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Volume I No.2


Published 01 December 2020

Hi Reader,

In the past several days the world we live in has shown a promise to get a little better than what it has been at the start of the year. There is basis for hoping that humankind will soon experience some measure of relief from the major agonies of our time. In a moment I’ll tell you why.

Again, this is your Briefer, Jamil Maidan Flores, observing the World, Region and Nation from a Jakarta vantage and striving to make sense of what I observe with the help of Pinter Politik contributors.

First, a bit more of the bad news.

The Tenacious Threat of Terror

In the midst of the pandemic and the fractures of the international order, it is easy to forget one persistent global problem that will not go away just because we are rattled by other existential threats to humankind. I refer to the threat of terrorism in its various manifestations, one of which showed up recently when a teacher in France got beheaded after showing to his students a cartoon denigrating the Prophet of Islam.

A man kidnapped as a hostage by Abu Sayyaf group in the Philippines
A man kidnapped as a hostage by Abu Sayyaf group in the Philippines

In this issue of WRN, Pinter Politik brings you the thoughts of Dr. Rizal Buendia, a Wales, UK-based social and political scientist, on terrorism as a social movement. To read Dr. Buendia’s thoughts on the true nature of terror, proceed here.

Attendant to Dr. Buendia’s scholarly piece are two sidebar articles: a commentary on the suicide bombings in Jolo a few months ago, by Valina Zarah, a young Indonesian student of international relations and communication (click here to share her thoughts), and a lament on the loss of a young soldier’s life in the same Jolo carnage by Susan Palad, a humanitarian and peace activist based in Mindanao (go here to emphatize with her).

After reading these pieces, kindly note that more people are killed today by right-wing terrorists than their Islamist counterparts. And lest you begin to think that Mindanao is one large wilderness of senseless violence we also bring you an op-ed article on a part of Mindanao where peace and food abound. Apart from describing her idyllic life in a Cotabato farm, Bernie Quimpo, writer, editor, publisher and psychologist, discusses food security and food sovereignty. To feast on her thoughts for food, click here.

The Virus of Illiberal Politics

Meanwhile the pandemic continues to take an increasing toll on human lives, as most of the industrial world, the northern hemisphere, braces itself for its first winter of living dangerously with Covid-19. But no one living anywhere, except in Antarctica, is safe from infection. Still, while the virus may be a horrible threat to most of us mortals, there is a class of people to whom it is a blessing. These are the illiberal leaders who curtail your civil liberties ostensibly to protect you from the virus. When such leaders come to you with their manacles, you can and should push back says Pinter Politik contributor Joshua Kurlantzick. How is that done? To find out, proceed here.

As to the pandemic itself, here are the grim statistics as collected by researcher Barnadus Melkianus Datomira:

Update 29 November 2020

Today the deadly march of the Coronavirus continues all over the world, in the ASEAN region, and in Indonesia. With this we bring you the latest data gathered from:

The Global Situation

The total number of confirmed cases, as of 29 November 2020 stood at 62,712,622 cases. Deaths numbered 1,460,792 at a Case Fatality Rate (CFR) of 2.3 percent. Covered in this report are 219 infected countries and 178 Local Transmission Countries. The total new cases for today is 157,468 and the total new deaths around the globe reached 3,245. Taken from:

The ASEAN Talley

As of 29 November 2020, the total number of confirmed cases in the ASEAN region stood at 10,688,202. The aggregate total of deaths was 162,778 for a Case Fatality Rate (CFR) of 1,5 percent. The data on a country-by-country basis are as follows:

Taken from:

The Indonesian Total

Indonesia saw 6,267 new cases and 169 deaths on November 29, bringing the total to 534,266 cases and 16,815 deaths, a Case Fatality Rate (CFR) of 3.1 percent. These numbers cover 505 affected Districts-Cities.  For more detailed statistics, click here.

Light at the End of the Pandemic Tunnel

Several rays of hope broke through the darkness in recent days. These are:

A pfizer scientist working in a laboratory
A pfizer scientist working in a laboratory
  1. The announcement by three companies engaged in the frenetic race to produce an anti-Covid-19 vaccine that their respective vaccine candidates have been proven in clinical trials to have high rates of efficacy. The three front-runners in Operation Warp Speed, the public-private partnership to develop at the shortest time possible, are AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna. The even better news is that thousands of scientists all over the world are working on some 100 vaccine candidates at “warp speed” so that an array of vaccines will be widely distributed before the end of 2021.

  2. The official start of the transition from the Trump administration to the Biden presidency in the United States on 23 November 2020. This means America is back! This is uplifting news not only to the American people but also to peoples everywhere who are worried about China’s aggressive expansionism and about America’s self-defeating absenteeism in global affairs.

  3. The signing on 15 August 2020 of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) by 15 governments in the Asia-Pacific region. As Pinter Politik contributor Joshua Kurlantzick has written for the New York-based Council for Foreign Relations (CFR), “RCEP will create the most populous trade area in the world, and it joins together several of the largest economies in the world, like China, Japan and South Korea. It provides a major signal to investors that the region is still committed to multilateral trade integration.” Read more of his analysis of the significance of the RCEP here

To this cluster of encouraging global developments, I am tempted to add the G20 summit of 21-22 November 2020, hosted online by Saudi Arabia. After all, G20 consists of the EU and 19 of the world’s largest economies, which represent 85 percent of the global economy and 75 percent of world trade.

Other Noteworthy Developments

Recent events of great importance that we at WRN Pinter Politik expect our contributors to be discussing in future issues, include the following:

Aung San Suu Kyi attended an ICJ court in December 2019. (Photo Getty Images)
Aung San Suu Kyi attended an ICJ court in December 2019. (Photo Getty Images)

The recent national elections in Myanmar in which State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi led her National League for Democracy to a complete dominance of Parliament. Though she remains popular within the country her legacy in the eyes of the international community keeps on waning as the issue of genocide perpetuated against the Rohingya minority in Rakhine state continues to rankle.

China’s seizure of disputed territory in Bhutan in the Himalayas. In this case China has begun to carry out what it has been doing in the South China, simply moving into disputed territory and daring the world to do something about it.

Pro-democracy activists in Thailand sustaining their protests against a politicized military and a monarchy in need of reform. Meanwhile royalists are preparing repressive measures against online critics of the monarchy and the military-led regime.

In Indonesia, Fisheries Minister Edhy Prabowo has been arrested on grounds of alleged bribery after a sting operation carried out by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). While this may be a dark cloud over the administration of President Joko Widodo, the silver lining is that the fight against corruption in the country is alive and kicking.

That’s all for now, dear Reader. Stay safe and healthy.


To Win the Fight against Terrorism, Nations Must Be Inclusive, Fair, Just

By Rizal G. Buendia Less than two months after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte signed the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020...

Conflict and Violence in Jolo Will Not Stop Until All of Society Acts Against...

By Valina Zahra Jolo is the capital of Sulu Province, one of three island provinces in Southwestern Mindanao in the...

When Terrorists Kill a Young Soldier They Shatter the Hopes of a Family

By Susan Palad “Old soldiers never die,” the popular song goes. “Never die. They just fade away.” That song was...

A Farm Setting Abundant with Produce Brings Sober Thoughts on Food Sovereignty

By Bernie Quimpo I have been locked down in a farm in North Cotabato since mid-March.  It is the safest...

Addressing the Effect of COVID-19 on Democracy in South and Southeast Asia

By Joshua Kurlantzick South and Southeast Asia have demonstrated mixed results in combating the coronavirus pandemic, yet the COVID-19 pandemic...