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Asia Unbound

CFR experts give their take on the cutting-edge issues emerging in Asia today.

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Showing posts for "Malaysia"

Will the North Korea-Malaysia Crisis Cause a Shift in Southeast Asian States’ Relationships with Pyongyang?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
malaysia-north korea A view of the North Korea embassy that has been sealed off in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on March 7, 2017. (Lai Seng Sin/Reuters)

As I noted in a piece I co-authored with Scott Snyder shortly after the apparent assassination of Kim Jong Nam, Malaysia is but one of many Southeast Asian nations that have relatively robust diplomatic ties with Pyongyang. Or at least—Malaysia had relatively robust ties with Pyongyang. Read more »

Malaysia’s Front Office Role in Enabling North Korean WMD Procurement

by Scott A. Snyder
North Korean Ambassador to Malaysia Kang Chol (C), who was expelled from Malaysia, is escorted as he arrives at Kuala Lumpur international airport in Sepang, Malaysia March 6, 2017. (Reuters/Lai Seng Sin)

North Korea continues to evade UN sanctions designed to prevent its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) development by embedding its agents and intermediaries within the international trading system, according to the latest assessment of the UN Panel of Experts set up to monitor North Korean compliance with international sanctions. Read more »

The Death of Kim Jong Nam

by Joshua Kurlantzick and Scott A. Snyder
North Korean heir-apparent Kim Jong Nam emerges from a bus as he is escorted by Japanese authorities upon his deportation from Japan at Tokyo's Narita international airport May 4, 2001. Kim Jong Nam, eldest son of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, the man entered Japan with a forged passport on Tuesday, but was deported to China on Friday. (Eriko Sugita)

The death in Malaysia of Kim Jong Nam, the eldest son of former North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il, was shocking on its surface. Reports indicate that two women may have poisoned him at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, while others suggest a larger group of people might have been involved. Reports further suggest the attackers may have poisoned Kim Jong Nam with a needle, while other reports allege they sprayed or used a cloth to apply some kind of poison on him. He died on his way to a hospital in the Malaysian capital. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of November 4, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Choi Soon-sil (C), who is involved a political scandal, reacts as she is surrounded by media and protesters upon her arrival at a prosecutor's office in Seoul, South Korea, October 31, 2016. The banner (top L) reads "Arrest Choi Soon-sil, Call for Park Geun-hye to step down". REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji Choi Soon-sil (C), who is involved in a political scandal, reacts as she is surrounded by media and protesters upon her arrival at a prosecutor's office in Seoul, South Korea on October 31, 2016. The banner (top L) reads "Arrest Choi Soon-sil, Call for Park Geun-hye to step down". (Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Sherry Cho, Gabriella Meltzer, and Gabriel Walker look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. South Korean president makes second public apology. On Friday, President Park Geun-hye of South Korea made a second public apology amidst rising domestic turmoil surrounding allegations that her close friend, Choi Soon-sil, acted as a kind of “shadow president” and improperly profited from her relationship with the president. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of October 21, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
rakhine-refugees Volunteers from a local medical clinic help out in a medical check for internally displaced persons who fled from recent violence in Maungdaw, Rakhine state, at a monastery in Sittwe, Myanmar, October 15, 2016. (Wa Lone/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Sherry Cho, Gabriella Meltzer, David O’Connor, Gabriel Walker, and James West look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. In western Myanmar, a lockdown by security forces. Reports that thirty people have been killed by official Myanmar security forces in reprisal for the October 9 border post assaults that left nine police officers dead have increased fears of mounting violence in western Myanmar’s Rakhine state. Read more »

South and Southeast Asia—The Islamic State’s New Front?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
indonesia-islamic-state Police officers react near the site of a blast in Jakarta, Indonesia, on January 14, 2016. (Darren Whiteside/Reuters)

Over the past year, as the Islamic State (ISIS) has suffered multiple losses in Syria and Iraq, the group has clearly been looking to widen its impact, taking the fight to countries outside of the Middle East. Increasingly, ISIS leaders have used social media to call on Islamic radicals to stage attacks in countries in the West like France and the United States, where the Orlando gunman, the San Bernardino gunmen, and the Nice attacker, among others, have publicly identified themselves with ISIS. Read more »

Malaysia’s Parties Prepare for 2018 Elections

by Joshua Kurlantzick
mahathir-ibrahim Malaysia's former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad (center L) meets with jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim (center R) in a high court in Kuala Lumpur on September 5, 2016. (Lawyers for Liberty/Handout via Reuters)

Two days ago, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib tun Razak told reporters that he would not call national elections until 2018, when his parliament’s term runs out. As The Diplomat recently reported, some Malaysian observers thought that Najib would hold elections earlier—even as early as the middle of next year—because his party’s grip on power will wane in the face of a newly emboldened opposition. As The Diplomat noted, “The idea of holding early elections rests on the idea that Najib and his supporters perceive his political position as being stronger now than it will be within the next year or two.” Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of September 23, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
indonesia-forest-fire A resident tries to put out a bush fire with a tree branch in Pekanbaru, Riau, Sumatra island, Indonesia, August 23, 2016. (Rony Muharrman/Antara Foto/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Sherry Cho, Lincoln Davidson, Samir Kumar, Gabriella Meltzer, and David O’Connor look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. Deadly forest fires exact major toll on Southeast Asia. A study published this week in Environmental Research Letters by public health and atmospheric modeling experts at Harvard University and Columbia University reveals the severe public-health ramifications of forest fires that engulfed Indonesia in 2015. The researchers estimated that fires deliberately set to clear land for agricultural purposes caused the premature deaths of 91,600 people in Indonesia, and 6,500 and 2,200 deaths in Malaysia and Singapore, respectively. Read more »

What is Duterte’s Strategy Toward the Abu Sayyaf?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
duterte-abu-sayyaf Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a news conference in Davao after Norwegian national Kjartan Sekkingstad was freed from the al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf Islamist militant group in Jolo, Sulu in southern Philippines on September 18, 2016. (Lean Daval Jr/Reuters)

Having already launched a grim, brutal war on drugs that has reportedly led to thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of arrests, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is now turning his eye to southern Philippines, where a collection of insurgent groups/terrorist organizations/bandits have wreaked havoc for decades. (Southeast Asia is also now home to more piracy attacks than any other region of the world, and the waters of the southern Philippines are part of this massive piracy problem.) Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of September 9, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
kim-jong-un-nuclear-test KRT bulletin shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in this still image taken from video on September 9, 2016. North Korea conducted its fifth and biggest nuclear test on Friday and said it had mastered the ability to mount a warhead on a ballistic missile, ratcheting up a threat that its rivals and the United Nations have been powerless to contain. (KRT via Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Sherry Cho, Theresa Lou, Gabriella Meltzer, and Gabriel Walker look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. North Korea conducts fifth nuclear test. Pyongyang celebrated the sixty-eighth anniversary of the country’s founding today by conducting its fifth and largest nuclear test. The Nuclear Weapons Institute of the DPRK claims that the nuclear warhead “has been standardized to be able to be mounted on strategic ballistic rockets,” and that the DPRK can now produce “a variety of smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear warheads of higher strike power.” Read more »