‘We’re on red alert’: Thailand ramps up efforts to prevent African swine fever from spreading

Thailand, one of Asia’s top pork producers, is intensifying efforts to hold off a lethal pig virus that is causing havoc as it spreads across the region.African swine fever – a disease that kills virtually all the pigs it infects – has been spreading through Asia from China and Mongolia.Millions of pigs have been culled, creating a global protein shortage, and saddling farmers and food businesses with billions of dollars in costs.“We’re on red alert for the pig virus,” Anan Suwannarat, the…

Australia passes new whistleblowing laws

ANALYSIS: New Australian legislation which enhances protections available to whistleblowers will come into effect later this year. The requirements are extensive, and the consequences for failing to comply can be dire. Organisations will need to do prepare for the new laws.

Skype therapy? South Korea’s lack of mental health help forces stressed out foreign students to seek it online

When 25-year-old Martyna Posluszna first moved to Seoul from her native Poland last year, she thought she would feel right at home. She quickly made friends and even found herself a Korean boyfriend.But 12 months in to her two-year masters programme at Yonsei University, one of the most prestigious in South Korea, struggles adapting to life in the country provoked a panic attack that landed Posluszna in a private hospital. She was diagnosed with anxiety, and was charged US$800 for a half-day as…

There is one clear winner in Philippine midterm elections: Rodrigo Duterte’s popularity

Five points stand out to me from the just-concluded Philippine midterm elections, particularly its main event: the Senate race.First, the polls reinforce the notion that President Rodrigo Duterte is the most popular Philippine politician today – if not in recent memory.With at least eight out of the 12 Senate seats up for grabs set to be won by candidates backed by Duterte and the Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) party of his daughter, Sara, the elections were a triumph for the president and his…

Singapore start-up Shopback chips away at Facebook and Google’s online ad dominance, one click at a time

Tucked away in a refurbished factory building in southwest Singapore, Shopback’s headquarters houses only 50 people, just a quarter of its workforce. The affiliate marketing firm may only have a fraction of the employees that giants like Facebook and Google have, but Shopback has big dreams – to offer businesses a more efficient way of reaching their customers. In Southeast Asia, Shopback has gained traction thanks to its cashback app, with more than 8 million users and 2,000 merchants. When…

What’s behind South Korea’s attraction to fringe churches?

When Ahn So-young was 27, her parents became concerned about her all-consuming commitment to a fringe church group called Shincheonji. They enrolled her in a counselling programme to help her break her attachment to the group. Ahn became so dejected she tried to kill herself by swallowing soap and shampoo.Anh had been a member of Shincheonji for five years. She spent all her time with the group, even handing out surveys at university to attract potential new members, and eventually quit her…

Is the palm oil industry going up in smoke as market forces and environmental concerns collide?

The setting should have been one of pure, unadulterated, luxury – walking down from my poolside room at one of my favourite hotels, the Goodwood Park in Singapore, dropping my towel and slipping into the pool to swim lazy laps surrounded by tropical plants. Instead, the air was thick with a smoky haze and the hotel was deserted. This was June 2013, when millions of hectares of Sumatran forest were ablaze in the annual “slash and burn” to clear land for palm oil plantations.In Singapore,…

Park Geun-hye is ‘metal’, Xi Jinping is ‘earth’, so bilateral ties are smooth: fortune-tellers’ political advice to disgraced South Korean president revealed

Former South Korean president Park Geun-hye was predicted to have good ties with Chinese President Xi Jinping, but less so with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. And South Korea should have reached the semi-finals at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, instead of being eliminated in the group stages. Why? Because South Korea is “tree” and Brazil is “water” by nature, according to the traditional Chinese philosophy of Wu Xing, which uses the interaction of elements to explain and predict everything…