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Showing posts for "Joshua Kurlantzick"

Cambodia’s Political Truce Breaks Down

by Joshua Kurlantzick
hun sen-sam-rainsy Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen (R) and Sam Rainsy, president of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), smile after a plenary session at the National Assembly in Phnom Penh on April 9, 2015. (Samrang Pring/Reuters)

An excellent article in this month’s Foreign Affairs, by Stephanie Giry, outlines the strategies Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has used to stay in power. Now the longest-serving nonroyal ruler in Asia and the seventh-longest serving nonroyal ruler in the world, Hun Sen remains the ultimate survivor. Read more »

One Week after the Bangkok Bombing, What do We Know?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
erawan-shrine A police officer stands in front of the Erawan shrine, the site of a deadly blast, in central Bangkok, Thailand, on August 18, 2015. (Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

A week after the bombing at central Bangkok’s Erawan Shrine that killed twenty people, wounded at least 125 more, and set off a massive manhunt for a suspect identified in CCTV video, a man who apparently left a backpack at the shrine shortly before the explosion, no one has been arrested. In fact, amidst a constant swirl of rumors about possible leads, the Thai authorities appear no closer to solving the case. Read more »

Malaysia’s Economy Faces Severe Strain

by Joshua Kurlantzick
malaysia-economy A woman walks past a money exchange shop in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on August 25, 2015. The Malaysian ringgit hit a fresh pre-peg 17-year low on Monday as sustained worries about China's economy dented global risk appetite with European and Wall Street stocks suffering their largest one-day drop in nearly four years. (Olivia Harris/Reuters)

Like any Southeast Asian economy whose trade with China is a major foundation of growth, Malaysia was bound to suffer as the Chinese economy staggered and Chinese stock markets plunged. Malaysia is China’s largest trading partner in Southeast Asia, and Malaysia-China two-way trade topped $100 billion in 2014. Read more »

Bangladesh’s Descent into Chaos

by Joshua Kurlantzick
bangladesh-protests Activists of ruling party Bangladesh Awami League shout slogans as they try to attack the lawyers loyal to Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami during a protest in front of the Supreme Court in Dhaka on December 30, 2013. (Andrew Biraj/Reuters)

In the late 2000s and early 2010s, Bangladesh, which for years had been an international symbol of poverty and catastrophe, seemed to have reached a kind of stability. The country’s economy, powered by its garment industry and low-end manufacturing, was posting some of the highest growth rates in Asia, and grabbing textile jobs from China, Cambodia, and other countries. The Bangladesh government announced that Bangladesh could become a middle-income country by 2021. Read more »

The Implications of Thura Shwe Mann’s Removal

by Joshua Kurlantzick
shwe-mann-parliament Shwe Mann, speaker of Union Parliament, attends a parliament meeting at Union Parliament in Naypyitaw on August 18, 2015. (Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)

Last week, Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) party leader Thura Shwe Mann, the speaker of the lower house of Parliament, was abruptly removed as party chief, only months before Myanmar’s much-awaited national elections. The USDP is the party of President Thein Sein and is currently in control of government, although it is expected to suffer massive losses in the November election, provided the polls are held freely and fairly. Read more »

Malaysia’s Leadership Crisis

by Joshua Kurlantzick
najib-razak-1MDB scandal Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak arrives at the 48th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) foreign ministers meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on August 4, 2015. (Olivia Harris/Reuters)

Since early July, when the Wall Street Journal and the Sarawak Report, an investigative website focusing on Malaysia, both reported that embattled Malaysian state fund 1MDB had allegedly transferred funds into the personal accounts of Prime Minister Najib tun Razak, Malaysia’s normally placid politics have exploded. Along with a battle within the ruling coalition between the prime minister and supports of longtime former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, Najib is now apparently fending off challenges from some top leaders within the governing coalition. Read more »

Southeast Asia Summer Reading

by Joshua Kurlantzick
myanmar-beach-fishing A fishing boat is seen against the setting sun on Maungmagan beach near the town of Dawei in southern Myanmar on November 19, 2011. (Staff/Reuters)

Summer is winding down. In the Washington area, the brick oven heat of late July and early August is giving way to that late August feeling of merely living in a sauna. School forms are due. And it is time to review the Southeast Asia books I had a chance to read this summer. Read more »

Malaysia’s Political Crisis Deepens

by Joshua Kurlantzick
najib-razak-1MDB Men walk past a 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) billboard at the funds flagship Tun Razak Exchange development in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on March 1, 2015. (Olivia Harris/Reuters)

This past week, the crisis in Malaysia’s governing coalition has only grown deeper, with the sacking of several prominent ministers in a scene that could remind one of the Nixon administration’s October, 1973 Saturday Night Massacre. As stories continued to emerge alleging improprieties in Malaysia’s state 1MDB fund, including the alleged deposit of funds into the personal accounts of Prime Minister Najib tun Razak, sentiment in the governing coalition about Najib appeared to be split. Read more »

How Will China’s Stock Market Drop Affect Policy?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
China-stock market Investors look at computer screens in front of an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Shanghai, China, on July 14, 2015. (Aly Song/Reuters)

As China’s markets have melted down over the past month, wiping out over three trillion in wealth, some Chinese and foreign analysts, investors, and politicians have seen an upside in the market’s downturn. The fall of the overheated stock market might force the state to both clean up both the unregulated loans fuelling purchases and, more broadly, intervene less in equity markets and the broader economy. The market drop, according to this theory, might even foster massive discontent with the Communist Party and support for real political reforms, since unlike in most major economies it is not large institutions but retail investors—ninety million or so—who dominate Chinese investing. Read more »

Thailand’s Junta Pushes Back Election Date Again

by Joshua Kurlantzick
prayuth-elections-thailand Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha gestures in a traditional greeting to National Legislative Assembly members at the parliament in Bangkok, Thailand, on May 21, 2015. (Chaiwat Subprasom/Reuters)

News this week that Thailand’s ruling junta apparently has pushed back the date for a return to free elections should not have come as a great surprise. Since taking power in a coup in May 2014, the junta has repeatedly delayed planned elections, claiming that the country needs greater stability before a poll will be held or that the new constitution is not yet finished. After vowing elections in 2016, the deputy chairman of the junta-created legislature now reportedly has declared that elections will not be possible until 2017, since it will take so long to print the new charter and deliver written copies of it across Thailand. Read more »