I’m writing to you this week from Jakarta, Indonesia, where I am working on several stories. If you’re curious about my own journalism, follow me on Twitter, where I post all my articles.
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More than Khashoggi: Saudi Arabia’s dreadful history of executing innocent Indonesians and Filipinos
The horrific murder of Jamal Khashoggi made global headlines, but you probably did not hear about the equally atrocious execution of Tuti Tursilawati, an Indonesian domestic worker convicted in an unfair trial for murdering her employer, who was sexually abusing her. The Saudis did not even inform her family or the Indonesian government about her execution until she was already dead.
In fact, Saudi Arabia regularly executes Indonesian and Filipino migrant workers in what many consider unfair trials, where sometimes even translators are not provided to defendants. These cases never get the same level of outcry as Khashoggi or trials involving Western citizens, but they should.
This video entitled “Rap Against Dictatorship” is going viral in Thailand. 27 million views and threats from the military government against the makers, and even those who share it. The country’s coming elections are going to be interesting. (Bangkok Post)
Sri Lanka is facing a political crisis as the President seeks to sack the Prime Minister and appoint his former political opponent in his place. It’s probably going to get a lot worse before it gets better. (Himal SouthAsia)
While Malaysia takes a step towards abolishing the death penalty, neighboring Singapore, which prides itself on being the most modern country in the region, joins dictatorial regimes in Iran, China and Saudi Arabia and executed Malaysian national Prabu N Pathmanathan for drug-related crimes. Read Kirsten Han’s take on this in the Lowy Interpreter and why the island-nation should join it’s neighbor and take a step towards a death penalty free Southeast Asia.
There’s some America in Asia, like the Northern Mariana Islands. They got hit by a massive typhoon last week – the strongest to his the US since 1935. No one noticed. (Poynter)
Lost in the trade war is the fact that the world needs China to be a climate leader. It’s not. This is worrying, writes Li Shuo in The Diplomat.
I’ve long wondered if China’s massive spending spree as part of the Belt and Road initiative would result in a backlash domestically, as often happens in the US or Europe when it comes to aid spending. Apparently, the latest multi-billion dollar package for Africa is not so popular domestically, according to Panda Paw Dragon Claw. Something worth watching to see if it becomes a trend.
The backlash goes both ways, as citizens of Madagascar are upset about a shady fisheries deal with China that was agreed to in secret (Global Voices).
On a Lighter Note
One of my earliest memories of Asia as a child was news coverage of the legions of bike riders in Beijing, something that has been lost due to the country’s massive economic boom.
This piece by Neil Thomas in Marco Polo on the history of bicycles in China was a pleasure to read, and is jam packed with great data, graphs, and photos, and also looks at the surprising resurgence of bike culture due to the popularity of bike-sharing apps.
Until Next Week,