Thursday 20 Jun 2019 | 21:23 | SYDNEY
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Asia

Pakistan: the wrongheaded crowdfund for mega dams

In June last year, the top judge in Pakistan, Justice Saqib Nisar, was hearing a case about the need to build new dams in Pakistan. During the proceedings, he remarked that building dams is vital for the country’s survival. The passion of the judge for water security was encouraging, but not

Indonesia: policy missing in talk of politics

Indonesia’s second presidential debate might be a source of amusement for many Indonesian voters, thanks to the colourful exchange between the incumbent Joko Widodo (Jokowi) and the contender Prabowo Subianto. Analyses, fact-checks, and memes referring to and criticising the candidates’ debating

Pulwama terrorist attack: Modi under pressure

The Pulwama attack was clearly calibrated to pile pressure on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the run-up to the general election to be held in April and May 2019. The location and the target – paramilitary police deployed in Kashmir as part of an on-going effort to quell unrest that has

Courting change in Malaysia

Malaysia’s political upheaval looks likely to drag on for years. A three judge panel has granted former prime minister Najib Razak a last minute stay in a corruption trial, which had been set to begin in the High Court last week. Rather than the charges and a political changing of the guard

Demystifying Kashmir

A suicide attack on the Indian forces in Pulwama, Kashmir that killed more than 40 security officials has set India and Pakistan – two nuclear powers ­– on a warpath. India has blamed Pakistan for sponsoring the attack, while Pakistan has denied any involvement, blaming India for its human

India: another five years of Modi?

That India’s 14th prime minister is a gifted storyteller is well-known. An author of several children’s storybooks, Narendra Modi has in the past few years not only trumpeted the narrative of a poor tea-seller making his way to the highest office in the land but has also controlled every

Indonesia’s domestically focused foreign policy

Indonesia, for a country of 260 million people covering a vast archipelago, is often remarked to have a small global profile. This wasn’t always the case. In the early years after gaining independence, for example, Indonesia’s Sukarno was a leader of the non-aligned movement during the Cold War

Pulwama attack: more questions than answers

The attack on a convoy of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) on 14 February is one of the most serious single strikes against security forces in the troubled region of Kashmir. Travelling from Jammu to Srinagar in the South Kashmir Pulwama district, a vehicle laden with 350 kilograms of

One casualty of Jolo bombing: Indonesian-Philippine trust

The Philippine government’s premature declaration that Indonesians were the perpetrators of the Jolo cathedral bombing has set back the prospects for regional cooperation on terrorism and reinforced a perception among Indonesian counterparts of the Philippines as an unreliable and unprofessional

The legacy of nationalism in Korea

South Korea has a national holiday on the first day of March to commemorate the start of the 1919 March First Movement. A century later, the legacy of the movement still resonates in both North and South Korea.  In South Korea, the constitution which had been established in 1919 by the

A rising China and the future of the “Blue Pacific”

The focus of the Pacific Islands Forum and its Secretariat is securing the future prosperity and wellbeing of the “Blue Pacific”. The Forum seeks genuine partnerships with all actors who are willing to join us along the pathway towards that vision. Therefore, I reject the terms of the dilemma in

Spats in the straits between Malaysia and Singapore

Australia has presented itself as a defender of the international “rules-based order” in response to rising challenges facing the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). In particular, Canberra has directed its concerns towards China’s actions in the South China Sea and

The long tail of the al-Araibi case

With Hakeem al-Araibi now landed in Australia, returned from Thailand, what seems like a totally unnecessary crisis looks to be over. After some 11 weeks of excruciating limbo, and with numerous heroic efforts here in Australia and elsewhere to free the refugee footballer, now vindicated, it

Nepal’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission limps on

On 9 February 2019, the operational mandate of Nepal’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) was due to expire. With neither commission having completed even one investigation into the tens of thousands of complaints filed

Singapore: data leaks in a “Smart Nation”

Medical advances have turned HIV into a manageable condition, allowing people living with HIV (PLHIV) to live as long and healthy as anyone else. But there is, unfortunately, no medication that can combat stigma and prejudice. It’s unsurprising, then, that many PLHIV choose to keep quiet about

Indonesia’s role in multilateral development banks

After Jim Yong Kim resigned last month, President Donald Trump indicated he intends to nominate senior US Treasury official David Malpass to lead the World Bank. Under an unofficial agreement, the World Bank President always comes from the United States. Although the multilateral development

The fight to preserve the Khon Pi Luang rapids

In 2000, China, Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand concluded an agreement to begin clearing the Mekong River of obstacles so that cargo vessels could travel from southern Yunnan to the old royal capital of Laos, Luang Prabang. Neither Cambodia nor Vietnam, the other two riverine countries, were

Hong Kong: when rich dreams interrupt fortunate life

Kung Hei Fat Choi is the auspicious Cantonese phrase most commonly heard in Hong Kong this week during the Lunar New Year. Kung Hei stands for congratulations, while Fat Choi literally means making a lot of money. The phrase was said to be originated in the Guangdong region during the Self-

Thailand: the Princess vs the General

The Princess versus the General is completely new for Thai politics, which makes it both fascinating and unpredictable. Princess Ubolratana, the elder sister of Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn, has been declared a prime ministerial candidate for a party loyal to ousted prime minister

Is Australia wise to pick sides in US-China trade war?

The US-China trade war is viewed by many as a dark cloud over the global economy. So why is Australia’s ambassador to the US, Joe Hockey, seemingly urging Trump to go harder, and not settle for a “pyrrhic victory” that fails to resolve long-term differences between the US and China? In

Russian arms flood Southeast Asia

Russia’s “hard” power is generally well-understood. President Vladimir Putin has ensured this is the case, particularly through his proclivity to showcase Russian strength in Ukraine and Syria. And who could forget Russia’s arsenal of nuclear weapons? Not Donald Trump: just last weekend,

The Vietnamese venue will shape the second Trump-Kim summit

The news is in. US President Donald Trump will meet North Korean Chairman Kim Jong-un for the second time on February 27-28. Instead of Singapore, this time Vietnam will play host. Although there are many concerns regarding the prospect of success for the second summit and North Korea’s

Getting a better outcome from the second Trump-Kim summit

If press reports are accurate, US President Donald Trump and North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-un will again meet this month. They met for the first time last June in Singapore. Rumour suggests this meeting will be in Vietnam. The first summit was sharply criticised as a photo-op for Trump –

A blast from North Korean past

Appealing to South Korea with proposals of peaceful unification, while at the same time demonising foreigners occupying the Korean Peninsula, is one of the oldest pages in Pyongyang’s rhetorical playbook. Pyongyang is clearly painting a picture for Seoul that relations going forward could come

US, Taliban, Afghanistan peace talks: timing is critical

The Taliban and the US have agreed, in principle, on a peace framework that will ensure the Taliban part ways with international terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda leading to a possible withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan. The negotiations also focused on a comprehensive ceasefire and

Malaysia and China: breaking up is hard to do

Breaking up is hard to do, judging by the Malaysian government’s latest contortions over how to handle a US $20 billion Chinese-backed rail project of questionable economic value. The East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) is one of several high-profile Chinese infrastructure deals signed by previous prime

Don’t “crush” Abu Sayyaf perpetrators, debrief them

The horrific bombing of the cathedral in Jolo last Sunday underscores the need for the Philippines government to understand more about the operations of pro-ISIS groups in Mindanao. The best way to get that information is to find, arrest, and debrief the perpetrators of violent extremist crimes.

Pacific collateral from the INF Treaty collapse

Washington intends to begin withdrawing from the landmark 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty early next month. President Trump indicated late last year that the US is pulling out because “they’ve (Russia) been violating it for many years.” The concern for Australia is that

Mediation a long shot in Kashmir conflict

When former prime minister of Norway Kjell Mangne Bondevik met with separatist Kashmiri leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq in Indian Kashmir last month, a barrage of questions followed.   Fruitful meeting of JRL with Mr Kjell Magne Bondevik,Ex Prime Minister

The dark harvest of Chinese “black ships”

A US-based Center for Strategic and International Studies report (Illuminating the South China Sea’s Dark Fishing Fleets) sheds new light on the size and behaviour of fishing fleets in the Spratly Islands. It is critical to prevent the ‘maritime militia narrative’ from dominating the policy

Just how green is the Belt and Road?

China is frequently hailed as a leader in international efforts to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, playing a pivotal role in negotiating the Paris Agreement, and pledging that carbon emissions will peak by 2030 and decline rapidly thereafter. The country has quickly become one of the

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