Having travelled throughout all of Southeast Asia, one country really stood out: the Philippines. Somehow it is completely different from all the other ASEAN countries we’ve visited. Is it because of the strong hold the colonial Spaniards had on the country? Is it because of the influence of the Catholic Church? Does it have to do with American colonial influence? Or does it have to do with the fact that the Philippines consist of a large number of small islands? I can’t give you the answer to this, but what I do know is that there are plenty of things you’ll not encounter anywhere else in the region… or in the world for that matter.
In our trip through China we couldn’t help but notice the many security measurements. In our view this is greatly exaggerated, since China seems like such a safe country. Probably safer than many places in the West. So why are these severe security measures necessary? Many say it is needed to control the population, but is it also plausible that it is needed to justify Chinese repressive policies?
Sanne van Oosten
When will China overtake the US as largest economy in the world? OECD predicted that this will be by 2015, Goldman Sachs predictes 2025 and the World Bank predicted 2030. New research suggests it will rather be sooner than later. However, these reports often don’t include many social and political factors, which are hard to predict. China will face many challenges the upcoming years.
Sanne van Oosten
For the last fifty years or so, Buddhism has been gaining followers in many Western countries. This development has progressed so far, that one could even say Buddhism is becoming completely mainstream. So mainstream, that plenty of words derived from Buddhism are interspersed into our language. Zen, karma, nirvana, mindfulness even people who know next to nothing of Buddhism have an idea of the meanings of these words. Also, it has completely penetrated the market of self-help books. “If the Buddha dated”, “Buddha in the Boardroom”, “Buddha Mom” and many more of such titles. But why is Buddhism so popular in the West?
Since Singapore was established by Sir Raffles, Singapore has been a haven of free trade. And that has definitely paid off. The most high-tech country of Southeast Asia, where the subway is full of people on their iPhone and the streets are full with people listening to their own personal playlist. There are more typical things you’ll see in Singapore, but nowhere else.
Sanne van Oosten
“Malaysia truly Asia”, this country slogan might just be the most catchy one I’ve ever heard. Maybe it’s because of the frequency of the highly stylized CNN-commercials, or because it just rhymes so well, but whenever I hear the word “Malaysia” I feel like following up with “…truly Asia” right away. I wasn’t the only one to remember this slogan so well, since the launch of this slogan in 1999 the Malaysian tourism board has won dozens of creative marketing awards for this marketing campaign. Various tour operators and hotel chains explain that Malaysia has earned this slogan because it being a melting pot of Asian cultures. But can Malaysia really be called a melting pot? In this blog, I will explain why such a polarized country like Malaysia could never be called a melting pot.
Abdul Malik Omar
The debate on Brunei’s brain drain has again hit a feverish pitch since Hardware Zone published a post entitled “Very severe brain drain as Brunei falls into decline, talented Bruneians leaving the country“. Citizens like myself are only too indifferent to the negativity surrounding the subject but it kind of begs the question: Why do many of the talented and skilled Bruneians leave the country?
Sanne van Oosten
Finally, winter is over. As is tradition in Amsterdam city life, this is unoficially celebrated by locals as they switch to their summer wardrobe a little bit too fast. Thus bearing through unnecessarily cold bike rides to work as a celebration of the first rays of sun. They can feel the summer coming and are euforic because of it. As the Amsterdam urban dwellers happily flock to the terraces, they aren’t the ones who are happiest that spring has set in. The people sleeping on the streets are facing the easier season to live in. And there are a lot more homeless than one would expect.
29 March 2014 will mark an important date in Myanmar’s post-2010 history. All the people who were in the country on that day were to be included in the data of the first Population & Household census held in over 30 years. In the 12 days following the 29th 120,000 enumerators went around the country to collect the data. A census is a systematic exercise aiming to provide the government with data about the population on which it can base its policies and service delivery. As such, it is a common and indispensable instrument. And generally, it is not given much thought.