The Rohingya: Where They Came From

The Rohingya: Where They Came FromThe crisis that has enveloped Myanmar’s luckless Rohingya has been years in the making. They are hardly interlopers, with some of them having settled in Arakan Province, also known as Rakhine, on Myanmar’s west coast since at least the 15th century. But as with so many modern-day conflicts, much of today’s tensions stem from colonial…

BOOM! Indonesia Blows Up 41 Foreign Fishing Boats

BOOM! Indonesia Blows Up 41 Foreign Fishing BoatsIndonesian President Joko Widodo’s order to blow up 41 illegal foreign fishing vessels this week pretty much redraws the country’s boundaries as far as illegal fishing is concerned, and serves notice to the region that he means business. The boats were sent to the bottom on Thursday, May 21, and included five from Vietnam, two…

China Ignores an Important SEA Conference

China Ignores an Important SEA ConferenceOne of the most important conferences in Southeast Asia -- the Shangri-La Dialogue -- will take place at the end of May in Singapore without what should be its most important participant – China. Representatives of 15 nations plus the European Union will be there.  China won’t be. Given that topics to be discussed include…

Southeast Asia Braces for El Niño Drought, Crop Losses

Southeast Asia Braces for El Niño Drought, Crop LossesFilipino officials have implemented a program to provide a kilo of rice to rice farmers’ families for every 10 rat tails turned in to the government, an attempt to both minimize crop losses and provide food at a time when El Niño, the recurrent weather phenomenon that cyclically disrupts production, is beginning to tighten its…

Thailand Coup Turns 1, Brass Stay Put

Thailand Coup Turns 1, Brass Stay PutThailand will mark a bleak anniversary on Friday, May 22, the date in 2014 that Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha brought down a democratically elected government for good. In the intervening year, the military has tightened its grip on Thailand and appears to have little intention of loosening it. The country is likely to remain in the…

Former PM Mahathir in the Hunt for Najib’s Head

Former PM Mahathir in the Hunt for Najib’s  HeadThe resignation by Malaysia’s parliamentary speaker Amin Mulia, followed almost immediately by its withdrawal, is nonetheless an indication that unprecedented pressure is growing on Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak for an accounting on what appears to be disastrous mismanagement of a state investment fund and the eight-year-old mystery of the murdered Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaariibuu.…

Leading Columnists Purged at Hong Kong’s Paper of Record

Leading Columnists Purged at Hong Kong’s Paper of RecordThe South China Morning Post, one of the region’s most influential newspapers, appears to be axing its star columnists, three of whom were persistent critics of the Hong Kong government and held views on Asia which were sometimes sympathetic to China’s neighbors. The four are Philip Bowring*, Steve Vines, Kevin Rafferty and Frank Ching –…

The Philippines’ Jojo Binay Keeps Rolling

The Philippines’ Jojo Binay Keeps RollingLast week, the Philippine Court of Appeals froze 242 bank accounts associated with the family and political associates of Vice President Jejomar Binay, the putative leading candidate for the presidency in 2016.  The accounts reportedly hold PHP600 million (U$13.48 million).  That isn’t all. The country’s anti-money laundering council believes the Binays have as much as…

Narendra Modi in China

Narendra Modi in ChinaMake in India has been the main slogan drummed out by Narendra Modi and his ministers and bureaucrats for many months, but it is surely time for that to be turned around into a reality by India’s prime minister adopting a personal slogan to Make Things Happen. There are few significant results from the Make…

ASEAN’s Disgraceful Inaction on Rohingya Refugees

ASEAN’s Disgraceful Inaction on Rohingya RefugeesThis year, the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations is expected to make the ASEAN Economic Community a reality. It is envisioned as a single common market and production base that leads to the freer flow of goods, services, investment capital and skilled labor in the region, tying the member countries into a closely shared…