Malaysia Loses a Polymath – and a Malaysian

Malaysia Loses a Polymath – and a MalaysianRehman Rashid, who died on June 3 in Kuala Lumpur of complications from a heart attack, was described by a friend as “essentially an old-school secular, Anglophile, Queens English-speaking ‘Malay’ with an elite education. Most under-40 contemporary Malays would struggle to relate to him, because there are vanishingly few similar to him around these days…

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,…

Crime, Terror, and Porous Borders in Southeast Asia

Crime, Terror, and Porous Borders in Southeast AsiaPorous borders in Southeast Asia have been facilitating transnational criminal networks for decades. Taking advantage of cultural bonds, migration trends, economic inequalities, and occasional conflicts, criminal networks have expanded because of the ability to cross borders. In the same way, terrorist organisations will benefit from weak border security unless regional governments take coordinated steps to…

Vietnam Turns to Coal

Vietnam Turns to CoalPAGE 1 of 3 Shaken by news that Vietnam had confirmed plans to build another 40 gigawatts worth of coal-fired power plants by 2030, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim ad-libbed a few lines into a May 2016 speech to an audience of government and business leaders. “If Vietnam goes forward with 40GW of coal, if the entire region…

Christie’s Trims South Asian Sails, Does Well in London

Christie’s Trims South Asian Sails, Does Well in LondonChristie’s yesterday scored at its annual early summer auction in London of South Asian modern art with sales totaling £5.9 million (US$7.66 million) with more than 90 percent of 69 lots finding buyers. That has helped rebuild Christie’s regional reputation after a poor auction result in Mumbai last December and a subsequent cost-cutting decision to stop holding the high profile annual…

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…