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

Time for thinking the Australia–India relationship afresh

Indian Navy's warship INS Kolkata (front) is lined up with other warships during a media preview off the coast of Mumbai, India, 3 December 2015 (Photo: Reuters/Shailesh Andrade).

Authors: Priya Chacko, University of Adelaide and AII, and Jagannath Panda, IDSA

Australia–India engagement has accelerated over the last few years. In 2014, the Indian prime minister visited Australia after a gap of 28 years. Three years later during former Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s state visit to India, the two countries proclaimed themselves ‘partners in the Indo-Pacific’.

Recent signs suggest that the Australia–India strategic relationship has been put in the fridge.
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Making policy a part of Indonesian politics

Indonesia's presidential candidate Joko Widodo (L) speaks during a debate with his opponent Prabowo Subianto (R) in Jakarta, Indonesia, 17 February 2019. (Photo: Reuters/Willy Kurniawan).

Author: Michello Loebis, Kiroyan Partners

The current presidential race between the incumbent Joko Widodo (Jokowi)–Ma’aruf Amin partnership and the Prabowo Subianto–Sandiaga Uno challengers reflects a major flaw in the country’s political discourse. Their campaigns are criticised as ‘too general’ and ‘superficial’. This was evident in the first presidential debate, with many describing their performances as lacklustre and overly-rehearsed. Read more…

Race, religion and rhetoric ramp up in ‘New Malaysia’

A man passes a live telecast of Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak addressing the nation on the dissolution of Parliament at an electronics shop in Port Klang, Malaysia, 6 April 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Lai Seng Sin).

Author: Harris Zainul, Institute of Strategic and International Studies Malaysia

After recouping the Semenyih state legislative assembly seat, it comes as little surprise that the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) and the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) are finally formalising their cooperation. The implication of this is that political discourse will only regress further to the right. The hardening of racial and religious divides on the back of perceived Malay-Muslim victimhood is another consequence. Read more…

Pakistan is ready for stability in Afghanistan

Participants gather before a conference with attendance of Taliban representatives arranged by the Afghan diaspora in Moscow, Russia, 5 February 2019. (Photo: Reuters/Maxim Shemetov)

Authors: Yelena Biberman and Jared Schwartz, Skidmore College

The Afghan government has an unexpectedly ardent advocate in current peace negotiations between the United States and Taliban—Pakistan. This surprising supporter has been providing sanctuary to the Taliban, thereby placing a pricey bet on its alleged proxy’s recapture of Afghanistan following a US withdrawal. The Taliban’s refusal to negotiate with the government in Kabul is a major obstacle to the peace process. But Pakistan is now pressuring the Taliban to meet with Afghan officials.

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Indonesia’s presidential hopefuls face a tough fight in West Java

A supporter wears glasses as he attends a campaign rally of Indonesia's presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto for the upcoming general election, in Bandung, West Java province, Indonesia, 28 March 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Willy Kurniawan).

Authors: Keoni Indrabayu Marzuki and Chaula Rininta Anindya, RSIS

Home to roughly 33 million eligible voters in the coming Indonesian elections, West Java is seeing presidential candidates Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo and Prabowo Subianto clash in a tough fight for votes. How well they do there may be pivotal to their quest for the presidency. Read more…

How online echo chambers enable far-right terrorism

A policeman stands guard as members of the Muslim community visit Al-Noor mosque after it was reopened in Christchurch, New Zealand, 23 March 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Edgar Su).

Author: Natasha Quek, RSIS

On 15 March 2019, 50 Muslims were killed when a white supremacist targeted two mosques in a shooting spree in Christchurch, New Zealand. The latest attacks, while unprecedented in New Zealand, should not be viewed as an isolated incident but rather as an indication of a much broader trend: violent far-right extremism and terrorism.

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Is constitutional revision a bridge too far for Abe?

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe answers a question at Upper House's budget committee session at the National Diet in Tokyo on Monday, 25 March 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Yoshio Tsunoda).

Author: Yuki Tatsumi, Stimson Center

In February 2019, Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) held its annual party convention. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his strong desire to revise Article 9 of the constitution, granting the Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) a full-fledged constitutional status.  Read more…

Decentralising Malaysia’s education system

Students and teachers show off their calligraphy after a Chinese calligraphy event in conjunction with the upcoming Chinese Lunar New Year of the Pig, at Tsun Jin High School in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 18 January 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Lai Seng Sin).

Author: Wing Thye Woo, Sunway University

The next stage in Malaysia’s catching-up process requires that economic growth be knowledge-led and not just capital-led. The post-1970 New Economic Policy (NEP) produced a large middle-class through economic centralisation. But the decentralisation of decision-making is badly needed to enable knowledge-led growth to wrench Malaysia out of the middle-income trap and to spread the fruits of economic growth more equally. Reform of the education system, and not just economic policy and the financial system, is urgently needed. Read more…

Driving gender reform in Vietnam’s Labour Code

Workers clean the road in front of Dong Dang railway station, where North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's train will depart from the border with China, in Dong Dang, Vietnam, 2 March 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon).

Author: Jane Aeberhard-Hodges, Australian Government

Globally, removing sex discrimination from regulatory texts continues to ride a positive wave. This might be a response to a new generation of free trade agreements, which call for regulatory frameworks to be socially and environmentally compliant with international standards. Read more…

Revisiting ‘special and differential treatment’ in the WTO

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro listens to U.S. President Donald Trump during a joint news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S. 19 March 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Carlos Barria).

Author: Anabel González, Peterson Institute for International Economics

In his recent visit to the United States, Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro agreed to forego ‘special and differential treatment’ (SDT) in the World Trade Organization (WTO). This is a potential milestone in the confrontation over the role of larger developing countries in the global trading system that is taking the WTO by storm. Read more…

China’s growing presence in the Gulf

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman (R) meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, 22 February 2019 (Photo: Reuters/How Hwee Young/Pool).

Author: Jonathan Fulton, Zayed University

In February 2019 Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman paid a much-publicised visit to China where 35 memorandums of understanding were signed, including an oil deal worth a reported US$10 billion. Read more…

Reducing barriers to gender equality in Indonesia

Students walk in the yard of the Pantai Bahagia Elementary School, inundated with sea water after the tide came in, in Bekasi, West Java province, Indonesia, 1 February 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Darren Whiteside).

Author: Rachael Diprose, University of Melbourne

Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s track record of considering gender representation in ministerial appointments is lauded in global circles. With nine women appointed to his cabinet, there are more female cabinet ministers in Indonesia than in countries such as Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. Strong female ministers lead influential portfolios in finance, state-owned enterprises, maritime and fisheries, forestry and environment, foreign affairs and health. Read more…

Hard road to Malaysian prosperity

A view of a building site beneath the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 18 February 2016 (Photo: Reuters/Olivia Harris).

Author: Editorial Board, ANU

It’s nearly a year since the Malaysian people overwhelmingly cast aside the domineering, divisive and corruption-riddled government of Najib Razak for an alternative led by Mohamad Mahathir that promised renewed focus on the people’s interests. The new Pakatan Harapan government undertook to restore good governance, raise the bar for ministers and civil servants, recover embezzled funds and deliver them back to Malaysians as cost of living relief.

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Decentralisation the best bet for Malaysia’s growth

A view of the Kuala Lumpur city skyline in Malaysia, 7 February 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Lai Seng Sin).

Author: Wing Thye Woo, Sunway University

Malaysia’s burgeoning middle class has high expectations for future economic development. But the nation won’t escape the ‘middle-income trap’ and won’t have socially-inclusive growth under current government policies. A range of reforms that deliver decentralised decision-making is needed to build the knowledge-led economy to propel Malaysia to the next level of development.

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Adaptation or innovation for Singapore’s armed forces?

A member of Singapore's navy keeps watch as navy ships patrol the waters around Sentosa Island during a summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore, 12 June 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Singapore Ministry of Defence).

Author: Michael Raska, RSIS

Singapore is gradually unveiling its military modernisation plans for the Singapore Armed Forces. The development trajectory will be shaped by both adapting emerging critical technologies to new security requirements and improving institutional agility to exploit these new technologies. Read more…