Thailand’s Monarch Seeks a Return to the Kingdom of Siam

Thailand’s Monarch Seeks a Return to the Kingdom of SiamThailand, once known as the Land of Smiles, is a country today seemingly trapped in a perpetual nightmare, headed by a half-mad king determined to return the country to the era before Pradjadhipok, or Rama VII, the seventh king of the House of Chakri and the last absolute monarch of the country after the military…

Philippines’ Duterte Raises Concerns with Martial Law Edict

Philippines’ Duterte Raises Concerns with Martial Law EdictIn a move that to critics called up the bad old days of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, Philippine President Rodrigo has placed the southern island of Mindanao under martial law, which allows the president to call out the armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion. Duterte made the decision on…

Vietnam: Steady as She Goes

Vietnam: Steady as She GoesNormally, the eviction of a member from the Politburo of a ruling Communist Party would be a sign of internal friction and potential political instability. In the case of Vietnam, with its unparalleled history of collective leadership such an event was barely thinkable, especially just a year after the reshuffle of top posts at the…

Malaysia Squeezes Social Media Administrators

Malaysia Squeezes Social Media AdministratorsWith national elections looming, perhaps as early as August or September, the Malaysian government is warning its legions of myriad social media critics to knock off tweeting or posting content the government deems “inappropriate.” The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission has promulgated a new “advisory for group admins” that critics say is designed to coerce…

Coming Soon: One Country, One System

Coming Soon: One Country, One SystemDespite strong official backing by Beijing, Hong Kong’s future Chief Executive, Carrie Lam Yuet-ngor, promised to heal the divisions in society. Yet in the runup to her installation on July 1, it appears increasingly that the healing of divisions is going to be accomplished by silencing one half of that divide. Actions and words in…

Prabowo Reappears as an Indonesian Political Force

Prabowo Reappears as an Indonesian Political ForceIt is a stunning indication of the cynicism of Indonesian religious and political practice that, a day after he was soundly defeated in his bid for reelection as Jakarta governor, blasphemy charges against Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama were basically withdrawn by prosecutors -- reduced to a request for probation. Charges that Ahok, as the governor…

Trump Drill Edict Likely Won’t Have Much Effect

Trump Drill Edict Likely Won’t Have Much EffectAlthough President Donald Trump signed an executive order on April 28 seeking to expand offshore oil and gas drilling in the United States, it isn’t likely to have much of an impact. Low oil prices and cheap shale oil have reduced spending on conventional oil projects to the lowest level in more than 70 years.…

Najib’s Latest Smokescreen

Najib’s Latest SmokescreenThe list of names, initials, deals and numbers can make it hard for the public to keep track of what has been revealed about the goings on at 1Malaysia Development Bhd., the government’s scandal-riddled sovereign investment fund, which may have liabilities amounting to as much as RM50 billion and which is arguably the biggest scandal…

Thai Critic Faces Death Threat

Thai Critic Faces Death ThreatPavin Chachavalpongpun has become one of the most implacable critics of the country’s ruling king, Maha Vajiralongkorn, and the junta that took over the country in a coup in 2014. Now that may have put his life in danger from the country’s erratic and violence-prone king. Recently the military decreed that anybody who even read…

Thai Military Erases Important History

Thai Military Erases Important HistoryIn a small but highly symbolic gesture, the Thai military regime has arranged the removal of a plaque marking the start of the 1932 revolution which ended royal absolutism and led to the first of many versions of a constitutional monarchy. The brass plaque on the road surface in the Royal Plaza bore the inscription:…
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