Articles on Asia

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In a continuing dispute over the annulled 2013 election, the voters of the Maldives are demanding to be heard. Dying Regime

Voting in Asia: not meaningless charades, but public wants more

Is it possible to opine about “the state of democracy in Asia”? Although some studies credibly do so, such a task seems challenging to say the least. This is due to the region’s proverbial diversity. And…
Random House

Asia’s Cauldron: is geography destiny?

How times change. One of the more unexpected ideas to emerge from Tony Abbott’s largely successful tour of northeast Asia is that Australia’s relationship with China can be built on mutual trust. It’s…
Joko Widodo is seen as the most committed to human rights of Indonesia’s potential leaders, but it’s not a big issue in coming legislative and presidential elections. EPA/Mast Irham

Half a century on, victims’ voices haunt a democratic Indonesia

The Indonesian army and civilian vigilantes killed at least half a million people between 1965 and 1968. Hundreds of thousands more were imprisoned without trial for long periods. Some were sent to remote…
The peace agreement between the MILF insurgency and the Philippines government is a significant achievement, but challenges do lie ahead for all parties. EPA/Ritchie B. Tongo

Peace in the Philippines, but what next for the MILF?

Late last month, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) insurgency and the Philippines government signed a landmark peace settlement, signalling the end of a decades-old conflict. After 17 years of on-and-off…
Xi Jinping’s ‘China Dream’ is couched in the opaque language of the Communist Party, leaving China watchers guessing at exactly what it all means. EPA/Diego Azubel

Party insider offers rare insight into what China’s reforms mean

“If you want to know the future of the world,” Yu Keping says, pouring green tea into a big red mug, “please understand China.” He pauses. “But if you want to know China, please understand the Chinese…
Achieving a free trade agreement with China would be a major achievement for the Abbott government given the obstacles currently in the way. AAP/Daniel Munoz

Japan and free trade create twin challenges for Abbott in China

Despite the misgivings of the sceptics, prime minister Tony Abbott’s high-profile, potentially high-risk trade mission to northeast Asia could be a triumph. The free trade agreement (FTA) with Japan is…
The more the west recognises and protects gay rights, the more African and Asian nations (such as Uganda and India) seem determined to go in the opposite direction. AAP

Should the west be held accountable for gay persecution?

Media coverage of gays and lesbians in 2014 has followed a very different trend to previous years. Rather than good news stories about love and weddings, the majority of reports relate to violence, persecution…
Jokowi, the current favourite to be Indonesia’s next president, represents a break from the old Indonesian political elites. EPA/Adi Weda

Indonesian elections: nationalism and the men most likely

On Wednesday, Indonesians will go to the polls to elect their national, provincial and area representatives for the next five years. These elections will not only determine who controls parliament, but…
Largely lost in the politics of Tony Abbott’s campaign to ‘stop the boats’ is the fate of refugees. AAP/Ava Benny-Morrison

From Darfur to Cipayung: refugees are left stranded

The Abbott government has celebrated the 100th day without any asylum seeker boats reaching Australian territory. This is the result of policies that favour the protection of borders rather than of people…
Parliamentary Secretary Brett Mason says Asian languages aren’t essential in Asia. AAP

A problematic start to the New Colombo Plan

About a decade ago I had a slightly prickly conversation with an Australian who had just returned from a business trip to China. As usual, I was grumbling about the legendary reluctance of Australians…
Police lay out riot helmets and shields in readiness for caretaker prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s appearance at Thailand’s National Anti-Corruption Commission to defend a charge that could force her out of office. EPA/Barbara Walton

Paralysed Thai government may be facing its month of judgment

Since protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban ordered followers occupying intersections in Bangkok to decamp in late February, the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) has maintained only one protest site…
Best friends: the ideological links between Japan’s Shinzo Abe and Tony Abbott include a reliance on a strident cultural nationalism. AAP/Karlis Salna

Nationalism marries neoliberalism to fuel rise of Asia’s new Right

A new right-wing nationalism with the potential to reshape the region’s politics has emerged in Asia. This is evident over the last couple of years in the election of Shinzo Abe in Japan, Geun-Hye Park…
Though Asia is riddled with flashpoints, alarmists tend to overlook the level of dialogue, such as this meeting in Beijing between the US and Chinese navy chiefs, Ray Mabus and Zhang Jianchang. Official US Navy Imagery/Flickr

It’s not 1914 all over again: Asia is preparing to avoid war

One hundred years ago, Europe stumbled into an unexpected and utterly devastating war. It was unexpected for two reasons: the diplomatic mechanisms set up after Napoleon’s defeat had kept the continent…
A truck carries anti-government protesters to ministry offices in a bid to shut them down. A similar protest at Government House last week resulted in several deaths. EPA/Rungroj Yongrit

Neros fiddle while Thailand’s slow burn threatens to flare

I walk from my apartment of a morning along a small street, on which local police supposedly provide protection but are not to be seen. The street enters a main road leading to the largest rally site in…
Foreign minister Julie Bishop has reportedly asked the Cambodian government if it would resettle some of the asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by boat. EPA/Mak Remissa

Why resettling asylum seekers in Cambodia is fraught with risk

Amid the ongoing bad news about Manus Island has come the revelation that the Australian government has approached Cambodia with a view to resettling some asylum seekers in the impoverished nation. So…
While protesters still turned out in smaller numbers in Bangkok on Thursday, they have clearly failed in their key goal of stopping the election. EPA/Nyein Chan Naing

No winners in flawed poll but Thai democracy may yet find a way

In early November, the Pheu Thai government rammed through amnesty legislation that included last-minute changes to enable former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to return to Thailand without fear of…

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