Pampered People

In 1991, when the Seria oilfield in Brunei Darusssalam produced its billionth barrel of crude oil, Brunei Shell Petroleum built a monument near Well No. 1, composed of an Islamic arch topped with the national crest and flanked by a pair of hands open to the sky in thanks. Thankful they should be. Brunei’s oil…

Linking Laos

Life is pretty languid in Savannakhet, a provincial capital in southern Laos. The city has no traffic lights and its dirt or gravel roads lead to green rice paddies or dense forest. It’s not a city to inspire great dreams—except at the Internet Learning Center not far from the mighty Mekong River. “I want to…

Stop the Press

Related Coverage: Thaksin in the Dock  The last time Thai publisher Sondhi Limthongkul was forced to close one of his prestige English-language publications, the Asia Times, was after the Asian Financial Crisis erupted in 1997, bankrupting companies all across the region. This time, Sondhi’s troubles are all his own. The Asia Sentinel has learned that…

Lost Son of China

One wet Sunday morning in the winter of 1958, a grandmother in a modest house in the north Taiwan town of Hsinchu called her teenage twin grandsons to her side and, her face covered in tears, showed them a crumpled photograph of a young woman. “This is your mother, she died so young,” she said.…

Stability Comes to the Killing Fields

For one of the world's poorest countries, Cambodia certainly seems to have a lot of Lexus SUVs these days. Bicycles, once rare, are becoming common, a sign that even the poorest are scraping together a few riel. Rickshaws, which less than a decade ago were as thick as flies around Phnom Penh's markets, are all…

Skewed Justice in Indonesia’s Tainted Courts

Manan’s critics have long claimed that his history and his association with the corrupt Golkar Party during the reign of deposed Indonesian dictator Suharto leave him singularly unsuited to push ahead with reforming the country’s notoriously corrupt judiciary – especially in light of  the fact that President Bambang Susilo Yudhoyono has made cleaning up corruption…

Going for the Girls?

Slouched in a black armchair at a rancorous Bangkok press briefing, John Mark Karr looks feeble and spineless. The 41-year-old American wears pleated belt-less khakis pulled up nearly to his rib cage and a tucked-in Aqua-blue golf shirt. Though reporters are shouting questions from a few feet away, he says little. He wants to talk…

A Lobbyist Comes to Call

The curious and the sentimental rushed to Hong Kong in the spring of 1997 for a last look at the fabled free port before the British lowered the Union Jack and turned over control to China. But why did hardboiled, former anti-communist action-movie producer Jack Abramoff come? Abramoff, then just beginning his ascent as a…

Goodbye, Mr. Chen?

You know a politician is in trouble when he goes public with the news that his wife thought of divorcing him recently in hopes of getting some sympathy—and the tactic backfires. Taiwan’s President Chen Shui-bian is in a hole, and he just keeps digging deeper. A series of scandals involving his wife, son-in-law and daughter…

Undoing the Damage

With an estimated 94 percent its immense coral reef system in decline, Indonesia is beginning to grapple with what may be an impossible task: reversing what a government agency calls the “precipitous decline” of some of the richest fishing grounds in the world. The blue-ribbon National Committee on Marine Conservation sometime in September is expected…