Singapore to consider cancelling culture laws

In a recent interview, Singapore’s Law Minister, Kasiviswanathan Shanmugam, revealed the possibility of including cancelling culture laws in the country’s legislation. The aim is to protect Singaporeans against cyberbullying from expressing views on events such as LGBTQIA+ issues following Singapore’s recent decision to end 377A .  

Singapore is in the process of decriminalizing sex between men giving rise to the current debate. The minister has reported incidents of online bullying from LGBTQIA+ and religious groups reporting homophobia and hate speech. These challenges will be ongoing as some Singaporeans hold conservative views on same-sex marriage.

The minister has stated that Singaporeans should have the freedom to fully express their views on both sides of any debate without receiving insults. The government is attempting to curb potential incidences of cancel culture in retaliation to people expressing their views.

While the possibility of such legislation has been reported by the government, there is a long process before the rules become formalized as the issue is still being debated. This effort has demonstrated that Singapore is actively seeking to balance conservative views with social progress in gay rights while protecting against potential cancel culture.

The Philippines to lift domestic labor’s deployment ban to Saudi Arabia

After a year’s suspension of deploying workers to Saudi Arabia, Manila has signed an agreement to send Filipino workers to the Kingdom starting on 7 November 2022. This agreement was made following Saudi Arabia’s commitment to increase protections for Filipino migrants.

The halt resulted in reports of unpaid salaries and abuses made by Filipino workers in the country. Saudi Arabia’s Human Resource Ministry has since vowed to work cooperatively to ensure workers’ rights and to bolster the decency of employment. Further, Filipino workers will be allowed to quit before their contract expiration if their employer is abusing their rights while full compensation will be provided in such cases.

Saudi Arabia’s government has not commented on the matter but the Philippines’ Department of Migrant Workers has assured that the Saudi government is committed to improving the employment conditions and contracts of Filipinos. The Center for Migrant Advocacy in Manila welcomed the new regulations as it is vital to the protection and well-being of the Filipino migrants.

At least 400,000 Filipinos working in Saudi Arabia will benefit from the protective employment measures in this agreement. The specific details of the agreement, however, remain to be seen.

The outcome of the 2022 ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting

ASEAN held its 54th Economic Ministers’ Meeting in Siem Reap, Cambodia, from 14-18 September to discuss many vital issues, including economic development, global inflation, and the post-COVID-19 economic recovery.

As the ASEAN Chairman, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen opened the meeting by setting four main goals for the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), including improving the region’s digital, science, and technological connectivity, pushing for a more connected, inclusive, and cooperative ASEAN, fostering ASEAN’s growth and development, and narrowing the regional development gap.

Hun Sen also called upon ASEAN members to expand their economic cooperation with external partners to further open up the region’s economy, creating more opportunities. Hun Sen also endorsed a new initiative—the ASEAN Green Deal—to boost the bloc’s response to challenges and recovery for the betterment of sustainable economic growth. The ASEAN Green Deal focused on many sectors including infrastructure, energy, manufacturing, agriculture, environment, transportation and innovation.

ASEAN ministers have vowed to boost regional economic cooperation despite ongoing COVID-19 challenges and the rising geopolitical contestation on the international stage. The meeting also acknowledged the impact of the Russia–Ukraine war which has exacerbated inflation, impacted fuel and food prices, and disrupted global supply chains. The ministers endorsed open markets, trade, and investment through the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework (ACRF) and focused their commitment on health, security, digital, and economic sustainability. During the meeting, the ASEAN ministers endorsed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) that took effect on 1 January 2022. As a result, Cambodia is optimistic that the region will experience economic growth of at least 5% in the upcoming year.

The meeting was viewed positively. Observers such as Australia, India, and even the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) have used the platform to reiterate their cooperation and strengthen their ties with the bloc. The Director of the WIPO pledged the institution’s support to ASEAN for better development in the future. Malaysia urged ASEAN to complete the remaining plans under the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework to make the region more resilient and ready for the ASEAN 2025 Vision. A joint statement was produced expressing ASEAN states’ commitment to the region’s economic integration despite challenges posed by the pandemic and the region’s geopolitics.


Sovinda Po is a Research Assistant at the Griffith Asia Institute.