From a microphone on the muddy lawn, a student complains to the politicians on stage about rising joblessness. \nAn older man asks what they will do about Cambodia's entrenched corruption. \nA young mother, memories of war and destruction still fresh in her mind, demands to know if any of their parties will instigate violence if they lose in the upcoming election. \nIt's democracy in action, as Cambodia prepares for national polls on July 27 to select who will lead the country as it continues to claw its way out of the wreckage of decades of strife. \nUp for grabs are 123 parliamentary seats. Some 6.2 million people -- out of a population of 12.5 million -- are eligible to vote for the party they believe should lead the government for the next five years. \nPolitics here is often regarded as a spectacle to break the everyday routine, with rallies heralded by noisy loudspeakers on cruising trucks. \nBut for the first time in a national election -- the third since multiparty democracy was restored in 1993 -- voters who are getting a chance to grill the candidates in debate-style at public forums. \n``Such an event is absolutely important in helping me make my decision,'' says Yeang Bun Yol, a 24-year-old student. \nThis particular debate in Battambang province, 250km northwest of the capital, is being held on the grounds of a Buddhist temple, a traditional community gathering place. It is one of a dozen planned for several provinces with candidates from 14 of the 23 contesting parties. \nMonks chant blessings for the three candidates before they climb onto the stage. About 2,500 people sit on the surrounding lawn, defying light rain followed by blazing sunshine to hear what the candidates have to say. \nDebating policy is encouraged, attacking personalities is out of bounds, according to the rules set out by the debates' organizer, the US-based National Democratic Institute. \n``Personal attacks here are cause for concern; they could make bad things happen here,'' says Kelley Jones, a senior official from the institute, an arm of the Democratic Party in America which is intended to encourage democracy worldwide. \nViolence has marred past Cambodian campaigns, and seven political activists have been killed since the current campaign started last month. \nWhile both the National Democratic Institute and a visiting UN delegate have complained about intimidation fom some of the candidates in the campaign, the institute said the situation had improved from past elections. \nAt the Battambang rally, candidates from the election's main contenders -- the ruling Cambodian People's Party, its junior coalition partner Funcinpec, and the opposition Sam Rainsy Party -- take turns fielding questions from a moderator, each other and finally, three members of the audience. \nFuncinpec candidate Nhek Bun Chhay says that should his party win, it will deal decisively with illegal immigrants, meaning primarily ethnic Vietnamese whose presence historically causes nationalistic resentment among many Cambodians. \nPlaying the race card is an ugly but familiar -- and usually productive -- tactic in Cambodian politics. \nEng Chhay Ieng, the candidate for the Sam Rainsy Party, makes sure to mention ``corruption'' in his answer to almost every question. \nParty leader Sam Rainsy, a former finance minister who once was with Funcinpec, made his name as an outspoken foe of corruption. It's a good fit for his party, whose position as the sole parliamentary opposition already makes it a natural magnet for the disgruntled. \nMuy Chat, the candidate from Prime Minister Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party, reminds the audience that the party guided the country from the murderous wreckage wrought by the communist Khmer Rouge in the late 1970s to today's peace and stability. \nFor Cambodia, where poverty is just a fact of life, this is the crucial issue for some people. The final embers of the 18-year civil war were extinguished only in 1998 when the Khmer Rouge movement collapsed. Battambang province had been a front-line area vulnerable to guerrilla attacks. \n``I wonder if any of your parties will do anything to cause bloodshed again if it loses the election?'' Khi Meng Lim, a 29-year-old mother, asks the candidates. \nAs a former refugee who spent most of her childhood in a border camp, she says later that she's nervous about the uncertainty that might come after polling day. \n``I used to run from war. And I don't want to have to pack up and run again without enough rice to eat,'' she says. \nOne by one, the candidates assure her that their parties will respect the people's will and won't unravel the hard-won peace. \nDaeng Ly, a 62-year-old carpenter who enjoyed the novelty of politicians being held at least temporarily answerable to the people, compared the event to buying gems. \n``If there is only one gemstone in front of you, you cannot tell if it's really the best. But when there are several on offer, you can make the best choice to pick,'' he says.
The outbreak of COVID-19 among the tech firms in Miaoli County — a complete failure by the brokers, firms and the local and central government, any one of whom could have taken action to prevent it — has triggered a serious outbreak of another endemic disease: racism towards migrant workers. The firms themselves led the way, sending around circulars that warned the workers that they would have to pay for their own COVID-19 care should they become infected. One circular I saw even said that workers who contract the virus will be liable for any harm they cause the firm.
Vaccines are the latest flashpoint inflaming cross-strait tensions between China and Taiwan, as the latter tries to fend off its worst coronavirus outbreak since the pandemic began with a mostly unvaccinated population and the former rails against outside assistance from Taipei’s allies. Global vaccination drives are widely seen as the only way out of the COVID-19 pandemic, but in Taiwan, just 3 percent of the population has received at least one dose. Now it is battling hundreds of cases a day and does not have enough vaccines for its 23.5 million people. Affected by global shortages, low initial orders and accusations of
June 14 to June 20 During the early 1990s, tens of thousands of Taipei residents subscribed to an illegal cable service named “Shinganxian” (新幹線). With over 140 employees, it was the largest among more than 40 similar operations in the capital. For a relatively cheap price, people could sign up for up to 37 channels ranging from Buddhist seminars to WWE wrestling to X-rated movies. Otherwise they were limited to the government-approved “old three channels” (老三台): Taiwan Television, (TTV), China Television (CTV) and Chinese Television System (CTS), which were established between 1962 and 1971. According to a 1991 Commonwealth Magazine (天下雜誌) article, an
With no way to make money during the outbreak and a developmentally delayed third-grader to raise alone, the only thing Mr Lin (林) can do is pray for vaccines. “I just hope that people can get vaccinated and life can go back to usual soon,” Lin says during a Line interview. “It’s unfortunate that Taiwan’s awkward international status prevents us from getting vaccines.” A foot masseuse catering to tourists in Taipei, Lin’s income already took a hit when the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year. With the latest outbreak shuttering massage parlors across the nation, he is now out of a