New Contest Coming for Afghan Resources

New Contest Coming for Afghan ResourcesAlthough the debate  on Afghanistan's post-2014 future centers on the question of emphasis on the question of negotiating with the Taliban, or on the possible strength of the residual force the US is planning to leave, the economic dimension of Afghanistan’s future seems out of the picture. The issue is not merely who would rule Afghanistan…

Political Temperature Cools in Bangkok

Political Temperature Cools in BangkokWith Bangkok having calmed down in the run-up to the 86th birthday of Thailand’s ailing King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the antagonists are catching their breath before the tear gas, rocks and rubber bullets may again begin to fly. It could be time to count the winners and losers, at least while a temporary truce reigns between…

Vietnam: New Constitution Offers Little Hope for Change

Vietnam: New Constitution Offers Little Hope for ChangeVietnam’s National Assembly last week ratified a new constitution, but there is little cause for celebration because the political system that permitted the constitutional abuses remains unchanged. That is a disappointment. The government solicited comments from the public, reportedly receiving millions of responses demanding change. The lawmakers ignored a petition from 72 scholars and intellectuals…

Thaksin’s Enduring Appeal

Thaksin’s Enduring AppealIt would be hard to imagine another country anywhere that would see thousands of well-educated and seemingly middle-class people march to the streets demanding not more but less democracy. But the current protests in Thailand have that curious upside-down feel to them, as if the natural constituents of democracy in most countries  -- the…

China Tries to Head off Hong Kong Democracy

China Tries to Head off Hong Kong DemocracyTwenty years after stalling universal suffrage for Hong Kong to elect its chief executive and legislators – promised in the territory’s mini constitution called the Basic Law, Beijing is now bent on hijacking the process of chief executive selection for 2017. Patriotism – equated as it is with allegiance to Communist Party dictatorship, has been…

Malaysia’s UMNO Readies for its AGM

Malaysia’s UMNO Readies for its AGMMalaysia’s United Malays National Organization's five-day annual general assembly opens today in the party’s sumptuous headquarters in Kuala Lumpur. It is reasonable to expect five days of rhetoric reasserting ethnic Malay ownership of the country and a demand that all ethnic minorities, especially the Chinese, recognize that they are there as guests or bloody well…

Malaysia’s Pakatan Rakyat Loses its Luster

Malaysia’s Pakatan Rakyat Loses its LusterThe last general election is almost six months behind us, in which the narratives of Malaysian politics have been defined. The Pakatan Rakyat may have won the popular vote, leading some to believe that the opposition coalition is owed a moral mandate. However under a "first past the post" electoral system, the game is about…

Power in Malaysia Should be Duty, Not a Prize

Power in Malaysia Should be Duty, Not a PrizeWe are pleased to reprint this speech by former Malaysian Finance Minister Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah,  one of the country’s architects of its economic framework. Razaleigh, still a member of the United Malays National Organization, has increasingly issued calls to clean up the party. Malaysia’s post-colonial history began with optimism and a grand hope in 1957.…

Thaksin finally bows out

Deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra resigned from his Thai Rak Thai party Tuesday, effectively terminating what was the most popular party in Thai history before the military and palace joined forces to oust it in a coup two weeks ago. The billionaire politician had resisted months of calls from his opponents to step aside, but…