July 2022

Bongbong’ must keep his climate pledges

Richard Gregson notes in his article about the Philippines (Marcos Mark 2, June 2022) that Filipinos ‘tend to harbour scepticism about politicians as they are wary of widespread corruption’. We are also sceptical about the commitment of our leaders to tackling climate change. The Philippines has the best environmental laws in the world. The problem is that they are not being fully enforced.

It is time the Marcos administration gave tax breaks to buyers of electric vehicles to entice more motorists to switch from fossil fuels, whose prices have been skyrocketing. President Marcos is due to attend the COP27 United Nations climate change conference in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt in November. He needs to ensure that in Sharm el-Sheikh, nations will focus on discussing the implementation of the Philippines’ plans and can credibly hold other, richer countries accountable for implementing the 2015 Paris Agreement.


Gloria Manhit

Manila, The Philippines

China’s Zero Covid climate of fear

In his piece about China’s so-called Zero Covid response to the pandemic, Duncan Bartlett notes that it is unwise to take the data spread through Chinese official channels at face value, as statisticians often tend to twist information to add a rosy gloss to bad situations. (Draconianism, or necessary inconvenience? June 2022).

It is also true that statistics cannot capture the human cost of the policy. For many people living in Shanghai, the past few months have been a nightmare. The fear of being forced into a government quarantine centre is, for many, a greater concern than actually catching Covid. What China needed from the start was a more open and honest approach on Covid, including a sensible level of trust in the vaccines produced in other countries. Instead, the whole situation has been politicised, in a way that ultimately undermines trust between the people and their leaders.

Name and Address withheld


Japan’s ban out of step with public opinion

It is a disappointment that the Japanese legal system continues to uphold a ban on same-sex marriages. The excuse given is that gay marriage is against the constitution, which defines marriage as a union between ‘both sexes’. However, in 2022 surely we can accept that loving partnerships between same sex couples should be accorded equal value with those of heterosexual couples?

In fact, this is the widely held view among young people in Japan. It is the legal system, particularly courts in Osaka, which holds back progress. This means that Japan is the only country in the G7 group of developed nations that doesn’t allow people of the same sex to marry. US President Joe Biden often speaks of Japan as being a ‘liberal democracy’ and a country which shares common values with America.

It’s time that the legal system dispenses social justice in this regard, especially as opinion polls show a majority of the general public is in favour of allowing same-sex marriage in Japan.

Mary S. McFadden


Living under the shadow of the army

I am a regular reader of the online edition of Asian Affairs. As it is very difficult to get authentic information in Pakistan, I am thankful to you for your in­depth coverage of South Asia. I have read many good reports on Afghanistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka as well as my country. Your reports are balanced and reliable.In Pakistan, the media is biased and unreliable. Because nothing happens in Pakistan without the permission of the military establishment. Imran Khan, who was very chummy with the establishment, is now angry with his mentors for not being ‘neutral!

Mubaraq Hussain  Karachi, Pakistan