Words hurt: time for Asean leaders to speak up on SCS

• Editorial

Words hurt: time for Asean leaders to speak up on SCS

Government officials and heads-of-state in Asean appears to have a collective aversion to speaking up in public about Chinese transgressions and coercion in the South China Sea (SCS). Such reticence is based on misplaced fears of Chinese repercussions and does a disservice to regional interests, undermines deterrence, and needlessly concedes leverage in negotiations with China […]

Fake news: Sri Lanka loses port over Chinese BRI debt

• Editorial

Fake news: Sri Lanka loses port over Chinese BRI debt

Global media and numerous ‘experts’ routinely assert that Sri Lanka was forced to cede a strategically important port to China after being lured into a debt trap by easy Chinese loans. This story has now become part of the wider narrative of how China is using the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to achieve its […]

Friends in need: Asean’s financial safety net stigmatised & shunned

• Editorial

Friends in need: Asean’s financial safety net stigmatised & shunned

Singapore and Indonesia signed a $10 billion Bilateral Swap Agreement (BSA) in October 2018 allowing the two countries to assist each other through US dollar loans during financial stress. The move signals a willingness by Asean countries to play a bigger and more direct role in strengthening the region’s financial stability — but there is […]

Uncoordinated efforts leave Cambodia foreign policy lacking synergy

• Editorial

Uncoordinated efforts leave Cambodia foreign policy lacking synergy

Amid shifting global power dynamics and intense pressure from the West, Cambodia’s foreign policy strategy in the coming years will aim to diversify its external relations, with a focus on South and East Asian countries. But in practice Cambodia still struggles to implement an effective foreign policy, stymied by institutional weaknesses. Without much-needed reform, Cambodia’s […]

Overlooked for four years, Thailand’s education system awaits election result

• Editorial

Overlooked for four years, Thailand’s education system awaits election result

Thailand is in temporary limbo. The current government, which came to office in May 2014 via the country’s 12th military coup, is in full election mode. The Thai people wait in uncertainty for the outcome. Many major economic decisions, both private and public, remain on hold also. Even the government’s highly prized Eastern Economic Corridor […]

Scepticism of Duterte’s flirting with Beijing mounts

• Editorial

Scepticism of Duterte’s flirting with Beijing mounts

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to the Philippines in November 2018 was the first by a top Chinese leader in more than a decade, marking the culmination of an ongoing rapprochement between the two countries. Despite high expectations Xi’s visit failed to achieve any major breakthroughs. There was neither a firm resource-sharing agreement for […]

BRI backlash: time for China to reassure Asean

• Editorial

BRI backlash: time for China to reassure Asean

China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) continues to draw criticism and disapproval. Its sceptics brand it as China’s Marshall Plan, or as a ‘neo-imperial project’. To ensure the initiative’s success, China should heed some of these concerns and take steps to improve the implementation of BRI-related projects. Doing so is particularly important in Asean […]

Private sector development essential for continued Lao economic growth

• Editorial

Private sector development essential for continued Lao economic growth

Laos is one of the fastest growing economies in Southeast Asia (SEA). On average the country’s economy as measured by GDP has grown by 7.5 per cent per year and trade by 17 per cent per year since 2000, reflecting the importance of trade as a key driver of its growth. However, while Laos is […]

The Mekong: troubled waters in autocratic lands

• Editorial

The Mekong: troubled waters in autocratic lands

For the Mekong countries, including Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam, 2018 was a big year both domestically and regionally. Key developments from last year will inevitably continue to shape the politics of the region in 2019. In terms of domestic affairs, the most worrying trend is the consolidation of autocratic power in almost all […]

Barriers remain to Cambodia’s rush to a digital economy

• Editorial

Barriers remain to Cambodia’s rush to a digital economy

In March 2018, the Cambodian government announced its intention to be ready to transform into a digital economy by 2023. A digital economy is one in which economic processes and activities are based on digital technologies (electronic systems and devices that generate, store or process data). Digitisation of an economy drives innovation, fuels job opportunities […]

Mahathir’s return sees Singapore-Malaysia relations navigating choppy waters

• Editorial

Mahathir’s return sees Singapore-Malaysia relations navigating choppy waters

Having returned to the Malaysian prime ministership, Mahathir Mohamad is implementing a much-welcomed reform agenda and correcting governance ills introduced during his earlier reign. But relations with Singapore are reverting to the pestilent hostilities synonymous with Mahathir’s first turn in power, most recently escalating into a maritime territorial dispute that threatens to destabilise the Straits […]

Domestic issues behind Indonesia’s stunted growth

• Editorial

Domestic issues behind Indonesia’s stunted growth

Indonesia has achieved almost 20 years of continuous economic growth. It navigated the 2008 global financial crisis with little difficulty, and effectively weathered the emerging market volatilities of 2018. It has also adjusted to the end of the China-driven commodity boom more effectively than the commodity-exporting members of the now-forgotten BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China […]

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