the brief: issue thirty


Ghana’s Finance Minister under fire: Ofori-Atta facing parliamentary inquiry
by Neo Allert

image credit: Kwame87 (Wikimedia Commons)

Amidst a growing financial crisis, Ghanaian Finance Minister Kenneth Ofori-Atta has come under attack, facing a parliamentary inquiry concerning his financial management. With consumer inflation rising rapidly, many Ghanaians have suffered under soaring costs of living. Hit hard by the impacts of the war in Ukraine and the Covid pandemic, Ghana has been concurrently struggling with high debt service payments. Many have criticised the government and especially Finance Minister Ofori-Atta for not responding adequately.

Ofori-Atta has since responded, stating on 18 November that he was very sorry for the economic hardships that Ghana’s population currently have to endure and that he felt the pain of the country. At the same time he defended himself against the accusation of mismanagement and incompetence. Ofori-Atta will have to continue to defend himself, as many are calling for his removal from office.


Vietnam’s Increasing Online Authoritarianism
by Owen Buchan

image credit: Anas Anassi (Flickr)

In Vietnam, Bui Van Thuan, an online honey salmon salesman and chemistry teacher has now been imprisoned for eight years and an additional five years of house arrest, after being found guilty of disseminating anti-state propaganda. Thuan had been critical of the Communist Party’s handling of the Covid and shared these thoughts on Facebook. He had been detained since August 2021. 

This case has been described as symptomatic of an increasing digital authoritarianism in Vietnam. Since the late 2000s, the Vietnamese government has been quietly and gradually expanding its powers to monitor and censor its population online. This process, similar to places like the US, has been assisted by Big Tech firms. 

While outside sources have been quick to denounce these actions and the entire Vietnamese online regulation system, it has been pointed out that the Vietnamese digital surveillance capacity pales in comparison to more sophisticated systems in the West.

Qatar’s World Cup legacy already predetermined?
By Henry Neale

image credit: Mike Rohsopht (Wikimedia Commons)

As anticipation builds before the opening game of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, the conversation surrounding its controversial hosting and the implications thereof is certain to endure beyond the Final in Lusail on 18 December.

FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, has unleashed a strike against Western critics just hours before the tournament’s commencement. Infantino hit out against the hypocritical nature of the West’s ‘moral lessons’ regarding condemnations concerning Qatar’s human rights record.

The lead up to the Qatar World Cup has surely been the most unprecedented in history, with widespread controversies relating to the conditions faced by migrant workers, LGBTQAI+ rights, and, more recently, the dubious surroundings behind Qatar’s winning bid. It remains to be seen whether this wider narrative will overshadow the football itself. One thing that is clear already, is that Qatar’s World Cup legacy will most definitely remain overshadowed by political condemnation and cultural disparity.

Indonesian President warns G20 leaders against the risks of new tensions that could ‘jeopardise the world peace’
By Orestis Sechas

image credit: Hellosumanjaya (Wikimedia Commons)

During the G20 Leaders’ Summit, held in Bali, Indonesia, on 15 to 16 November, leaders from the G20 member states addressed a number of vital global issues, including themes, such as digital transformation, soaring food prices, supply chain problems, climate change, and international support for SMEs.

Indonesia has set the G20 Leaders’ Summit under the motto ‘Recover Together, Recover Stronger’, identifying three main pillars for its G20 2022 Presidency, namely: Global Health Architecture, Sustainable Energy Transition, and Digital Transformation. Through these pillars, Indonesia will continue promoting a sustainable and inclusive economic development through MSMEs participation whilst maintaining its efforts towards ensuring an equitable prosperity amongst nations.

The actual summit was, however, to the irritation of its Indonesian hosts, dominated by geopolitics, and not by Indonesia’s stated priorities. Nevertheless, the climate of the summit was positive and constructive and provided G20 leaders with many opportunities to communicate and negotiate.

North America

Era’s Tour pre-sale disaster
by Kate Nuttall

image credit: Germagsam221331 (Wikimedia Commons)

The USA’s Justice Department announced earlier this week that it had launched an investigation earlier this year into Live Nation, the parent company of Ticketmaster, focusing on whether the company holds a monopoly over the live music industry. The antitrust division has been in contact with venues and other organisations in the ticketing industry to establish the company’s methods. 

This news has risen to prominence after Live Nation came under fire this week due to mismanagement in the sale of tickets for Taylor Swift’s 2023 ‘Eras Tour’ in the US. The general sale was cancelled after the website sold over two million tickets in the presale, leaving insufficient ticket inventory to meet the remaining demand. Many fans were extremely disappointed and believe that the company clearly abuses its dominance in the market.


New Zealand to lower voting age following landmark ruling
by Harvey Young

image credit: FutUndBeidl (Flickr)

New Zealand may soon join the 15 countries which have lowered their voting age from the international norm of 18 years old following a notable ruling from the New Zealand Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled in favour of the campaign group Make It 16 and ruled that the minimum voting age of 18 contradicted New Zealand’s Bill of Rights. The Supreme Court ruled that the attorney-general was unable to show why the age of 18 should be chosen instead of 16, which therefore constituted against 16- and 17-year-olds.

New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Adern, reacted positively to this ruling, saying that she personally supports this and would allow parliament to vote on the matter. However, such a change to the voting age requires 75 percent support in parliament which it currently looks unlikely to achieve, meaning that campaigners may have to wait longer.

South America

Maya artefacts stolen by American couple
by Eleanor Austin

image credit: FDRMRZUSA (Wikimedia Commons)

An American couple has been accused of smuggling Guatemalan national treasures this week. This story began with Stephanie Allison Jolluck being caught in Guatemala City airport carrying two Maya stone carvings in her luggage. Jolluck has argued that she believed the items to be souvenirs, not items of historical importance. 

This statement, however, lost its credibility when Jolluck and her companion, Giorgio Salvador Rossilli, were later again stopped by police, who discovered more than 160 artefacts in their car. They once more pleaded their innocence, claiming that as foreigners, they neither knew the artefacts’ historical significance, nor the difference between reproductions and original pieces. 

Concurrently the police undertook a 12-hour search of the couple’s home, uncovering over 1,200 artefacts. The pieces have been donated to Guatemalan officials to determine their authenticity, and the fate of this couple.

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