Dassault Coup to Make Jets in France, Not India

Dassault Coup to Make Jets in France, Not IndiaNarendra Modi has taken India’s defense industry by surprise with a totally unexpected decision to buy 36 Rafale fighter jet aircraft, probably costing around US$4.5 billion, from Dassault Aviation in a deal that is being negotiated directly between the Indian and French governments. Modi is on an official visit to France. He said after holding…

Philippines Faces a Lame Duck Political Year

Philippines Faces a Lame Duck Political YearPolitics in the Philippines is known for being chaotic, a mixture of bare-knuckle democracy, deep corruption, theatrics–-by real movie actors in some cases – and the country’s own dramatic ethos. There is often hope that things will settle down but they rarely do for long. Today, despite four years of economic growth, political stability and…

Tame TV, Malaysian-Style, Goes Easy on Najib

Tame TV, Malaysian-Style, Goes Easy on NajibMalaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak went onto Kuala Lumpur-based TV3, wholly owned by the political party he heads, to deny to presenter Hamdan Ahmir that he had ever met the late Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaariibuu, murdered by two of his bodyguards in 2006. The interview, aired on April 9 but taped rather than live apparently…

Japan’s Disguised Aircraft Carriers

Japan’s Disguised Aircraft CarriersJapan commissioned the 24,000-ton Izumo last month. the largest warship to join the navy since the end of World War II. To hear Beijing, it was the second coming of the Imperial Navy and ipso facto evidence that the country, under its conservative premier Shinzo Abe, is hell-bent on “remilitarization” By coincidence the commissioning came…

AIIB to Help Fill Infrastructure Finance Gap

AIIB to Help Fill Infrastructure Finance GapThe China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank will serve to ease the looming liquidity drought in infrastructure financing. As the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank move toward concessional lending and knowledge sharing with low income countries, the AIIB is left with an important niche to fill. Developing necessary infrastructure is a vital strategy if…

Bangladesh to Hang Another Islamist Leader

Bangladesh to Hang Another Islamist LeaderIn the middle of bitter turmoil, with Bangladesh’s two warring dowager politicians again at each other’s throats, the country is ready to hang another war criminal left over from the havoc of the 1971 civil war against Pakistan. That was 44 years ago, perhaps setting a record for justice denied. Muhammad Kamaruzzaman, a journalist turned…

Act East: Nehru’s Lesson for Modi

Act East: Nehru’s Lesson for ModiThe torrent of praise and criticism directed at Lee Kuan Yew since his death the other week highlights a paradox: How could one man with a micro-state as his base leave such a decisive imprint on the whole of today’s Asia? This paradox is sharpened even further when one considers that Lee was deeply influenced…

A Draconian Security Act Returns in Malaysia

A Draconian Security Act Returns in MalaysiaThe Malaysian government has passed an anti-terrorism bill reminiscent of the notorious Internal Security Act that the country discarded in 2012, earning the government renewed condemnation from international civil rights groups and journalism associations.  The passage comes at a time when the country is also increasingly using its 1948 Sedition Act – which Prime Minister…

‘Proxy Wars’ Threaten Indonesia, Say Generals

‘Proxy Wars’ Threaten Indonesia, Say GeneralsSince 2014, a new ideology has been rising in Indonesia that might be called “fear of foreign proxies” and that emphasizes a threat to Indonesia from proxy wars. According to Indonesian Army chief of staff General Gatot Nurmantyo, the "proxies" include shadowy organizations that defy identification but nonetheless constitute an unspecified but growing threat –small countries,…

Thai Junta Goes on a Teaching Expedition

Thai Junta Goes on a Teaching ExpeditionThailand’s government leaders, believing they can convince foreign diplomats of the attractiveness of its replacement of martial law with seemingly even more restrictive provisions, says they will seek to explain the measure to them. Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam told local reporters Sunday that he would be involved personally in briefing the foreign legations and…