14.01.2020

Indian dailies have discussed Iran government’s admission that missiles fired due to ‘human error’ caused the horrific crash of the Ukrainian plane & death of 176 innocent people. Newspapers have also discussed the ruling party’s win in Taiwan. This will make the dispute with China more difficult to resolve. Print media has opined Australia’s bush fires have left Koalas with a tough struggle for survival.

THE ASIAN AGE in an editorial IRAN STAYS ON THE BOIL writes an extraordinary situation has developed in Iran where public anger against the American drone attack to kill Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani has turned into resentment against the government after the admission that a soldier had brought down an Ukrainian airliner by firing a missile. The internal unrest, with students protesting the death of their young colleagues heading to Canada for higher studies, led to a show of force in which some protesters were even shot in the back. A contrite Revolutionary Guards chief apologised profusely for the “human error” which killed 176 passengers. However, as the protesters look inwards seeking answers, the fear is that unrest may embolden those pressing to confront the US, still seen as the cause for Iran’s troubles. This isn’t the first time a passenger aircraft has become unfortunate collateral damage in US-Iran confrontations over the years. Internal compulsions may be holding back President Trump as the Democrats try to restrict his military manoeuvres with Iran. History records that itching for war has served US Presidents seeking a second term very well.

THE HINDU in an editorial VOTE FOR STATUS QUO says Taiwan’s pro-democracy President Tsai Ing-wen’s re-election, with a record mandate since the country’s first direct elections of 1996, could further strain ties with China. Ms. Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) suffered major losses in the 2018 local elections, but, she took over 57% of the vote against her challenger, Han Kuo-yu of the Kuomintang party, which once ruled in China before moving to Taiwan. Opposition to Beijing’s one-country two-systems policy has long defined the ruling DPP. The Hong Kong protests have only served to bring into sharp relief the consolidation of democracy and sovereignty in Taiwan ahead of the elections. The Opposition’s landslide victory in Hong Kong’s local elections in November added momentum to Ms. Tsai’s own prospects. In a campaign marred by allegations of Chinese fake news and social media trolls on DPP candidates. Also, the ruling party’s consolidation has coincided with the emergence of an assertive China, and with attempts of U.S. President Trump to use Taipei as a bargaining chip in his trade war with China.

THE INDIAN EXPRESS in an editorial NO HOME FOR KOALAS opines among the several heart-rending images from the bush fires sweeping through Australia’s forests is that of a koala clutching at a bottle of water offered by fire-fighters. The animal in the image is amongst the lucky few that escaped the inferno, clinging to rescuers. The fire has claimed thousands of koalas in Australia’s forests — at least half of the animals in Kangaroo Island Sanctuary, a key insurance for its future, are feared dead. The much-loved marsupial is currently categorised as vulnerable in Australia. But with 30 per cent of the koala habitat being ravaged by fires, the Australian government is reportedly contemplating declaring the country’s iconic animal as “endangered”. The koala has a long history of being misunderstood by humans. Confounded by the richness of Australasia’s animal kingdom, early 19th century European naturalists debated whether the furry eyed, spoony-nosed arboreal creature was a sloth or a monkey and pronounced it as Phascolarctos cinereus or the pouch-bearing ash-coloured bear — the animal actually shares much more with the kangaroo and the wombat. The errors in taxonomy were, however, benign compared to what the koalas faced when European settlers made their home in Australia. At least eight million koalas were killed and their pelts were shipped to London and cities in the US and Canada between 1880 and 1920.