Vietnam’s May National Assembly Elections to Test Party Rhetoric

Vietnam’s May National Assembly Elections to Test Party Rhetoric

Vietnam will hold its parliamentary election in May 2016. The three key positions of president, prime minister and chairperson of the National Assembly will all be elected. But perhaps the most interesting aspect of this election is the emerging group of self-nominated candidates. This election see’s around 30 civil society activists running for the Communist […]

Singapore’s Social Landscape in Transition

Singapore’s Social Landscape in Transition

Last year was a year of retrospection and affirmation for Singapore. Marking the country’s 50th year of independence, 2015 saw a year-long series of state-sponsored events and projects to celebrate the nation’s achievements. The effect was a carefully choreographed campaign — known as SG50 — that indulged in widespread nostalgia, popular heritage and the re-telling […]

Can Najib Revive The Malaysian Economy?

Can Najib Revive The Malaysian Economy?

Last year was somewhat of a challenging one for the Malaysian economy. Political disruptions and economic shocks rocked the nation. Prime Minister Najib Razak has been strenuously committed to undertaking fiscal reform. He has repeatedly stressed the importance of reducing fiscal deficits. Mr Razak intends to reduce annual deficits from an estimated 3.2 per cent of […]

No Honeymoon For 2016 Philippine General Election Winner

No Honeymoon For 2016 Philippine General Election Winner

The winner of the upcoming 2016 Philippine general election looks set to inherit an underwhelming legacy of lackluster GDP growth and a shortage of infrastructure. Once again in 2015 government under-spending on projects, lower exports, outflow of portfolio investments and stagnant agricultural production has curbed growth. It was not all bad news though. The services […]

Vietnam’s Pivot to The West More a Shuffle Towards The Centre

Signing onto the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement in Atlanta last October and the high-level state visits of half the politburo to the United States put Vietnam in the international spotlight and, when the dust had settled, left the Southeast Asian diplomatic status quo profoundly shaken. Did this represent a decisive pivot to the West by […]

Don’t Bank on Vietnam Banking Sector Reform

Don’t Bank on Vietnam Banking Sector Reform

In architecture, there is a dictum that ‘form follows function’. The architect decides what a building is being used for and then designs the building for those purposes. However, in Vietnam’s process of economic reforms, the reverse is often the case — ‘function follows form’. Structures are put in place and then it is hoped […]

Conservative Jokowi No Reformer

Conservative Jokowi No Reformer

In his first year in office, Indonesian President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) failed to deliver on his promises of reform. As former New York governor Mario Cuomo nicely put it: ‘We campaign in poetry, but when we’re elected we’re forced to govern in prose’. Yet, six months on, things may be picking up for Jokowi. It […]

‘Presidential Curse’ Could Tarnish Aquino’s legacy

‘Presidential Curse’ Could Tarnish Aquino’s legacy

President Benigno Aquino III completes his six-year term much less popular than when he began it. His approval rating has dropped from a high of 79 per cent at the beginning of his term to 54 per cent as of September 2015. So what explains his falling popularity? Under Mr Aquino the Philippines has maintained […]

Can Jokowi Move Indonesia Beyond Protectionism?

Can Jokowi Move Indonesia Beyond Protectionism?

Put in a comparative historical perspective Indonesia’s economic growth performance has been relatively strong. Yet the recent slowdown in growth is a cause for concern. According to official figures the Indonesian economy grew by only  4.73 per cent in 2015, missing its 2015 GDP forecast of 5.7 per cent. This year Indonesian gross domestic product […]

Singapore’s Future After Lee Kuan Yew

Singapore’s Future After Lee Kuan Yew

Singapore’s ruling party, the People’s Action Party (PAP), enters 2016 enjoying the comfort of a magnificent electoral victory in the 2015 Singapore general elections. In that election — the first since the death of patriarch Lee Kuan Yew — the PAP won almost 70 per cent of the popular vote. It was not the ruling […]

What The Asean Economic Community (AEC) Means For Laos

What The Asean Economic Community (AEC) Means For Laos

The Asean Economic Community (AEC) presents new opportunities for Laos PDR, but it also underlines significant challenges. Laos has long been a country of promise given its resources and geographic proximity to China and other Asean members. Yet, despite relatively high growth over the last two decades, the country remains among the world’s poorest nations. […]

Malaysia’s year as Asean chair reviewed

Malaysia’s year as Asean chair reviewed

Malaysia ended its chairmanship of Asean as the grouping announced the establishment of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) in November 2015. The AEC intends to create a single market across the Asean region by standardising economic regulations including those on trade, flows of financial capital and labour migration. (See: 2015 Kuala Lumpur Declaration Formalises Asean Community […]