Hong Kong Rewards the Property Oligarchs

Hong Kong Rewards the Property OligarchsHong Kong is supposed to have an open economy and be governed by rational economic policies. The reality has progressively become very different, not least in the past two years. This has seen swingeing taxes on many real estate transactions in a supposed effort to halt rising housing prices, now about the highest in the…

No Conclusive End to Filipino Demonstrations

No Conclusive End to Filipino DemonstrationsAround this time of the year, a date that coincides with a massive revolt that ended the Marcos dictatorship in 1986, Filipinos tend to try to take stock of their country. On Sunday Feb. 25, there were demonstrations on either side of the capital Manila – one that wanted to hold steadfast to the gains…

Infosys and Tata Damaged by Boardroom Squabbles

Infosys and Tata Damaged by Boardroom SquabblesTwo of India’s most iconic and respected companies have been hit by damaging publicity caused when their previous chairmen objected to the way the businesses were being run by their successors. In both cases, the main accusations have been that the new managements were breaking established traditions and ethics. This has led to questions not…

Sea Change Awaits Trump in Thailand

Sea Change Awaits Trump in ThailandThree months after his election, a month after inauguration, Donald Trump has not publicly mentioned Thailand.  Yet in a looming foreign policy crisis over the South China Sea, the seeds of which the president partly inherited and has partly sowed, the kingdom is poised to play an outsized and oppositional role.  China has territorial disputes…

Philippines’ de Lima Arrest may Signal Wreckage of Pork Barrel Case

Philippines’ de Lima Arrest may Signal Wreckage of Pork Barrel CaseThere is rising concern in Manila that President Rodrigo Duterte is about to wreck the prosecution of one of the biggest scandals in the history of the Philippines, a country replete with huge scandals. On Feb. 15, the country’s solicitor general, Jose Calida, in effect nullified a guilty verdict by a local court in a…

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…

Two Cases Spell Out Demise of Law in Hong Kong

Two Cases Spell Out Demise of Law in Hong KongThe rule of law in Hong Kong, and the notion of its being an international city, appear in danger of fraying at the seams over two well-publicized legal cases. On Feb. 17, a judge convicted seven policemen, including a Chief Inspector and a Senior Inspector, of the vicious kicking and beating of a protestor during…

Caught Between Two Koreas, Malaysia Dithers on Kim Killing

Caught Between Two Koreas, Malaysia Dithers on Kim KillingSouth and North Korean diplomats are battling to persuade Malaysian authorities of diametrically different versions of the February 13 Kuala Lumpur International Airport assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s half-brother Kim Jong-nam, who had exiled himself out of a well-founded belief he could be murdered. One result may have been to stall the investigation,…

Long-Delayed Taiwan MTR Line Finally Opens

Long-Delayed Taiwan MTR Line Finally OpensAfter 20 years of political trench warfare and a flawed tender process, travelers arriving at Taiwan’s main gateway, the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, will finally get a gleaming new train to take them into Taipei.  The long-delayed Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) line linking Taoyuan and Taipei is finally completed and opened to the public on…

Trump Aides Cool Their Jets on Asia

Trump Aides Cool Their Jets on AsiaJapan and South Korea breathed easier following the recent visits from the new US Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, his first to East Asia in his new job.  They were pleased by what he had to say, namely that the Senkaku islands, disputed by China, fall under the protection of the 1960 Security Treaty that…
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