The Mess in the Middle East

The Mess in the Middle EastThe “Great Game” being played in the Middle East with Syria and Iraq as the center rings bears a superficial similarity to the power political maneuverings of the dominant European states in their African and Asian periphery during the 19th century. There is a somewhat closer resemblance to the Spanish civil war in the mix…

Beijing Serves Up Yet another Chief Executive for Hong Kong

Beijing Serves Up Yet another Chief Executive for Hong KongThe election charade for Hong Kong’s next Chief Executive has entered its final week with the two candidates destined to be defeated still pretending that this is a real fight.  In practice, the two are simply trying to maintain and enhance their images with the public rather than expecting they can seriously challenge Beijing’s dictate…

Philippines’ Duterte Buckles to China

Philippines’ Duterte Buckles to ChinaA submerged extinct volcanic ridge at least 3,000 meters underwater that is 350 km. east of the Philippines’ coast appears likely to be the next flashpoint between Manila and Beijing, at least partly because the Duterte administration is at sea over strategy. On March 9, Delfin Lorenzana, the Philippines Defense Secretary, told reporters that satellite…

Hardline Hindu priest becomes UP chief minister

Hardline Hindu priest becomes UP chief ministerThe Bharatiya Janata Party has unveiled what could turn out to be its vision of the future leadership for a Hindu-nationalist India with the March 9 appointment of a hard-line Hindu priest as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. He will be backed up by two deputy chief ministers, one from one of the lower…

Singapore Blogger Bends Under Threat of Huge Fine, Jail Term

Singapore Blogger Bends Under Threat of Huge Fine, Jail TermUPDATE: Han Hui Hui, a 24-year-old Singapore dissident, has buckled under to a threat of a S$600,000 fine and jp to 18 years in prison for "scandalizing" the Singapore courts and removed a series of blogs and a Facebook entry from the Internet and apologized to the court for posting them. Singapore still takes no…

China Braces for ISIS impact

China Braces for ISIS impactIn Chinese President Xi Jinping’s call for building a “great wall of iron” to shield his country against a possible infiltration by the Islamic State, or ISIS, lies China’s acknowledgement that it is as much vulnerable to this threat as any other country. That is forcing a clear change in Beijing’s traditional security concepts and…

Korean Democracy: Alive and Well

Korean Democracy: Alive and WellSerious concerns have been raised about the erosion of democracy in Korea under two successive conservative governments and, in particular, the current Park Geun-hye administration, which has just been booted from office. The critics have cited party infighting, history textbook controversy, Park’s uncommunicative leadership style, passage of an anti-terror law, a clampdown on street protest,…

Massive Scandal Swamps Indonesia’s Legislature

Massive Scandal Swamps Indonesia’s LegislatureThe Indonesian political sphere has been rocked by what has been called the biggest scandal ever to engulf the House of Representatives, with officials embezzling Rp2.3 trillion (US$171.9 million) from a program to supply the public with smart identity cards. On March 9 the Jakarta Corruption Court put two high-ranking former Home Affairs Ministry officials,…

Xenophobia Flourishes in Beijing

Xenophobia Flourishes in BeijingThe recent meeting of China’s National People’s Congress has thrown up a whole number of speeches preaching nationalism and anti-foreign sentiments. These are not policy – yet. But they indicate the direction in which China is continuing to move, regardless of its Trump-era claim to be a guardian of globalisation against trade barriers and economic…

US Justice Department Probe of 1MDB in Danger?

US Justice Department Probe of 1MDB in Danger?There is concern in Kuala Lumpur that the United States Justice Department’s investigation into the state-owned 1Malaysia Development Bhd., which is ensnared in one of the world’s biggest financial scandals, could be stymied in the wake of the March 10 firing by President Donald Trump of the country’s 46 US attorneys. The Trump administration announced…
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