Asia Undercovered Round-up: 22 June 2022
This week: Surprise election results in Cambodia, deteriorating freedoms in Kazakhstan and the Pride Parade return to the streets of Bangkok, Thailand.
Undercovered last week
Could ruthless authoritarian dictator Xi Jinping fall from power in China? Rumors about his absence from state-media are leading some Chinese overseas to wonder if he may not, as many expect, stay on for a third term at this year’s Party Congress (Oiwan Lam, Global Voices)
Undercovered, again: Remember, a few months ago, when Kazakhstan was, for a few days, in the news? The situation remains worrying as new laws further restrict media freedom in the country, as the President consolidates power, reports Zhar Zardykhan for Advox.
The #XinjiangPoliceFiles leak showed, once again, the horrific scale of the atrocities taking place against Uyghurs. In this piece for China Digital Times, Oliver Young looks at how the leaks impacted Uyghurs in exile around the world, many of whom haven’t heard from their family members in years.
Environmental update: In Myanmar, the coup has allowed a gold mining boom to rise in Kachin state. It’s mostly unregulated, leading to mercury pollution, degraded riverbanks and farmland and disruptions of traditional life (The Third Pole).
Meanwhile, in Thailand, indigenous villages from the north are filing a lawsuit against a planned coal mine, which they say would destroy their traditional farmland and impact human health (Carolyn Cowan, Mongabay)
Indonesia’s government is moving forward with controversial plans to carve up the region of West Papua into four provinces, despite local opposition. Why does this matter? Deka Anwan explains the costs of this plan for Papuans in this illuminating piece for East Asia Forum.
A surprise in Cambodia’s local elections, as the opposition Candlelight Party got 22 percent, despite overwhelming odds in what has become a one-party state. Opposition leader Sam Rainsy shares what this means for his country’s future in this piece for The Diplomat.
Hong Kong is becoming more and more like China, as the new Chief Executive, elected in race with no opposition, selects a cabinet that aims to implement mainland-style reforms and likely further clamp down on what little remains of civil liberties (Vera Yuen, East Asia Forum).
This piece by Ahmet Kuru explores why defamation often gets quick responses from Muslim countries like Pakistan, but systematic atrocities like what’s happening to Uyghurs or Rohingya do not. Worth reading to understand the dynamics behind how these countries, and communities, act on the global stage (The Conservation).
Worth reading: Rosemary Marandi takes us to the poorest tribal region of Gujurat in India, and introduces us to a women’s agri collective that is creating a sustainable, alternative future for the Bhil community (Behan Box).
And for the first time in more than two decades, the Pride Parade returned to the streets of Bangkok, so successful that, according to Prachatai, even its organizers were “taken by surprise.” Read their recap to see photos and understand just how important this is to Thailand’s LGBTQ community.
Reporting Done Right
Last week, the BBC released this deeply investigated feature on how palm oil firms in Indonesia were depriving tribal people of millions of dollars by mis-using a local program, called “plasma,” that was aimed at lifting rural communities out of poverty.
Indonesia journalists at BBC reported this in partnership with Indonesian outlets, published in both languages, and shared credit. That is how to report these types of stories.
Asia Undercovered: Round-ups and in-depth analysis of the news, events, trends and people changing Asia, but not getting enough attention in the US media.