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Showing posts for "Joshua Kurlantzick"

What to Expect From the Next Government in Singapore

by Joshua Kurlantzick
singapore-elections Secretary-General of the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) Lee Hsien Loong takes a selfie with supporters after a lunchtime rally at the central business district in Singapore on September 8, 2015. Singaporeans will go to the polls on September 11. (Edgar Su/Reuters)

Singapore’s long-ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) has called a snap election for September 11, well in advance of the five year term it is allotted. As I noted in a piece this week for World Politics Review, the PAP is probably gambling that the outpouring of emotion in Singapore after the death of founding father Lee Kuan Yew in March will reflect well on the PAP and its record of governance, and will help it in the election. The year of 50th anniversary celebrations of the city-state’s independence also may well add a shine to the PAP’s credentials. Read more »

Singapore’s General Election: More Continuity than Change

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Lee-Hsien-Loon-singapore-elections Secretary-General of the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) Lee Hsien Loong gestures to his supporters at a lunchtime rally in the central business district in Singapore on September 8, 2015. Singaporeans will go to the polls on September 11. (Edgar Su/Reuters)

In advance of Singapore’s general elections on September 11, both of the major parties contesting the poll argue that this election will be definitive, even historic. At a press conference on September 1, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of the People’s Action Party (PAP), which has ruled Singapore since the country was formed five decades ago, told reporters, “The country is at a turning point. Question is, in what direction do we now go?” Sylvia Lim, one of the leaders of the Workers Party that comprises the main opposition party (there are also other small opposition parties such as the Singapore Democratic Party), also says the election will be a turning point. Read more »

Bangkok Bombing Investigation Becomes Even Murkier

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Thailand-Erawan Shrine Thai police stand guard at Erawan Shrine, the site of the recent bomb blast, in Bangkok on August 30, 2015. (Jorge Silva/Reuters)

Over the past five days, Thai police have both made arrests in Erawan Shrine bombing case and publicly identified other suspects still at large for whom the police are hunting. Although after the bombing there were many theories about the culprits, both the two men arrested and the suspects identified could have some link to Turkey or to the Uighurs. Read more »

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 »