ones; i.e. they flee across the border in hopes they won’t die of starvation. Speaking on North Korea, apparently the upcoming rocket launch is being postponed, some say due to the massive amount of snow that has fallen on the peninsula.
Finally, a US doctor kidnapped by the Taliban was rescued in Afghanistan by US and Afghan troops over the weekend.