News in Asia

First off, since I am writing this on Mother’s Day here in the U.S., I would like to wish all the mothers here a very happy Mother’s Day.

OK, on to the news…

After weeks of violence leasing up to the election, the Pakistani people chose Nawaz Sharif as their Prime Minister. This is the third time Sharif will hold the office; he was elected twice in the 1990s before being ousted by a coup and forced into exile. His party, the Pakistan Muslim League-N also won a majority in the legislature. Despite the violence, an estimated 66 percent of the population voted in the election, up from 44 percent in 2008. Considering some provinces like the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province did not allow women to vote, the percentages might well have been higher.

The government of Bangladesh has proposed raising the minimum wage for garment workers in the aftermath of the world’s worst garment industry disaster. The collapse of the garment factory has brought the textile industry in the country under international scrutiny, revealing horrifying working conditions and extremely low pay. While I applaud the raise in wages for the garment workers, the hazardous working conditions in many textile factories must be addressed. Another bright spot in this horrifying tragedy: a woman was pulled from the rubble 17 days after the factory collapsed. She was able to survive on dried food, bottled water and rain water.

There was a mass protest outside the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, where around 50,000 protestors gathered to dispute the national election. Opposition party leader Anwar Ibrahim accused the ruling party of rigging the election to stay in power.

The Taiwanese government has given the Philippines a 72-hour ultimatum in regards to the killing of a Taiwanese fisherman who was found fishing in disputed waters by a government vessel. The vessel opened fire on the fishing boat and the fisherman, named Hung Shih-cheng, died from a bullet wound. Taiwan has threatened to expel the Filipino envoy from Taipei and recall their own government officials stationed in Manila.

In Japan, the yen has hit a four year low. In more bad news from the country, the Japanese PM has acknowledged that the investigation into Japanese soldiers coercing women into sex slavery before and after World War II was limited.

Finally, a series of goofy ads have been used to introduce Microsoft 8 into Asian markets with a great amount of success. However, the language spoken in the videos is not of any recognizable Asian language. It’s theorized that Microsoft may have created a hybrid language as to not isolate various markets.

By Stephens

Florida girl, would-be world traveler and semi-permanent expat. Her main strategy of life is to throw out the nets and hope something useful comes back, but many times it's just an old shoe. She also really, really hates winter and people who are consistently late.

3 replies on “News in Asia”

I am feeling a *tiny* bit hopeful that some things will be a little better as a result of the catastrophe in Bangladesh. I read something about the workers being legally able to unionize now, although I don’t know how much this will help in practical terms (something can be officially legal and still effectively discouraged…)

NPR just reported the parent company of H&M and Zara signed an agreement mandating better working conditions in their factories. So it’s a big step since this disaster is so big it can’t be ignored.

There was a story (and I’ll have to find it later) that pointed out that even if there are reforms in Bangladesh, there are other countries that will welcome garment companies even if working conditions are horrible.

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