Welcome to The Becoming Aware Project.
195 countries. 7.5 billion people. Do you know what happens in between? This blog aims to educate on society and current world affairs, through shedding factual light upon interesting issues of our time. Globalisation ensures that what happens somewhere in the world, will have repercussions or consequences elsewhere in the world. Awareness is therefore, crucial. I hope to stimulate debate and discussion. I hope to encourage the thought process to occur outside of the box. Opinions, ideas and comments are welcomed. Formation of ones own opinion, evolving organically from within, is essential. Let's try to become more aware and deepen our understanding of the world.
What becomes securitised through the political process
is due not only to the discourse, but the acceptance of it from the general
public or audience. Issues deemed to be ‘security issues’, call for a response
or reaction outside that of the norm. Anything that could potentially impede
upon ones ability to ‘survive’ can be treated as a security issue. I use the
term ‘survive’ lightly here, because often threats posed are not as extreme as
they are made to be, and therefore, endangering our survival.
Fear is the most
important emotion in humans directly targeted at by the state to achieve their
agenda. A campaign based on fear is a sure way to create vulnerability within a
population. The states response to such fears with potential solution pathways
allows the population to place their trust, faith and hope for protection of
their right to ‘survive’ into the state. This tactic was utilised heavily in
the 2016 United States presidential election campaign. Trump’s campaign slogan called
to ‘Make America Great Again’, as if it was prior somewhat broken.
Take also for instance, Australia’s response to its
borders in 2013. To address the arrival of numerous boats, a strict border
protection operation, Operation Sovereign Borders, was enforced. Its aim was to
deter asylum seekers from arriving on Australian shores. Its high controversy
would have allowed one to believe that all of the asylum seekers were criminals
of some sort, threatening the survival of Australian citizens. On an
international scale, Australia does not receive a large number of asylum
seekers and refugees. The ‘threat’ and subsequent stern response, I believe did
not align in harmony.
We too often commit to the values and objectives of those in authority without taking a look at the other side first. It is essential to look at such examples of securitisation and ask: is what is being posed as a threat, actually a threat?
Acharya (2011) Human Security. In The Globalization of World Politics: An
Introduction to International Relations edited by John Baylis, Steve Smith and
Patricia Owens. 5th edition. Oxford, Oxford University Press. (Chapter 29)
Buzan, Ole Wæver and Jaap de Wilde (1998) Security: A New Framework for
Analysis. Boulder, Lynne Rienner. (Chapter 2)
Browning and Matt McDonald (2013) The future of critical security studies:
Ethics and the politics of security. European Journal of International
Below are two paragraphs from a university essay that I submitted last year. The essay discusses euthanasia, through examining the sanctity of life argument, why dying with dignity matters, the slippery slope argument and real life safeguards. Euthanasia is a moral issue of our time. To stimulate thought about the subject core, I wish to share my two academically engaged paragraphs on why dying with dignity matters.
I argue that self worth and fundamental values are disrespected by restricting people from acting upon what life and death mean to them. There is no distinct moral difference between letting die and euthanasia. James Rachel’s (1986, p. 111) argues that although passive euthanasia, which merely lets someone die, as opposed to active euthanasia, which kills purposefully, there is nothing to suggest that the ‘latter is worse than the former’. Joel Feinberg (1978) lists core values of ‘authenticity, integrity and distinct self-identity’ that are aligned with autonomy. Dying with dignity encompasses intrinsic, unconditional qualities of humans, along with external physical aspects of ‘autonomy, meaningfulness, preparedness, and interpersonal connection’ (Cuttini et al. 2004). Historical tracings take us back to the Stoics, where ‘self-killing was justified’, to ‘offset the effects of pain, mutilation or incurable illness’ (Paterson 2008). A distinction must be made between being alive and merely having a life. The former focuses on biology, whereas the significant latter on ‘worthwhile biographical characteristics’ that make life valuable (Paterson 2008). Peter Singer (2011, p. 93) focuses on the quality of life in order to inform decision making when it comes to euthanasia and will in some cases justify its practice.
Lower enjoyment of life levels, depression and pain are reasons people wish to no longer live. A study on views of euthanasia recruited a total of 142 neonatal intensive care units, predominantly in Europe and the United Kingdom. The overwhelming opinion was that active euthanasia is needed now more than ever, which I argue provides a means of relief for the ill patient, as well as the family (Cuttini et al. 2004). It must be noted that euthanasia is a method to be used for those who cannot have their suffering alleviated, because their critical position puts them past such a stage to ‘experience the relief of suffering’ (Brouwer et al. 2018, p. 2). If palliative care is also going to bring about death, I opt for different means to bring about quicker ends, to ensure individual autonomy remains. Bentham, (2007, p. 43) a key thinker of utilitarianism, suggested that it could be morally justifiable to seek to end a life, given that it had outlived its benefit and usefulness. A quality of life stance must be taken on euthanasia, rather than an obsession about how it is wrong to kill. To die with dignity is a right one should have access to, as opposed to leaving this world suffering.
Bentham, J 2007, An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, Dover
Publications Inc., New York, NY.
Cuttini, M, Casotto, V, Kaminski, M,
Beaufort, ID, Berbik, I, Hansen, G, Kollée, L, Kucinskas, A, Lenoir, S, Levin,
A, Orzalesi, M, Persson, J, Rebagliato, M, Reid, M & Saracci, R 2004,
‘Should euthanasia be legal? An international survey of neonatal intensive care
units staff’, ADC: Archives of Disease in
Childhood, vol. 89, no. 1, pp. 19-24, viewed 10 September 2018, https://fn.bmj.com
400 million people in the world are without access to basic healthcare.‘11 million people a year fall into poverty’ (Edmond 2019) in Africa as a result of healthcare costs. South East Asian country Thailand has successfully introduced an affordable healthcare system, which has globally been labelled a success. The effective model proves that accessibility to healthcare and medicine is not dependent on the wealth of a country, but rather on the supportive structure. It provides hope and guidance that through appropriate planning and implementation, healthcare doesn’t just have to be a goal for countries currently lacking a scheme.
The United States, one of the most industralised countries in the world, has a fractured healthcare system and no universal coverage. The incredibly high costs of accessing healthcare cause many to be unable to receive treatments and medication required for living. Insurance premiums are constantly rising, whilst the quality of service falls. Despite progress with the Affordable Care Act of 2010 introduced by Barack Obama, serious problems remain. When we compare the healthcare systems of a country like Thailand, compared to the lack thereof in the United States, we realise that there is truly a lot to be learnt.
Before the UCS, one quarter of people did not have insurance (Jongudomsuk et al. 2015, p. 19). As a result, in 2000 many families fell into poverty due to healthcare costs and thousands died ‘from easily preventable infectious diseases’ (George 2016). In 2001, the introduction of the Universal Coverage Scheme (UCS) began, and was fully implemented by January 2002 in Thailand. Prior to the reform, four different health insurance schemes covered 70% of the population. The reform strengthened two of the programs. As a result, there has been a decrease in child mortality rates, the amount of people unable to go to work due to illness and also in out of pocket payments (Edmond 2019). Quality of life standards and life expectancy have increased (Edmond 2019).
Since 2000, treatments such as antiretroviral therapies and renal replacement therapy have become widely accessible. 98% of the population in 2011 had access to healthcare (Edmond 2019), and the health scheme since this time only costs $80 per person annually (George 2016). The UCS has ensured extensive collaboration with rural health centers and providers in community hospitals to ensure quality care (Harris 2018). Fixed annual payments are also provided to physicians ‘to cover outpatient care’ (Harris 2018). The scheme also allows the government to have control over medicinal purchases and costs.
Thailand’s scheme is being praised as a global model for emerging markets. Political investment to the health of the country began decades ago. In 1992, the Health Systems Research Institute was established. This institute joined together academic and research agencies to ‘generate knowledge supporting policy formulation’ (Jongudomsuk et al. 2015, p. 1). Financially, ‘healthcare is funded through taxation’ (Edmond 2019). The burden is placed on those who are able to afford it, simultaneously benefiting those receiving the lowest bracket income. Public participation is also an essential element of the UCS. There are representatives on the ‘National Health Security Committee and Regional Health Security Committee’ from civil society groups (Jongudomsuk et al. 2015, p. 49). The direct contact between the community and government has allowed to community needs to be met.
The early progress Thailand made shouldn’t discourage other countries lacking a healthcare scheme from beginning now. With the right reformative measures in place, results can arise.
Edmond, C 2019, ‘Thailand gave healthcare to its entire population and the results were dramatic’, World Economic Forum, 15 April, viewed 27 June 2019, https://www.weforum.org
George, S 2016, ‘What Thailand can teach the world about universal healthcare’, The Guardian, 24 March, viewed 27 June 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/au
Harris, J 2018, ‘What the US could learn from Thailand about health care coverage’, The Conversation, 14 December, viewed 27 June 2019, https://theconversation.com/au
Srithamrongsawat, S, Patcharanarumol, W, Limwattananon, S, Pannarunothai,
S, Vapatanavong , P, Sawaengdee, K, Fahamnuaypol , P 2015, ‘The Kingdom of Thailand Health System
Review’, Health Systems in Transition, vol.
5, no. 5, pp. 1-265
Norway is the world
leader of the electric car market. Electric cars, compared to conventional
cars, which pose health risks due to pollutants they exhaust, emit no
chemicals. Zero emission vehicles accounted for 30% of all new cars purchased
in Norway in 2018 as stated in a recent report by the Norwegian Embassy ([NE]
2019). Such statistics owe their success to incentives provided to buyers of
low emission cars, and punishments for those using gas or diesel cars. Norway’s
system is one that can be aspired to across the globe.
achievements have been worked towards for some decades now. Incentives were
introduced from the 90s to encourage conversion to a zero emission scheme.
Purchases of low emission cars for example are exempt from a 25% tax that
conventional car buyers must pay (this policy is to be reviewed by the EU in
2020). Additionally, low emission car buyers are exempt from annual road tax, have
access to bus lanes, free access to charging stations and do not pay at tollbooths
(NE 2019). Norsk
Elbilforening (NE) highlights the success in transition, as the ‘battery electric and plug-in
hybrid vehicles together hold a 50% market share’ (NE n.d.).
A purchase tax
is in place for the sale of all cars within Norway. The purchase tax for new
cars is calculated by a combination of weight, carbon dioxide and nitrogen
oxide emissions, making cars with high emissions expensive (NE n.d.). It is a
progressive tax and makes most electric vehicle models cheaper to buy.
Financial savings for the buyer is a key motivator for purchasing low emission
cars, alongside the environmental benefits associated. Costs of running are
also more favourable. Chief engineer of Norway’s Institute of Transport
Economics, Erik Figenbaum, explained that annual costs for the electric car
average ‘264 euros against an average of 1293 on petrol’ (Figenbaum as cited in
Goals are continually
being created to sustain success. The Norwegian government has set 2025 as the
year for when all new cars sold ‘should be zero emission’ (Jones 2018). Between 2016 and 2017, there was a ‘9.5%
reduction in emissions from road transport’, suggesting the goal is achievable (NE
2019). This is in contrast to the same objective being reached in the United Kingdom
(UK) by 2040. Minimal incentives exist in the UK, suggesting that there needs
to be more enticements for the consumer to buy low emission cars.
Although the sustainable option for now, there is much to be improved upon. The process in sourcing natural minerals to produce the battery can be quite consuming and polluting. Such minerals consist of cobalt, lithium, manganese, nickel and graphite. Cobalt and lithium are considered rare minerals, and lithium prices doubled since 2015 (West 2017). When the battery stops being an effective power source for electric vehicles, the battery can ‘still have up to 70%’ of its capacity (Gardiner 2017). Rather than recycling the battery, the answer must be to reuse them for other energy needs. It is also important to consider where these minerals are sourced. The Democratic Republic of Congo for instance, holds over 60% of the global supply of cobalt (Union of Concerned Scientists 2018). Poor labor practices involved in production of cobalt must be addressed if beneficial goals are to be achieved across the board. Alternative materials are being trialled for the future.
The stance from those in power in Norway is that it should be favourable to choose zero emission cars over the opposite. This is achieved through making the polluter pay if they choose the less environmentally friendly option. It may be too late at the current point in time for countries to start as efficiently as Norway did, but to introduce effective policies for consumers who don’t commit to low emission cars is attainable.
In February of
1979, Ayatollah Khomeini led the overthrow of the Shah (king) and succeeded to
power in Iran. Iran was relatively modern in the early 20th century,
however regressive conservatism imposed by the revolution, which remains today,
makes it worthy of attention. I argue that implications of the revolution on
Iran itself and the global community at large continue to be significant and
In the early 20th century, constitutional values of Iran drew inspiration from the West. As early as 1925, women’s rights were on the agenda in Iran with Reza Shah Pahlavi acknowledging women’s significance in the population (Rafique & Butt 2017). Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, who rose to power in 1941, succeeding his father, imposed reforms of the ‘White Revolution’. He drew inspiration from modern European values, hoping to steer ‘internal policies on women’s rights and their compulsory education’ through democratic means (Rafique & Butt 2017).
Iran is unique in the sense that it was well ahead of its time in the 20th century for a Muslim majority country. ‘Physical aptitude’ became a requirement for marriage in 1931, and the ages for marriage for a boy and girl were raised to 15 and 18 from 9 and 15 respectively (Rafique & Butt 2017). The Family Protection Act was enacted in 1967, focusing on women’s family rights, through for example, vowing to ‘handle divorce and child custody cases in a civil court’ (Rafique & Butt 2017).
A rising and
conservative faction in Iran led by Khomeini, opposed to such progression. The
collapse of the Ottoman Empire after World War One in 1918 saw Muslim nations
fighting for independence. Iranian conservatives preached that only through
religion, could Iran express and return to its true self. The west was viewed
as destructively deviant from the true identity of Iran.
after Khomeini took power in 1979, the identity of Iran began to change. The
Family Protection Act was abolished immediately. A law was passed in 1983 to
allow for punishment of a woman if she wasn’t wearing a black hijab, which
hadn’t been required by law since 1936 (Rafique & Butt 2017). Khomeini
stated that ‘women’s honor needed to be preserved’ (Khomeini, cited in Kazmir
& Bell 2019) and so the guardian system was introduced. A male, preferably
a family member or husband, was required to guard women at all times, and
provide permission on their behalf for educational, employment, travel and
within Iran, implications of the revolution are evident. The Green Movement
protests in 2009 reflect the discontent of people within Iran and lack of
support for the regime. According to an Amnesty International study released in
2018, over 7000 political activists critical of the Republic have been arrested(Amnesty International, cited in
Etehad & Mostaghim 2019). Women’s employment in the labor force is a total
of 17% according to the World Bank (World Bank, cited in Etehad & Mostaghim
2019). Today, people are dissatisfied with the high level of unemployment and
poor economic progress despite the oil revenues that hold the economy together.
implications of the revolution transpired. The United States supported Suddam
Hussein, former President of Iraq, with weapons and training, helping Iraq to
take control of the Iran-Iraq war. Events such as Saddam Hussein’s invasion of
Kuwait in 1991, the creation of al-Qaeda terrorist network and the tragic
events of 9/11 have their foundations in elements of the Iranian Revolution.
Divisions in the global community remain, with the United States being once a
close ally to now a distant enemy.
most worrisome implication that follows the revolution is the inspiration its
success could potentially serve to those hoping to achieve the same. The Iranian
Revolution displays that a goal of establishing an Islamic State could transform
into a reality. There can always be a possibility of ‘winning’ whether it is
done ethically or not. Progression and modernisation are essential to remain
fluid and adaptable. However, principles of the revolution suggest that the
opposite is desirable. The revolution implies that to treat women as objects
and to remove their rights is acceptable and in fact in accordance with
‘religion’. I use the term ‘religion’ lightly, because the interpretation of
any religion varies widely. Implications upon human rights are immense.
I believe we are some time away from seeing Iran return to its state before the revolution. However, powerful voices of the hopeful will eventually flourish at large.
Etehad, M & Mostaghim R 2019, ‘It’s been 40 years
since Iran’s Islamic Revolution. Here’s how the country has chnaged’, LA Times, 11 February, viewed 14 May
Kazmir, M & Bell, B 2019, ‘Before and After: Iran
1979’, International Policy Digest, 22
February, viewed 14 May 2019, https://intpolicydigest.org
Rafique, S & Butt, KM 2017, ‘Position of Women in
Iran: An Analysis of Pre and Post Islamic Revolution’, A Research Journal of South Asian Studies, vol. 32, no. 2, pp.
Brunei is a small and relatively wealthy country located in Southeast Asia, with Islam being the main religion. In October of 2013, Sultan and Prime Minister Hassanal Bolkiah introduced plans of a new penal code. The code expressed of legally enacting whipping and stoning to death of people found guilty of homosexuality and related acts (Gant 2019). Despite the delay in execution of the law, in early April of 2019, its implementation was expressed.
condemnation followed the announcement, with the United Nations highlighting serious
human rights violations. High profile celebrities such as George Clooney and
Ellen DeGeneres called for a boycott of hotels owned by the sultan of Brunei. Companies
such as JPMorgan Chase and Deutsche Bank called for their employees to avoid giving
business to the hotels too.
Today, the world woke up
to the news that Brunei will not be imposing the death penalty on those found
to be engaging in homosexual acts. LGBT citizens can still face other penalties
such as fines or jail time. However, the retraction of the death penalty
imposition is certainly a step in the right direction.
This decision was clearly
influenced by the international communities disapproval and responsive action. Although
people in this day are disenfranchised, many still do have a voice. Social
media platforms must be used to speak up in a good hearted and respectful
matter on behalf of the voiceless. Had the international community not spoke up
for the rights of the people of Brunei, there is a strong likelihood that
retraction would not have occurred anytime soon, or ever.
I compare the value of our voice to the value of our right to vote. They are both vehicles of expression and power. I was stunned by the fact that 4/10 Americans in the 2016 presidential election, who were eligible to vote, did not vote (Pew Research Center 2018). Of course, a single vote or a single voice itself may possess minimal impact. However, the collective influence of accumulated voices and desires rising together is enormous. Such a privilege should be used wisely and never taken for granted.
Gant, J 2019, ‘Sultan of Brunei says he will NOT
enforce the death penalty for gay sex after widespread backlash led by
celebrities including Elton John and George Clooney’, Daily Mail, 5 May, viewed 6 May 2019, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/index.html
The uniqueness of Japan is truly breathtaking. For a country to retain such a rich culture and uniformity, in a world of globalisation and Internet crossing borders, is remarkable. My stance remains neutral on whether such uniqueness is for better or worse. By ‘remarkable’, I purely speak to Japan’s observable difference. I believe that the homogeneity of Japan does not equate to potential harm, should Japan remain present in the global context.
My question is this. How long can a relatively homogenous society, sustain itself, with predominantly just itself in the domestic mix?
Japan has an aging population, with close to 127 million people in total according to World O Meters (WOM 2019). Emphasis on a career-oriented lifestyle has shaped values. Social class and ideology seem to differ little throughout the country compared to one such at the United States.
in governance have called for oneness, with former communication minister Taro Aso
preaching for ‘one culture, one civilisation, one race’ (cited in York 2018). Such
consistency is expressed through dress, body language, verbal communication,
belief systems, persona and tradition within the population.
Japan is one of the only advanced countries in the modern world to have not received a large influx of migrants in the post-war period. The collective society comprises of only 2% of foreign working or studying residents (Okada 2018). This trend can be historically traced back to the Sakoku years. Japanese nationals were forbidden to leave their country, and few foreigners were accepted strictly for business purposes only. However, 2018 saw the highest amount of foreigners yet to live in Japan, a total of 2,497,000 (Osumi 2019). Although a record for the island nation, it ranks low compared to international statistics.
Last year, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed of plans to introduce new visa categories in an effort to reform the system. These plans remain just that at the current time, lacking specific direction. Nevertheless, the absence of subsequent action does not detract from this announcement’s importance, given the country’s history and current state .
from Abe in reforming the immigration system may very well be due to the fact
that he recognises the aging population. 1/3 of Japan’s population will be over
65 years old by the year 2040 (See-Yan 2019). However, productivity and
innovation are not always positively correlated. Hungary, for example, throughout
recent years has experienced negative population growth and around 2% GDP growth
per capita (Black Pigeon Speaks 2017).
United Nations has publicly called upon Japan to take in more refugees. Abe’s
move could therefore be strategical, with hopes for the nation to be viewed as
yielding to external pressure and societal expectation. However, the economy
remains strong despite the already decreasing labor force. Last year,
thriving export industries of Japan include automobiles, electrical machinery,
computers, iron and mineral fuels. The first ever hotel run by robots was
opened in Japan, shortly followed by robot run cafes in Tokyo. Low skilled human
labor jobs such as administration, security, and cleaning are being and will be
billion worth of goods was exported around the globe by Japan (Workman 2019).
There appears to be no demanding event calling for migration to assist the
economy, or to richen the culture.
is beginning to collaborate with other foreign markets. Specialisation rather
than a focus on inland ability is essential. A Japanese company affiliated with
Honda Motor Corporation recently merged with an Israeli technology entrepreneur
in an aim to boost artificial intelligence production (Nichols 2019). The
government supports such drive for technological innovation, stressing the need
for Japan to remain present in alliances with foreign markets. This is
essential as competitive technological industries arise within the United
States and China.
don’t believe that Japan’s homogeneity equates to a potential disservice, on
the condition that it remain open to drawing inspiration from and working with
other markets. I believe that Japan will be used as an example in the
international political field as something to inspire to, both in terms of artificial
intelligence and migration. It has largely gained global respect and admiration
rather than condemnation.
However, Japan’s circumstance is very unique. I believe other countries would struggle to adopt the same model, as they would be forging for themselves an unnatural version of the pure form itself.
Nichols, G 2019, ‘AI as a job saver? Why Japan’s auto industry is embracing industry 4.0’, ZD Net, 19 April, viewed 25 April 2019, https://www.zdnet.com
Okada, Y 2018, ‘Japan’s foreign population hitting a record high’, Mizuho Economic Outlook & Analysis, 25 July, pp. 2-9.
Osumi, M 2019, ‘Number of foreign residents in Japan rose 6.6% in 2018, while number of overstayers grew almost twice as much, government data shows’, The Japan Times, 22 March, viewed 25 April 2019, https://www.japantimes.co.jp