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…

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…

Big Tests for Modi’s BJP in State Assembly Polls

Big Tests for Modi’s BJP in State Assembly PollsState assembly elections now in progress in five states will indicate how successful India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been in meeting the aspirations of electors who voted him into power with a landslide victory three years ago to change the way India had been run by ineffective national governments. Uttar Pradesh is the biggest…

Jakarta Election seen as ‘Battle for Country’s Soul’

Jakarta Election seen as ‘Battle for Country’s Soul’This Wednesday, February 15, Indonesia holds simultaneous local elections involving 101 provinces, districts and municipalities throughout the archipelago. The polls are an important mid-term read on the nation’s mood under President Joko Widodo ahead of 2019 national elections, but the real battle is along the contentious religious lines in Jakarta’s governor’s election. Some are calling…

Trump’s “Extreme Vetting” for Muslims: Najib Exempt?

Trump’s “Extreme Vetting” for Muslims: Najib Exempt?At 2:30 a.m. one day in mid-November, after the election of Donald J. Trump to the presidency of the United States, the telephone rang in the official residence of Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia. Najib’s wife Rosmah Mansor answered the telephone. On the other end was businessman Syed Azman of Weststar Group, a sprawling…

Gambling on Chinese Investment in Laos

Gambling on Chinese Investment in LaosWith its massive cupolas, one shaped like a green crown and the other painted bright gold, Kings Romans Casino does not blend in with the forests of rural Southeast Asia, but the establishment is the heart of the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone (GT-SEZ), a controversial gambling hub in northern Laos. The area has mostly…

Trouble in the Air

Trouble in the AirThis winter, the air quality in Delhi plummeted so low – with record levels of the tiniest and the deadliest particles that can enter the lungs and other organs – that even the National Capital Territory’s chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, was forced to admit that the metropolis had turned into a “toxic gas chamber”. The city’s…
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