22 April marked the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, which was strikingly different from previous years. Countries across the planet are grappling with an unprecedent situation in which a seemingly innocuous virus illness spread into a global pandemic in less than 90 days. It has infected more than 2.4 million people in more than 200 countries, claimed over 170,000 lives, and has brought most economic activity to a standstill.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) has released its Global Social Mobility Index 2020. Social mobility entails the “upward” or “downward” movement of an individual in relation to those of their parents. Essentially, it evaluates a child’s ability to experience a better life than their parents, while relative social mobility examines how an individual’s socio-economic circumstance inherited at birth has affected their outcome in life.
On her scruffy, downtrodden bank of the river, teashop-owner Khin works just a few hundred metres across the muddy water from Yangon and dreams of the riches promised by a new bridge linking to Myanmar's commercial heart.
Let us hope that 2019 is the year when the historical tide turns. In 2018, divisions within and between countries continued to deepen. And while geopolitical tensions and political tribalism have transformed international relations and national politics, new technologies are upending long-held assumptions about security, politics, and economics. Complicating matters further is the growing interdependence of our societies.
A recent Credit Suisse report named Thailand the most unequal country in the world, with just one percent of the population owning 66.9 percent of the nation’s wealth. The findings prompted We Fair Network, social justice advocacy group made up of 13 organisations to call for serious reforms of Thailand’s budget and welfare system.The group presented its proposal for the reform of the country’s welfare system based on seven aspects to key political figures at a forum earlier this week.
It is always a cause to mourn when a 13-year-old needlessly dies. Unfortunately, that was the painful fact Thailand has to deal with just recently when Anucha Tasako, who had been a Muay Thai fighter since the age of eight and had competed in 170 bouts, died of a brain haemorrhage at a charity fight near Bangkok last Saturday. He was knocked out by his opponent who was only two years older than him. The prize?
Last week, international non-profit groups Development Finance International (DFI) and Oxfam published a report ranking governments around the world based on their efforts in tackling the gap between the rich and the poor. Noteworthy from that report as far as ASEAN is concerned was the extremely low rating Singapore obtained.
The richest one percent in Thailand controls 58 percent of the country’s wealth and the top 10 percent earned 35 times more than the bottom 10 percent. In Indonesia, the four richest men there have more wealth than the poorest 100 million people, and about 50 percent of the country’s wealth is in the hands of the top one percent. In Vietnam, 210 of the country’s super-rich earn more than enough in a year to lift 3.2 million people out of poverty.
Inequality has become a major political preoccupation in the advanced economies – and for good reason. In the United States, according to the recently released World Inequality Report 2018, the share of national income claimed by the top 1% of the population rose from 11% in 1980 to 20% in 2014, compared to just 13% for the entire bottom half of the population.