Book Review: CEO, CHINA – The Rise of Xi Jinping

Book Review: CEO, CHINA – The Rise of Xi JinpingThis book is a measured analysis of the power matrix that Chinese President Xi Jinping has consolidated as he steers the nation from slowing export-dependent economy to boost domestic consumption and services – while defining a more muscular role for China on the global stage. Author Kerry Brown is Professor of Chinese Studies and Director…

Book Review: Metamorphosis: Studies in Social and Political Change in Myanmar

Book Review: Metamorphosis: Studies in Social and Political Change in MyanmarThe reform process that moved Myanmar toward democracy began in 2008 with the approval of a new Constitution and the subsequent 2010 elections. Though widely considered rigged by observers and boycotted by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD), the elections paved the way for a semi-civilian government which took power in 2011,…

The Lie at the Center of the Singapore Legend

The Lie at the Center of the Singapore LegendThe meta-narrative of the founding of modern Singapore is that as a young lawyer and activist Lee Kuan Yew beguiled the Communists into backing the People’s Action Party and once in power turned on them, jailing them after riots in 1955 revealed their true colors, into the process making Singapore a crucial bulwark in Asia…

India-Pakistan Relations: Everything Old is New Again

India-Pakistan Relations: Everything Old is New AgainMidnight’s Furies, Nisid Hajari’s new book about the violent division of the British Raj in India, has garnered much praise for its focus on how the decisions taken by Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Jawaharlal Nehru in the 1946-1948 period embittered India-Pakistan relations right from the very start.  But one of the book’s under-noticed contributions is…

Book Review: Demokrasi: Indonesia in the 21st Century

Book Review: Demokrasi: Indonesia in the 21st CenturyLast July, Indonesia went through what arguably was the most successful election it has staged since it became to all intents and purposes a true democracy after May 1998 with the fall of the strongman Suharto’s New Order after 31 years in power. Two candidates, Joko Widodo and Prabowo Subianto, squared off using most of…

Book Review: Chinese Politics in the Era of Xi Jinping

Book Review: Chinese Politics in the Era of Xi JinpingIt often appears there are two Chinas – one fast-rising, showing an aggressive face to the world, building an infrastructure empire, a network of Silk Roads that stretches from Pakistan’s Gwadar Port to the corners of Southeast Asia, dominating the South China Sea, pillaging resources from as far away as Africa, with all roads leading…

Malaysian Minister says Race-based Politics is Unavoidable

May 12, 2015 Malaysian Minister says Race-based Politics is Unavoidable by Din Merican Malaysian Minister Paul Low is right in pointing out that race-based politics is unavoidable.That is the first decent and realistic comment he made since he assumed his ministerial post in Najib’s Cabinet.  But apart from saying that “the people” want it and Malaysian…

Book Review: Hump Pilot

Book Review: Hump PilotStarting in 1942, Ned Thomas, then a young US Army second lieutenant, and his peers winged skyward from their base in northeast India to hoist multiple tons of war material over the Himalayas to land in and provision Chongqing, the headquarters of Chiang Kai-shek’s Chinese Nationalists, tying down Japanese forces in what became known as…

Book Review: In Manchuria

Book Review: In ManchuriaThe head of the chicken that is the map of China is more or less in the place that we would call Manchuria. Dongbei (the Northeast) as it’s more commonly known now is bitterly cold in winter, desolate, and pocked by mines and heavy industry. For this book, Mike Meyer parks himself in a lonely…

Thai Junta Guts Toothless Human Rights Commission

Thai Junta Guts Toothless Human Rights CommissionThe New York-based Human Rights Watch is accusing Thailand’s junta of gutting an already weak National Human Rights Commission by combining it with the country’s ombudsman’s office. In truth, the Commission has never been very effective.  It has been filled with members selected by non-democratic institutions and cowed by a long succession of military governments…