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Asean Affairs   15 April 2011

Economic progress takes its toll

By  David Swartzentruber

AseanAffairs     15 April 2011

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A small story in this week’s news has ignited some debate in Asia about the human costs associated with driving economies upward and the human costs that effort entails.
In Shanghai a 25-year-old female employee with the Shanghai office of PricewaterhouseCoopers, a junior auditor with the firm, died April 10 from cerebral meningitis that had developed from a flu virus.
She left as her legacy a micro blog.

Before her death, she had frequently turned to the Internet to complain about feeling tired and about her poor health, conditions she believed resulted from overwork. On March 31, she wrote, “"Whenever there's a chance to take a break, a fever comes."

Her death caused an uproar on the Internet, igniting public debate over the increasing health risks white-collars workers are subjected to in large Chinese cities like Shanghai and Beijing, where overwork and fatigue commonly lead to various occupational diseases.

Although this incident occurred in China, it could easily be placed in any major Asian city as upward economic mobility follows the same route as in the older western economies.

Recent research indicates that setting in front of a computer working is sure to shorten life spans unless workers devote more time to physical activity for balance. This 21st century phenomenon has spawned the growth of exercise centers throughout Asia. However, the associated costs and lack of recognition of the benefits of exercise means many Asian white-collar workers are easy targets for the latest flu strains.

The spread of disease is always accelerated by the poor air quality in most Asian cities.

Health issues and work hours are sure to become major issues as Asian economies improve and work stress increases.

Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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