OPINION: Illiberalism Continues
India has started its nation-wide general election process. Over 900 million people are eligible to vote in one of the most divisive elections in recent Indian history.
According to the New York Times, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking to win re-election, has stoked Hindu-nationalist rhetoric and brought the nation to a showdown with Pakistan in Kashmir. Reuters reports that, to that end, Modi has shown himself willing to strip Kashmir of its autonomous status, a move that invited Pakistani retaliation, according to BBC.
The internet has also allowed extremists to spread false news on WhatsApp, which has previously led to widespread lynching incidents targeting India’s sizable Muslim minority, Time reports. Additionally, there are also reports of violence and fake ballots that threaten to undermine the election. As such, religious division might be further deepened after this election, according to the South China Morning Post.
The Kingdom of Brunei shocked the world by instituting stoning as a punishment for homosexuality, according to CNN.
After Brunei became the first Southeast Asian nation to adopt Sharia law in 2014, the country has incrementally implemented a plan to punish homosexuals. After a report that the sultan’s son may in fact be gay, observers speculate that it may be a move to get rid of his own son, CNN reports. This is a clear example of the deteriorating civil rights climate in the Southeast Asian oil kingdom.
Thailand just concluded its first general election after eight years of political abnormality, but the election commission delays announcing the official vote count until May, reports CNN.
The Future Forward Party, a one-year-old political party, shocked the junta by winning over 20 percent of the seats in the House of Representatives. Subsequently, the government charged the party’s leader with sedition for assisting an asylum seeker out of the country, according to BBC. With the royal coronation drawing near, the head of the privy council still gives blessing to the junta leader. Ultimately, the junta proves hesitant to democratization, the Bangkok Post reports.