Good morning. Here's my take on some of the stories driving the debate in politics, finance and social issues across Asia today:
Korea chastises "murderous" ferry captain.
Under mounting pressure to go after the captain, crew and ferry company responsible for a tragedy that that has left more than 300 dead or missing, South Korean President President Park Geun Hye obliged, and then some. “The actions of the captain and some crew members just cannot be understood with common sense," Park said of the man who abandoned ship, leaving hundreds of high-school kids on board to fend for themselves. “Lumps of shock and rage are developing the hearts of not only me but also of the people.” Make that the people of the world, too, Madame President.
China seizes ship with 1937 on its mind.
In the China-versus-Japan follies that are present day Asia, nothing seems off limits -- not even ire ore tankers. Beijing seized one from Mitsui OSK Lines as compensation for the loss of two ships leased from a Chinese company before the two countries went to war in the 1930s. It's hard to enjoy the amusement factor of all this on the eve of U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Tokyo this week. If Obama hoped for smooth sailing, this escalation in North Asian tensions suggests otherwise.
Narendra Modi's Katy Perry moment.
In a world of so many choices, it should worry Narendra Modi that, at least by one measure, he's among the three most disliked people on earth. Or so suggests a Time poll of readers as the magazine mulls its next "Person of the Year" honors, one that shows the growing influence of Indian Internet users. Of course, Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Modi may get a chuckle out of coming in just behind American diva Katy Perry (and, thankfully for BJP, two places behind Aam Aadmi Party's Arvind Kejriwal, who was THE least favorite). But when you are trying to be taken seriously as the great reformer ready to right India's off-course economy, that's not an enviable place to be.
Mishaps at Malaysian Airlines keep coming.
You'd think the airline that lost a Boeing 777 would be hauling every plane in its fleet in for a mandatory -- and thorough -- tune up. And you'd be wrong, as Malaysian Airlines continues to report a series of post-Flight 370 mishaps -- like today's emergency landing at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. An unmanned submarine hunting for the missing Flight 370 has covered two-thirds of a targeted underwater search area in the Indian Ocean without finding any wreckage. In the meantime, Prime Minister Najib Razak might want to call his national carrier and find out what's up there. Certainly not passenger confidence.
Obama's balancing act in the Philippines.
Each of President Obama's four stops in Asia come with its own unique challenge, but the tone he sets in the Philippines might be the most telling for his so-called Asia pivot. While Japan's tensions with China are well known, Manila's disagreements with Beijing over disputed territory could heat up in the months ahead. Philippine President Benigno Aquino is that rare Southeast Asian leader pushing back at China's demands that nations in the region come to heel. The U.S. is keen on increasing its military presence there, to China's great displeasure. Talk about a Thrilla in Manila.
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