Writers once travelled through Asia in a leisurely fashion, steamers gently rolling between Bangkok and Batavia, rickshaws wheeling through the streets of Singapore, pleasure boats pulling into Penang. European wanderers, adventurers and authors drank gin slings while waiting for sumptuous dinners; colonial matrons sipped tea on hotel balconies; and the business of empire rumbled on.
With the jailing of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim last week, Malaysia appears to have again resorted to dubious law to eliminate political challenges. This unfortunate practice has been seen in many Asian nations: Thailand, Myanmar and Singapore are in the unsavoury line-up. All too often, the courts are used to shape the course of politics. Opponents …read more
While nations with sophisticated health networks debate the merits of mandatory quarantine and whether to place a temporary ban on passengers flying in from West Africa, Asian nations are bracing for the worst, with some experts saying an outbreak of Ebola in the region is almost inevitable.
The commercial roll-out of the world’s first dengue vaccine is in sight, but tropical disease experts are already questioning the breakthrough vaccine’s drawbacks. Often known as “breakbone fever”, with symptoms of excruciating joint pain, high fevers, and, in severe cases, internal bleeding – dengue is carried by mosquitos.
An often fatal respiratory virus has made the leap from the Middle East to south-east Asia, spurring governments across the region to swing into action to contain the disease. The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, has similar characteristics to the SARS virus that emerged in China a decade ago, killing 750 people and bringing …read more
Enthusiasm vibrating in his voice, the poet and activist A. Samad Said tells the Courier-Mail he is pretty sure the government in Malaysia will be booted out after tomorrow’s national election. “I feel very confident,” he said. “It’s been great, every day of the campaign has been great.”
Shifting and giggling, the tourists and locals wait to pose with a mural painted on a dilapidated Penang street wall. An image of two laughing children on a three dimensional bicycle, the mural is a striking and thought-provoking contrast of forms. It is art that begs for interaction and it has proved incredibly popular in …read more
Staying overnight in an ancient garage might not be everybody’s idea of fun. But this isn’t the standard suburban garage found in most countries in the world, stuffed higgledy-piggledy with tins of paint, bits of bicycle, bottles of oil and screwdrivers.
Condoms, like food and medicine, are largely impervious to the deflation of economic bubbles. So Malaysia’s largest condom manufacturer, Karex, will blithely ignore depressing global financial trends and launch an initial public offering sometime in the near future. Beyond confirming the impending float, Karex this week shyly declined to reveal any further details, but chief …read more
Musaab Naji Al-Wakil is an ordinary, middle-class Iraqi who has been stuck in Malaysia with his wife and four children for five years, and he too has felt the pull of the boats.