The DailyBrief

Tuesday September 5, 2017

Philippines drug scandal: President Rodrigo Duterte has slammed a Senate probe into the claim that his family is involved in the methamphetamine trade as “politically motivated,” Jason Castaneda writes. The tough-talking president, who has dedicated much of his time in office to a brutal anti-narcotics campaign that has claimed more than 9,000 lives, has repeatedly said that he would resign from office if any members of his family were found guilty of involvement in the illegal drug trade. Duterte’s children, Sara and Paolo, are currently the mayor and vice-mayor of the president’s hometown, respectively. The Duterte family have in effect ruled Davao as their fiefdom for the past three decades and have been particularly close to the vibrant Chinese-Filipino business community in the country’s south, which has also been accused of involvement in various illicit trades.

Myanmar sectarian violence: New research shows a countrywide anti-Muslim campaign is being driven by the government, Buddhist monks and ultra-nationalist groups, and threatens to derail democratic reforms, Asia Times and agencies report. The systematic persecution of minority Muslims is on the rise across Myanmar and not confined to the northwestern state of Rakhine, where recent violence has sent nearly 90,000 Muslim Rohingya fleeing, London-based independent Burma Human Rights Network said on Tuesday. “The transition to democracy has allowed popular prejudices to influence how the new government rules, and has amplified a dangerous narrative that casts Muslims as an alien presence in Buddhist-majority [Myanmar],” the group said.

Tripartite crisis talks: An economic forum in Vladivostok on September 6-7 will give the leaders of Russia, South Korea and Japan an opportunity to discuss the North Korean nuclear crisis, Inga Velanskaya writes. The city’s Eastern Economic Forum was born out of attempts to attract investments to Russia’s vast, but sparsely populated Far East region. Around 3,500 officials and businesspeople from 57 countries will attend to discuss trade and business opportunities. However, the focus this year will be on North Korea’s nuclear weapons program after the isolated state, which shares a land border with Russia and China, detonated an underground nuclear device last weekend that was believed to be a hydrogen bomb.

A dangerous distraction: Premiums on South Korean debt recently hit 18-month highs as North Korea tested its sixth nuclear weapon, startling Asian markets and making Seoul fear for its credit rating, William Pesek writes. The risk is that North Korea’s military adventurism, coupled with US President Donald Trump’s jingoistic bluster, is distracting South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who probably didn’t expect to be worrying about credit default swaps at the 118-day mark of his presidency, from the economic tasks at hand.

Wallowing in despair: Chinese millennials with a dim view of their career and marriage prospects are reveling in ironically defeatist “sang” culture, which is fueled by internet celebrities, music and certain mobile games and TV shows, as well as sad-faced emojis and pessimistic slogans, Yawen Chen and Tony Munroe write. They view it as a reaction to the cut-throat competition for good jobs in a slowing economy, but China’s authorities see it as unpatriotic. Having developed online, it now even has its own brands, such as the best-selling “sitting-around-and-waiting-to-die tea,” “achieved-absolutely-nothing black tea,” and “my-ex’s-life-is-better-than-mine fruit tea.”

Asia Times app: Asia Times has launched an app for both iOS- and Android-based devices that delivers the publication’s regular daily news, commentary, blogs and live coverage while also bringing readers added functionality. As we report here, the app, launched on July 25, includes content notification, share and save functions and is free to download from both the Apple Store and Google Play.