Malaysia’s Najib Gets a White House Pass

Malaysia’s Najib Gets a White House PassIn asking Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to the White House, US President Donald Trump has extended an invitation to arguably Southeast Asia’s biggest crook among the region’s current leaders and one who has jailed or threatened the country’s opposition into near irrelevance. The White House didn’t answer a request for comment. But in a…

The Singaporization of Hong Kong’s Judiciary

The Singaporization of Hong Kong’s JudiciaryHow independent of its government is the judicial system of Hong Kong? The question has been brought into stark relief by two decisions last week by its Court of Appeal handing out serious jail terms to young activists and student leaders who had earlier been sentenced to (and served) community service for those roles in…

South Korean Rightists Want Atomic Weapons to Match the North

South Korean Rightists Want Atomic Weapons to Match the NorthSouth Koreans have almost unanimously shrugged off the threat of a holocaust they are sure is not about to happen in the confrontation between the United States and North Korea while rightists are using the crisis to demand that the South go nuclear-- matching the North’s nuclear weapons arsenal with as many or more. Kim…

China’s Moneybag Friends at Harvard University

China’s Moneybag Friends at Harvard UniversityThe level and sources of funding from China-linked tycoons and institutions for Harvard University is opaque and prodigious, and calls into question just how the dons at the US’s most prestigious educational institution handle the influence and remain unfettered academically and intellectually. Harvard is not unique in being a soft but influential voice on China…

US’s Tillerson Stirs up The South China Sea

US’s Tillerson Stirs up The South China SeaUnited States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to Southeast Asia has exposed how the US’s current obsession with North Korea is undermining more important long-term interests. The only good thing one could say about the visit, which took in the Philippines – for ASEAN’s 50th anniversary – Thailand and Malaysia was that his words…

The Mystery Behind Singapore’s Expulsion of a Chinese-American Academic

The Mystery Behind Singapore’s Expulsion of a Chinese-American AcademicThe Singapore government’s decision to expel a high-ranking Chinese-American academic on the grounds of working for an unnamed foreign power has raised questions for which answers might not be obvious. It also raised an issue so sensitive that it is seldom openly discussed. The individual was Huang Jin, a former Brookings Institution Fellow and head…

India-China Rivalry Deepens over Border Clash

India-China Rivalry Deepens over Border ClashAfter almost seven weeks into tension, the Indo-China rivalry on the Sikkim/Doklam region, in which both countries are accusing the other of violating their borders, has refused to die out, exposing the delicate nature of their bilateral relations despite the otherwise strong bilateral trade worth billions of dollars. Whatis significant is that because of the…

Singapore Family Feud Exposes Farce of Country’s Judicial Independence

Singapore Family Feud Exposes Farce of Country’s Judicial IndependenceThe rift within the Lee family over what to do with the grand colonial-style home of Lee Kuan Yew, the patriarch who died in March 2015 at 92, has further exposed the contradictions inherent in Singapore’s system between the appearance of rule of law via an independent judiciary and the perceptions of so many onlookers…

Astonishing North Korea Policy Change From Tillerson

Astonishing North Korea Policy Change From TillersonThere are times when the utter confusion apparent in Donald Trump’s White House is a cause for relief. One such seems to be the case of North Korea. If one listens to Trump himself one comes away with two possible directions for US policy following the North’s latest testing of long range rockets which could…

French Justice Catching up With Malaysians in Sub Scandal?

French Justice Catching up With Malaysians in Sub Scandal?Although Abdul Razak Baginda, the central figure in what was previously Malaysia’s most notorious scandal, has been charged with “active and passive complicity in corruption” by French prosecutors, according to Agence France Press on Aug. 1, it is unlikely that they are going to catch up with him anytime soon. Razak remains in Malaysia, a…