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 […]

Singapore: economic renewal, but old-age security & inequality unaddressed

• Editorial

Singapore: economic renewal, but old-age security & inequality unaddressed

Singapore reported a credible economic performance in 2018 amid an increasingly uncertain global environment, exemplified by the US–China trade war. Economic growth for the year came in at 3.3 per cent and overall inflation at 0.4 per cent. These compare well with International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts of 2.4 per cent and 2 per cent respectively for advanced economies. Official […]

Time for Vietnam’s next generation of clean leaders to step up

• Editorial

Time for Vietnam’s next generation of clean leaders to step up

Last year marked the mid-point between Vietnam’s five yearly National Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV). The eighth plenum of the CPV Central Committee met in October to initiate planning for the 13th Congress in 2021. Five  sub-committees charged with drawing up Vietnam’s next socio-economic plan, amending party statutes, and vetting possible candidates […]

Malaysia: retiring senators to open path for speedier reforms

• Editorial

Malaysia: retiring senators to open path for speedier reforms

The pattern of political reform following a regime change is usually predictable: the reformers gain popular support, make changes to the constitution and then use constitutional politics to achieve their ends. But Malaysia’s current period of political change is straying far from this pattern. Instead, Malaysia is proving that peaceful transition and reform may be […]

Malaysia economic reform: bold decisions needed if expectations are to be met

• Editorial

Malaysia economic reform: bold decisions needed if expectations are to be met

The widely unanticipated ousting of Malaysia’s government last May not only left political analysts scrambling for explanations, it also had economists wondering what was in store for the economy. The Najib Razak government had presided over relatively strong growth (5.9 per cent in 2017), low unemployment (around 3.5 per cent) and sound macroeconomic fundamentals. The […]

Mediation helping manage Laos’ legal case backlog problem

Mediation helping manage Laos’ legal case backlog problem

Law courts in many Asian countries are overburdened. A perfect storm of factors including rapid economic growth, urbanisation, industrialisation and the withering away of traditional governance systems has caused the number of criminal and civil cases to soar. Courts are often ill-equipped to cope with the increasing pressure. Perhaps the most commonly cited indicator of this phenomenon […]

Pragmatic & risk-averse: little change expected under Nguyen Phu Trong (video)

• Editorial

Vietnam’s top leadership positions, the general secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) and the president, are traditionally held by two different people. This separation ceased to exist on October 23, 2018 when the National Assembly (NA) elected General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong as president, filling the vacancy created by the sudden death of […]