Southeast Asia

Continuing Furore over Malaysia's Racial Policies

The country's political bosses may wish to continue harping on self-serving warnings of racial unrest that may arise from doing away with the NEP. But the sooner the government deals with reality and listens to "dissident" voices, the more likely the country can achieve the goal of one united Malaysian people.

Thailand's power holders put Thaksin away

At issue now is how much political traction and coalition expansion we can expect from the pro-Thaksin, anti-coup street protests against the ruling generals. While Thaksin appears finished politically, the forces he unleashed will continue to play a critical role in Thai politics.

Back in the Spotlight: New Energy Demands and the Spratly Islands

What could upset this piecemeal equilibrium and resurrect emotive issues of national sovereignty, prestige and pride? The biggest risk is that rapidly rising demand for energy in Asia will again put China and its Southeast Asian neighbours in contention. 

Malaysia-Singapore Relations: Economic Diplomacy and the IDR

The IDR could become the Achilles heel of a relationship often wrecked on the shores of irreconcilable national economic interests. Much could go wrong if the political players fail manage differences that have come with a baggage of historical irritations in Malaysia-Singapore relations.

Ten Years On: Too much 'Guided Democracy'?

Before July 1997, the paucity of broadly representative and accountable democratic governments was lamentable, but often excused in the face of soaring double digit growth figures. Afterwards, as foreign investments dried up and poverty rates increased, political change was deemed necessary for future stability and growth. 

ASEAN and Myanmar's Nuclear Reactor

Myanmar this month resurrected plans to acquire a nuclear research reactor from Russia. Atomstroyexport, a manufacturer owned by Russia's federal atomic agency Rosatom, said it will, if the deal is sealed, install a 10-megawatt light-water reactor, provide 20 percent enriched uranium-235 fuel and train at least 300 technicians. 

Myanmar: An "Unusual and Extraordinary Threat" to the US

This time of year, the US President ritualistically signs an executive order on Myanmar, on the grounds that the Southeast Asian country poses "an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States." Unquestioningly, the international media deems this ritual renewal newsworthy.

Anti-Thaksin draft Charter is a Dead End

As it stands, the new draft charter is unlikely to be amended wholesale as it would be a loss of face for the drafters. But cosmetic changes are unlikely to satisfy the growing columns of charter opponents. As heated debate ensues over the merits of the draft, the Thai people are likely to miss the 1997 constitution.

How much to pay politicians? The Singapore Case

The present policy of focusing exclusively on GDP as a measure of a cabinet's quality is likely to perpetuate a lopsided view of the role of government. However, nobody has yet developed a set of KPIs for political office-holders anywhere in the world. 

Southeast Asia's Stillborn Child? The ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community

Attention to youth, media and human rights should be considered vital steps towards the nuturing of regional identity and personal freedoms, both of which do not rank very highly on the ASEAN Security Community or the ASEAN Economic Community.

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