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Commentaries

Yingluck’s position gets shakier by day
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Anti-government protests in Bangkok have lasted for more than three months and, yet, continue to confuse. Much of the international media asserts the sanctity of the vote above all else. Most over-rely on distinctions that the Reds represent the poor and the Yellows are the elite...

A promising start to Myanmar’s ASEAN challenge
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Myanmar’s chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has begun with promise and even aplomb. The first meeting of foreign ministers held in Bagan this month was a closed-door retreat, expected to be informal and low-key. Yet, a short but significant statement was issued...

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...

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...