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

Malaysia’s bumiputera debate asks the wrong questions

Author: Hwok-Aun Lee, University of Malaya

Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak rolled out his Bumiputera Economic Empowerment Programme (BEEP) on 14 September 2013.

The agenda’s blatant political motives, ethnically exclusive giveaways and the absence of any acknowledgment of past shortcomings or lessons learned delighted his UMNO faithful and Malay nationalist audience. Read more…

Taiwan: the missing piece in the rebalance

Author: Alexander Neill, International Institute for Strategic Studies-Asia

In the wake of the US President’s decision to pull out of any engagements in Asia surrounding the APEC summit in Bali on 5–7 October, critics of the US rebalance to Asia policy have exploited his absence as evidence of US regional strategic bluster. Read more…

How much can ASEAN do for a South China Sea code of conduct?

Author: Rodolfo C. Severino, ISEAS

On 14–15 September 2013, senior diplomats from China and the 10 ASEAN countries gathered in Suzhou, China, to discuss many subjects, most notably the process of hammering out a ‘code of conduct’ (CoC) for the South China Sea.

For many, the talks have provided a degree of reassurance about improved freedom and safety of navigation in the hotly disputed sea — after all, a large percentage of the world’s trade, including shipments of oil, passes through the South China Sea. Read more…

Cambodian opposition boycotts parliament to what end?

Author: Kheang Un, Northern Illinois University

This year’s Cambodian general election showed a surge of support for the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), cutting the Cambodian People’s Party’s (CPP) majority control over the National Assembly from 90 to 68 seats.

The CPP’s majority in this year’s election, the CNRP argues, would have disappeared in the absence of electoral fraud, principally the deletion of voters from the voter registration list. Read more…

Could China end the WTO’s ‘big nothing’ in services reform?

Author: Jane Drake-Brockman, Australian Services Roundtable

The former Chinese ambassador to the WTO took up his new job as the organisation’s Deputy Director-General on 1 October 2013. When he asked for a brief on what had been going on regarding services, the honest answer from the Division on Services was ‘not very much’. Read more…

India must engage Pakistan’s middle class

Author: Tridivesh Singh Maini, New Delhi

All too often, India’s strategic approach to Pakistan is pulled in opposite directions by polarised sections of the establishment.
Over the last decade or so, whenever New Delhi has reached out to Pakistan, a section of the strategic community — mostly retired diplomats, army officers and some analysts — say talking to Islamabad is a pointless exercise and India should disrupt all forms of engagement until terrorism stops emanating from Pakistani soil. Read more…

China and the US-Japan alliance

Author: Robert A Manning, Atlantic Council

At the September G20, China rebuffed Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s call for a bilateral meeting between Japan and China. The snub was not surprising. A recent opinion poll indicated that more than 90 per cent of both the Chinese and Japanese publics view each other unfavourably, highlighting the security dilemmas in Northeast Asia. Read more…

What to do about the subjugation of women in Asia

Author: Peter Drysdale, Editor, East Asia Forum

Australians are still coming to terms with many aspects of how their first female prime minister, Julia Gillard, was treated in high office. Read more…

Efforts to stop violence against women must focus on social, cultural norms

Author: Susan Harris Rimmer, ANU

A United Nations report released in September of this year confirmed what most women’s rights advocates already knew — that violence against women and girls in the Asia Pacific region is occurring at staggering rates with no solutions in sight. Read more…

The Cambodian monarchy must step back from politics

Author: Phoak Kung, University of Warwick

The death of King Norodom Sihanouk in October last year was a great loss to Cambodia. To the royal family, the King’s tremendous popularity is a double-edged sword. For many years, the monarchy has enjoyed overwhelming support and loyalty from the people without having to establish a new identity or produce any significant achievements. Read more…

Central Asia’s new silk road, paved by China

Author: Loro Horta, Turkmenistan

Over the past decade, Central Asia has grown from a marginal position in Beijing’s strategic calculus to the top of its diplomatic priorities: China is fast emerging as a vital economic and political player in this strategically located and resource-rich region. Read more…

Keeping regional economies working together

Author: Song Yinghui, CICIR

Economic cooperation in the Asia Pacific has thrived since the end of the Cold War through forums such as APEC and the ASEAN-Plus arrangement, including the East Asia Summit. Though the latter was originally seen as a means of cooperation for the East Asia region, the overlap between cooperation in the Asia Pacific and East Asia has become increasingly significant: ‘East Asia’ is now the centre of economic gravity and its region of influence, rather than a geographic boundary. Read more…

Bilateral rivalry a stain on the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

Author: Bakhytzhan Kurmanov, ANU

More than 17 years ago the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) was founded by Russia, China and all bar two of the Central Asian republics (Uzbekistan became a member in 2001 and Turkmenistan has yet to join). One of the major goals of the SCO was to prevent the spread of terrorism, separatism and extremism in newly independent Central Asia. Read more…

Japan’s persistent pacifism

Author: Daniel Clausen, Florida International University

Japanese pacifism appears to be fading.

As the generation that experienced the Second World War is replaced by a new cohort that is psychologically detached from the horrors of the war, the number of devotees to fervent pacifism has been shrinking. Read more…

Power politics in the Indian Ocean: don’t exaggerate the China threat

Author: Chunhao Lou, CICIR

The Indian Ocean Region (IOR) is becoming increasingly significant in the world arena. Recent discourse has focused on China’s naval ambitions in the IOR and potential US–India cooperation in response to China’s presence. Read more…