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Commentaries

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ASEAN should stop human trafficking, for its own people’s sake
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Regional leaders inaugurated an ASEAN (Association of South-east Asian Nations) Community at the end of last year to bring their 10 countries closer — not only for economic integration, but also on security and political issues as well as social and cultural affairs. One test for...

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How ASEAN should navigate a tricky 2016
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Many turbulent events in 2015 were symptoms of a world lacking in optimism and growth, and facing possible changes in the global order. Even as social and economic uncertainties continue, competition is increasing among major powers, especially between the US and China. There is not much...

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Global, regional order under pressure, and changing
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The decision by the United States Federal Reserve to raise interest rates is newsworthy, and not only for this month. The US economy is at last recovering — with some sturdiness, even if not strongly. This marker can be seen in a longer trajectory. Keeping rates...

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Palm Oil: The Good, the Bad and the Coy
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A recent call in France to boycott Nutella had many Italians going nuts. “We should stop eating Nutella,” French Ecology Minister Ségolène Royal urged in a television interview. Her reason: the iconic chocolatehazelnut spread by Italy’s Ferrero Group is made with palm oil. “Oil palms...

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Mobilizing Mass Efforts to Fight the Haze in Southeast Asia
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The recent haze crisis has set a few new records in the region. Given the massive human and environmental costs, it will go down in history as one of the worst environmental disasters in Southeast Asia. The Indonesian Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) has...

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To stop the haze, take aim at land policies
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When Mr Prayoto was born in Riau in 1980, oil palms occupied less than 10,000ha in the Indonesian province in central Sumatra. When he turned 21 and started working at the Riau Provincial Forestry Service, the figure breached one million hectares. It has since grown...

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New demands in engaging China
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When China’s President Xi Jinping arrives this week in Singapore, his first state visit to the city-state will do more than commemorate the past 25 years of diplomatic relations. Singapore was an early interlocutor for Beijing, following the first historic meeting in Singapore between Deng Xiaoping...

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Asean and the constant gardener
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Some weeks ago, the social media and the South-east Asian academic circle were abuzz in response to a speech by Singaporean diplomat Bilahari Kausikan, who likened Asean to a cow. He chided critics of Asean for not recognising Asean as it is, a cow, and wishing...

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Putting the brakes on haze financing
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In all the finger-pointing over the transboundary haze, some banks in Singapore have come under the spotlight for allegedly financing the culprits behind Indonesia’s forest fires. Now the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) has a new set of guidelines for banks to incorporate responsible financing...

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Getting firms to take responsibility for the haze
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It remains essential to work with the Indonesian government to address the haze. However, while intergovernmental cooperation remains key, there is every reason to expect corporations to do their part to stop the fires and haze or risk being taken to task. The first steps towards...