Thailand’s Crown Property Bureau: Economic Brake?

Thailand’s Crown Property Bureau: Economic Brake?Thailand’s Crown Property Bureau, which manages the assets of the Thai royalty, is the elephant in the country’s economic room, controlling a full 15 percent of its economy and, according to a recent seminar at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, acting as a significant brake on economic growth. “Although the quantity of…

Vietnam strikes out at labor disputes

Vietnam strikes out at labor disputesIn January, the Vietnamese government issued a decree on the implementation guidelines of its Labor Code, stipulating a long bureaucratic process for strike settlement. Though the numbers of strikes nationwide has declined, labor relations reform is still a government concern, with most workers’ strikes happening in foreign enterprises.  The decree specifies how to resolve strikes…

Time For Local Currencies to Rise?

Time For Local Currencies to Rise?It's almost forgotten that most trade was denominated in locally based currencies right into the 20th century and beyond, although in at least one case, if the Hong Kong dollar, issued by HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank and Bank of China (HK), is included, it still is. The Hong Kong dollar is the 13th most heavily…

Stumbling US Foreign Policy Breeds Concern in Asia

Stumbling US Foreign Policy Breeds Concern in AsiaFrom almost every perspective, American foreign policy is in a mess, raising concern among many in Asia who believed that the enhanced focus on this region promised by President Barack Obama would provide a basis for their own strategic thinking. That heightened concern revolves partly around China’s growing hegemonism in the South China Sea, where…

Opinion: Remembrance of an Activist Thai Poet

Opinion: Remembrance of an Activist Thai PoetIt is nearly one year since Kamol Duangphasuk, widely known among Thailand’s Red Shirt activists as “Mainueng Kor Kunthee,” was assassinated by an unidentified gunman who approached his car and shot at him five times in a restaurant parking lot in northern Bangkok. The gunman escaped on a motorcycle. Mainueng, whose pen name (ไม้หนึ่ง) means…

Banking on Human Milk in India

Banking on Human Milk in IndiaSarita, 28, was shattered when her obstetrician placed her newly-born daughter in her arms at a maternity hospital in the town of Nagda in the desert state of Rajasthan. The girl weighed 1 kilogram, less than half what a normal infant should, and in grave danger of being blighted by malnutrition if not of death.…

In which your mild narrator says A BAD WORD

In which your mild narrator says A BAD WORDTHIS FATHER-OF-THREE was inspired to create a piece of Zen wisdom the other day. A journey of a thousand miles begins with: "Where's the @#$%ing remote?” Nine hundred and ninety nine miles later, the answer to this question for people with children is: a) in the fridge, b) down the toilet, c) in the dog,…

Dassault Coup to Make Jets in France, Not India

Dassault Coup to Make Jets in France, Not IndiaNarendra Modi has taken India’s defense industry by surprise with a totally unexpected decision to buy 36 Rafale fighter jet aircraft, probably costing around US$4.5 billion, from Dassault Aviation in a deal that is being negotiated directly between the Indian and French governments. Modi is on an official visit to France. He said after holding…

Philippines Faces a Lame Duck Political Year

Philippines Faces a Lame Duck Political YearPolitics in the Philippines is known for being chaotic, a mixture of bare-knuckle democracy, deep corruption, theatrics–-by real movie actors in some cases – and the country’s own dramatic ethos. There is often hope that things will settle down but they rarely do for long. Today, despite four years of economic growth, political stability and…

Tame TV, Malaysian-Style, Goes Easy on Najib

Tame TV, Malaysian-Style, Goes Easy on NajibMalaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak went onto Kuala Lumpur-based TV3, wholly owned by the political party he heads, to deny to presenter Hamdan Ahmir that he had ever met the late Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaariibuu, murdered by two of his bodyguards in 2006. The interview, aired on April 9 but taped rather than live apparently…