Does Malaysia’s Kleptocrat-in-Chief Regret Washington Visit?

Does Malaysia’s Kleptocrat-in-Chief Regret Washington Visit?What was the US President Donald Trump trying to convey with his body language as he sat, with arms tightly folded across his chest, facing down Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who was seated opposite him, at the conference table during Najib’s Sept. 12 visit to the White House? Well before Najib had landed in…

China Takes to Boozing With a Vengeance

China Takes to Boozing With a VengeanceWhile western teenagers and young adults are forswearing alcohol at an increasing pace, the Chinese are taking to drinking with gusto, according to a new report by GlobalData, a London-based digital media company. The rise of a drinking culture is expected to drive the Chinese spirits market with an average compounded rise of 15 percent…

Asian Markets Steady as She Goes

Asian Markets Steady as She GoesWith US and European central banks finally beginning to move away from ultra- loose monetary policy, there are plenty of reasons to question the durability of the gains seen by global stock markets over the past year, and in some cases five and 10 years. Some assume tightening will be particularly damaging for emerging markets,…

Indonesia’s Plastic Trash Crisis

Indonesia’s Plastic Trash CrisisIndonesia, the second-largest contributor of plastic waste to the world’s waters after China, has pledged US$1 billion per year to attempt to reduce the junk in its waters by 70 percent by 2025, according to Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairsi. It is not surprising that Jakarta has made such a decision, given…

Indonesia Crosses the Nine-Dash Line

Indonesia Crosses the Nine-Dash LineOn July 14, Indonesia took a major step forward in confronting China’s South China Sea claims with an announcement that it was renaming a part of the sea in its territory the “North Natuna Sea,” becoming in a single act the most important Southeast Asian nation to stand up to Beijing. That may have come to…

Jailed Viet Dissident is Latest in Rising Crackdown

Jailed Viet Dissident is Latest in Rising CrackdownIn the latest sign of the increasing crackdown against dissidents by Vietnam’s government, Nguyen Van Oai, a citizen journalist and human rights defender, was sentenced earlier this week to five years in prison and four additional years of house arrest for “resisting persons in the performance of their official duties” and failing to execute judgments”…

Vietnam’s Conservatives Purge Former PM Dung’s Allies

Vietnam’s Conservatives Purge Former PM Dung’s AlliesGoing into the Vietnam Communist Party's 12th Congress in January last year, outsiders could perceive an epic contest between reformers and conservatives. The conservatives labeled the reformers as “opportunists” and often they were right. The reformers laughed when the conservatives argued that ideology (Leninist, not Marxist) would keep Vietnam safe in a turbulent and threatening…

Myanmar’s Rohingya: A Far Wider Tragedy

Myanmar’s Rohingya: A Far Wider TragedyThe crisis of the Rohingya minority of Myanmar is not simply a humanitarian one of huge dimension and one that has revealed the fragility of Aung San Suu Kyi’s status as a Nobel Peace Prize winner. It is a multi-layered issue which, unless handled with much greater care than seen to date, will long reverberate…

Indonesia Can’t Get its Tourism Act Together

Indonesia Can’t Get its Tourism Act TogetherMillions of television viewers in multiple countries often see advertisements encouraging them to come to “Wonderful Indonesia.” The nation does indeed have an amazing number of actual or potential tourist attractions – historic sites, natural wonders, beautiful beaches, interesting buildings, wildlife, arts and local customs. It also now has okay hotels, a web of air…

Sovereign Women in a Muslim Kingdom

Sovereign Women in a Muslim KingdomGiven the generally subservient position of women in most Muslim societies, unsurprisingly it is barely known that there have been occasions when women have been rulers in their own right, and effective ones at that. It is a particular surprise for those unfamiliar with the details of Southeast Asian history to find that Aceh, traditionally…
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