A short and deeply moving story here of the unusual work of an Indonesian nurse.
One number in that article is particularly astonishing.
700,000!? Dear God…:(
Life is ok now, especially as it is lunch. I have Mexican and wish you were here.
I was bitten by a wasp on the weekend. It is ok, but my arm swells up a bit with a big lump.
Perhaps the biggest change is that I will probably end my business. I have a job now and just don’t want to give it the required time.
It helped me before, but I think it is time to move on. Just uncomfortable about difficult conversation ahead with my business partner.
Must eat and return to work.
Talk later my best friend.
I needed to look on my computer for a document, and found a back up of my phone pictures from a few years ago.
In there I found my first pictures of you, including your graduation day.
Most women look less attractive as they get older, but to me you look better and better as time passes.
Miss you so, so much my precious friend and see you soon when you return to New York.
Hi best friend, I hope you are ok.
I really miss you. Did I tell u that I kinda lost my other best friend several weeks ago?
It was a pretty awful time for me (although much worse for her I am sure), and I still haven’t really recovered.
Maybe I never will. A lot of my enthusiasm for life disappeared then, and my weight has grown from the emotional loss.
Anyway, I will tell you more about it sometime. So much I wish I could tell you about everything in my life. I miss sharing with you.
Sweet dreams my hero, and enjoy your time in Shanghai.
Tonight once more
Tonight I sit alone in coffee/chocolate shop. Gosh I miss you soooooo much now.
Going home to sleep. Sweet dreams bestie!
So much I want to tell you, and it hurts to be this far away from you. I desperately hope you are ok my dear friend.
When someone takes my picture and they tell me to smile, I still think of you. Good night my best friend forever.
Yet another night
So sorry for everything. I miss talking with you incredibly much. I can’t wait for you to return here.
Dear God I miss you. I understand that if you are gone forever it is not your choice, but the sadness will haunt me for the rest of my life.
God give me strength now. I hope you are ok my treasured friend forever.
Miss you so damn much now ; (
So sad and sorry for everything. I will wait and hope for your return here forever my dearest friend.
Now once more
Apologies for my silence. Sometimes I lose ethusiasm to write much when I know you are not reading this.
When I see you read again I will write more.
Today I went to the place I was at when you first messaged me here. Sadly it didn’t make you message me again:)
Take care my best friend and see you in Beijing soon.
Late night now
I often dream that one day you will read this, so I cannot fully share my sadness.
But these are dark times for me without you. The most awful feeling drags me to crushing fatiigue when I am awake and the most awful inability to sleep at night.
So much to share with you now.
Whenever you read this…
…I will be so happy you are ok, I will be thinking of you and I will be ready to accept you no matter what. Always miss you.
I cannot believe the sense grief, loss and sadness I feel. I knew it would be difficult, but I so often think of you. I am so sorry.
I miss you so much, and fear you are gone forever now. The tears in my heart have no end.
Happy Birthday my best friend. All my best wishes from your best friend forever.
Tis the season…to be talking.
Of course few bodies talk more and arguably achieve less than ASEAN, with the added distraction this time around with the presence of US President Trump at the meetings now taking place in Manila.
What will they discuss? What are the likely outcomes? A good summary for those interested is available here.
The summary? There will almost certainly be a lot of talk. And action? Well, if acting involves muliple statements, then yes, expect action.
And life and increasingly death for the Rohingya will continue, and the other urgent problems in the regon will be there unaddressed for the next meeting and further talks.
For those readers who don’t follow the news too closely, perhaps the most astonishing news this week was presented in (of all places!) the prestigious scientific journal Nature.
As the article preview here suggests, the central discovery was evidence that Australia’s indigenous people arrived, at some 65,000 years ago, much, much earlier than previously believed. Note that this is simply a new minimum, as additional evidence may yet push the date back further, but this discovery is already extraordinarily significant.
As you read this you may wonder what the link is to Southeast Asia. Well, the answer this time is pretty simple. If these first humans arrived in Australia much earlier than previously believed, then they are also anticipated to have passed through Southeast Asia much earlier than previously believed.
Somewhere, in caves, under the ash of Indonesian vocanoes or in locations we have either not looked or haven’t yet recognised, the chances of finding stunning evidence in Southeast Asia that could dramatically rewrite the story of our human species’ emergence from Africa has suddenly become more realistic. The discovery of the Flores Hobbit mentioned here may yet be dwarfed in the annals of Southeast Asian archeology.
And that, to me, is tremendously exciting.
A few days ago in the post here I stated that minimum wages were largely absent across Southeast Asia.
Well, not for the first time I was wrong, at least regarding Indonesia. As the graphic makes clear Indonesia has a minimum wage, although how thoroughly it is enforced is a different question.
I had originally intended to explore the significant disparity in minimum wages across the country, however I have realised that would take more time than I have available right now.
Suffice to say that setting minimum wage levels is a legislative action, and thus the decisions are grounded in politics. Interestingly however, the polical pressures affecting the setting of these rates vary across the country, suggesting that there are either hidden barriers to free movement of labour, Indonesia isn’t as economically unified as it may appear (which are effectively different sides to the same coin) or that these minimum wage settings are largely symbolic political gestures occuring below the market rate.
Based on entirely anecdotal evidence, I highlight low level rumblings I’ve heard on the growth and presence of 7-11, the ubiquitous 24 hour convenience stores.
The perceived problem, more or less, is the impact on local/traditional jobs and, I suspect, incomes. To paraphrase representative sentiments, “How can local noodle sellers compete against 7-11’s cheaper options?“, “Who will buy from my shop (like the one above) when they can sit inside with air conditioning?” and “How can local vendors stay open later than a 24 hour shop?”
Inherent in this is a sense of disappointment at the the loss of the local traditional economic and social architecture, and a communal sense that 7-11 is a harbinger of a not particularly welcome new world that cannot be resisted easily.
Why is this significant? I am unwilling to talk about the politics here, but will merely point out that similar sentiments were the very first, faint stirrings of a political breeze that in Western countries gathered momentum and eventually led to the political hurricanes of Britain exiting the European Union and the election of US President Trump, each leaving deeply divided nation states in their wake.
Readers will need to draw their own conclusions from that.
Why would I post about Trump’s personality flaws in a blog about Southeast Asia? Well, for the simple reason that Pepinksy’s earlier work studying authoritarian regimes in Southeast Asia, namely Malaysia and New Order Indonesia, give him (and therefore us) some clues in understanding the character of various regimes and authoritarian actors now in place across the region.
This post won’t go into exhaustive detail, but does give you the reader a framework to apply these thoughts against your own polity or those of particular interest to you. Pepinksy outlines comparative measures between dictatorships and regimes run by narcissists/bullies through the following points, with my thoughts following in italics.
1/ Dictators not lying openly to the media about things that are easy to check. I don’t think you would see that in Singapore. Thailand yes, not least because the alternative sources of information (with credibility) have been/are being squeezed, particularly by laws prohibiting free speech.
2/ Authoritarian media is about misdirection, not just misinformation. I see that as a more widespread issue across Southeast Asia, and Pepinky’s point that almost anything is allowed “as they can be reported as evidence of rapid material progress that justifies the steady hand of the ruling government” rings true. Touching on Pepinksy’s final point here, negative or damaging news in Singapore may “generate lies or outbursts in response”, unlike Thailand where I would argue that increasingly “it is simply not covered at all”.
3/ Authoritarian media focus on motivations rather than actions. I’d certainly say there is enough evidence of disparaging the motivations of critical voices in Thailand to support this point. The emphasis on criticising dissenting figures’ intentions rather than their actions in other regional countries varies, but it certainly isn’t a rare social/political phenomenon.
4/ Effective, authoritarian media cannot have competition. Consistent with point 1/, I would argue that this point increasingly characterises Thailand. On this measure Thailand would furthermore be towards the top of the list regionally, a hierarchy with Indonesia (by comparison) at the bottom of the list (with a relatively diverse and free media).
A very interesting and fruitful area of study, and I’d welcome links to any similar work out there.
PS I note that Tom Pepinsky also blogs at wordpress.com. Following him, or performing whatever online magic works for you to receive updates on his posts, is highly recommended.
I realised just recently that many readers, as followers, may only read the first iteration of this website’s blog posts.
On days that I don’t post I often review earlier posts fixing the typing errors and grammatical gremlins (apologies as always), improving expression and clarity where possible and adding additional links and information.
If a particular post appeals to you please don’t hesitate to tell me or subsequently revisit it, as they are often updated.
As the source itself acknowledges there are problems in defining a city, and claims based on historical records are contentious. Neverthess, according to the source only one city in Southeast Asia holds the title of once being the most populous in the world.
I will leave this post without a picture or tags for now as the architecture and religious iconography is distinctive, but if you would like a hint there is one here.
When you are ready the answer is in the link here.
Perhaps I’m at risk of repeating some earlier insights, but I came across the graph below at the link here. The graphic in the link has an interactive capacity not supported by wordpress.com, so I encourage you to visit the original graphic in the link.
There is a universe of possible interpretations there, including that my own country has a potentially misplaced sense of its own greatness, but to make the post coherent I will stick to just three insights in working my way from the centre out.
One is that the terms “best”, “better” and “worse” are vague. Given the near impossibility of meaningful measures on these criteria, to me the most intellectually honest position in responding would be to accept that on some measures my/any country is likely to be better than others while on other measures my/any country is likely to be worse, and seek out a middle position. Balancing this assessment with a patriotic inclination would likely lead you to the response “as good as most”. On this basis, Southeast Asian countries seem to rate themselves realistically, with the majority of those surveyed in Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia all clustering the majority of their responses around this “average” self-assessment, with Singapore being a notable exception.
The second is that many Singaporeans are inclined to see themselves more favourably than most Southeast Asians, while a proportion of Vietnamese, Malaysians, Filipinos, Indonesians and Thais (in descending order) see themselves as inferior in comparison.
The third insight is to consider which Southeast Asian countries see themselves at the more extreme comparative edge. Clearly Thailand is the winner in expressing self-confidence here, with 25% of Thais surveyed holding that their country is the best in the world, while 4% and 3% of Vietnamese and Malaysians (respectively) consider their country as the worst in the world.
To me this belief of 25% of Thais is the most intriguing poll result. Could it be a surge in surge in emotional sentiment, given the poll was taken after the recent death of the Thai King? Or does it point to a deeper vein of nationalistic inclination and/or insecurity in Thailand? Of course without any access to or consideration of the underlying survey methodology, including the sample size and selection, the data and these interpretations could be meaningless, but we can only draw on what we have.
The second graph from that same link here is below (which I will call graph B), and to my mind is much less ambiguous in its interpretation.
As graph B and graph C seen together reinforce, the countries at the top of graph B have done very well out of globalization, and the middle class in those countries (the kind of people who are asked in and respond to surveys) know it. In contrast the countries at the bottom of graph B have done very badly out of globalization, and they know it too. Both graph B and C make clear that it is the middle class from the countries at the top and bottom of graph B that have been the biggest winners and losers from globalization respectively.
And the (comparative) globalization losers? That would be the middle class of the countries at the bottom of graph B and the low income earners at the top of graph B.
And how did the middle class losers the West respond? Well, going from the bottom up, the French are poised to elect a Presidential candidate from the political far right, the US has already elected a potentially far right President and the UK has voted for what appears to be economic catastrophe on the basis of right wing nationalistic appeals. That the next western country up the list is Australia offers little comfort personally.
And how will the impoverished from Southeast Asia respond? Given the drift away from democratic ideals across the region, perhaps the Southeast Asian regional leadership is increasingly unwilling to offer the democratic opportunities to find out.
Note: The original post has been edited for clarity.