MORNING NEWS BRIEF: 04 FEBRUARY
PICTURE OF THE DAY
GARDENS BY THE BAY, SINGAPORE
With this year’s River Hongbao event set to begin next week at Gardens by the Bay, works were under way on Feb 2, 2021, to put the final touches to the centrepiece, an 18m-tall God of Fortune display.
THE STRAITS TIMES/LIM YAOHUI
In Myanmar Suu Kyi and the West loses the round
The ousting of Aung San Suu Kyi by the military soon after she won an election hand down, has met with dismay in many countries particularly in the West. It is seen as a loss of their icon and that “democracy” has been hit below the belt. That the problem in Myanmar could be deeper than a regime change initiated by the military (which was always informally in power), hasn’t been recoginized. The crisis in Myanmar is not one between civilian and military rule but one that originates in the nature of the Myanmar State, already split into many rebellious semi-independent zones. Just as martial law is no solution nor is democracy of the Western variety a solution.
India-Lanka relations under strain over denial of East Container Terminal in Colombo port
India-Sri Lanka relations have come under strain following Sri Lanka’s withdrawal from its written commitment to give Colombo port’s Easter Container Terminal (ECT) to India, and to offer the West Container Terminal (WCT) in lieu of it as a sop. A disappointed Indian High Commissioner Gopal Baglay met President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena on Tuesday apparently to express India’s dismay about the ‘breach of trust’. Asked about the outcome of the discussions, the Indian High Commission said that India will issue a statement on it from New Delhi. The statement is awaited.
Taliban call fighters back from winter lull early as talks stall
Amid growing distrust over the future of peace talks with the administration of new US President Joe Biden, Taliban leaders have called commanders back from their winter break earlier than usual, a leader of the group told Nikkei Asia. In winter, roads are blocked and mountains are covered with snow in parts of the war-ravaged country that slows fighting and the Taliban usually allow many of its commanders to put down their weapons. The long break lasts until a "spring offensive" is declared, normally in late April or early May, which marks the beginning of the annual fighting season.
Did Iran really carry out an anti-Israeli terrorist attack in India?
Israeli Ambassador to India Ron Malka condemned what he described as the “attempted terrorist attack” that took place in New Delhi on Friday while the two governments celebrated 29 years of diplomatic relations. A low-intensity explosion occurred real close to the Israeli Embassy, which immediately prompted the city police to ask the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) to provide details about all Iranians who arrived in New Delhi during the last month.
Bad girl diplomacy takes India’s foreign ministry by storm
It had to happen and it finally did: Social media across the world has woken up to the ongoing farmers’ protests, one of the largest mass mobilisations in India in recent times. Ironically, all it took was a single tweet by a pop star to make a difference. On February 2 at 8:59 pm IST, Rihanna tweeted a CNN article highlighting the internet ban in parts of Delhi to suppress farmers’ voices. The result was electric: other celebrities aside, UK MPs Claudia Webbe and Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, US Foreign Affairs Committee member Jim Costa and even climate activist Greta Thunberg spoke in favour of the protests. Rihanna’s tweet also elicited a passionate response from Meena Harris, who, while highlighting the internet shutdowns and state violence, cautioned against remaining silent against “fascist dictators”. Harris is a best-selling author and niece of US Vice-President Kamala Harris.
Captain Tom Moore inspired millions. The NHS inspired him
Every death in a pandemic is tragic, and every loss is mourned. But even in these days when so many families are grieving, there is something particularly cruel about the news of Captain Sir Tom Moore’s death, shortly after contracting Covid. The 100-year-old former soldier, and his indomitable efforts to raise money for NHS charities, by making laps of his garden on a walking frame, were a rare ray of light in last year’s gloom. It was his optimism, as much as the quiet stoicism often found in war veterans who have seen what he must have seen, that captured imaginations. His constant refrain that the sun would eventually come out, that tomorrow would be better, that together we could achieve miracles, resonated at a time when people sorely needed to hear it.