While Myanmar’s male-dominated parliament fast-tracks controversial legislation that limits the rights of women to choose who they want to marry, new statistics on the incidence of rape in Yangon Region show that women and children are still in need of real protection under the law.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Singapore is celebrating its 50th birthday, the so-called SG50, and its economically enriched citizens ought to be jolly and give thanks to their beneficent government.
Myanmar has the potential to become a valuable centre of research into responses to environmental change and other important topics, but first a culture of open debate must be fostered and the right institutions must be found that can support an emerging academic culture.
The actions of the country's veteran leader, Prime Minister Hun Sen, deserve a more sober appraisal than the knee-jerk reactions of critics in the United States, Europe, and Australia, who claim that the law is too restrictive. As Cambodia’s Interior Minister Sar Kheng said, “I cannot understand why some other foreign countries are against this law. We have prepared it based on their laws. Why can they have it and not us?”
Working as an English-language teacher in Myanmar I’ve often been left bemused and frustrated by the textbooks school administrators have selected for their English courses. With topics on skiing holidays, tele-vision soaps, fashion, food and celebrities, at best it’s irrelevant, but at worst there is an element of imperialism that stems from a globalisation that is unbalanced.
The battle for sustainability will be won - or lost - in Asia. Although it may sound dramatic, the concept is not far-fetched. Our region is perhaps the most dynamic in the world, accounting for 40 percent of global economic output and two-thirds of global growth. Globally, 60pc of the population calls Asia home and urban populations are predicted to grow from 1.9 billion to 3.3 billion in 2050.