Pesek on Asia: Another Thai Election
Good morning. Here's my take on some of the stories driving the debate in politics, finance and social issues across Asia today:
Another Thai election
Ever get the impression that the only Thais benefiting from the nation's jerry-rigged election cycles are T-shirt vendors? OK, so Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is setting the stage for Thailand's third election in six years. But few expect the outcome to settle much or to sell the masses on the utility of voting and democracy. The only constant is the folks who make the red and yellow shirts to clothe protesters for the next anti-government rally and the one after that. Their assembly lines are now kicking into high gear.
Kim Jong Un's fascinating purge
Consider the Jang Song Thaek mystery slightly closer to being solved. Turns out, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ousted his ambitious uncle and de facto deputy for abuse of power, corruption and gambling away foreign currency. That official explanation, however, still doesn't give us a clear idea of the state-of-play in Pyongyang or Kim's hold on power. But this, the highest-profile purge since Kim took power two years ago from his late father, seems to communicate at least one thing: North Korea does not, and will not, allow a No. 2 leader. It's all about Kim.
Fukushima investigator's great idea
No one rankles Japan's tight-knit "nuclear village" more than Kiyoshi Kurokawa. He's the medical doctor who headed the government investigation into the Fukushima disaster and wrote a scathing July 2012 report about how the powerful web of power companies, regulators, bureaucrats and researchers championing the nuclear industry set Japan up for a disaster following a March 2011 earthquake. Here, Kurokawa recommends that Japan engage in sharing information about its nuclear plants globally, something akin to how the international air-traffic control system uses common standards for aircraft black boxes. It's a great idea and one Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government should consider immediately.
India's Gandhi plans go awry
It seems Indian voters are ready to address what might be called their "Gandhi problem." Recent state elections did more than thump the ruling Congress party -- they may have derailed plans for Rahul Gandhi to take over from his mom, party president Sonia Gandhi. The 43-year-old heir to India's most famous political dynasty has his work cut out for him to rehabilitate his popularity -- and the family name -- ahead of next year's election. Young Indians are craving a new, more egalitarian nation. If you think another Gandhi is the way to realize it, your mind is more open than mine.
This interesting New York Times piece details the findings of a sexual-harassment survey in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou. Respondents complained about everything from "annoying whistling" to "shouts" to "lewd jokes," with one-quarter of women getting obscene phone calls or pornographic messages. As Hong Mei, head of the state-run All-China Federation of Trade Unions, told the Times: "Social attitudes have to change in order that women aren't blamed when they are victims, and companies need to deal with this problem."
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Willie Pesek at firstname.lastname@example.org