Asia

Left voices in Singapore's election

With the pandemic still raging within the migrant worker dormitories, Singaporeans will go to the polls on 10 July 10. Despite migrant workers' inhumane living conditions making world news last month, it has become a non-issue in the elections. In fact, parties such as the Singapore Democratic Party have continued to deploy Malthusian narratives of Singapore being overrun by foreigners in order to win votes. Such tactics have detracted from the SDP's otherwise progressive policies for a minimum wage and better protections for workers. The Workers' Party has pro-worker policies that are even...

Migrant labour, racism and class struggle in Singapore

With migrant workers making up the vast majority of recent Covid-19 cases in Singapore, there are renewed calls for the government to reduce Singapore's dependence on migrant labour. On the surface, this appears to be a progressive proposal, given that it is being made in response to the cramped and unsanitary nature of the migrant worker dormitories. In reality, however, these are xenophobic demands to reduce the number of foreigners and these demands have nothing to do with improving conditions in migrant worker dormitories. Many have compared migrant labour to a drug to which Singapore is...

Singapore in the pandemic

Of the 728 new COVID-19 cases reported in Singapore on 16 April, 654 were linked to migrant worker dormitories. In a statement that best captures the racism against foreign workers in Singapore, Cabinet Minister Lawrence Wong said: “We are already having to deal with a foreign worker dormitory cluster. “Let’s not have more clusters emerge outside of that in our own community as well.” An estimated 62,500 migrant workers have been quarantined in just eight foreign worker dormitories. Workers have reported that they are subject to cramped and unhygienic living conditions and have been served...

Trans women arrested in Aceh

On 27 January, 12 trans women were arrested in Aceh province in Indonesia and made to undergo a “re-education programme”. They were subjected to beatings, had their hair forcibly cut, were stripped and forced to wear men′s clothes, and otherwise humiliated. Trans women are reportedly fleeing the province, an area with an autonomous status meaning it can have some of its own laws, including on homosexuality. Many run beauty salons which have been shut fearing a wave of attacks after far-right and Islamist organisations put out calls for regular Friday protests to ″cleanse the province″. The...

Daesh resurgence in Libya

The fact that the perpetrator of the Manchester bombing, Salman Abedi, may have been part of a Daesh network in Libya has focused attention on the group outside of its main territories in Iraq and Syria. Daesh is known to have groups allied to it across the Middle East, Africa and Asia but in recent years their strength has grown in Libya. The fall of Gaddafi lead to a series of fractured and splintered militias and rival governments fighting for control. The roots of Daesh in Libya lie with the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, formed in the 1990s from remnants of the mujahideen who fought the...

“Anti-imperialist”? Or just right-wing?

The Philippines’ new president, Rodrigo Duterte, announced in Beijing on 21 October: “I announce my separation from the United States, both in military but economics also”. “America has lost it... I realigned myself in your [China’s] ideological flow and maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world: China, Philippines and Russia”. The Philippines, constituted as a political unit by the Spanish Empire in the 16th century, were ceded to the USA as a colony after the Spanish-American war of 1898, and then won independence in 1946. The...

Welfare or jail?

Wealthy Japan is suffering an wave of shoplifting by elderly people. They do it so in order to get themselves sent to jail so that they can get food and shelter. Over the last 20-odd years, the number of elderly inmates in jail for repeating the same offence six times has risen 460 per cent. Basic living costs for a single Japanese retiree are estimated at 25% higher than the basic state pension, about £5000 a year. Japan has long had a thinner welfare system than Europe. It relied on family networks instead. But now about 40% of the elderly live alone, and often have no family support...

Capitalism vs human life

Capitalism has created life-enhancing possibilities. It has even realised some of them. My older daughter has epilepsy. In pre-capitalist times, if she’d had medication at all, it would have had no, or harmful, effects, and the seizures would probably have become more severe until they disabled and killed her. Today, she has been able to end the seizures with just a few pills, without side-effects. Not only in Britain, but in many poorer countries too, almost everyone learns to read and write, almost everyone has easy access to music and visual arts, a sizeable proportion can study at...

New centres of capital

As of 2014, “developing Asia” — China, Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, and other countries — became a bigger exporter of foreign direct investment than North America (the US and Canada) or the whole of Europe. The United Nations agency which monitors such things, UNCTAD, reports that “developing economies” produced 36% of all foreign direct investment in 2014, up from less than 10% as recently as 2003 (UNCTAD World Investment Report 2015). The shift is not a blip, or a sudden and temporary development due to economic difficulties in the USA and Europe. It is the latest step in a...

Support the solidarity appeal by trade unions in Nepal!

The GEFONT trade union federation in Nepal has issued an appeal for solidarity. Please donate and spread the word! *** NEPALESE UNIONS LAUNCH RELIEF FUND 30 Apr 2015 Unions in Nepal are appealing for solidarity support following Saturday’s devastating earthquake in the country, which has claimed the lives of nearly 5,500 people and injured thousands more. The General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions (GEFONT) has set up a relief fund to help people on the ground. It is the worst earthquake to hit the country for 80 years. GEFONT has spent the week mobilizing people to rescue victims from the...

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