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Showing posts for "Democracy"

Cambodia’s Democratic Transition Has Collapsed, With Dangerous Consequences

by Joshua Kurlantzick
cambodia Tens of thousands of people attend a funeral procession to carry the body of Kem Ley, an anti-government figure and the head of a grassroots advocacy group, "Khmer for Khmer" who was shot dead on July 10, to his hometown, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on July 24, 2016. (Samrang Pring/Reuters)

As Cambodia prepares for national elections in two years, its politics have veered dangerously out of control. Even though young Cambodians are demanding political alternatives and accessing more information outside of state media, the country’s transition toward two-party politics has collapsed. The government’s brutal tactics of the 1990s and early 2000s, when political activists were routinely murdered and opposition parties nearly put out of business, have returned. Young Cambodians may be left with no outlet for their grievances, creating a potentially explosive situation, especially given the promise of reform and dialogue just a few years ago. Read more »

Thailand’s Next Year: Meet the New Boss…

by Joshua Kurlantzick
prayuth-referendum Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha casts his ballot at a polling station during a constitutional referendum vote in Bangkok, Thailand on August 7, 2016. (Jorge Silva/Reuters)

After the junta-managed referendum was approved by voters earlier this week, Thailand plans to hold elections in November 2017, according to the military regime. As I wrote earlier, the charter contained numerous provisions that seem designed to weaken the power of the two biggest political parties, the Democrat Party and Puea Thai. The new charter will potentially make the lower house of parliament nearly unmanageable, and possibly pave the way for the unelected upper house, the judiciary, the military, and the bureaucracy to wield the real levers of power in the kingdom. Read more »

Q&A on Cambodia with Sophal Ear

by Joshua Kurlantzick
hun-sen-cambodia A Cambodian Muslim supporter takes a selfie with President of the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) and Prime Minister Hun Sen (C), after a ceremony at the party headquarters to mark the 65th anniversary of the establishment of the party in Phnom Penh on June 28, 2016. (Samrang Pring/Reuters)

Last week, I spoke via email with Sophal Ear, Associate Professor of Diplomacy & World Affairs at Occidental College, and author of Aid Dependence in Cambodia: How Foreign Assistance Undermines Democracy, about the current crisis in Cambodian politics. After a brief truce following elections in 2013, in which the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) shocked the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) by nearly winning control of the National Assembly, any semblance of détente has broken down. Read more »

The Impact of the U.S. Justice Department 1MDB Announcement on Malaysian Politics

by Joshua Kurlantzick
U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch announces the filing of civil forfeiture complaints seeking the forfeiture and recovery of more than $1 billion in assets associated with an international conspiracy to launder funds misappropriated from a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB in Washington on July 20, 2016. (James Lawler Duggan/Reuters) U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch announces the filing of civil forfeiture complaints seeking the forfeiture and recovery of more than $1 billion in assets associated with an international conspiracy to launder funds misappropriated from a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB in Washington on July 20, 2016. (James Lawler Duggan/Reuters)

I could write a six hundred word blog before getting to the point here, but I will get right to it: The 1MDB asset seizure is likely to have minimal impact on Malaysian domestic politics. To recap … the U.S. Justice Department this morning announced it was filing “civil-forfeiture complaints against more than $1 billion of assets allegedly acquired using funds misappropriated from a Malaysian economic development fund,” known as 1MDB, according to the Wall Street Journal, which has extensively covered the 1MDB saga. Read more »

The Rise of Modern State Capitalism

by Joshua Kurlantzick
gazprom Gazprom Chief Executive Officer Alexei Miller attends an annual general meeting of the company's shareholders in Moscow, Russia, on June 30, 2016. (Maxim Shemetov/Reuters)

China’s state-owned enterprises have received the most coverage of any such companies around the world, but they are hardly alone. In fact, although China has been the focus of nearly all discussion of the trend in the West, it is only one player in a new era of state capitalism born over the past decade. Throughout the developing world, many governments are increasing their intervention in their economies. Read more »

How Much Should We Read Into China’s New “Core Socialist Values”?

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
A man walks with his bicycle in front of a screen showing propaganda displays near the Great Hall of the People at Beijing's Tiananmen Square, November 7, 2012. Just days before the party's all-important congress opens, China's stability-obsessed rulers are taking no chances and have combed through a list all possible threats, avian or otherwise. Their list includes bus windows being screwed shut and handles for rear windows in taxis - to stop subversive leaflets being scattered on the streets - plus balloons and remote control model planes. The goal is to ensure an image of harmony as President Hu Jintao prepares to transfer power as party leader to anointed successor Vice President Xi Jinping at the congress, which starts on Thursday. REUTERS/Carlos Barria (CHINA - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS) A man walks with his bicycle in front of a screen showing propaganda displays near the Great Hall of the People at Beijing's Tiananmen Square. China’s most recent values and propaganda campaign has taken the form of promoting “core socialist values.” (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Bochen Han is an intern for Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Driving through any Chinese city, town, or village today it’s hard to miss the 24-character set of “core socialist values” (shehuizhuyi hexin jiazhiguan) that adorn almost every public surface—restaurant menus, billboards, taxi cabs. In Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, schoolchildren must recite them on demand. In Chaohu city in Anhui province, citizens were encouraged to hang values-inscribed lanterns for the Spring Festival. Southwest, in Sichuan province, officials popularized the values by including them in riddles. Read more »

Duterte Isn’t Going to Change

by Joshua Kurlantzick
rodrigo-duterte-inaugeration President Rodrigo Duterte takes his oath before Supreme Court Justice Bienvenido Reyes as his daughter Veronica holds the bible, during his inauguration as President of the Philippines at the Malacanang Palace in Manila, Philippines on June 30, 2016. (Presidential Palace/Handout via Reuters)

It doesn’t look like there is going to be a more presidential Rodrigo Duterte. The former mayor of Davao made his name on the campaign trail for his blunt rhetoric, which often offended many civil society activists, journalists, and other Filipinos. He had a reputation, as mayor of Davao, for both effective management and for allegedly condoning extrajudicial killings of criminal suspects. He had a highly testy relationship with the press. Read more »

Asia Summer Reading

by Joshua Kurlantzick
bookstore A passenger takes a book in a bookstore at Oriente train station in Lisbon, Portugal on April 14, 2016. (Rafael Marchante/Reuters)

It’s that time of year again—when Washington cooks, the public transport goes on extended holiday, people head to the beach, and I offer some thoughts on books to take with you on vacation if you have an interest in Asian history, Southeast Asian politics, and Southeast Asian culture. Keep in mind that none of these books are exactly traditional “beach reads”—light page-turners that you can flip through while also watching your kids bury themselves in sand. Read more »

What Does the Future Hold for the Rohingya?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
rohingya-camp A boy walks among debris after fire destroyed shelters at a camp for internally displaced Rohingya Muslims in the western Rakhine State near Sittwe, Myanmar on May 3, 2016. (Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)

Of all the ethnic, racial, and religious minorities in the world, wrote the Economist last year, the Rohingya may well be the most persecuted people on the planet. Today nearly two million Rohingya live in western Myanmar and in Bangladesh. Inside Myanmar they have no formal status, and they face the constant threat of violence from paramilitary groups egged on by nationalist Buddhist monks while security forces look the other way. Since 2012, when the latest wave of anti-Rohingya violence broke out, attackers have burnt entire Rohingya neighborhoods, butchering the populace with knives, sticks, and machetes. Read more »

Reforming the International Military Education and Training Program

by Joshua Kurlantzick
balikatan-2015 Filipino soldiers take positions as a U.S. military helicopter CH-47 takes off during the annual "Balikatan" (shoulder-to-shoulder) war games at a military camp, Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija in northern Philippines on April 20, 2015. (Erik De Castro/Reuters)

The International Military Education and Training (IMET) program, which provides U.S. government funds to members of foreign militaries to take classes at U.S. military facilities, has the potential to be a powerful tool of U.S. influence. IMET is designed to help foreign militaries bolster their relationships with the United States, learn about U.S. military equipment, improve military professionalism, and instill democratic values in their members. For forty years, the program has played an important role in the United States’ relations with many strategic partners and in cultivating foreign officers who become influential policymakers. Read more »