Former President Obama Calls for Tolerance in Indonesia

Former President Obama Calls for Tolerance in IndonesiaIn a speech delivered Saturday in Jakarta, the former US President Barack Obama reminded Indonesians – and indeed the entire world – of a time, not long ago, when Americans had a president. The speech Obama delivered to a conference of the Indonesian diaspora in Jakarta laid out, just between the lines, a stunning rebuke…

Indonesia’s Generals Still a Potent Political Force

Indonesia’s Generals Still a Potent Political ForceAlthough the fall of Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who lost the April gubernatorial election and was subsequently jailed for blasphemy, has been laid to the rising power of Islamic hardliners, it fits into a bigger picture. It appears to be a long-standing feud between former military strongman Prabowo Subianto and a secular faction of…

The Tragedy of Marawi for a Chastened Duterte

The Tragedy of Marawi for a Chastened DuterteThe destruction of the Islamic city of Marawi has tragically confounded the aspirations of President Rodrigo Duterte, the small-town mayor who became the Philippine President and has discovered that his ambitions outweighed his capabilities. Based on his experience as the mayor of Davao City, where he had a friendly relationship with the region’s Muslims, Duterte…

Vestiges of a Friendship Between North Korea and Cambodia

Vestiges of a Friendship Between North Korea and CambodiaWith its white walls shimmering under the tropical sun and its yellow roof pointing towards the sky, the Angkor Panorama Museum could be an awkward shopping mall stranded on the outskirts of Siem Reap, the provincial city on Tonle Sap, 320 km from the capital Phnom Penh. Instead, it is a brick-and-mortar testament to the…

An Ageing, Worried Hong Kong Marks 20 Years Out of UK’s Clutches

An Ageing, Worried Hong Kong Marks 20 Years Out of UK’s ClutchesTwenty years on from the end of British colonial rule of Hong Kong, it would be hard to argue that the territory’s relative position in the world has improved. Indeed, the optimism felt at the time of the handover that the city could be beacon of freedom, prosperity and democracy in the region and the…

Japanese Firm Got Almost a Free Indonesian Bank

Japanese Firm Got Almost a Free Indonesian BankA scandal-plagued Indonesian bank, now in the hands of a controversial Japanese company, was sold to its new owners for virtually nothing, adding another layer of intrigue to the long saga of what was once the notorious Bank Century.  It is now doing business as PT Bank J Trust Indonesia TBK.  The result, since Century's…

Difficult Trek on Silk Road in Afghanistan

Difficult Trek on Silk Road in AfghanistanWithout a durable peace in Afghanistan, gloomy shadows continue to loom over China’s ambitious Silk Road initiative. The Chinese are quite preoccupied with the issue and are investing time and money in the effort to solve the Afghan puzzle. That is why China’s political involvement as well as a soft military presence in Afghanistan have…

Trump, Modi bond and boost US-India partnership

Trump, Modi bond and boost US-India partnershipDonald Trump and Narendra Modi had a remarkably successful afternoon and evening at the White House yesterday, bonding and even hugging in an easy way, and avoiding potential clashes on issues such as visas and climate change that might have disturbed the harmony of the Indian Prime Minister’s first meeting with the US President. Together…

Book Review: Islands and Rocks in the South China Sea: Post-Hague Ruling

Book Review: Islands and Rocks in the South China Sea: Post-Hague RulingThe 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration against China on Beijing’s maritime claims to almost the entire South China Sea should have been a seminal event in east Asian history. Here was an international body rejecting China’s “historic” claims to almost the whole sea and supporting the Exclusive Economic Zone claims of Vietnam,…

Reducing Tensions Over THAAD

Reducing Tensions Over THAADThe deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system in South Korea has prompted strong opposition from China and has become a new and significant destabilizing factor on the Korean Peninsula and for the security of the region. Managing and resolving the issue is not only important to improving and stabilizing the…