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…

Thaksin in the Dock

Who is running Thailand? Even Thais wonder. Billionaire Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra easily won April's boycotted election, tearfully stepped aside a few days later, and then returned as caretaker leader after King Bhumibol Adulyadej gave a speech that led the courts to scrap the election results. Now a new election is scheduled for October 15.…

New Press Restrictions Put Singapore in Reverse

On August 4, the tiny island nation took a giant step backwards in its relations with the international media and its commitment to press freedom when the Ministry of Information, Communication and the Arts (MICA) slapped controls on foreign media companies publishing there, apparently in retaliation for an article published in the monthly Far Eastern…

Thai End Game?

Publisher, businessman and born-again democracy crusader Sondhi Limthongkul likes to think of himself as a martyr-in-waiting. The sworn enemy of embattled Thai leader Thaksin Shinawatra, Sondhi routinely tells his weekly talk show audience that he is willing to die in his effort to see his nemesis banished from politics; he claims men with assault rifles…

Where has the hope gone?

It is hard to recall the hope sometimes because the Philippines is such a mess. Birth rates are among the highest in the world, a third of the workforce is either unemployed or underemployed. The country is kept afloat financially by remittances from its chief export, Filipinos who labor as maids in Hong Kong, cooks…

A Dirty Job

Tony Kwok has more than a touch of the evangelist about him. On his favorite topic, the trim and soft-spoken former operations chief of Hong Kong's legendary graft- busting agency is fervent about the need for society to find the path to redemption from corruption, a sin he says harms people, retards growth and eats…