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Blog Masonry

Asia copes with transitions
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In the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis, two key buzzwords that conveyed the essence of the recovery strategy were “unconventional monetary policy” and “the new normal”. The developed world would pump up credit and lower interest rates to try to resuscitate failing companies and...

ASEAN in Flux: Elections Ahead in 2014
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As the new year begins, several ASEAN countries are heading into highly contentious elections. What lies ahead for Thailand, Indonesia and Myanmar? Stalemates and Protests: Thailand Thailand’s crisis will continue well into 2014. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s caretaker government is so far resisting calls to delay the...

A year in the world
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I probably travelled too much this year. I went to New York, Europe, and as far away as South America, and to most of the capitals of Asia. There are limits to what telephone and video calls can do. Information is plentiful today but insight requires...

Counting the political costs after Haiyan
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More than a month after Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines, human casualties are still being counted and 3.88 million people are without permanent homes. Government efforts, earlier criticised for being too slow, are underway and multinational assistance has been ramped up. The economic and political consequences...

Asia’s (re)invitation to Obama
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Mr President, Congratulations on handling the domestic crisis of the government shutdown and debt ceiling. The problem will recur, but most see you as a winner for holding your ground. Now, about that trip you cancelled to Asia. Yes, Secretary of State John Kerry filled in but,...

What Asians did without Obama
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More attention was given to United States President Barack Obama’s late decision to cancel his trip to Asia than to what the region did without him. This is testimony to America’s enduring power and the President’s prestige. Focus intensified also because of the circumstances that triggered...

An unfortunate twist in the US pivot
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American President Barack Obama was due to tour Asia next week to attend two key multilateral summits and visit two other countries — Malaysia and the Philippines. The White House initially described this as an “on-going commitment”, building on the American pivot to emphasise ties...

The haze: What governments must do – and what they can’t
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As the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Environment Ministers meet this week in Jakarta to discuss the haze, there are reasons to doubt governments will address key issues decisively. Cynics point out that the number of hot spots has again been growing in Sumatra. While...

Indonesia’s Woes are ASEAN’s Problems
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Some fear that Indonesia is heading for a crisis. Growth in the second quarter dropped below 6 per cent. Deficits in both the current account and trade widened markedly. The rupiah fell some 10 per cent last month to its lowest level against the US...