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Showing posts for "Guest Blogger for Joshua Kurlantzick"

Meredith Weiss: What More Do Malaysian Voters Want?

by Guest Blogger for Joshua Kurlantzick
A billboard encourages Malaysian citizens to vote for the opposition Pakatan Rakyat party in state of Sarawak. A billboard encourages Malaysian citizens to vote for the opposition Pakatan Rakyat party in the state of Sarawak. (Courtesy Meredith Weiss)

Meredith Weiss is an associate professor in the department of political science at the University of Albany.

Adamantly pro-government newspaper Utusan Malaysia raised hackles among opposition Pakatan Rakyat (People’s Alliance) supporters two days after Malaysia’s May 5 election with its blaring headline, Apa Lagi Orang Cina Mahu? (What more do the Chinese want?) The barb refers to what incumbent Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has called a “Chinese tsunami:” his Barisan Nasional (National Front, BN) coalition’s unprecedented failure to secure a majority of the popular vote—even if a highly disproportionate electoral system has left the BN still with 60 percent of parliamentary seats. Read more »

Situating Malaysia’s Thirteenth General Election: Not All About the Outcome

by Guest Blogger for Joshua Kurlantzick
Malaysians listen to speeches during an election campaign in Kajang outside Kuala Lumpur on April 17, 2013. Malaysians listen to speeches during an election campaign in Kajang outside Kuala Lumpur on April 17, 2013. (Bazuki Muhammad/Courtesy Reuters)

Meredith Weiss is an associate professor in the department of political science at the University of Albany.

If all goes according to plan, election-watchers of all sorts will be thick on the ground for Malaysia’s upcoming thirteenth general elections. Admittedly, that plan is dependent upon rounding up and training an extraordinary number of volunteers, and doubtless will be forced to exclude the least accessible, but purportedly most watch-worthy districts. But what tends to get lost in the tea leaf-reading and data-crunching of this long-awaited showdown is the why behind such widespread interest in process and participation, which extends well beyond the polls themselves. Read more »

Obama Announces Aid Package to Myanmar

by Guest Blogger for Joshua Kurlantzick
U.S. president Barack Obama delivers remarks at the University of Yangon November 19, 2012. U.S. president Barack Obama delivers remarks at the University of Yangon November 19, 2012.

Nathan LaGrave is an intern for the Southeast Asia studies program at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Last week, during his historic trip to Myanmar, President Obama demonstrated the United States’ continued commitment to the country’s transition with the announcement of a $170 million aid package. The announcement coincides with the reestablishment of a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) mission in Myanmar, which was suspended for twenty-four years during the brutal reign of the former military regime. Now comes the critical time in which Chris Milligan, the newly-appointed USAID mission director in Myanmar, must develop a strategy for the distribution of these dollars. It is vital that the United States recognize those hazards which can potentially surround the offering of aid and tread cautiously, understanding the issues that could stall a successful transition in Myanmar and negate the positive effects of aid. Read more »

Does the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration Even Matter?

by Guest Blogger for Joshua Kurlantzick
U.S. secretary of state Clinton poses with ASEAN leaders during a meeting at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta September 4, 2012. U.S. secretary of state Clinton poses with ASEAN leaders during a meeting at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta September 4, 2012 (Jim Watson/Courtesy Reuters).

Elizabeth Leader is a Research Associate for Southeast Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations. The author’s views on ASEAN’s human rights progress do not necessarily reflect those of Joshua Kurlantzick.

The Asia-Pacific remains the only UN-defined region that does not adhere to its own human rights treaty or possess a region-wide mechanism for the promotion and protection of human rights. Thus, there was seemingly a lot riding on the backs of the ten ASEAN foreign ministers who gathered in New York on Thursday —on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly— to review the second draft of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD). Concern over the controversial draft (drawn up by the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights) has, in the international media, far outweighed any sort of praise. Read more »

Cambodia and China: No Strings Attached?

by Guest Blogger for Joshua Kurlantzick
China's Vice President Xi Jinping toasts with Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen (R) after signing an agreement on cooperation at council of minister in Phnom Penh December 21, 2009. China's Vice President Xi Jinping toasts with Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen (R) after signing an agreement on cooperation at council of minister in Phnom Penh December 21, 2009 (Chor Sokunthea/Courtesy Reuters).

Laura Speyer is an intern for Southeast Asian studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Just three years ago, Chinese vice president Xi Jinping claimed that “Sino-Cambodian relations are a model of friendly cooperation.” This week, Vice President Xi may have reason to reassess Cambodia’s willingness to “cooperate” with—some might say “obey”—its powerful neighbor. The issue highlighting power dynamics between the two countries is the extradition of Patrick Devillers, a French citizen allegedly involved in the increasingly bizarre imbroglio surrounding Bo Xilai and his wife Gu Kailai, who is suspected of murder. Read more »

Trip by Panetta Affirms Shifting U.S. Stance

by Guest Blogger for Joshua Kurlantzick
U.S. defense secretary Leon Panetta sits next to USNS Richard E. Byrd chief mate Fred Cullen as they take a water taxi to the ship in Cam Ranh Bay. U.S. defense secretary Leon Panetta sits next to USNS Richard E. Byrd chief mate Fred Cullen as they take a water taxi to the ship in Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam (Jim Watson/Courtesy Reuters).

Elizabeth Leader is a Research Associate for Southeast Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations. 

The visit of Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to Southeast Asia last week reaffirmed the Obama administration’s commitment to an expanding U.S. military presence in the Asia-Pacific.  Although the administration has remained relatively mum in recent weeks about the so-called “pivot” (leading some to speculate that the strategy’s political viability was undergoing reassessment), and despite the looming threat of massive cuts to the U.S. defense budget,  Panetta asserted the position in a June 2 address in Singapore: “Make no mistake — in a steady, deliberate, and sustainable way the United States military is rebalancing and bringing an enhanced capability development to this vital region.” Read more »