The bigger picture
I agree with most of what the experts said in the recent discussion of the ongoing technology war between China and the US (May issue) but I don’t accept that the concept of allies adequately explains those countries’ relationships today. Through its Belt and Road Initiative, China is attempting to expand in Asia and Europe but it has no intention to crush the existing world order from which it benefits. However, the US is trapped in a bipolar view of the world and if it continues its strategy, China will beat it in this technology war.
Another issue is Huawei’s independence. Look at another Chinese company, Tencent. The government has interfered in Tencent’s operations by censoring WeChat content. Last year, nearly 10,000 social media accounts on WeChat, Weibo and Baidu were shut down. It is hard to believe Huawei’s 5G technology will not be subject to similar government control.
Let’s end this carnage
I was touched and humbled to read your May editorial on the Easter Sunday massacre in Sri Lanka, a violation of extreme brutality. These atrocities must stop once and for all. The killing of innocent worshippers during prayer is unacceptable and I am personally deeply saddened and disturbed by it. Tourists visiting the country for a few days of relaxation and respite from the stresses of daily life returned home in body bags. The fact that children were not excluded as targets speaks volumes about the mindset of the perpetrators.
Bangladesh has also seen these kinds of atrocities in the recent past, but the resilience and security measures adopted by Bangladeshi law-enforcement agencies and the coordinated efforts by the government and civil society have been paying dividends. As a Bangladeshi, I was baffled by the complacency displayed by the higher echelons of the Sri Lankan government in the wake of the Easter attacks. In order to stop this religiously motivated apartheid – which brings nothing but carnage in its wake –more action is needed. We all need to erase the scars of hatred from our societies to make the world a better and more peaceful place, so our descendants can co-exist in harmony. All members of society, people of all faiths and communities, need to work collectively to eradicate the twisted ideologies that lead to the mindless killings we keep seeing across the world – sadly, in the name of religion.
Imran A. Chowdhury
Founder & CEO
Centre for Policy Promotion & Prevention
The article on the recent introduction of harsh punishments for same-sex activity in Brunei (‘The brutality of Brunei’, May Asian Affairs) provided a fascinating insight into the region as a whole, and I believe demonstrates the broader issues of a globalised society with its breadth of opinion, religious belief, and socio-economic status.
Whilst homosexuality has been illegal in Brunei for over a decade, the introduction of the new Sharia penal codes includes severe punishments such as stoning to death.However, it is interesting to note that the international outcry since the announcement of these new punishments has now seemingly prompted the Kingdom of Brunei to attempt to clarify their position – without actually rescinding the law. Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah has enforced a moratorium on the death penalty to cover the new legislation, perhaps suggesting that these laws, like many anti-LGBT laws globally, are gestures to appease religious conservatives and are not intended to be carried out.
Regardless, whilst anti-LGBT laws remain current in countries across the world, LGBT people will continue to live in fear of the repercussions of their sexuality and/or gender identity. It is time we stopped relying on the boycotts of prestigious brands that only celebrities can afford, and demand that our governments champion change where human rights are being violated.
In the first instance, perhaps Her Majesty’s Government might like to be more proactive in seeking progress for LGBT equality in the 35 of the 53 Commonwealth states where homosexuality remains illegal, many of whom can trace their discriminatory and dangerous laws back to the days of British colonialism.
One Body One Faith