Thailand’s Monarch Seeks to Return to the Kingdom of Siam

Thailand’s Monarch Seeks to Return to the Kingdom of SiamThailand, once known as the Land of Smiles, is a country today seemingly trapped in a perpetual nightmare, headed by a half-mad king determined to return the country to the era before Pradjadhipok, or Rama VII, the seventh king of the House of Chakri and the last absolute monarch of the country after the military…

Philippines’ Duterte Raises Hackles with Martial Law

Philippines’ Duterte Raises Hackles with Martial LawIn a move that to critics called up the bad old days of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, Philippine President Rodrigo has placed the southern island of Mindanao under martial law, which allows the president to call out the armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion. Duterte made the decision on…

President Trump’s Flying Circus

President Trump’s Flying CircusPresident Donald Trump’s ability to lose friends and influence for America seems endless. The once US-led Trans Pacific Partnership involving countries on both sides of that ocean may effectively be dead following the US withdrawal in January from the group it had struggled so hard to build. But in a gesture of what amounts to…

Vietnam: Steady as She Goes

Vietnam: Steady as She GoesNormally, the eviction of a member from the Politburo of a ruling Communist Party would be a sign of internal friction and potential political instability. In the case of Vietnam, with its unparalleled history of collective leadership such an event was barely thinkable, especially just a year after the reshuffle of top posts at the…

Malaysia Goes After Influential Opposition News Portal

Malaysia Goes After Influential Opposition News PortalThe Malaysian government, having gone after social media platforms and a long list of other social critics, is now turning its attention to Malaysiakini, the most influential of the country’s independent news portals, and increasing its detention of social activists. Amnesty International and Article 19, two international rights organizations, have condemned the government’s decision to…

The Izumo Deployment: Japan’s Hat In the Ring

The Izumo Deployment: Japan’s Hat In the RingThe maiden deployment of Japan’s largest post-WWII warship, the JS Izumo to a South China Sea cruise at a time when the US and China in particular are contesting for political and military primacy in the region has set tongues wagging in many parts of the world, particularly in Beijing.  It is Japan’s biggest foray…

Malaysia Squeezes Social Media Administrators

Malaysia Squeezes Social Media AdministratorsWith national elections looming, perhaps as early as August or September, the Malaysian government is warning its legions of myriad social media critics to knock off tweeting or posting content the government deems “inappropriate.” The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission has promulgated a new “advisory for group admins” that critics say is designed to coerce…

Court Jails Jakarta Governor on (Political) Blasphemy Charge

Court  Jails Jakarta Governor on (Political) Blasphemy ChargeDespite prosecutors recommending probation on a lesser charge,  a five-judge panel has sentenced Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja “Ahok” Purnama to two years in prison for blasphemy.  The decision, coming just weeks after Ahok lost a bid for reelection in a religiously charged race, has shaken Indonesia’s reputation as a moderate Muslim nation. Ahok, as the…

The UK’s May, India’s Modi Go for “Strong and Stable”

The UK’s May, India’s Modi Go for “Strong and Stable”Any political leader must envy Theresa May, Britain’s prime minister, who has already virtually won the UK’s general election, even though it doesn’t take place for another month, without promising anything more than “strong and stable government.” She has avoided being questioned by the media and by critical voters, and has not explained how she…

Trump’s Meddling in Asia

Trump’s Meddling in AsiaUnited States President Donald Trump’s focus on North Korea is playing into Chinese hands and, by default, further weakening the US position in a Southeast Asia increasingly subject to Chinese carrots and sticks. Trump’s “war” on the North makes little sense either at a time when the South seems about to elect as president Moon…
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