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…

Beijing Anoints Yet Another Hong Kong Chief Executive

Beijing Anoints Yet Another Hong Kong Chief ExecutiveThe contest for next Chief Executive for Hong Kong may be almost over before it has begun. Four candidates are at present in the frame but Beijing has now made it abundantly clear whom it favors – outgoing Chief Secretary for Administration, Carrie Lam. The others thus may simply be decoration.  The efforts that Lam…

Malaysia’s Najib Tilts to China

Malaysia’s Najib Tilts to ChinaChina’s gift for buying foreign political leaders has scored another triumph with the visit to Beijing of Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak, whose ingratiating tone of remarks in China at least give the impression that Malaysia’s foreign policy has veered farther away from its traditional informal alliance with the US.  In the end that may…

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Leung’s Days Numbered?

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Leung’s Days Numbered?The wheels seem to be falling off the administration of Hong Kong Chief executive Leung Chun-ying, who faces re-election early next year. With the end of the summer vacation and the new Legislative Council due to meet for the first time next week, pressure on Leung not to stand again is building up. It would…

Hong Kong Says No to Beijing

Hong Kong Says No to BeijingHong Kong has delivered its own version of populist politics, sending to the Legislative Council six young advocates of autonomy, if not downright independence. In the process voters rejected several established politicians from both the pro-democracy and pro-government camps. The result cannot have improved the humor of President Xi Jinping, then presiding over the G20…

The Naming of Seas is a Practical Matter

The Naming of Seas is a Practical MatterTwo centuries or more of western domination of much of the world has not only redrawn the global political maps but in many cases determined place names. If that seems arcane, it is not. It was western powers that named the South China Sea, for instance. It is a name that China is now using…

China’s ‘Thought Police’ Tighten Screws on Hong Kong

China’s ‘Thought Police’ Tighten Screws on Hong KongHong Kong’s four-yearly elections for its Legislative Council are just two weeks away, but instead of looking to a future of a more democratic system, citizens are witnessing strong-arm tactics to limit participation. Worse still, freedom of speech, long a cherished bedrock feature of Hong Kong, is under threat from Communist Party-generated authoritarianism dressed up…
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