Written By: Chao Fangning, Nicole (20-U5), Lim Junheng, Jovan (20-O5), Martha Henrietta Soetedjo (20-U2), Ng Teck Zhong (20-E5), Soh Iwin (20-E5), Young Wai Ming, Nicholas (20-E5)
Designed By: Leow Jia Wen, Jolene (20-E1)
Welcome back to yet another installment of the monthly summary of the happenings around the world! Read on to find out what are some of the incidents that occured in the month of March.
Ship Stuck in the Suez Canal
No one would have thought that such an unthinkable thing could happen. On March 23, a cargo ship belonging to a Japanese ship-leasing firm Shoei Kisen Kaisha had veered off course in a gale-force storm while navigating through the Suez Canal. As a result, it ran aground and for six days, lay stuck in the canal, blocking other ships from using the Canal for trade, among other things.
While salvage companies as well as the local authorities have done what they can to free up this megaship, some concerns remain that such a blockage can lead to a few weeks worth of backlog of ships, sending oil prices soaring when the news was first broken. After all, this forces ships to take an alternative routing to get from Europe to Asia – going around Africa (literally). This adds a few weeks of travelling time at best, and can heavily disrupt the schedules of all trade and ports globally.
It is certainly good news to everyone around the world that the cargo ship has finally been freed from the Canal, and have been shifted to a suitable location to access its seaworthiness, ensuring that maritime navigation can finally resume.
The Growing Hatred Against Asian Americans
With the pandemic still holding a tight grip around the world, negative sentiments against Asians have become a prevalent issue. The idea that Asians are the cause of Covid-19 and its brought-about wrath may be mind-boggling to most. Race does not determine whether you have contracted the virus, right? Yet, many individuals have sought this reasoning, and begun voicing their loathing against Asians.
This issue is most notable in America, where numerous Asian Americans have become victims of abuse, and recently, hate crimes. An elderly Thai man was pushed to the ground, killing him. A Filipino-American had his face slashed with a box-cutter while on the train. The most recent case was a shooting in a spa in Georgia which killed 8 people, of which 6 were of Asian descent. While this case is yet to be confirmed to have been a targeted attack against the race, it has undeniably sparked more controversy.
However, some measures have been taken to mitigate the situation. In New York, Asian undercover forces have been deployed to deter and prevent future hate crimes. ‘#StopAsianHate’, a movement in response to this horrifying situation, has also been spreading all over social media, garnering attention and support worldwide. Even the President, Joe Biden, has spoken up on this issue, calling for an end to hate crimes, highlighting America’s intolerance for further acts against these Asian Americans.
150 Taiwanese Named Themselves “Salmon” Amidst Restaurant Promotions
What’s the weirdest thing you would change your name to? I bet naming yourself after a fish, specifically the salmon, has never crossed your mind. Recently, a Taiwanese restaurant started a promotion where customers with “Salmon” (in Chinese) in their ID card names will be able to eat all the salmon they wish in a meal together with five friends. In response to this lucrative deal, at least 150 people rushed to change their names. Although the Taiwanese are allowed to modify their names thrice, the slew of requests for a modification did not sit well with the officials. Instead of chuckling, the officials felt that this engendered superfluous paperwork issues, while wasting administrative resources. While the authorities yearned for citizens to be more sensible in such a decision, many citizens continued to send in funny salmon-themed names, including “salmon fried rice”, “salmon prince”, with the most exaggerated being a Taiwanese who named himself 36 characters of seafood such as lobsters and abalone. Consequently, Taiwanese officials intervened by requesting their citizens to not engage in further changes.
Myanmar Protests Death Toll Surpasses 300
Since the Myanmar military overthrew Aung Sun Suu Kyi’s democratically elected government and announced a year long state of emergency, the country has been experiencing chaos and civil unrest in the form of daily protests. The protests over the coup have been considered to be the largest in the country since the Saffron Revolution where thousands of monks protested against the military. However, the current protests have been far deadlier, with the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) Group recording the death toll at 320, though many still believe that the real number is likely to be higher. Furthermore, according to various local media outlets and advocacy groups, over 90 per cent of the victims were shot dead and a quarter of them were shot in the head, meaning that the security forces were allowed to shoot to kill. So far, the youngest victim was seven-year-old Khin Myo Chit, who was killed during a raid on their home. Several countries have condemned the coup and the use of lethal force against protestors, with US and UK imposing and raising higher sanctions on military officials and several firms such as Petronas, which was closely involved in Myanmar’s oil and gas industry, called for other firms to stop payments to the state owned oil and gas enterprises.
Stamps Released to Mark UNESCO Inscription of Singapore’s Hawker Culture
Following the inscription of Singapore’s hawker culture on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in December 2020, Singapore Post Limited released a set of illustrated stamps as a form of commemoration. These stamps include a traditional kopi hawker brewing coffee, dining patrons at a hawker centre, common hawker dishes, and well-known hawker centres. Forming such significant experiences in the lives of Singaporeans, Singapore’s hawker centres have been extremely pivotal to our culture and heritage. A literal “melting pot” of foods of different cultures, the common hawker centre has brought together a magnificent blend of flavours and styles, well-suited for the Singaporean palate. This comes as a great achievement for our country, considering that this integral part of our lives has finally been given a platform to present itself and our culture on the world stage. Moreover, with this being a fundamental way of life for all of us, Singaporeans should seize this opportunity to take pride in our culture and place more emphasis on preserving our heritage for posterity to enjoy and reminisce about.
Indian Composer Plagiarised Count on Me, Singapore
In a recent copyright dispute that has ended, India composer Mr Joseph Mendoza has come forth and apologised for the “confusion caused” following his claims to having originally written the iconic National Day song Count on Me, Singapore. The song debuted as part of National Day celebrations in 1986, while Mendoza had previously declared to have written his song We Can Achieve in 1983, when he was teaching at an orphanage in a remote village. Both songs are nearly identical in lyrics.
He initially had asserted that evidence of his creation process of the song was destroyed in floods in Mumbai back in 2005, and this was contrasted with the Singapore Government’s detailed documentation of the stages of reiterations of the song through collaboration with Canadian composer Hugh Harrison and Singapore long-time jazz musician Jeremy Monteiro in the same year as it was published.
After an investigation process, Mendoza was unable to produce any evidence to support his claims, and finally “unconditionally and irrevocably” backed down from the issue.
The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) have released a statement regarding the matter, calling to have accepted Mendoza’s apology and said that the matter has been resolved. After the incident, MCCY remarked in a Facebook post that “imitation is the best form of flattery!”.
We have come to the end of this month’s summary! See you next month!
Please note that information is accurate as at time of writing.
References and Citations
- AFP. (2021, March 25). Megaship blocks Suez Canal: What we know so far. CNA. https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/suez-canal-ship-ever-given-stuck-what-happened-14489922.
- AFP. (2021, March 26). Tugs and dredgers try to free megaship blocking Suez Canal for a 4th day. CNA. https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/suez-canal-tugs-dredgers-free-megaship-ever-given-fourth-day-14497610?cid=emarsys-cna_CNA%2BEvening%2BBrief%2B2021-03-26%2B18%3A38%3A04_newsletter_26032021_cna&sc_customer=6661fea3-9224-4cc1-ae2a-b21e1b47a993&sc_src=email&sc_llid=1286&sc_lid=115709933&sc_uid=QGeVdqqD1R.
- (a_battersby), A. (2021, March 24). Western powers Increase sanctions as Myanmar military steps up attacks: Upstream online. Retrieved March 27, 2021, from https://www.upstreamonline.com/politics/western-powers-increase-sanctions-as-myanmar-military-steps-up-attacks/2-1-986066
- Channel News Asia . (2021, March 18). Taiwan pleads with citizens not to change name to ‘salmon’. Retrieved March 19, 2021, from Channel News Asia : https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/taiwan-salmon-chaos-name-change-free-sushi-14436118
- Cuddy, A. (2021, March 15). Myanmar coup: What is happening and why? Retrieved March 27, 2021, from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-55902070
- Fedor, L. (2021, March 19). Biden and harris call for end to hate crimes against Asian Americans. Retrieved March 26, 2021, from https://www.ft.com/content/c66337bc-986d-46ba-8893-99b3e9a2d638
- Ganapathy, K. (2021, March 21). Indian composer withdraws claims to Count on Me, Singapore, apologises for ‘confusion caused’. CNA. https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/count-on-me-singapore-india-composer-mendoza-withdraws-claims-14457194
- Ganapathy, K. (2021, March 26). SingPost releases stamps to Mark Singapore Hawker culture UNESCO inscription. Retrieved March 26, 2021, from https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/singpost-hawker-culture-stamps-mark-unesco-inscription-14495892
- Gladstone, R. (2021, March 25). Why the Suez Canal Is So Important. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/25/world/middleeast/suez-canal-container-ship.html#:~:text=The%20canal%20is%20in%20Egypt,times%20by%20days%20or%20weeks.
- Hermesauto. (2021, March 25). New York CITY deploying Asian Undercover force to combat hate crimes. Retrieved March 26, 2021, from https://www.straitstimes.com/world/united-states/new-york-city-deploying-asian-undercover-force-to-combat-hate-crimes
- Myanmar sees more protests as death TOLL SURPASSES 300. (2021, March 26). Retrieved March 27, 2021, from https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/myanmar-sees-more-protests-as-death-toll-surpasses-300-14496194
- Myanmar coup: Seven-year-old shot ‘as she ran INTO Father’s arms’. (2021, March 24). Retrieved March 27, 2021, from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-56501871
- Suez Canal suspends traffic amid ‘extreme difficulty’ in freeing grounded container ship. CNA. (2021, March 25). https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/suez-canal-ever-given-ship-stuck-14486784.
- Vivian Yee, M. S. and R. G. (2021, March 29). Suez Canal Live Updates: The Ever Given Is Free, Clearing Way for Traffic to Resume. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/live/2021/03/29/world/suez-canal-stuck-ship.
- Whitcomb, D., & Gorman, S. (2021, March 17). Eight killed, including six women of Asian descent, at shootings at ATLANTA day spas. Retrieved March 26, 2021, from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-crime-georgia-spas/at-least-four-asian-women-shot-dead-at-two-day-spas-in-atlanta-idUSKBN2B9037