Google vs. China
The Google controversy, while involving a private company, shows US-China relations are of increasing concern. The Obama administration started off offering cooperation and now faces domestic criticism of being too soft. The mood soured after Copenhagen. China's handling of Google suggests that the state will not liberalize but will seek to strengthen control even as it modernizes and grows, and expect others to allow it to do so, observes SIMON TAY, Chairman of the SIIA.
At the first anniversary of coming into office, President Obama is looking much more human and fragile. Much effort and energy has been spent in the first year across many fronts, including relations with Asia. But there has been few achievements so far. More focus and a stronger tone on issues that resonate with popular opinion must come. Otherwise the Democrats must expect a bad mid term election, for which many will blame the president.
Assoc. Prof. Simon TAY is the Chairman of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs. He is a faculty member of Law at the National University of Singapore, as well as the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.
Immigration is a critical issue around the world, but especially sensitive in Singapore as the nation-state tries to maintain harmony while also aspire to be a player in the global arena. Instead of viewing immigration as a water tap, turning it on when the economy is booming and turning it off when there is an economic downturn, Singapore should consider other variables that are important for successful immigration. For instance, immigrants from numerous groups are often easier to accept than large numbers from a single group. Some countries have adopted a multicultural approach (New Zealand) while others have adopted an assimilation approach (USA) and understanding the benefits of each approach can help Singapore formulate a new immigration policy, like a hybrid of best practices around the world, that will allow Singapore to continue to prosper as a nation, says DAWN DEKLE, Associate Council Member, SIIA.
Dr. Dawn DEKLE is an Associate Council Member of the SIIA, and the Dean, Center for Leadership, S.P. Jain Center of Management JD.
Malaysia: Religious Controversy and Unrest
Controversy over the use of the word ‘Allah’ by Christians in Malaysia continues, with the country’s law minister announcing that use of the word by Christians is permissible in Penang, Sabah, Sarawak and the Federal Territory, but not in other states. Government ministers and more than 130 Muslim NGOs have strongly condemned attacks on churches apparently triggered by tensions over the issue.
The dilemma they face concerns how to deal with the emotions that have clearly been raised. A number of Muslim scholars and leaders, including from Malaysia’s Islamic opposition party, have declared that there is no basis for a ban on the use of the word by Christians. Members of the government have chosen to defend restricting use of the word, citing the ‘sensitivity’ and ‘emotion’ involved. The government has focused on the need to avoid escalating tensions, but the risk is that giving way to street-level sensitivities may exacerbate them.
Dr. Natasha HAMILTON-HART is an Associate Research Fellow at the SIIA, and also Associate Professor, Deputy Head & Graduate Studies Coordinator (Research) for the Department of Southeast Asian Studies in the National University of Singapore.