PHUKET: Given Thailand's relative peace and freedom for once from natural or man-made disasters, the biggest story of the year in the Phuket region was Burma.
Phuketwan well remembers the pushbacks of Rohingya boatpeople from Thailand in 2008-9. So we should - we broke the news that it was happening to the world.
What occurred in Burma in 2012 was really just a more widespread public exposure of the simmering racism within Burma and the enduring lack of concern in neighboring countries.
One of the most widely-read articles of the year at Phuketwan was our accusation in a recent news analysis that Singapore doesn't have a heart. We said that because Singapore refused entry to a Vietnamese cargo ship carrying 40 Rohingya, men and boys, rescued from a shipwreck.
We take no pleasure in saying these things, but it happens to be true. Singapore is perhaps the prime example among the 10 members of the Association of South-East Asian Nations of a selfish outlook when it comes to all matters of principle.
For many years now, Singapore has also provided a safe refuge for Burma's generals and their ill-gotten fortunes, and we don't believe that has changed, or is likely to change.
Singapore and human rights cannot be mentioned in the same sentence because where Singapore is concerned, money matters. People and principles do not.
Perhaps as a result of Singapore's successful example of rolling down the path to prosperity via selfishness, other countries also use the excuse that the Rohingya are not their problem, even when boatpeople land on their beaches.
Around the region beyond Asean, India and Bangladesh also reject responsibility. When Phuketwan asked a visiting Indian admiral earlier this year about the Rohingya, he appeared to turn blue and almost choked. An aide stepped in to say: ''That's not our problem.''
In Thailand and Malaysia, in Singapore and even in Indonesia, the travails of the boatpeople continue to be played down or even hushed up by governments who lack the courage or the commitment to speak out.
We tried to track a boatload of Rohingya who came ashore north of Phuket a few weeks ago. Most of the 112 on the boat were young men or boys, some aged only 14 or 15.
The Rohingya are stateless and denied citizenship in Burma so it was with sorrowful irony that Thai officials labelled them as ''Burmese'' simply to speed their passage back to the border and into the arms of people traffickers.
President Barack Obama's visit to Burma and his bid to open Burma's eyes to its own imperfections was a noble attempt to right this regional wrong.
But his fine words were clearly lost on Burma, on Singapore and on the other nations of the region.
They have the power to support change, but choose instead to not lift a finger - except perhaps in a gesture of defiance to the more caring world.