Can Filipino Strongman Duterte Walk The Talk?

Can Filipino Strongman Duterte Walk The Talk?

There may be more to the Philippines’ new president Rodrigo Duterte than his tough guy image indicates. In the populist theatrics that are Filipino politics the overwhelming election of Duterte should not have come as a surprise, even with common, but inaccurate, comparisons to the US presidential candidate Donald Trump. Unlike Trump, Duterte is an […]

What Happened to Russia’s ‘Pivot to Asia’?

What Happened to Russia’s ‘Pivot to Asia’?

In early 2014 Russia faced economic sanctions in response to its annexation of Crimea. Many in the country viewed the sanctions as proof that the West has contempt for Russia’s ‘sphere of influence’ in Ukraine and was trying to subvert Russian foreign policy. Responding to this pressure from the West, Moscow turned its attention to […]

Realistic Risk Assessment Key to Fighting IS in Southeast Asia

Realistic Risk Assessment Key to Fighting IS in Southeast Asia

Terrorism is not a new phenomenon in Southeast Asia, but goes as far back as the era of anti-colonial struggle. It gathered pace after September 11 with a series of attacks allegedly perpetrated mostly by the Al-Qaeda linked organisation Jemaah Islamiyah. Terrorism continues to pose a threat to Southeast Asian societies as demonstrated by the […]

Jokowi’s Natural Resource Gamble Adds 50% to Masela Block Cost

Jokowi’s Natural Resource Gamble Adds 50% to Masela Block Cost

Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s (Jokowi) order on March 23, 2016 that the Masela Block use an onshore Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) refinery ended six months of intrigue — and years of delay — about Indonesia’s largest offshore gas field. Rather than the floating plant (FLNG) proposed by contractors Inpex and Royal Dutch Shell, gas from […]

Disengagement Fears Put US & Asia Allies All at Sea Over China

Disengagement Fears Put US & Asia Allies All at Sea Over China

In the capitals of America’s Asia allies, two phenomena are combining to intensify already uneasy relations with Washington. The first is China’s continued assertiveness in the South China Sea. Beijing’s militarisation of these contested territories — transforming rocks and reefs into artificial islands with runways and radars — has driven already close US Asia allies […]

Laos’ Leadership Vital For Unifying Asean

Laos’ Leadership Vital For Unifying Asean

Lao PDR has announced a new leadership team amid calls for the country, as the Asean Chair for 2016, to unite Asean on territorial disputes in the South China Sea. Laos’ leadership changes every five years. This time around the two top posts were in the spotlight after the incumbent president and prime minister announced […]

Why GVCs Are The Kickstart The AEC Needs

Why GVCs Are The Kickstart The AEC Needs

Asean is on the lookout for ways to accelerate trade facilitation and eliminate trade barriers by 2025 under its new 10-year Asean Economic Community (AEC) roadmap. Extensive research has demonstrated the vital role of global value chains (GVCs) in enhancing economic integration and liberalising trade. According to World Bank and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development […]

Mahathir Should Focus on Institutional Reform, Not Personalities

Mahathir Should Focus on Institutional Reform, Not Personalities

Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia’s former prime minister, seems to have missed the mark with the Citizen’s Declaration that he has so vigorously supported. The bulk of the Declaration is directed at Prime Minister Najib Razak and his alleged wrongdoings in connection with the beleaguered 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). Therein lies its fatal flaw. The Declaration’s specific […]

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 […]