An Unsteady Balance of Power Likely in Myanmar Elections

An Unsteady Balance of Power Likely in Myanmar Elections

Much uncertainty surrounds the lead up to and conduct of Myanmar’s upcoming legislative elections. The recent voting down of constitutional amendments in parliament — almost certainly (and solely) by the bloc of appointed, non-elected military parliamentarians — erodes to a certain extent the legitimacy of the electoral process. The Tatmadaw (Myanmar’s armed forces) retain their […]

Middle Income Countries Need to Learn How to Learn

Middle Income Countries Need to Learn How to Learn

Investment in human capital through education, partly by the government, is almost universally thought to be a precondition for sustainable growth. For Asian countries that can no longer rely on factor accumulation to underpin their continued economic development, improving the quality of national education systems has become of paramount importance. The historical experience of the […]

How Restrictive are Asean’s Rules of Origin?

How Restrictive are Asean’s Rules of Origin?

Asia accounts for more than 50 per cent of the world’s automobile production, 62 per cent of liquid display screen, 86 per cent of smart phones and 100 per cent of digital cameras. Much of this production is based on production networks: that is, value chains that criss-cross the region, with the various stages of […]

Subplots in Thailand Submarine Setback

Subplots in Thailand Submarine Setback

In June 2015 several announcements suggested that Thailand would acquire three Chinese submarines for 36 billion baht (US$1.03billion). But by mid-July Thailand Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon stated that the proposal would be deferred and subject to further review. While some commentators were quick to surmise that US diplomatic pressure had been applied, it is equally […]

Is Indonesia Trapped in The Middle?

Is Indonesia Trapped in The Middle?

Indonesia became a middle-income country in 2004. Indonesia’s growth rates — while superior to those of most developing countries — remain below those of East Asia’s most dynamic economies. So why hasn’t the country grown faster still and why does growth appear slower in the democratic era than that of Soeharto? Few countries have experienced […]

Myanmar’s Political Destination After The Myanmar Elections Unknown

Myanmar’s Political Destination After The Myanmar Elections Unknown

The second general election since Myanmar began its political transition in 2011 will be held on Sunday 8 November 2015 with some 30 million Myanmar voters — at home and abroad — potentially eligible to vote in one of the largest worldwide, single-stage voting events. But what the election means for Myanmar’s continued democratic transition […]

Malaysia’s mess is Mahathir-made

Malaysia’s mess is Mahathir-made

At least embattled Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is right about one thing. The current mess in Malaysian politics is the making of his greatest nemesis, Mahathir Mohamad, who led the Southeast Asian nation with an iron fist from 1981–2003. What Najib fails to fathom is that Mahathir has not produced this mess by criticising […]

Asean Doesn’t Have AEC Foundations in Place Yet

Asean Doesn’t Have AEC Foundations in Place Yet

The Asean Economic Community (AEC) is set to begin at the end of 2015. It is a significant step forward and could be a crucial turning point for Asean. But without a strong central authority and mandate Asean integration will remain in a mess and the AEC remain an illusion. The goal of the AEC […]

The Race to a Risky Trans-Pacific Partnership Deal

The Race to a Risky Trans-Pacific Partnership Deal

The largest hurdle for the 12-member Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement — the US president’s ability to get Trade Promotion Authority, or fast track — has been cleared. Many people think that the TPP can be wrapped up in a few months. There are still difficult issues to resolve, but they are trivial compared to the […]

Small Asean States Deserve Big-Picture Security Leadership

Small Asean States Deserve Big-Picture Security Leadership

As defence chiefs from 26 countries gathered for the annual Shangri-La Dialogue security summit in Singapore in May, all eyes were on the US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and his Chinese counterpart Admiral Sun Jianguo, Deputy Chief of the General Staff of People’s Liberation Army (PLA). As expected, maritime disputes in the South China […]

Corruption Scandal Divides Malaysia’s Political Elite

Corruption Scandal Divides Malaysia’s Political Elite

Malaysian Prime Minister and Finance Minister Najib Razak faces explosive allegations of embezzlement, corruption and electoral manipulation that go to the very core of his leadership and the legitimacy of his government. United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), Najib’s political party, and Malaysia itself have been plunged into yet another crisis. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) […]

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