President Trump’s Flying Circus

President Trump’s Flying CircusPresident Donald Trump’s ability to lose friends and influence for America seems endless. The once US-led Trans Pacific Partnership involving countries on both sides of that ocean may effectively be dead following the US withdrawal in January from the group it had struggled so hard to build. But in a gesture of what amounts to…

Nha Trang and its Tourist Lure

Nha Trang and its Tourist LureIs the Vietnamese city of Nha Trang on the way to becoming another Pattaya, the vast and notorious resort two hours south of Bangkok where sun, sex, sleaze, sports and second homes are all in abundance? Or even just another Patong, Pattaya’s younger sister on Phuket? Or could it be the center point for focusing,…

Zheng He’s Modern Doppelganger

Zheng He’s Modern DoppelgangerThere is an uncanny resemblance between today’s China and the voyages of Zheng He in the early 15th century. The specific parallel I have in mind is China’s Belt and Road initiative, which is being celebrated by the May 14-15 summit meeting in Beijing of 23 leaders of nations along the routes. Back in the…

An Irrelevant ASEAN Limps to a Filipino Gala

An Irrelevant ASEAN Limps to a Filipino GalaAnybody wondering what useful came out of the 2017 Association of Southeast Asian Nations leaders’ summit in Manila over the weekend may read this brief communique. The answer is clear: very little besides what appears to have been quite a party. We, the Heads of State/Government of ASEAN Member States, gathered for the 30th ASEAN Summit…

US Attack on Syria a Step in the Wrong Direction

US Attack on Syria a Step in the Wrong DirectionUS President Donald Trump may be proving to have far more bark than bite – for which all must give thanks, so far. Trade war is not imminent and other Trumpisms are getting bogged down in Washington and the courts. But he is also backtracking on the one issue on which he might have started…

ADB Identifies the Keys to Economic Progress

ADB Identifies the Keys to Economic ProgressGet your investment priorities right. That is the message which emerges from a detailed study by the Asian Development Bank of the ways for countries to transform themselves from low to lower-middle, upper middle and finally high income. Those priorities change over time but none in itself is self-sufficient. The good news is that most…

The Real Reasons for the Saudi King’s Asian Visit

The Real Reasons for the Saudi King’s Asian VisitModerate Muslims and non-Muslims alike may worry that the high-profile visit of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman to Malaysia and Indonesia signals another Saudi Salafi assault on traditionally more flexible Southeast Asian interpretations of Islam. But the royal tour, which also includes official visits to Japan and China as well as holidays in non-Muslim Bali, and…

Purging the Past

Purging the PastFalse news is in the news. Preachers of alternative truth are everywhere. But just as insidious as news creationism is the trend to purge the memory of unpleasant facts, and to judge the past entirely in terms of the values of the present.  Singapore is a place not normally seen as squeamish about its colonial…

Latest Singapore Economic Roadmap Marks Time

Latest Singapore Economic Roadmap Marks TimeAnyone familiar with past economic Singapore plans for facing the future would recall how radical they could be. Then Finance Minister Goh Keng Swee in the early 1960s led with bold industrialisation plans centered on the Jurong area and on the late 1960s decision to allow foreign banks to set up the Asia Currency Unit…

Shock End to TPP from Trump

Shock End to TPP from TrumpBuy Korea, buy Japanese, buy Taiwanese, buy Australian, buy Singaporean, buy Thai, buy Vietnamese, even buy Chinese. Forget about Apple, McDonalds, Goldman Sachs, Citibank, Ford, Boeing – there’s always an alternative. That is the message that President Donald Trump has sent around the world and most of all to America’s supposed allies in Asia. The…
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