Acting Asia Focus Editor
Acting Asia Focus Editor
Asia is picking up the pace in tackling the plastic crisis. In Bangladesh, the High Court last Monday ordered the government to ban single-use plastics in coastal areas and in hotels and restaurants in one year. It also ordered the government to strictly enforce the ban on polyethylene -- the main ingredient in many plastic bags -- under the existing law.
It's time to make a wish as we wave goodbye to 2019. My wish for 2020 is that it will be a better year for women working in the corporate sector and other parts of the economy. They deserve more recognition for their contribution to a society still dominated by men.
While the latest UN Climate Change Conference was taking place in Madrid, smog returned to Bangkok last week with PM2.5 dust exceeding safe levels in some areas. Face masks were back in fashion, while children, pregnant women and the elderly were advised to avoid outdoor activities.
Landing at Tokyo's Haneda Airport early on a Sunday morning (5.30 am), I was pleasantly surprised to find how convenient it was to commute to the city hotel where I had reserved a room for my one-week visit. I was welcomed at the airport exit by a Japan Travel Bureau (JTB) staffer who accompanied me to an airport bus that took me on a non-stop journey to the hotel.
Across Asia, countries are coming to grips with demographic changes and seeking to improve the lives of their growing elderly populations. Japan, where the proportion of people aged 65 years and older is projected to rise from 28% now to 38% by 2050, is providing support to companies that retain older employees, as well as health, housing and mobility investments in response to emerging needs.
As the only woman on the three-person team of our small section, I looked forward to covering the AWEN Women CEOs Summit 2019 in Bangkok last week. The first-ever meeting of the Asean Women Entrepreneurs Network (AWEN) brought together female leaders from across the region to discuss issues including digital disruption, the ageing society, automation and its impact on the future of work.
I do not own a car. In fact, I don't even drive, so I rely totally on public transport -- buses, taxis, motorcycle taxis (if needed) and mass-transit trains -- to commute around Bangkok. I rarely use ride-hailing apps, although many of my friends find the service more convenient than regular taxis and they like the promotions.
The annual meeting of foreign ministers from the Association of Southeast Nations in Bangkok last week drew attention from all over the world. The presence of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, among others, indicated the importance of Asean as a growing focus of major-power competition.
Climate change is global in nature but it is having an especially severe impact on Asia. Chennai, one of India's largest cities, has run out of water as the summer heat intensifies. With monsoon rains below average, four lakes in the city of 4.7 million have dried up. Residents don't have enough water to drink, bathe or wash clothes, malls have closed their washrooms and restaurants are not open for customers.