Washington Zig-Zags in the South China Sea

Washington Zig-Zags in the South China SeaThe latest American assertion of freedom-of-navigation rights in the South China Sea may have reassured some that new bonhomie between presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping won’t lead to abandonment of the region. But questions remain. On May 24, the guided missile destroyer USS Dewey passed within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef, a land…

Politics Drives an Islamic Agenda in Malaysia

Politics Drives an Islamic Agenda in MalaysiaWhen Malaysia’s Dewan Rakyat, or parliament reconvenes on July 24, its most controversial order of business is a measure that could send the country down the road towards an Islamic dictatorship, a bill that would allow for the imposition of shariah law in the rural eastern state of Kelantan. But critics say it could spread…

Dangerous Time for Cambodia –Polls on June 4

Dangerous Time for Cambodia –Polls on June 4The next year will be a crucial time in Cambodian politics, with two elections coming up this Sunday and in July 2018. Sunday’s seem the less important, but will be closely watched by the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP), which has been bleeding consensus in the past few years, and the Cambodia National Rescue Party…

Viet Premier Finds “Unexpectedly Good Dynamics” at White House

Viet Premier Finds “Unexpectedly Good Dynamics” at White HouseThere were lots of smiles as US President Donald Trump and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc ended their White House meeting on May 31. An Asia Sentinel source who polled aides to both leaders said "the dynamics were unexpectedly good...There were no thorny issues and Trump made a positive impression on the Vietnamese." The…

Duterte’s Martial Law Edict Surprises Philippine Army

Duterte’s Martial Law Edict Surprises Philippine ArmyWhat made President Rodrigo Duterte’s first salvo of martial law in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao unusual was that it caught the military by surprise.  Time and again since he was elected a year ago, Duterte has spewed the dreaded words “martial law” as casually as he would chew gum. As the country’s commander-in-chief,…

For Malaysians, What’s In a Handshake?

For Malaysians, What’s In a Handshake?The recent ‘gripping’ world news of the handshake between Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron during the former’s maiden visit to Europe as president was fraught with symbolism – or so we were told.  There has been a certain amount of meaningful handshaking in Malaysia as well that is equally fraught with symbolism. Of that we…

The Harm Before The South China Sea Storm

The Harm Before The South China Sea StormJames Borton is the editor of the recently-published Islands and Rocks in the South China Sea: Post-Hague Ruling., published in April by Xlibris. He supplied this portion of the preface to the book to Asia Sentinel. Ocean governance remains a critical issue in the contested South China Sea attributed to the continued territorial disputes, fishing…

Modi’s Three-Year Report Card

Modi’s Three-Year Report CardThe third anniversary of Narendra Modi being sworn in as prime minister was celebrated on May 26 with all the bombast that has come to characterize a nationalist administration built around the image of one man, backed by his chief henchman, Amit Shah, the arch Hindu-nationalist president of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party. Modi went to…

Vietnam’s Premier Phuc Enters the US Cobra Den

Vietnam’s Premier Phuc Enters the US Cobra DenFor Vietnam, Donald Trump's election as US President ushered in nervous times. Though the Hanoi regime still insists that Vietnam aims to be friends with all and to forge alliances with none, in fact it has come to regard the United States as its best bet against an expansionist China. During the Obama years, Washington…

Thailand’s Monarch Seeks a Return to the Kingdom of Siam

Thailand’s Monarch Seeks a Return to the Kingdom of SiamThailand, once known as the Land of Smiles, is a country today seemingly trapped in a perpetual nightmare, headed by a half-mad king determined to return the country to the era before Pradjadhipok, or Rama VII, the seventh king of the House of Chakri and the last absolute monarch of the country after the military…