Don't rock the multiracial boat, UN won't dance to Thailand's tune

The scene at Low Yat Plaza in Kuala Lumpur, where five people were injured in a riot on July 12.
The scene at Low Yat Plaza in Kuala Lumpur, where five people were injured in a riot on July 12. PHOTO: SIN CHEW

Editorial Notes is a selection of editorials from newspapers in the Asia News Network (ANN).

1. Let sanity prevail and not rock the multiracial boat

In its editorial on July 14, 2015, The Star calls on people to refrain from spreading false information online

Mindless violence and accusations of cheating and theft are distasteful enough.

And yet some people seem more than willing to turn the Low Yat Plaza incident on Saturday into something uglier and potentially more damaging than what it is - a case of several men doing stupid things because of a smartphone.

The police began investigating immediately.

They have already said race had nothing to do with the brawl, and that it was "only two groups fighting".

Still, thousands of foolish decisions have pushed the matter centimetre by centimetre into a swamp of half-truths, ill will and opportunism.

And now there is needless anxiety following rioting on Sunday night and yesterday morning.

We got to this point because some of us have not been calm, patient and rational when this is exactly how we should be.

Instead of reserving judgment until we get a full picture of what happened at Low Yat Plaza, some people have dived in with careless comments in cyberspace, thus sparking angry exchanges.

Rather than easing the tension by insisting only on dealing with the established facts, these people have kept adding fuel to the situation by spreading rumours and unverified reports.

Worst of all, they are ever ready to believe anything negative.

But how can such behaviour help at all?

In fact, the police said the violence came about partly because there were too many rumours and false news in social media.

Do we not want to get on with life without unwarranted fear and suspicion? Have we not realised by now that we are all in the same multiracial boat?

In response to the racial hatred expressed online and elsewhere after Saturday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the Sedition Act would be used against those who destroyed racial harmony. It is a timely warning but it is also a shame that we have come to this.

We must not hurt ourselves and the country by choosing irrationality over faith in our fellow Malaysians. Let us act responsibly and heed advice that has been dispensed many times before.

For example, do not be hasty in typing and forwarding messages and posts. Ask yourself this: Am I sure about the content and will it help anybody? When you receive a video, a photo or a story, approach it with healthy scepticism; there is no reason to accept as true everything that is sent to you.

There is no need to take the law into your own hands. Let the cops do their job. Now is a time to trust their professionalism.

There are laws that address all the alleged wrongdoings linked to the Low Yat case: assault, rioting, theft and cheating. The police work must take its course, and we must avoid muddying things further. If we do not subscribe to that, we are paving the way for lawlessness and confusion. None of us wants that.

2. The UN won't dance to Thailand's tune

In its editorial on July 15, 2015, The Nation examines why the country's bid for a UN Security Council seat has not materialised

While there's no harm in promoting our culture abroad, sending a Thai classical dance troupe to New York won't help us secure a seat on the United Nations Security Council.

Last week the Foreign and Culture, Tourism and Sport ministries presented a khon performance at Carnegie Hall as part of efforts to promote "people-to-people" relations.

The troupe also performed at UN headquarters nearby, where some 200 diplomats had gathered to mark the 70th anniversary of the intergovernmental organisation and also to lobby for non-permanent seats on the Security Council.

Thailand was a member of the body in 1985 and 1986 and has for years been campaigning for a return, eager for a more prominent role in international affairs.

The major theme of its bid for the 2017-18 position is the ambition to bridge gaps between developed and developing countries in order to foster cross-border development and peace.

Prior to the 2014 military coup, the Foreign Ministry highlighted Thailand's value as an international mediator whose diplomatic intervention would champion compromise for the mutual benefit of all parties in disputes.

The international community viewed the push positively - Thailand was after all a relatively peaceful democracy that had no major conflict with UN members, and certainly not with any of the so-called big five - China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and United States.

Efforts to convince the necessary two-thirds of UN members that Thailand deserves a seat on the Security Council have been ongoing since 2009.

The Foreign Ministry will find out whether these attempts have paid off when the UN General Assembly votes in October 2016.

However, the Thai campaign was shorn of a major selling point in May last year when a military coup ousted an elected government and put an end to democracy, at least for now.

Since then, rights violations, including the arrest of peaceful demonstrators, have damaged the reputation that Thailand had been building among its international peers.

The country subsequently failed in its bid for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council after the Foreign Ministry tailed off its campaign for any UN position in the wake of the military takeover.

The coup prompted strong criticism from Western countries, notably the US and European Union, and the military-backed government has tilted closer to China.

Lacking clear instruction and direction, the Foreign Ministry, which is now headed by a four-star general, has for the past year remained largely silent on the campaign for a Security Council seat.

The only option that seemingly remains for the government's campaign is to trade for votes among UN members, though many will be having second thoughts about supporting Thailand at the UN.

Though backed by a budget worth millions of baht, the ministry can have little idea of how to use it to help secure a seat. Money will certainly not buy votes at the UN.

Another hope for Thailand is China, but Beijing has made no strong commitment to backing Thailand over its chief rival for a seat, Kazakhstan.

In fact, China needs the support of Kazakhstan in order to realise its "new Silk Road" initiative for regional trade.

Officials at the Foreign Ministry must now be praying that khon has the magical power to bring Thailand a seat on the Security Council.

3. Lack of creativity in Taiwan mobile games getting worse

In its editorial on July 15, 2015, The China Post calls for creativity in Taiwanese mobile games .

Take a walk to any area of Taiwan's hotspots like Ximending, and one is likely to spot an ad for a locally developed game - whether for a PC or a mobile device.

Commercials for the same time-killing medium also flood television screens at home with actors and actresses dressed up as characters who have little or nothing to do with the games they are endorsing.

But no ad or commercial is as frequent as games inspired by the "Journey to the West" and "Romance of the Three Kingdoms."

In Taiwan, at pretty much any point in time in the last decade, there are always games being advertised based on the two famous Chinese classical novels.

From cute versions of renowned warriors like Sun Wukong and Guan Yu, and the zoomorphism of historical strategists Zhuge Liang, to strapping characterisations of the historical monk Xuanzang and sexualised depictions of classical beauties like Diaochan, it would seem as though the local mobile gaming industry has hit an obvious obstacle in creativity.

And the problem is only getting worse.

With summer holidays around the corner, and students of all grades getting ready to enjoy a long holiday, game companies are rushing to push out the latest version of their games.

But the games all look the same.

Everywhere in Taiwan this month, new posters of the same historical and fictional figures are popping up on the advertisement walls of MRT stations and on TV screens.

In June alone, three different companies released apps and games based on the Three Kingdom characters, each one looking close to identical to each other.

Two other companies have also published games based on "Journey to the West," all featuring the Monkey King who is the most popular character.

But the worst part of all is the fact that the majority of the designs of said characters from the two Chinese novels are obvious rip-offs of reimagined creations by Japanese gaming companies.

The boldness of piracy aside, it is very sad to see Chinese artists having to copy Japanese ideas to create designs for Chinese characters.

Unlike the creativity and constant revolution of their Western, Japanese and Korean counterparts, Taiwanese game developers are obviously running in circles as far as game creativity is concerned.

Not only are Taiwan developers recycling the same stories, no new game engines or game play renovations have been released for more than a decade.

At one time in the past, Taiwan used to show the potential to become on par with the rest of the world in terms of video game creation, specifically in the field of PC games.

But somewhere down the line, the original passion and drive became obscured, and eventually led to game makers recycling the same ideas for their works, or simply copying the works of already established games.

However, the expectations and the lack of acceptance of local audiences are also to blame. Following the success of a wave of RPGS and leisure games, fresh ideas eventually began to receive criticism from gamers who would often compare the story to already established works, claiming it to be either a copy of an original story, or simply not authentic enough for Chinese culture.

There really wasn't anything any developer could do to make local gamers proud or happy about a product made in Taiwan.

Nevertheless, the result, which led to companies constantly copying ideas and recycling stories must change, if not for the sake of gamers, than for the sake of our national image.

Think what Japanese tourists must think when they walk around the streets of Taiwan and see a cheap knock-off of a product from their country.