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Commentaries

Questions and realities for a new Myanmar
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Myanmar changed more than its government last week. For the first time in more than 50 years, a democratic and non-military President is in office. An historic new chapter begins for the country that some have dubbed Asia’s “last frontier economy”. The focus is understandably on...

Fighting of fires must continue under blue skies
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Blue skies breed amnesia. With the clear skies, many may now struggle to recall the urgency and anger over the smoke haze pollution in the region. Last year was one of the worst on historical record for fires and it was barely six months ago that...

Keeping ASEAN united: What the US can and cannot do
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ASEAN leaders will soon converge in the United States for a Summit with President Barack Obama. The Sunnylands summit, late into Mr Obama’s last year in office, is a marker of the American pivot to the region. His administration should be credited with giving closer...

How Indonesia deals with terrorism impacts investments
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The year 2016 has not gotten off to an auspicious start for Indonesia, with the capital Jakarta coming under a terrorist attack on Jan 14. The country and its new President both weathered multiple headwinds in 2015, and they could not have asked for a...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...