The Policy File

Your weekly round-up of Asia-Pacific policy links and analysis.

Kelly Hayward

Uncategorized

4 March 2016

Each week on the Policy File we round up some essential weekend policy reading from around the web. This week we look at the region’s response to the South China Sea stand-off, elections in Iran and the Philippines, walking the walk on protecting human rights, and space-age sneakers. 

Last week’s elections in Iran saw moderates gain a surprising victory, with the recent nuclear deal appearing to play a significant role in their success. Ian Bremmer from Time takes a look at some of the key issues of the election campaign. Thomas Erdbrink at The New York Times looks at how Iran voted, noting that virtually every prominent critic of the nuclear deal was defeated in the election.

Majid Rafizadeh, writing for The Huffington Post says Western media have oversimplified Iran’s elections and presented a competitive and democratic process which does not accurately reflect domestic politics. Keith Jones, meanwhile, says that while Western media have labeled the elections a victory for moderates, it is, in fact, a victory for the ruling elite.

The election campaign in the Philippines is heating up as the polling date rolls into sight. Boxing icon and congressional candidate Manny Pacquiao is preparing to fight for the world welterweight title next month but he is also stepping into another ring of conflict. The Philippines’ election committee announced it may deal a blow to any hopes of the title fight being broadcast in the country fearing it would give him advantage points over rival candidates.

Richard Heydarian steps out of the domestic ring and throws a punch at the foreign policy question, asking whether a new leader will bring about a new approach to China. While Alejandro Reyes writing for Forbes looks at the ‘flawed’ democracy of the country and the inequality that still exists. In a bizarre twist a few weeks ago presidential candidate Grace Poe had to explain a pair of pricey shoes after her son posted photos of his new sneakers on social media. Mish Khan on New Mandala looks at how the futuristic shoes – which can go for $36,000 a pair – were a kick in the guts for poor people in the Philippines.

This week Myanmar’s parliament announced it would bring forward the presidential elections from March 17 to March 10. On Policy Forum Trevor Wilson looks at the prospects for Myanmar under a new government and in the face of ongoing and complex challenges. While Aye Thein considers whether Myanmar’s civil society will help or hinder political change.

Torture, indefinite detention and imprisonment for critics are widespread in the Asia-Pacific region, even in countries that are signatories to international agreements on human rights. Melanie O’Brien shines a light on human rights offences in the region and says it’s time for the region’s leaders to start walking the walk of protecting human rights as well as talking the talk.

Kate Walton looks at the rights of same-sex couples in Indonesia highlighting how the country’s five ‘founding’ principles are wrongly used to deny rights to same-sex people. Jyoti Puri, meanwhile, looks at the long battle to decriminalise homosexuality in India.

Australia’s new Defence White Paper has made waves in China, with the country’s Foreign Ministry stating that remarks on the South and East China Sea were ‘negative’ and have caused ‘dissatisfaction’ to the country’s leaders. In an ABC interview former defence minister and Labour leader Kim Beazley says Australia must take a stand against China’s actions in the South China Sea.

Darshana M Baruah says the combination of Australia’s Defence White Paper and India’s maritime strategy could help in bringing more stability to the region. While Alison Pert says China’s actions in the South China Sea have gone too far and threaten the stability of the UN Charter system itself.

Climate change has the potential to bring down a storm of consequences, including flooding, public health risks and economic collapse. On Mashable Chelsea Harvey looks at how cities around the world are protecting billions of people from climate change, while Matthew Dornan on DevPolicy Blog looks at the role of coal in the climate debate.

Tackling climate change and pollution can happen in a variety of ways. In China this week a striking new video aiming to confront the country’s choking pollution warned of a future where people have evolved long nose hair to protect them from the smog, sending a message of action or adaption.

One man probably wishing he could cover his nose better is ABC correspondent Adam Harvey. Demonstrating the dangers of reporting from public policy’s frontline Harvey experienced first-hand the dangers of living in Jakarta when he took a tumble into a toxic sludge dump. Thankfully he lived to tell the tale.

Don’t forget, you can debate key public policy issues by joining the Asia and the Pacific Policy Society’s LinkedIn group – a closed group exclusive to Society Members.  Be part of the conversation – we’ll see you there.

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Hayward, K. (2016). The Policy File - Policy Forum. [online] Policy Forum. Available at: http://www.policyforum.net/the-policy-file-4-mar-2016/

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