Publication in Economics, Politics and Public Policy in East Asia and the Pacific

ASEAN banking integration: positioning Indonesia

Authors: Joko Siswanto and Maria Monica Wihardja, Bank Indonesia

In a decisive step toward ASEAN banking integration, central bank governors from around the region came together in early April 2011 to endorse the ASEAN Banking Integration Framework (ABIF).

This framework is part of the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint, which promises to bring economic benefits and financial stability to individual countries and the region through multilateral liberalisation by 2015.

Read more…

Myanmar: getting down to business

Author: Vikram Nehru, Carnegie Endowment

Now that Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi and her fellow National League for Democracy (NLD) party candidates are bona fide members of parliament, it’s time to get down to business.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD party won 43 of 45 seats in the recent by-elections in Myanmar. But the new NLD Read more…

Why Japan is lagging on the TPP

Author: Aurelia George Mulgan, UNSW Canberra

Is Japan going to negotiate its way into the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) any time soon?

The short answer is no. The DPJ has not finalised its position on the issue, and in view of the ongoing consumption tax battle, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has no spare political capital to expend on the TPP. Read more…

Nepal’s constitutional transition and uncertain political future

Author: Sagar Prasai, The Asia Foundation

Around midnight on 27 May, when most Nepalis were waiting for the new constitution to be unveiled, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai announced a fresh election for 22 November 2012 from a hurriedly put-together press conference at his residence.

With that announcement, Nepal’s Constituent Assembly (CA) — elected four years ago specifically to draft a new constitution — ended its tenure without even a draft. Read more…

Whither Mongolian democracy?

Author: Todd Landman, University of Essex

Mongolia has always been an unlikely case of democratisation.

A sparsely populated, poor country sandwiched between Russia and China, it defied all odds with a relatively peaceful democratic transition in 1990. Since then, it has had regular elections and transfers of political power between the main political parties, Read more…

Reforms and reconciliation in Myanmar

Author: Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Chulalongkorn University

Aung San Suu Kyi, freshly elected as the leader of the opposition in Myanmar, made a strong start to life in parliament, demonstrating she will not be a pushover.

But at the same time she showed her practical side, not risking derailing her country’s spectacular democratic opening. Read more…

Transforming South Korea’s defence capabilities

Author: Michael Raska, RSIS

For nearly six decades, South Korea’s approach to security has focused on sustaining the status quo: maintaining deterrence and a robust defence posture in order to prevent another major conflict on the Korean Peninsula.

Three mutually reinforcing strategic pillars — defensive deterrence, alliance with the US and forward active defence — have long defined South Korea’s conception of national security, its force structure and the operational conduct of its armed forces. Read more…

Asia’s economic and political interdependence

Author: Peter Drysdale, Editor, East Asia Forum

The famous Swedish economist, sociologist, politician and recipient of the Nobel Prize for economic science, Gunnar Myrdal, wrote a massive study of Asia’s development prospects in the early 1960s called Asian Drama: An Inquiry into the Poverty of Nations. 

It presented a generally pessimistic view of the prospects of Asia’s development, mired as he thought most of Asia was in the vicious cycle of poverty and trapped in an environment of bad internal and external politics. Read more…

The China–Japan relationship and core Australian economic interests

Author: Shiro Armstrong, ANU

Japan and China are often seen as adversaries, locked into bickering and an historically antagonistic relationship.

They are neighbouring economic giants which have a host of unresolved historical issues to deal with and a natural rivalry for regional — and now global — influence.

Read more…

ASEAN+3 financial cooperation enters a new phase

Author: Eko Saputro, Deakin University

The 15th ASEAN+3 Finance Ministers’ Meeting was held on 3–4 May in Manila and resulted in at least two important outcomes that marked a new phase of ASEAN+3 financial cooperation: the involvement of central bank governors at the meeting and the inception of a crisis-prevention facility.

After one and a half decades of cooperation, the ASEAN+3 finance ministers finally welcomed the direct participation of ASEAN+3 central bank governors Read more…

Brunei Darussalam: an electoral feint

Author: William Case, City University of Hong Kong

One of the reasons that Brunei Darussalam stands out in Southeast Asian politics is its status as an absolute sultanate: it stakes out the authoritarian end of the region’s wide spectrum of regime types.

Despite this reputation, the country’s Ministry of Home Affairs announced in March 2011 that an election would take place for the Legislative Council. Under Brunei’s original constitution, a council with elected members had been set up. But in 1970, just three years after ascending to the throne, the Sultan, Hassanal Bolkiah, banned electoral contests Read more…

Thailand’s troubled south calls for a different strategy

Author: Vikram Nehru, Carnegie Endowment

Thailand has witnessed an upsurge in violence throughout its unsettled south. The message is clear: more repression will not pacify the region, so the government and the military need to adopt a different strategy.

On 31 March 2012, two separate and apparently coordinated bomb explosions killed 14 people and wounded hundreds more in Yala Province in southern Thailand, making March the region’s most violent month in recent years (73 violent incidents led to 56 deaths and injured 547 others). Read more…

Monetary integration in ASEAN+3: the next steps

Author: Pradumna B. Rana, RSIS

On 3 May 2012, on the sidelines of the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Annual Meeting in Manila, ASEAN+3 took a number of significant steps to further deepen monetary integration in the region.

In the midst of a flurry of other activities and announcements — including the sharp increase in ADB lending last year and the launching of the ASEAN Infrastructure Fund — these important steps went relatively unnoticed.

Read more…

Indonesia needs structural reform to support trade liberalisation

Author: Xunpeng Shi, ERIA

Complaints about cheap Chinese goods flooding the Indonesian market as a result of the ASEAN–China Free Trade Area (ACFTA) frequently appear in the Indonesian media.

Given that Indonesia’s manufacturing products are often more expensive than their Chinese counterparts, these criticisms are perhaps justified.

Read more…

Japan’s Pacific Islands diplomacy at a crossroads

Author: Sandra Tarte, USP

Japan’s decision not to invite Fiji’s prime minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, to the sixth Japan–Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM 6), to be held in Okinawa this 25–26 May, represents a defining moment in its diplomatic relations with the Pacific Islands.

Japan announced that due to the perceived ‘insufficient pace of reform toward democratisation’, it would invite Fiji’s foreign minister instead Read more…