Good morning. Here's my take on some of the stories driving the debate in politics, finance and social issues across Asia today:
Thailand risks economic backlash.
Morgan Stanley cut Thailand's 2014 growth forecast from 3 percent to zero. Not disastrous by coup standards, but it's worth noting that economists' estimates for the damage a May 22 military takeover will do to output are conservative, at best. As the junta digs in, even arresting a former education minister as he was being interviewed by foreign reporters, there are valid reasons to worry about a deepening downturn in the Land of Smiles.
Untold part of China's Tiananmen tragedy.
June 4 marks the 25th anniversary of China's shameful Tiananmen Square crackdown. Try as they may to change the subject with booming growth, global investments and soaring rhetoric, that bloody affair still casts an ominous shadow over Communist Party leaders, and rightfully so. Here's an account of one largely unknown part of that story -- the disparate cast of characters who helped student protesters escape --- as reported and explained in gripping detail by my Bloomberg News colleagues in Beijing. Definitely worth a read.
Souvenir toilet seats, anyone?
Few modern Japanese creations have gotten more attention than the nation's high-tech toilet seats. Their complexity also is constant fodder for lively travel stories (it seems that just about anyone who's traveled around Japan has a lost-in-translation bathroom tale to tell). Turns out, it's also an emerging business opportunity for Asia's second-biggest economy. As this Wall Street Journal piece explains, more and more tourists are returning home flush with Japanese bathroom wear.
Gauging Modi's cabinet choices.
A day after Narendra Modi unveiled his cabinet choices, India watchers are scrambling for clues as to what kind of leader he'll be. Question is, does Modi naming the smallest cabinet in 16 years and entrusting the economy, corporate affairs and defense to Arun Jaitley mean that he's India's answer to Margaret Thatcher? Or Vladimir Putin? No one knows yet, but here's a useful Asia Sentinel analysis of what to look for as India's new prime minister gets to work.
Apple scammed Down Under.
It's only seems fitting that as technogical change races forward, so do the creativity and sophistication of scam artists. Take the recent spate of Apple iPhone and iPad hackings in Australia. Apparently your device freezes up and you must pay a ransom to regain access. Cyber scams have come a long way from Nigerian emails.
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