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  1. Xi Jinping signals intent to remain in power by revealing politburo with no successor https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/25/xi-jinping-signals-intent-power-successor-politburo-china China’s president unveils his all-male cabinet, but crucially no member is young enough to take the reins from Xi at the end of his second term Xi Jinping has kicked off his second term as leader of the world’s second largest economy, vowing to spearhead the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” and signalling his intent to tower over Chinese politics for decades to come. At just before noon on Wednesday, Xi unveiled the new line-up of China’s top ruling council – the Communist party’s politburo standing committee – leading six besuited comrades out into a blaze of camera flashes in the Great Hall of the People. “Here, on behalf of the newly elected central leadership, I wish to express our heartfelt thanks to all other members of the party for the trust they have placed in us. We will work diligently to meet our duty, fulfil our mission and be worthy of their trust,” Xi said in a 21-minute address that marks the formal start of his second term. Crucially, the all-male group contained no potential successor, since none of its five new members – all aged between 60 and 67 – is young enough to take the reins from Xi after the end of his second term, in 2022, and to then rule for the customary decade. Such is the secrecy that cloaks Chinese politics that the identities of the standing committee’s incoming members were known only as Xi escorted them out onto a scarlet-carpeted stage. Joining Xi and premier Li Keqiang on the elite committee are: Li Zhanshu, 67, Han Zheng, 63, Zhao Leji, 60, Wang Yang, 62 and Wang Huning, 62. “I still can’t get over the fact how the world’s second largest economy, which is declaring this new role of global leadership, is nearly as opaque as the North Korean political system,” said Jude Blanchette, an expert in Chinese politics from New York’s Conference Board research group. “I just find that absolutely striking and in a way almost unacceptable for a system that wants to play such a fundamental role in guiding and shaping the 21st century.” China’s propaganda apparatus has touted this week’s political show as an example of openness and transparency. However, a number of major western news organisations whose coverage of Xi’s rule has irked Beijing were excluded from Wednesday’s event without explanation including the BBC, the Financial Times, the Economist, the New York Times and the Guardian. In his address, Xi outlined his vision for what he called China’s “new era”, an era in which an emboldened and purified Communist party would play an even more prominent role in returning the country to its former glories. “It is my conviction that the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation will become a reality,” he said, urging his party to become “the backbone of our nation.” “We should never entertain the idea of taking a breather or halting our steps. Instead, we must continue to rid ourselves of any virus that erodes the party’s fabric, make great efforts to foster a healthy political environment of integrity and generate waves of positive energy throughout our party which can build into a mighty nationwide force driving China’s development and progress.” Xi also pledged “a resolute push” to eradicate poverty, to “open China still wider to the world” and hinted at the more assertive and muscular role Beijing is expected to seek on the world stage in the years ahead. “With confidence and pride the Chinese people will be steadfast in upholding our country’s sovereignty, security and development interests,” he said. The unveiling of China’s new ruling council came one day after the end of the 19th party congress, a week-long political summit at which Xi established himself as the country’s most dominant leader since its revolutionary founder Mao Zedong. On Tuesday, Xi’s eponymous political philosophy was enshrined in the party’s constitution alongside those of Mao and Deng Xiaoping, the architect of China’s economic opening to the world. Experts say that momentous and highly symbolic achievement puts Xi in a virtually unassailable position at the pinnacle of the 89 million member organisation. Having failed to anoint a successor, he is now likely to be calling the shots in Chinese politics well into the 2030s. With Xi now entering his second, although perhaps no longer final five-year term, thoughts are turning to what the next stage of the Xi era might hold. Supporters claim that having used a ferocious anti-corruption campaign to purge rivals and consolidate his grip over the party during his first five-year term, Xi will now turn his mind to comprehensive reforms of China’s economy. “I think the real reform just began,” said Wang Wen, a pro-establishment scholar from a thinktank linked to Renmin University. Wang argued that Xi would enter his second term with “much more authority” and a greater ability to implement his blueprint for China. Such optimism was echoed in China’s party-run media on Wednesday as cadres lined up to heap praise on their all-powerful leader. “We firmly believe that if people all over the country roll up their sleeves under the guidance of Xi’s Thought … we will move steadily into the future with the irresistible force of a high-speed train,” Chen Meifang, a Shanghai railway official, was quoted astelling the Beijing Daily. However, such hopefulness is widely disputed. Blanchette said he expected to see a “super-sized version” of Xi’s first-term policies in his second stint, as China’s leader pursued what he saw as his “program of Chinese greatness”. That would mean accelerating efforts to build a modern, battle-ready military that could begin to push the United States further and further out of what China saw as its Pacific backyard; an increasingly assertive foreign policy in regions such as the South and East China seas; and continued efforts to promote a hi-tech economic revolution by championing huge companies that were either controlled or heavily aligned with the state. It would also mean that the Communist party – and the Communist party only – would continue to lay down the law, in all aspects of Chinese society. In an editorial celebrating the start of Xi’s “new era” on Wednesday, the People’s Daily, the party’s mouthpiece, argued: “History has shown and will continue to show that without the leadership of the Chinese Communist party, the idea of national rejuvenation is a fantasy.” “We should hunker in for a long winter of tight political control,” Blanchette predicted. We should hunker in for a long winter of tight political control Jude Blanchette Elizabeth Economy, the director for Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, said she saw this week’s congress “as affirmation of the direction in which Xi has already been moving the party as opposed to a point at which now we are going to see the real Xi Jinping and his real reforms emerge”. She added: “I think what we are going to see is an intensification along the same lines.” Economy balked at the suggestion that Xi – whose first term has witnessed an unusually fierce crackdown on party opponents and human rights – might suddenly emerge as a political reformer. “I don’t think a crypto-liberal would do what he has been doing over the past five years. I don’t think a crypto-liberal lets Liu Xiaobo die in jail, and the arrests and the intensification of the attacks on the [human rights] lawyers. That is not a crypto-liberal,” she said. Blanchette said Xi had shown a remarkable “mastery of the political system” in China during his first term in power: “The second question though is does that mean he has an omniscience or an omnipotence to deal with all the significant challenges that China is facing? “There is a huge list of challenges that Xi Jinping has to deal with,” he added, pointing to a gradually slowing economy, a looming debt crisis and the possibility of a nuclear conflagration on its doorstep. “He now has the power to do it. But how he deals with these challenges will be one of the most important indicators of whether or not he is able to stay on for the term that he feels he deserves.” Additional reporting by Wang Zhen. What 'Xi Jinping Thought' Stands For https://www.forbes.com/sites/salvatorebabones/2017/10/22/what-does-xi-jinping-thought-mean-and-how-does-it-compare-to-america-first/#2bfee5ab3262 Xi Jinping is universally regarded as China's most powerful leader since Deng Xiaoping, and perhaps since Mao Zedong. Both Deng and Mao left their marks in the charter of the Communist Party of China, and the rumor is that Xi will be their first successor to do the same. Mao's "mass line" and Deng's "seeking truth from facts" have become official tenets of Communist Party dogma. Xi's "socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era" may soon join these august concepts as official truth. But just what does "Xi Jinping Thought" really consist of? To answer that question, it helps to compare Xi's governing principles to those of the four preceding "paramount leaders" of China's Communist Party. Xi versus Mao Xi Jinping is most often compared to Mao Zedong, China's revolutionary leader, red emperor and communist theologian. Mao's political maxims were collected in the Little Red Book once read by leftist college students and Latin American guerillas. Mao Zedong thought is not all that bad, if you happen to be planning a people's revolution to overthrow your government. Unlike Lenin and most European Marxists, Mao taught that revolutions had to come from below. And unlike most revolutionaries, he still fought to overthrow the government even when he was the government. The infamous Cultural Revolution that rocked Chinese society from 1966-1976 was the result. Xi is no revolutionary, and he is certainly no Mao. Xi'sChinese Dream is a "moderately prosperous society," not a communist utopia. Xi does talk a lot about "national rejuvenation," but that's really just a way to avoid using the Western word for what he really means: renaissance. Xi's Chinese renaissance is all about China's space program, high speed rail network and high technology parks. But a real Chinese renaissance requires the reversal of China's long-term brain drain to the United States and other English-speaking countries. The problem? Most Chinese scientists are unwilling to give up their tenured positions overseas to take a chance on a permanent return to China. Barring a reversal of epic proportions, in 2021 Xi will preside over the centenary of the Chinese Communist Party. That will be as good a time as any to finally lay Mao Zedong Thought to rest for good. If Xi has his way, they may just take the opportunity to bury Mao along with it. He's been waiting long enough. Xi versus Deng Soon after the death of Mao, his long-time frenemy Deng Xiaoping put paid to the Cultural Revolution and started China on the path to opening and reform that it has followed for the last 40 years. Famous for saying that it was OK for some people to get rich before others, Deng was repeatedly condemned by Mao as a "capitalist roader" -- which, as soon as Mao died, is exactly what he turned out to be. To facilitate his economic reform agenda, Deng urged that China should "keep a low profile" in international affairs, biding its time while building its strength. Xi'sstrive for achievement strategy couldn't be more different. In his landmark Communist Party Congress speech, Xi pledged that China would have a "world class" military by 2050, in line with his policy of relentless maritime expansion in the South China Sea. Xi has departed radically from Deng's advice on foreign policy, but what Xi shares with Deng is a staunchly conservative preference for order over chaos. Deng ruthlessly suppressed the Tiananmen Square democracy movement in order to preserve the rule of the Communist Party. Xi has much more subtly turned the screws on political dissent using the more discriminating but perhaps more effective tools of online surveillanceand selective imprisonment. As the ever-quotable Deng said himself, "it doesn't matter whether the cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice." Xi versus Jiang Deng Xiaoing's successor Jiang Zemin is perhaps best remembered for the fact that everything done under his leadership was done "with Chinese characteristics." Deng may have coined the phrase "socialism with Chinese characteristics" to justify his introduction of the market into China's planned economy, but under Jiangthe phrase became a standing joke. Jiang Zemin codified these Chinese characteristics into the "Three Represents": the idea that in addition to the poor, the Communist Party of China would also represent China's business and cultural elites. Under Xi, this has evolved into the Two Represents, and if China's new rich get their way it may soon degenerate back into a novel kind of One Represent. Xi versus Hu Hu Jintao's major contribution to the intellectual life of the Communist Party was to bring Confucius back into the fold. Long prescribed under Mao as the reactionary idol of the pre-revolutionary patriarchy, today Confucius is back in China, with no small thanks to Hu, who rehabilitated Confucian thought, reopened Confucian temples, and chartered the Confucius Institutes to become China's cultural ambassadors to the world. Hu's trademark slogan was the "harmonious society" -- i.e., trust the government and don't complain and everyone can live in harmony. No word on what thenotoriously cranky sage, who got himself successively kicked out of ten different countries for criticizing their poor leadership, might have thought of this. Hu later extended the harmonious society to the harmonious world (i.e., trust China and don't complain and the world can live in harmony). With his One Belt, One Road expansionism and South China Sea island building, Xi seems keen to continue Hu's expansive foreign policy program, only with even less emphasis on the "harmonious" part of the equation. "Party First" Xi Jinping Thought, in a nutshell, seems to boil down to something resembling "America First, with Chinese Characteristics." By all accounts, Xi and U.S. President Donald Trump got along surprisingly well at their first meeting in April, perhaps because at a level deeper than mere speech they spoke the same language. If Xi's political philosophy isn't exactly China First, it is something close to it but at the same time distinctively Chinese: something like "Party First." And putting the interests of the Communist Party first is one thing he shares with all of his predecessors. Like Deng, Xi is a pragmatist who will stay on the capitalist road so long as it leads to much greater wealth than any other. Like Jiang, he is very happy to lead a ruling party dominated by his country's business elite. Like his immediate predecessor Hu, he is crafty enough to use patriotism and ethnic pride as tools to keep ordinary Chinese (if not necessarily China's minority groups) on his side. And like Mao, Xi seems to be ruthless enough to succeed in making his own Chinese Dream a reality. As long as he continues to put the Party first, Xi is likely to maintain his grip on power -- and the Party's loyalty. And as long as the Party puts Xi first, he is likely to have no cause to complain. Xi Jinping Thought may not sell as many books as Mao's did, but come 2021 it will be Xi who sets the course for the next 100 years of the Communist Party of China.
  2. https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Asia-Insight/Smoke-signals-Thailand-blazes-trail-for-cannabis-in-wary-Asia?utm_campaign=GL_asia_daily&utm_medium=email&utm_source=NA_newsletter&utm_content=article_link&del_type=1&pub_date=20220705190000&seq_num=2&si=44594 A breast cancer patient smokes a joint in Bangkok after marijuana was decriminalized last month. Across Asia, cannabis policies remain broadly restrictive, with some inconsistencies and loopholes. © Reuters Asia Insight Smoke signals: Thailand blazes trail for cannabis in wary Asia Recreational use still far-off prospect as taboos persist from ASEAN to Japan FRANCESCA REGALADO, Nikkei staff writerJuly 5, 2022 06:00 JST BANGKOK -- The monks of Wat Jantrawas, a Buddhist temple in Thailand's Phetchaburi Province, sat in a circle and passed around a small dark bottle. One by one they stirred a few drops of cannabis oil into their coffee cups, reminiscing about their youth when the plant, known in Thai as ganja, was commonplace. "In their free time, they used ganja when they talked with each other," said the temple's 71-year-old abbot. As a young man, he had used the plant much like MSG to enhance his cooking. Before Thailand strengthened its narcotics law in 1979, the monks say blue collar laborers regularly consumed cannabis after work. It was also used by artists and musicians to inspire creativity. The evidence can be seen on the walls of Wat Jantrawas and nearby temples. Murals dating back to the reign of King Rama V in the late 1800s depict monks, nobles, soldiers and ordinary people using cannabis to treat maladies, or smoking it with bamboo bongs. Until 1914, it was even an export, shipped in sacks bearing the garuda, the royal standard. "It wasn't illegal; it was just medicine," the abbot said. Cannabis could reclaim its place in Thai life, since the government last month removed it from the list of banned narcotics. But the factors that made Thailand first in Asia to decriminalize marijuana may not be easily replicated in its neighbors. The push began three years ago, when a populist party leader secured a cabinet position overseeing drug policy. "When we decided that the policy of cannabis would be put in the campaign program back in 2019, our purpose was only to make sure that the farmers would have another option of agricultural products," Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul told Nikkei Asia. His Bhumjaithai Party holds 59 seats in parliament and is a coalition partner of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha's Palang Pracharath Party. Its power base is in Thailand's underdeveloped northeast, where farmers have struggled with the low price of rice. "People always put a stigma on this product as a narcotic," Anutin said. "But we looked from a different angle and we found that it could be a plant that not only cures people's illness, but also open another opportunity for farmers." Under Anutin's influence, the Health Ministry excluded cannabis from a narcotics list adopted on June 9. On the same day, more than 3,000 prisoners with marijuana-related convictions were released. Monks at Wat Jantrawas, a Buddhist temple in Thailand's Phetchaburi Province, stir cannabis oil into their coffee. (Photo by Francesca Regalado) Anutin hopes the change will create a new $10 billion to $15 billion market for Thailand. Residents can now grow up to six plants at home and make their own medicinal products for personal use, domestic sale or export. To be registered with the authorities for sale, such products cannot contain more than 0.2% of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive ingredient that produces the marijuana high. Cannabidiol or CBD, the chemical that lends cannabis its medicinal properties, is less controlled. Studies have demonstrated its effectiveness in treating nausea in cancer patients, seizures from epilepsy and chronic pain as a substitute for opiates, according to the World Health Organization. "I use medical cannabis regularly," Anutin told Nikkei Asia, citing weed-infused lotions, soaps and patches that claim to help with sleep. "It depends on how people develop their products. When it looks very professional, I could not help but reach into my pocket and purchase for my own use." Opponents raise the risk of underage use, addiction, and lung and cognitive impairment. After the policy change, the government scrambled to warn against public smoking and sales to anyone under 20, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. But if cannabis begins to deliver on Anutin's economic promise, his Bhumjaithai Party could thrive in the next general election, which must be called by next year. "The feedback from the farmers is that my party has 50% more popularity in the northeastern part of Thailand," Anutin said. "If you ask why [opponents] are against this policy, they will say this is a deadly policy ... I have a certain amount of people who can make a better living." Whether in Thailand or in the 43 countries and 37 U.S. states that have eased restrictions, marijuana legalization is an incremental process. In Thailand it started with medical legalization in 2018, followed by decriminalization this June. Recreational use is still illegal in Thailand, and Anutin insisted that the kingdom will not be a "marijuana wonderland" for foreign tourists. Elsewhere, some of Asia's strictest cannabis bans can be found in countries affected by the colonial opium trade or other brushes with the West. Singapore's late founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew wanted to remove the scourge of opium and create a drug-free state, with zero tolerance even for marijuana. "There is well-founded and incontrovertible research that establishes several short-term and long-term adverse effects associated with cannabis use, including impairments to one's respiratory and cognitive functions," a disappointed Singaporean government stated in 2020, when the United Nations removed marijuana from its list of the most tightly controlled narcotics. Cannabis supporters in the city-state are relegated to a quiet minority. Singaporeans found to have consumed it, even abroad, face up to 10 years in prison or a fine of 20,000 Singapore dollars ($14,000). Trafficking can result in the death penalty. Even the opposition Workers' Party, which clashes with the ruling People's Action Party on many issues, shares the same firm stance against marijuana. Hong Kong, once a key hub for British opium, has tightened prohibitions as mainland China's influence grows. The territory's Security Bureau recently proposed banning products containing cannabidiol, the chemical that lends cannabis its medicinal properties. Shops selling CBD oil, food and drinks have mushroomed in the city, with cafes and restaurants marketing its purported wellness and stress-relief benefits. But the bureau claims that a third of CBD products sold in Hong Kong contain traces of THC, the banned ingredient. Tourists line up to buy cannabis from a truck in Bangkok on June 13. The government insists decriminalization will not make the country a "marijuana wonderland" and that recreational use is still banned. © Reuters "In recent years, there has been an uptake of consumption of cannabis. To prevent future long-term abuse, we will be taking a hard line against all dangerous drugs and cannabis," Commissioner for Narcotics Kesson Lee told lawmakers in June. The proposed ban would exempt medical prescriptions for CBD. Such selective permits are also technically available in the Philippines, which gained notoriety for former President Rodrigo Duterte's violent war on drugs. His drug enforcement czar in 2019 said that "in general, the law dictates that any variety and derivative from marijuana, including CBD, is prohibited," but conceded that CBD is not addictive. Two of Duterte's allies, former president and House speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and former deputy speaker Luis "LRay" Villafuerte, have admitted to using marijuana medically. Villafuerte authored a bill to fully legalize medical marijuana without requiring permits, which are rarely granted. "We have proof of patients applying, but only one has been granted since 1992," said Henrie Enaje, a lawyer with CannaLegalPH, a nonprofit that extends legal aid to Filipino cannabis users. Legalizing or decriminalizing cannabis, he said, would ensure a stable and fairly priced pharmaceutical-grade supply for patients and research institutions. "All of these are coming from the black market, so quality and supply are patchy," said Enaje. Thailand, he said, "is proof of concept." Rowena Pilapil was among a hundred people who gathered at Manila's heroes monument in late June to advocate for medical legalization. Pilapil has resorted to the black market to source cannabis oil for her 12-year-old son, saying it treats his epilepsy without the side effects of pharmaceutical drugs. She spends between 10,000 pesos and 15,000 pesos ($192 to $288) for 100 milliliters, but swears it is worth it. "The fact that he was able to recognize me and say, 'Mama, I love you,' was already a big thing for me," Pilapil said. Rowena Pilapil says she spends around $190 to $290 to buy 100 milliliters of cannabis oil on the Philippine black market, to ease the side effects of her son's epilepsy medication. (Photo by Cliff Venzon) The black market commands a steep price for a plant that grows wild in Southeast Asia's warm climes. Although trafficking is punishable by death, farms are rampant in Indonesia's Aceh Province, where marijuana is traditionally used for seasoning in local cuisines. An Acehnese member of parliament has called for legalization to make marijuana an export commodity for the province. Cambodia's Kiri Vong district, on the border with Vietnam, similarly cultivates cannabis on a large scale. Locals persist despite police warnings and periodic crackdowns because prices remain relatively high, with a kilogram of dried leaves fetching between $35 and $40. Tourists and expatriates have long been able to buy marijuana easily in Phnom Penh, as endemic corruption means lax and arbitrary enforcement. Tuk-tuk drivers hawk weed while bars sell joints and some restaurants advertise "happy pizzas." "It's always been pretty easy here to get what you need," said one long-term expat. "It's not particularly secret." The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has found that most people who use marijuana do not go on to abuse "harder" drugs. In Japan, an expert committee recently convened to look into officially allowing marijuana-based medicines is also tasked with gauging whether it would fuel substance abuse. Medical legalization would bring Japan, where cannabis cultivation dates back to ancient times, in line with its fellow Group of Seven countries. But Japan appears to be pulling in opposite directions simultaneously. There is also talk of explicitly prohibiting cannabis use by law. The current Cannabis Control Law, a legacy of the postwar U.S. Occupation, bans the growing and possession of cannabis, although CBD can be sold as long as it contains no THC. A police helicopter hovers over a marijuana field in Indonesia's Aceh Province, during an operation to destroy the illegal plants in 2016. © Antara Foto via Reuters Decriminalization raises issues beyond whether cannabis is a "gateway drug." As Thailand brings previously underground farms into the light, it should enshrine labor protections, according to Kelly Beker, executive director of the Cannabis Education Guild, which aims to promote understanding of the drug. "Cambodian, Laotian and Burmese immigrants are at risk of exploitation. It is exactly like that in seafood, agriculture, manufacturing and construction in Thailand," Beker said. "There's a risk that those bad practices will be legitimized." After decriminalizing cannabis, the Thai government could further develop its marijuana laws with labor audits and fair trade stamps on cannabis products, she suggested. Much of Asia appears to be in no rush to go as far as Thailand, let alone allow recreational use. And for some advocates of change, the stakes are especially high. Back in the Philippines, where the war on drugs has also targeted cannabis users -- sometimes in entrapment operations known as tokhang -- proponents of medical use face a stigma and legal risks. Pilapil began speaking publicly about her son's cannabis treatment in 2018, despite the danger. "I realized that there are many people like me, so I decided to come out," she said. "It's our right to access alternative medicine, and we should not beg for that right." Additional reporting by Cliff Venzon in Manila, Dylan Loh in Singapore, Pak Yiu in Hong Kong, Erwida Maulia in Jakarta, Shaun Turton in Phnom Penh and Shoichiro Taguchi in Tokyo.
  3. https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Datawatch/Diabetes-ravages-emerging-nations-in-Asia-Africa?utm_campaign=GL_asia_daily&utm_medium=email&utm_source=NA_newsletter&utm_content=article_link&del_type=1&pub_date=20230213123000&seq_num=12&si=44594 Diabetes patients in Asia and Africa are projected to total 560 million by 2045 as affluence and urbanization lead to changes in Diabetes ravages emerging nations in Asia, Africa Number of patients projected to jump 50% by 2045 as dietary habits change RYOSUKE HANADA and KOSUKE INOUE, Nikkei staff writersFebruary 11, 2023 16:10 JST MUMBAI/BANGKOK -- The number of diabetes patients is surging in Asia and Africa as more people become obese due to COVID-related curbs on outdoor activities and their dietary habits change amid economic growth. In Pakistan, there were 5.2 times more diabetes patients in 2021 than a decade earlier. Of the population from ages 20 to 79, 30% have developed diabetes. "Earlier in Pakistan, diabetes would affect people of 40 years of age, but gradually [came to affect those] in 30s, then 20s, and now we can find in teenagers type two of diabetes," said Matiullah Khan, an endocrinologist at the Shifa International Hospital in Islamabad. If left untreated, diabetes can lead to serious complications, such as heart disease, strokes and blindness. "There is widespread lack of education and awareness among general masses in Pakistan about diabetes. People [tend] to take it less serious as compared to heart ailments," said an official at the nonprofit Diabetes Center in Islamabad. "At government level, there is no education and awareness policy to tackle soaring number of diabetic patients in Pakistan." Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or the body cannot use the hormone well. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the insulin-producing cells fail to work, while Type 2 diabetes results when the body cannot keep blood sugar at normal levels due to obesity or a lack of physical activity. Type 2 accounts for 90% of the world's diabetes patients. Diabetes by itself is the ninth-leading cause of death globally, according to the World Health Organization. But if sugar in the bloodstream remains high, it can damage blood vessels, increasing the risk of developing such complications as ischemic heart disease, the leading cause of death. Treating diabetes is expensive because it requires regular medications, and some patients also find it difficult to make the lifestyle changes needed for treatment. People in emerging nations are particularly vulnerable to diabetes. The total number of diabetes patients in Asia and Africa is forecast to reach 560 million by 2045, up 50% from 2021, according to the International Diabetes Federation. The number is projected to rise 70% to 220 million in South Asia, while sub-Saharan Africa is expected to see a 2.3-fold jump to 55 million. In contrast, increases in Europe and North America are expected to be slight at 1.1 to 1.2 times. The number of patients suffering from Type 2 diabetes is growing in emerging countries as their diets improve with economic development. Daily calorie intake per capita rose 43% in Vietnam and 39% in Ethiopia over the 20 years through 2018, compared to a global average of 8%. The number of diabetes patients rose 130% in Vietnam and 40% in Ethiopia in the decade through 2021. Traditional staple foods in Asia and Africa are low in calories and fat, but foods high in both categories have become available with the globalization of Western diets. As the number of fast-food restaurants increases in urban areas, people have more opportunities to eat foods rich in carbohydrates and fat, leading to an increase in obesity and diabetes. Half of Pakistan's adult population is now considered obese, according to one study. The spread of the novel coronavirus made the situation worse as various restrictions were imposed on people's daily activities. The global average of steps that a person walked daily was 4,997 from May to November in 2021, down 10% from the pre-pandemic level, according to a study by Geoffrey H. Tison, a cardiologist and assistant professor at the University of California, San Francisco and other researchers who analyzed data from the Azumio Argus smartphone app. In Asia, the number fell 30%. "Even North America and Europe, which were among the first countries to lift restrictions relevant to COVID-19, have not [seen the level of exercise] recovered to pre-COVID-19 level," Tison said. Unless people engage in more physical activity, the number of diabetes patients will likely increase and the condition of existing patients will worsen. Along with exercise, dietary control is the key to preventing diabetes or staying healthy after the onset of the disease. Some emerging countries have adopted measures to discourage the excessive drinking of sweetened beverages. Thailand plans to raise its sugar tax by 1.6 to 3.3 times, depending on the level of sugar in beverages, effective as of April. South Africa is also considering raising its sugar tax. Still, education can make people aware of the importance of daily diet. "Government should do campaign to [tell] people, as well as children in the school, about how [important] diets are for their healthy life," said Ruchirek Thamcharoen, an endocrinologist at the Royal Thai Navy's Somdejphranangchaosirikit Hospital.
  4. https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Asia-Insight/From-Singapore-to-Thailand-Asia-dangles-visas-to-lure-high-fliers?del_type=1&pub_date=20221004190000&seq_num=2 From Singapore to Thailand, Asia dangles visas to lure high-fliers New programs kick off as companies struggle to find skilled workers KENTARO IWAMOTO, TSUBASA SURUGA and APORNRATH PHOONPHONGPHIPHAT, Nikkei staff writersOctober 4, 2022 06:00 JST TOKYO/SINGAPORE/BANGKOK -- During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Singapore tightly closed its borders. While many countries did the same, it was a sharp shock to the system for a city-state that had thrived as a hub for travel and as a magnet for foreign workers. As some foreign nationals left, and entries were largely halted, Singapore's population dropped by 4.1% over the year through June 2021, to 5.45 million. The latest data released on Sept. 27, however, shows nearly as swift a turnaround, thanks to a gradual lifting of restrictions. The population rebounded by 3.4% to 5.63 million, largely driven by workers in sectors like construction and shipyards -- the unsung labor that keeps the economy going. Now, Singapore hopes to attract more highly skilled professionals with expertise and ideas that could jolt growth in the post-COVID era. "This is an age where talent makes all the difference to a nation's success," Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in his annual National Day Rally speech on Aug. 21, days before his government announced a new type of visa designed to lure such people. "We need to focus on attracting and retaining top talent, in the same way we focus on attracting and retaining investments." The city-state is far from the only place that covets high-flyers. From Thailand to Taiwan, a competition is heating up to entice the best of the best, and to fill hiring gaps with people equipped to excel in today's pandemic-altered workplace. Innovative sectors like digital technology and biotechnology are especially hungry for talent. Singapore's latest carrot is called the Overseas Networks and Expertise (ONE) Pass, a new visa for high-skill professionals who earn at least 30,000 Singapore dollars ($20,800) a month. The program will allow people with these visas to stay at least five years and work at multiple organizations. Office workers in Singapore: The city-state's newest visa will allow holders to stay at least five years and work at multiple organizations. © Reuters Thailand, meanwhile, began taking applications on Sept. 1 for a new visa that lets global professionals stay in the country for 10 years. The government hopes to bring in 1 million foreign nationals with the Long-Term Resident (LTR) visa, designed for those with skills in targeted sectors such as electric vehicles, biotechnology and defense. Tourism-oriented Thailand, like Singapore, has been hit hard by travel disruptions. Both also have aging populations. While Singapore is expecting growth in the 3% to 4% range this year, the Asian Development Bank's latest outlook forecasts Thailand's growth rate at 2.9%, far below Indonesia's expected growth of 5.4%, Malaysia's 6% and Vietnam's 6.5%. Malaysia, for its part, aims to attract wealthy investors with its new Premium Visa Program. The program, which began accepting applications on Saturday, allows people who can deposit 1 million ringgit (about $215,000) in the country and have an annual offshore income of around $100,000 to stay for up to 20 years. During that time, they can invest, run businesses and work. As part of a broader move to bring in more human resources, Australia recently raised its annual permanent immigration cap to 195,000 for the current fiscal year, from 160,000. These initiatives add to existing programs offered around the region, such as Taiwan's Employment Gold Card system, which started in 2018 for foreign professionals in targeted sectors such as science and technology. "Despite recession fears, many companies are backfilling from the pandemic and hiring for new roles as part of their expansion plans that they have put a pause on for the past two years," said Jaya Dass, managing director of permanent recruitment for the Asia-Pacific region at Randstad, a staffing company. Dass noted that the evolution of business and digital transformation over the past two years have created a need for professionals armed with new skills. "There is now a greater focus on high-value jobs. Besides being digitally adept, employers are looking for talent who are agile, innovative and able to think critically," Dass said. Finding that talent appears increasingly difficult. A survey by ManpowerGroup, another human resources company, found that 75% of about 40,000 companies globally reported challenges in hiring the employees they need, a big jump from 54% in 2019. Companies in some Asian economies are struggling more than the global average: 88% of Taiwanese employers reported such challenges, the highest among the 40 economies the survey covered. Singapore employers did not fare much better, at 84%. Government leaders share a sense of crisis about the competition for talent. "Right now, the best and the brightest minds aren't coming to Australia. They're going elsewhere," Canberra's Home Affairs Minister Clare O'Neil said, announcing the immigration revision on Sept. 2. "If we want Australia to continue to thrive, then we are going to need more help." Japan is rushing to catch up with other Asian nations, planning to expand its own programs for high-skill foreign workers. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, pictured during remarks on Sept. 17, has acknowledged that Japan is "lagging" behind when it comes to competing for human resources. "We are now entering an era of global competition for human resources, in which countries around the world are competing to attract the best foreign talent," Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters on Sept. 17. Pointing to Singapore as well as New Zealand as another country with preferential visa programs. "Japan is still lagging in this area, and we must make more efforts," he acknowledged. Businesses seem to appreciate such endeavors. Singapore's new ONE Pass has already drawn significant attention and rave reviews. Kei Shibata, a Japanese entrepreneur who runs a travel startup in Singapore, said he was interested in the new visa, as it offers a longer stay than existing programs and allows holders to work in multiple companies. "In terms of setting up and growing a business here, it would be nice to have a visa for about five years," he told Nikkei Asia. He also noted that some entrepreneurs serve as outside directors of other companies, saying he thinks there is a need for the program. Magnus Grimeland, founder and CEO of Antler, a venture capital firm established in Singapore with over 550 portfolio companies, was also upbeat. "It's a really good scheme," he said. "Super smart." Grimeland said about 60% of the founders his company supports in Singapore have set up their businesses using EntrePass, a separate visa for entrepreneurs. But ONE Pass is more flexible than existing schemes. EntrePass has no minimum salary but is only good for one year to start. Another visa, the Employment Pass (EP), is typically granted for two to three years and is tied to a specific job. "Moving [to Singapore] with their family can usually only be guaranteed for around two years, so the five-year term will give them security," he said. Not surprisingly, the new visa has raised some questions about the impact on citizens. In a parliamentary debate following the ONE Pass announcement, an opposition lawmaker stressed that "skills transfer to Singaporean workers must be at the center of our manpower policies." But the graying population is adding impetus for overseas recruiting. The latest data showed that people aged 65 or older accounted for 18.4% Singapore citizens of the total, up from 17.6% last year. Grimeland suggested Singapore has a lot to gain from programs like ONE Pass. "If you combine the best talent in Singapore with great people from abroad, it's very beneficial," he said. "Many governments are trying to do this. From our experience, Singapore is exceptional on its execution of ways to attract talented people to build companies." Likewise, Thai businesses are welcoming the LTR Visa, which has already attracted hundreds of applications. Jareeporn Jarukornsakul, chair and group CEO of industrial real estate developer WHA, said companies appreciate the policy because there is an urgent need to bring in skilled labor. The need is especially acute in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), a development zone envisioned as a hub for high-tech industries such as health care, robotics, biotechnology, electric vehicles and tourism. Jareeporn said that when the EEC is promoted, "many foreigners ask whether we have enough expert workers to work here." The answer? "There are not enough expert workers, so we have to import [them]," she said. "We have to build our own [talent] too, but it takes time." Koji Sako, an associate professor at Japan's Josai International University and a longtime Asian economy watcher, said the strategy behind Thailand's new visa is to offer early incentives to attract professionals in sectors that could be major industries in the future. He suggested the government hopes to get a head start on potential competitors -- say, India, which "could potentially be an EV exporter." The Grand Palace in Bangkok lies empty of tourists in late 2020: As COVID-19 border restrictions come down, countries are looking to rev up their economies by attracting more international talent. (File photo by EPA/Jiji) The battle for high-skill workers is not just an Asian phenomenon, but a global one. For example, the U.K. earlier this year launched a new system called the High Potential Individual visa, allowing graduates of prestigious universities to stay in the country even before they land a job. Meanwhile, some markets are losing human resources. Hong Kong's population fell by 121,500, or 1.6%, over the year through June 2022, the sharpest decrease since comparable data became available in 1961. The Asian financial center has been hit by a decline in births and an outflow of people. China's strict national security law, as well as tight COVID-19 restrictions, appears to be among the reasons people are heading for the exit. Sako pointed out that geopolitics could affect the movement of workers in other ways -- and open up opportunities for Asian economies that offer the right enticements. "Highly skilled workers had been concentrated in the U.S., but due to the recent conflicts between the U.S. and China, some Chinese talent is losing their place to go," he said. With their new programs, he said Asian countries could become a destination for such people.
  5. https://asia.nikkei.com/Economy/Emerging-Asia-growing-faster-than-China-for-1st-time-in-30-years?utm_campaign=GL_asia_daily&utm_medium=email&utm_source=NA_newsletter&utm_content=article_link&del_type=1&pub_date=20220921123000&seq_num=2&si=44594 Emerging Asia growing faster than China for 1st time in 30 years Indonesia, Philippines are bright spots but India, Pakistan faltering, says ADB Vegetable vendors at a roadside market in Jakarta on Sept. 12. Indonesia is one emerging Asian economy that is forecast to grow faster than expected this year. © EPA/Jiji CLIFF VENZON, Nikkei staff writerSeptember 21, 2022 09:01 JSTUpdated on September 21, 2022 16:16 JST MANILA -- China's COVID lockdowns mean its economic expansion this year will be slower than the rest of emerging Asia for the first time in more than three decades, the Asian Development Bank projected in a new report. In an updated Asian Development Outlook report published Wednesday, the organization downgraded its forecast for China's 2022 growth to 3.3% from 5.0% in April. The bank also cut its projection for next year to 4.5% from 4.8%. Under its zero-COVID strategy, the region's largest economy imposed lockdowns to fight outbreaks, even as other countries loosened restrictions to reopen their economies. Those lockdowns, the ADB said, add to other economic challenges the region faces. These mainly stem from Russia's drawn-out invasion of Ukraine, which has pushed up global food and fuel inflation and led advanced economies to raise interest rates. Developing Asia as a whole is forecast to grow 4.3% in 2022, down from a 5.2% estimate in April. Excluding China, the region is projected to grow 5.3%, the ADB said. The ADB defines developing (or emerging) Asia as one of its 46 regional members in Asia and the Pacific -- basically all of the region's economies except Japan. For 2023, the emerging Asian region is forecast to grow 4.9%, instead of 5.3%. "Developing Asia continues to recover, but risks loom large," ADB Chief Economist Albert Park said in a statement. "A significant downturn in the world economy would severely undermine demand for the region's exports," Park said. "Stronger-than-expected monetary tightening in advanced economies could lead to financial instability. And growth in [China] faces challenges from recurrent lockdowns and a weak property sector." The ADB projects regional inflation to accelerate to 4.5% this year, from 3.7% in its earlier forecast. Price increases are expected to stabilize at 4.0% next year, but that is still higher than the previous forecast of 3.1%. The bank said rising inflation is expected to dent the recovery of South Asia, which is predicted to grow 6.5% this year, instead of 7.0%. The growth forecast for India, South Asia's largest economy, has been cut to 7.0%, from 7.5%, with a 7.2% expansion predicted next year. The economy of crisis-hit Sri Lanka is expected to shrink 8.8% this year, before the contraction eases to 3.3% in 2023. Pakistan, which grew 6% in its 2022 fiscal year ended June, is predicted to expand at a slower pace of 3.5% in 2023 as International Monetary Fund-backed efforts to fix the country's fiscal deficit curtail economic activity, the ADB said. Still, there are bright spots in other parts of the region. Southeast Asia's growth forecast for this year has been raised to 5.1% from 4.9%, and a 5.0% expansion is projected for 2023. This year's improved forecast comes amid stronger domestic demand in Indonesia, Southeast Asia's largest economy, which is predicted to grow 5.4%, up from 5.0%. The Philippines is now estimated to expand 6.5%, rather than 6.0%.
  6. https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/International-relations/Indo-Pacific/German-Air-Force-shows-it-can-be-in-Asia-in-a-day?utm_campaign=GL_indo_pacific&utm_medium=email&utm_source=NA_newsletter&utm_content=article_link&del_type=11&pub_date=20220817213000&seq_num=2&si=44594 German Air Force shows it can be in Asia in a day Taiwan issue serves as a wake-up call to European powers A Eurofighter, painted with the flags of Australia, Singapore, Japan and South Korea, refuels with the help of an Airbus A330. © Bundeswehr SHOGO AKAGAWA, Editor-in-Chief for Europe, Middle East and AfricaAugust 16, 2022 21:27 JST LONDON -- The German Air Force has begun an exercise named Rapid Pacific 2022, sending a fleet of aircraft to the far lands of Asia. Six Eurofighter jets, four A400M multirole aircraft and three A330 multirole tanker transport planes on Monday took off from Neuburg Air Base, en route to Singapore. The goal was to reach the city-state within 24 hours, which it did, to show that the German Air Force can be in the heart of the Indo-Pacific in a day. From there, the fleet will head to Australia, South Korea and Japan. Fittingly, one Eurofighter was painted with the flags of Germany and the countries the fleet is visiting, to show unity with Germany's Indo-Pacific partners. Why is the Bundeswehr (German Armed Forces) deploying aircraft to the Indo-Pacific for the first time in the post-World War II era? "We want to show that we stand for multilateralism and the rules-based international order, together with our security partners," a Ministry of Defense spokesperson told Nikkei. Clearly, China is in mind. Following the deployment of a frigate to East Asia in 2021, this is another political message from Berlin. The specially foiled Eurofighter "Air Ambassador" takes off from Neuburg Air Base to join the Rapid Pacific 2022 exercise. © Bundeswehr It marks a stark change of direction for Germany. The shift was led by the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the champion of pacifism and the new eastern policy, which sought reconciliation with the Communist bloc. Berlin has learned the harsh lesson of going too deep with authoritarian states. For the half-century since the 1970s, Germany relied on Russia for energy. Those ties are now proving difficult to sever. In an interview with Nikkei, SDP heavyweight Michael Muller, a former mayor of Berlin, emphasized, "We must ensure that we do not get into new dependencies with China. This is the lesson from the current Russia-Ukraine crisis." As Germany, which for years pursued a China-heavy Asia policy, distances itself from China, other European countries are accelerating the shift even faster. Sen. Andre Gattolin of France noted that while Russia is the immediate concern, China poses the bigger long-term threat. Driven by this trend, Europe, which long had been disinterested in the issue of Taiwan, is now ready to side with the U.S. on the contentious topic. When China reacted angrily to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's stop in Taiwan and began live-fire drills surrounding the island, Josep Borrell, the EU's foreign policy chief, said the response could not be justified. The French Foreign Ministry also pressed China to respect order. Faced with the real threat of Russia, European powers have rediscovered the value of the Transatlantic alliance with the U.S. The U.S. has Europe's back when it comes to Russia. Therefore, if the U.S. is confronting China, Europe should back the U.S. too, recent thinking goes. A new determination is rising in Europe. China's strategy to counter this trend seems to be to propose bilateral talks with individual European countries. Splitting the democratic camp has always been a big part of the authoritarian playbook. Europe, so far, has been swaying and avoiding the punches. Taiwan sees an opportunity to make inroads. In May, Economic Vice Minister Chen Chern-chyi visited Lithuania for the first vice-ministerial meeting between the two economies and held a business roundtable. Workers add finishing touches at the paint shop at BMW's plant in Shenyang, China. German manufacturers have massive operations in the country. © BMW But for the European economy, distancing itself from China is far more complicated than doing so with Russia. European leaders will keep an eye on the quinquennial Chinese Communist Party national congress this autumn, hoping that a more flexible leadership emerges in Beijing. Until then, the plan is to uphold the "One China" policy. Liz Truss, the British Foreign Secretary running for prime minister, is a known China hawk. Yet, she has declared that she has no intention of visiting Taiwan as prime minister. In Germany, some pro-Taiwan lawmakers are planning a bipartisan trip to Taiwan. East Asia has traditionally not been an area of interest for Europe. The lack of experience will inevitably force policymakers to stumble as they try to formulate a China strategy. Japan and the democracies of Asia find themselves with a golden opportunity to lend a hand to Europe in this endeavor and deepen ties.
  7. https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Transportation/From-Singapore-to-South-Korea-airport-ambitions-face-headwinds2?del_type=1&pub_date=20220811190000&seq_num=2 From Singapore to South Korea, airport ambitions face headwinds Asia home to most expansion projects yet lags in traffic recovery after COVID-19 Singapore's Changi Airport is pushing ahead with a fifth passenger terminal, after the pandemic delayed its expansion plans. © Reuters DYLAN LOH, Nikkei staff writerAugust 11, 2022 13:35 JST SINGAPORE -- Asia is home to the largest concentration of airport development projects by number and value, yet lags behind the rest of the world in reviving travel in the wake of COVID-19, recent reports highlight. These conflicting crosswinds could mean a bumpy ride for the Asian sector in the coming years, with inflation, supply disruptions and skilled labor lost to the pandemic adding further complications. A look around the region reveals a flurry of airport construction plans. Singapore is moving ahead with a fifth passenger terminal at its main Changi Airport to the tune of $10 billion, after the pandemic delayed plans for expanding capacity. In terms of value, South Korea has the biggest airport infrastructure push lined up, worth as much as $46 billion, according to estimates compiled by Fitch Solutions Country Risk and Industry Research earlier this year. One major project on the horizon is the Gadeok Island Airport in Busan, expected to be built offshore on a floating structure in about a decade. In Vietnam, the state Airports Corporation of Vietnam, which manages civilian terminals, has plans through 2025 to upgrade and expand 23 facilities, designed to accommodate a total of 173 million passengers per year. In the same time frame, India plans to increase its airports from more than 130 at present to around 220, while the Philippines is counting on its upcoming Sangley Point International Airport project, located south of Manila, to handle over 100 million passengers annually once completed. Fitch said in May that Asia has over 200 airport projects overall, involving a combined $231 billion in investment -- both the most of any region. At the same time, however, Fitch noted that the future is foggy due to the "residual impacts" of COVID-19, including reduced revenues in previous years as well as uncertain future airport demand. It said this is likely to weigh "on project activity in the airport segment particularly over the short term." Last week, the World Tourism Organization highlighted that the Asia-Pacific region continues to lag behind when it comes to international arrivals. The industry body said Asia-Pacific arrivals were still 90% below pre-pandemic 2019 levels in the first five months of this year, making it the world's weakest region. Europe's figure was just 36% below 2019, with the Americas at 40%. There are some glimmers of a recovery. Asia-Pacific international passenger demand for March reached 17% of pre-COVID levels, after having hovered under 10% for most of the last two years, according to the International Air Transport Association. But it was still far below the global trend, with other markets seeing figures around 60% of pre-crisis levels. China and Japan are two major stragglers, due to their ongoing border restrictions. "So long as the Chinese government continues to maintain their zero-COVID approach, it is hard to see the country's borders reopening," Willie Walsh, the IATA's director general, said in May. "This will hold back the region's full recovery." Japan has opened up to a greater degree but is still only allowing leisure travelers in on group tours and continues to insist on COVID-19 testing, while many other countries have dropped such requirements. "While Japan has taken steps to allow travel, there is no clear plan for the reopening of Japan for all inbound visitors or tourists," Walsh said in May. Little has changed since, with Japan's tourism restart off to a disappointing start and record cases dimming hopes for a further easing at the borders. Then there are the threats of soaring inflation and supply chain interruptions to consider, as both could drive up construction costs. South Korea's Incheon International Airport in March: The country has the biggest airport infrastructure push lined up, according to Fitch. © Reuters Linesight, a construction consultancy headquartered in Ireland, noted in an April report that the impact of Russia's invasion of Ukraine may lead to increased competition for Asia-Pacific steel exports. "There has been somewhat of a resurgence in volatility on core construction commodities, including steel, copper and diesel," Michael Murphy, director at Linesight Singapore, told Nikkei Asia. "The impact to the construction industry can be seen at numerous junctures, but overall the result is cost and program uncertainty." "Other factors that contribute to supply chain disruption of construction projects also include logistics and transport disruption, and increased costs and delays in long-lead equipment due to material shortages, delays and price hikes," Murphy added. Gavin Steele, director of infrastructure in Asia for U.K.-based property consultancy Turner & Townsend, said the sector's challenges run even deeper. "Reduced staff levels have resulted in the loss of knowledge and remobilization of staff, and recruiting a new workforce has been a significant challenge for the industry," he told Nikkei. "Global paradigm shifts in the supply chain and local labor shortages felt in parts of Asia are likely to persist for the foreseeable future, causing tender-price volatility and threatening the pace of growth." That many countries are sticking to airport expansion plans suggests they are counting on passenger traffic in Asia eventually rebounding higher than ever before. On the Changi expansion, Singapore's Transport Minister S. Iswaran said in May that "given the current and projected recovery in air travel demand, we have a renewed impetus to secure our infrastructural capacity for growth." Nevertheless, considering how far Asia still has to go to recover, as well as the other pressures buffeting airport projects, it appears that the region's transportation hubs may be in for more turbulent times.
  8. https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Automobiles/Southeast-Asia-on-cusp-of-EV-revolution-as-local-production-begins?utm_campaign=GL_asia_daily&utm_medium=email&utm_source=NA_newsletter&utm_content=article_link&del_type=1&pub_date=20220621123000&seq_num=5&si=44594 Southeast Asia on cusp of EV revolution as local production begins Chinese and South Korean automakers zoom past Japanese rivals on electrics A Good Cat electric vehicle by Ora, a brand of Great Wall Motor, is displayed at the Bangkok International Motor show. © Reuters YOHEI MURAMATSU and YUICHI SHIGA, Nikkei staff writersJune 21, 2022 07:12 JST BANGKOK/MANILA -- The electric vehicle market is taking off in Southeast Asia as automakers plan to start production in at least three countries this year, a key step toward making the cars more affordable to the region's consumers. Many of these companies are based in China and South Korea, while Japanese automakers -- which now account around 80% of new-car sales in Southeast Asia -- fall behind. Just months after Hyundai Motor began full-scale production at its new electric vehicle factory in Indonesia, China's SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile unveiled a new mini EV slated to start production in the Southeast Asian country by the end of the year. Wuling is a driving force in China's growing EV market, selling 420,000 Hongguang Minis -- which start at 32,800 yuan ($4,880) -- there last year. The company has yet to announce the price of its new model in Indonesia. But a similarly priced auto could ignite the EV market in that country, where the majority of models now cost over $35,000. Around 700 new EVs were sold in Indonesia last year. Indonesia is tapping its rich mineral reserves to promote battery production and other EV-related businesses. Jakarta aims for electrics to make up 20% of all automobiles produced in the country in 2025, and is offering tax incentives for manufacturers to encourage new investments. Thailand wants electrics to make up 30% of its auto production by 2030. On June 9, the country lowered taxes on electric cars to 2% from 8% in exchange for promises to start local production in the future. The government also provides a subsidy of up to 150,000 baht ($4,240) per EV. China's Great Wall Motor responded by slashing the starting price of its Ora Good Cat by around 8%, to 763,000 baht. The company has received bookings for over 4,700 Ora vehicles since they went on sale in Thailand during November, more than double the country's entire EV sales in 2021. Great Wall looks to reduce prices further by starting Thai production as early as 2023. Toyota Motor and SAIC Motor also are taking advantage of the Thai incentives. Toyota is expected to start selling Japanese-built EVs in Thailand later this year, with plans to switch to local production as early as 2024. A VF9 electric SUV by VinFast is displayed at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The Vietnamese company was the first to produce EVs in Southeast Asia. © Reuters The Mercedes-Benz Group plans to start assembling vehicles in Thailand this year, while Thai state energy group PTT aims to begin EV production in 2024 with Hon Hai Precision Industry, the Taiwanese manufacturer also known as Foxconn. Volvo Cars announced in March that it had begun assembling vehicles in Malaysia. The Fieldman Group, a Malaysian producer of palm oil and other commodities, said in January that it would build a joint EV assembly plant with China's Changan Automobile. VinFast, the automaking arm of Vietnamese conglomerate Vingroup, began selling locally made EVs in December. It plans to manufacture and sell vehicles in the U.S. as well. In the Philippines, a laggard on electrics, a law to bolster the EV sector took effect in May. It requires logistics providers and public transportation operators to electrify at least 5% of their fleets by a date to be decided later. The government is weighing new incentives for the import and manufacturing of such vehicles. But the region's lack of charging networks inhibits widespread adoption of EVs. Critics also say the vehicles will do little to curb carbon emissions in Southeast Asia, since many of the countries rely heavily on fossil fuels for electricity. Japanese automakers are focusing instead on plug-in hybrids in Southeast Asia. Meanwhile, Chinese and South Korean players are building charging infrastructure in the region themselves to cultivate demand. Japan risks losing its grip on the Southeast Asian market, given forecasts that electrics could overtake gasoline-powered cars by sales in 2035.
  9. https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/The-Big-Story/Abortion-in-Asia-The-limits-of-choice?utm_campaign=GL_asia_daily&utm_medium=email&utm_source=NA_newsletter&utm_content=article_link&del_type=1&pub_date=20220615190000&seq_num=8&si=44594 Abortion laws in Asia reflect demographic trends, the sway of religion and social traditions. In South Korea (pictured), abortion was illegal until 2019, when it was decriminalized despite opposition from the Christian community. © AFP/Jiji Abortion in Asia: The limits of choice The overturning of Roe v. Wade could be a watershed for U.S. women's rights. Is the same true in Asia? ISMI DAMAYANTI, KIRAN SHARMA and ARISA KAMEI, Nikkei staff writersJune 15, 2022 06:00 JST "Keeping it was never an option," says Rara, a woman in her 20s from Jakarta, Indonesia. It was 2017 and Rara (not her real name) was studying communication at a private university in the capital. After falling pregnant by her unmarried partner, who had another girlfriend at the time, she felt she could not disappoint her devout Muslim parents. Rara's circumstances led her to a small and unassuming clinic in Raden Saleh, a district in Jakarta well-known for providing illegal abortions. Outside the clinic, peddlers were scouting for customers, asking female passersby, "Are you late?" -- a coded offer of pregnancy termination services. Speaking to Nikkei Asia over the phone, Rara's voice shook as she recounted her experience. She recalled feeling nervous, and the lack of any apparent compassion in the doctor and nurse who tended to her. She was conscious throughout the procedure. "It was traumatic," she said, in tears. Following her abortion, Rara suffered throbbing pain every month when she had her period -- pain she put up with for a year before plucking up the courage to visit a doctor. Abortion is illegal in Indonesia except in cases of rape or when the mother's life is in danger. Women found guilty of undergoing illegal abortions can be subject to up to 10 years in prison. Rara confessed that her view on abortion remains complicated, despite having experienced one herself. Before the procedure, she said, "I could never imagine killing a living being, including a fetus. But when I remember that it happened to me, regardless of whether my fetus was alive or not, I think that women in situations like mine must be well accommodated" with safe and legal abortions. Abortion is legal in Indonesia only in cases of rape or when the mother's life is at risk. The country is majority Muslim, and Islamic law forbids the abortion of a fetus older than 40 days except in emergencies. (File photo by Reuters) Rara is one of around 36 million women who have abortions in Asia each year, according to data released in 2017 by the Guttmacher Institute, a U.S.-based sexual and reproductive health and rights research organization. The same data shows that 6% of maternal deaths in the region in 2014 were caused by unsafe abortions. Across the continent, the right to an abortion remains a contentious issue, located at a complicated intersection of religion, culture, law and politics. A barometer for women's rights? An impending decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade case of 1973, which would likely end the right to safe and legal abortions in many states, marks a potential turning point for women's reproductive rights in the West. In Asia, however, abortion is seldom as black and white as the "pro-life" versus "pro-choice" arguments that dominate Western discourse. Many countries have recently liberalized abortion laws -- from Thailand to South Korea -- while some formerly "liberal" countries, such as China, have begun to examine restricting abortions in response to demographic pressure. Abortion in Asia presents a contradiction: Thousands of women die every year due to illegal and unsafe abortions, a compelling case for more liberal abortion laws. However, every year in countries where abortion is legalized, such as India and Vietnam, thousands of female fetuses are aborted in the pursuit of a male child. To grapple with the many gray areas presented by abortion rights, 11 Nikkei Asia journalists in the region interviewed dozens of women, activists, health professionals, politicians and religious leaders. Anti-abortion activists rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on June 6. A leaked Supreme Court draft opinion revealed in May that Roe v. Wade may soon be overturned, restricting abortion access in many states. © Getty Images Their findings reveal that, even in countries where abortion is broadly legal, such as Japan, the issue is too far entrenched in demographics and social norms to be considered a measure of female autonomy. "[Abortion policies] are not about the advancement of women's rights here," Masako Tanaka, a professor of gender studies at Sophia University in Tokyo, told Nikkei in a recent interview. Will the Roe v. Wade decision have any impact on abortion rights in Japan, the U.S.'s closest Asian ally? "Probably not," Tanaka said. "Abortion rights are seen as an issue for international politics, far removed from Japan. Here, [abortion] is more about population control." The same rings true for countries across Asia. From China to Bangladesh, abortion plays a role in limiting, expanding and altering populations. The population bomb The first country in Asia to legalize abortion, Japan introduced the procedure as part of the Eugenic Protection Act (now revised as the Maternal Health Act) in 1948. The country's population was booming following soldiers' return from World War II, but a postwar economic downturn threatened food security. To curb population growth, the Act was updated in 1949 to permit abortion for economic as well as medical reasons, and in cases of rape. It also allowed the voluntary and involuntary sterilization of women with hereditary diseases, mental illnesses and intellectual disabilities. The law required married women seeking an abortion to get written consent from their spouse. By the early 1960s, annual births in Japan had fallen from an all-time high of 2.7 million in 1949 to around 1.6 million. "It's impossible to say whether the legalization of abortion directly brought about a decline in the birthrate, but state intervention in family planning after the war can certainly be seen as a success," Isabel Fassbender, assistant professor and researcher of gender studies at Doshisha Women's College in Kyoto, told Nikkei. Japan's births in 2021 plumbed a record low for the sixth year in a row. Abortion rights activists think the shrinking population is fueling the stigmatization of abortion. (Photo by Wataru Ito) As long as Japan's population was growing, attitudes toward abortion remained relatively lax. In an interview with Nikkei, Yukako Ohashi of the reproductive rights group Soshiren recalled how, in the 1960s, doctors would often knowingly accept fake spouse's signatures from women wanting an abortion. "It's only in the last couple of decades that doctors have got strict about the spousal consent law," Ohashi said. Activists in Japan maintain that government concerns about an aging population have been fueling the stigmatization of abortion in recent years. Japan's birthrate began declining in the late 1970s, and in 1982, there was an attempt by the government to erase the "economic reasons" condition from the Maternal Health Act to make abortion harder to access. The proposal prompted the founding of Soshiren, which organized mass protests and prevented changes to the law. While abortion remains legal, high prices -- the procedure can cost as much as $1,500 -- and increasingly strict implementation of dataizai, punishment for illegal abortions, make accessing abortion difficult for many women. Doctors found guilty of aborting a child without written consent from the mother and, if she is married, her husband, can be subject to up to five years in jail -- up to seven years if the woman dies as a result. The Maternal Health Act states the father's consent is only necessary if the parents are married, and even then it says that the mother's consent alone is sufficient if the father's cannot be obtained. But lack of knowledge of the law leads many doctors to ask for male consent, just in case. It is not unusual for unmarried women to be turned away by doctors for failing to present the signature of a male partner -- there are even cases of rape victims being asked to provide the signature of their abuser. Senior citizens chat in Lin Dai Lu Park, Fuyang, China. Falling birthrates and concerns about an aging population are driving more restrictive attitudes toward abortion in China and Japan. © AP Campaigners have been calling for the requirement of spousal consent to be erased. But policymakers are making no moves toward reform. When asked about the necessity of the spousal consent rule, Taizan Kamide, deputy director of the Maternal and Child Health Division in Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, told Nikkei that "all we can do is ensure that the Maternal Health Act is correctly applied and followed by everyone." Fassbender from Doshisha Women's College doubts Japan's abortion laws will be updated so long as the population is declining. Data released by the government on June 3 reveals there were 811,604 births in Japan last year, a drop of 3.5% from the previous year and a record low for the sixth consecutive year. "On the surface, politicians won't say that policies on abortion and contraception come from a population control perspective," Fassbender told Nikkei. "But in reality, of course, they do." In China, too, access to abortion is shaped by demographics. The procedure was a legal and widely available measure to curb population growth under the one-child policy, which was introduced in 1980. Parents with unauthorized pregnancies could face serious fines, compulsory sterilization and forced abortion. The Chinese government estimated that, by 2016, some 400 million births had been prevented by the policy, although some analysts dispute this finding. But as China's population growth slows, restrictions on abortion could be on the horizon. Abortion remains legal, but the State Council in 2021 laid out guidelines calling for a reduction in "non-medically necessary abortions." Despite China's population growth reaching its slowest pace since 1960 last year, dropping to 0.034%, abortions have been increasing every year since 2017, according to China's National Health Commission. A report published in the Chinese Journal of Practical Gynecology and Obstetrics in 2021 showed the total number of abortions in China averaged roughly 9.5 million per year for the past five years. The National Population and Family Planning Commission in February said it plans to reduce teenage and premarital pregnancies to decrease the number of abortions, over concerns of an aging population. A couple takes pictures with their baby at the Tiananmen Gate in Beijing on Nov. 2, 2015. China's government replaced its one-child policy with a two-child one in 2016, after the population began to age. (File photo by Reuters) Although these statements are seen as signals of more restrictions on abortions, activists think legal abortions are here to stay. "The policy has not changed and will not likely change ... because China believes in eugenics," Lu Pin, a journalist and leading Chinese feminist, told Nikkei. "The Chinese government and individuals both worry about the births of unhealthy infants. Even though the government needs more births, they will not prioritize that over eugenics." Sex selection In India, home to more than 17% of the world's population, abortion has also historically played a role in shaping the population. As a perverse result of the legalization of the procedure in 1971, many fetuses identified as female get aborted as couples try for male children. According to India's latest National Family Health Survey (2019-2021), an average of 929 girls were born for every 1,000 boys over the last five years. Especially in rural areas, traditional gender roles and the belief that a male heir is required for family businesses lead many couples to seek abortions of female fetuses. A girl is often seen as a financial burden who will be married off and sent to another house with a dowry. For this reason, women's rights campaigners are reluctant to press too hard for more liberal abortion rights. "As social activists, we cannot raise much hue and cry [about abortion rights, because] these rights can be [easily] misused," said Manasi Mishra, head of research and knowledge management at the New Delhi-based Center for Social Research, a nongovernmental organization that works to empower Indian women. India legalized abortion in 1971 in cases of medical emergencies and sexual assault. The country updated its Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act last year to allow abortions up to the 24th week of pregnancy -- the limit was previously 20 weeks -- in cases of rape, incest and for minors and differently abled mothers. But abortions for the purpose of sex selection are strictly illegal. India even forbids doctors from telling patients the sex of an unborn child, but many go abroad to find out the sex and then visit illegal clinics for an abortion, if they can afford it. Around eight women a day die in India due to unsafe abortions, according to the Guttmacher Insitute. "No doctor indulging in the illegal practice of sex determination will give you in writing the gender of the unborn baby, but may tell you verbally," says Shashi, a teacher in New Delhi who works with NGOs to educate girls in the capital's slums. Newborns at Wadia Hospital in Mumbai on July 11, World Population Day, 2017. India liberalized its abortion laws in 2021 but aborting female fetuses for sex selection purposes remains illegal. © Getty Images "Then there are several grounds -- fetal abnormality, failed contraception, etc. -- which can be given as reasons to abort an unwanted baby," leaving little scope for the authorities to find out, adds Shashi, who only shared her first name. Another country where sex selection is rife is Vietnam, which has the world's third-highest abortion rate. The country averaged 64 abortions per 1,000 women annually from 2015-19, lower only than Georgia and Azerbaijan, according to the Guttmacher Institute. At a sleek clinic in central Ho Chi Minh City, for example, the walls are bare but for a small sign made by the office printer and directed at the ultrasound technicians: "Do not reveal the gender of the baby." Similarly to India, in old Viet customs, men inherited land and brought wives home to take care of their parents. Hence male children were traditionally favored in order to continue the line of succession, whereas girls would leave the family to move in with in-laws after marriage. But male preference is not the only reason for the high abortion rate. The U.S. military's use of the dioxin-laced defoliant Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, and the deformities it continues to cause, also play a role, as do the relatively large population of 99 million and the fact that women's rights are core to the communist ideal of equality. Among women who terminate pregnancies, some are wary of birth defects if they have been exposed to dioxin, while others fear passing on HIV and other diseases, according to research by anthropologist Tine Gammeltoft. Abortion has been legal since the 1960s, and was key to the government's two-child policy, which was introduced in 1988 and halved the birth rate from 4.2 to 2.1 children per woman within two decades of being implemented. The two-child policy was reversed five years ago. Son preference is also waning, and Vietnam now treats reproductive rights as human rights, said Nguyen Thi Thuy Hanh, vice head of the population department at Hanoi Medical University. "The health and the life of women improve because they can decide for themselves what they want to do in terms of number of children," she told Nikkei. Moral minority Restrictions on abortion are especially strong in countries with entrenched religious beliefs, such as in Muslim Bangladesh, the Catholic Philippines, and Buddhist Thailand. In Bangladesh, abortion remains strictly illegal. But back street abortions are common -- the Association for Prevention of Septic Abortion, Bangladesh (BAPSA) provides post-abortion care to around 90,000 women suffering from complications caused by unsafe abortions every year, according to its director, Dr. Altaf Hossain. Religion also underpins attitudes toward abortion in the Philippines, which forbids the procedure with some of the strictest laws in the world. The country's penal code punishes a woman who undergoes and anyone who assists an abortion with up to six years of imprisonment. But anecdotal evidence shows more Filipinos have started to adopt an open mind on decriminalizing abortion, said lawyer Clara Rita Padilla, speaking for Pinsan, the Philippine Safe Abortion Advocacy Network. Around 30,000 people have signed a Change.org petition launched by Pinsan calling for the decriminalization of abortion. President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. appeared to echo these changing attitudes during his recent election campaign, claiming he supports abortion in limited cases. Philippine President-elect Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. has pledged to consider supporting abortion in cases of rape, incest or disability. (Photo by Ken Kobayashi) "Maybe [there are] cases where we can see that abortion is justified," Marcos said in January when asked about the issue, citing circumstances of rape, incest, and underage mothers. His stance risks a clash with the Philippines' influential Catholic Church, to which more than 80% of the population belongs. Father Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the committee on public affairs of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, told Nikkei that while some people's approach toward abortion may be evolving, the church remains steadfast. "The church's teaching on abortion does not change and isn't changing," he said. "The church considers [abortion] plain murder no matter the circumstances." Marcos, who is set to take office on June 30, has admitted that "I cannot argue with theology, all I argue is the statistics," referring to the thousands of women who have been hospitalized or who have died due to botched illegal abortions. Those who seek to terminate pregnancies in the Philippines often resort to underground clinics where dangerous methods are performed, including heavy abdominal "massage" to expel a fetus, according to the Guttmacher Institute and other reports. Eleven women are hospitalized every hour and three die every day in the Philippines due to unsafe abortions, according to 2012 data cited by Pinsan. For advocates like lawyer Padilla, these grim statistics are a reason to keep pushing for the decriminalization of abortion. She is also counting on the incoming president. "[H]e made a pronouncement," she said, "and it's up to him to make his pronouncement a reality." In Thailand, abortion was narrowly legalized in 2021 in a last-minute effort by lawmakers to maintain some penalties on women and abortion providers. Before the amendment, the country’s penal code had subjected women found guilty of abortion with up to three years in prison and abortion providers with up to five years. Abortions are now legal under any circumstances if performed no more than 12 weeks into a pregnancy. Passing this law was a stopgap measure that came after Thailand’s constitutional court ruled the previous penalties unconstitutional. The amendment was passed by a landslide in the Senate. A proposal by the opposition Move Forward Party to allow abortion up to 24 weeks was rejected by the lower house. Politicians fear the subject remains taboo for conservative voters in the predominantly Buddhist country. According to religious beliefs, a person would be unable to atone for the bad karma that abortion generates. In South Korea, conservative Christians, who make up 30% of the population, and demographic pressures kept abortion illegal until last year. Dubbed "a win for women's rights" by the International Planned Parenthood Federation, South Korea decriminalized abortion in 2019, ruling punishment for women and doctors who have or perform abortions was unconstitutional. South Korea's Constitutional Court chief justice, Yoo Nam-seok, and other justices sit for the ruling on the decriminalization of abortion in Seoul, South Korea, on April 11, 2019. © Reuters The ruling took effect in January 2021, but the National Assembly has yet to decide on regulations, such as up to how many weeks into pregnancy abortion will be allowed. The decriminalization of abortion underscores shifting social sentiment in South Korea, where the procedure had been illegal since 1953. Abortion was forbidden in the government's attempt to maintain a large population after the Korean War. But the country's Christian community remains largely opposed to abortion and is lobbying legislators to reflect their beliefs in the pending revisions of the criminal law. Choi Jung-yoon, secretary-general at the Korea Pro-Life Association, told Nikkei that the new bills are too lenient. "We cannot accept [the ruling] because we believe there's life from the moment of fertilization," Choi said. "We are offering prevention education services as well as consulting services for pregnant women in emergencies and those who suffer from side effects after abortion." Choice comes at a price Access to abortion is considered essential by feminist campaigners in the U.S., with the tightening of abortion laws considered a step backward for women's rights. In response to the looming Roe v. Wade decision, renowned American feminist Gloria Steinem told media in May that "the very definition of patriarchy is trying to control women and birth-giving." But in several Asian countries, access to abortion can in fact threaten women's bodily autonomy. In Indonesia, a case of forced abortion went viral in late 2021, graphically demonstrating how access to abortion can be misused. A woman named Novia Widyasari from Central Java was forced to take an illegally obtained abortion pill by her policeman boyfriend, Randy Bagus, after twice falling pregnant by him. Social pressure not to have children out of wedlock, largely fueled by Islamic beliefs, led Bagus to fear he would lose his job if Widyasari went through with the pregnancy. Already depressed after being forced to abort her first child, Widyasari committed suicide four months after Bagus coerced her to abort her second, by poisoning herself with potassium in December 2021. Bagus was fired from the police force and sentenced to two years in prison for his involvement in an illegal abortion. The prosecutor had demanded three and a half years. There was an attempt to include forced abortion as a criminal act in Indonesia's new Bill on Eradication of Sexual Violence, passed in April, but to no avail. Coercing a woman into an abortion is still not a criminal offense. Pressure on unmarried mothers to have abortions is also rife in China, feminist Lu told Nikkei. She explained that the right to an abortion in China should not be mistaken as a sign of women's empowerment -- premarital pregnancies still carry a social stigma, and unmarried mothers are not guaranteed social benefits. "People think premarital abortions are normal and it is something you should do if [you fall pregnant and are] not married," Lu said. Women's rights activists in India fear legal access to abortion can be misused for sex selection purposes. Here, a woman in Hazipur, India, awaits her abortion operation in 2010. © Getty Images In India, forced sex-selective abortions are a problem. Mishra, the research head from New Delhi, estimates that only around 10% of India's 15 million abortions every year are performed out of the mother's choice. In most cases, family pressure plays the ultimate role, largely due to preference for a male child, especially in northern India. Even in countries where forced abortions are rare, legal access to abortion does not necessarily equate to more female autonomy. In Singapore, for example, although women can terminate pregnancies up to the second trimester, they are legally required to undergo counseling and must wait 48 hours before consenting to the procedure. Women's rights activists argue that the counseling rule prevents women from freely making decisions on abortion. "Counseling and waiting periods may give the impression that seeking an abortion is reprobate or morally unsound -- something to feel guilty or regretful over," Shailey Hingorani, head of research and advocacy at the Association of Women for Action and Research in Singapore, told Nikkei. In Japan, similar concerns about the government's proposed conditions for legalizing the abortion pill, which is set to happen within the year, have divided reproductive rights activists. Currently, only surgical abortions are legal in Japan, with the most popular method being dilation and curettage, which rakes out the fetus with a metal tool and was declared unsafe by the World Health Organization earlier this year. Recent government discussions suggest that, if the abortion pill is legalized, spousal consent and costly hospitalizations -- not covered by national health insurance -- will be necessary for a prescription. "Maintaining the need for male consent for the abortion pill demonstrates an underlying notion that women are weak beings who cannot decide on their own," Soshiren's Ohashi told Nikkei. Michiyo Ono, a member of JOICFP, a Japan-based nongovernmental organization advocating for women's reproductive rights, is more optimistic. The proposed conditions of legalization "have many downsides," she told Nikkei. "But legalizing the abortion pill would be a step in the right direction." Ono's message rings loud and clear among women's rights activists throughout Asia: Having some access to safe abortion, however complicated, is better than having no access at all. Additional reporting by Lien Hoang in Ho Chi Minh City, Cliff Venzon in Manila, Marrian Zhou in New York, Francesca Regalado in Bangkok, Dylan Loh in Singapore, Jaewon Kim in Seoul, Faisal Mahmud in Dhaka and Alice French in Tokyo.
  10. Do you agree? What are your thoughts? Systems in Spore are generally very efficient from buses (not so for MRT now) and roads and one of the best airports we are having. your thoughts? ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Finland has emerged as the happiest nation in the world in the sixth World Happiness Report. Norway, which topped the list last year, finished second in the 2018 report, followed by Denmark, Iceland and Switzerland. The report, prepared by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network for the United Nations, ranks countries on six key variables - income, freedom, trust, healthy life expectancy, social support and generosity. The 2018 report focuses on migration within and between countries and was released on March 14, a week ahead of the World Happiness Day. It surveyed 156 countries for their happiness levels, and 117 countries to determine the happiness of immigrants. In Asia, Israel finished first occupying the 11th spot, while United Arab Emirates came second at rank 20, followed by Qatar (32) and Saudi Arabia (33). In Southeast Asia, Singapore was found to be the happiest nation at rank 34, followed by Malaysia (35) and Thailand (46). China is lagging behind its Asian neighbours at 86 in the happiness quotient, while its fellow billion citizen peer, India is seemingly even more unhappy at rank 133. Among other Asian nations, Mongolia was ranked at 94, Vietnam at 95, Indonesia, 96, Bhutan - which was once the happiest - at 97, Nepal at 101, Laos, 110, Bangladesh, 115, Sri Lanka, 116, Cambodia, 120 and Myanmar, 130. http://www.asiaone.com/singapore/singapore-happiest-nation-southeast-asia
  11. OK, it not about the Go model, but the Datsun brand under Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance... Datsun Brand Might Bite The Dust As Part Of Nissan’s Recovery Plan Nissan might ditch the Datsun brand altogether as part of its upcoming recovery plan, which includes axing some of its unprofitable products and closing down under-utilized assembly lines worldwide. Quoting sources with direct knowledge of the matter, Reuters reports that the recovery plan marks a 180-degree turn with Nissan’s ambitious strategy under ex-CEO Carlos Ghosn, who was arrested and charged with financial misconduct. Things with Datsun, which was revived as a brand for emerging markets, didn’t exactly go as Nissan hoped after launching it in 2014 in regions like Indonesia, India, Russia and South Africa. That’s because, following a relatively good start, the budget-conscious brand started eating into Nissan’s own sales. “We ended up pushing two mainstream brands in a market where you have a one or two percent market share. You cannot do that,” one of the sources said. Shutting down under-utilized production lines will also impact Nissan’s factories in emerging markets tasked with producing Datsun models and other small cars, according to the same sources. “We need to chart a recovery but the rot goes deep,” one of them said. All markets with factories outside China are being examined for possible reductions in production capacity, but there are currently no plans to close an entire plant or withdraw completely from any country. Nissan, which is on course to post its lowest operating profit in 11 years, also plans to kill unprofitable variants of the Titan full-size pickup truck, like the single-cab and diesel models. The US remains one of Nissan’s biggest markets, but the recovery plan will demand a new effort to put a stop at the company’s practice of buying market share by selling its models to rental car and other fleet operators at heavy discounts, something that has plunged the company’s profitability and brand image. “We’re trying to clean up what had happened in the past,” one of the sources said, adding that under Ghosn, Nissan had to meet sales objectives at any cost, and that included “practically giving away cars” to fleet customers.
  12. Some of my pics during all the short trips I have taken in Asia in the past year. http://www.keehian.com/asia2019/
  13. We cannot make a flight on Air Asia next week for family reasons. Anyone know how to reclaim the cost of the flight?? My missus tried for a couple of hours yesterday but got nowhere.
  14. Any bros bought any travel packages from them? http://www.wanbao.com.sg/local/story20150523-55466#local 乐乐假期旅行社突停业 500旅客受影响 营业13年的乐乐假期旅行社,昨天突然关门,贴通告宣布停业,超过500旅客受影响,单本周末就有近300名学生和旅客受波及。 rough translate; Asia-euro holidays travel agency closed down suddenly yesterday, which has been in the travel-related business for years. Notices were put up on their shops at Chinatown Point and is believed that more than 500 customers were affected, including close to 300 students planning for trips this weekend.
  15. Anti-Bardahl Asia Pacific I'm a business man also a victim for selling Bardahl Asia Pacific' s Products, in the past 10 years my company have trading with Bardahl Asia Pacific (BAP). Till now, I have found out something strange and make me feel sad about doing business with BAP. Everyone need to know about it and be careful. First off, BAP's Products and sales service is bad. We have some oil burning issues with a lot of car and they just push all the responsibility to us. they said that the oil burning problem only happen in our place we need to figure it out by ourselves. secondly, we hear the conversation between BAP and different suppliers. BAP sent out a low-price quote to every suppliers and ask them to produce what BAP need with the suppliers standard. That's mean the only standard is cost. Moreover, they are not the real Bardahl branch in Asia and owned by Bardahl Mfg. Co.(BMC) as they told everyone. BAP just an agent under Eric H. Fletcher (another agent appointed by BMC). Please let me to explain to everyone below. In 2015, Bardahl India(http://www.elvibardahl.com/) independent from BAP. I feel a bit weird about how can a distributor go deal with the headquarter and kick BAP out. They should be in the same system and no conflict. Thus, I go to check on the website and did a company search about BAP. In the report, we saw BAP capital is only Singapore Dollar 50K and without any investment from BMC. BAP Shareholders is all individual with ID no. that mean BAP and BMC is not the real relationship as they said. (See Below) BAP have not own any oil factory or warehouse in Singapore, BAP is a trading company only and they trade with everyone without principles. BAP have not got the right to produce oil and additives, they can do trade with imports, exports and local sales only. (See Below) And we did another company search for BMC. We can only see there is a person call Eric Nicolaysen, the COO in BMC. Eric H.Fletcher said he is the the managing director have not showed anywhere in the report, he is cheating us. BMCs' division showed in the report is OCD Nederland B.V.(Bardahl Euro). That's mean BAP is also laying to everyone about they are BMC division and owned by BMC. BAP is not the one they said. BAP and Eric H.Fletcher cheat everyone in Asia. They can cheat everyone for a while but they can't cheat us forever. It is too late for me to knew this fact. My sales manager has betrayed me and take everything from the company to join BAP. BAP have contact my sales manager to offer him a better salary to take over everything. After everything they have done to me and BAP sent me a message that their business principles is 'I want everything from you.' Everyone who dealing with BAP, they will take all your investment in Bardahl. BAP is a trading company only. And they do not sign any contract with everyone, even they have sign something. They will overthrow what they sign and make a lot of argue to deny everything they said. These things are not happening in me only. In Asia, BAP is doing now to everyone. In Philippines, BAP open two distributor and make them imports stock from BAP as much as they can. When the two distributors cannot import any more, BAP will appoint another distributor again and repeat the same things to them. In Taiwan, I knew there is a same case. Taiwan distributor worked for BAP around 10 years and kicked out by his sales manager Mr. Tang, BAP using a similar method to cooperate with Mr. Tang and takeover the market that the original Taiwan distributor have developed. BAP afraid their lies will be expose. Thus, BAP need to keep changing distributor and setting unreasonable target to distributor to ensure their lies would not be expose. In the right timing, BAP will get into that market when it is well developed. Original Taiwan distributor with red and the new one in yellow is the sales manager under the original. Photo took in Phuket Retreat 2013 We can see BAP take over Taiwan and dealing with the sales manager in 2016. I have find out the original distributor are noticed by BAP that BMC(Eric Hoy Fletcher) need to change the distributor based on their work is not doing well but no details. We can also see thing was happened in Korean. Above are the original distributors in Korean in 2014. However, BAP was selling expensive products and pushing them to keep importing oil. After a year, Korean distributor have a lot of stock with high cost. They cannot sell it based on the cost of imports is the retail price in Korean, then BAP ask them to quit and handover all the market with no cost to the new distributor(see below) in 2016. BAP also promise the original distributor will give him back the profit after they sold the products. But the result end up that Korean distributor haven’t got his money back. I know it now that is happening in China right now. Since 2014, Singapore open a joint venture with a Chinese company and make them invest 2 million US dollar. China market have developing normal in these 3 years. Because of BAP keep interfere the business in China. BAP appoint 3 to 4 national distributors and selling to them directly from Singapore and ask the joint venture to bear the cost and support them for developing China Market. BAP promise for 15% Profit to the joint venture when BAP selling to different national distributor. 3 Years ago, BAP use the power in the joint venture and keep stocking for the national distributor. But none of them buy from the joint venture, BAP selling them directly from Singapore. Furthermore, there is an additives national distributor open by BAP. BAP sold him 2 containers of additives and they cannot sell it out based on the cost, BAP would like to disqualify their national distributor without helping them to recover their investment. When BSZ want to help them to clean up his additives to recover some of his investment. BAP just stop BSZ and tell BSZ that BAP and BSZ have no responsibility to help anyone sell their stock. In 2017, BAP ask the joint venture to transfer all the assets to BAP and close the joint venture based on the order of Eric H. Fletcher and BMC. BAP said everyone should following the order from Americans. Otherwise BAP will ask their lawyer team to take everything from the joint venture. Bardahl Shenzhen(BSZ) haven’t surrender and following the contract they have sign with BAP, so BAP open another company in Guangzhou (BGZ) and ignore the contract they have signed and producing everything locally. BAP and BGZ keep telling everyone BSZ is no longer exist and BSZ have compensate a few millions dollar to BMC for their action to confuse who dealing with BSZ. We are not a fool, this world is fair enough for everyone to do business by following the rules. BAP want to take everything from you and your friend, the examples above has showed how BAP cheat people and We should stand up for anything unfair nowadays, fight for the right. We know BAP haven’t got their word, we are not the one who need to obey Americans order as a slave. We are organizing more group to stand up for these. So please pay attention for this and stop buying product from Bardahl Asia Pacific.
  16. Just got quote from DA for my renewal ($140 cheaper). They cover LTA compliant mods! Well done DA!
  17. http://www.relax.com.sg/relax/media/617732...ts_in_Asia.html crap, some quite good like beijing one, almost on par with changi, nice roof and huge airport, clean and neat. Bali one really bad lol this one i must agree. Jakarta one old http://www.relax.com.sg/relax/media/621872...t_airports.html this one, taoyuan airport is one of the worst airport i ever been, where got rank 8 and thai one i dun like, look not nice the design how about u? which best airport u ever been and which worst airport u ever been? pls dont say Changi lol
  18. SHANGHAI—LaSalle Investment Management has raised $1 billion this year to invest in real-estate assets in Asia, in the latest sign that investors are making bolder bets in areas that are still enjoying strong growth. LaSalle, a unit of JLL, said that of the $1 billion, $585 million was raised for its fourth Asian opportunity fund, which is targeting industrial real estate in China and commercial property in Japan and Australia. The remaining amount raised is for institutional investors with separate mandates. "Asia has become a lot more appealing," said Mark Gabbay, co-chief executive officer of LaSalle Asia Pacific. "The underlying fundamentals are attractive: Demographics, job growth and liquidity conditions are still good." In the real-estate private-equity world, opportunity funds typically buy challenging properties, not trophy buildings. Managers of the $1 billion that LaSalle raised say they are looking for buildings that aren't completely leased that they can refurbish, boost occupancy and rental rates and then sell to a buyer with less appetite for risk. LaSalle, which manages $50 billion of real-estate assets globally, is looking for shorter-term investment deals in Asia, and hopes to hold these assets for about three years on average. In 2012, for instance, the fund invested 7.8 billion yen ($76.8 million at current exchange rates) in an office building about 20 minutes from the central business district in Osaka. It plans to sell the building to a Japanese real-estate investment trust. Some investors are now willing to take on more risk by allocating more money to such buildings, whose returns can reach as high as 20%. Returns from high-quality buildings with high occupancies tend to be lower, but so is the risk, Mr. Gabbay added. Economic growth in some parts of Asia has been slowing, but its growth rates are still stronger than those in the U.S. and Europe. Beijing on Wednesday is expected to report that gross domestic product growth reached 7.4% in the second quarter, in line with GDP growth in the first quarter, according to a median forecast of 21 economists polled by The Wall Street Journal. The economy of the 18-nation euro bloc grew less than 1% in the first quarter of 2014, and the European Central Bank forecast that GDP growth for the euro-zone economy will reach 1.2% for 2014. Investors in the LaSalle fund include sovereign-wealth funds and pension funds from the U.S., Middle East and Europe. These investors typically avoid risk, but some are getting more adventuresome. "Investors are concerned about their real-estate investments in a persistently low interest-rate environment," said Mr. Gabbay. He also noted that some are questioning if some high-quality buildings in Asia's gateway cities are overvalued. San Diego City Employees' Retirement System, which has committed $50 million to the fund, says this is its first real-estate investment in Asia, and that it is "an attractive area in which to invest." "The fund is pursuing opportunistic real-estate investments in Asia, which is one of the fastest-growing regions," said Christina Di Leva, communications manager at SDCERS, in an email. But opportunistic investors are taking on risks by banking on construction activity. According to data tracker Preqin, average returns from such Asia-focused funds with this opportunistic investment strategy lag behind their peers. Since 1998, the net internal rate of return for such funds averaged 8.1%, compared with 13% for other Asia- focused funds with less-risky investment strategies. Also, distressed properties are harder to find in Asia than in other parts of the world, such as Spain and Italy, that were hard-hit by the financial crisis. "Asia's economy has done relatively well in the past few years, so there aren't as many distressed assets within Asia compared to other markets. Most Asia-focused opportunistic funds which closed in the past few years are China- or India-centric; these are fast-growing countries undergoing building booms," said Preqin spokesman Nicholas Jelfs. Other fund managers also have been raising opportunistic funds, making the playing field more competitive. Late last year, Secured Capital Japan raised $1.45 billion to invest in all types of property in Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea. Hong Kong-based Phoenix Property Investors raised $750 million to invest in office, residential and retail property in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
  19. Like that also can? Social media stuff can track our happiness? [laugh] From CNA: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/sin...1261028/1/.html S'poreans appear to be happiest people in Asia Posted: 19 March 2013 1921 hrs
  20. So what's the backstory on this hotel? Initially read/heard it was the hotel with a big fire, but after digging, found out the hotel with fire wasn't Asia at all, but a nearby one called FIRST Hotel, which is still there today. It seems lots of ppl mistake the First hotel's fire for Asia Hotel. Link to First Hotel fire story: First Hotel Bangkok Hauntings So anyone with any backstory to why Asia is so creepy? map of Asia / First: https://maps.google.com/maps?q=first+hotel+...mp;t=m&z=17
  21. EF INDEX: Beats Singapore to place 11th in overall ranking MALAYSIA'S improved ranking worldwide in terms of English language proficiency shows that government is on the right track, said Deputy Education Minister 11 P. Kamalanathan yesterday. A survey conducted by Swiss international education company Education First (EF) showed that Malaysia had the highest English language proficiency level in Asia. The nation also climbed two notches up to 11th place from 13th position last year in the EF English Proficiency Index, which saw more than 60 countries surveyed. "As far as the command of English is concerned, we are happy and of course, this is good news," said Kamalanathan The results also showed that Malaysia, which was placed in the "high proficiency" category, had overtaken Singapore, which fell to 12th position in the ranking. Malaysia scored 59.99 points in the survey while Singapore received a 58.92. Kamalanathan said the Malaysia National Education Blueprint 2013-2025 would continue to strengthen the level of English language proficiency. "We will make sure the standard is raised to meet global requirements and to make Malaysia the choice destination for foreign directi investment and services." EF, in a press release entitled "The World's Top 60 Countries in English according to the EF English Proficiency Index" posted on its website on Tuesday, said this year's country rankings were based on tests taken by 750,000 adults from 60 countries last year. It said the seven countries with the strongest command of English were all small European nations, "whose size compels them to adopt an international outlook". The analysis of evolving English proficiency over a six-year period (2007 to last year) uses test data from nearly five million adults. Sweden topped the list of the "very high proficiency" category, with Norway and Netherlands trailing in second and third places respectively. Other countries listed as among the best were Estonia, Denmark, Austria and Finland. The survey also concluded that some Asian countries, such as Indonesia and Vietnam, have improved on their English proficiency over the six-year period. Source: http://www.nst.com.my/nation/general/malaysia-no-1-in-english-proficiency-in-asia-1.395773
  22. This is just too funny that I had to post. ----- Mon, Apr 04, 2011 The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network Email Print Decrease text size Increase text size The hard truth: People in Asia dislike sex by Nury Vittachi A newly-wed bride on honeymoon put on her sexiest clothes. Her husband reacted in the obvious way
  23. SINGAPORE'S Central Provident Fund (CPF) system ranks top among similar social security systems in Asian countries, but it is Denmark's well-funded pension system which has emerged the best globally. The 2014 Mercer Melbourne Global Pension Index identified Singapore's CPF is a "sound structure, with many good features, but has some areas for improvement that differentiates it from an A-grade system". The Singapore retirement system continues to score a grade of B, but is expected to be upgraded once shortcomings are addressed, said Neil Narale, Mercer's Asean Retirement Business Leader. "The lack of tax-approved group corporate retirement plans and retirement savings for non-residents continues to isolate Singapore from other highly-graded countries on the global scale," he said. http://www.globalpensionindex.com/country-summaries-2/singapore/ http://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/singapores-cpf-system-ranked-top-in-asia-denmarks-system-leads-globally-mercer
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