Good morning. Here's my take on some of the stories driving the debate in politics, finance and social issues across Asia today.
Australia takes lead on MH370 crisis.
It's amazing to see the contrast between Australia's handling of the Malaysian Air flight that went missing on March 8, and Malaysia's. Prime Minister Tony Abbott was front and center, speaking clearly and credibly about what he knows -- and doesn't -- about debris spotted by satellite in the southern Indian Ocean. No hype, no partisanship, no tirades against the media. As the MalayMail puts it in this piece: "The alacrity, transparency and neutrality of the response stood in contrast Malaysia's actions, which have invited criticism by some and condemnation by others."
How pollution threatens China's kids.
In one of the most disturbing scientific findings of late, China's rampant air pollution could be causing genetic problems for children. Yet as unsettling as this contention by researcher at Columbia University and Chongqing Medical University found is, something worries me even more: the utter lack of seriousness in Beijing about a worsening problem that's imperiling health as much as China's economic future. In recent National People's Congress speech and press conference, Premier Li Keqiang talked about removing high-emission cars from the road and closing coal-fired furnaces, but offered zero in the way of specifics. If China does not act soon, entire generations of children will pay the gravest of prices.
Japan's broadcaster woes.
Katsuto Momii continues to be quite the thorn in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's side. Momii, Abe's choice to head national broadcaster NHK, said in January that the Japanese military’s wartime use of sex slaves, known as comfort women, shouldn’t be judged by “today’s morality,” or in essence that it's not a big deal. Making matters worse, and irking China and South Korea all the more, Momii hasn't been fired. Here’s an intriguing look at what's at stake as Abe stands by his history-challenged man, from BBC reporter Mariko Oi. If Abe thinks this controversy will blow over, he's terribly mistaken.
Mongolia's Crimean parallel?
China has struggled to steer clear of Russia's incursion in Crimea as best it can. But it's interesting to see how observers are finding uncomfortable parallels between the recent Ukraine referendum and China's history with Mongolia. Here in Foreign Policy, Bethany Allen explores how the Ukrainian crisis is raising unexpected questions from Beijing to Ulaanbaatar.
Where does Thailand go from here?
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's decision to lift the state of emergency necessitated by protests since October against her government is the best news Thailand has had in many months. So where to now for one of Asia's most promising democracies and economies? Well, the first step is for Yingluck to negotiate a lasting peace with her detractors. Here, the Bangkok Post offers a timely reality check on Thailand today and, more importantly, a glimpse at its possible tomorrow.
(William Pesek is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow him on Twitter at @williampesek).
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