Author: E.J. De Lara

New Zealand: Government Tries to Blow Smoke from Tobacco Dangers

Known for its green and environmentally friendly efforts, the New Zealand government is at it again, trying to enact policies that are not only “good” for the environment, but also good for the people. First Target: Tobacco companies. Influenced by the Australian government’s recent introduction of “plain cigarette packaging,” the New Zealand government will be proposing “plain packaging” legislation for tobacco products to be effective by the end of this year. Through plain packaging, tobacco products will be  unbranded and include pictures with large health warnings. For those who do not know about all the negative side effects of cigarettes already – if there are any such souls – they are in for quite a treat! As seen in pictures from recent editions of the Wall Street Journal, health warnings include phrases such as “Don’t let children breathe your smoke” or “Smoking harms unborn babies.” According to the New Zealand Herald, the associate Health minister Tariana Turia insists that passage of this legislation will lower the appeal of smoking. The government is obviously not joking around here. Despite Turia and the New Zealand government’s expectations to implement this policy of plain packaging, many media sources are reporting rumors of an industry counterattack of various and sundry lawsuits. Media sources have shed light on various countries suing Australia through the World Trade Organization (WTO), claiming that this policy is “a...

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LAOS: When the Governments Says It Knows Nothing …

In the past two months, the disappearance of Sombath Somphone, a well-known activist and NGO leader, has garnered international media attention. The Laos government is being urged to do a more extensive search on the whereabouts of the missing activist. It’s a very good thing the world media is so concerned. The media in Laos usually does not publicize missing activists,to say the least.  But the Sombath case has become a high profile story as media sources are questioning the Laos government for its lack of transparency and indifference in both this and other cases involving missing activists. Several news articles have expressed dismay over the government’s censorship and suppression of civil society, rightly noting that the government has never been fond of activist activities. A prime example of activist suppression is explained in the prestigious Economist newspaper, the international weekly from London. It takes up the cases of the government’s deportation of Anne-Sophie Grindoz for writing a letter criticizing the one-party regime — and the censorship of an article by Somphone advocating the importance of the people’s voice. In an interview with the Bangkok Post, Jon Ungpakorm, a member of the Natural Human Rights Commissions subcommittee, says, “Sombath’s disappearance is intended to suppress or threaten the emergence of civil society in [Laos]”. In addition to the Bangkok Post, many foreign media outlets have covered the government’s indifference and...

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NEW ZEALAND: Green for Profit?

New Zealand’s popularity as a tourist destination relies on its natural beauty and flawless scenery. The Government has chosen to market itself to tourists on this basis, with a clean, green brand. However, according to the New Zealand Herald, the Government has not been supporting the green brand like it claims to, and has been refusing to deliver the environmental monitoring that it promised. Through environmental monitoring, the Government was supposed to track the cleanliness of the water and air and publish those reports. A consolidated five-year State of the Environment Report should have been published in 2011, but the project has since been scrapped. “The Government should invest in economic and environmental state and trend monitoring to give a credible evidence base to support New Zealand’s brand position,” a preliminary recommendation on the report stated. This was added to “build credibility of [New Zealand’s] image” through transparent and independent reporting, including “being open about the environmental challenges”. However, instead of being a pristine destination like tourism ads might suggest, the Herald reports, “more than half of monitored river sites were unsafe for swimming” and moreover, this information has been withheld from the public. Instead of adhering to the green brand, according to Eugenie Sage of Green MP in an interview with the New Zealand Tribune, “The National Government wants to use the clean, green brand but doesn’t care...

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Asia Media International Staff

ASIA MEDIA INTERNATIONAL is a student-driven publication of Loyola Marymount University’s Asia Media Center – a vital part of LMU’s Department of Asian and Asian American Studies (AAAS), in an alliance with the university's award-winning Dept.of Political Science, and with the influential Pacific Century Institute.

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