China’s Chip Shot into Space

China’s successful destruction of an outer-space target on 11 January made great headlines and generated predictably outraged comment from the US and others. But from a technological standpoint how impressive was the interception and just what was China trying to achieve? It was only an obsolete seven-year old weather satellite and the country’s space program…

London Calling

With a British court’s vindication of a prominent English neurologist and expert on epilepsy, Singapore’s ruling Lee family has discovered that other countries don’t share the island republic’s – or the Lee family’s – idea of what is legal and proper. In a written decision adjudicated in December and handed down on January 12 (decision…

India Strengthens Military Ties with Burma

Indian security forces, frustrated by cross-border raids by armed rebels in the remote northeast, are looking for increased military ties with Burma and possible joint operations to flush out separatist guerrillas. A steady parade of senior officials and high-ranking military officers has trooped to Rangoon in recent months to offer military equipment, training and cooperation…

Malaysian murder a tale of love gone wrong

A well-placed Malaysian political analyst facing charges of conspiring to murder a young Mongolian woman has admitted to the High Court in Kuala Lumpur that he was having an affair with the victim and giving her large sums of money.  Abdul Razak Baginda, 46, carried on a romance with Altantuya Shaariibuu, 28, from the end…

Thailand’s Singapore Problem

After ousting Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in a coup, the military-appointed leaders here have tried in vain to explain "Thai-style democracy" to the world. In the past week, it has gotten a bit more difficult as the country has used censorship and bluster to bite back at Singapore for allowing Thaksin into the city state…

Japan lets more than just interest rates stagnate

Just three days after the East Asia summit ended in Cebu, Japan struck another blow against the cooperation that Asian leaders talk so much about but practice so little. By leaning on the Bank of Japan to keep it from raising interest rates,  the new Prime Minister Shintaro Abe shot himself in the foot as…

Malaysian Justice is a Waiting Game

Malaysia's shambolic judicial system, in which both criminal and civil cases can take years to be decided, is under the spotlight again, this time over a lengthy delay in the spectacular murder trial involving a prominent Malaysian political figure accused of the gruesome murder of his Mongolian mistress. The trial of 46-year-old political analyst Abdul…

Hu Jintao Gambles on the West

For Chinese President and Communist Party Chairman Hu Jintao, the run rises in the west. Now in the last 12 months of his first five year term as China’s boss, he is busy elevating loyalists from his own Communist Party factions to top positions, many of them with long service in the outlying western regions…

China’s Growing Deep-Sea Ambitions

After years of concern on the part of the US and its regional allies, is China upping its game to develop a powerful new blue-water navy? On December 27 Chinese leader Hu Jintao told a meeting of delegates to a Communist Party meeting of the People's Liberation Army Navy that "The navy force should be…

Xinjiang Deaths Raise Troubling Questions

In March 2003, three tense Chinese officials called the three of us Americans and a Canadian teaching English at a private boarding school in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang province. The three were senior administrators at the school, but in our six months working there we had never met them, nor any other administrators for…