Duterte, the Philippines and a Psychopathic Reign of Terror

Duterte, the Philippines and a Psychopathic Reign of TerrorIt is time for the Philippines to face up to the fact that its president, Rodrigo Duterte, is a psychopath drunk on killing. The reign of terror he has initiated and promoted has in just one year claimed more victims than the Islamic State, al-Qaeda and other Islamist terror groups have in the whole of…

Good for Alibaba? SCMP Quashes Column on Xi-linked Tycoon

Good for Alibaba? SCMP Quashes Column on Xi-linked TycoonThe steady erosion of the journalistic independence of the South China Morning Post, once the region’s most influential English-language daily, was demonstrated last week when the paper’s editors pulled an article linking an investor in Hong Kong’s Peninsula Hotel Group to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s chief of staff. The article, by long-time Money Matters columnist…

Court Jails Jakarta Governor on (Political) Blasphemy Charge

Court  Jails Jakarta Governor on (Political) Blasphemy ChargeDespite prosecutors recommending probation on a lesser charge,  a five-judge panel has sentenced Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja “Ahok” Purnama to two years in prison for blasphemy.  The decision, coming just weeks after Ahok lost a bid for reelection in a religiously charged race, has shaken Indonesia’s reputation as a moderate Muslim nation. Ahok, as the…

Religious Politics Victorious in Indonesia

Religious Politics Victorious in IndonesiaJakarta’s seven million voters on April 19 decisively traded gubernatorial competence for ethnic and religious hegemony, turning down the sprawling city’s successful governor, ethnic Chinese-Christian Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja, in a landslide in favor of Anies Baswedan, a former education minister supported by conservative Muslims. A “quick count” showed Anies, backed by the powerful political machine…

Massive Scandal Swamps Indonesia’s Legislature

Massive Scandal Swamps Indonesia’s LegislatureThe Indonesian political sphere has been rocked by what has been called the biggest scandal ever to engulf the House of Representatives, with officials embezzling Rp2.3 trillion (US$171.9 million) from a program to supply the public with smart identity cards. On March 9 the Jakarta Corruption Court put two high-ranking former Home Affairs Ministry officials,…

Caught Between Two Koreas, Malaysia Dithers on Kim Killing

Caught Between Two Koreas, Malaysia Dithers on Kim KillingSouth and North Korean diplomats are battling to persuade Malaysian authorities of diametrically different versions of the February 13 Kuala Lumpur International Airport assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s half-brother Kim Jong-nam, who had exiled himself out of a well-founded belief he could be murdered. One result may have been to stall the investigation,…

Jakarta Election seen as ‘Battle for Country’s Soul’

Jakarta Election seen as ‘Battle for Country’s Soul’This Wednesday, February 15, Indonesia holds simultaneous local elections involving 101 provinces, districts and municipalities throughout the archipelago. The polls are an important mid-term read on the nation’s mood under President Joko Widodo ahead of 2019 national elections, but the real battle is along the contentious religious lines in Jakarta’s governor’s election. Some are calling…

Beijing Loses Patience with Hong Kong’s Leung

Beijing Loses Patience with Hong Kong’s LeungNew Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key surprisingly quit last week while he was ahead. Hong Kong’s Chief executive CY Leung has surprisingly quit as well, but he was hardly a success. His Beijing bosses evidently decided that he was too much of a liability and the political cost of pushing to win a second term…

Thailand’s New King: Who is he Really?

Thailand’s New King: Who is he Really?The mystery is over. After decades of question marks over the Thai royal succession, former Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn is now Rama X of the Chakri dynasty. After a period of suspense after his father’s death, the son and heir has been invited to become king, and has accepted. Yet much mystery remains about how the…

Massive Jakarta Rally Aimed at Indonesia’s President?

Massive Jakarta Rally Aimed at Indonesia’s President?On Friday, December 2, Indonesia’s political structure – and even the fabric of the nation as a secular republic – is expected to be further tested by a massive rally aiming to bring tens of thousands of Muslims into Jakarta to protest against the city’s Chinese Christian governor, Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, who has been…
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