On March 1, 2022—almost two years after the World Health Organization declared the Covid-19 pandemic—UVic Law professor and CAPI Director Victor V. Ramraj spoke to the Centre for Asian Legal Studies on “Covid-19 in Asia: Lessons and Reflections Two Years On.” In his online presentation, Professor Ramraj drew on the 30 essays by 61 contributors in his edited collection, Covid-19 in Asia: Law and Policy Contexts (New York: Oxford, University Press, 2020) (available as an open access e-book here)—including Professor Shigenori Matsui’s co-authored chapter (with Professor Tomoya Ono) on the Japanese response to the pandemic. He considered how much has changed in the two years since the pandemic was formally declared and considered three questions. First, what difference, if any, does the form of government (whether more authoritarian or more democratic) make to its ability to respond to the pandemic? Second, how have governments sought to maintain their legitimacy during the pandemic? And third, what is the ideal relationship between state and non-state actors in responding to the pandemic? In answering these questions, Professor Ramraj observed, first, that the public health crises has, in some respects, exacerbated internal political as well as geopolitical divides. Second, he highlighted how the pandemic has tested authoritarian and democratic governments in a variety of ways. And third, he argued that although coordinated policymaking is an ideal response, it has been particularly difficult to realize.
Dr. Victor V. Ramraj is Professor of Law and Chair in Asia-Pacific Legal Relations at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada. Since 2017, he has served as Director of the Centre for Asia-Pacific Initiatives. Before returning to Canada in 2014, he spent 16 years at the National University of Singapore, and was twice seconded to the Centre for Transnational Legal Studies in London. He also teaches regularly in the LLM in Business Law at Chulalongkorn University. His recent research interests and publications span comparative public law, transnational regulation, and the regulatory challenges arising from the state-company relationship. He has published dozens of articles and book chapters in leading publications in North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa and has seven edited or co-edited volumes to his credit, including Emergency Powers in Asia: Exploring the Limits of Legality (with A.K. Thiruvengadam, Cambridge University Press, 2010) and Covid-19 in Asia: Law and Policy Contexts (Oxford University Press, 2020).