A Second Chance in Thailand

In post-coup Thailand, where the military on Sunday appointed a former army chief, 63-year old General Surayud Chulanont, as prime minister, the major issues are how civil liberties will fare, how the politicians will behave, and how the constitution will be changed in the year or so before elections have been promised. That doesn’t mean…

Malaysia’s political money trail

In Malaysia’s squabble for primacy between Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and former premier Mahathir Mohamad, money politics is playing an increasingly crucial role. The extent to which one well-heeled political faction can weather the other's onslaught until the next leadership election in the United Malays National Organisation, will weigh heavily on ready access to…

The East Is Praying

It’s 11 am on a Sunday morning and the church is rocking. Built in 2003, the 8,400-square-meter, ark-shaped, four-story house of worship can hold up to 2,000 believers and while about half as many are in the main worship hall, their religious fervor seems about to burst. A guitar, drum and keyboard trio is playing…

1975: The Day I Left Saigon

I started looking for something familiar from the time we touched down at Ho Chi Minh City’s Tansonhut Airport on an evening flight from Danang. It had been nearly 31 years since I left on April 29, 1975, the day before Saigon fell. Nobody calls it Ho Chi Minh City, except for a few proper…

The Coup and the Palace Endgame

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra overreached himself in trying to use the ballot box and his rural vote to neutralize both King Bhumibol Adulyadej and the Bangkok elite. It may make the king feel good that he has again presided from a distance over an action which is being seen by many as a semi-divine intervention,…

Throwing the Bums Out

 Related content: The King Never Smiles: Book Excerpt Revival, Renewal and Reinvention: The Complex Life of Thailand’s Monarch Royal Maneuvers   Tanks on the main boulevards of a sultry capital city. The prime minister toppled while traveling abroad. Politicians racing to the airport to avoid being rounded up by the military. Thailand is not a banana…

Legal Warfare

Like Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah before his troops captured two Israeli soldiers and turned Lebanon into a conflagration, Far Eastern Economic Review editor Hugo Restall probably had no idea what he was starting when he interviewed often-sued and perpetually beleaguered Singapore opposition leader Chee Soon Juan in the Far Eastern Economic Review. The result was…

A Lion City Primer

Another in our multipart series on Singapore in conjunction with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund meetings in Singapore. The series examines Singapore's social and political structure, its relationship with the press, its concerns about regional security and other issues. Related Stories: Part 1-Center Stage, Part 2-Economy, Part 3-Security Delegates, Welcome to Singapore, host…

Singapore: Inside the Lion City, Part 3

Another in our multipart series on Singapore in conjunction with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund meetings in Singapore. The series examines Singapore's social and political structure, its relationship with the press, its concerns about regional security and other issues. Related Stories: Part 1-Center Stage, Part 2-Inside the Numbers, Primer Delegates to the IMF/World…

The King Never Smiles: Book Excerpt

Handley reported from Bangkok for many years for the Far Eastern Economic Review. The chapter below describes the bloody 1992 attempts to suppress dissent and the king’s largely unwritten role, which was both different and more ominous than what the public perceived. Asia Sentinel is grateful to Yale University Press for permission to publish this…