Omicron brings season tidings as Cambodia and Thailand open up

The arrival of December and holiday spirits are slightly dampened by reports of the Omicron Covid-19 variant lurking on the horizon as Thailand and Cambodia open their borders again

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December 4, 2021
Omicron brings season tidings as Cambodia and Thailand open up

Hello Globe readers!

December has arrived and with the holiday cheer and season tidings we’ll hopefully see Santa this year at the Globe office, if he can show proof of his vaccination and get his PCR test results in time to enter Cambodia. 

Cambodia and Thailand have opened their borders again, bringing hopes for re-energised economies. This weekend, the Angkor temple complex in Siem Reap was as busy as I have seen it all year.

But it seems inevitable that with holiday festivities and the return of international tourists, the recently discovered and already notorious Omicron Covid-19 variant will be among seasonal visitors and other travellers. I’m hoping my newly acquired antibodies will hold strong; after finishing another round of quarantine, I had renewed appreciation for the walk down to the street shop to pick up shampoo. But we will all wait to see the extent to which existing vaccines are effective against the variant and scientists have said they will announce preliminary findings within the next few weeks. 

Whether in lockdown, quarantine or enjoying blissful freedom, the Globe has a wealth of features and analysis for your reading pleasure. 

In our lead feature this week, Anton L. Delgado reports on how fish refuges and other aquaculture projects are alleviating food insecurity in Cambodia. Anton told me that in the course of his reporting trip on a leaky boat through Siem Reap rice paddies, he had to help bail water with one hand while snapping photos with the other. So if you ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes at the Globe, keep that in mind when viewing his stellar pics. Check out his story and the rest of the week’s articles below: 

In Cambodia, aquaculture projects are helping rural families overcome food insecurity and nutrition deficits, Anton L. Delgado reports. While gliding through flooded rice paddies in Siem Reap on a touk boat, he documents how community fish refuges and polyculture ponds can ensure important nutrients such as iron are readily available for families. 

Singapore has been widely successful in nurturing “unicorns,” companies valued above $1 billion, through policies supporting startup growth. Yet other small businesses also play an important but often neglected role in Singapore’s ecosystem and risk losing out on talent and funding, Amanda Oon reports. 

Vietnam touts a high voter turnout and  free and fair elections, but a report from the ground by Tabrez Vardah suggests otherwise. Vietnamese voters said they are given little information on candidates and nothing on their policy proposals, while authorities are more concerned with meeting quotas than following Covid-19 protocols.

The United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is intended to reflect each UN member state’s human rights records and ongoing challenges. However, in the absence of a fully democratic system and consultations with critical elements of civil society, Thailand’s participation in the UPR this year provides an air-brushed version of the country’s human rights, Mark S. Cogan writes.

In light of abuse reports, Cambodia has taken action to protect its citizens employed as domestic workers abroad. Yet similar protections are not extended and enforced at home, leaving household workers vulnerable to exploitation and difficult working conditions, Dolphie Bou and Anju Mary Paul argue.

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